Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Feature and Notes

After surveying my kitchen for the umpteenth time, I have decided to add a new feature to my blog called "What my dog ate today". We have two dogs, and we live in a 120-year old house (The debate continues to rage with me and the wife as to whether the house is "historic" or simply "old." I contend that nothing of historical importance occurred here so the house is simply old. She seems to think that the mere fact that it is old makes it historical. Maybe she's right, but I don't think so.)
We are expecting a child in April and a kitchen/bathroom/sunroom remodel is scheduled for February. We generally lock the dogs in the sunroom during the day while we are at work, though when we are home we let them roam in the kitchen while we do chores around the house. More often than not, when we get home something has been destroyed. Sometimes its hard to tell which dog committed the offense, though not always. This new feature will highlight the things that they have destroyed pictorially along with the appropriate commentary.

The alleged criminals:















Here is the first installment of the things that I have remembered to photograph:

The bag of shoes for Goodwill:
In case you can't see it, there are three different shoes, plastic bag, and a torn up sheet.

There are lots more things. I just need to commit to photographing them to share them with the world.

Other news: Firefox has an awesome add on called ScribeFire that opens a window to blog in while you are reading an article on line. Cool stuff. Check it out.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Top 50

Every year, one of the things I look forward to is the OffBeat Top 50 Louisiana albums/CDs of the year - partly to see how well I did buying this year, partly to disagree, and partly to say, "I didn't know he/she/they released an album/CD/EP.
This year, I did pretty good in that I have the Galactic and Tab Benoit CDs from this year, both of which I love.

I don't always agree with their picks, and I would like to disagree with their choice to exclude Lucinda Williams and Mary Gauthier from the list. They discuss New Orleans and Louisiana in their songs, and they do so from a different perspective from people currently in the industry in New Orleans. Just because we move away does not make us Louisiana. Its influences last a lifetime.

I didn't know that Anders Osborne had a new CD, or Bonerama, or Joe Krown. I did know the Subdudes had a new CD, and I will be buying that ASAP at Louisiana Music Factory. Maybe Supagroup, too.

Happy Listening!

Resolutions

It seems to be that time of year - when people with the best of intentions make an effort to improve their lives as the calendar turns, hoping that this year will be different/better/more meaningful than others. I have tried to make resolutions in the past, and I really seem to have a great deal of difficulty sticking with them. But this year there is a baby on the way. My life is going to be really different no matter what, but I still have some personal goals that I feel I must achieve in order to make my life more complete.

Here is the partial list:
  1. Quit all of the bad habits that I can't seem to quit.
  2. Be patient and kind.
  3. Organize my financial records by month and not just shove everything into a file cabinet.
  4. Keep up with my blog more frequently and with better insights.
  5. Return to my teaching job. It's what I was meant to do with my life.
  6. Write thank you notes.
  7. Cook dinner more often.
  8. Keep my little office in my attic clean.
  9. Take some time off work to spend with the baby.
  10. Relax at the YMCA by swimming and playing.
  11. Paint the shutters. (It's been two years now.)
  12. Read more
  13. Learn Baby Sign Language.
Nothing on my list is obscenely difficult or out of the realm of possibility. I tried to keep everything concrete so that I can see them take place. One day I will get my printer fixed so that I can print this up and look at them frequently.

Anyone else have a list to share?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What Americans Think

I can't believe what I read in the USA Today.

Is New Orleans experiencing a crime wave? Undoubtedly.

With the spotlight on New Orleans (such as it is), the media is more capable of showing the city warts and all. Perhaps this most recent poll is a needed shot in the arm. I, for one, think that we New Orleanians are desensitized to all the crime and murder. As long as it doesn't happen in our neighborhood or on our block, we just assume that its gangbangers or drug dealers killing each other over "turf." And we turn a blind eye. Every once in a while a Helen Hill or Dinerral Shavers innocently becomes a victim, and we decry the ineptitude of the "system" for a few weeks.

The truth is that the system is broken, crime is rampant, and the solutions are more complicated and costly and deep-rooted than we can fathom. It will take years of remediation and consistently excellent effort to make lasting change. At this time, it does not seem that we are on this path. Lots of us have ideas on how to improve the world as it relates to New Orleans, but until the leaders get on board with these ideas, begin to implement them, and follow up when needed, the out of control spiral will continue. To simply say, like Mary Beth Romig states, that "All we can say is, statistics continue to point to the fact that much of the crime is taking place in historically crime-ridden parts of the city" is not acceptable. Crime in any part of our city is bad. We simply can't turn a blind-eye to where the crime is occurring.

Everyone who is killed or is a victim of a crime is someone's son or daughter. And each killing and crime effects us whether we like it or not. From this point forward, the crime will effect New Orleans financially. Maybe that's what it takes to get the city's attention. Who wants to visit a war zone on their vacation, even if the food is divine and the attitude laid back?

But it boggles my mind that Americans, our fellow countrymen, (33% of them) think the French Quarter was one of the most severely damaged parts of the city. But even more frustrating and unimaginable is the 26.5% who still thought some parts of the city were flooded.

New Orleans has a real chance to fix some of the things that are wrong with it - 30+ years of neglected public education, a broken housing system, and a laundry list of other urban ills. I don't care where it starts, as long as it starts happening soon.

The Sugar Bowl, the BCS Championship, Mardi Gras, and the NBA All-Star game are coming soon. The sports media loves New Orleans, and they take the opportunity to highlight positives. Mardi Gras is its own press release for New Orleans. I think New Orleans needs to take advantage of the positive press in the next few months and make lasting, meaningful changes; changes it must make to continue to right generations of wrongs and continue to be a world class city.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Money Money Money

I don't subscribe to the USA Today, but I have been noticing that they seem to have tons of articles that continue to focus on New Orleans. Just for this reason, I may begin to get it. In today's paper, I saw this article. While money itself ($17.5 million) will not fix the issues with New Orleans schools (or the aftermath of the Federal Flood), the organizations that received this grant money will be able to. Among the groups receiving funds are Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools, teachNOLA, and New Schools for New Orleans. Among the donors are Bill and Melinda Gates, Eli and Edythe Broad, and Doris and Donald Fisher.

My hats go off to them. Thank you for helping make a difference.

However, what about the RSD schools? Do they get any of the money or does it simply go to schools run by these organizations? Then what?

It looks to me like this is beginning to be a two-tiered system.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Idiots Everywhere

25 years ago, you wouldn't be caught dead in the town that spawned both baseball and Frank Sinatra (well, maybe if you were dead...). Now, however, Hoboken, NJ is a thriving small town just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It has excellent restaurants, a bustling boutique store market, and an exciting nightlife scene. Some cops from Hoboken came to New Orleans to help in Kenner after Katrina and did some stupid things. They did even more stupid stuff in Hudson county. There is a lively blog discussion going on with this story in New Orleans. You should hear the outcry in NJ. It basically comes down to this - some people cannot handle authority in the proper manner. There are idiots everywhere.

PS - This is interesting to me because my wife was living in Hoboken before we moved out to Pennsylvania. I liked that little town. If you ever go, you need to get a Roast Beef and Mozzarella sandwich at Fiore's (only served on Saturdays). It rivals any RB poboy in New Orleans.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Job Update

I have completed the 90 day trial period and am awaiting my meeting with the owner/general manager of the training company for which I work. It has occurred to me that I have not yet given much of an update here. I have lots of thought about this especially as my life is about to take an expected and exciting turn in the next few months. I do not wish to be enigmatic so it is here that I will announce that my wife is pregnant. Because of this fact (planned, I may add), I would like to present a list of pros and cons about my old job (a Latin teacher) and my new job (computer trainer).

I will start with the new job since it is freshest in my mind:
PROS:
a) It's mostly close to home - though I do have to travel in the area infrequently, it's mostly non-trafficked roads in the Pocono Mountains to Wilkes-Barre or down towards Reading.
b) I am meeting people who live in my area. I like meeting new people, and it gives me a chance to talk about New Orleans.
c) I like teaching computers because it gives me a chance to improve myself as well.
d) I don't have to get up at 5 AM.
e) I am given time to prepare for classes at work.
CONS:
a) My company is run poorly.
b) Communication is poor, expectations are hidden, and follow-up is lousy.
c) I have to travel 90 plus miles sometimes one way in a day.
d) I am not given much time to prepare for classes. I would love to be able to do this at home, but because of the sins of some (who no longer work for the company) we all have to sit in a small room and study.
e) I make very little pay. I am afraid that the salary for which I took the job is not going to be enough to keep me doing this.
f) One week vacation.
g) Little support or motivation unless we are part of the sales team. We are not.

It seems to me that I have have chosen a career that I will to continue to pursue. I was happy at my old school, and I had things better than I could have expected.

I will be looking to return next fall, I believe. I have a lot of work to do to make that happen, but I think I can pull it off. At least, I know what I don't want to do now.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I am funny

On Halloween this year, I was dressed like a horrifying wraith. I say horrifying because you couldn't see my face, I had on long bony finger gloves, and I stood in the shadows and sneaked (yes, sneaked) up on unsuspecting trick or treaters.
I am a Red Sox fan. As such, I hate the Yankees and their fans. Not so much that I wish them harm, but I do like to make their lives difficult and I love to talk trash. This year a young man came by trick-or-treating in a Yankees uniform. I refused to give him candy. He pleaded, but I stood firm. Ultimately, I gave him a single piece of Laffy Taffy (tm).
When a kid wearing a Red Sox uniform arrived, I poured candy into his basket noting that I refused to give any to the Yankee kid.
His father and I had a good laugh and exchanged sad sap stories about our luck over the Red Sox winning another World Series. I lamented that I hadn't even had the chance to hang up my 2004 World Series Champion yet and now it was outdated.
He said he was upset because he went and bought a jacket that said "Six Time World Series Champions," and now they've won seven.

Oh, and for the neighbors' annual Halloween party? I was the Geico Caveman complete with brow and chin.

My wife went as a positive pregnancy test. Don't ask.

UPDATE: This post was created the day after Halloween, and I don't know why I didn't publish it. So here it is. Another glimpse into my uninteresting life.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Odds

I receive my google news alert on New Orleans several times a day. It gives me stories from around the world about home, and I often find things to read about that I didn't know. I found the emails I received yesterday the most interesting - two stories about JK Rowling, five stories about the Saints, a personal account of a trip to New Orleans, a press release about a law firm, a "are they ready for business yet"? story, a conspiracy to wipe out New Orleans story, and this from the USA Today about the crackdown on corruption.
I am not sure that I consider the spread on the Saints-Falcons game news. But since it came in an email as such I will count it. That's 9 fluff stories, 1 wacko, and 1 "real" news story.
Basically it's 10-1 in favor of not news. I wish there were more "real" news stories about the struggles, trials, and hardships that New Orleanians were really facing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ask Matt

He already knew all this.

Confidence, Motivation, Competence

This is what we thought we were getting from our Saints.

It is not. Drew Brees said that the team was "trying to find itself." This is not confidence.

The team seems beat down, beat up, and embarrassed. The defense could not find their asses if someone gave them a road map and allowed them to use both hands. Getting blown out of 3 of 4 games will deflate sails. Going down on the first drive, stalling, and missing field goals makes all your effort a waste of time. This is not motivating.

Devery Henderson drops passes. Olindo Mare misses field goals. Passes are intercepted. Handoffs are fumbled. Offensive blocks are missed. Defensive coverage is inadequate. This is not competence.

When will our team turn it around?

When they find themselves, make big plays, and hire people to do the job. Hope this happens sooner than later.

I miss Joe Horn. He had all three of these things.

Questions Answered

Anonymous (I know who) asked:
Just out of curiosity: Does it bother you when celebrities get involved with New
Orleans (as in, they don't really understand what's going on down there)? Or are
you just annoyed with the media and the ignorance of people....And how helpful
do you really think shows like K-Ville are in regards to opening up the eyes of
American people?


I reply:
The great people of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana need all the help they can get from whatever source. I think that Brad Pitt and Angelina, for example, are awesome because a) they live in New Orleans, and b) they are giving back to their community. They provide money, time, and bring attention to things that they see as obvious deficiencies.

I do not get annoyed with people because what happened in New Orleans is a complicated issue. I yell at the TV when people say that Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans. It wasn't Katrina. It was poorly built, poorly maintained levees and an outdated and outmoded canal system. But most people don't get that much detail. What they saw was a huge, imposing hurricane pressing down on New Orleans followed by scenes of flooding. When they put the pieces together, that is what they believe even though it is not exactly the truth.

I get mad when people tell me that New Orleans is below sea level. A simple web search would tell them that this is not true (about 50% of New Orleans is not below sea level). Once the storm surge breached the levees, the water poured in. While the levee broke in some places, in most it did not. Therefore, the water that poured in stayed in. There was no where for the water to drain or go down hill or escape in any way. It makes the city look like it's below sea level, but the reality is quite different.

I like K-ville because I can question it. But it brings attention to the city and it portrays the people who live in New Orleans currently fairly accurately. For most, day to day living is exhausting and depressing. Yet you still have to go to work, take care of the kids, and work on your flooded out house without money. How many other Americans could do so much with so little for so long? What the characters in K-ville do, however, is a little short of reality, but it's TV. So they get a pass. For now.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Garlic Fest

You know, I hate when people don't give you ample enough time to weigh options. Today in downtown Easton is the annual Garlic Festival. I apologize for not letting you, dear reader, know sooner. It runs for 10-5, I believe there will be a beer tent, a wine tasting, and tons of garlicky deliciousness. Apparently, an individual can enter some kind of contest to see how good his or her garlic dish is. I had no idea. But I do now, so I plan on making something for next year (I will give you a hint - it involves oysters).

Later today, hopefully, there will be pictures and a post on old job vs. new job.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mike and Mike

Mike Florio, writer for the Sporting News, says "This year, the schedule-makers parked a flaming bag of poo on the Saints' porch, rang the bell and ran. " Then he gives the Saints 5 ways to improve. I agree with most of them (but I DO NOT THINK ANY TEAM DESERVES BRANDON LLOYD).

Next to this gem was this little bit of info about Mike (Bad Newz/Doobage) Vick is now preparing to sue Vick for not paying $2 million in loans. Guess means he needs another nickname - how about one of these - Vickless, DEE-FAULT, Dude, Wimpy (I'll gladly pay you Tuesday...)?

Keep digging that grave...He just doesn't get it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nothing

After last night's game, I honestly have nothing. Nothing to talk about, nothing to gloat about, feel good about, nothing.

I watched Spike Lee stand between Reggie and Drew who looked like they had just appointed kings of the universe. Then I watched Drew collapse, Reggie lose to Vince again, and the defense give up big play after big play.

I said it before, and I will say it again - Why didn't we draft DBs?

And where was Meachem.

PS - ESPN the Magazine said the Saints offense would sputter this year because of a young and inexperienced WR corps. It has been called the sophomore slump by some. I hate when ESPN is right.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Causes of Depression

Although I hate to admit this, I will. I am not as sad or depressed as I was about New Orleans a few months ago. The distance between the event and where I live has created a boundary. Yes, I am still obsessed about my hometown. And yes, I want to see things improve yesterday.

I do my best to talk about it with all the classes I teach, and I try to educate them about how things are doing. It's not easy because people have the misconception (deliberate or not) that the majority of New Orleans is below sea level. I try to correct them - once the levees failed, the bowl that is protected by theses same levees held the water in. This is what caused the flooding. (Many people do not know that it was levee failure that caused the majority of the damage. They seem to believe that a huge wave washed over the city or something like that.)

It is always a shock when I tell them that my mother's neighbors were just able to settle with their insurance company in May of 2007. They have been living upstairs waiting for things to improve - he was one of the managers at City Park and she worked for Tulane's School of Engineering. I cannot imagine having my world turned this upside down - everything they knew and worked for was gone or going away.

With that in mind, I found this article about depression, New Orleans, and Katrina and it struck a chord. This is the line that makes me think the most - "These people don't necessarily need a good psychiatrist," Rigamer said. "They need a good contractor or someone to fix the 'Road Home' program and good leadership."

Mr. Nagin, Mrs. Blanco, Mr. Bush, et al. -

Your incompetency, miscalculation, and greed is killing people or should I say causing people to kill themselves. These are innocent people who simply want to rebuild their lives, homes, families, and neighborhoods. It has been two years, and depression rates have increased. They did not level off or go down. And you are to blame. If one person committed suicide because of your policy/inaction/inability, I hope someone else finds a legal way to sue you for negligent homicide or some other crime. And I hope that once you find your way to hell (where you surely are going) that you rot there.

That is all.

LatinTeacher

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Education, Philanthropy, and New Orleans

The Shreveport Times reports that the Carnegie Corporation has given over $14 million dollars to universities, the Broadmoor Improvement Association, and Teach for America. Money isn't everything, but it sure helps buy books, paint walls, and hire qualified teachers.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Great Article And Some Hoodoo

Josh Levin nails it over at slate. Go, Josh. And go away, you thing that's going to be called Jerry.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

10 K-Ville Predictions

So I reviewed K-ville, and I read some other reviews as well. One thing that I am learning as I read other people's blogs is that they are a hell of a lot more observant about things than I am. And I consider myself pretty observant. ( e.g., I play that find the differences game at the bar all the time. Must be a different skill.) Rather than compete with those people, I would like to give my predictions about what will happen next week on K-Ville.

1) Trevor will need "etouffee" to think.
2) There will be a reference to "makin' groceries."
3) Someone will call a particularly vivid color "K&B purple."
4) The criminal element will have a horrendous name like "Clementine du Villere La Truffle."
5) Most of the murders/crimes/assaults/burglaries/etc. will take place in the French Quarter and not in Central City.
6) Shrimp boats will set out from the Mississippi River.
7) More items will magically "appear" from the flooded basement of Central Lock-Up.
8) A white guy will use the phrase OPP again. Also, he will seem to not know what it means again.
9) Rich white people will live in huge mansions with an awning of mature oak trees. Other city residents will live in "shotguns" in the Upper Ninth ward.
10) Someone will try to do harm to the Super Dome.
11) Fluffy du Boisblanc et CoqauVin will sing horribly.

Things that will not happen in K-Ville.
1) A discussion of why exactly the levees broke.
2) Real gangs and gang/drug-related violence (there are not enough story lines there for Fox writers. On the other hand, I bet this is as gritty/complicated/abhorrent as underworlds get these days)
3) In a six second chase, the officers will end up in LaPlace, New Orleans East, and Thibodeaux.
4) A patrol stop leads to drugs and an arrest without torture.
5) Someone will drink a Sazerac.

Like I said, I will still be watching. It's New Orleans.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

K-Ville

Since I don't live in New Orleans anymore, I watch anything and everything that has to do with that place. I watched K-Ville with its bad accents, questionable geography, tourist-based focus, and overused Creole food references. There were some parts that were campy, and even my wife said that the story-line was far-fetched. She found the show unwatchable mostly because I kept pausing TiVo to explain stuff to her. She still can't believe that she married someone from such a "weird" place.

What I liked - It was about New Orleans. The 1000-yard stare. The cops leaving duty. Trying to get a life, including wife and kids, that is sustainable in New Orleans. Setting in the Upper Ninth.

What I didn't like - Chase scenes not in New Orleans. Swimming in the Mississippi. Using the word "neutral ground" as a place to drive. A place called "Ziggy's". Casino references. Clearly not set in the Upper Ninth. Playing only Dixieland Jazz music. Drive-bys in the French Quarter.

What bothered me (sort of) was the references to all the things that have been in the news since Katrina (Blackwater, corruption, etc.) .

Will I watch it again? Yes. Because it's about New Orleans.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dance and become (semi-) Famous

If you have never seen Where the Hell is Matt, you need to watch this video:


But more importantly, Matt is coming to New Orleans. I received an email today letting me know that Matt is coming to New Orleans. The first video, it seems, was more about places. Now he is making a video about people. And he wants New Orleanians to come out and dance with him on Friday September 21st at Washington Artillery Park (across from Jackson Square).
I hope some of you can make it.

Read on for more details (I edited this email from Matt for the blog post):


Hi folks

If you're getting this email, you've either signed-up on my site to be notified or you've written to me and mentioned where you live. I'm coming to New Orleans to shoot a clip for my new dancing video. This is an invitation to come out and join me.

The last video was about places. This one is about people. LOTS of people.
So I'm not too concerned about the background, I just want a place where we can gather peaceably and dance badly without getting arrested.

The location is Washington Artillery Park across the street from Jackson Square. I'll be standing next to the cannon on Friday, September 21st.
Dancing will commence at 6pm.

Boring details below. Read no further if you can't make it:

We'll need to take a photo of each participant before the dance and attach it to the release form so we can identify everyone in the video.

If you are under 18, you MUST be accompanied by a parent or guardian who can sign the release form and be photographed with you. Sorry, those are the rules I have to follow in order to use the footage. The good news is that my sponsor is making a donation to charity for each person who signs up and dances with me.

Feel free to invite friends to come with you. Just make sure everyone is okay with signing the release form.

When you get to the spot, look for the guy who looks like the guy in the dancing video. Just come on over and say hello. If the guy turns out to not be me, recoil sheepishly and keep looking.

It will take some time to process each person, so depending on how many show up, we may have to stop accepting forms at some point and shoot the video.
Please show up early as we expect to have a lot of people to sign in.

The whole thing shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to shoot. We'll set up the shot, dance for about 15 seconds, do it one more time for good measure, and then try a couple fun variations.

There won't be any music. That gets added later. Blasting a stereo just complicates things. Dance however you want to the music in your head.

I can't guarantee that the clip we shoot will end up in the final video.
There'll be a lot of footage to choose from and some of it will not be used.

You're welcome to bring your own camera. After the shoot, I'll stick around for pictures and stuff. I'm happy to dance with you in your own picture/video, so don't be afraid to ask.

Please reply to this email if you plan to attend and let us know how many people you think you'll be bringing. It'll help to give us an idea of how many to expect.

We're planning to put the final video up on the internet on June 21st, 2008.
It's a long way away, I know, but I've got a lot of traveling to do.

I look forward to dancing badly with you!

-Matt and Melissa

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Educational News (from Canada)

It seems that this article is all about Naomi Klein's book "Disaster Capitalism." In it, she attacks the late Milton Friedman and his desire to restructure New Orleans' schools after Katrina. While it reviews her book in general, it reminded me that I want to continue on message here at FEMA, Katrina, and other bad words.

I am not sure the idea to totally start clean was totally unfounded (even I suggested it was a great chance to start fresh), but I also don't necessarily agree with vouchers. I definitely don't agree with the decision to fire all school employees.

Nonetheless, I do believe in purging the cronyism and corruption that has blatantly stolen money and resources from the future of New Orleans. How long will it take to recover - 10 years? 30 years? Never? How many more generations will be shackled by what has happened with the school board and the state in the last 35 years? How many are lost or illiterate or uneducated despite attending school?

Something had and continues to have to be done to improve education FOR EVERY NEW ORLEANIAN CHILD.

Charter schools are one (and only one) option. There should be excellent neighborhood schools with high degrees of parental involvement. (See Michael Homan for exactly how to do this).

The issue of gay marriage will not go away.

But maybe Vitter will.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ouch

Jason David was in and out of the toaster last night. He was burned more than once, and he was the only Saint to score a touchdown. How does that work out?

Looks like we could have used a couple of defensive backs instead of another wide receiver.

On the other hand, you have to like how the Colts went for the jugular once they found the weakness.

I am not a happy dude today.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bam!

Robert Cesaroli has started his inspector generalship of New Orleans. Already he is being handcuffed financially. (My predictions for this gentleman and his office are here.) There is already a stir about his budget from the New Orleans City Council and the mayor. If the man needs 3.8 million to do his job properly, give him 3.8 million. I don't believe this is all that hard of a concept. What would truly be accomplished by not giving this position the financing it needs/deserves/expects? The players in all the corruption might not get caught. Interesting that these are the exact people who will be controlling the financing.

Already, I had one prediction right. I would like to amend the prediction about lasting 2 years. I want to change it to one. I am not sure if the Oliver Thomas plea was the big thing I had expected, but I will say that something big will come out of Cesaroli's short tenure.

To refresh
1) Monetarily handcuffed - check.
2) An issue arises because he is from Mass. -expected
3) Resignation within 1 year - expected
4) high profile case against corruption with no result - expected

I can't wait to watch this occur though I wish I wouldn't.

PS - They have had two months to find him some office space. I think I can attribute that to either prediction 1 or 2.

PPS - Perhaps I should apply for a job with this guy. That would satisfy my wife's requirements that I do something to help the city of New Orleans rebuild. Of course, there are all those unpaid parking tickets...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It is SO on.

Last year, after a sort of recovery from my Katrina and federal flood related post-traumatic stress, I began to watch the Saints again. The year before, with them on the road every week (and with Aaron Brooks at QB), I couldn't bear to watch.

I went to the game at the Meadowlands against the Giants courtesy of one of my great friends up here, and I remember watching a Green Bay game one Monday night at a local club. (The bartender and I were the only two people in the place, and he fed me beer until I was cross-eyed. We talked about New Orleans, what I had been through, what my mom was going through, all my friends, etc. [He has since taken a new, non-adult beverage related job, and I really don't go there any more because of that.])

I didn't go to the local sports bar to watch in 2005. I was dealing with my own demons, and we were newlyweds. I felt that I had a duty to try to be here for my wife who didn't need me to be here. It was I who needed her to be here for me. Weird how that all works out.

Last year, I decided that I was going to watch the Saints again. I was going to the sports bar on Sundays again. Listening to the games on Sirius was just not going to be enough. I had to see it. I had to see the new offense of Sean Payton, the dynamic play of Reggie Bush, and the great decision making of Drew Brees for myself. I figured a first year coach would make a few boneheaded mistakes that would cost us some games or that the players would not live up to their potential.

But it didn't happen. I found a second Saints fan here in Easton. Almost every Sunday, we met and drank and talked and watched the Saints. And the Saints won. And won. And beat the shit out of Atlanta on Monday Night Football in the Superdome. I cried, and I yelled, and I cheered. This was not the Saints of my youth. This was the Saints that we were supposed to have in the late 80s and 90s and early 2000s. This team was for real. And they kept winning.

Now, this year, with the the NFL Man of the Year and Mr. Marketability, the Saints are starting the entire season on Thursday night against last year's SuperBowl Champions.

This year my sports bar closed. (Sort of, they are now some swanky martini bar. Before it was a total dive/hobo bar. Suited me perfectly. It was called Drinky Drinkersons for chrissakes.) So now I have to find a new place to watch the season unfold. My Saints buddy has done some scouting, and it looks like we are going to have to go a block or so over. The location is not so much a problem as is the fact that they only have 2 or 3 TVs in there. Looks like I am going to have to get there early and demand that they take the Giants/Jets/Eagles off and put on the damn Saints game.

I believe. I have faith. And I have Reggie, Drew, Marques, Deuce, Terance, Devery, John, Robert, Pierre, Scott, Will, Eric, and the rest of the incredible athletes that play professional football in New Orleans to get my back. Could this be the year we go all the way? Could this be history in the making?

I don't know. We will see how things work out. It's almost weird to have the expectation of greatness thrust upon my favorite team. I like this feeling a little too much, and I hope that it continues.

But the best part of all this is that I can again end every post like this:
GO SAINTS!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Where's the news


I was writing a post today about how the rest of America views New Orleans post-Katrina. I am not happy with it right now, so I am leaving it as a draft until I get it right. The gist of the post is that they just don't know. They can't possibly know.

In other news, the judiciary in New Orleans has had about enough of Mr. Jordan's antics.

As a follow up, I did a quick search on google for Cesaroli, the new "attorney general"(?) of New Orleans. I haven't read anything anywhere else about him aside from the Houston Chronicle and my original post. I was hoping to read more about this guy, about his ideas, about his start date, anything. Imagine my surprise when my blog came up with the first hit.

Hey, guys, you have the feet on the street. What's up with this guy? When does he start and what is going to do?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Trip Notes

This last weekend, I was on a quick trip to New Orleans thanks to the lovely airline known as US Airways. Besides canceling my flight on Thursday, they canceled my flight home on Sunday and lost my bag. It eventually made it to my house today.

While on said trip, I noticed a couple of things that I had not ever picked up on before.

1) I saw a bumper sticker on a car outside of Crabby Jack's. It was for "Citizens For 1 Greater New Orleans." This group seems to have started out as a levee board consolidation effort which has continued. They had a meeting today with some pretty big political names. I hadn't heard anything about the meeting but Jim Letten, Warren Riley, and James Carter were on the bill.

2) The service I received in virtually every location in New Orleans was abysmal. It began on Friday at Crabby Jack's, continued at Liuzza's By the Track and the Black and Gold Sports Shop, and ended at the Louisiana Music Factory. I think I would like to attribute the poor treatment to either a) it's August and people are hot and drained or b) people, in general, have had just about all they can take in terms of hardship. The places that I went just didn't have much of a New Orleans' feel to them. Usually someone who is waiting on you or taking your money for whatever reason is happy to chat, share a story, or laugh at a bad joke. Something seemed to be missing. I hope it was just me and that I was there at the wrong time. After talking to one of my best friends, I have to say that I will make a concerted effort to "vote with my wallet." Just so you know, Aidan Gill will continue to receive my support. Also, I will continue to come to New Orleans no matter what, so people can't scare me off with their bad attitudes. Just won't work, so knock it off.

3) Unfortunately, I was not able to make it to Rising Tide 2, but I did run into Berto who told me it was great. I wish I could have made it. Maybe next year...

4) Paul Sanchez concert at Carrollton Station was awesome on Saturday. He has a new album coming out called "Exit to Mystery St." Maybe that should go on my other blog.

Keep your head up, New Orleans. The cameras of the nation will be on you again this week. Keep the message clear and loud and firm -

WE ARE NOT OK.

I will be watching.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rain, Rumor, Love and Hate

RAIN:
I brought my mom some rain. Not a hurricane. Just a little afternoon thunderstorm to wash the dust off of everything. For those who do not know, I tend to be a storm god of sorts. Now it's going to be hot AND even more humid.
RUMOR:
My neighbor has sort of kinda nominated me to help organize/open a New Orleans style restaurant in Easton. Attention, Mr. Nagin: This is how you keep the "brand" out there.
LOVE:
For the first time maybe ever, my mom was at the airport on time AND she wanted to take me out for some lunch. I made her take me to Crabby Jacks. Finally I was able to eat the Slow Roasted Duck po-boy. Next time I am getting the duck.
HATE:
I do not care for United Airways. I will never fly on their airline again. I am sure that they do not care what I will or will not do, but I can most definitely state that I will never again give them my business. I was supposed to get to New Orleans last night, but I had to take a different flight this morning. I could understand if there was a weather issue, but there was not. The one employee at the counter was not helpful, and she struggled to deal with the requests made by other flyers. She was not able to handle the responsibilities of her job. This is poor hiring. On the plane today, I just wanted a glass of water and some ginger ale. Instead of politely asking me to repeat myself, the attendant looked at me as though I had struck her and said, "What?!?!" I did not pay all that money to be treated that way, and I will not be doing it again.

And finally, the owner of my local coffee company in Easton asked me to pick up a CD for him at the Louisiana Music Factory.

Which reminds me of the list of things I have to do while I am here:
  1. Louisiana Music Factory - Charivari, some brass band dirges, new Galactic, Anders
  2. Voodoo Barbecue
  3. Rock N Sake'
  4. PJs for coffee and to find out about getting a couple of those Toddy Makers for some people so they can taste the difference between hot brew and cold brew. I believe that will be a life changing experience for some of them.*
  5. Aidan Gill - shaving cream, shaving oil, aftershave balm, and something for my neighbor who finally shaved his goatee after 15 years
  6. Some gallery on Magazine to find info on those scary dead doll pictures for a friend of my mother-in-law
  7. Black and Gold Sports Shop or the new one on Severn - i need a new Tulane hat and a Zephyrs hat and I owe my 11 year-old neighbor a Saints hat for taking care of the cats last week
  8. A store on Cleary for the blue glass houses
  9. Acquire some Absolut New Orleans
*I wish I knew more about coffee. One of these days, I am going to win the lottery and get all the coffee gadgets I can find. As it stands now, I know that I like different brews of coffee (not so much on the flavored stuff), and I know that I really like cold brewed ice coffee. After that, I am not much of an expert. I do drink cafe au lait and espresso and cappuccino, but I am not sure what a latte' is. or mocha. But I am willing to find out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Does Chicago get it yet?

If Allison Hantschel (Athenae at first-draft.com?) has anything to say about, they do.

From the DailySouthtown.com.

This is the absolutely most accurate thing I have read about New Orleans in
a while.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What the Funk?

I read this article today regarding the latest Galactic release. I am interested to hear more, but I am shocked at this quote:

Started in the Crescent City and moved to Pennsylvania in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina...
WHAT!?!?! When did Galactic move to Pennsylvania? Where? Why wasn't I notified!!!

I was just going to order the CD online, but I realized that I would rather spend my money at the Louisiana Music Factory this weekend. I have a few places that I always stop to spend some of my money - LMF, Aidan Gill, PJs*, Liuzza's By the Track, and hopefully at least on restaurant I have never been to before - maybe Voodoo Barbecue. But after the last paycheck from the old job, some of this fun may have to be curtailed.

*I know they are based in Atlanta now, but no where else have I ever seen Viennese Blend coffee. That roast is just perfect for Iced Coffee. Nothing else tastes quite as good.

PS - The original title of this post was HipHopapotamus. It's a reference to our favorite new show on HBO - The Flight of the Conchords. If you've never seen it, here is a clip of the guys singing one of their songs. I don't think the new Galactic album is going to sound like this...


I don't have a rapping name yet. What's yours?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What is this orange line?

I don't like you at all, Mr. Orange. It's like when someone tells a joke that isn't funny. At. All.

Observations


I returned from a week long trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was beautiful, relaxing, and necessary. We stayed all the way at the end of Hatteras Island in the town/village of Hatteras. I had plenty of time to think about things and here are some of those observations:

1) Dean gains strength in the Caribbean and I am heading to New Orleans on Thursday. Coincidence?
2) There are few places in America that retain an isolated feel. Despite the construction boom, the southern end of the Outer Banks seems to be able to retain this. I belief that this is in part due to the threat of hurricanes, the laid back attitude, and that it is hard to get to.
3) Spending time with family is fun, but it can be stressful.
4) I need to learn how to kite surf one day.
5) You really can't fish in dirty or really choppy water. Whether on a boat or on the shore into the surf.
6) Crabbing is done several different ways. Some are more difficult than others, but crabs keep children amazed for hours.
7) Nothing tastes quite as good as a crab that you caught yourself.
8) I talk about New Orleans waaaay too much.
9) Kayaking is fun.
10) High School Musical 2 is a good show.
11) Thank God for Sirius satellite radio. I was able to listen to the Saints game vs. Cincinnati last night on the way home.
12) Winning the Powerball lottery (at 210 million) would allow me to quit my job and move to New Orleans. The big plan (upon winning) would be to give money away to people who are trying to rebuild (no strings attached) and live permanently there.

And I am still trying to figure out my New Orleans schedule. I have some obligations but I also would like to try to get to the conference. Still not sure if it's possible.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rising Tide 2?

I will be in New Orleans in a couple of weeks. It seems that I am now committed to coming down at the end of August for the rest of my life. But I haven't yet decided if I am going to be part of the blogging conference. I haven't gotten down there as much as I would have liked this year. I feel a little out of touch. Maybe reconnecting will be what I need.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Must Read

When an article begins like this:
The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn't a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2. The city's defenses should have withstood its surges, and if they had we never would have seen the squalor in the Superdome, the desperation on the rooftops, the shocking tableau of the Mardi Gras city underwater for weeks. We never would have heard the comment "Heckuva job, Brownie." The Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) was the scapegoat, but the real culprit was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which bungled the levees that formed the city's man-made defenses and ravaged the wetlands that once formed its natural defenses. Americans were outraged by the government's response, but they still haven't come to grips with the government's responsibility for the catastrophe.
I am in. Michael Grunwald over at Time.com has written a nice long article about New Orleans. I hope it ends the way it started.

MusikFest

Yesterday marked the opening of MusikFest 2007 in Bethlehem. I may be spoiled by my years of experience at JazzFest, but to me this is a second- or third-tier music festival. Here are my takes on the festival and ways that I think it could be made better.

In the tradition of other Pennsylvania events, you have to buy tickets to buy food or drink. A 20 ounce beer costs 10 .50 cent tickets. A snow cone costs 8. Even at some of the best snowball stands in southeast Louisiana, a $4 snowball would cause irreversible brain freeze. I don't understand the tickets. At the end of the day, if you leave with tickets, you have lost your money. To me, buying the tickets is an unnecessary step. You have to wait in line to buy tickets so you can wait in line to give the tickets to someone for a beer or food.
SUGGESTION - Get rid of the tickets. I don't know how vendors get paid, but it seems at the end they would have to go turn in tickets to get their money. How much of this is really necessary. Create a bid process so that vendors have to apply. They will accurately report their earnings if they want a spot next year.

Like all major events, there is a lack of parking and the shuttle from the parking area costs $3. While the festival itself is free, they find ways to make money on virtually everything else that you would like to do.
SUGGESTION - Free shuttles from the parking areas. Perhaps it would be more equitable to charge a nominal fee for parking instead of for the shuttle. Then it's like a drive-in movie. The car costs $5 - get as many people in there as possible. And then you can sort of prevent the whole parking on sidewalks scenario, too.

The thing that causes me the most consternation is the way that the schedule is designed. The squares at JazzFest have everything organized by TIME. The schedule for MusikFest is not. It is scheduled by the acts on the stage, so that a band starting at noon can appear in the schedule next to a band that begins at 5:30 PM. To see how confusing, check out this PDF.
SUGGESTION - Create a chronologically based schedule. How much more paper would that take up?

Most of the food is typical school carnival food, i.e., funnel cakes, snowcones, cotton candy, popcorn, etc. You can get a burger or a hot dog, too. At two of the food booths, you can find Pennsylvania Dutch foods (sort of, some of these seem more Polish to me) - Potato Pancakes, Chicken Paprikash, Weiner schnitzel, Sauerbraten, Bierocks, Beef Goulash, Meatloaf, Halupki, Haluski. I don't even know what some of this is.
SUGGESTION - How many different ways can you really prepare a cheesesteak? Get some local and international flavor in there. Not everything has to be fried in batter.

One of the things that MusikFest does well is the children's area. It's just kinda far from everything else.
SUGGESTION - Move it closer to the action. But don't change it.

In our local paper, Gina Vaselli wrote this review of the events that transpired yesterday, a day on which the Black Crowes ($32) were the headliners.

Having fun at Musikfest doesn't necessarily require an entourage. One devoted dancer spent more 20 minutes on one of the many platz dance floors, by himself. He was dancing to the beat of his own drum.

Banana Island has dashed lines painted across the pavement, like something out of a "Family Circus" cartoon. It may seem like a waste of paint at first, but after waiting a few minutes, visitors will be sure to see some happy toddler following the path.

The Black Crowes brought a clash of cultures to Musikfest's opening night. One man, dressed in slacks and a polo shirt, stopped to ask a group of teenagers in tie-dye T-shirts and bandannas to ask if they, too, were going to see the concert.

The ever-present Musikfest beer mugs cost eight 50-cent tickets, and every time you want to fill it up, it'll cost you another 10 tickets. This may seem a bit strange considering that a regular beer costs 10 tickets and leave you wondering what the draw to the mugs is all about. But a Musikfest employee explained the 22-ounce mugs are 2 ounces larger than the regular cups.

As a newcomer to Musikfest, using tickets for everything seemed strange to me. But a helpful Musikfest employee explained that the tickets deter theft and are easier to keep track of. But that gave me little comfort when I realized I paid $4 for a snow cone.

I don't think most of these things are even worthy of print. In New Orleans, you are supposed to dance to your own rhythm, you are supposed to talk to those who are experiencing the same things that you are, and you are supposed to drink a little. I guess things here are very different.

My wife and I haven't been in a few years now. I am not trying to make fun of it, so I apologize if it comes across that way. The festival is important for this area, but I think it could use some improvements to make it even more fun, exciting, and easy to attend.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Common Thinking

I have read this article from Common Ground (albeit with only one eye), and you should, too. Though he doesn't get everything about the city exactly right, he seems to know what he's talking about. I think the historical perspective is interesting. I know the work the NOLA bloggers do is exactly the work needed. Political systems are resistant to change. We must force them to by action and accountability. I believe the questions that Mr. Campanella brings up are worth asking and answering for anyone who cares about New Orleans. Thank you, Mr. Campanella, for writing this.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Scattered, Smothered, and Covered


It's like a gas station bathroom that sells waffles.

Here's something you never hear at Waffle House - "You did a nice job cleaning up."
-Jim Gaffigan on David Letterman

Also, I got the job I wanted. Now I have to figure out how I am going to make it without any holidays or vacation time. It's going to be a tough transition, but I think I can make it. I have to remember that part of the reason that I took this position is so that I can improve myself. I have to make it happen.

And something else has happened again. I can't talk about it right now, but this is the third time in a year and it has to work out this time.

I am having surgery tomorrow on my eye. I have what the ophthalmologist called a chalazion in my right eye. It's been there for two months. It comes out (hopefully) on Tuesday.

We and some of our neighbors went on a overnight canoe trip this weekend in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We made it over some rapids, saw some bald eagles, and ate an awesome meal on a campfire. And we avoided a downpour. We have plans to do it again in the fall, and we hope to eventually canoe or kayak the entire recreational length of the Delaware (not all at once, geez).

UPDATE: Mr. Clio corrected my misquote. It has been fixed. FWIW, I wrote it down correctly but typed it incorrectly. I also blew beer all over the kitchen when Mr. Gaffigan was talking.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Loss

A few years ago, I was visiting with a friend at his mother's house. His mother lived with his grandmother, and the two of them were moving in a few months. Inadvertently, they had the cable turned off too soon. So here they were, two months or more from their move date without any TV.
"Do you have an antenna for the TV?" I asked. "I remember when I was the remote control and the antenna, so I know you do, too. If we can find the antenna, you can at least watch the local news and stuff."
"I think we do," said his mother as she looked on the TV stand. Sure enough, there it was. It was a rather large TV, and the antenna stretched out several feet. "Can you help us plug it in?"
The TV had a coaxial connection, but the antenna still had the two wires coming off of it. We needed a small adapter. I was sure it had come with the TV; they all do these days.
"You are going to need a little adapter that looks like this." I proceeded to describe the piece and even drew a little picture. "It's probably in one of your crap drawers. You know, the one that you throw things in just in case you might need them one day."
My friend rushed into the attic to find a box which might contain the needed item. There was much stumbling and crashing.
His mother began to rummage through several kitchen drawers looking for
it. She emitted infrequent shrieks of panic when she thought she was close.
His grandmother and I went out to the garage, she to work on the laundry, I to look through a few old , dusty cabinets in search of the adapter.
Being young and somewhat rash, I muttered to what I thought was myself about myself and my friend and his mom, "What a couple of assholes."
Nearly immediately his grandmother, with a bemused smirk, said much louder than was necessary, "I am not an asshole."
A box hit the ceiling joists and crashed into the sheetrock. A drawer rattled shut quickly. Something metal clanged to the floor. Steps heaved noisily from someone rushing out of the attic.
I stood in the garage agape, staring at my friends grandmother who looked as though she were about to giggle.
"Did you just call my grandmother an asshole?" he blurted.
"Did you call my mother an asshole?" she screamed.
"I was calling you...I mean, I didn't say...I was talking about you and... I didn't mean for anyone...It was just that...umm...You and your...I didn't mean your grandmother...Shit." I replied.
His grandmother's smile got larger and larger as I struggled to clarify my comments. It was clear that I had vocalized something that perhaps I should not have. I apologized profusely and for a long time.
We eventually found the adapter and all was well, sort of.
And that was the end of it, I thought.
For many years, whenever I would see his grandmother, whether Easter or Mardi Gras or Christmas, before leaving I would go to give her a hug and a little kiss. And inevitably, she would whisper to just me, with a smile, "Take care of yourself. Asshole."


Just this week, I learned that she died. I am sad for my friends who are her amazing grandsons and for their mother. I know that I will miss her tremendously. I can only imagine how much they will miss her. My condolences go out to all of her family in their time of loss.

May you rest in peace.

I hate idiots

Bryce Lambley is one. Read his simplistic view and wrong analysis. Then let's tear him a new one. Remember one thing, Mr. Lambley - The shittiest day in New Orleans is better than the best day in Nebraska.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thanks, FEMA

Um, how many more ways can New Orleans be screwed by FEMA and the federal government?

Amazingly, after the screwing in the past, FEMA is somehow managing to screw us in the future, too. It's like they have discovered some bizarre wormhole in the space-time continuum.

Dicks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

ABSOLUTly


ABSOLUT is putting out a new vodka. I am not sure why it's Mango and black pepper or why there is a harmonica on the bottle, but there you go. Proceeds go to help rebuilding efforts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. And Tipitina's Foundation. The ABSOLUT folks have some recipes you can try with this new flavor.

Where the hell am I going to find this stuff around here?

UPDATE: More coverage (?) here (USA Today) ["Things like Absolut New Orleans reiterate that Absolut is … on the cutting edge of social commentary." WTF?!?!?!] and here (LSU Reveille).

Go Get 'Em

Found these two items today:

1) Over at Rolling Stone (does anyone still read this?), there is a thread about New Orleans. Some brainiac is talking about not rebuilding because the city is below sea level. Check it out and smite them if you can.

2) From the above find, Doctor J linked this youTube video (with music by Galactic from the 2006 JazzFest):


Thanks, RedTruckWine.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ack

1) I don't want to read this because it has Scott Cowen's name associated with it. I wonder what people he polled for his information. I also notice that it comes from newswise.COM not newswise.ORG. One bit that caught my eye:
The survey identified the community's top three priorities for good public schools: high-quality teachers, clear and high goals for students, and safe and disciplined schools.
That is an awesome start. Here are some helpful tips on how to achieve them for anyone listening

if you pay teachers more money, you will get better teachers (as long as you give some kind of merit based pay and provide them with professional development support).

Clear goals are easier - here is your work. You will do it, and you will do it well. There will be no excuses. By parents, students, or teachers. Also, teachers need to adhere to this as well.

Safe schools are critical to anything else. If the schools aren't safe, how can anything else be accomplished. Your mind has to be focused on learning, not protecting yourself.

2) Alert Mr. Clio to this story. Two New Orleanians are involved in a shooting in San Antonio, TX. They were shot at, and one was killed. Seems like a lot of crime is taking place in that area now. Probably caused by New Orleanians who were released by Eddie Jordan for lack of witnesses to crimes that they committed. (Please note the heavy tinge of sarcasm associated with this section of the post).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Frustration

I love when someone steals your ideas and makes them theirs. Especially when they don't give proper credit. Not that it matters. The protest will go on because Eddie Jordan has made a mockery of the criminal justice system. Perhaps we need to change the adage to "The inmates are running the courts."

Also, I still haven't heard anything about the new inspector general - Mr. Cesaroli - from any of the local bloggers. Do people know of this? Has anyone found out why this particular guy? Who found him? etc.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Stories I am reading right now...

1. Taco trucks. I will be dining at one of these on my next visit. I don't know why I haven't yet.
They now dot the landscape in New Orleans and neighboring Jefferson Parish. Their regular customers are the Hispanic laborers who have migrated here to rebuild homes, but they've also built a following among local residents.
The rules that the Jefferson Parish council has imposed are ridiculous. I particularly like this rationale:

Thomas Capella, chairman of the Jefferson Parish Council, defends the new rules, saying, "Everybody is restricted, not just the Spanish food carts. What was happening is that people were camping out on vacant property and basically becoming a restaurant or cafe."

Some carts also pose health and safety concerns, says Louis Congemi, a Jefferson Parish councilman. "I wouldn't personally eat at one," Congemi says.

George Ketry, a New Orleans cab driver, finds the carts "can be an eyesore." But his bigger worry, he says, is the "cleanliness of the food."

Have any of these people eaten at a Popeye's before? And speaking of eyesores - have they driven down Veterans or past a Daquiris and Cream?

What other "food carts" have you ever seen in Metairie? They are targeting people who are working hard to make an honest living. Why do you need to mess with them?

Brian, at nopickles.net, has more righteous indignation on this.

2. Foti to investigate Jordan. Go get 'em. And Shelly Midura is demanding he resign for letting the quintuple murder suspect go. He had a year to find some evidence other than one eyewitness, and he didn't. I think that the DA should be one of the most important offices in the new New Orleans. There is no way that we should go back to the way that things were before Katrina. We have a chance to do things right, and incompetence and bumbling cannot and will not be tolerated. I don't necessarily like Charles Foti either for his pursuing of charges against Dr. Pou, but I hope he tears Eddie Jordan a new one for this idiocy (my emphasis):
Although Jordan said that his office's investigators made concerted efforts to find the witness, coming up empty-handed, she was quickly found this week by NOPD homicide detectives who got her address out of the case file. Riley on Wednesday said he wanted the district attorney to contact him as well as the police homicide unit, when he is getting ready to dismiss murder charges.
Says Midura:
"An elected official's legitimacy and moral authority to govern is derived from the consent of the governed," Midura wrote in the letter, which specifically referred to the Anderson case. "I no longer believe you have the consent and support from the public required to perform your duties adequately."
Word.

3. Come Visit New Orleans. Thanks, MSNBC and John Frenaye, but don't lie to people about the state of the city (my emphasis):
Sadly, tourists have been slow to return to New Orleans. Discouraged by the slow recovery and exaggerated crime rates, tourists think about visiting and then decide, "Maybe next year." And that's too bad, because tourism is to New Orleans what oxygen is to you or me. Oxygen allows us to breathe easy; in fact, it gives us life. Right now, New Orleans is still breathing, but without its beloved tourists, it is a city with an asthma problem.
If we have the highest crime rate in the country, how could it be exaggerated? It is what it is, and until we resolve the problems in the criminal justice system (and education system but that's not what this is about right now), crime will be rampant.

4. Why is Ray Nagin raising campaign funds in Kansas City?

“I’m getting a lot of encouragement” to seek a higher office, Nagin said.

Nagin has held fund-raisers in other cities, such as Philadelphia and Chicago. In March, he raised about $200,000 at a $2,500-per-couple fundraiser at a New Orleans casino hotel, bringing his war chest to about $500,000, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

Although companies that stand to get some business in the New Orleans recovery donated to Nagin in Kansas City and elsewhere, Nagin said there is no real correlation.

“You have to competitively bid,” Nagin said.

No, you don't. Come on, Mr. Nagin. Who are you kidding? You are taking money from people to do work in New Orleans. Just admit it. By saying this:
"We are on the cusp of probably (being) the largest build site in the world,” Nagin said. “It’s going to be the place to be.”
You pretty much do.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Someone call the Weather Service



So on Tuesday up here in Easton there was a huge (HUGE!) thunderstorm which some think spawned a very rare tornado. I don't know. I just know that it was raining harder than I have seen since the tornado that ripped through near Princeton a few years back. The wind blew down trees as big as 14,000 pounds just two blocks away (these pictures are two blocks down on MY STREET), courtesy of the Express-Times. Juust so you know, these people moved in just a month or so ago.

The wife and I are heading on vacation in a few weeks. Get ready, Outer Banks...

Oh yeah, and I had an interview the next morning with trees down and power out and roads closed. I was late. I really want this job, too. It is exactly 10 miles from home and 15 minute commute door to door. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Witness Disappears, Case Dropped

I thought this wasn't going to happen any more. There was a press conference, praise was heaped, concessions were made, tears were shed, etc. And this is the second time in a few weeks that the cases have been dropped because a witness a) couldn't be found or b) refused to testify. At what point does the FBI say, "Get the hell out of the way. We are taking over."? If Eddie Jordan can't convict this guy of murder, can't he convict him of something. They didn't get Al Capone on murder, they got him on tax evasion. Put this guy in jail and find a way to keep him there. Or let him out, tail him, and when he does something illegal back he goes.
These sorts of things make me embarrassed to be from New Orleans.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Wow...



Why does Jim Henderson always give me the chills when he makes a call like he did when Gleason made that block? I have the call he and Hokie made of the fumble recovery on my iPod and I always get the chills from that, too. He is awesome. Go Saints.

(H/T to humid haney)

Yay?

Three Updates:

1) It happened on Friday according to this article. Starbucks has withdrawn its plan to take over the old La Madeleine location in the Lower Pontalba. A local businesman is looking to open another restaurant in the location.

WARNING: COFFEE RANT AHEAD

I don't like Starbucks though on occasion I would frequent the establishment close to my old school. Starbucks is trying to take over the world with a false sense of green-ness. They try to make everyone think that they are environmentally friendly. I don't believe that they are. Dunkin Donuts doesn't hide between that facade. The purple and orange letters are plowing ahead with their plan for world domination. I respect that. Starbucks, not so much.

Coffee in the parts of the country in which I have traveled is abysmal at best. I still think that Dunkin Donuts has better coffee than Starbucks and is much easier to find around here. When I can, I go to the local coffee shop. I prefer to support my local brewers (and the owner is a huge fan of Anders Osborne and New Orleans. That's pretty much all you need to get into my good graces.)

People up here don't really get coffee. They serve cooled hot coffee over ice as iced coffee. This, to me, is an abomination. Once the coffee is brewed with hot water, it releases all kinds of oils and acids. It's bitter. To have truly good iced coffee, you have to cold brew it, a process which can take 12 hours but creates smooth, creamy, and delicious beverage.

People here also don't view coffee shops as places to relax or hang out much. I notice that most people zip in for a cup and leave immediately. I always thought of coffee shops as the modern equivalent of the 18th century colonial tavern where politics, world crises, and secrets are shared over a cup of coffee or a game of chess. Up here, it seems more like a place to get a caffeine fix and move on to the next challenge of the day. I think relaxation and reflection seem to be missing a great deal in today's society. A coffee shop is a great place to do both.

Back to the life update...

2) I went to Gloucester, MA this week. Busy times. We went on a whale watch, a mountain bike ride, a Red Sox game at Fenway, shopping on Newbury Street, a hike, and sea kayaking. It was nice and breezy, and I was amazed that people actually celebrated the Fourth of July with fervor and intensity. I don't remember ever celebrating like that in New Orleans.

3) I have a job interview this week. It is the job that I want and have been talking about to all my friends. I wasn't expecting to be called back so quickly. A lot of the home projects will have to get put on hold until I find out what is happening. And I am so close to finishing painting the garage....

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Devan and Drew

If you didn't see this, you missed it.
A five year old from Mandeville, LA, got to hang out with his hero, Drew Brees. The shy little boy became a non-stop chatterbox by the end of the show. I was at Dick's Sporting Goods trying on some new running shoes and watching the story with tears in my eyes. If Drew wasn't my idol before, he is now.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Orleans Schools

There are lots of ideas out there. Some are good, some are bad, but nearly always someone is making money off of education. Generally speaking, this is not your classroom teacher. I don't know what the budget is or was for New Orleans Public Schools, but certainly there was not an adequate return for the investment no matter what it was for the last 30+ years. Here are some ideas that I have read about lately.

1) Cluster cafeterias. - Good sounding idea. Bad idea in practice, I think. My favorite quote from this article:

Pastorek vowed that decent hot lunches will be delivered virtually every day and that students won't find stalls without doors or dismembered sinks in restrooms.

"Hopefully they'll find very humane conditions," he said.
I sure hope so, too. Do you remember going to school in inhumane conditions? I think this speaks volumes about how people view the students at public schools in New Orleans.

Also, more cafeterias open means more jobs for local folks. I don't think education should be the driving force of the New Orleans economy, but schools need staff. Staff lives in the area, buys food, gas, and housing, pays taxes.

2) School security expense - A group from Texas - the Guidry Group - has been providing security for the state run schools at a cost of $20 million. My favorite quote from this article:

Michael Guidry, president of the Guidry Group, acknowledges that the contract was pricey, but he says it was worth it to the district.

"Does it cost a lot of money? Yes. Have we lost any children? No," he said last week.

I would have asked a different rhetorical question - "Are we bleeding Louisiana and New Orleans dry? Yes. Do we care? No."

I know I could find this out, but I wonder how many students there are in the State Run Schools. I would love to know the cost per student for security versus the cost per student for teachers and books and running the school. Maybe this is something for me to delve more deeply into. I think I read somewhere that the budget for the school system (pre-k?) was $500 million. If so, security is 4%. If it is less than $500 million, what is the percentage now? (I found a budget agenda on the nops website. I don't know if that includes state run schools or what, but the total revenue was 272 million).

Accountability is key. As long as no one has to answer for bad ideas and money being paid for bad ideas, they will continue to be a problem.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dambala, Are you Listening?

No notice of this on nola.com, but the Houston Chronicle reports that New Orleans is getting its first ever inspector general. Robert Cesaroli, the former inspector general for Massachussets, begins his job in August. I find it interesting, if not slightly ironic, that someone from Massachussets is going to be doing this job and not someone local (Dambala?). Maybe the Corps of Engineers could use a local guy to help them out.

According to the article, the city council created the job but have only given Mr. Cesaroli a budget of 250k. Do they know who the mayor is?

My Predictions:

1) The city council will handcuff him monetarily as soon as he starts making a stink about some of the questionable dealings of Mr. Nagin and cronies. Some of the council members themselves could be involved in investigation

2) The fact he is from Massachussets will be an issue (though it shouldn't). If the mayor and city council were doing their jobs, this would have been done long ago. There is a reason we haven't had this position before.

3) Mr. Cesaroli will resign within two years citing the difficulty he is having pursuing unethical behavior. The next person will be a colleague/friend/business partner of a politically connected family. Even though the Jeffersons seem to be targets right now, many members of the family still have their hands in the governmental cookie jar.

4) There will be something high profile very soon. And nothing will come of it.

I hope I am wrong about all of this. I can't wait to see, though.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Today's Gem

From insurancenewsnet.com we learn:

NEW ORLEANS - Billions of dollars in repairs and improvements to the New Orleans area's 350-mile hurricane protection system since Hurricane Katrina have reduced the threat of flooding, property loss and death in portions of the area.

But risk will always be part of the mix, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials warned Wednesday.

"We will never be able to say there is no risk (associated with) living here,'' said Karen Durham-Aguilera, civilian director of the corps' Task Force Hope, the name given to the mammoth effort to repair and strengthen the hurricane protection in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana.

"We have to responsibly say the risk will never go to zero. The risk will never be eliminated,'' she said.

The IPET risk and reliability report indicates large swaths of the city still are vulnerable to flooding in a major storm. If a 100- year storm were to hit today, parts of the hard-hit Lakeview and Gentilly neighborhoods would probably still take on at least 8 feet of water, the report shows.

However, vulnerable areas within those neighborhoods are smaller than they were before Katrina because of protection system improvements.

A 100-year storm means that such a storm has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. Katrina was a 400-year storm, or a hurricane with a 0.25 percent chance of occurring in any year.

Lt. Col. David Berczek, the risk and reliability program manager for Task Force Hope, said the repaired 17th Street Canal floodwall and a floodgate built near the mouth of the outfall canal should reduce the overall level of flooding that Lakeview experienced during Katrina by 5 feet if a 100-year storm was to hit the area again.

That flood reduction would cut estimated Lakeview fatalities by 70 percent, assuming no evacuation, and property loss by 32 percent.

Berczek said Gentilly's flooding, on the other hand, would only be reduced by 6 inches - despite the fact that the London Avenue Canal's breached floodwall was repaired and a gate was constructed at the canal's mouth to keep Lake Pontchartrain storm surge from entering the canal and overwhelming the floodwall again.

The half-foot reduction in flood water translates into a 19 percent fall in estimated fatalities, assuming no evacuation, and only a 5 percent drop in property loss.

Durham-Aguilera blamed the wide disparity between the possible future flooding in Lakeview and Gentilly on the fact that the Inner Harbor Navigation Channel, or Industrial Canal, remains the "weak link'' in the protection system. She said a control gate is planned, but not before 2011.

The vulnerable Industrial Canal also explains why the IPET report says the devastated Lower 9th Ward would see only a 2-foot reduction in the amount of floodwater it saw during Katrina if a 100-year storm was to hit. Such a reduction translates into a 29 percent drop in estimated deaths and a 4 percent drop in property loss.

Link said the risk and reliability tool is for "planning'' purposes, not "forecasting.'' The flood risk estimates have a margin of error of less than 1 foot to about 3 feet, depending on the area. The margin of error is about 1 foot.

Corps officials stressed they are not trying to tell residents where to live. Durham-Aguilera said insurers who have seen the report have responded favorably.

"The reaction we're getting from the insurance industry is - this is good because there's lowered risk,'' she said. "They are very pleased to see this.''

Camille was a Category 5 hurricane when it made landfall in August 1969, yet Katrina - a Category 3 when it hit in August 2005 - produced nearly 20 feet of storm surge, or at least 5 feet more than Camille. Katrina was larger in size than the more intense Camille, he said.

If Camille was a 150-year storm, then Katrina was a nearly 400- year storm based on its size, intensity and surge-generation capacity.

As for the Gulf, the corps said, the area off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama has shown to be four to six times more likely to generate strong storms and experience higher storm surge. That conclusion was reached after looking at the frequency of major storms since 1950.

Hurricanes Betsy in August 1965, Camille, Katrina and Rita in September 2005 passed through the area, which corps officials described as a gym or "training camp'' for storms.

The corps also noted that the moderate slope of the Gulf floor in that area is more likely to create larger storm surges for storms that track through the area and head toward the coastline.

The bottom in that area acts like a hurricane surge "runway'' or "ramp.''
I like how this is an "article" or "press release." To those of us who are following this story, the whole Corps of Engineers presentation smacks of a lot of B.S. You can say all kinds of nice things to make people feel good, but what they need and should be demanding is the truth. For the truth, answer this question:
If we move New Orleans, can I expect that the levees and additional flood prevention and remediation systems are going to keep my family and possessions safe in the event of a hurricane and its potential after effects? (I know that winds and rain will occur. I am not an idiot.) Will the system as it stands today protect me?

Any other commentary is simply window dressing and is not the truth.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Moving on

Well, that's it. I am not longer a teacher of Latin, though I think I will retain the online name.

It's weird how much your profession defines your personality. Thirteen years of my life I have committed to education through the medium of Latin. And I feel that in my heart of hearts that I was born to be a teacher. In fact, one of the veteran teachers at my old school told me years ago that I was a "lifer." I believe that this is true. There are many reasons I have chosen not to return to teaching next year.

I sometimes think that I need to be a stronger man and learn to deal with some of these issues. On the other hand, I felt for the whole year like I was just on the edge of burning out of teaching forever. I do not want to be one of the bitter, angry, and mean teachers that I see. I believe that children (especially midde schoolers) are awesome, creative, and eager. I encourage laughter in my classes, and I know that education is not simply the subject. Most of educating, in my mind, is teaching children to interact with the rest of the world.

My classroom involved less Latin and more laughter, less teacher-centered knowledge distribution and more peer interaction, less lecture and more inductive discovery, less control and more organized chaos. Latin just happened to be the vehicle for me to teach students how to be organized and study, how to be responsible for their materials and actions, how to learn about how they learn. I personally love Latin, but I have forgotten more about it than I have learned.

Before I finished packing all my belongings, I photocopied the binders that I have diligently kept since I started at this school. To me, it is important that the next person have available to them the things that I have collected, created, and used. The next person will not have to use them, but there is no reason for that person to reinvent the wheel either. I wanted him or her to have a resource to build on in their own way. I do not think they need to use the materials, but I also think it may help to have something they can refer to. I have even offered to "mentor" the next person if I don't have another job yet.

I am not leaving with animosity or regret (well, maybe a little). But it is important to me that the program that I have created remain strong. If I have to help make the transition smooth, I am willing to do that.

It has been the most successful seven years of my life. I am sad to leave, but I am excited to move on to the next adventure wherever it takes me.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Good Tips from T-P Readers

These are great tips (and some insights as well).
Of all these, I particularly like the walkie talkie one. Must acquire some of these and some batteries to keep them working. See the link above for more.

Look Out, New Orleans

Several seniors from my school are in New Orleans this week. They have tons of things planned (some were suggestions from yours truly) including a riverboat dinner and jazz cruise and a ghost tour. They even have plans to spend a day working for Habitat for Humanity. I know they will have a good time, but I hope they see how little has been done still and pass that message on.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Dammit, Mr. Haney.

Stop making t-shirts that I can't live without. My wife is going to kill me, and I only have my own paychecks coming in through August. Geez. And once the physical store opens I am doomed.

Another reason to miss home

Last night, I went to a local dining establishment. I had the fried seafood combo. Maybe I am spoiled, and maybe I just have to get used to the way things are done around here. But for $14.50, my plate had 3 shrimp, 3 oysters, and a kind of fried flounder hush puppie thing with a side french fries. I would not have called what I had a) a combo b) a platter or c) fulfilling. If I was eating at Deanie's I would have brought half of my dinner home.

Friday, May 25, 2007

$2676.23

is how much my 6th graders raised this year for Alex's Lemonade Stand which funds research for childhood cancers. Through the course of this school year, we have sold candy, lemonade, paid for the privilege to dress down (preferably in yellow), and today presented a big ol' check to one of the great people that work at the foundation. It has been a great day and a great year.

All in all, this has been the most successful year of my teaching career. Today was just icing on the cake.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Poetry

The following words were gleaned from spam emails that I was sent a few years ago. Some of them just had a nice rhythm. Some were perverse and had to be amended. Nonetheless, here is a poem composed by spambots in December of 2004. Enjoy.

"Desolately Chocolate"

Legally Sepulcral
Hot mommy wants to see you
I’m looking for romance
Interpreter Tonnes
Superb Quality High Resolution Screens
natural method using pills
backwaters teasdale
no waiting in line
dinner banister
of methodical dink go zip rubicon
Palindrome Mommies
idiocy carribean
never seen movies
complimentary megapixel
point of no restriction
If write sun know. Below had part their up no long often life about. Know second house we know work several more.
Write way then sentence land paper why better. Any days no right.
natural enricher for guy part
wealth builder
suffixes
desolately chocolate
exceedingly manliness
came out with tremendous conclusion
molasses canoe
mosaic adepts
superb quality
selector clubbed
Lag Houdini
Endive amputated
acceptance damnation
pediatric exhilirate
deathtrap Camus
Fabian secretarial
inclosure mundanely
streptomycin emulsifying
I love suffering for nothing
hate bad health
hefner momentousness
maims snug
forfeiture foreshortening
cheapens earring
paintbrushes withering
jolts Cyprian

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Air Force Rules

After realizing their mistake in New Jersey by dropping a flare into the pine barrens and causing a massive fire, the Air Force has offered to compensate those who were effected by this. Contrast this to the Army's acceptance of responsibility to the people of New Orleans. The difference, as far as I can see, is that what the Air Force did was an accident.

Local Highlights

Here in PA, things are a little different than in New Orleans.*

The pictures in my paper up here for the last week (a primary week in PA, mind you), have been Tuesday: Bethlehem is opening a slots casino at the site of Bethlehem steel and a rescue squad captain is charged with assault after trying to help revive a man. Wednesday: Election results, ex-mayor and current candidate hugs wife, the son of a local coroner posted pictures from his dad's work to a MySpace account. Thursday: A local police chief passed away last week from complications due to pancreatic cancer, voters rejected a income tax increase, and a rapist pleads "Guilty but ill." I think some people find live in an area like this just peachy. I find it less than fulfilling. I just don't get it.

And you should read the opinions page. Sheesh. Today's highlights: A man doesn't want police to learn Spanish, he wants the immigrants to learn English; blood needs increase in the summer (from the blood bank director); using gasoline powered vehicles is bad (duh); a thank you to a local school that ran a program on the bad decision to drink and drive; a big thank you to a local librarian. All of these are heartfelt, honest reactions to everyday life. Most are well written, and opinions help intelligent people focus on what's important. (In contrast, unintelligent people use opinions to display their ignorance.)

But life here is not full of all the adventures and excitement that is found in New Orleans in good times, and the trials and tribulations of rebuilding and the buffoonery of the local officials in this difficult times.

Maybe one day, New Orleans will be like this place. I sure hope not.