Editor B’s Year-End Closeout

Yo here’s a mix of my favorite tracks released in 2009.

There’s 23 in all, so it’s about an hour and a half long. 8tracks terms forbid me from providing a complete listing, but I can tell you there’s some music by A Tiny Window, Prince Rama of Ayodhya, and Интеркосмос (aka Interkosmos). Enjoy, and have a happy new year.

Of course, it’s also the end of the decade. The Aughts really kind of sucked as a decade. 9/11, wars, hurricanes, the flooding of New Orleans, financial crisis. Here’s hoping the Teens are better.

But the Aughts saw plenty of good music, so I’m kicking out the jams on radio.rox, playing through 1300 of my favoritest tracks released over the last ten years. This will take about four days to play, and we’re not even halfway through yet. So tune in and listen a while, if you dare. Should continue through January 2nd. Enjoy, and have a happy new decade.

I’d hoped to post by now my reflections on our trip out west for Xmas, pictures of our new house, buying a new (used) vehicle, and compiling a list of my top ten albums of the decade, but life has just been kicking my ass. So check back here in the new decade and maybe I’ll get around to that.

Oh — one last thing to accompany the mix. I created my first gallery on Flickr. Check out My Phavorite Photos of 2009.

Twenty-Two Months

Bunny Lift

Dear Persephone,

You’re twenty-two months old as of yesterday. Not long ago I had a fleeting vision of what you might be like when you are twenty-two years old. We were napping together and it came in a dream as I was half-asleep, so vivid and so real and so beautiful. I woke up and was amazed. But in the manner of dreams, it evaporated quickly, and now I’m left with only the memory of the memory.

You’ve been singing along a lot with all kinds of songs. In fact one night I was singing you a lullaby (“Cotton Fields Back Home,” which my father used to sing to me) and I wondered why you never seem to sing along to my lullabies. Then I switched from lyrics to just a “la la la” and sure enough you started to sing along with me.

(Of course, I don’t really want you to sing along with me at bedtime. I want you to relax and go to sleep. We were in a good groove for a while but lately

It rained so much last week that I ended up driving you and your mother to your respective schools rather than riding the bike as we usually do. After dropping Moms off one morning you started singing a song which you kept up for most of the trip. I couldn’t identify the tune, and of course your lyrics are not exactly clear, but it really got my attention because it was the first time I’ve ever heard you sing all on your own. We tried to figure to figure out what you’d been singing when we got to daycare, since it seemed likely that you learned it there. The song had a distinctive triple beat at the end of the verse, but nothing in the daycare repertoire seemed to match. A few days later I realized it was probably…

Ring around the rosey,
A pocketful of posies.
Ashes, ashes.
We all fall down.

The triple beat at the end corresponds with “all fall down.”

You’re also chanting along to a variety of nursery rhymes, including “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and “The Gashlycrumb Tinies.”

I forgot to mention it previously, but over the last couple months you’ve demonstrated your imagination is working. I first noticed this when you pushed some blocks together to make a choo choo train.

Speaking of blocks, you got some Duplo blocks as a Xmas present from me. We opened some presents early over the last couple nights. It didn’t take you long to learn how to tear open wrapping paper, and I notice you’ve begun to recognize Santa and call him out by name. It’s a fun time for sure.

But the holidays are tricky in many aspects. Take Santa, for instance. I still recall a sense of bitter disappointment when I learned the truth about him and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. It must have been fairly crushing, given that I still remember it after three and a half decades. What pained me even more was having to feign belief for some years afterward, in order to please my father, as I thought. Of course I don’t want you to experience any such hurt if it can be avoided, but neither do I want to deprive you of the fun of the Santa myth. How to navigate this terrain? Is it possible to let you know this is pretend from the outset, or does that rob the myth of its power? Tricky indeed. I can only try my best.

Ocular Emergency

Friday night my daughter stabbed me in the eye. Not intentionally — she was just waving her arm around. Her little finger somehow got past my glasses, and her nail sliced right across my cornea. When she realized I was in pain she gave me a kiss. Very sweet.

It was pretty painful, but I thought I could tough it out. Xy gave me some ibuprofen. After I got the girl to sleep I started baking gingerbread biscuits for our party the next day. I was cutting them into triangular shapes with a raisin in the center which I thought looked festive and vaguely mystical.

Then, about halfway through the process, the pain in my eye flared up like I couldn’t believe. I don’t know what brought it on. It was just after I had a whiskey sour, and I briefly entertained the fantastic notion that the lemon juice had entered my bloodstream and was now irritating the wound on my eyeball. I was operating with one eye shut and somehow managed to finish the last batches of gingerbread before collapsing for the night.

Lying in bed with both eyes shut, things didn’t seem so bad. But when I got up the next morning I discovered the pain was much, much worse. I was essentially unable to do anything, unable to function. I can’t really think when I’ve felt such pain before. Certainly breaking my toe was no comparison. I was crying like a baby. And here we had a few dozen people coming over in a few hours. Yikes.

Xy drove me to a local hospital and soon I was being admitted to the emergency room. They gave me an eyechart test, which I passed. Then they put a few drops of proxymetacaine (Alcaine) in my eye and within a minute or so I was back to 99% normal. It was like a miracle, a “whole new world” as the doctor put it. This sort of topical anesthetic wasn’t readily available some years ago, so there was little relief for a scratched cornea. As it was I involuntarily laughed out loud, the relief was so sudden and profound.

They squirted some fluorescein (a fluorescent dye) in my eye and looked at it under a black light. Yup, a perfect scratch right across the cornea.

Unfortunately proxymetacaine only lasts about ten or fifteen minutes. Repeated dosing is not advisable because of side effects. So they gave me some ketrolac (Acular) which lasts longer. Alas, I found this to be not quite so effective as the proxymetacaine. Instead of 99% relief it was more like 50%. They gave me some hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin) to get me over the hump.

Funny thing about the ketrolac. The doctor (who shall remain anonymous) said that according to regulations he was supposed to give me a couple drops and then throw the $50 bottle away and write me a prescription. He thought that was crazy and I had to agree. So instead he slipped me the bottle, an act which I gather could cost him his job. Sometimes rules were meant to be broken.

I was now able to function. My friend James gave me a ride back home. I got to mulling the glögg and icing the gingerbread. We put out blue cheese, almonds and raisins, all of which are traditionally served with glögg in Sweden.

Soon our friends and neighbors were coming by and we had a wonderful party. We received many special gifts, for which we are extremely thankful. I couldn’t begin to list them all here, but I thought Bob R.’s deserved to be cited. He and his wife brought a bag with a loaf of bread, a nice bottle of red wine and some Mediterranean sea salt. I was puzzled until I read the card. Mot only did it have a picture of our house on the front, it contained a quotation from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life which, given the time of year and the circumstance, just seemed so perfect.

George and Mary give the Martinis bread, salt and wine.

Mary to Mrs. Martini: “Bread that this house may never know hunger.”
Mary to Mrs. Martini: “Salt that life may always have flavor.”
George to the Martinis: “And wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever. Enter the Martini castle.”

Many thanks to everybody.

We even had people coming from out of town for this party — Jenny and Herb and the kids. After the party the boys watched the game while the girls went to Celebration in the Oaks. Leroy eventually decided, way too late, that he wanted to go with the girls. He wasn’t into the game. “Can we watch a different movie now?” Eventually he suffered an extended meltdown which seemed to parallel end of the Saints’ undefeated season. Something of an anticlimactic end to the day but it sure beat the way it started.

As for my eye? As of Monday morning it’s almost back to normal, and I’m off the ketrolac entirely.

Broke My Damn Toe and Other Entries in the Annals of Idiocy

I’ve been wanting to visit a podiatrist, but I am daunted from seeking healthcare, daunted by my insurer. Humana refuses to thoroughly update their database of “approved” physicians to reflect the reality of post-Katrina New Orleans. This may come as a shock but after the floods of ’05 many doctors simply ain’t there no more.

I became so aggravated that I called Humana and asked them to find a specialist and make an appointment for me. To their credit, they did so in fairly short order.

So Tuesday morning I got in our shiny new rental car and made my way to see an orthopedic podiatrist in the medical district. As long as I was headed in that general direction, I figured I’d go on to the Quarter and catch a haircut from Pat at the Monteleone. It was pouring rain as December chugged on its way to becoming our wettest month on record. I found a place to park on the street, fed the meter, got my haircut, went around the corner to Cafe Beignet for a cup of coffee, petted the big fluffy cat perched under my table, and finally made my way back to the car, scurrying along under the ubiquitous balconies in a vain effort to stay dry.

I reached into my pocket for my key and was distressed to find it wasn’t there. I must have left it in the rental. What if I locked myself out? But no, I told myself, if hte key’s in the car, I must not have locked it, because the clicker is on the keychain.

Then I got to the car, pretty much soaked, and sure enough the door was unlocked. And there was the key, right where I left it.

In the ignition. With the engine running. It had been sitting there unlocked and ready to go for forty minutes.

Sound familiar? It should. Because Xy did the exact same thing a couple years ago. At which time I remarked:

…it’s so stupid it seems like something I would do.

And I guess I’ve proven myself correct on that point.

(Later when I recounted this tale of luck and folly to Xy, her immediate question was: “Are you pregnant?” For the record, I don’t think I am.)

The rain had been positively pounding down the whole time, which is I’m sure the only reason the car was still there. It’s also why I didn’t notice the motor was running when I left it. I could not hear the engine over the sound of that rain.

I went on to the doctor, filled out a vast ream of meaningless paperwork, waited around a while, got some X-rays and finally confirmed that my pinky toe is indeed broken. Yup, I broke my damn toe. Broke it a week and a half ago. I stubbed it on a piece of furniture while trying to change P’s diaper in the middle of the night. (And she didn’t even need a diaper change. Just wanted to get out of the crib.) The only real treatment is to tape the pinky to the fourth toe and let it heal.

I’ve also got some arthritis in my ankle, the one I sprained about a month before Xy’s stunt with the car. And I’ve got some pain in my heel for which the doctor prescribed an orthotic to wear in my shoe. My left foot is just a mess.

Vehicular Challenge

Michael gave me a lift early Sunday morning to pick up the car from where Xy had abandoned it on Airline Highway the night before. It wouldn’t start. While we were unloading her Xmas shopping a cop pulled up and chastised us for leaving the car there overnight. He waited while I called Progressive Roadside Assistance. They told me all their tow contractors were fully booked and accepting only police calls. So I had the cop call it in, and eventually we got the car to the Banks Street Service Station. I had to borrow a bunch of cash from Michael to pay for the tow. (Note to self: Pay him back.)

This morning James gave Xy a ride to work. I called the closest car rental place and reserved a vehicle, then went over to Banks Street Station with the girl on my hip and explained the situation to Tommie. He called me back a few hours later and said that in his opinion the car needed a new engine and should probably be considered a total loss. (We still owe $4,333.18 on it.) Progressive won’t be able to get an adjuster out until Wednesday. I picked up the rental a few hours later — about the last car available since so many people had cars flooded over the weekend — and so we are driving a Kia Spectrum for the next little while.

To be honest I’m hoping the Saturn is totaled. We have really come to dislike that car. The worst thing about it is the antitheft system which triggers improperly under certain atmospheric conditions, rendering the car unstartable for eight minutes at a go. Number two, it rides waaay too low to the ground, constantly scraping bottom over the slightest dip in the road, and as recent events illustrate that’s just not a good thing when streets are flooding. And we have numerous miscellaneous gripes over the rapid deterioration of interior details.

So I think we are going to be shopping for a car real soon. We hoped to do so anyway, but events are forcing our hand.

Our last two cars were slightly-used Saturns. I was never crazy about the product, but I liked the Saturn approach to sales: no BS, no haggling, the price listed was just the price. Alas, Saturn is no more, and I wouldn’t buy them again anyway after our frustrations with this vehicle.

Thus I feel supremely unqualified for navigating the automotive purchasing transaction.

I don’t even really know what we want. I’d kind of like something that rides higher than a standard sedan but is not so bulky as sports utility vehicle. And wouldn’t it be nice if that also could run off electricity. A hybrid hybrid if you will. I gather such things don’t exist. So we are setting our sights lower. An affordable compact wagon perhaps? Lee got an HHR and that looks pretty good to me.

Any advice is most welcome.

Trial by Water

I wasn’t feeling quite right. When Xy offered to take our daughter with her on a shopping expedition I assented. It was just starting to rain so I urged her to drive carefully. Off she went.

We’d heard the weather reports the night before talking about a possibly severe “rain event” but I thought that was over. Wrong. I puttered around the house (feeling much better after relieving some gastrointestinal pressure) and after about an hour I sent the following text to Xy:

Jeez it’s raining heavily. I wish y’all had stayed home now. Be careful! Love!!!

Little did I know her phone was sitting on our bed upstairs.

About 45 minutes later I opened the front door and stepped out on the front porch. Loud and profane language began issuing spontaneously from my mouth. Our front yard was under water.

Banks Street Flooding

I texted Xy:

Our street is flooded badly!

I also tried calling her. In fact I called her repeatedly over the next couple hours. She never answered. Little did I know her phone was sitting on our bed upstairs.

And so I puttered and worried. Twitter indicated street flooding was occurring all over New Orleans. Michael Homan and his kids waded by for a visit. After they left I puttered and worried some more and continued to call Xy’s phone, wondering why on earth she didn’t answer and fearing for the worst. Little did I know her phone was sitting on our bed upstairs. Why didn’t I at least tell her to leave our girl at home with me?

And then the kitchen ceiling sprung a new leak. It’s becoming obvious that we need a new roof for the addition.

Finally, about three and a half hours after she left, the doorbell rang, and there she was on our front porch, soaked to the skin and holding our daughter on her hip. She’d driven the car into water and pushed it to start three times, but on the forth time it wouldn’t start. She had to abandon it on Airline Highway and walk home through flooded streets and pouring rain — carrying a toddler the whole way. Luckily she only had to go about a mile and a quarter.

It’s amazing to me no one offered help. She tried flagging down a cab but they didn’t stop. Plenty of police passed by but they didn’t stop. C’mon, a diminutive woman walking through a commercial/industrial zone in knee-deep flood-waters during a “rain event” at night in New Orleans with a baby — are you kidding me?

I of course had no idea they were in trouble until they showed up on the porch. The whole thing shook me up quite a bit. Sometimes I don’t dig living in New Orleans so much. I think I need a drink.

A Poster Boy for Brainwashing

Imagine my surprise when I discovered my nursery school photo is being used by Cory Frickin’ Doctorow for an article on Boing Boing.

Nursery School

The subject? Counter-terrorism, natch.

England’s West Midlands counter-terrorism unit is putting nursery schools on notice to check out their four-year-olds to make sure that they’re not being “brainwashed” into “Islamic extremism.”

It should be noted that my nursery school was extremely white-bread, monocultural and Christian. I supposed that was fairly typical of a suburban nursery school in the American Midwest in the early 1970s. I doubt there was a whole lot of Islam in play there, extreme or otherwise. That’s what makes the juxtaposition a little jarring. Perhaps that’s Cory’s way of making a point.

By the way, when I referred to him as Cory Frickin’ Doctorow it was in light of the realization that this man, who’s written books I have read and enjoyed, has gazed upon my visage however briefly. It’s kind of like brushing up against a celebrity at the supermarket. Or something.

I posted this to Facebook, where the best comment came from my former classmate Aaron V., the very one who scanned this photo and shared it with me in the first place:

Where were the anti-terrorist cops when you threatened jihad on anyone that disrupted the prehistoric diorama you built in the sandbox?


48 Really Dumb Questions

These are my answers (from about a month ago) to a really dumb chain e-mail which I got from a really close friend. I’m posting this here just for fun but please, if you get the e-mail, don’t propagate it. Invent something better. These questions are really dumb even for a goofy “getting to know you” meme. I mean, who really cares about the color of the shirt I’m wearing? For the record, even though I answered this thing, I did not forward it on to anyone.
Continue reading 48 Really Dumb Questions


Radio Daze

I’ve made a few changes to the streaming audio station as I continue the constant pursuit of perfection. Finally came up with a name: radio.rox — blindingly obvious but thanks to Charlotte for prodding me in the right direction. The name suggests the new web address:

…which is where you’ll find it.

It now features a listing of the last ten tracks played, which updates every four minutes and links to the appropriate pages on last.fm. So if you hear something you like, you can follow the link and learn more about that artist.

Technical ruminations: There are still only two options for listening: a link that should launch the stream in your media player, and a Quicktime player embedded in the web page. I’d like to add another option, like maybe a Flash player, because not everyone has Quicktime. If anyone knows of a Flash player that can accept audio streams I’d appreciate suggestions.

More technical ruminations: The audio is still streaming over port 8000 which may run afoul of strict firewalls. I’d like to stream it over port 80 which is usually open to allow plain old web traffic, but I haven’t manged to figure that out yet. I have discovered that the embedded player seems to function even when a firewall is blocking the stream in a media player — I don’t know why. Maybe Quicktime somehow converts the stream to port 80? Is that even possible?

Oh, but what about the content? You’ll hear some stuff you absolutely can’t hear elsewhere — audio from my personal collection, some of which I was involved in creating myself, some of which is not commercially available, and of course there’s a wealth of ROX-related stuff in there. But that’s interlarded with a massively aggressively perhaps even obnoxiously eclectic mix of music and other audio from diverse sources. If you don’t like what you hear, wait a bit and you’ll probably hear something very different. You may still not like it, but at least it will be different.

Right now there’s also a lot of Xmas music in the mix. Not necessarily good music… but Xmas nonetheless.

As always, I’m interested to know what you think.

Well, Crap

Overnight New Orleans got pounded by heavy, heavy rain for several hours. Also some serious gusts. We lost power for a while during the night and there was of course some street flooding throughout the city.

The weather has caused our fumigation to be postponed. They were set to tent the house this morning, but during the storms the tarp got ripped. It was on another house at the time. That house has to be resealed and pumped full of more fumigant. So we have to aim for another date.

Meanwhile I’ve got a new worry to preoccupy me. This is by far the heaviest rain we’ve had in a while, and sure enough we sprang a leak. It appears to be in the area where the addition joins the older part of the house. Observant readers will recall a leak in this area was amongst the deficiencies we discovered in our inspection. But that was in at the other end of the addition; at least that repair appears to have held.


We’re having our house tented for fumigation to kill off some drywood termites. It’s kind of a pain, because we have to relocate three cats, a rabbit, and a fish, not to mention a baby girl and our own damn selves and our food.

We became aware of the drywood infestation when we inspected. The seller had some spot treatments done, but fumigation is the only sure method. I’d have preferred to fumigate when the house was vacant, of course, but there’s only one or two firms in town who do this work, and the waiting list can be lengthy. They couldn’t get to us before the move date.

So we’re displaced again. Oh well, at least it’s only for a couple nights.

There are three kinds of termites we worry about round here: subterraneans, Formosans, and drywoods. Of the three, drywoods eat the slowest and take the longest time to do serious damage. Formosans, on the other hand, can eat an entire house overnight. So if you have to have a termite infestation, drywoods are preferred.

I’ve been assured that all toxins will be dissipated before we move back in. They test to make sure. So you don’t have to worry about inhaling poison gas when you come to our Houseblessing and Glöggfest. (Yes, you’re invited! Follow the link for details and to RSVP.)

In the meantime, despite these challenges, you should still be able to listen to my new radio station. I guess I’ll have to tune in myself if I want to feel at home.


Awrite — I’m taking the plunge and starting my own net radio station. This will be going 24/7 or as long as I can keep it up.

Want to listen? Please be my guest. If you know my “taste” in music (and I do use the word “taste” advisedly) you’ll know what to expect. If not I guess you’ll just have to listen.

Let me know what you think and help me figure out a name for the station. To celebrate this inaugural broadcast day I’ll be taking requests but keep in mind my library is not infinite so general requests are more realistic than specific tracks.

Collaborative Story Assignment

A photo I took in 2005 was recently used to spur a collaborative writing assignment.

Thanksgiving in Hollygrove

I have no idea where the class was even located. I only found this through Flickr’s referrer logs. The students used EtherPad to collaborate, allowing me to see the final product.

Here are their instructions.

  • As a group pick one image from this   Flickr Creative Commons Search: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=thanksgiving&l=4 then copy and paste the link to the   image on your group’s etherpad.
  • Next, take 1-2 minutes to   collaboratively compose a story here on your etherpad.  Don’t forget to   give your story a title and think about the elements of a good story   (e.g. character, setting, tension, drama, humor, change…)

Apparently my photo was picked by not one but two groups. Here are the results:

The Reunion

10 years has passed, and it is that time of the year: Thanksgiving! When family members, friends, colleagues and counterparts come together in thanks. But this Thanksgiving is special…this is the 10 year reunion! (Meaning High School reunion).

It is the first time that Peter, Bob and Sarah have seen each other in the past 10 years and the conversation began in an uninspired manner. But then the Corona was introduced and the truth came out.

Peter shocked the group by announcing that he had renounced his ways as a buddist priest in Tibet for enlightenment in language classrooms. Bob…was inspired by Peter and he followed his path. What about Sarah? Sarah was mad because she doesnt want Bob to go with Peter. Why? Because Bob was her experiemental android. However, Sarah had not gotten around to telling Bob that he was an android. She meant to, but she never got around to it. Now, she wouldn’t be able to break the news because Bob looooooved the holidays and January was his birthday and Valentine’s Day… forget it! Not the time to break the android news! If only Sarah could prevent Bob from working with Peter for another year. Fortunately, bob spoke no human languages. Once Peter found out, Sarah’s job would be easy. Assuming Peter’s intentions in hiring Bob were purely professional…


Once upon a time there was a hipster-giving. Two hipster dads, Milo and Otis welcomed their hipster daughtghter Fiona from her Humbolt adobe. After finishing their free-range steroid free turkey basted in corona, they were met by the officer from the dump who accused Otis of causing a ruckus. Turning off sixteen candles, Fiona makes a wish: ” I want a hipster boyfriend this year!  I’m sick of my two dads. I wish he would take me away”  But one should always be careful of what one wishes for . . . 

Because . . . the hipster rules of “hooking up” dictate that only hipsters may be with other hipsters! The hipster daughter realized that she would not be perfect for this hipster boyfriend and she would never be able to escape her hipster roots!  ARmed with a corona in one hand and organic carrots in the other, clad in organic plaid hemp pants, the hipster boyfriend, Sunshine, appeared and whisked her away to magical hipster land!!!!

why wouldnt she be perfect for him?

Saints Metaphor

I was listening to WWL and WBOK yesterday. These two talk-radio stations could not be more different in so many ways. And yet the theme was the same on both — the Saints as a metaphor for this city. Not a metaphor for what we actually are, but a metaphor for what we could be. A parable, an example, a model. And the message is so simple and basic. If we work together as a team we can succeed. We can achieve excellence. It’s like we’ve been beaten down so hard and for so long that very idea of success seems like a novel concept that can move grown folks to tears of joy.

Unfortunately the follow-up talk pretty much demonstrated that we have a long way to go. I could expand on that but I’m not in the mood.

Doing the Wave

It was some fun watching the Saints dismantle the Patriots last night. And now I’m doing the wave. No, not the audience wave — I’m not that big of a sports fan and I do still have my basic sense of human dignity. I’m talking about Google Wave.


Google describes Wave as “a personal communication and collaboration tool,” and at first glance it seems to be highly flexible and powerful. Whether it will also be useful and successful is another question entirely.

It’s a little hard for me to describe Wave, mainly because I haven’t had much chance to play around with it yet. It’s invitation-only at this point, and I only got mine a couple days ago. (Props to Nola Cherié King for hooking me up.) I hope to spend some time poking around at it and exploring its possibilities, seeing what potential it might have. This is just what I do, who I am, plus it’s my job. In particular I’m wondering what application Wave might have in higher education.

Anyhow, I’ve now got a handful of invites (eight, to be specific) which I can pass on to any interested parties, and we can check this thing out together. I’d like to reserve at least half of them for people who are here at the University, but the rest are fair game to friends and readers. So if you’d like an invite, use the comment form below, and make sure to put your e-mail address in the appropriate field (no one will see it but me) so I can send you the invitation. Google says the invites may be delayed but I got mine pretty much instantly. I’ll send invites on a first-come basis, but you have to promise to do the wave with me at least once.