Sunday, November 05, 2006

Corn Mazing

Yesterday, Carlos, Jason, Julie and I made our annual (but last year interrupted by Katrina) journey to the Corn Maze.

I really love these life-size mazes, and the company was perfect. No drama.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Michael Vartan, Laura Bush and Hal Sparks Walk Into A Bar...

I read about this site in a magazine recently. It has face recognition software and a database of celebrity faces. It'll compare your uploaded photo to celebrities and tell you who your face most closely resembles. I uploaded a picture of myself, one of my mom and one of Carlos.

My face most closely matches Michael Vartan (2nd place was Rick Schroder), my mom's Laura Bush, and Carlos's Hal Sparks (2nd place Gael Garcia Bernal).

Imagine the three of them hanging out together!

My Hurricane Katrina Story - Part II (U2 & Green Day)

The Saints (our football team) have definitely helped bring New Orleans back. Having the Saints playing in New Orleans again really brings a sense of normalcy back to us - and for the first season EVER, the Superdome is sold out with season ticket holders.

U2 and Green Day played at the first Saints game held in the Superdome since The Storm. We've hosted nine Super Bowls - more than any other city. Around the city that day, and the weekend right before that Monday night, New Orleans had the feel of hosting another Super Bowl. Plus, since I work two blocks from the Superdome, I was let out of work at 2 pm so I could avoid all the traffic. Go Saints!

Personally, things are relatively back to normal.

My house had sustained minor damage: the large tree in my front yard came down - taking my gutter with it, most of the wooden fence around my house was blown down, my roof lost about 15 shingles, the entire roof of my carport was torn away, my garage had around 3 inches of water in it for about a week, and my hot tub's motor flooded. My area of town thankfully didn't have any serious flooding. (Compared to friends of mine who had 17 feet of water sitting in their house for two weeks, mine was definitely minor damage.) I have fixed everything around my house that I want to for now, but it's an on-going project to finish.

Carlos and I both have our jobs. He's a school teacher and was back to work by October 2005. I work at a local university and went back around the same time. Our department had 179 pre-Storm employees. As of today, we're up to around 40. (My immediate department went from 20 to 3 employees.) We had to lay off the most of the rest because of lack of business, but some just couldn't get back to the city after evacuating because they had no place to live. I'm very lucky!

There are, of course, many areas of the city that will take years to be fixed. Imagine if your house and EVERY house within 10 miles of you had 5 to 17 feet of water sitting in it for two weeks. How long would it take you to recover?

Plus, these people are faced with questions like:
If I return, will I be the only one on my block or in my neighborhood?
What if the levees break again for the next hurricane?
In my area, will there be any schools or playgrounds for my kids? Any grocery stores for me?

We do have some humor about all this. A local organization has an on-going campaign consisting mainly of ubiquitous bumper stickers around the city that say "New Orleans: Proud To Call It Home". Pre-Storm, some clever residents parodied the statement with the bumper sticker "New Orleans: Proud To Crawl Home". Post-Storm, the new one "New Orleans: Proud To Swim Home" immediately started appearing on the bumpers of cars.

I took 100 pictures around the city in October/November 2005. I am narrowing them down to the best 50. Carlos and I are going to go to those same locations in the next couple of weeks to take pictures of the exact same locations one year later. I'm working on a slide show which I'll post to YouTube soon. I'll send a link once I'm finished.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stalking Ryan Phillippe

Carlos and I made a rare Sunday outing today. (I try to spend Sundays alone, mentally preparing for the coming week.)

The blurb in Friday’s Times-Picayune said:
Actors Ryan Phillippe and Jesse Bradford (and reportedly other stars, yet to be named) are expected to walk the red carpet Sunday afternoon at the National World War II Museum’s invitation-only reception in honor of the upcoming release of Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers”…. The public is invited to line the red carpet as the stars arrive.

Ryan Phillippe is one of my Top Ten Favorite Actors* so we had to go.

We arrived at the red carpet about an hour early. There were four quite old people there, probably waiting for Clint Eastwood, so we walked around The Warehouse District, coming back around 3:30 pm. By then, the old people had left, replaced with five girls and, Carlos’s guess, one gay guy.

There was no large crowd. There were no stars. There were no limousines. Maybe it was because of the rain, or because there was a Saints game at the same time.

We ended up leaving, but not before Carlos took these two pictures. The first one – taken while I was driving about 30 miles per hour – is of the red carpet from one street perpendicular to the front entrance to the museum. The other is of the red carpet from a second street.

For those of you who came here for a picture of Ryan Phillippe, here ya’ go.

*The entire list – concentrating only on living actors – in order from most favorite down:
1. James Duval
2. Stephane Rideau
3. Ryan Phillippe
4. Tommy Kirk
5. River Phoenix
6. William McNamara
7. Kevin Zegers
8. Ethan Embry
9. Steve Antin
10. Peter Facinelli

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Movie Maker

Debbie showed us a (quite cool) video collage of some pictures she took on her recent trip. I asked her which program she used - Windows Movie Maker. I've been messing around with that program and came up with this:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

You Know You're From New Orleans When...

This comparison is the corner closest to my house, July 2005 (top) and TWO WEEKS post-Storm (bottom).

Because of the one year anniversary of The Storm, I've been revisiting my feelings about all this. I'm working on a post describing them. Until then, here's something for my fellow residents.

You Know You’re From New Orleans When…(Post-Katrina Version)

Pre-K has nothing to do with the year before Kindergarten.

The flies are bigger than your Chihuahua.

Your bank, dry cleaner, and grocery store are closed but your bar is not.

You judge your elevation by the brown horizontal line in the city.

You have to show an ID to get into your neighborhood.

Your neighborhood has no children, so you actually start to miss the little boys across the street who used to throw rocks onto your roof.

You go to Sam's Club, but instead of coming home with a case of pop tarts, you buy masks, bleach, rubber gloves, and baking soda in bulk.

You know five remedies to get the smell out of your refrigerator.

You spend a lot of time talking with your friends about the five remedies to get the smell out of your refrigerator.

Ice becomes more precious than gold.

Your office goes from 40 employees to 5.

Living in a house with twelve other people is not a sign of how poor you are, but how rich you are with friends and family.

You know what a double-evacuee is. (Damn you, Rita!)

FEMA means "failure to effectively manage anything" and hearing the words "Red Cross" makes your blood boil.

You get sick of hearing people from Baton Rouge tell you how bad the traffic is now. You remind them that Baton Rouge traffic was terrible before there were 200,000 more people in town.

The strip clubs on Bourbon Street have power before your house does.

The Salvation Army, a firefighter from Michigan, and cops from Wauconda show up at your house to make sure that you are OK.

There is a pirogue on your roof.

You return to your home and all of your belongings fit into two boxes.

Contraflow just doesn't seem so bad.

You have to purchase hip boots to walk in your neighborhood.

You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.

Lakeview becomes Lake.

The crosses on your wall and kitchen counter top remain despite the five feet of water in your house.

You know what it truly means to miss New Orleans.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Travels Around The Country

I stole this idea from Carlos's blog. Here are the states I've visited:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Liberal or Conservative?

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 40% Conservative, 60% Liberal
Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Birds and The Bees – See Reference Section (Parents Story I)

As I grow older, and am exposed to other people’s parents, I realize more and more that my parents are unique. Here is my first story of many about them.

Growing up, my family had a habit of reading while eating. Not at Family Dinner, which we had for many years until my mom decided to stop cooking. (That’s another story.) But while eating alone.

We had a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookshelf in our kitchen. Our ritual would be to pour a bowl of cereal and then take a book off the shelf. From the age of three, I did this. I went through Goodnight Moon through Where the Wild Things Are to Dr. Seuss to the entire Three Investigators series.

When I was around six, I noticed more serious titles like Talking To Your Five To Eight Year Old About Sex appearing on the shelf. As I aged, so did the title ages of the books, finishing when I was 13 with Talking To Your 15 to 18 Year Old About Sex. Page 57 had the good pictures on it.

My sister Christine and I would refer back to that page often.

My parents NEVER discussed sex with me – or my two sisters – growing up. Those books were our parent's way of imparting that knowledge.

My Cousin In Iraq

I received this email today from my 30-year-old cousin Christopher:

There was the rumor going around that our unit will be deployed to Iraq this year and recently the rumor has become truth. On July 10th I will be reporting to Gulfport, Mississippi for training for deployment to Iraq. I expect to spend a couple of months down there for training and more shots. UGH! From what I hear I should be in Iraq around September/August. I'm going to be stationed in a large Marine base north of Baghdad called Al Asad. It's basically a giant military truck stop and I will be doing logistical work for the convoys. I suspect that I will be there for 6-8 months as my orders are for a year. As of right now, today is my last day of work (YIPPEE) and plan on spending time with family and friends up until my deploy date.

He seems happy about going. Has he not heard that people are killed there?

Friday, April 14, 2006

On The Road Again...To Good Health

I took a health quiz this week here. It predicted that I'll live to 76.8 years old. It recommended that I quit smoking (duh!), exercise more (duh!), eat less meat, drink less soft drinks, and drink more tea. I took the quiz again with the assumption that I'd done all of those things. It said that I'll live to 96.4 years old. That's very powerful motivation! Tomorrow I quit soft drinks. (Yea, right.) That seems to be the easiest one to do first. Smoking will be the last one.

Friday, March 24, 2006

My Hurricane Katrina Story - Part I

I live in New Orleans and have been meaning to post my personal Hurricane Katrina story here. I have been corresponding with an out-of-town friend who is asking me questions about, as we commonly call it here, The Storm. I thought posting our emails here would be a good start to my story. His emails are in red; Mine are in blue.

I hadn't realized you were down there. You survived, obviously, no thanks to Bush.

Carlos and I evacuated to Montgomery, Alabama for five weeks, but have been back since the beginning of October. New Orleans has a long way to go before it's back to normal. I could tell you many stories.

I was lucky: My house only had some wind damage - but no flooding - and I didn't get laid off from my job. (They let almost 70% of the employees go.)

How did you find a house on high enough ground there not to have flooding?

Contrary to what was shown on the news, not all of New Orleans was under water. I think the reported statistic was 80% of New Orleans flooded. That might be true, but it's misleading. That stat only counts Orleans Parish - New Orleans - not metro New Orleans. I live in Jefferson Parish, the next parish over, though I still live about seven miles from Bourbon Street. New Orleans is very compact.

My area of town didn't get ANY flooding. We did lose electricity for almost a month.

To Be Continued...