Sunday, September 30, 2007

Geaux Mike!!

So, yesterday was the big LSU vs Tulane game. We got flattened, but we were holding our own until the 3rd quarter. (end result LSU Tigers 34, Tulane Green Wave 9). In the midst of all the school rivalry, a crucial fact has come to my attention. LSU has a tiger.

No, really, a tiger. An honest-to-god tiger. His name is Mike, and he lives on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge. Now, I know that other schools who have mascots sometimes have pet animals to represent them. Yale has Handsome Dan, University of Washington has a husky, USC has Traveller the horse, ect. But a tiger? Come on people it's a f-ing 400 pound cat! Not only that, but the current tiger on campus is the 6th tiger that LSU has had! After Mike the 5th retired and then passed away in 2007, Mike the 6th was brought in. He is a siberian bengal mix from a non-profit tiger rescue in Indiana. Supposedly he will grow to be 700 pounds, but he is still an adolescent. He has a special tiger habitat that he inherits from Mike the 5th, and a veternarian to care for him. Here are some photos from the Mike the Tiger webpage:

Maybe I should be appalled, but part of me thinks this is totally awesome. It doesn’t hurt that he looks pretty happy and his habitat seems quite nice. Therefore, geaux Mike!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Sorry it’s been so long since I posted folks, but I have basically had a week long cold punctuated by two exams. On ThursdayI took my first immunology exam, and I think I did well; it basically depends on how complete of answers the professor wanted, because mine were a bit on the minimal side.

Basically all I do now is study, except that I usually manage to catch one television show a night. Monday nights it has been the new Fox series K-Ville, which is a big deal down here in NOLA.

If you haven't seen K-Ville or heard the press about it, the premise is a cop show set in post-Katrina New Orleans. Various local reactions to the show have ranged from; "the show is great, not totally accurate, but shows what our lives are like down here" to "horribly insulting, how dare they make us look that bad". National Newspaper reviews have also run the gamut of these two responses.

My mom thinks that the outside world is concerned that K-Ville is not showing what life is like down here right now. That it is romanticizing the problems and minimizing the difficulties. I think that that perception is probably due to the fact that outsiders do not really know what the real issues in New Orleans are. A lot of the issues are horrifically mundane, nobody is running recycling, our insurance money is taking too long to arrive, the local and national governmental responses blow, ect. Some days this city feels like a sinking ship. This I feel the show captured well, for example: the problem with people stealing trees to use for landscaping rebuilt homes, people living off of FEMA checks, the frustration with loss of neighbors and neighborhoods as people decide not to return to New Orleans, ect. These are things I see happen every day down here, and the city does still need lots of help, as do the citizens.

However, the concern about the presentation of the crime of New Orleans on the show is valid. In the first episode, a two night Uzi shooting spree occurred, combined with a real estate plot to prevent impoverished people from returning to the ninth ward. In the second episode a prison kickback scandal ala Shawshank Redemption. Although crime in New Orleans is certainly sensational in terms of, say, the murder rate, it is not Hollywood sensational. It is mostly like crime in other big cities, just magnified by a whole bunch of other social problems, which make the solving and prevention of those crimes more difficult.

So far I am a moderate fan of the show. I am hoping it develops more from being a simple cop show to dealing with how the characters interact and their lives. If it focuses more on those things, and on the amazing culture down here, then K-Ville could be really great.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

It appears that one of Kevin Drum's cats has the same issue that Hodag does: he will only drink water out of a people glass (actually, reading the comments, it appears many people have this problem. In honor of this, we present Hodag eating for this week's Friday Cat Blogging:

Here, Hodag is eating out of his bowl. I bought that bowl for him with the idea that we could use the second, smaller bowl for water. He refuses to drink water out of it. When we were moving down here, we had to purchase a coffee mug on the way so we could feed him water. Back at Moomers, there was one incident in which we forgot to refill Hodag's water cup. He got so thirsty that he knocked over the cup full of water that was on Steven's window sill. Said cup of water went right onto Steven, who was sleeping on his bed, immediately under the window sill.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Judges Visit

As I mentioned, some of the scavhunt judges were in town last week. Courtney, Claire, Sam Boyd, and Ian were on some larger roadtrip from Florida to Oklahoma. They left Talahassee the morning of last Wednesday, and arrived here that night (having stopped several times along Florida's Gulf Coast). They brought crabs for Hodag. After welcoming them to New Orleans, I took them to Cooter Brown's [1], our favorite local bar.

I played hookey from class and the lab on Thursday to show them around the city. I navigated them along St Charles to the French Quarter. We wandered around there for a bit, and stopped by a couple of antique stores. I purchased an old-looking Tulane beer mug with an angry-looking anthropomorphic green wave on it holding a pennant. The guy who sold it to me claimed to have been present the last time Tulane beat LSU at football (1982, reports this morning's Times-Picayune [2]). I also went inside St Charles Cathedral for the first time. We had beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde. All very touristy things to do.

After that, we drove out to the 9th Ward. The last time I had been there was in March when we were visiting the city and our departments. There is a little more activity there now than I remember in March, but there is still almost no one there (current population estimates are about 7% of the 2000 census figure). In much of the area, vegetation has completely overrun whatever human activity was once there. Parts of it feel almost like the wild swampland that used to be there. Except for the obvious part that it's dry now. I felt myself tearing up; I almost cried. I didn't do that in March. I take that to mean that I'm more emotionally invested in the city now.

We headed back home. I had picked up some alligator meat earlier in the week, and had been advised that it cooks just like chicken. So we made a stir fry out of it. Everyone loved it. After dinner, all of us (minus Nora, who had to study) drove out to Metarie to sneak into the Metarie cemetery, which is really creepy at night. It's a very old New Orleans-style cemetery with above-ground graves and intricately-designed mausoleums. I tried to take them to Snake and Jake's (warning: Myspace), but the bartender wouldn't let us stay because Sam is not quite 21.

[1] The name comes from an old saying "Drunk as Cooter Brown," which has a short story behind it.
[2] Nora promises a post about LSU's mascot, Mike the Tiger, as soon as she no longer feels sick.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007


Late last Tuesday night, I finished grading the first round of essays. Hopefully future sets of papers will not take quite so long. A group of scav judges (Courtney, Claire, Ian, Sam) showed up Wednesday night. They left Friday morning, just in time for me to turn in a Math problem set. This all explains why there was no Friday Cat Blogging this past Friday. It also partially explains why I've been quiet recently. If we're lucky, next Friday will feature a special judges' visit edition of Friday Cat Blogging.

I have several posts that I have started; I plan to finish one of them for tomorrow.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tropical Depression

I just finished my first exam of graduate school. I could have done well, or really badly, I will just have to wait and see. As I walked out of the building however I saw workmen putting up a small metal gate in front of the entrance to the Tropical Medicine building . The structure they put up looks kind of like a foot tall retaining wall driven in place with railroad ties. I stare at it for a second and then ask one of the workers,
"Is this for the tropical storm?"
The workman looks at me and replies "yeah, where are you from?"
Sigh, I guess I am still getting used to the idea that down here a heavy rain can cause localized flooding, in just a couple of hours, even minutes. However, I did feel better once I realized that the other people who were exiting the building with me had not even figured out what the wall was for. Currently, (as of 2pm) New Orleans is under a tropical storm warning, with the possibility of small tornadoes.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Worst Parasitologist Evar!

I wake up today and notice that Hodag looks a bit uncomfortable. Then I notice that he has passed several sections of tapeworm. Now, here is the kicker, he is currently on preventative treatment against fleas! Fleas are the intermediate hosts for tapeworms, so if you prevent fleas, you ought to prevent tapeworms. Apparently, despite my best efforts,Hodag managed to become infected with a flea which was carring a tapeworm. The end result is that this afternoon I had to take him to the vet to get an anti-cestode shot. Today I feel like the worst parasitologist ever. If I can't even keep my cat from getting a parasite, how am I suppposed to keep people from getting them? Of course, I also feel like I should lose weight so when I bitch about the epidemic of American obesity and reccomend that people become more active I don't end up looking like the nurse who smokes.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Wedding Photos

While we're thinking about it, the wedding photos are here. Most of the people who read this blog should have the password already. Email me if you don't.

Friday cat blogging

Recently Hodag was on his porch, watching the bugs as he does most evenings, when Colin saw him reach up with his paws and grab a bug from the air. Hodag then triumphantly leaned over and picked it up with his mouth. He decided the very best thing he could do with his new toy was to show it off to his familly, so he walked over to the porch door and looked pleadingly at Colin through the glass. Colin let him in and he delivered this enormous katydid.


High Holy Days

So, the next ten days or so are the most important in the Jewish Calender. They are referred to as the High Holy Days ( or days of remembrance, or days of repentance) they start with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish lunar new year, and end after Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, in which we ask forgiveness for all of our sins from the previous year. It is said that for sins against God, praying for forgiveness can grant atonement, but for sins against man, we must make restitution to one another. So, if any of you are angry or feeling slighted by me this year, now is the time to let me know. Anyway, yesterday Colin and I attended services at Turo Synagogue in New Orleans. The predecessor to the modern Turo synagogue was the first synagogue founded outside of the original 13 colonies in America. The building they are currently in is from 1909 and is absolutely beautiful, although it was damaged by Rita and Katrina. Turo has a really interesting history, since it was a temple that was originally founded by a Sephardic Jew, but was Ashkenazim in the rituals it employed. The history of the congregation is fascinating, and more can be learned about it here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Schedule

My schedule is not so interesting as Nora's. I only have three classes, and they're always at the same time:
  • Theoretical Mechanics: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:00-9:50

  • Mathematical Methods of Theoretical Physics: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:00-10:50

  • Solid State Physics: Tuesday, Thursday 9:30-10:45

Technically, I'm also taking Research I, which really means that I'm supposed to be spending a few hours a week in the lab. In addition, I'm also TA'ing a section of the 101 ("Great Ideas in Physics," for non-majors) lab, and grading assignments for one of the 101 lecture sections. My first lab meets tomorrow afternoon, though we're just going over the rules and schedule for the semester. And I get my first pile of stuff to grade on Wednesday.

Classes are okay so far; I've turned in one problem set each for Mechanics and Methods. More on the state of classes later.

Friday, September 7, 2007

the second plague

For those of you not in the know, this weekend is the 35th annual Rayne Frog Fest. This is an event where locals have a carnival, eat fair food, and have a frog jumping contest. ( Rayne Louisiana is just past Lafayette.) The event also includes crowning a Rayne Frog Fest queen. Here is last years queen, Brinkley Segura, with frog Daisy Mae.

Cute, huh? Anyway, come down to Rayne this weekend for a hopping good time.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Gators! (this post dedicated to Courtney)

Colin and I spent the Saturday of Labor day weekend in the Honey Island Swamp, boating around and looking at gators. We had a fabulous time and got up close and personal with a fairly large female named "one-eyed jack". ( Its not as clear in the photos, but one of her eyes has a cataract). It turns out the swamp guides lure the gators closer in to the boats by tossing them marshmallows.

In this shot you can see "one-eyed jack" nosing a marshmallow. Since she cannot see as well as other alligators, she tended to swim right up and bump her nose against the marshmallow before eating it. Apparently alligators cannot digest refined sugars, so no harm comes from using marshmallows as gator lures.

Alligator hunting season began three days ago, and in this shot you can see some locals butchering and skinning alligators. Up front a guy is handling a head which will be sold to tourists, and behind him is an alligator recently skinned.