I had that feeling, you know the one, when you wake up and everything just feels a little…off. It wasn’t due to any self inflicted torment (although that is the reason why this post is a day late, which I’ll get into later) but it felt distinctly like the beginnings of a cold, almost on cue for the same time I did this last year. Great, I thought, I’m going to have to ride out the last day of the conference a blithering mess and then be that guy on the plane that gets everyone sick. Thankfully though that particular feeling didn’t last long , although the extreme humidity outside and the near freezing temperatures inside didn’t do much to help that along.
The sessions I had lined up with a specific topic in mind (I wanted to dive into the backup/disaster recovery stuff that they just put into Azure) turned out to be complete wastes of time. One of them being another vendor junket and another a 400 (expert) level class that was realistically a 200 (beginner) class and the only reason I could think of for it being labelled as such was due to the over-inflated ego of the presenter. The final one was interesting to a point, but I’d already seen the majority of it through various other sessions that were tangentially related. Thankfully the interview I did with Don Jones turned out quite well despite me not really knowing what to do, which can be wholly attributed to the fact that Don is a really switched on guy.
However this was only a small part of the day since tonight was the closing party which promised to be quite an amazing event.
After we’d all filed our posts for the day and rested up a little bit we trundled down to the Mercedes Superdome to get our drink on courtesy of Microsoft. There was no shortage of entertainment with all attendees greeted by a marching band at the door and the main floor thriving with people in front of a live band. We spent most of the night checking out the various side shows they had running (like a hand writing analyzer, the one that doesn’t use science) whilst slowly making our way through a good chunk of Microsoft’s booze. That was all mere distraction however as they announced the “special guest” they had been alluding to all evening.
Now don’t get me wrong, the instant her name was said the entire TechEd population flocked to the center stage so she still has drawing power, but the performance that followed afterwards can only be described as atrocious. Sure I enjoyed myself, and so did a lot of other people there I’m betting, but I’d hazard a guess that most of them enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons. Indeed it was a bizarre performance in its own right as she didn’t have a band and, whilst all credit should be given to her for not lip syncing, she was essentially singing over the top of her own performance. You could do worse when you’re pushing 70 though.
The band that followed (Mojo Band) we’re quite excellent, playing songs from Elvis all the way up to the Black Eyed Peas, nailing them all. They certainly did a lot better job of getting near immovable crowd dancing (although that’s to be expected when you cram 12,000 nerds in the same room with nary a computer to be seen) than the other band did and we spent the rest of our time there chatting and enjoying their covers. The TechEd party closed at midnight and with all of us sufficiently intoxicated Bourbon St started to sound like a great idea. In retrospect it was, although the current dull headache I’m nursing might attest to otherwise.
We meandered around a bit looking for a place to pick up a couple of roadies (walking around with an open container is legal here, surprisingly) but we ended up finding a bar to settle into. Before we could get drinks though we were accosted by one of the shot girls and of course, we all obliged. Suffice to say I have a photo for one of my friends who requested I do “something stupid in Bourbon St” for him thanks to her. After that we barreled around looking for another place to grab some more drinks and ended up in a divy jazz bar where one of the competition winners was parted with 20 of his dollars for the pleasure of standing on stage for 5 minutes.
By this point (I think it was around 2:30am) I was getting seriously hungry and ended up in one of the local burrito places. I have to say that it was actually pretty well done, even upon reflection the next day, and the others picked up a couple roadie slushies to tide them over. I was nearing that tenuous point where Drunk Dave was about to come out and, knowing that I had to endure 18+ hours of flying the next day, decided not to continue and wandered off back to the hotel. It was halfway back there that I caught up with Gus who’d gotten separated from us an hour previously and, with no one but me with international roaming enabled, was out of contact with us.
Of course that meant today I woke up feeling a lot less than optimal, especially when I saw I only had 30 mins to pack everything and check out. I managed to get it all done, of course, however the TechEd bag and my new Surface have proved to be problematic leaving me with 3 bags to carry around. Once we were all sorted we headed over to Mother’s, a Zagat rated restaurant across the street that always had a long line snaking out the front door. The food there was pretty great, especially for the price, and was most definitely better than the usual Maccas run that I seem to fall into every time I’m hung over.
We spent the rest of the day aimlessly wandering around New Orleans since we didn’t have time to really do anything thanks to our late start and need to get to the airport early in the afternoon. The highlight (and this says a lot about our state of mind at the time) was sitting in one of the ferries that crosses the Mississippi river. After that it was a quick trip to the airport where I’m currently awaiting a connecting flight to Dallas before the 15 hour flight back to Australia.
All in all it’s been a pretty good trip and whilst I haven’t seen as much of New Orleans as I would have liked I did get to check off pretty much everything on my “must do” list, although the list of recommendations I got from friends is untouched. It’s definitely an interesting city, one that definitely requires more than one night of drunken stumbling to explore properly. I don’t think I’ll ever make the trip out here specifically to do that, however, but should I ever find myself doing a second tour of the USA it’ll be one of the many stops on my list.