Thursday, December 14, 2017

New Orleans and AGU (final)

While waiting for the airport shuttle, I took a walk to Bourbon Street. At one of the bars, there was this tribute to three well known jazz musicians. “Fats” Domino, Al Hirt, and Pete Fountain. This was one of the few places open in the afternoon. I found K-Paul's Louisianna Kitchen, one of the restaurants I had heard about back when chef Paul Prudhomme had a PBS cooking show back in the '90s. There was a sign in the door that said "Gone Fishing".

Bourbon Street itself was barely passable as it was being torn up. Not only the street but in many areas, the sidewalks as well. It’s kind of sad to see the stone and brick sidewalk surfaces being removed. So you need to move from one side of the street to the other depending on what was being worked on. After a couple of blocks of this, I headed a couple of blocks to the south and headed towards the hotel (roughly). I passed a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant that had a line outside the door. There was a sign stating no parties of one. Moving on.

For these posts, I just thought that I should include at least a couple pictures of this iconic street even in its current state. I suspect that there won't be a trace of construction in a couple of months for Mardi Gras. Some businesses were cleaning the area in front of their door. Others were full of trash and garbage. I overheard some tourists asking others why everyone is so rude. Like many other places, there are some but I don’t think it was the norm. Maybe in the more touristy areas such as the French Quarter. My flight home is leaving this evening getting into Fairbanks in the middle of the night.

There was a lot of discussion about the NOAA Arctic Report Card. Kind of a depressing end to my experience at this AGU Fall Meeting.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

New Orleans and AGU (cont.)

The morning block of talks I attended was the use of drones to study natural events such as volcanos, floods, and avalanches. What is notable is how much cheaper and how much more capable modern drones are. The DJI Phantom 4 has been modded to carry a lot of instrumentation with ranges of over 10km from the control point. The availability of cheap pieces and parts enable the price to drop by another order of magnitude. I.e. using parts from Amazon and 3D printers, they are building drones equivalent to the Phantom 4 for $140 versus $1500 for the commercial solution. The send block of talks were within the Cryosphere section so mostly ice and snow.

During the lunch break, I ventured outside of the convention center and headed towards the water. The last time I was here, the huge Hilton and attached shopping mall either weren't there or not as close to the water and you could just walk along the retaining wall. Not anymore. It was a pleasant 60°F but many people were wearing winter coats, hats, and scarfs. It was 40°F this morning when I headed towards the convention center so it had warmed up considerably.

I ended up walking towards Bourbon Street before I found what I was looking for. Regional cuisine. Since I couldn't decide what to get, here is the southern sampler. Starting at the 9 o'clock position going clockwise we have shrimp & chicken gumbo, red beans & rice with alligator sausage, crawfish etouffee, and fried green tomatoes with remoulade sauce. I was thrilled that my versions tasted similar though these were definitely tastier. Though I've never tried to make fried green tomatoes. They were basically flavorless though the remoulade sauce was pretty spicy.

Since my room was still being cleaned when I returned to the hotel, I headed up to the 18th floor to sit by the pool to start this post. I was somewhat surprised that I still couldn't see the river from this vantage point. The convention center is to the right of the Hilton and behind the Harrah's casino. This is kind of an odd hotel. The lobby is on the 11th floor though looking out the window it’s more like the 5th. Oh well, not complaining. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New Orleans (cont.)

The walk from the hotel to the convention center takes me through the French Quarter, one of New Orleans’ biggest tourist areas. Lots of huge hotels surrounding the area as well as at least one casino. I’ve always heard of all of the great food in the area but so far, I haven’t found any. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough and not many opportunities to try any. The examples of things like red beans and rice, jambalaya, and gumbo aren’t any better (in some cases, worse) than what I’ve made at home.

For dinner, I met up with UIC Science and CPS personnel for dinner at The Maison. Live jazz (too loud), good company and better food (finally). I left them at 8:00 to start walking back to the hotel about 1½ miles away. On the way back, I passed Cafe du Monde, someplace I had heard about. I had their cafe au lait and beignets for dessert. Their coffee is brewed with chicory which is supposed to remove bitterness or something like that. Pretty tasty. The walk down Decauter and St. Charles was the New Orleans that I had remembered the last time I was here. The sewer smell was still prevalent though not as strong as it was the last time. People sleeping in doorways and every other shop was a bar or a voodoo place. IMHO, not a very pleasant place.

Monday, December 11, 2017

AGU 2017

First impression, the New Orleans Convention Center is huge. Or at least, really long. After picking up my registration materials (a light blue lanyard), I headed for the Cryosphere talks as they are always interesting. The walk through the convention center was probably almost a mile. I would end up making that trip several more times before the day ended. The hotel is about a mile walk to the convention center but this morning, I was offered a ride by a random person in the elevator. They needed to be there by 7:30am to chair a session and had called for a cab. I must've looked like I was headed for the AGU meeting. The morning talks were interesting and focused on the accuracy of the sea ice predictions for both navigation and heat flow. The room was packed. There are about 22,000 attendees not counting vendors and media.

Around noon, I went to a talk given by journalist Dan Rather. He had a lot of good things to say about the practice of science (friendly audience) and injected some humorous stories. He also talked a bit about "fake news" and how it has been going on for years. What has changed is the speed of propagation. Dan Rather was introduced by the president of the AGU and he also mentioned that this is the first fall meeting being held outside of San Francisco. I had heard that Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, where the meeting has been held for a number of years, is undergoing renovation.

By mid-afternoon, I had walked 6.5 miles and still needed to walk back to the hotel. Right now, I managed to nab one of the few tables and chairs in the convention center. The exhibits open up at 6:00 so I had a bit of time to write this post.

Evening Update - I passed nine miles when arriving at the hotel.