Melissa and I are about halfway done with our NOLA getaway... here are some photos splitting the difference between "documenting our trip" and "I like the way this photo came out" (so not showing all the food diary shots, I'm better at eating food than photographing it.)
December 10, 2019
Open Photo Gallery
We arrive Sunday afternoon - the hotel concierge (Roy at the Maison on Dupuy) suggests hitting the French Market and then Coop's, local favorite but with a great tourist-friendly "Taste Plate" - Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya is Melissa's favorite NOLA food so far. But this shot expresses how the locals feel about hot sauce...
View from our Balcony at the Maison Dupuy... the hotel restaurant is playing some great jazzy pop but with a Christmas bend, which always feels like a disconnect to witness in a land with palm trees (I'm not sure if it's just the tourist aspect but NOLA seems more into Christmas than Boston.)
Bourbon Street at night - earlier we were walking around the French Market, the Saints were playing the 49ers, and a lot of fans were in the area at night (we nervously split when we saw a Mardi Gras-esque float by the 49ers fans approaching, not sure how it was going to be received...) Before that we grabbed a Muffuletta and a link of Alligator Sausage.
I'm always a sucker for good signage.
Waiting for a tour bus we got a second look at something our cab driver from the airport had pointed out - in October an under-construction building (future Hard Rock Cafe hotel) had partially collapsed.
Our destination was the Whitney and Oak Alley Plantations. Whitney is strongly focused on presenting the perspective of the enslaved people that so much was taken from - including the heroic tragedy of the 1811 German Coast uprising. Oak Alley (as seen in many films including Interview with the Vampire) is also very careful at showing the human cost and not whitewashing the period. Photograph from the balcony of the main house there.
After dinner at Mahoney's we went to Frenchmen Street - The Young Fellaz, a group I knew a bit from HONK! in October, were in full effect on the corner. (After their set I went up and one of the tuba players let me borrow his horn (I had brought my own mouthpiece), and a few of the players briefly jammed over my signature bass line Space Cadet)
Tuesday bright and early we headed out for a city bus tour - you get a local telling you great stories and you cover more geography than on foot... we stopped at St. Louis Cemetery No. 3. (The NOLA burial traditions are fascinating.)
After the tour we went to the Audubon Insectarium - once upon a time a fellow student in a photography adult ed class asked me (in her charming irish brogue) "ooo, y'like boogs, doncha?" and I sort of denied it but you know, she wasn't wrong.
The Insectarium even has a cafeteria where you can sample crickets and waxworms in various preparations, like hummus and chocolate-chip-ish cookies, but the Butterfly Garden was more photogenic...
Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.Found this quote I grabbed 16 years ago... it really summarizes an important aspect of my philosophy. There is an objective truth, and you should feel compelled to align yourself with it, but you can never be certain you're there, and an important part of both understanding both probability and empathy is to be respectful of other's view of it, so long as there is a good chance they are being sincere and not obviously cynically manipulated.
Heh, another relevant previously blogged quote form 5 years ago:
The universe of ideas is just as little independent of the nature of our experiences as clothes are of the form of the human body.
Thinking about my reading habits. One of the downsides to tracking all the books I've consumed (for almost two decades now) is the tendency to "gamify" reading. I started the practice to try and remember the books (along with movies and games and what not) of my life, but now that there's a yearly number to it, it's hard not think in terms of the tally - whether for "bragging rights" or just to get a feel for how I'm spending my time over the course of a year, and how that number varies over the course of a decade.
July 1, 2019
That leads to a few knock-on effects, like how I'm more likely to follow a mediocre book to the bitter end, or less likely to start juggling several books at once, partially for the pressure of adding to the tally.
For a while I admired and kind of imitated people saying "Oh, I only read non-fiction, really." Isn't the universe rich enough that we should focus on what is, rather than people who are making up more of it? But now I'm thinking I want to recant on this idea, and focus more on fiction.
I'm a fast reader (and so, secretly a skimmer) and so I tend to read for substance, books presenting superficially interesting and novel ideas. Or better yet, and maybe this is where novels can best produce novelty - books that give me a new way of interpreting the otherwise too familiar.
I read through Kris Gage's 8 Things I Learned Reading 50 Books A Year For 7 Years (Tangent: this article was a recommendation from Firefox's Pocket, the first "let us be your homepage, we'll show you interesting stuff" portal widget I've seen that actually seems good.) The author quotes this lovely passage:
We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.
Arthur C. Brooks in the Atlantic on Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think
It's an intriguing article that starts about professional decline with age, with a sudden veer into a call for spirituality and finding a role in being a mentor. "Corpse meditation" - a practice of literal encounters with the remains of the dead - is touched upon; to me the "exposure therapy" it offers (similar to the "negative visualization" suggested by modern forms of stoicism) is much more satisfying than a life of avoidance...
Interesting wrapping this into where I am now - my long term lack of career ambition (long term ambitions in general, actually), combined with my mid-life rediscovery of community through band, and my version of a spiritual quest in terms of helping people cope with their own mortality, as well as figuring out the sense of ultimately unrealizable but existent and relevant objective truth that has driven me so many years.
So much of my writing is made worse by me trying to say too many things, either to show off my smarts or to acknowledge the validity of people holding conflicting opinions... even before I've stated my own.
Or the fear that if I leave out a detail, it is gone forever, without hope of later retrieval as needed.
"Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity" and you can leave off two of the Simplicities...
Is life fair? Short answer, no. Long answer, nooooooo.
Aging well is largely a process of recognizing what you don't need to worry about, one thing at a time, until, presumably, you winnow it down to life itself and find you can easily let that go too
You think it's cool to hate things. And it's not. It's boring. Talk about what you love and keep quiet about what you don't.
One of those mornings where you think "huh, lot of glare from the windows, makes the monitor look so dark, relatively" and then 10 minutes later you remember you still have your sunglasses on.
SNL Skit "Whites" -- man I wish we were all this cool with demographic change. ("WHITES: Still calling the shots til 2050. 2060 Tops.")
Is there any generalized way to get old medical records? Specifically I wish I had more data about what I weighed before 1998 or so, high school, college, and just after. More for curiosity's sake, but still... I'd love to know what my start and end points were for my weightloss in high school (first time I gave it a serious effort... I was gently teased for constantly having to pull my pants up) and what it was during college.
http://www.conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project Oh, man. 5 years ago I found this project page. The begging the question of the fundamental correctness of everything Conservative is just mind boggling. "We know we're correct, and we share God's view of everything. So if anything in the Bible doesn't support exactly what we believe and how we believe it, it must be a mistranslation, and we can fix that." It runs so counter to other fundamentalist ways of thinking - swapping "the inerrancy of the Bible" for, like, "the inerrancy of us" (or maybe "the inerrancy of Rush Limbaugh") Check out the "talk" tab for extra awesomeness.
Also, that "best of the public" scheme it leads off with, that pretty much anybody who deeply studies a subject starts drowning in the kool-aid of that fields collective wisdom... man, physicians, heal thyselves!!!
For every yes there must be a no. Decisions are so expensive. They cost you everything else.
Anyone else you there have the most recent xkcd open in some out of the way window, just letting it run?
Quote of the Moment
November 12, 2001
That it's ok to be sad, and cry... and that's it ok when you finally stop crying, too.(June 22, 2001...I'm listening to it now. It's worth seeking out, if you don't mind kind of moist eyes.)
Link of the Moment
Yogi Berra in the NY Times on the Yankees and why Losing Isn't a Loss. This guy is really wise, from his semi-scrutable Yogi-isms to his general attitude to life and the game he loves so well.