Yesterday Xy’s school informed her that she would be attending a workshop today, rather than teaching, so she had to stay late making plans for a substitute. This morning she felt so poorly she decided to stay home. She almost never takes a sick day. Actually she’s been sick all month, but she keeps working, working, working. Anyway, just before noon she called me at work and said she was feeling so bad she needed to see a doctor, but also feeling too bad to drive. So I rode home. On the way I realized this wasn’t going to work. I had too many obligations with preparing for the Beyond Jena forum tomorrow, including a 2:00 appointment to test the audio-video setup which I absolutely couldn’t miss. When I got home I told Xy she’d have to drive herself. I felt bad, but I was also frustrated because I’ve seen this is a pattern before, too many times. She pushes herself too hard, neglects her health, and finally hits the wall. Usually it’s a cold that she can’t kick, which leads to a sinus infection, which leads to a persistent migraine. In this case I’m convinced she had the same bug that Persephone and I got. We got better; she didn’t. She probably could have shaken it if only she’d taken care of herself. I rode back to work. Xy called her neurologist, described her symptoms to a nurse, who relayed them to the doctor, who wrote a prescription. She had to drive out to Oschner to get the piece of paper. Then she took the paper to Rite-Aid, but they couldn’t fill it. By this time I was home again, so I took the paper to Walgreen’s. Xy hadn’t even looked at it. Turns out it’s for Demerol and some other drug I’d never heard of. They wouldn’t fill it because it’s a controlled substance. I needed Xy’s ID. Also, they needed the doctor’s DEA number, plus the doctor is supposed to write specific dosage instructions and hadn’t. They told me to take the paper back to the doctor. By this point it was so late we gave up. Xy’s got an appointment with her GP tomorrow.
So the daycare calls me at 10:15 this morning to let me know the girl somehow bumped her nose on a shelf, pretty hard. Even after the blood stopped flowing, she would not stop crying. They suggested maybe I should come by, maybe she needed to see a doctor. I explained I didn’t have the car today. I said to keep me posted and I’d try to be there later in the morning. I had a few pressing things to take care of and I got them in order. Just as I was winding up to leave, Xy called me. Apparently the daycare called her too, after they called me I guess. She’d left her cell at home, so they had to call the school and get her called down to the office. She agreed it was probably nothing serious, but if a trip to the doctor was needed, I could call the school and Xy would make arrangements to leave. She suggested I give the girl some acetaminophen. So I rode home, got the acetaminophen, and walked to the daycare, fully expecting to take her back home with me, at least for a while. But when I got there, exactly one hour after their call, she had just fallen asleep. I looked at the injury. It didn’t look like much to me. I left the acetaminophen with them and went back home for some lunch. On my way back to work I stopped by the daycare again. Quite a tableau. They had the bubble machine going and all the little kids were gathered around laughing. Persephone spotted me and crawled all the way across the room to say hi. She cried a bit when I left, but she seemed her usual self. So: much ado about nothing, better safe than sorry, et cætera, και έτερα.
I was putting up posters last week for the Beyond Jena forum. I thought to myself, “New Orleans East always gets left out of the mix these days. I’m going to start out there.” So I drove out there and started looking around for a little coffeeshop or some such where I could put a poster.
Damn. I don’t get out there much, but I was soon well reminded of just how devastated the East was by the floods, and how much is still just gone.
I didn’t find a coffeehouse. But I did find the lakeside levee. I took this picture at the end of Read Boulevard.
Not bad for a phone camera. I cropped it so the three horizontal elements were roughly equal. J. Stratton said he liked the flatness of it. “Very abstract. Could almost be a flag.”
That got me thinking. When I had a spare moment yesterday, I took the original into Photoshop and dropped a heavy horizontal blur on it, ran it through a median filter with a huge radius, boosted the saturation and tweaked the tonality.
I like this. But it’s easy to get carried away with Photoshop.
I finally did manage to get a poster up in the window of a little grocery. I was going to take a picture of it, but I got panhandled in the parking lot, so I didn’t linger.
I was recently castigated for not posting enough cute baby pictures here.
Hopefully that will assuage my critics for the time being. The girl’s just learned to stand up on her own for a few seconds, but alas I haven’t managed to snap a picture of that yet. I should also give a shout out to my in-laws who sent a little walker-toy in the mail. She’s enjoying it.
And while I’m on the subject of familial obligations, here’s a mix I created for Xy’s classroom, under her exacting direction.
- Double Dutch Bus by Frankie Smith
- Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) by Quindon Tarver
- Our Time (Tom Neville Remix) by Ocelot
- Smells Like Teen Spirit (Butch Vig Mix – Recorded May, 1991) by Nirvana
- Lucky by Radiohead
- The Cut by Benga
- Paradisiaque by MC Solaar
- 台灣Song-搖滾版 (Taiwan Song) by 大支
- Si Señor by Control Machete
- Fist to Fist Rub a Dub by N. Kojak & Liza
- Jungle Infiltrator by Loefah
- The Real McCoy by Benga
- Tomorrow Comes Today (Banana Baby) by Gorillaz
And just so my parents don’t feel left out, I should mention I tried Skype for the first time Friday and did a video call with Mom & Dad. (I’m getting familiar with Skype so we can use it to connect with Marion for Beyond Jena.) I was impressed with the ease of use and the quality of the audio and video. It was cool to see the folks. The future is here now.
We are gearing up for the Beyond Jena forum on Saturday.
We’ll be closing registration soon, but there is still a little room left, so if you want to attend please hurry up and register.
I’m moderating the first panel, “The Rise of Blogging and Grassroots Media as Tools for Social Justice in New Orleans and Beyond.” The panelists are known in the blogosphere as Cliff, E.J. and G-Bitch. Also on-board is Paul Beualieu, who hosts the afternoon show on WBOK 1230 AM.
I thought I’d try something a little different. I’m going to post the potential discussion topics here, so that anyone and everyone can feel free to read, react, make suggestions, or just mull them over. These are still a little raw and should be fleshed out in my second draft. By no means should these be considered final. This is my way of “thinking out loud.”
- Tell us about your blog — or radio show. What do you write/talk about? Why this medium as opposed to any other? And why — what motivates you to keep after it?
- Tell us about your audience — how many readers/listeners do you have, and who are they? How do you relate to them?
- Did you address the Jena protests (before or after) in your venue? How did Jena affect you personally, and how did it affect your blogging, if at all?
- Moving beyond Jena, in what ways do you connect to issues of social justice in NOLA? Do you feel your voice can make a difference, and if so how?
- Finally, let’s factor in higher education. How can universities more effectively engage with the larger community, and vice versa, and what role can blogging and grassroots media play in this?
With four people speaking to each question we may actually have trouble covering all that. We’re allotting an hour for the panel and an hour for Q&A. In my past experience with such panels, there’s never enough time allotted for Q&A, but hopefully this will be different.
Thanks to my friend Jason Neville for bringing this choice piece of research to my attention:
“We put rats in relatively large areas with objects and routes resembling those in Manhattan,” explains Prof. Eilam. The rats, he found, do the same things humans do: They establish a grid system to orient themselves. Using the grid, the rats covered a vast amount of territory, “seeing the sights” quickly. In contrast, rats in an irregular plan resembling New Orleans’ failed to move far from where they started and didn’t cover much territory, despite traveling the same distances as the “Manhattan rats.”
Source: Perfect City Weblog
I was tagged with one of those viral memes that I recall were ricocheting around the blogosphere a few years back. But this one happened on Facebook, and the difference is that on Facebook I’m connected to some old college and high school friends who aren’t necessarily bloggers and who don’t read this blog. I don’t really know too much about what’s going on in their lives, nor they mine, but I’m curious, and they might be as well. So I was actually interested, I participated, and herewith I am cross-pasting 25 random things about me.
- I have a daughter, eleven months old. For many years I was convinced we’d never have kids, so this is a pretty big development.
- I take the same lunch to work most days: a carrot, a sandwich, an apple.
- I was epileptic, with serious seizures, but I seem to have outgrown it about ten years ago.
- I live in Mid-City New Orleans. Yes, we were flooded in 2005. Yes, we rebuilt.
- I recently learned that I have a high “need for cognition” which basically means I like to think. About everything. A lot.
- I am considered tall by most people.
- I have three earrings which I remove annually for cleaning – whether they need it or not.
- I work at a historically black college.
- I thought the war in Iraq was wrong from the get-go.
- I think solstices and equinoxes are pretty cool.
- I worked as a telemarketer for seven years, off and on, strictly part time.
- I lived in Sweden for a year between high school and college.
- I consider myself an atheist, but I still think religion and spirituality is an important aspect of human experience.
- I consider myself an anarchist but that doesn’t mean I blow things up.
- I consider myself an intellectual but that doesn’t mean I think I’m smarter than you.
- I once got arrested for streaking.
- I smoked pot on MTV.
- My parents are very proud of me.
- I was involved in putting the first TV series on the internet.
- I’ve been blogging steadily since March 2004.
- I have kept a diary off and on since 1977 (when I was ten years old).
- My favorite movie is Murder My Sweet which totally rules over The Big Sleep as the best Raymond Chandler film noir.
- I enjoy reading science fiction.
- I’ve ridden my bike to work (almost) every day for the last nine years.
- I am obsessed with the Caribbean and hope to visit there again… some day.
Now then. If you actually read all that, let me know if there’s one in particular you’d like to know more about. If there’s a clear winner I’ll be sure to write a follow-up and expand upon it.
A new restaurant has opened on Bienville at N. Rendon, just a couple blocks from our house. Of course Xy and I went to check it out as soon as we noticed, and as it turns out we were there on opening night.
Ed’s Sandwich Shop is nothing fancy. It’s down-home cookin’ on the real — I suspect that much of the food preparation takes place in someone’s home kitchen. Just a hunch. In any case they aren’t afraid to use the microwave.
I think most New Orleanians will understand exactly what kind of joint Ed’s is when I mention that ya ca mein is on the menu.
Photo by Chuck T. Used by permission. Chuck describe the dish thusly:
The beef noodle soup that’s a long time tradition in New Orleans’ black community, served in bars, corner groceries and at second lines. Spaghetti topped with chopped meat, half a hard-boiled egg, green onions and a beef soy-sauce-and-Worcestershire sauce broth, which is really good and a lot better than it sounds.
I don’t think I’ve actually ever had this dish before, though I’d read about it somewhere. It was pretty tasty. It came with a thimbleful of soy sauce but the broth was already salty enough, even for Xy — so you know it was salty.
Tom Fitzmorris probably won’t be reviewing this place anytime soon, but I suspect Xy and I will be back from time to time. Thursday is steak night!
You make eleven months today. I just made 42 years myself. Such a difference. Every month is a milestone for you, but I can’t even get excited about my annual birthday anymore.
Still I try to cherish each day. I’m well aware of the fragility of life. An old friend’s father just died in a house fire. Meanwhile another friend’s husband is slowly dying. When confronted with such pain I shed a tear and hardly know what to say. It’s one thing to contemplate such losses, and quite another to experience directly.
Pain is a fact of life. You know about pain: You’re teething. You’ve had vaccinations. You’ve bumped your head. In the scale of your life these little hurts are not little at all. Of course I’d like to shield you from all such pain, but that’s not possible. It’s not even healthy.
But as you know also and already, life is full of wonder too. Even after 42 years, I’m happy to report that life still springs big surprises on me, things I could never have anticipated. Like, for example, the election of Obama. One of the main reasons I voted for Obama was so that I could tell you I did some day; I hope that when that day comes I still feel as positive about it.
But of course the best surprise in my life has got to be you. We had a couple weeks off work over the holidays. I thought it might wear us out, caring for you full-time. You pretty much demand constant supervision as you crawl all over the place and put everything you can in your mouth. But — surprise — it wasn’t tiring. Quite the opposite. It was invigorating.
We’ll always be 41 years apart. I’m sure I’ll always seem old to you, but even as I fumble toward maturity I strive to retain a certain childlike perspective. I hope you’ll continue to help me with that.
It’s stunning for me to realize: Today is a great day in American history.
I can recall plenty of dark days. September 11th and Hurricane Katrina come immediately to mind. But I’ve been racking my mind to come up with a day on which I felt a sense of pride like today.
Can’t think of one.
Funny thing about pride. It seems to come in at least a couple of different flavors. There’s a belligerent kind of pride, a swaggering boastful emotion. But there’s also a quiet kind, which seems to carry with it an overwhelming sense of humility. That seems paradoxical to me. But anyway it’s that latter kind of pride I’m feeling today. It’s not about me, it’s nothing I’ve earned, but I feel grateful and happy to be a part of it all the same.
And I can’t remember the last time I felt this way.
I’m proud for my country, and that’s such a strange feeling for me. Also strange: I’m proud of my generation. I don’t think I’ve ever really had these feelings before, and they’re kind of taking me by surprise. I’m kind of getting choked up.
And I’m also feeling hopeful. But it’s a highly qualified sense of hope. There’s a reason for that.
Reagan. Bush. Clinton. Bush again. Those are the presidents I have known as an adult, and I really haven’t been happy with any of them. There was a time, from roughly the election of ’92 to Clinton’s inauguration, when I felt this sense of hope. Once Clinton actually got into office, however, I was quickly disappointed.
Having been fooled once, I’m more cautious now. I’m also sixteen years older and commensurately sadder — I won’t say wiser. My expectations have been sorely diminished. Even so, all these years of disappointment have taught me to keep my hopes under wrap.
I characterized my take on our prospects in New Orleans after Katrina as “tightly bridled optimism.” I’m sure I’m not the first person to coin that phrase, but you wouldn’t know it from searching Google. Maybe I should trademark it, because I’ve come to realize it’s my signature emotion.
And, for sure, it’s what I’m feeling today. Optimistic, yes, but not uncritically so. I can’t let loose, can’t let my guard down entirely, not even today. My skepticism and pessimism are too deeply held.
I am more hopeful for our future than at any time in my adult life, but that’s not saying much. Or maybe it is. I don’t even know anymore.
Still, a great day in American history. I’m profoundly glad to see this day.
Every year I see further evidence that Dr. King’s legacy is not being honored so much as perverted. I got this spam e-mail last week advertising an event in downtown New Orleans:
You really need to view the full-size original to soak in every little detail.
That the ad refers to “the King” and uses the image of a crown to create a visual pun is a little disturbing, but that’s a minor quibble. Obviously Dr. King has passed into the realm of iconography.
No, what really bothers me about this image is the attractive female model. She’s wearing a crown, symbolizing Dr. Martin Luther King. The expression on her face seems to define the come-hither stare. And what’s that she doing? Well, she seems to be lifting her skirt up.
Using sex appeal to hype a nightclub. Nothing new there. Using a civil rights icon to make a buck. Seen it before. But the combination of the two takes it to a new level for me. Consider also those persistent rumors of Dr. King’s philandering, and this advertisement is looking pretty ugly.
And is my imagination overactive, or is Obama looking up her skirt? That’s just wrong.
I don’t presume to judge the model, or anyone really. I just find this image is sadly indicative of a larger pattern, a pervasive lack of respect for a great human being.
I don’t like to make a big deal out of my birthday. I kind of agree with the brilliant Patton Oswalt, that you really only get about twenty or so legitimate birthday parties in your life, mostly when you’re a kid, and also the big decade markers. But when you turn 42? Who cares? I don’t, really. I certainly don’t want to have a party, and I don’t care if people remember.
Well, there is one person I kind of expect to remember my birthday, but she’d never forget.
Ironically, in this age of social network sites and their attendant birthday reminders, I had more well-wishers than ever. It seemed like I must have gotten a hundred greetings via Facebook, Plaxo, text messages, e-mails, and of course this blog. All of which I appreciated.
But guess who forgot? That’s right. Xy.
When it became obvious that she’d forgotten, I did not remind her. I figured if she made it ’til midnight without remembering that I’d be able to milk this for weeks. Unfortunately she ran into a friend of a friend who just so happens to have the same birthday as me, and that jogged her memory.
In Xy’s defense she was feeling poorly, getting over the tail end of the same cold I just had.
Still I’m getting some mileage out of it. Xy let me sleep in, and she’s making me breakfast now. Happy belated!
It’s my birthday today. So, a quick quiz. What do I have in common with the Superbowl, the Krewe of Endymion, Fairport Convention and electronic ATMs?
I’m feeling better, though by no means 100%, and I’m back at work today. Ironically, as I’ve gotten over my cold, the weather here’s colder than ever. Yes, a cold front swept through overnight, and it’s mighty chilly in New Orleans. (Strangely enough our car has started without problems despite the recent cold weather.) How cold, you ask? Why it almost hit freezing. But not quite. The official low reading was 33ºF, from 6 to 8:00 AM this morning. Of course, with windchill it was below freezing, and Persephone and I definitely felt it. Fortunately it’s only a short walk from home to daycare. The temperature is climbing slowly now, and we’re only expected to crack 50ºF if we are lucky.
The above ruminations are posted for the benefit of my Midwestern friends and family. This cold snap is taking us below average, but it’s not setting any records. We do have hard freezes here, sometimes. But it’s been a while, and that’s fine by me.
Perhaps I spoke too quickly yesterday. This is feeling like regular full-blown cold. I stayed home again today, but I think I am over the worst of it and expect to be back tomorrow.
By special request, here’s instructions for making chicken soup, Xy style. This is simple, crude and effective.
Take a bunch of veggies and chop them up. Anything you like will do, and it’s good to change up for variety if you make this frequently; the only constant Xy insists on are carrots. This time we also had potatoes, green peppers, corn and plenty of garlic. Chop ’em up and give them a quick sauté at the bottom of a large pot. Then add a bunch of water and a whole chicken. Xy says it has to be whole because the healing power is in the bones. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for two hours. Remove the chicken, let it cool a bit, then pull the meat off the bones, shredding while you return it to the pot. Give the heart and liver to your cat. Add a cup of rice or noodles to the soup, adding more water if necessary, and season with salt and/or Tony’s, and simmer for another thirty minutes or so. The amount of water is variable depending on how thick or soupy you like it, but keep in mind rice absorbs water like a frat boy absorbs beer.
That’s it. Enjoy.
Footnotes: This soup is scientifically proven to get you better quicker. Unless you’re a vegetarian, in which case it might make you sicker. Also the rice or noodles are optional.
My sore throat of a couple days developed into something that seemed more like a cold last night, so today I am staying home, resting, hydrating, and eating plenty of Xy’s patented chicken soup. Seems like I’ve had lots of little ailments over the last year that seem like mini-colds — a little briefer and less severe than the real thing. Maybe I’ve just forgotten what colds are like, or maybe I’m getting exposed to new kiddie bugs via daycare, or maybe Xy’s patented chicken soup nips them in the bud. Hard to say, but I hope to be back in the game tomorrow. This morning I was idly wondering, if someone invented a drug that cured the common cold but also increased one’s chances of getting cancer later in life, would it sell?
I mentioned earlier that I was working on the Beyond Jena forum, which is rapidly approaching on the last day of this month. We’re still working on some loose ends, but the event is coming together and I have every reason to believe it will be a success. I’m excited about this because it brings together several areas of interest to me personally.
The idea for this event came out of two panels in 2007: one that I was on and one that I organized. In a sense this event combines those two. That first panel was sponsored by Communications, which led me to get talking with Dr. Kimberly Chandler, one of the newer faculty in that department. Together we came up with the idea for the Beyond Jena forum.
Here’s the rationale. The 2007 demonstrations in Jena were “a civil rights protest literally conjured out of the ether of cyberspace, of a type that has never happened before in America” [Chicago Tribune]. In fact, the story of how those protests were organized became a story in and of itself. We thought it would be interesting and valuable to discuss the rise of the blogosphere, in particular bloggers of color, as well as other independent media. How is this playing out in New Orleans today? How can we merge new technologies, pedagogy and grassroots media here at this University, to further our mission? So it’s not really about the Jena Six per se; that’s just our jumping-off point to talk about a host of connected issues.
We’re aiming for a bigger event than I have ever organized before. My job usually entails programming that’s directed to our faculty only, which is a fairly small group — just a couple hundred, I think. If we get thirty people to turn out for something it’s a screaming success. This event is not just for faculty, but also for staff and students and the public at large. Come one, come all! We are providing a continental breakfast and a lunch. We got eight different departments (plus Rising Tide) to sponsor the event. It’s free but registration is required. There are a lot of logistics to juggle.
We’ve got a great bunch of participants lined up. I’m very excited about the panel I’ll be moderating, “The Rise of Blogging and Grassroots Media as Tools for Social Justice in New Orleans and Beyond.” I think it will be a stimulating discussion.
My only worry at this point is attendance. We are getting the word out as best we can. The University’s media apparatus has been deployed. Flyers are in the works. I even created my first Facebook ad. So far the registrations have been trickling in. The next ten days are crucial.
For more details on the event, or to register, visit BeyondJena.com, and please send that link to anyone you think might be interested.
Once again, these are not reviews, just some scattered reading notes.
Author: Thomas M. Disch
Like Nova, this is a good novel by an author capable of greatness. I admire Disch, and was saddened when he took his life last year. I have a collection of his stories, entitled Fun with Your New Head that is amongst my very favorite books.
334 is called a novel, but it fits that descriptor loosely. It reads more like a collection of interrelated stories. (And indeed my friend Frank described it as a classic example of a “fix up” novel, since some of the stories were published separately first.) I’d describe it as five short stories followed by a fugue-like novelette.
It’s bleak stuff, or at least it seems to be so intended. Disch envisions a very near future which is not so much a dystopia as a triumph of mediocrity. I found one sentence on page 102 that seemed to encapsulate the spirit of the whole book:
Smells filmed every surface like cheap skin cream.
Of course it’s hard to sustain interest over the length of a novel in characters who are thoroughly unsympathetic. My objection is that the most oppressive force in the book would seem to be the author himself. His loathing for humanity somewhat overwhelms the characters themselves. I imagined that after the final page, once the author was done, things would have to get better for most of them. In other words, I didn’t find his vision thoroughly convincing.
The tales in Fun with Your New Head are bleak too, but with a darker, more horrific edge. Both books are suffused with despair, but I found 334 subtler, more realistic, and a bit of a snooze. The problem with a thoroughly realistic bleakness is that it’s not very much fun.
Somehow last week got away from me, and I failed to record some happenings here.
For example, on Thursday morning the car refused to start again. We waited ten minutes and then it started up fine. (Well, almost fine. Xy still couldn’t get it to start so I tried, and succeeded. Therefore Xy drove to work with my key, which fact would come back to haunt me.) Xy was not happy about the delay. She had to tell her carpool partner to head on to school under her own power. I called our mechanic and also the dealership, but they only confirmed my suspicions: They’d have to duplicate the problem in order to diagnose and fix it. But I know they’ll never be able to reproduce it. It’s just too random. And I’ve chickened out of trying the bypass solution I mentioned before, since I can’t find any reports of anyone else making it work, and it seems like it could make things worse or create other problems. So I am stymied and frustrated, not to mention ticked off.
Also: I didn’t participate in any of the anti-violence activities Friday because I found myself dealing with a different kind of crisis. We noticed the girl had around rash mid-week. Not a horrible rash — a mild one. Subtle. You could feel it more easily than seeing it sometimes. All over her body. We could not puzzle out what she might have been exposed to or eaten to cause an allergic reaction, and it certainly didn’t look like any of the major diseases that cause rashes. No fever. I was inclined not to worry, but Xy was concerned, and then Friday morning I noticed it seemed a little worse. I called the doctor’s office for advice and they suggested I might want to bring her in just to check. I figured, OK, sure, why not, I’ve got the car, I’ll zip over to daycare, pick her up, take her to the doctor and take her back. I’ll only be a little late to work.
Wrong. Turns out I never got my ignition key back from Xy. Damn! So I called a cab, ran over to daycare (literally), walked back with the girl, got the car seat out of the car, and changed her diaper just in time for the cab to arrive. The driver mocked me for not knowing how to install the car seat in his cab, but in my defense I’d only installed it in cars with hooks, not using the alternate seat belt method. Then on the ride the driver bent my ear the whole way hashing through his problems with his fiancée. It actually sounded like he hated her so I advised him to break it off.
The doctor confirmed my thinking: The rash isn’t much to worry about, and there’s not much we can do about it in any event. She said it was most likely an allergic reaction. There’s an off-chance it’s viral, but with no fever that’s unlikely.
Fortunately I ran into a friend from the neighborhood who was able to give me a ride back. But the real kicker: That night I discovered Xy had left the ignition key in the cupholder of the car. It was there the whole time. She tried to text me about it but it didn’t go through. So all that drama was unnecessary.