Tamper Proof

Every week, Xy has her students write sentences using vocabulary words — pretty standard stuff, dictated by the school system.

This week, one of the words is “tamper,” and one of the students wrote the following sentence:

The dead baby of my auntie died in her stomach for a week so, when my brother was trying to touch it, my mom said, “Don’t tamper it.”

Broken Window

We took Jaylene out to Lafitte National Park Saturday afternoon. When we got back, we discovered a window in the back door was broken, and a rock was lying on the floor of the kitchen!

Broken Window

Upon further investigation, we found a number of rocks scattered about the back deck. One was lodged in the screen of the transom above the door.

Lodged

It seemed that there was only one place these rocks could have come from: the house on the other side of our block, which shares a rear border with our yard. They’ve got a big shed back there, and whoever was throwing the rocks over the roof of the shed wouldn’t have been able to see our house at all. So I concluded that this was probably the work of careless kids rather than malicious vandals.

I went around to the house in question but no one was home.

Today, I went to the hardware store and bought a pane of glass. When I got back, Xy told me they were home, so I went around the block again and knocked on the door. I introduced myself to the woman who answered, showed her some of the rocks we’d collected, explained the whole situation, and asked if there had perhaps been some kids playing in her back yard yesterday. She called her son to the door, a teenager, but he insisted that he didn’t do it.

Well, maybe he didn’t. I don’t know for sure and I certainly can’t prove anything. I didn’t expect a confession. All I really wanted to do was show my face.

The pane of glass was not too expensive, about $5.00. But it took me a couple hours to make the replacement. What a pain in the ass!

Girlz on the Town

While I was writing the previous post, this picture came in via e-mail from Jaylene:

Girlz on the Town

That’s Xy in the corner. I note that she seems to have a drink in her hand. She and Jaylene took the streetcar to the Quarter for a girls’ night out, while I stayed home and finished my stupid novel. Oops, I mean novella.

It was kind of novel (no pun intended, please move along) to get the picture and see what they were up to. It makes me feel like I’m somehow included in the fun. Plus I’m a little bit reassured; they haven’t been murdered — at least not by the time this photo was taken. Is it just the gee-whiz factor, or is there something to this?

Finally

I did it! I finished my novel.

It’s not the 50,000 words required by NanoWriMo. It’s only 21,469 words. So it’s not actually long enough to be what most people would consider a novel. More like a novella.

Oh, yes, it is a steaming pile of crap. But it’s mine, all mine. I made that crap. Me.

And I’ve learned something very important along the way: Writing fiction is really hard.

Worst Ever?

I’ve been skeptical of Thanksgiving for years. There are two conceptions of Thanksgiving which seem to be etched into my mind from early childhood: The idea of giving thanks to God, and the idea of unbridled gluttony. Pilgrims, Indians, the whole historical thing — not so much. To me it’s always been about God and gluttony, and frankly neither concept gets me very motivated.

I thought about giving thanks to people who’ve helped me out over the past year. For example, I am thankful to Mike Leonard, for turning me on to Crystal body deodorant. But somehow that just didn’t seem inspiring enough to carry the holiday.

So this year I made a grab for the gluttony, and I failed. Yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner was a severe blow to my self-image as a competent cook. Unlike most Americans, I did not stuff myself silly on good food, because there was none. I actually went to bed hungry and had to get up for a bowl of cereal at about 1:00 a.m.

Indeed, when I consider every Thanksgiving holiday I can remember celebrating, this one stands out as the worst on the culinary front. We had friends over (Jaylene, Scott, Erik) and that was fun. But I don’t think a single dish came out as planned. Some things were so bad they ended up in the trash; others were edible, at least, but everything was disappointing, except for the pies, which were store-bought.

My main responsibility was the turkey. We got an organic, free-range bird, about eleven pounds. I slathered it in margarine (because Xy bought it by mistake instead of butter) and Zatarain’s, mounted it on the vertical roaster, and smoked it on the Big Green Egg for about three hours, using pecan wood chips. I had trouble maintaining the Egg at a steady 300 degrees. It spiked to as high as 450 and as low as 250, I think, but eventually I got it stabilized.

Turkey

For whatever reason, the bird was not a delicate golden-brown when I brought it in. It was more black. Not very appetizing. Maybe I should have put some water in the drip pan. The meat was a little dry, perhaps not too bad, but we had no gravy.

Oh well. It’s an indication of how fortunate I am that even my worst Thanksgiving is pretty good.

I still don’t know what to think of this holiday, though.

Another Wound

Shontanay, one of the neighbor girls, just came by with a big open wound on the sole of her foot. She said she stepped on a rusty old screw. She’d already been to the hospital, and they checked to make sure she’d had her tetanus shot, but she’d been walking around in sandals and her bandage had come off. So I poured peroxide on it, and then we applied antibiotic ointment, and then a band-aid.

But I didn’t take a picture of it.

E

There were not too many films starting with “E” on my list, so we made short work of this letter.

I actively disliked these:

I felt kind of ambivalent about these films:

They held my interest somewhat, but I couldn’t say I actually liked them.

In other words, I didn’t really like any of the E films.

But I’ve got nothing against the letter E. I loved Election. (Who didn’t?) And yes, I loved Eyes Wide Shut, though I’m not sure why. But the best E film of all time was probably Elmer Gantry.

House Party

Last night we had a house party for Adam Wilson, who is running for State Senate in District 4 here in Louisiana. He’s the Green candidate, running against an independent and a Democrat on December 4th.

I’d say the party was a success on several counts. We had more guests than we expected. All the beer got drunk, and a lot of the liquor, and all the food got eaten. A number of people told me they’d never had vegan jambalaya before. Over $400 was raised for the campaign and the Green Party of Louisiana. A number of people were exposed to the Green concept for the first time. Our musical guest, the White Bitch (a.k.a. Michael Patrick Welch) rocked. I personally had a great time, and so did Xy.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the camera out until almost everybody had left, so I don’t have any good pictures, but I think Adam’s campaign manager Jason Neville shot a roll of film.

Not a good picture:

Adam

As for Adam, he’s running on platform to:

  • reintroduce the “Contraceptive Equity Bill” which would require health insurance plans to cover contraceptives
  • restore cut funding to Charity Hospital and establish universal healthcare
  • raise the minimum wage to a living wage
  • provide public financing to City Park
  • support lead abatement programs

Adam Wilson should not be confused with Adam Holmes who is running for vice-president of Ridgeview Elementary School.

G5

Yesterday the IT department here at the university finally delivered my new computer, a Macintosh G5. It was supposed to arrive this summer, but everything seems to run about three months late here. Nor is it what I requested. I asked for a dual 2.5GHz machine with a 250GB hard drive, 2GB of RAM and a 23″ monitor. What I got is a dual 1.8GHz machine with a 150GB drive and a 20″ monitor.

But at least I got my RAM.

I spent most of the day making the transition to the new machine. I’d braced myself for an ordeal, something akin to a brain transplant, but actually it was the smoothest upgrade I think I’ve ever done. The only real glitch was that my old G4 wouldn’t boot into target mode, which would have allowed me to attach its hard drive to the new system via FireWire and transfer data at superfast speed. This didn’t work because my old G4 was a custom build with a SCSI drive. (Apparently you need to have an ATA drive on bus 0.) So I booted the new machine into target mode and transferred some files that way, and then did the rest over the local network, and it was all pretty easy.

I wonder if these old Hitachi RasterOps Mc 8115 monitors are worth anything. They cost about $1000 each. I remember that I was so excited when I first got them five years ago. Two years later I was still beside myself. I really thought that the 3200 pixel wide display was something to rejoice in. But I’m tired of looking at those CRTs. Side by side with the new display, they just look old and blurry and dim. And they weigh a ton.

G5

My new display may only be 1680 pixels wide, but it’s much easier on the eyes.

NaNoWriMo Update

I’m at 15,508 words. The month is more than half over. Ideally I should be over 25,000 words at this point. I seem to be averaging about a thousand words a day, and at that rate I’ll never make 50,000 by the 30th. Oh well. I’m taking today off work. Maybe I’ll write 10,000 words. I’d be happy with 5,000. Hope springs eternal.


Four days later: I ended up writing 4,000 words that day, and not one word since.

The Lighting of the Furnaces

In the morning, it’s usually cooler inside our house than it is outdoors. That’s a good thing during the summer. But today, the outside temperature was in the upper 60s, and inside it was in the lower 60s. During the week we probably wouldn’t have cared, because by evening, when we get home from work, the house is warmed up a little. But this being the weekend, well, it was just a little too cool to be comfortable.

So I performed the annual lighting of the furnaces.

We have wall furnaces. I don’t think I’d ever seen such a thing before I moved down to New Orleans. (This is the first place I’ve ever lived that didn’t have central heat.) Here’s a picture of the one in our living room:

Wall Furnace

They’re not the most attractive things in the world. We’ve got another one in our bedroom. They are gas powered, and have to be lit by hand. It’s one of those rituals that marks the passing of the seasons.


Completely unrelated: Xy and I went to see Sideways last night. It was the best film I’ve seen (in a theater anyway) in quite some time. I almost cried, not because it was sad or funny, although it was both, but because it was so good.


Update: I jumped the gun with the furnaces. It warmed up the next day and I actually turned the one in the bedroom off and cranked the one in the living room all the way down. It’s been highs in the seventies all the past week, and I think we’ll crack 80 today.

Votes per Dollar

My friend Jason Neville put this together from data collected at opensecrets.org and CNN. He couldn’t find a vote total for Peroutka, but I found a number on the candidate’s website. I thought it put an interesting perspective on the 2004 presidential race.

Candidate Votes Money Raised Votes-Per-Dollar
Cobb 104,087 $133,576 0.78
Badnarik 373,729 $841,498 0.44
Peroutka 129,255 $654,757 0.19
Kerry 55,546,066 $317,788,245 0.17
Bush 59,106,230 $360,651,752 0.16
Nader 391,330 $3,950,963 0.10

Update — Perhaps the point is better made by figuring dollars per vote:

Candidate Votes Money Raised Dollars-Per-Vote
Cobb 104,087 $133,576 $1.28
Badnarik 373,729 $841,498 $2.25
Peroutka 129,255 $654,757 $5.07
Kerry 55,546,066 $317,788,245 $5.72
Bush 59,106,230 $360,651,752 $6.10
Nader 391,330 $3,950,963 $10.10

D is for DVD

Haven’t been able to watch too many movies lately, but I did finally view the last “D” title on my list.

Loved:

Liked:

Ambivalent:

Didn’t really care for:

Fell asleep after too much beer:

Found

Just saw Davy Rothbart and Popcorn Pete of Found Magazine fame at Xavier. Davy came to New Orleans last year on our tenth wedding anniversary, but Xy was too worn out from teaching to go see them. I subscribe to the magazine, which is excellent, but I was stunned when I saw a flyer for this show last week. I can’t believe they came to my place of employ! And the show was crazy good. The Xavier students really seemed to like it too. The booty don’t stop.