Christopher Elliott Writes About My Case

Thanks to Carol G for getting me in touch with the very helpful Christopher Elliott. He’s the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Today he published my case. I found it in the Arizona Daily Star, though not, strangely enough, in our Times-Picayune which usually carries his column in the Sunday Travel section. I can tell you that $83 was very helpful. Orbitz actually refunded our tax paid as well so we came out ahead on this deal.
Continue reading Christopher Elliott Writes About My Case

Good & Bad Days

Yesterday seemed to be getting off to a good start. I’d set my sights on completing a project that I’ve been postponing and procrastinating on for over a year and a half. Nineteen months actually. That’s when Xy smashed a window out in our kitchen with her bare hand, in a blind drunken rage.

Patched

I’m just kidding about the drunken rage. Actually she was swatting a fly. Luckily she didn’t slit her wrist and bleed to death.

I tried replacing it back around Thanksgiving — of 2006. I bought a new pane of glass, and all other necessary supplies: glazing compound, glazier’s points, a sanding block, a putty knife, linseed oil. I commandeered the neighbor’s ladder from the yard of his abandoned house.

Only when I climbed up to do the deed, I realized to my horror that the AC unit would have to be removed to properly do the job.

And so the procrastination began.

Before

Eventually the cardboard I’d put in place with duct tape had to be replaced. I persisted in calling it “Xy’s Folly.” Not really fair. But still good for a laugh.

Finally after all these months I got around to it. Our neighbor’s ladder had disappeared in the interim. I posted to my neighborhood discussion group and immediately got two offers to loan me a ladder. Good ole Joe L. was kind enough to bring his ladder by on Thursday.

And so on Friday I removed the AC unit and then lugged the ladder into the yard of the neighboring house. That was an adventure in itself, since Craig’s yard is now overgrown with weeds reaching eight feet in some cases. It’s a jungle over there.

Once I climbed the ladder, however, I was in for another unpleasant surprise. I’d measured wrong a year and half ago. The replacement glass was a wee bit too small. I’d gotten an odd size, 14 7/8″ x 15 5/8″, but upon more careful measuring I found the pane should be exactly 15″ x 16″.

And so I made a trip back to Lakeview, to the nearest place I know that cuts glass to order, the same Harry’s Ace I’d bought the wrong-sized glass from in 2006.

Then, with right-sized glass in hand, I confidently scaled the ladder and slapped some glaze on there.

After

At last! Mission accomplished. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was a good day.

And then the glass cracked.

B's Folly

Today, the newspaper headlines reveal I wasn’t the only person who had a bad Friday:

  • Jim Bernazzani, the head of the local FBI, was yanked from his post and unceremoniously ordered back to DC. The reason? He shot his mouth off about becoming our next mayor. I agree with this action, by the way. As much as I relished his pursuit of corrupt politicians, he stepped over a line, and he had to go.
  • But far more horrific: Three masked men invaded a home in the 7th Ward just after noon and murdered three young adults. An infant in the house was unharmed. Police have no suspects and no motives.

Today it’s raining and raining and raining.

Vision Plan

I’ve been meaning to post about the Lafitte Greenway Master Plan. Actually I’ve been told it’s more of a “visioning plan” than a “master plan” but nevertheless it’s complete and you should check it out:

Lafitte Greenway Master Plan

This is the most comprehensive statement to date on the Lafitte Greenway. It explains what the greenway is, as well as why and how it should be built.

If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, check the above link. This is one of the most positive and promising projects I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with. (I’m proud to say I’m the Chair of Friends of Lafitte Corridor.) If you like what we’re about, please consider getting involved.

In fact, we’re now making a major push to get the section between Jeff Davis and Carrollton built as soon as possible. Details are on the FOLC homepage. Please consider throwing down some bucks to help make this happen.

Two Months

Dear Persephone,

People kept telling me we should “enjoy this time” with you. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this advice.

A couple weeks ago I said to Olivia: “She’s only six weeks old. All she does is sleep and eat and poop. Oh, and occasionally she cries. What moments are we suppose to treasure, exactly?”

Olivia’s reply: “Well, you know, her cuteness and when she smiles.”

But I hadn’t seen you smile, not really. You’d only smiled when you were asleep, and that didn’t seem to count.

Then, just one week later, you smiled at your mother for the first time, and a little later you smiled at me, and I finally understood what Olivia was talking about.

Smile

Today at your doctor visit you weighed in at 9 lbs 15 oz, so I won our little family pool. During the exam you had another first. The doctor put you on your stomach, and you rolled yourself over for the first time. That was cool.

Then came the matter of getting your shots. Some friends really put the fear into us about vaccinations. We took that seriously. But we also take the threat of infectious disease seriously. Ultimately we decided to trust medical science and get the shots. I held your tiny hands while the nurse injected you. You wailed like a baby, the first real pain you’ve experienced, I believe.

Later, I read a couple articles to reassure myself. But we don’t know what’s right, not with certainty. We had to make a judgment call on what’s best for you, since you can’t possibly judge for yourself. It was the first of many, and I can only hope we make the right choices for you.

Love, Your Father

A Lingering Touch of Lymphadenopathy

I’m taking my last Cipro today, the end of a four week course. When I first started taking them, the effect was dramatic. I called it “dropping the bomb” because I could feel it working throughout my body. I was sick; it made me better. It definitely made me sit up and take notice. (No intestinal discomfort, by the way. It did make me thirsty though.) But the longer I took ‘em, the less I felt it. Now I can drop the bomb and not even blink.

The lump on the side of my neck has slowly diminished. Just a couple weeks ago you could see it from across the room. Now it’s not visible. I can still feel it there, my lymph node, a hard swollen lump.

So what to make of this lymphadenopathy? Nothing much, not for now. Hopefully it just continues to shrink until it gets back to normal. Swollen nodes can indicate all kinds of bad things, but this is probably just a lingering overreaction to the bacterial infection. I did have a chest x-ray just to check there aren’t other swollen glands lurking about.

Anyway I feel great.

Migration

My new iMac arrived Thursday. First impression: Wow, this thing is huge. It’s mostly screen, of course, but at 20″ x 12″ it’s almost twice the size of my old iMac’s screen.

iMac Migration

I tried using the Migration Assistant to move data from the old iMac to the new one. Unfortunately this worked for Xy’s account but not for mine. After four or five hours it just crapped out. I tried a couple more times, and finally resigned myself to doing it manually.

As for the rig itself, it’s pretty sweet. I saved my pennies and got the 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (aka Extreme) under the theory that you should always buy the fastest damn processor you can afford. That’s ultimately what forced me to buy a new computer; 800 MHz just wasn’t fast enough for the software I want to run. iTunes was dragging and iPhoto? I’d simply given up.

I saved money by opting for the smallest hard drive Apple offers (300 GB) because I have a couple externals I use for music and video.

Finally, I bought a memory upgrade from Other World Computing because Apple is too expensive. So, after the easiest memory install I’ve ever done, I’m rocking 4 GB of RAM. Supposedly OWC will give me a rebate on my old RAM.

There have been a few glitches and gotchas. I opted for the wireless versions of both mouse and keyboard. I thought the keyboard would be the same as the wired version, but it’s not. It’s a compact version, totally missing the numeric keypad, and some keys crammed uncomfortably close. It’s stylish but I’m thinking about buying the regular keyboard and selling this one on eBay. I don’t really need a wireless keyboard anyway. Another glitch: when I installed the software to sync up my Crackberry, it hosed my Bluetooth settings, rendering fancy wireless keyboard and mouse unusable. Hard to operate the computer without any input devices. I had to use the old mouse to delete the configuration file and then pair the devices again upon reboot. But and so it highlights the fragility of connecting this way, and depending on wireless for your basic input devices seems foolish compared to good old reliable (but ugly) cable.

All in all, pretty happy with the new rig. Everything’s much faster and more responsive. And this screen is so big it’s awe-inspiring. Now maybe I can get a chance to start working on that new ROX episode.

I got five years out of the old iMac. It goes to Xy now for word processing. Hopefully she can get another five years out of it.

The Quake of ’89

All my friends and relations up in Indiana are talking about the earthquake last night.

None of them seem to remember the Quake of ’89 as well as I do. Mom thought it was 87, JB thought it was 86, and Lee doesn’t recall a quake in his lifetime. But I remember it like it was yesterday. I was home from college for the summer, losing my mind, and so I was on the phone talking to the police in preparation for hitchhiking around the country. In the middle of our conversation the whole house started shaking.

“Hey,” I said, “is it shaking over there too?”

“Yes,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “I think it’s an earthquake.” Then the switchboard lit up and she had to go.

But I guess the quake of 89 doesn’t hold a candle to this one. Still, this wasn’t the Big One. I’m glad for that. As I e-mailed to Mom this morning:

Let’s hope we never see a bigger one, at least not anytime soon. I know the Midwest would fare better than New Orleans for many different reasons, but believe me when I say our government is not ready for a major disaster. Glad this wasn’t one and that you’re all right.

The USGS has a great graphic showing the Midwest Earthquake Hotspot.

Quote of the Day

“There’s no reason for anyone to worry.”

So sayeth Section Chief Brett Herr of the Army Corps of Engineers. He’s a talking about a wee small leak that’s been discovered at the 17th Street Canal floodwall.

This is one of the floodwalls that breached and flooded the city back in 2005. These floodwalls were designed and built — with fatal flaws — by the Army Corps. They ignored reports of seepage before Katrina.

And who repaired them? The same Army Corps.

No, there’s no reason for anyone to worry.


Speaking of flooding, and the Corps, they opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway a few days ago to divert water from the swollen Mississippi to Lake Pontchartrain. That got me to thinking about how, once upon a time, it was Spring that was the nervous season in New Orleans. Flooding mostly happened from the river rising, what with melting snow up North and April showers and whatnot. Last year was the 80th anniversary of the Great Flood of 1927, but I don’t remember hearing a word about it in the popular media. Now we’re mostly worried about hurricanes. We’ve got a hurricane evacuation plan, and the local media is always full of hurricane tips. But I honestly don’t know what we’re supposed to do if we get flooding from the river.


Update: At the Chef’s suggestion I offer the following image remix.

No Reason to Worry

A Great Day in the History of My Life

April 15th is shaping up to be one of my favorite days of the year. Taxes are due, which is a drag, but so what? I always file early.

Thirteen years ago today I was amongst the team that put the first TV show online. I’ve been bragging about it ever since. I have to. ROX fan DBD sent me a note today confirming ““Global Village Idiots” is still the best television I have ever watched and April 15 is indeed a day to celebrate.” High praise from a guy I’ve never even met.

And today, Persephone smiled her first real smile. Now I know what people mean when they say, “enjoy this time.” And here I thought they were referring to the projectile diarrhea.

So, all in all, a great day.

Even as the river rises ever higher.

Mission-Driven

I went in to work last Tuesday just to remind everyone what I look like and make sure they hadn’t changed the lock on my office.

Around noon I attended a “town hall meeting” on the University’s strategic plan, which is currently under draft. It’s eight plans in one, each addressing specific topics such as technology or flagship programs.

The real grabber, though, was the report on the University’s mission. I’d been off campus for a month and a half, so everything kind of seemed new and fresh to me, including our well-worn mission statement — the promotion of “a more just and humane society.” It was refreshing to be reminded of it, and invited to critically examine it. Also refreshing to remember that unlike a business, profit is not our bottom line. Indeed, the report pointed out that our mission is in direct conflict with good business sense. We serve poor students, and that’s just not as profitable as catering to an economic elite.

The mission report was authored by a committee chaired by my friend and neighbor and fellow blogger Michael Homan. In speaking with him the previous weekend I got that old familiar sad cynical pessimistic vibe that I often exude myself. Sometimes we feel that our work isn’t really accomplishing much. We give it our best shot, but suspect it’s all for naught, that the fix is in, it’s all rigged, and we’re just jumping through hoops.

As a counterdote to that, I wanted to commend Michael (and his committee members) on a job well done. You inspired me, at least. You reminded me of why I work at a university, and why I’m proud to work at this university in particular. Thanks for that.

Note: The strategic planning reports can be read here.

No Silence

David Bonds was acquitted yesterday for the murder of Dinerral Shavers.

Again there is an Ashley Morris connection.

Ashley loved the Hot 8 Brass Band, for whom Dinerral played the snare drum. So when we marched on City Hall in January of 2007, Ashley played his snare in honor of Dinerral.

As you can see in this great picture by Alexis, he was not alone.

As for Bonds’ acquittal, was justice served? Was he innocent? I don’t know, of course. I accept the jury’s verdict. But I can’t accept the bigger picture. The Silence Is Violence organization reports a troubling pattern of witness intimidation and poor policing. And the whole case reveals ugly aspects of our society — poverty, lack of education, babies raising babies.

All of these things are on my mind as we prepare to go to Ashley’s funeral.

The judge in the Bonds case called upon citizens to sustain their outrage. Ashley would have agreed, I’m sure. I wish he was still with us. We’ll have to work extra hard to sustain our outrage in his absence.

Geeky Post About Flickr

Yesterday I learned from Karen G that Flickr is now hosting video. Of course they’ve provided a nice “embed” feature just like you’d expect, so you can grab an HTML snippet to paste the video into your blog or webpage. That’s dandy. But what really chaps my ass is: Why can’t they provide the same HTML snippet embedding convenience for images, which are Flickr’s bread and butter? I mean, I publish my pix under a Creative Commons license because I want people to use them. (And, strangely enough, they do.) Why not make it as easy to embed images as it is to embed video?

Joe Gallagher

Speaking of Ashley Morris, some random guy left the following comment on my blog:

Ilove NO and would like to live there someday but the mentality of a large part of the minority population is that they are owed something. Since Katerna, there has been Taco and Mexican restaurants popping up every where. That is great because the people rebuilding NO need to eat. It is sad the lazy locals have no energy to rebuild there town. I was in NO 3 times in the last 2 monthes and see alot of sitting around. There are parts where I can’t tell what ghetoo was pre or post Katrena. I send my money to the MS Gulf Coast where the real damage occurred.

Joe Gallagher Worthington, Oh

Now if you’re wondering what that has to do with Ashley, you obviously didn’t know him. He would have made cyber-mincemeat out of this guy. He was a master of invective. Local bloggers often spoke of “channeling Ashley” when they went on a rant — and this was before he passed away, mind you.

I wish I could unleash the fury of Ashley on this guy from Ohio. He had the bad taste to leave his puerile comment on a post about Helen Hill, my other recently departed friend. Ashley had a word for guys like that.

Remember Ashley Morris

I’ve learned a bit more about Ashley’s passing. It’s distressing to realize that he left behind not only his wife but three young children (ages 2, 3 and 5). This family could certainly use a lot of help from all of us, so please consider making a donation. Xy and I did. We couldn’t give much, but every little bit helps, so please consider making a donation and passing the word.

Also, Ashley’s funeral will take place this Friday:

SCHOEN FUNERAL HOME, 3827 CANAL ST.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Public visitation will be from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm.
Funeral service 1:00 pm.
Interment to follow in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3

Attire is formal or Saints. Ashley was the world’s biggest Saints fan.

PS: Check out this video of Ashley and Oyster.


Blight Field Talks #1 / Rough Edit from humidhaney on Vimeo.

PPS: But if you really want to break yourself up, read this account of Ray’s friendship with Ashley. I can’t link to all the reminiscences in the blogosphere; there are simply too many. But read this one.

Eat-Well Food Mart

The “Eat-Well Food Mart” has been under construction at the corner of Canal and Broad for some months. Google knows nothing about “Eat-Well Food Mart” so I was intrigued. Today, I saw that it was open, so I stopped in. Could this be some kind of health food store in my neighborhood? Wouldn’t that be something?

No such luck. On their first day of business they still have some empty shelves, but what they’ve got in stock is not promising. I saw chips, chips and more chips. Plenty of bottled soda. Candy bars. Tobacco products.

They do have a reasonably priced hot breakfast/lunch counter with such local favorites as filé gumbo, jambalaya and red beans & rice. On Thursdays you’ll be able to get a Chicken Florentine with spinach artichoke sauce for $6.25.

Still and all I’m disappointed that a place called Eat-Well doesn’t have any fresh fruits or vegetables. I’m sure they’re putting out what they think will sell in this neighborhood. But it’s kind of a vicious circle. If healthy foods are never offered, they can never become popular.

Pseudo Super Sunday

It was a beautiful day, so we packed some picnic snacks, loaded up the baby stroller, gathered up some neighbor kids and headed down to the bayou for Super Sunday.

On Our Way

Only Super Sunday wasn’t quite as super as I remembered. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time. And the Indians we saw were absolutely spectacular.

Indian Family

Indians

But there were only five or ten Indians there. It was only maybe one-tenth the size of what I remember from the last Super Sunday I really saw, which was before the storm. (They were back last year but I only observed from afar.) So what gives?

Actually i think it may have been a problem with a parade permit. I noticed the NOPD barricades were sitting out there on the bayou but they were never put into place. In fact I didn’t see any police. And from something my friend DJ said, I gathered they didn’t get their permit, so most of the Indians just didn’t show up.

I guess their might be a bigger gathering some future Sunday, next week or next month maybe. The Indians like to keep me guessing.

We had a great time anyway.