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Tracey E.Schelmetic

[February 6, 2002]

Dot Com Commerce

By Tracey E. Schelmetic
Managing Editor, CUSTOMER INTER@CTION Solutions


Tech And The Single Girl Part II: Digitized In New Orleans
Returning by reader request, the continuing saga of a Web-enabled girl geek on the road.

Spent the better part of the last week in New Orleans, doing nothing particularly impressive or noble, unless you consider holding competitions to see who could swallow the most horseradish on her oyster impressive, or buying one more round on Bourbon Street than everyone else noble. In the days of yore, one was able to fly away on vacation, forget about the real world and get busy doing things of which one's mother would not approve. But tech-addicted as I am, this is, of course, a laughable anachronism.

Friday, January 25th

6:30 p.m.
Drinks: None yet, but pending
Blistering insults uttered to digital navigation equipment: 37
Cell phone calls to bed-and-breakfast pushing back ETA: 4

Have recently discovered why most other people use old-fashioned paper maps to navigate. Cartographically challenged as I am, maps are only used as vehicular placemats on which to set drive-through food that has an exceptionally high likelihood of becoming a permanent and unwelcome part of one's car upholstery. Have found that western Massachusetts is particularly desirable to sop up poorly placed ketchup, while southern Ohio is very good for scraping spilled coffee off the steering column. With aforementioned paper map in use elsewhere, loaded digital map onto Handspring, and swerved wildly over the roads of Baton Rouge in an attempt to read a faintly glowing, two by two inch screen. Got lost anyway. Travelogue note: people in Baton Rouge are nice to lost Yankee girls quivering at the roadside in an attempt to find out which way is east. Believe they were laughing with me, not at me.

11:27 p.m.
Drinks: 5
Digital photos taken: 10

Bourbon Street is exactly where I left it last time, so found little need to whip out the Handspring or the GPS unit. The sound of drunken "whoo-whoos" carries through the fabric of space-time faster than the speed of stupidity. Digital camera was brought out for posterity, but upon waking the next morning, could not figure out why it contained nine photos of the curb and one of large Styrofoam duck feet. Head hurts. Must've whacked it on something. Sixty-four ounces of unnaturally colored sports drink and some reruns of Sex And The City on the portable DVD player have very nearly remedied the fact that I had not a single molecule of water left lurking in my entire cellular structure.

Saturday, January 26th

10:00 a.m.
Digital photos: 15
Transfer rate of photos: Slightly less than 9 Kbps

Proper tourism is pointless when one is a slave to peering through the digital camera in a never-ending quest to capture images that will make friends back home wish they hadn't been too cheap to buy a plane ticket. Of course, inspiring such jealousy required locating a data port that had been installed in the basement of the hotel shortly before the Battle of New Orleans in 1812. At such a transfer rate, I imagine our friends will be able to view the pictures we sent them sometime just before the middle of this century, when we're all too old to remember how to do what it was we went to New Orleans to do in the first place.

3:00 p.m.
Innocent oysters who lost their lives: 36
Web sites accessed to plan spontaneous evening: 17
Cash spent at camera store for forgotten cable, extra digital storage: $76

Have discovered that Mapquest is just slightly less reliable than standing on a street corner and bellowing "Does anyone know how to get to St. Peter Street?" At least by the latter method, one meets some interesting people, even if they are police officers attempting to coax you down from the street lamp up which you shimmied to perform the aforementioned bellowing. Turns out, the nice police officer knew the way to St. Peter Street, anyway.

5:00 p.m.
Beers: Buy one, get three free
Web sites accessed: 5
Further oyster victims: 18

Best friend and self spent time comparing the Web sites of New Orleans tour groups. Discovered we had a choice between one run by lavender-scented, blue-haired old women named Bitsy and Prudence, or one run by attractive men in tight trousers and velvet waistcoats. Hmmmtough decision.

Four milliseconds later
Have decided on the latter of the two choices, Haunted History Tours. Decision had nothing to do with the photos of the tour guides on the Web site. Men's voices just carry better than women's.

8:30 p.m.
Photos taken of reportedly haunted buildings: 5
Number of photos that captured ghostly images: 0

What self-respecting ghost would allow its image to be digitized?

1:38 a.m.
Number of drinks: Information available on a need-to-know basis
E-mail addresses of new friends recorded: 3

Pulled out Handspring in an attempt to record the e-mail address of new acquaintance. Discovered it's easier to impress men with technology when a) The PDA is held right side-up; b) the cover is off; and c) the stylus is used as opposed to a soggy swizzle stick removed from one's Red Bull and vodka. Think faux pas went unnoticed.

Sunday, January 27

12:00 p.m.
Number of outgoing cell phone calls made to organize social structure of upcoming evening: 7

Nursed best friend Lisa through rough morning period that may have had something to do with a combination of Bourbon (the street) and bourbon (the liquid). Pity DrKoop.com went bust. He would have known what to do.

10:30 p.m.
Number of Carthusian monks that know secret recipe of Chartreuse: 3
Number of glasses of Chartreuse consumed in Pirate's Alley: 3
Number of alert brain cells left after three glasses of Chartreuse: 3

And one of those three brain cells is thinking of giving up the good fight.

5:47 a.m.
Digital photos taken: 28
Digital photos of those 28 that will be viewed by parental units: 3

Odd. Though my PDA, cell phone and GPS unit all broadcast the time, it's a bizarre coincidence that all three of them could be so wrong. It is, of course, impossible to still be out having a good time in the French Quarter as the sun is beginning to peek over the horizon. The satellites must have gone haywire sometime during the night.

Monday, January 28
Escaped the gravitational pull of New Orleans unwillingly and by the skin of our teeth. Had to leave, though, as we were running out of smart media cards, megs, batteries, CDs, DVDs and cash. Not to mention brain cells.

The author may be contacted at tschelmetic@tmcnet.com. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Lisa, Rene and Sidney will kindly refrain from pointing out errors or omissions. Tech Girl stands by her story.


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