Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Tech-Ed 2002

Tuesday, April 9, 2002

The day started pretty damn early when my alarm went off at 5 am. I overslept until about 5:30 and rushed around so I could catch a cab to the airport and get there by 6:15. When I got to the airport I was told my flight was delayed and that I might not make the connection in Dallas to New Orleans. They offered to shift me to Continental so I took them up on the offer. Becky, another programmer from my office, was also shifted to the Continental flight.

Everything was uneventful until we hit the Big Easy. That’s when the cab conflict started. At the airport they had a big sign by the Taxi stand that said 2 passengers going from the airport to downtown would be $24. Only after we were in the cab and on the highway did we discover they wanted to charge us $24 each since we were at two different hotels (even though they were only separated by a few blocks). This got Becky’s ire up and after talking to the supervisor agreed on a combined price of $35 that would get both of us dropped off at our hotels.

Tech-Ed registration went fairly quickly and I even had time to try out the wireless network installed in the convention center. I logged on to work and did a little email and then it was time for the pre-conference workshop. I had originally signed up for an ASP.Net workshop but that was cancelled and two shorter security workshops were substituted. I sat through the first one and then went back to the hotel. They didn’t have any clean rooms when I checked in originally so I thought I’d go back and check again. They had a room for me and boy what a room it is. I’ve got two double beds and a living room with a sleeper sofa and a mini-kitchenette (you’d think that’d be redundant but since I only have a bar sink, a microwave, a dorm fridge and a coffee maker, I’m not sure what else to call it).

So I go back and watch some more of the security seminar but it’s really not doing it for me. I look at the schedule and notice that the exhibition hall is open. So I hit it with gusto and walk away with six shirts, tons of toys, lots of information, and an aching arm from carrying all of the bags. By this time I realize I’ve totally lost Becky. I go back to the hotel and try to call her hotel but she’s out. So I go back to the Convention Center and grab one of the hotel shuttles that’s going to Bourbon Street. After walking around looking at the tourist traps, jazz and blues clubs, and transvestite strip club (from the outside only – but even then it was pretty funny), I found a restaurant that looked like a hole in the wall with an old man standing out front. He looked like the owner or an ex mafia figure. Either way he led me through a dark alley to a small courtyard with tables. There were more tables inside the restaurant but when asked if I wanted to eat on the patio I said, “Yes.”

I had found my way to K Creole Kitchen (Famous Creole and French Cuisine – 530 Bourbon St. 504.528.9145). My waiter was a vaguely middle eastern man named Tindal, who suggested the Chef’s Platter for a good sampling of New Orleans food. I also had a salad with their homemade Italian dressing. It was pretty spicy but if they put it in bottles I’d buy it all the time. To go with dinner I had a local microbrew beer called Abita Amber. You can get more information about this at Before my food arrived Tindal came out and said they were out of Alligator and would I like to substitute some creole shrimp instead. I’m pretty easy so I said that’d be OK. It was by far the spiciest and best part of the meal. The platter also had some blackened catfish, a spicy jambalaya, crawfish ettoufe and some barbequed shrimp. These were whole shrimp with the head and legs still attached so the most time consuming part of the meal was getting the buggers out of the shell. I did not suck any juicy crap out of the shrimp head (although there was enough in there to do it). The meal was kind of pricey but since I really hadn’t used any of my per diem for the day I said, “What the heck.”

After dinner I walked down Bourbon Street again looking at all of the tourist places and being amazed at how many live music venues there were in such a small area. Of course most of the bands were playing the same brand of blues so they pretty much blended into one another but it was pretty impressive none the less. At Bourbon and Canal I hit another hotel on the Microsoft bus route and headed back to my hotel to call Tamara and find out how her day went.

Even though I should have gone to bed then, I went out to the Tech-Ed Jam session where they take over a club for a week provide a stage full of musical instruments for people to play in a giant round-robin pick-up band. Last year I never had the courage to actually play with the band but another year of guitar lessons and practice gave me the confidence to step up to the challenge. I played on a total of about 6 songs including two Beatles songs (hard day’s night and saw her standing there) and Talking Head’s Psycho Killer. No one wanted to sing House of the Rising Sun and since I had just given up the guitar when they decided to play it, I volunteered to sing. I know all of the lyrics but I make no guarantees about hitting any notes. Luckily it’s a song of pain and lament so my voice fit right in. I also joined in on a group sing for the Beatles “Hide your love away” and “Proud Mary”. They started with a CCR kind of version that blended into a Tina Turner version before it was done. After my second stint on the guitar I headed back to the hotel so I could get a little sleep before the next day of technical seminars.