Friday, October 24, 2003  


I'd love to tell you how the rest of the evening went with me and Andy down in New Orleans, but I don't have the time for it right now. I will finish up my recount sometime over the weekend.

Well, I've been slacking off since Wednesday night. Is this any different than any other week? Well, not really, except that I consciously decided to not do anything the last two days. I had a midterm on Wednesday that I did not do very well on. No, I'm serious, I really, really sucked the big one on it.

Anyways, I studied hard for it, so despite the crap performance and all, I decided dumb, old Erwin needed a break.

I am proud of myself for marking an assignment tonight. Sure, it was a short one, but my students will get it back on Monday and they love getting assignments back.

Totally off-topic, but people are still discovering my web site around here at SJC and elsewhere for that matter. My neighbours came up to me one day and said they saw my site and they really enjoyed it. Apparently, another resident told them about it. Two days ago, I had Andrea come up to me in the hallway, "Erwin, I overheard some of classmates discussing your site. I visited it and it's really funny." Andrea is in med school and strange as it seems, several 2nd year med students don't mind visiting my site once in a while. Just today, I was talking with my friend Marcia on the phone. She mentioned that her mom, a professor at UBC, had seen my site and she thought it was funny as well.

I am still amazed that people are finding my site, and are very grateful they enjoy reading it. Anytime someone says they saw my site, I thank them for visiting. I do that because there are literally billions of pages out there to visit. That they would take the time out, even once, to visit my little corner of the Web makes me happy.

So, thanks for coming out and giving me a reason to work on this site.


posted by Erwin | 2:49 AM

Thursday, October 23, 2003  


So, I'm at the Riverwalk Marketplace and I want to go New Orleans Centre, billed by my travel guide as "New Orlean's newest shopping centre". It's fourteen blocks away.

I decide it's time for a cab. The Hilton hotel is located next to Riverwalk. I get to the entrance and there's a fleet of cabs available. I hop in the nearest one and soon I am zipping through traffic. My destination is quite close to the Superdome. Minutes later, I'm a block away from the stadium and dropped off at the mall. I pay the driver and get out.

I go into the mall and I immediately get a bad feeling. The place doesn't look new at all. It feels like it was built in the 80s. There's no one in it. The stores suck. Sure, it has a Macy's, but it's nothing like the Macy's in NYC. The whole place has this sanitized feel to it. I'm out of there in less than 20 minutes.

I decide I can walk back to my hotel, since it's only 7 blocks or so. I get back and shower once again. Fresh out of the shower, I plop on the bed and turn on the TV. A nap ensues. I wake up an hour or so later. It's almost 7pm. I need to find some dinner. Flipping through the travel guide, I decide on Lemon Grass. Vietnamese cuisine fused with the local Cajun flavours. It's also only a block away from my hotel.

Lemon Grass is located in the International Hotel. It's a very nice place to stay. I liked how everything looked clean and modern, without being too pretentious. Anyways, I get to the restaurant and they are two other tables. It's totally dead in there.

I'm also the only one dining alone. I order up some din-din. It looks good. I start to get bored during my meal. I was hoping my waitress would chat with me, but she doesn't, even though she seems as bored as I am. I finish my meal, pay, and get out of there. While nice, the food didn't really stand out. I think I've had better Asian-fusion at Wild Rice. Anyways, as I was leaving, I passed by the hotel bar, Loa. It looked very comfy and a great place to grab a drink. I also noticed the bartender was female and she was very much alone, without a single customer. Heh.

I was too full for a drink, so I decided I'd go home, check my mail, and then come back later. So, that I did, and I came back to the bar about an hour later. My plan was to have a beer or two, and then go back to end the night early. What I forgot to mention was that I had booked myself on a swamp tour the next day and I had to be down in the lobby for my pick-up at 12 noon. I wanted to get up early to do some stuff before heading back for the tour.

Anyways, I got to the bar and sidled up to a stool and sat down. The same bartender was still there and there was another patron about three stools down from me. He was wearing a plaid shirt, jean shorts, and running shoes. He also possessed what appeared to be the beginnings of a mullet. I would have guessed his age to be late thirties or early forties.

The bartender came up to me and asked me what I wanted. I asked her what kind of beer she had on tap. She went through a list but the last one was foreign to me. She explained it was a local beer. That sounded alright to me, no sense in going to New Orleans to get a Molson. It was also cheap, about $4 US a pint.

I took my pint and sipped from it. Not bad. Chit-chat began between the bartender and myself. It turns out she just finished her master's degree in creative writing in New York. She had been in New Orleans for less than a year. I told her I was doing a grad degree as well. She told me almost lost her fellowship because she didn't want to teach undergrads. She said it detracted from her own work. I was like, um, ok. I personally think teaching undergrads is a good thing for grad students.

Well, all the while, the dude at the end of the bar is listening intently to our conversation. He jumps in once in a while to ask a question. I'm done my first pint and I decide to have another. While the bartender goes to pour it, I turn to the other dude and get his story. Turns out he's a fur salesman from Dallas, Texas. He's driven up with some other people to sell some furs to a Baptist convention.

I ask him how the hell is he selling fur coats in Dallas in the summertime. He tells me "it ain't easy". We begin to talk about other stuff that escapes my mind. General bar talk I guess. He notices this really expensive tequila on the shelf. The bartender asks if he wants a margarita with it. He asks how much. $13 US she replies. I am quite content with my $4 US beer. The dude goes for it.

I mention to him that better be a hell of a margarita for $13 US. I tell him that's like $19 CAD. The bartender fixes up his drink. It's a tiny, tiny margarita. We're not talking Earl's sized margaritas. She puts into a glass that you'd drink scotch in. There's an extra little bit that she puts into a shot glass. She places boths glasses in front of him. He takes a sip from the bigger one. A look of content comes to his face. "Mmmm.... that's nice."

He then proceeds to slide the shot glass over to me. "Here, try it." I ask him if he's sure. The shot glass probably contains nearly $5 CAD worth of margarita. He says he's sure. I drink the whole thing. It is nice. Perhaps not $13 US nice, but tasty nonetheless. I'm almost through my 2nd beer and I'm feeling pretty conversational at this point. My friend and I start talking about more stuff. At one point, someone asks the other what their first name is. I say mine. He's starts laughing. "Oh, you were serious. Sorry." I laugh it off. I've had two beer. I ask him his name. It's Andy. Hello Andy.

I get up to use the men's room. On the walk over, it's clear to me I've had something to drink. I get back and the bartender asks me if I want something else. I say I'm not sure what I want. She suggests a mojito. She tells me that people come in especially asking for her since she makes the best mojitos. I ask her how much. $9 US. Whoa, usually for that price someone gets naked while I drink (er, so I've been told that can happen). I decide what the hell, I'm on vacation. She makes me up a mojito. It looks absolutely refreshing. I've never had one before. I take a sip from it. It's like a cool breeze in my mouth. It goes down really smooth. I'm done with it in less than three minutes. I order another. I try not to think about what this is costing me.

While I'm drinking my second mojito, Andy makes some sorta reference to women bartenders dancing on bars. Our bartender says she's not doing that for sure. She mentions though that there is a Coyote Ugly in the French Quarter. Andy looks at me.

"Erwin, let's go to Coyote Ugly. You and me buddy."

At this point, I realize it's about midnight and I'm pretty sure I'm drunk. Now, Andy, a fur salesman from Dallas, Texas, who I've known for about two hours is asking me if I want to go to Coyote Ugly where women dance on the bar.


"Let's go Andy."

Before I go, I pay my bill and tell Andy I have to make one more trip to the men's room. As I walk, it's very clear I am intoxicated. I don't stumble or anything, but for some reason I find the bathroom soaps amusing. I'm also laughing at the randomness of the night. It was supposed to be an early evening. Yet, here I am about to go bar hopping some dude I just met.

We go outside the hotel. Andy is drunk as I am. Before we left, we got directions from the bartender. Off we went in the night, two out-of-town dudes, trying to make their way to Coyote Ugly.



posted by Erwin | 1:33 AM

Wednesday, October 22, 2003  


I don't watch Smallville, though maybe I should. Anyways, I just caught the last three minutes or so of tonight's episode.

What the hell is up with Clark and Lana? Are they just friends or what? Can some one explain it to me? Anyone?


posted by Erwin | 11:00 PM

Tuesday, October 21, 2003  


I'm on a twenty-minute break and I seriously hope it'll stay at 20 minutes and not a minute longer. I'm studying for a midterm and I want to get in another hour or so before I think about bedtime. I swear I must be the last person to go to bed here at SJC on most nights. I wonder if there would be any way to find out.

Anyways, I'd really like to finish telling the rest of my day two in New Orleans, but that'll have to wait until after midterm on Wednesday. I'll need some time to finish up that day.

Well, rather telling you what I had for lunch today (tomato soup with beef ravioli), I'll indulge you with a thought I had this afternoon.

If you had to pick a TV character, past or present, that you identify with most, who would it be and why?

I'll start the ball rolling. I guess at this point in my life, I'd identify most with the character Ed Stevens on the show Ed. Ed was a successful lawyer in New York who had his marriage fail and subsequently moved to his small home town to pursue the girl he's always wanted. Well, obviously I haven't had that happen to me, but it's what he's done since he's moved back that I can identify with.

Ed is the archetypical "nice guy". He's kind to others, polite, and his friends seem to like him. Ed's also intelligent and funny. Moreover, while he possesses all these great qualities, he still fails to land his dream girl. Well, up to season three at least... heh.

Yeah, I can see myself one day, pack it all in from my apartment in Kits, move back to Coquitlam, open up a Japanese fast-fry place in the food court at Lougheed Mall, and pursue old high school crushes. Um, yeah... ha ha ha... no seriously though, I see a bit of Ed in me.

So, what about you guys? Tell me about your choices! How about the characters below?


posted by Erwin | 2:20 AM

Monday, October 20, 2003  


Rarely, as a student, do you find yourself with nothing to do. I have a big AI assignment to start, a midterm to study for on Wednesday, and a tutorial I need to review. That was on my plate today. I managed to get to the last two, but didn't get to the first.

I could have worked every waking minute today (which I did not) and I still would have been not finished. It's times like this you have to realize what else are you putting off because of work.

I've learned that because of this spectre of work that always hangs over a student, people can put things aside that might take five seconds to finish. Things like taking out the garbage or phoning a friend. If you're going to be studying 10 hours for the day, what is five minutes to take out the trash or seeing how a friend is doing?

I sometimes forget that lesson myself. I plan on going to bed at 4am. I could easily study until then. I'm really tempted to. What else, though, am I putting off? Lots of things; things like paying my bills on-line. So... let me go do that....

Okay, just did that. Whoa. What a miniscule balance. Now, I need to go start my on-line loan application...


Figures... I'm not sure who to blame, our provincial government as a whole or the people running the loan app system.


posted by Erwin | 3:31 AM

Sunday, October 19, 2003  


I promised myself I'd finish describing my trip to New Orleans, so here we go, albeit my memory is slightly more foggier now, but I'll do my best. You might want to back to re-read my last New Orleans post to see where I was.

The continental breakfast ends at the early hour of 9am, so I set my alarm to some gross hour of 8am. Surprisingly, I don't feel so bad considering all the travel I've done and that it's 6am back in Vancouver.

I turn on the TV and watch it in bed for a few minutes before I go and start my morning ritual. It takes me about half an hour to get decent and put on my clothes for the day. I head on down to the lobby and into the conference room where they've set up breakfast. Two tables have been set-up with the food. As far as continental breakfasts go, it's pretty crappy. There are no croissants nor muffins. There are these tiny, bite size pastry thingies, most of which are too sweet for breakfast. A few are muffin-like, so I grab those. There are bagels, but I don't go for those. To drink, there is the standard coffee and hot water for tea. I go for the orange juice.

I grab my selection and sit down. I am the only there. Complimentary copies of USA Today are at each table. I take one and start reading and eating. I prefer local papers because I could be one of millions of people in any city reading the exact same USA Today. I imagine it's cheaper for the hotel to get USA Today though.

I finish up breakfast and head back on up to get the rest of my things for the day. The plan is to go on a two-hour walking tour of New Orleans. Armed with my trusty travel guide and camera, I hit the street. It's barely past 9:30am and I can feel the heat already. It is going to be a hot day.

I have to be at this cafe in the French Quarter to meet the tour guide at 10:30am. There are no reservations, it's just whoever shows up. I have no idea how many people will be there. It's early, so I make my way to the French Quarter and just start looking around. I go into various shops that feature tacky items, specifically designed for tourists it seems. I find one that is large, slightly more classy than the others, and more importantly, well air-conditioned.

In this store, I find any number of souvenir-type goods. I discover a stack of preserved alligator heads, all frozen in one last open-mouth pose. The teeth are still sharp. $10 US for a small head, $16 for a large. Along a wall, I spy various hot sauces. There are two themes when it comes to the packaging of these hot sauces. One plays up the "fire out of the anus" angle. Here, there's invariably some cartoon label of some poor dude, who's consumed the contents of the bottle, with fire coming out of his rear. The second theme attempts to equate the spicyness of the sauce with the sexiness of a girl on the label. Several labels feature erotically drawn cartoon women with large breasts. A few even go as far as working the act of fellatio into the selling of hot sauce.

I browse through the numerous strands of beads in the other part of the store. The more expensive strands feature plastic toys on them; some are mermaids, some are animals, and still others are genitalia (of both sexes).

Time winding down, I head over to Cafe Beignet, to await the massive crush of people who will join me on this tour. I get to the place and there are three customers. As I walk in, they are leaving. Hmmm.... It's still early, so I decide to partake in my first New Orleans "must-do". I order some beignets. Beignets are a staple of New Orleans cuisine. There are essentially fried pieces of dough, then liberally sprinkled, nay, covered in icing sugar. My travel guide even goes as far as saying it's quite acceptable to walk the street with icing sugar down the front of your shirt. Everyone will know and understand the reason for that.

My order of beignets comes up and I go get them. I receive a paper take out container with three square-shaped pieces of dough. It's covered in icing sugar. There's also a layer of icing sugar on the bottom of the container. It looks good.

I sit down and take a bite out of one. It's still warm. The icing sugar hits me. Yummy. I also notice the dough is way heavier than I had anticipated. These are not light and fluffy doughnuts. These are high-density fried goods.

While I'm chowing down, a gentleman enters the cafe. "Who's here for the tour?", he asks. I raise my hand. I am the only customer in the cafe and the only one with my hand up.

The tour guide walks over to my table.

"Hmmm... well, we usually take a three people as a bare minimum for a tour. Hopefully, some more people show up."

I tell him I'm really looking forward to the tour. He tells me that his boss has an unwritten rule that they don't leave anyone just because the minimum is not met. I am relieved. He also tells me that his boss will lose money on this tour if it's just me, but that's the way it is sometimes.

There's ten minutes to go. We enter into smalltalk in between my bites of my beignets. These things are kicking my ass. They're heavy and make for the hearty breakfast I didn't have at my hotel. I manage to finish them right at 10:30am. No one else has come for the tour.

"Alright, saddle up, it's just you and me my friend."

Excellent. For the next two hours, I have my own personal tour guide of the French Quarter. I am most pleased.

We go outside and I hand him $10 US for the tour. My UBC student card gets me $2 off. He tells me how the tour is going to go, where we'll be headed, to get water if I don't have any (I already do), and to ask questions at any time. With the preliminaries out of the way, we begin the tour.

Our first stop is just across the street. My guide begins his talk. I learn that he used to be a policeman with the New Orleans police department. He was born and raised in the city. He's personable and friendly. I decide he's an okay guy.

For the next two hours, we walk around the French Quarter. I get a complete history lesson of the city. It's better than any book could have described it. At key points, we stop on the sidewalk and he tells me an important anecdote for that street or for a particular building. I take pictures along the way. I see Tennessee Williams' home where he wrote A Streetcar Named Desire. While he describes this to me, a streetcar rumbles by us. This tour was a good idea.

I am taken all over the French Quarter, and before I know it, the time is up. My guide wraps up his history lesson and description of the area. I thank him for his time and effort. I shake his hand and we part ways. I get the feeling that was the best $10 I will have spent in New Orleans.

I make my way back to the area near my hotel. I haven't had lunch yet, so I duck into this restaurant that was recommended by my travel guide. I order this pasta dish. It has crawfish, mussels, and shrimp. It's pretty good. I make a note that I still haven't had jumbalaya or gumbo.

After lunch, I go back to my room and shower. Feeling refreshed again, I examine my choices for the late afternoon. I decided to head towards the Riverwalk Marketplace. Hailed as a premier shopping venue, Riverwalk is also right next to the aquarium and riverboats. If it sucked, I could easily find alternate plans.

While the walk there is short, the heat is stifling in the late afternoon. By the time I get to Riverwalk, I feel like the sun is specifically directing all its rays towards me. At Riverwalk, I amazed at how close it is to the Mississippi riverfront. Before I go in, I walk into this plaza area with fountains that overlooks the river. It's beautiful. I go right up to the railing and look at the river. I cautiously put my hand on the metal railing. It's hot enough to cook the proverbial egg.

I decide to go into the shopping complex. The blast of A/C welcomes me with great relief. I browse through all the stores. It's a decent mall, and I've certainly been to worse. Having a view of the Mississippi at all times isn't bad either. In the end, I don't wind up buying anything because of the exchange rate. At the end of the mall is the food court. It's rather large and reminds me of Granville Island. Huge bay windows give diners a view of the river. I've just had lunch a few hours ago, but when I pass by a Popeye's Chicken, I cannot resist.

I order up a meal deal thing and sit next to a window. I've always wanted to try Popeye's fried chicken. It is... disappointing. With my meal done, I decide I've had enough of Riverwalk. I notice that I've missed the last riverboat tour time already. The aquarium also closes soon. Damn. A quick flip of my guide reveals there's another shopping mall that closes at 9pm.

That mall is about 14 blocks from Riverwalk. Too far to walk. I'll need to take a taxi. Where to find a taxi though?



posted by Erwin | 4:16 AM
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