I'm stuck in Tuscaloosa three million years in the future, and where the smeg did I get this traffic cone??

06 February 2008

Well, not so much. I was hoping to riff off of a famous Red Dwarf quote or two to make this post more entertaining, but after a few revisions it's just not coming together the way I'd hoped, so I'll spare your delicate sensibilities and optics the horror and push on.

As the title to this post suggests, I'm in the heart of Alabama on assignment. Granted, it's not too bad... the people down here are quite friendly, and the stereotypical southern hospitality isn't a stereotype, it's a way of life. People down here are so nice, polite, and helpful that you could cut it with a knife and spread it on your toast in the morning. That part's been very enjoyable, and has made the fact that we're in the middle of nowhere with only a bunch of truckstops serving as bastions of civilization.

It took until tonight to get net.access. Once again we arrived at our hotel and found ourselves solidly in the third form of death because the local wireless access points were down and the gateway router was utterly hosed. My network ninja spidey sense tells me that you're not supposed to see router communication traffic for IP address blocks nowhere the hell near the ones assigned to the hotel's net.connection. As near as I can tell, the local router got some bad updates from someplace and decided to pretend that it was an octopus on ketamine for a while. I guess someone with access to the right wiring closet at the hotel cycled the power on everything, and we've be up and running ever since we got back to the hotel tonight.

For lunch today my intrepid team of field techies (referred to in certain circles as the A-Team) stopped at a little chinese smorg called the Hong Kong King Buffet (1434 McFarland Boulevard East; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; 35401). $8us or so will get you all you can eat at the three-row buffet in the middle of the restaurant, but either I've been eating well enough lately to develop a sense of taste or maybe there's something a bit off about this place, but something seems amiss. All was well for the first four or five hours, but then a few of us started feeling a little queasy. I was one of the last to feel it, but believe you me, things are not only a bit off at that restaurant, but in my stomach at the moment. E-, one of our policy juggernauts, never made it back downstairs for dinner after we got off-site. In fact, none of us have seen him since he started complaining about feeling ill.

I feel that any further commentary on this restaurant is best supplied by the character of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd when she describes her competition and business practices:

♪♪ Mrs. Mooney has a pie shop.
Does a business, but I notice something weird.
Lately, all her neighbors cats have disappeared.
Have to hand it to her!
What I calls, enterprise
Poppin' pussies into pies!
Wouldn't do in my shop!
Just the thought of it's enough to make you sick!
(And I'm telling you them pussycats is quick!) ♪♪♪

Overall rating: Four flareguns. Man down! Man down! This is team alpha requesting immediate medevac!

For dinner tonight we trucked out to Steamers (#1 Bridge Avenue; Northport, Alabama; 35476; phone 205-247-7772) to sample more of the local fare, namely, the best fish that the hotel front desk could point us to.

I've decided that I'm not a fan of catfish. Catfish, you see, are bottom feeders, and certainly taste like it.

Mind you, I'm not denigrating Steamers - far from it. I realize that I'm being harsh, and I think that part of that has to do with feeling rather under the weather at the moment. Everything else I (and the rest of my team) had was excellent, which leads me to conclude that either I don't like catfish or I'm still feeling ill from the stray pets Chinese smorgasbord for lunch.

They even make it so that your food can entertain you, if you so choose (and are manually dexterous enough to indirectly capture your meal). Witness:

Heeeeere, lobbie lobbie lobbie... Does anyone ever win at these things?

In case you're having a hard time making out the subjects of those photographs, Steamers has either bought or built a variant of the video arcade crane game over their lobster tank. For $2us you can attempt to grab a smallish lobster (maybe about two pounds, tops) in the crane's claw, drop it into a bucket, and have it cooked up and served to you. I very nearly gave it a couple of tries to see if I could catch the lobster that had lost one of its rubber bands. Then again, it probably wouldn't be a very interesting lobster; even though it was once again armed, it wasn't fighting for dominance with the other lobsters in the tank (or trying to kill and eat them) but instead crouched morosely on the bottom of the tank.

Rating: One flaregun. If you like fish, check out Steamers.

Okay, enough of my attempts at being funny. I'm off to bed.