martin called me at my hotel room this morning. apparently he was the connecticut gentleman eating at the bar last night. although we've never actually met before, i had the sinking suspicious that it was him. he rented a car and asked if i needed a ride to the birmingham civil rights institute (BCRI) but i told him i'd just walk the 4 blocks distance.

the much-advertised continental breakfast downstairs was nothing more than coffee, tea, some juices, some cereal, and a plate of bagels. i downed two cups of orange juice before grabbing a raw bagel to eat and run. the temperature was surprisingly brisk (upper 30's) but a trivial matter for someone from new england. i saw the vulcan statue standing on top of red mountain south of downtown birmingham. it took a while for me to find martin (he was already inside) and when i did i was introduced to the rest of the crew.

the BCRI is an interesting museum, using all sorts of mixed media to teach visitors about civil rights: photos, motion-triggered audio and video, statues, historical artifacts, detailed recreated interiors, and interactive kiosks. everything was set up kind of like a funhouse maze with a lot of different exhibits to explore. i was in charge of the kiosks, and spent a great deal of time in the server closet fixing some code and resolving some other computer-related issues. quentin, a hardware programmer, showed me his recent MSI wind netbook modified to run OS X. i also found out he's an avid amateur astronomer and said he might be taking his 11" schmitt-cassegrain scope for some stargazing tomorrow night weather permitting.

the place was empty when i first arrived but as the day wore on, school buses of children started to arrive, many participating in some sort of scavenger hunt, scribbling answers on their assignment papers. the guys all stopped for lunch, got a ride to five points, the first commercial center i've seen since arriving in birmingham. we ate at 5 points grill with andy treating. i got a buffalo chicken burger with fried okra.

after the first full day of work, the three of us from the boston area - all staying at the redmont hotel - got a ride back with andy.

after a brief moment to freshen up, we all met again down in the lobby to go out for dinner at john's city diner within walking distance from the hotel. the streets of downtown were empty as the city crew continued to repave the roads. i had the beer battered shrimp with green tomatoes with a blue dolphin to drink and white chocolate bread pudding for dessert. martin treated this time. while this was my first time meeting both andy and martin, the two of them had worked together previously on many other project. they're more on the dealing with clients end of the business while i'm more on the actual development/production side; they're the planners while i'm the worker. so it's only fair that the planners pay (i would've expensed it anyway had i been treating).

returning to the hotel, martin told us how noisy it was last night because of the street paving. my window must've been facing a quiet side of the block because i didn't hear anything. martin was also on the 10th floor before relocating to the 6th because his bathroom was dirty. the 10th floor also happens to the haunted floor where guests have reported seeing the ghost of hank williams. 347 miles away, the notorious mardi gras celebration is happening in new orleans; while right here in my own hotel room, i'm practicing my best bed jumping skills.

tomorrow's my last full day in birmingham before i return to cambridge thursday morning. i still have some work to do; hopefully i finish early so i can go out and explore the city a little bit.