Thursday, March 30, 2006

Test Score Debacle

I have always held that standardized tests breed mediocrity as everyone hopes to attain that middle ground. Not everyone can be above average. That's just the way it is. By creating standardized tests that determine what schools need improvement, by it's very nature, half should need to improve every year and half are doing a good enough job. Is this the sole way we want our children judged? In this modern psychometric era, everything can be given values. However, we choose to use standardized tests. That seems so out of balance with what I try to teach - passion and determination. Now, the test makers are screwing up the grading of these tests. Who will guard the guards themselves?

They make the tests, they grade the tests, and they report the scores. Who checks on them?

On a lighter note, I just found out that one of my former students has decided to MAJOR IN LATIN!!!!!!!!!! WAHOO! Small victories are still victories. And, she wants to be an engineer. So not only is she good at Latin, she's also going to drive the train!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Link above thanks to Ashley.

Besides the fact that my mac here doesn't let me link because there is some screwup with Java or something and our tech here at school can't fix it, I still find something that makes me want to post from time to time so I do it with every intention of going home to actually fix the post. I frequently forget with my hour commute to do so, or I just don't have the energy or wherewithal to do it. So here is what I have to say about this.

The Red Cross is a bureaucracy. Bureaucracies eat money and now apparently emergency food supplies. For some reason I get the sense from this story that they purposely have messed things up so that it appears that the people in New Orleans are wasteful or thankless or ungrateful or some other not positive abstract quality. Does anyone else get that vibe?

Look, the Red Cross has the overhead and the first responders (in their brand new uniforms, I have a picture on my cell phone from October with a nice midwestern couple [I imagine] window shopping on Bourbon St. - let's spend some money on that!!!) get to the scene fast and stay a long time. I get it. With size comes accountability. You gotta keep track of what you are using and you can't be wasting supplies.

I know people in southeastern Louisiana need meals still. I know people need trailers and power and water and whatever else makes a life livable. So fire, as you have, the idiots who are using up valuable supplies. And stay there with the right people with the right priorities.

Speaking of priorities, katrenema had a link to something about cameras being installed all over the city. How can they work without power?


The recent news of global warming doesn't concern me. I didn't read the stories, I read the headlines and taglines and I get concerned. We are being told that we can rebuild. But we are not being told how high, or what the floodplain is. We are being told that the levees will be at the strength that they were when they failed during Katrina and destroyed our city. This is not assurance. It starts to seem like New Orleans is destined to go through this again. To compound matters, insurance companies are raising rates to what must be unaffordable for some. So, in essence, citizens and residents of New Orleans will not be able to return no matter what is said.
This is one of those situations which makes me insane. You can do whatever you want, but you can't do what you want. The illusion is that you have some power. The reality is that you have no power. And it all comes from the same source. FEMA delays the floodplain maps. By this act, FEMA forces insurance companies to raise rates. And FEMA delays the return of citizens because of this, but then it doesn't supply the necessary trailers or housing because the area is in a floodplain (which has not been mapped).
Stop it. If you don't want people to rebuild in New Orleans, tell them. People want to go home. Don't cut down their hope. Many people have already lost everything else.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pulling the wool

It seems that the government isn't the only organization that was taken advantage of after Katrina. This time, the NY Times ran a story about a victim of Katrina who was, in fact, not a victim. I am willing to give some leeway because it brings Katrina to the forefront again. I think that bastard that fooled them and stole money from people who needed should be forced to go to New Orleans and work on someone's house to repay the money and meet the people he was stealing from.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Another loss

I drove through the French Quarter last week, and I couldn't believe my eyes. O'Flaherty's seemed closed. Does anyone have more information on this tragedy? I have spent many a night and day in that wonderful cave of a place. I was there the year the streets in the Quarter caught fire, I was there after my 10 year high school reunion reconnecting with friends, I was there for pub quiz for so long, and we went there after our rehearsal dinner because it was my favorite place in the quarter. It can't be gone, can it?

UPDATE: I called WWOZ during the Celtic music show and the DJ said that the building sustained a lot of damage and insurance wasn't enough to cover the repairs so Danny moved to Texas. I can't imagine that that was the only reason. It's a member of your family moving away.
UPDATE: Kate wants me to say that "we" is me and her and our friends and family. Not some other "we."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Jazz Fest

Well, during my visit, we went and bought tickets for the JazzFest first weekend. I bought a new pole for Kermit and made an appearance at the Metairie Rd. St Patrick's Day parade last sunday. Lots of good ideas for Kermit and potential outfits, but I am not sure I will do any of them. Kermit stands tall all by himself. And he will stand tall at JazzFest. Stop by and see me if you are out there. I may have a beer for you.

New Orleans in March

My wife came to New Orleans for the first time since our wedding last June. I told her I was going to take her on "The Tour" - Carrollton to Uptown to the Quarter then down Claiborne to the Lower 9 and Chalmette then up Paris Road through the East and back through Gentilly and Lakeview. It's still awful everywhere (and, hey! the Beachcorner is open!) But it was great to see so many young people working on houses that had been destroyed. Must be college students on Spring Break or something. I hope they come back in a few years to see how important their work has been for New Orleanians. I also hope they come back to help again.

My wife's reaction was not mine (as she is from Columbus, OH). But after a while I think she was numb to it all. Once you see destruction on this scale, it is hard to take it all in. She didn't know that Metairie had been hurt as bad as it was and was surprised about my mom's house. But then I told her that we were only on one end of the damage and things were worse in Mississippi. And that the destruction went on for 90+ miles to Mobile. Then she got kind of silent. I hope she understands why I am so frustrated, and angry, and upset now.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Circular logic

Here is something I think the government wants to encourage.

I met Richard Moses in January at his house in Gentilly. He had worked his whole life as a ham-boner, whatever that is. When Katrina struck New Orleans he and his family left and went to Texas. He came back alone (a few times with his son, but mostly alone) and gutted his entire house alone and cleaned it with bleach alone. The attic, the walls, the floors. All of it. He was ready to go and get his life back together. He had plans to resize some of the rooms and add the proper amount of electrical switches and outlets. He even used the insurance money to finish paying off his house note. The house is his totally and completely, and it is currently totally and completely useless.

I drove by his house yesterday looking to give him some help in rebuilding. He had been hoping for a FEMA trailer in January, and he had been waiting outside his house for it when I met him. He said he was being kicked out of his hotel room in February. I haven't heard from him since. There is no FEMA trailer at his house yet. So I have been calling Mr. Moses in vain but who knows where he is staying. The kids working on the house across the street said they saw him on Monday. I didn't get to see him when I by. Who knows if he has electricity to charge his cell phone and check his messages? Who knows if he has a bed to rest on? Who knows anything about this except that it sucks? Why and how is this happening?

So where is the circular logic in all of this? Well, here's how I see it. This man is investing and has invested his entire life in this piece of property. It's not much, but it's his. The next time the national weather service tells him that he needs to evacuate, I bet it will be difficult for him to make that decision. He has invested his life, his time, his money in this piece of property. And if he can't get help from the government that he has paid into his whole life after they have promised to help, why would he leave next time? Because, quite frankly, who wants to go through this b.s. again?

The moral to this outrage is pretty simple: Where is Mr. Moses' FEMA trailer and why is this gentleman being forsaken? For that matter, where is everyone who wants to come back's FEMA trailer and why are they being forsaken?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


This is the last full day of the WWOZ fund drive. It is one of New Orleans' greatest treasures, if you ask me. I went up to the studios on North Peters today to pledge my support. I honestly walked right into the studios and talked to the DJs and on-air personalities. If you have the money to spare, I would encourage you to support them, as well.

2 New Vocabulary Words

New Orleans has a fair number of locally coined terms that suit us just fine (dressed po-boy, neutral ground, banquette, etc.). In the last couple of days, I have heard two words that are new to me but that I think could really come in handy if used in the right situation.

1. Jackassery - n. The act of acting like a jackass, ineptitude. e.g., There is a lot of jackassery going on with FEMA and the damn red tape.

2. Assholery - adj. The act of acting link an a$$hole. - The assholery nature of certain political candidates should immediately disqualify them for public office (e.g. Edwin Edwards, KWB).

Feel free to use these words in your writings and postings.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lethargy and respite

Yesterday was the St. Patrick's parade on Metairie road. For a little while around here, things felt kind of normal. I know it's not Mardi Gras, but it felt good to scream for beads and cabbage for a little while instead of working on my mom's house. There was a crawfish boil at my brother's in-laws (is that my in-laws, too?). It was nice to see family together celebrating a Sunday.

Not that this is news, but most of the people that I talked to at the parade all said they were drinking more lately. I know that people around here drink a lot already (it's part of the "culture") but the celebratory aspect of it seems to be missing now and the rationale is pain relief. It sucks driving across town and large portions still don't have streetlights or stoplights or anything.

However, after all the fun, we went to see the Joe Krown group at the Maple Leaf and drink some more myself. Good band and good fun. Check 'em out if you get the chance.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mayoral Summary

Last night I heard the best line about the upcoming New Orleans elections.

Sean N said, "The mayoral race is a complete circus. And there are way too many clowns."

I think that says it all.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Myssedit Krewe of FEMA

From the Gambit Weekly: I think this says it all.

Midnight on Mardi Gras is supposed to signal the end of Carnival. But this year
the upstart "Myssedit Krewe of FEMA" took to the streets of the French Quarter
on Ash Wednesday. A day late and a dollar short from start to finish, the
understaffed krewe had only five members in its inaugural run. French Quarter
residents, visitors and merchants seemed surprised -- and a tad confused -- to
see FEMA's Mardi Gras celebration on Wednesday morning. But krewe members
assured them of the parade's intent. "Happy Fat Wednesday!" members declared.
"FEMA to the rescue! FEMA delivers a parade, just when New Orleans needs it
most!" FEMA beads were not immediately available, of course, but in their place
krewe members distributed Bead Request Forms that explained the procedure for
receiving beads. The parade was so successful that the krewe has already begun
planning its New Year's celebration, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 2, 2007.


I have been in New Orleans for just over 24 hours, and I can't seem to shake this feeling of paralysis that seems to be everywhere. My mom had less than 6 inches of water in her house. Not a lot, but enough to create a pain. Her neighbor had around 6 inches. Nothing has been done there because a) they haven't gotten a check and b) they can live upstairs. But they are getting tired of waiting.

A bureaucracy thrives on money and need for money. People in this area have paid for their flood insurance and their home insurance. A bureaucracy wants to make you jump through as many hoops as possible before you get what you deserve. They want to save money (to feed the bigger bureaucracy). Why is there red tape? Why isn't more being done sooner? Why can't people get the money that they deserve and have paid into?

In New Orleans proper, things are different. Now there are rules about raising your house which now depends on the flood plain maps which FEMA and the ACE haven't created. So now, even if you have your money, you have to jump through additional hoops to rebuild. What the government has created is severe paralysis to this area. I guess in the positive light, you could say that the people who do stay and who decide to rebuild and stick this nonsense out are like a dominant gene. Maybe their kids will also have the same gene and pass it on to their own kids. Then the whole area will be able to deal this b.s. God knows we need some people around here who aren't going to let the government crap on them and call it a sundae.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cowboy Mouth

Yesterday I watched the Ellen Show. Ellen interviewed the woman who started the Katrina Krewe (I think I will get involved with that when I am in town), and she gave a woman who had just opened a grocery in the 9th ward in June her own Quizno's somewhere in town. She also had Dennis Quaid (who looks a lot like Fred Leblanc to me or is it the other way around) and Cowboy Mouth on.

They played a song called "The Avenue" off their new album/CD entitled Voodoo Shoppe. Good song. Made me tear up. I have been listening to the song called "Home" and I really have felt its pull. As the chorus says, "I wanna go home whatever it takes, I wanna go home when the levee breaks, I wanna go home where the streets have holes, I wanna go home where the good times roll."

Thanks Guys and Girl. See you at JazzFest.


My dog Jack and I will be making the trip to New Orleans on Sunday. Should be there sometime on Monday.

I am willing to loan my hands and time to any who need them. I do have to help my mom with a few things (like painting and installing a light). Other than that, however, I am free to work for YOU. For Free. Seriously - FOR FREE. At your house. For probably a week. If you need something (I don't know what, but) and if you let me know, I will see what I can do to get it to you.

If no one needs any help, well, I guess I can help my brother out as he's a contractor in Metairie and is so busy he would welcome even my help if no one else needs it.