New Orleans, Land of Oncologists

. . . at least, that’s what it is this week. The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology attracts 27,000 cancer physicians, researchers, staff, policy wonks, and pharmaceutical company stooges. And among them glides another, underdressed and slightly out of place, with a baby strapped to his chest: me. The traveling nanny.

Impressions of Bourbon Street, at 5:30 on a Thursday afternoon right after a thunderstorm:

Underwhelming. All the infrastructure is there: bright lights, loud music, old buildings, readily available alcohol everywhere you look. But there’s not that many people out and about yet, so the effect is like being in an amusement park just after closing, when the people are gone but the rides are still turned on. The locals are at ease, of course, and there’s some folks who are just working hard at getting drunk and could care less about ambience. But it’s kind of sad to see the clusters of guys standing on the corners, drinks in hand, looking around and waiting for the party to start.

Stuff on the to do list: a stroll down Bourbon street at a more appropriate hour, a visit to Cafe Du Monde, a visit to the aquarium — where, according to the brochure, you can _touch the freakin’ sharks_ . . . I am _so_ there — and a quick stop at Harrah’s Casino to see if they have any backgammon games going. (Not all of those will be with Ella, obviously.) Other recommendations are welcome, though, being carless, I won’t be able to get out of town for a swamp tour or things of that ilk.

UPDATE: I touched the shark. Lame. It was this dinky little shark in a shallow pool — one of the kinds that didn’t even move. _No_ danger whatsoever. Felt like sandpaper, just like everybody says. Ho-hum. The rest of the aquarium was groovy, though. Gorgeous jellyfish. Lots of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit.