DAY TWO – NEW ORLEANS CONTINUED

Go here for a recap of what happened up until this point.

Andy and I are walking in the general direction of where the Coyote Ugly is. I have a vague idea of where the bar is. I feel like I’m the one whose going to get us there even though I am feeling the alcohol.

We wander down several blocks before we reach the market area by the river. Even though none of us live in Nawlins, we both know nothing interesting is beyond the market. We have gone past it somehow.

Andy starts to ask the women on the street if they know where Coyote Ugly is. He doesn’t ask any of the men, only the women. Andy is a smart guy. No one exactly knows where it is but they point us back to where we came from. Along the way, Andy and I engage in the usual liquored-up type conversation, where every other utterance is extremely funny.

We approach one young lady for more directions and Andy asks for them in a way that seems more of a pick-up line than a genuine need for help. She really doesn’t give us the time of day and walks off. It is at this point that Andy has a shining moment of clarity.

“Women… either they like you or they don’t. It’s no use trying to make them like you. You just have to move on.”

It is the most interesting thing Andy has said all night. For a moment, I am sober as I file away his piece of sage advice. If only Andy had told me this in grade five. Then I realize I’m actually still drunk.

We eventually find Coyote Ugly. We were one block north of it the entire time we were walking. It is the first time I’ve ever been to a Coyote Ugly. The place isn’t very wide but they have a long bar that stretches all the way to the back. For a Coyote Ugly, it isn’t very crowded. There are people almost along the entire length of the bar but they aren’t any deeper than one person. Several gaps exist and that is where Andy and siddle up to.

Andy doesn’t waste any time in ordering some drinks. Little did I know I would not pay for another drink for the rest of the evening. Andy asks me what I want. I tell him I’ll have a rum and Coke. My thought was I’d have two drinks and head on back to the hotel. I still realize I have a swamp boat tour to go to at noon.

I get my drink and look around. The patrons skewed a bit older than I had imagined. Though seriously, I didn’t really expect Piper Perabo to be there. There were a few people in their twenties there, but we were the minority. Most of the drinkers were in their 30 to 40s. The bartenders were all women. They weren’t as hot as the bartenders in the movie, but they certainly did not fit into the unattractive category. Hanging above the bar were lots of bras. An indication perhaps of wilder times in the past.

As I finish my first drink, I notice the couple to our right. They looked to be in their early forties or so. She, a blonde with a leather jacket and jeans, and he, a moustached gentleman with a NASCAR jacket. They seemed like they were having a good time. She said she wanted to get up on the bar and dance, so she scooted up on a bar stool and got on the bar. Once up there, she did more of a series of undulating moves rather than flat out dancing. They were cheers from the rest of the bar. I turned to the husband and said, “You’re a lucky man.” He laughed.

She got down from the bar after that and leaned towards one of the bartenders. She ordered Kamikaze shooters for like five people around her and that included Andy and I! I was like, thanks! These Kamikaze things were weird. They’re pre-mixed shooters and they go down, really, really, smooth. Andy and I were questioning the alcohol content. They were cheap though.

Undeterred, Andy lines us up four more of these things for us. I knock ’em back in no time. Andy starts chatting up the bartenders now. It’s clear these women have had their fair share of drunk men conversing with them. One of them is especially cool to Andy. I just sit there and laugh. Andy convinces one of them to have a drink with us. She pours the three of us another Kamikaze. It’s just as good the previous ones.

By now, I am no longer questioning the alcohol content of those shooters. There is no question I cannot legally operate a motor vehicle at this point. I tell Andy I need to go use the little boys’ room. I say hi to everyone that I pass on the way. Before I go in the door, I give a high five to some dude. When I enter the washroom, I start to chuckle. I had intended to have an early night where I would have one beer and then retire to my room for some sleep. Instead, I met Andy, the fur salesman from Dallas and now here I was, drunk at Coyote Ugly.

I return to Andy, he has another Kamikaze waiting for me. Excellent. Andy is imploring any of the bartenders to get up on the bar and dance. It works. The kindest of the three gets up on bar. Unlike the other woman, she actually knows how to dance. She does it nice and slow, moving her hips in a way that was both entertaining and educational. I really don’t know what that means. Anyways, she makes her way along the entire length of the bar. She is a good sport.

The next thing I remember is that one of the bartenders began pouring some alcohol into this metal trough that ran the length of the bar. It was a long trough. Then someone else took a lighter to the trough. Wooom! The fire raced from one end to the other. Wow. The heat from the blue flames hit my face. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen at a bar.

When the flames die down, Andy begins to do his sales pitch. He tells all three bartenders that if they are looking for a fur coat, he’s the guy to talk to. He gives out his card and tells them where they’re showing the furs the next day. One girl says she might show up. Andy turns to me and says, “There’s no way in hell she’ll show up.” I agree with him.

The nice bartender then tells us that she’s leaving and her shift is over. I protest. She tells me that needs to go to school tomorrow. I tell her I’m in school, but I don’t need to go tomorrow. I ask her what type of school she goes to. She tells me video production and editing. For some reason that still escapes me, I tell her that I know a bit of that stuff and that I’ve made some videos that have appeared on the Internet. She looks at me funny. I am smiling like a goof. She says goodbye to the both of us.

Soon after she leaves, Andy settles up his bar tab. It isn’t that bad considering he’s paid for both of us. I thank him for the drinks. I tell him I’ll make sure he gets home in one piece. His hotel and mine are only a block apart. We leave Coyote Ugly behind and begin to make our way home. It is nearly 2am in the morning and there are a minimal number of people in the street. Remember, we are walking in the French Quarter, so we are passing any number of drinking establishments along the way home.

About three blocks into our journey home, I realize that one second Andy is next to me and the next, he is not. I stop and turn to see where he has gone. I see he has ducked into this narrow doorway of this nondescript building. I have no idea what type of place it is, except it’s probably a bar. I follow him inside where the two bouncers at the door give me no grief. The place is dark except for some coloured spotlights. I see a small bar, a few tables, and… a stage. And on this stage is a half-naked woman. Andy has brought us to a strip joint.

I look again and Andy has found himself a table. He already has some company. A stripper is sitting with him. I can tell she’s a stripper because most women don’t go to bars wearing just a bra and panties.

“Andy, what are you doing here?”

“Erwin! I’m just going to have a little fun, maybe a drink or two! Sit down, let me buy you a drink!”

Andy motions towards the barkeep. This place is so small, the bartender at the bar is no more than five feet from us. I mouth the word water at him. Though I am still very drunk at this point, I realize I need to be ready by noon for the trip out to the swamp.

Andy’s drink arrives and so does my water. I take another look at this place we’re in. It’s the oddest strip joint I’ve seen in my entire life, though I haven’t been to too many in the first place. No seriously, I haven’t. The place is small, maybe room for like five tables and this really small sliver of a stage. It’s empty for the most part. Andy and I seem to be the only patrons. The woman dancing seems rather plain for a stripper. Once her top comes off, she gets off the stage and puts her top back on. A few minutes later, she comes and sits down next to me. She says hello to me. I say hi back.

I ask her when her shift is over. She tells me 6am. I tell her that is a shame. She then offers me a proposition.

“Would you like to buy a bottle of champagne? We can go to the back room and I can give you a private dance. All for $150.”

I tell her that I just used up my last $150 buying lottery tickets, but that if I won, the first thing I’d do would be to come back and take her up on her offer.

She was ok with that and we entered into some small talk before she gave me another offer. She informed that for $200, she was willing to come back to my hotel room and give me a “hand” with anything I needed.

I politely declined, though I did tell her that I was more of a do-it-yourself type of guy, and that any job that you do yourself is much more satisfying than leaving someone else to do it.

By now, it was pushing 3am and I needed to go back home and drink two litres of water before I went to bed. By the way that Andy was chatting up his stripper, he didn’t seem like he was leaving anytime soon. I got his attention.

“Andy, I gotta go. Are you cool here? Are you going to be alright?”

“Yeah, I’ll be cool. I’m ok. You’re not leaving now buddy? Come on!”

“No, I have to get up tomorrow for that swamp tour. Thanks for all the drinks tonight. Here, let me give you my e-mail address.”

I turn to my stripper and I ask if they have a pen and some paper here. She tells me she’s not allowed to have a pen and some paper because it can cause problems with solitcitation. I’m like, ummmm… ok. I go up to the bartender to get a pen and some paper. He hands me a slip of paper and a pen. I’m amazed at how drunk I still am because I can barely scrawl out my e-mail address. It’s nearly illegible.

I give it to Andy and thank him once more for everything. I shake his hand. I realize I probably won’t ever see him again for the rest of my life. I say goodbye and I take my leave.

I easily make my way back to my hotel. As I pass by the front desk, I try not to look drunk, but I think the concierge could tell. Oh well.

It’s about 3am and I’m tired, but there’s no way I can go to bed without some water. I have about a litre of bottled water in the room, so I start on that. I change into my PJs, turn on the TV, and get into bed. I’m watching HBO. The Last Castle is on. I watch in rapt attention. As I drink my water, I consume a bag of party mix that I got from the plane.

I set my alarm for 10:30am. That’s about six and a half hours away. I finish my water and brush my teeth. I get back into bed and turn out the lights. Sleep arrives very soon after.

TO BE CONTINUED…

VARIOUS THINGS

After Thursday, I found myself with nothing too pressing to do. When you’re in school, that feeling should worry you. A student, especially a grad student, should always have something pressing to do.

Yes, I do a have a proposal due on Tuesday, but for some reason I’m not too worried about it. I should be, since I have no idea what I’m going to propose. It’s a proposal for a short project I’ll be doing for a class. It’ll get done somehow and on time, and if it’s crap, then it’s crap, because I know I’ll have tried my best on it.

I also have to make an hour long (or thereabouts) presentation in about two weeks. This isn’t even for marks or a class! Here at SJC, we have a Resident Speaker Series. It gives the residents a chance to speak, lecture style, about some topic. It doesn’t have to do with your research, it can be anything you have knowledge of. The talks are generally attended by other residents. The impression I get is that these talks have sparse attendance. To be honest, some people choose really dense subjects, which they genuinely may be passionate about, but leave others wondering if there’s an episode of Family Matters on TV. Others give light-hearted talks, while they aren’t rooted in academia, are much more appreciated.

Anyways, a moron like me doesn’t know a whole lot of anything, so I can only give a fluff talk. I’ve decided to entitle my talk, “Video Game Testing : A Dream Job… Or Is It?“. I realized a long time ago, the job of a video game tester is pretty unique. Whenever I told people what I did, invariably their eyes light up, and they start asking questions. From this, I gathered most people have inaccurate perceptions of what goes on during testing. My hope is that my talk will shed some light on what testers do and what goes on during the testing phase.

My goal is also to keep people entertained. If my talk about entertainment software, doesn’t entertain people, then I will have failed horribly. I’m planning on having some hands-on demonstrations of certain testing activities. I’ll pick a volunteer out of the crowd and get them to participate. I won’t give away what I have in mind, except to say it’ll be fun. I’m also going to have a PS2 setup with my lecture. While I’ll try to keep the focus on the general activity of testing, I’m going to get specific with a particular game. I’ve decided to use NHL 2002 for most of my specific examples. It makes sense since I believe I did a good job testing that particular game. Near the end, I’m going to show the audience something really neat with NHL 2002. Again, I won’t say anything more.

I’m kinda looking forward to writing this presentation, except for two things. I’ve never done a presentation on Powerpoint before. I don’t know how to make the slides and I know nothing about those fancy transitions and fade-ins. I’m hoping the learning curve will be quite shallow. The other thing is that I don’t have a laptop to put my presentation on. I will have to rely on the kindness of my fellow residents to let me borrow their laptop. I must remind any SJC resident with a laptop that I occasionally bake cookies and cakes, and a trade just might be possible.

Wow, it’s getting late. I need to go over some PHP files. I will talk to you guys later. Oh, one more thing, that was a hell of a save.

LAZY THURSDAY

After working all evening on Wednesday to finish an assignment, I really had nothing planned for Thursday. Of course, I stayed up late, heading to bed around 2am. I woke up around 8:45am and headed off to 9:30am class.

The prof was a bit frazzled when he arrived in the classroom. He announced that this was going to be a short class.

“My wife and I having been moving for the last two days, so I basically didn’t get any sleep last night. I’m pretty out of it.”

Well, he seemed pretty with it to me. For a computer science prof, I’ve noticed he knows a lot about mechanical engineering concepts. His knowledge of finite element analysis goes way beyond mine, though I didn’t take FEM in undergrad. He also seems to know as much as I do about fracture mechanics. Today, he gave the class some background on how metals get stronger as you deform them. He went into grain boundaries and dislocations in the crystalline structure. I was impressed. I had to remind myself this guy’s Ph.D is in computer science.

He stopped about a half hour early, which was fine by me, since, as usual, we got into some heavy duty mathematics. It was about 10:30am at this point, and I didn’t have another class until 5pm. You’d think I could have probably got a lot of work done, and you’d be right, except I didn’t.

I grabbed some breakfast from the Barn and then headed home. I’m reading this book called Physics For Game Developers out of my own interest. Today, I went on the book’s web site and looked at the errata sheet. Holy crap are there a lot of errors in this book. It took me nearly an hour to go through each one and correct the copy of book I have. I hope the library appreciates what I did to their book.

After that it was a nap. I had intended it to be for only an hour or less, but I didn’t set my alarm. Total nap duration? 12:30pm to nearly 3pm. Oh well. I forced myself to get up and sat in front of my computer to learn some PHP. It’s a scripting language I need to learn for my software engineering project course. I took it really slow. I wish I had gotten through more of it today.

Before long it was time to get ready for my 5pm class. It was a good class. I handed in my assignment and got the last one back. The prof warned us that the marks weren’t really good this time, but when I got mine back, I had no complaints at all.

After class, I had some dinner and the rest of the evening was kind of a blur after that. So, here I am. I try not write these what I had for lunch type of posts anymore, but sometimes that’s all that happens to you in day.

MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH

I am sorry that sometimes, people miss one of my new posts by exactly one minute. Doh! Always reload a minute later just to be sure!

EXHAUSTED

Boy, am I tired right now. I had a twelve hour day. I was up at 8:30am and my day didn’t finish until 8:30pm.

I had to invigilate a quiz as part of my TA duties tonight. I was stuck in a stuffy, hot, and crowded classroom from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

I don’t have to be up until 10am tomorrow. The logical thing to do would be to go to bed now, wake up early and then do some work. I don’t work very well in the morning though, so tired as I am, I’ll probably try to get some stuff done before 2:30am, which I’ll probably shoot for as my bedtime.

It’s interesting what can drive a person to ignore fatigue, to clear your mind, and to sharpen your focus. Caffeine is one thing. It’s a dangerous game though, since too much of that stuff will leave just as ineffective. Anger is another thing. I found this out in undergrad. If you just find one thing to be really angry about, you can channel that anger towards getting some work done. I tend not to use this very often as you really don’t want to live your life this way. If I may borrow some terms from an ancient order of peacekeepers, anger, fear, and agression are paths towards a darker side of living. It’s the easiest and most seductive way to get your ass in gear, but it’s done for all the wrong reasons.

The best way to movitate yourself is sheer determination. You simply rely on your will to get things done, no matter what stands in your way. People have finished assignments in one night, written an essay in five hours, formulated presentations in an afternoon, and carried their best friends up a volcanic mountain on their shoulders.

Having said this though, I’ll prolly watch some stuff on IFILM until I get too tired to do anything else.

AN OPPORTUNITY LOST

Over one year ago, Ryan Allan, a former co-worker of mine, embarked on an ambitious journey to launch a web site to end all web sites. Spurned on by the fizzling successes of this site, ryannordman.com, and garrettknights.com, Ryan thought he could make his mark with www.flyingboxstudios.com. No one knew what he was going to do, but most people assumed it had to do with his series of Flying Box games that he designed.

Once he secured a domain, he threw up a “Coming Soon” page and there that page rested, complete with an annoying spelling mistake. Months went by without any word from Ryan. One day, he corrected the spelling mistake. Then over Christmas, he changed the page once more, promising that the site was “nearly complete”.

No launch ever came though and the beginning of February rolled around. Time for his domain to be renewed. It was not renewed. In a matter of weeks, the domain will be let back into the public for anyone to claim once again.

Sure, it was $20 US down the drain, but the greater loss was the loss of what could have been. If one can take a lesson from this it’s if you ever buy a domain, do something with it.

BLOGGING ON THE ROAD

I’ve taken blogging on the road this weekend. I am at my sister’s nice place in Victoria. It’s been an interesting weekend thus far.

I forgot to pack my PJ bottoms, which I only figured out before I went to bed on Friday night… at midnight. Can you imagine me going to bed at midnight? Anyways, I was pissed off at myself for not packing my bottoms.

Carolyn was my bedmate and she was like, “Dude, if somehow your jeans get removed in the middle of the night, it’s cool with me… just as long as you stay on your side of the bed.”

I slipped into bed and under the covers. Then, I took my jeans off to my ankles.

“Nope, this isn’t happening.”

So, there I was in my jeans at midnight. I laid there and tossed and turned… I made hand puppets, thought about Eurotrip which I had saw that night… I eventually ran out of things to do. Around 2:30am it got kinda interesting. Someone who shall go unnamed, laughed out loud in her sleep. It was a short, terse laugh. HA! Then someone else who shall go unnamed started snoring. It rose in intensity from a low rumble to a near bed-shaking climax. She stopped after that.

Somewhere around 3am I fell into a restless sleep. At around 7am the freaking alarm went off. Not sure why it did, it might have been set before we got there on the clock radio. I was not pleased. Nor did I reach for it. Rhonda somehow turned it off by throwing it to the ground. That was basically all she wrote for sleep for me.

Around 9am the ladies around me got up and started showering while I prayed for more sweet sleep to wash over me. It did not happen. Then phone rang. It was the most chipper voice I’ve ever heard Bryan speak.

“Good morning! Where is everyone at?”

“Well, I’m in bed and Carolyn is with me.”

“How long do you think it’ll take everyone to get ready?”

“I dunno, twenty minutes?”

“Ok, we’re all ready over here for breakfast.”

“Good for you, bye.”

“Bye.”

I hung up and made a small little pillow fort around my head. It was too late, I had to get up. I went to breakfast with everyone and bought some PJs. I left the group around 2pm to go back to the hotel. I napped for about 10 minutes (in my new PJs). I also watched some HBO and Showtime. Then I walked over to my sister’s place.

I feel a bit better now, but the previous evening didn’t really leave me with a lot of energy. I hate to mention it, but travelling with people with similar sleeping patterns does make things easier. Invariably, it’s the night owls that get the wrong end of the bed because there’s fewer of us, and we have to do the adjusting. Manifesto anyone? Oh well, it’s cool to be on the road with my friends no matter what. I just wasn’t very fun to be around today. Hopefully, I will be more rested tomorrow, but I doubt it since I anticipate getting up early again.

Well, I’m going to have a nice chat with my lovely sister now.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

I’ve had this discussion with a few people before but I’ve decided to open it up to a larger forum. Here’s the topic: Guys, if you decide to marry, would you want your wife to take on your surname? Ladies, if you decide to marry, would you want to change your surname?

Here’s where I stand on the subject. I’d like my wife to keep her last name. She’s had it all her life, I think it’s ridiculous that she’d have to change it just because she married me. Afterall, she’s already doing me a huge favour by agreeing to watch me scratch my ass for the rest of our lives, I’d feel bad if she had to get her name changed too.

As if planning a wedding isn’t enough, she’d have to get all her documents, credit cards, ID cards, and stationary changed. Who needs that? It’s just a pain in the ass.

I know some women keep their last names after marriage for professional reasons. Before marriage, they’ve made some impact in their field and changing their name would confuse their colleagues. University researchers come to mind. If they’ve been published under one name, it’s just easier to continue to publish under that same name. Actresses are another case. Everyone knows who Julia Roberts is, but it’d be weird seeing a new movie from Julia Moder.

I might be ok with the hyphenated last name. It would really depend on what the combo would be. If I married a woman with the last name Orange, I’d probably have to insist on her using the hyphenated version. If her name was already long, it could sound akward. For example, Mrs. Love-Hewitt-Tang takes some effort to say.

What does everyone else think? Ladies, if you were willing to change, why would you? Guys, would you insist on your bride taking your name? Let’s hear it!