Mardi Gras

Posted March 3, 2000 at 5:35 pm No Comments
On Friday morning we watched a crew of NASA flight examiners run a Test Readiness Review on the visiting team from UC San Diego. After giving their experiment a quick glance, one of the examiners abruptly stated “You’re not going to fly.” This immediate rejection was later rescinded after some modifications were made to the experiment, but nevertheless we were wary as the time of our TRR approached.

The UCSD guys, hard at work in Houston.
We hung out with them sometimes.

I demonstrate our training system to the flight examiners.

We were a little surprised when the somewhat stodgy group of flight examiners approached us to begin the TRR and said “Hey, aren’t you the guys with virtual reality? That looks so cool! Can I try it?”The review went off without a hitch.

Since we didn’t have anything else to do until the following week, we decided that a little road trip was in order. New Orleans is only six hours from Houston, and it just so happened that the city was right in the midst of Mardi Gras. We loaded up the car with Pringles and Gatorade and piled in for the drive to Louisiana.

The bustle of a crowded bar on Bourbon Street.

When I show people the pictures that I took at Mardi Gras, they often complain that the camera wasn’t well-focused. This may be true, but in a strange way I feel as if my hazy photographs captured the spirit of the event better than a sharper image could. Strolling around Mardi Gras was like being thrust into the middle of a blurry, spinning photograph; the collection of sights, sounds, and smells is overwhelming to the senses, particularly after drinking a few Frozen Hurricanes.
When we reached Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, the streets were so densely packed with screaming partygoers that it took us two hours to walk only three blocks, wading through an ankle-deep sea of dirty paper plates and discarded beer cans. Every so often the crowd would push and shove to get a better view of the latest spectacle on a nearby balcony.

Another fine French Quarter establishment.

The drive back was a quiet one. I think that we were all mulling over the the insanity of Mardi Gras. I decided that I felt drained but distinctly satisfied. I like to look at life as a collection of new experiences, and even though Mardi Gras wasn’t my type of scene, I’m glad that I had a chance to experience it once.

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