Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday cat blogging, neighborhood cats edition

It turns out New Orleans has a lot of neighborhood cats. For cats who belong to people, the cats rise and go outside for the day at around seven, and come bach home at around four or five at night. These are the times I am riding my bike to and from school, so I see a lot of cats in their yards starting our ending their days. Of course there are also lots and lots of feral cats who were born after Katrina who run under houses whenever you get too close. The feral cat population reminds me a lot of the cats I see in Kauai, the warm climate means lots of kittens every spring and plenty of mice and bugs to eat. Here is a sampling of some cats I see to and from school, some are domestic, some are feral:

Cat resting on the walkway of a home near campus.

Mr. Felix, a cat who lives just down the street.

A semi feral cat, this is the closest he would let me get.

this cat had amazing markings.

This cat lives at the same address of the one above, but was shy and would not leave the bushes.

Two black cats, probably siblings, guarding their driveway.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Being Presidential

I know that many of you have heard me complain about this in the past, but I don't think George W. Bush handles thanksgiving well. He has been president for nearly eight years now and I still think he looks like a damn fool every third Thursday in November. To prove my point, I present you with my photo essay, "which one is the turkey?"

See? He looks ridiculous. I was looking over the previous White House archives to see if other presidents look silly pardoning the turkey. Most actually look pretty jolly:

I think it is just Bush.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Just briefly for the record, Colin and I had a fabulous thanksgiving. We created a New Orleans meal full of delicious southern staples. Our menu was as follows:

Oysters Rockefeller (My dad has a slightly different version of this recipe, we do not add bread crumbs and we put anchovies in the spinach mix)
Mirliton soup
Turkey with apple gravy
Cornbread dressing with andouille sausage
Corn and jalapeno relish
Collard greens
Pumpkin and apple pie

It was fabulous.

Grammar Question

Oxford University Press is apparently going to begin listing some non-words in their dictionary. Eric Zorn expresses horror that his employer finds this acceptable.

I'm curious to know if there are any good examples of the mis-use of these phrases causing ambiguity. As an examples, "To my parents, Ayn Rand and God" is the canonical argument for the serial comma. Are there similar examples for the phrases, "vocal chord," "reign in," "baited breath," and "straight-laced"?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: Really Late Edition

Friday Cat Blogging is a day late this week. Nora's parents are in town for Thanksgiving, so we've been busy. There have been several examples this week of Hodag being cute, but this one is from a few weeks ago:

Hodag was sitting on the front porch, very interested in something in the rain gutter. I was able to capture this photos of him throuh the living room window (hence the mesh in the foreground).


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hooray, we're saved

The solution to all of the world's problems has arrived:

MTV launches new Arabic service.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Po-Boy's / Birthday

Today was my 26th birthday. Colin and I celebrated by having a wine and cheese party last night and sleeping late this morning. After we finally got up we walked a few blocks down the street from where we live to attend New Orleans first annual Po-boy festival.

Poster advertising the Po-boy festival.

In case you do not know, a Po-boy is a type of sandwich unique to New Orleans. The sandwich is akin to a Hoagie or a submarine sandwich, but on special Louisiana style french bread. ( This is lighter and flakier version of a baguette. Wikipedia speculates that this may be due to warmer temperatures and higher humidity in New Orleans affecting the traditional outcome of the baguette recipe, causing the loaf to be less firm and crusty.) Like other sandwiches, it contains a meat filling, traditional innards include roast beef, fried shrimp, fried clams, fried crab, or boiled shrimp. Then the sandwich is 'dressed' with lettuce, mayonnaise or butter, sometimes mustard and sometimes tomatoes. The photo of a fried shrimp Po-boy below gives some idea of the finished product.

Giant loaves of Po-boy bread used at the festival.
A dressed Po-boy.

Several theories exist to explain the creation of this local sandwich. Oyster loaves, made of french bread and local fried or cooked oysters, are found in American cookbooks from 1838 on. In fact the "Peacemaker" or "La Mediatrice" was an oyster loaf brought back by a Creole husband to his wife when he had been out late the night before. The most widely accepted story of the creation of the Po-boy involves two brothers, Clovis and Benjamin Martin, who ran a coffee stand and restaurant on St. Charles Ave. The brothers were former street car operators, and when the streetcar drivers went on strike in 1929, they offered to feed them free of charge until the strike was over. (the 1929 streetcar strike was one of the most violent transportation strikes in American history. Streetcar tracks were torn up and cars derailed, and when strike breakers were brought to New Orleans from New York, riots broke out. The citizens of New Orleans were strongly in support of the strikers, and threw rocks at and even burned railway cars driven by the strike breakers). The inexpensive, but filling sandwiches that the Martin brothers provided to the "poor boys" who ran the rail cars were the ancestors of today's Po-boy.

Streetcars damaged in the strike. Note broken windows.

Th Po-boy festival featured music, art and of course, sandwiches. There was also a fairly impromptu Jazz parade, which was totally awesome. We had a wonderful time and ate some really, really, tasty Po-boys.

sculpture of a man eating a Po-boy. Leader of the Jazz parade.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging (Hodag the mighty hunter part II)

Yesterday morning I was getting ready to leave for classes and I heard the distinct sound of glass bottles clinking against each other. I got up from reading the Times Picayune and walked out to the hallway to see what Hodag was doing in the recycling bin. Well, he was not in the recycling container, but he was doing something just as strange (if not more so) he was sticking his whole arm into the milk crates in which we keep our beer brewing bottles. I thought to myself, 'well, that's interesting', and went in to tell Colin. Colin was still sleeping and mumbled at me for coming in to tell him that Hodag was attacking the beer bottles. A few minutes later I heard a renewed frenzy of clinking, and decided that a bug must be hiding in the milk crates. I went over and began unstacking the three milk crates while Hodag watched. In the bottom one in the very back corner I saw a bottle with a huge bloom of mold growing out the top. 'Eewww' I thought, and leaned over to look more closely. That was when I noticed that the "mold bloom" had a tail. 'Hmmm, mold doesn't have a tail' was about as far as my reasoning went before Pop! A mouse squeezed its back end, tail and all, through the mouth of the beer bottle. I ran in holding said beer bottle to tell Colin that Hodag had cornered a mouse and now it was in one of our beer bottles. Colin, still mostly asleep, had no idea what I was talking about. He thought I couldn't possibly mean a real live mouse, because I seemed so calm and happy about it. I then snapped a few photots before releasing the mouse to the wild.

Hodag and the beer bottle. If you zoom in you can actually see the mouse at the bottom.

this was outside during the release of the mouse. It hung out for a while in the beer bottle and would not leave, although it did poke its head out of the mouth (see below).

Eventually I went back inside and when I returned to leave for classes the beer bottle had been vacated.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Crime Map

In much of the city, the effects of the storm remain apparent and inconvenient, but are no longer the dominant negative factor in quality of life that they once were. That's not true everywhere; obviously some parts of the city are still nearly uninhabited. For the rest of the city, the major problems are incompetent government (Eddie Jordan), corrupt government (William Jefferson), idiotic government (Charles Foti), bad physical infrastructure (particularly the roads), and crime (Jordan and Foti again).

We live a relatively low-crime neighborhood. The major quality of life problem we face is that the roads suck. More on that later.

The crime situation is interesting. New Orleans is on track to be the highest per capita homidice rate in the country. Murders is what really gets all the attention, but I'm sure other crimers are also very high. The New Orleans Citizen Crime Watch has assembled crime data from several sources in the city, and compiled it all into a map using Google Maps. It's really a good demonstration of what all the technologies involved are capable of.

One specific note. The corner of Dante and Spruce (within what the map calls the Leonidas neighborhood) has seen at least four or five homicides since the beginning of the year. That corner is about a quarter of a mile from us. A friend who lives there (!) says that those appear to be drug- and gang-related. Now I'm looking at it again, there are a a couple of drug arrests at that corner too, so that seems to be what's going on.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Free rice!

Dudes, here is your chance to put your SAT GRE and MCAT studying to good use. If you do not already know, Free rice is a game that tests your vocabulary. For every word you answer correctly, you donate 10 grains of rice to a hungry person via the UN. So, you get to see how many of those fancy four syllable words you remember, and help a needy person as well. What could be more cool?

Game is available at:

Friday, November 9, 2007

Big Cat Blogging

For this weeks version of Friday cat blogging, we present you with the 'Big' cats. These are the far-flung relatives of our our normal subject for Friday cat blogging, Hodag. These members of the Felidae family are housed at the Audubon zoo, and we took these pictures during Swampfest (see previous post).

An Amur leopard. This type of leopard is one of the most endangered cat species in the world. The Audubon zoo has a breeding program for this species.

Rex and Zulu, the two white tiger brothers. Named after the Mardi Gras Krewes here in New Orleans. They weight 380 pounds each and are in absolutely fine form.

American Bobcats. Local here to Louisiana, this is the only true swamp cat left, since cougars have not been seen in many years.

Just in case anyone was intrested, here is how all of these big cats are related to Hodag.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Swamp Fest!

Last weekend was Swampfest at the Audubon Zoo about a mile from us in New Orleans. Swampfest is a local festival where live Cajun and Zydeco music is played in the zoo and Creole and Cajun food is available. The Zoo's special Louisiana Swamps exhibit was full of volunteers telling us all about the local wildlife. Colin and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time wandering the zoo while listening to music in beautiful 75 degree weather. We got to see some pretty awesome animals. Here are some highlights:

Let sleeping anteaters lie. Check out the claw over nose pose.

The Rhinoceros Hornbill. This was a new one for me, and its pretty impressive, as you can tell.

From the Lousiana Swamp exibit:

Roseate Spoonbill. Found in Mangrove Swamps and brackish water. Like the Flamingo it acquires its pink color from its diet, crustaceans full of red algae.

No, its not made of plastic, it is an actual leucistic white alligator. (The difference between this and albinism is the fact that these guys have pigmented eyes). All of the worlds leucistic alligators have been found in swampland in Louisiana or South Carolina. (I believe only 16 are known to currently be alive)

Here is Colin petting a baby Nutria. Nutria are not native to Louisiana, but were introduced in the 1930's for fur coats. Apparently they are real pests, but I think the babies are adorable.

Our Neighborhood

We live in Uptown. Or rather, we live uptown.

When the judges were here, I was a bit annoyed with myself for not having a better understanding of how to describe where we live. Geographies of New Orleans has a good discussion of the history of the use of the terms "uptown" and "downtown" to describe parts of New Orleans. We indisputably live in the part of the city identified as uptown. There are two meanings of updown that I really see used today: hydrological (ie, updown is upriver from downtown), and socioeconomic (example: Ray Nagin's infamous "chocolate speech"). We fit both.

But in that context, saying that we live uptown is about as useful as saying that used to live on the south side of Chicago: both terms cover a substantial fraction of the city. Where uptown do we live?

Like Chicago, New Orleans has a system of neighborhoods that the city defines and recognizes. According to that listing, we live on the border of East Carrollton and Fontainbleu. The map I found says that the border runs down our street, with us on the Fontainbleu side of the street. That doesn't make any sense to me. The mental dividing line I maintain between Carrollton and Fontainbleu is Claiborne Avenue. The city also designates a neighborhood called Leonidas/West Carrollton. The boundary between West Carrollton and East Carrollton is Carrollton Avenue, which makes sense to me. The neighborhood to the east of East Carrollton is Audubon/Universities (which, as you might guess, includes Audubon Park, Tulane, and Loyola).

In addition, there are a few neighborhood associations:


Sunday, November 4, 2007


The first half of this semester I got to take a class on using Arcgis. I really enjoyed it, so much so that I am thinking of taking another class called "using Arcgis in public health" in the spring. Here are the maps I made for my final project. They are not really special or complicated, but I am inordinately proud of them anyway. They show the difference between using a natural break method and a quantile method to determine categories. Basically its how to lie using maps. the map on the left is a fairly accurate picture of the density of people aged 18-29. on the right, we have artificially made the categories dividing the density of young people smaller, such that more areas become heavily populated with young people. Cool huh?

Friday, November 2, 2007


My favorite holiday has come and gone. For those of you who do not know, I love Halloween. I love the costumes, the candy and the merriment. New Orleanians seem to love Halloween too, every house was decorated with carved pumpkins, fake cobwebs and spooky lighting. It probably helps that this city has awesome front porches, providing the perfect space to accessorize. On Halloween night, Colin and I went to a party thrown by my compatriots in tropical medicine. It was fabulous, everyone there was dressed like a real dork.Here are the costumes that the Friedman-Mcfaul family wore:

I went as a Aedes Aegypti mosquito, these photos do not show my stripped legs (tights), a key distinguishing feature of this vector.

Colin went as a Soc Professor. Here he is shown in a corduroy jacket with leather elbow patches, bearing both Marx and Hegel, as well as a bottle of red wine.

Hodag went as the LSU mascot, Mike the Tiger.

Lastly, major props go out to my tropical medicine buddy Jennifer, who went as a hookworm. (Ancelostoma Duodenale)