Monday, March 31, 2008

Being David Bowie is exausting!

First of all, let me begin by saying that I don't have brain cancer, or an subarachnoid aneurysm just in case you were wondering. What I do have is a somewhat mysterious case of David Bowie impersonation. Thats right people, I AM DAVID BOWIE!

Here is the story:
for a few weeks now I have been feeling a bit lousy. I even went to the student care center and had them run blood work because I had some night sweats, a sub-mandibular lymph node swelling and general fatigue. All the blood work came back normal. Then this Thursday I developed a funny feeling headache. The headache continued while I drove to school and was accompanied by mild vision changes. After I parked my car I took of my sunglasses in the lobby of the Public Health building and looked at my eyes in the mirror walled area by the elevators.

Basically I looked like this.

My right pupil was fixed and dilated at an abnormally large size. My left was normal and responsive to light. So I went to the ER, where they checked me out for brain tumors, strokes, and meningitis. Eventually my pupil slowly returned to normal size and now contracts with light. But, for a whole evening there in the ER, I looked just like David Bowie. Since we still don't know exactly why it happened, I am chalking the transformation up to my inordinate love of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack, and the Thin White Duke himself, David Bowie.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

This week: MIKE THE TIGER! LIVE!! IN PERSON!!! Well, for us, at least. Not for the rest of you.

We took a trip out to Cajun Country during spring break. The last stop on the way back to New Orleans was Baton Rouge and the flagship campus of the 2007 National Champion Louisiana State University Fighting Tigers. Their mascot is an actual live tiger that lives in an enclosure immediately next to the football stadium right in the middle of campus.

As you can see, they have two sets of fences running around the enclosure. We were able to get about 10 feet from him for Nora to take this photo.
A few minutes later, he decided, like a good cat, that he needed to lick himself.

And remember, kids: he's still a kitten. This is Mike VI, and he was just introduced at the beginning of this past football season. He was a rescue, donated by a facility in Indiana. Mike currently weighs about 300 pounds, and promises to be the heaviest Mike the Tiger ever: they anticipate that he will weigh 650-700 pounds when he is fully grown. His caretakers are students at LSU's vet school, and are appointed to two-year terms.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Bike Blogging

This week's Tuesday Bike Blogging is again from Ireland, this time in Belfast. Nora and I saw this painted on a wall down the street from a park that we were walking to. I thought it was rather poignant after the black cab tour we had taken that morning of Belfast's murals, painted primarily during the Troubles.

I should also apologize for the lack of Friday Cat Blogging last Friday; Nora and I went on a road trip to Acadiana for a few days. More about that later.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Bike Blogging

Another photo from Ireland: an announcement for the Critical Mass ride in Cork.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St Patrick's Day

In hono(u)r of St Patrick's Day, we present a few photos from our honeymoon in Ireland.

First, a statue near the Cobh Heritage Centre in Cork:

Next, for my father (he is a lawyer), a window we saw in County Donegal:

And for Nora's mother (her maiden name is Meehan), a storefront down the street:

Finally, for Ben (who is from Columbus), an advertisement we saw at a bar in Cork:

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Sunday, March 16, 2008


Colin and I just got off on Spring break on Friday. We have decided that there is no better way to spend part of the week we have off then to go to Cajun country on a short holiday. On Wednesday we will be leaving for a few days to visit some of the more famous Cajun heritage sites in Louisiana.

To start off our Cajun week, we decided to go to Cochon, an Acadian restaurant and boucherie. I had been planning on patronizing this restaurant for quite some time, but my decision was reinforced by the recent New York Times review. Cochon was noted recently as one of the "Intriguing new restaurants outside of New York" by food writer Frank Bruni, in a coast-to-coast ranking of 10 of the country's top new restaurants. Cochon received third place. I have to say I think it deserves that (if not better) as it was an utterly amazing meal.

We had:

Cocktails: I had a Sazerac (creole shrub, Herbsaint, bitters and a lemon peel twist) and Colin had a Birddog (Louisiana grapefruit juice, sparkling wine and creole shrub). Then for dessert we had Carolina Catdaddy Moonshine which was surprisingly smooth and delicious considering it is called moonshine.

Appetizers: We split the wood fried oyster roast plate. This was a plate of five oysters on a bed of rock salt cooked in a wood burning oven and topped with a garlic, butter and hot pepper sauce.

Salad: We split the shaved mushroom and onion salad with fried beef jerky and lemon. This was one of the more unique salads I have ever had in my life, because the salad was composed primarily of mushrooms, while the onion, parsley, and fried jerky pieces served as garnishes.

Main: I actually had two smaller plates for my main, I had the spicy grilled pork ribs with watermelon pickles, and the hot sausage with grits, roasted peppers and creole cream cheese.
Both of these were excelent. The ribs were coated in a vinger based sauce which, with the pickles helped to cut the fat of the ribs. The hot sausage was perfectly spicy and combined beautifully with the grits and creamy creole cream cheese sauce. Colin had the saddleback pork special, which was the loin of the pork wrapped in the stomach fat, with greens and a few crayfish tails for garnish.

Dessert: I had the strawberry and peach cobbler with ginger biscuits, Colin had the red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing of all was the fact that the restaurant is small and cozy, and we could see and smell what the tables to our right and left had ordered. This enabled a near communal dining experience where we could discuss across the dining room, with complete strangers, what we were eating and trade thoughts and recommendations. Based on the delicious smells that were surrounding us I know that we could go back again and easily have several more incredible meals.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

I caught Nora (still with hair) and Hodag napping together one afternoon a few weeks ago. Hodag is at his cutest, and trying his darndest to keep Nora warm.

Note the homework strewn about the bed. Nora claims that Hodag breathes ether whenever he decides to nap while she is doing homework. This is the typical result.


Thursday, March 13, 2008


As I promised, here are photos of me during and after my shaving. I am actually rather fond of being bald, I had no idea how much cooler my head would feel with appropriate convection and evaporation. I was mildly worried that I would look weird without any hair, but I am pleased with the results, and am glad that I have no odd bumps on my head. The event itself was pretty amazing, St. Baldricks had professional barbers and stylists volunteering at the event to assist us in the removal of our hair. I was particularily pleased to note that Adian Gill, of "Adian Gill for Men" had taken the day off to help out.

Who is that dapper Dubliner? Why, Adian Gill of course.
The Shavee is Katerina, who is in Tropical Medicine Seminar with me.

All in all, over a hundred students and faculty from Tulane shaved their heads and raised 50,000 dollars for Pediatric cancer research. Out of those 100+ shavees, only four were female. I was a bit saddened to see that only a few girls were willing to totally shave it all off. Many girls were there to donate to locks of love, but very few were willing to go totally bald. I am hoping that next year more women will participate, after all, little girls also lose their hair when they go through chemotherapy, not just little boys.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Bike Blogging

Last Tuesday, I rode my bike home along the Mississippi River levee. It's about two and a half times as long as the direct route home, and begins by going the opposite direction of home, but it's a pleasant ride. The route goes through the older part and out the front of campus, across St Charles, through Audubon Park to the River, and along the river for a bit. Then I come to this intersection:

I've seen this corner referred to as the Riverbend. Riverbend can also refer to a neighborhood, though. I think of the difference as being that this corner is at the riverbend, whereas some point in the neighborhood is in the riverbend. The large intersection in the background of the photo is Carrollton Ave (running away from me), and St Charles Ave. The small street in the foreground is Leake, which runs along that part of the river levee. Take a look at Google's map of the intersection if you want to orient yourself.

The closest building on the right is Cooter Brown's, a bar that I've mentioned before. Across the street from that tree in the foreground, and just to the left of view of the photo, is a building with a large hand-painted sign that says "Daiquiris." It is a drive-thru daiquiri bar. You can also walk in. Nora and I have never patronized one, but they are all over town, and are a bit of a New Orleans establishment. I still don't fully understand the concept. New Orleans has some odd liquor laws.

This is the view downriver along the levee. You can see Leake running along the base of the levee. Those railroad tracks are in use for freight. The path along the top of the levee is used for recreation by bicyclists, joggers, walkers, and people on horseback or with dogs. People also play with their dogs in the grass.

There is a path that runs from Leake up the levee, and down the other side into the river. The river itself is fenced off, but I've seen people hop the fence on several occasions. The industrial facilities are on the other side of the river, in Jefferson Parish. There are often boats slowly plodding up or down the river. We can hear their horns from our house at night when it's quiet enough.

The last leg of my ride home is just under a mile along Carrollton, away from the river.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Sorry Everyone...

...My bad.

That's really the only thing I can think to say after a student paper I'm grading said this:
Potential energy will be eliminated and kinetic energy will be everywhere. Things will e in motion constantly; things would be chaotic! dishes in the cabinets will bounce around until the door is opened when they will smash into the floor. This constant motion will be dangerous, and will be the fault of the scientists who researched ways to harvest potential energy.

This is a direct quote. I swear to you, I could not make this up. So like I said, sorry about that. I'll do better next time.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

Peak-a-boo! Hodag has found a new favorite hiding place: on the chair under the food prep table we have in the kitchen. The table itself is a story for another time.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Public Service Announcement

I would be remiss if I neglected to wish you all a happy Casimir Pulaski Day.

Some background information: Casimir Pulaski Day is celebrated in Illinois on the first Monday in March, to mark the birth of Casimir Pulaski on March 4. There is a separate holiday, General Pulaski Memorial Day, which commemorates Pulaski's death in the Siege of Savannah. As a side note, 500 Haitian free men of color fought with the French army on behalf of the Americans in the Siege of Savannah.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Social Science is Hard Work

The Times-Picayune had a piece this morning about the population recovery surveys. The particular landmark that inspired the article is thaoot ne fthe two competeing surveys just reported the city's poulation to have reached 300,000 as of January. The other survey repoed that the population hit 300,000 last July. There are a couple of sentences about this disagreement that I found a bit off-putting, but most of the artilce is a summary of the recovery analysis.

The two competening surveys are GCR & Associates, which just reported the figure of 300,000, and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, which reported that figure in July. GNOCDC uses mail delivery stats from the USPS to estimate the number of households. GCR uses utility information. Their numbers aren't really in disagreement with each other; they each report a figure approximately monthly using their methodology, and GNOCDC's is consisently higher than GCR's. They both report the same trend of positive and slowing growth.

All of this is simply to say that Sociology is not like Physics; it's actually hard. They are trying to ask a simple question: how many poeople are there living in New Orleans? In order to answer that, the first really need to answer the question of how to count the poplularion corectly. Given that uncertainnty, 10% isn't bad. Because they both have done such a good job collecting all this data, we can be pretty confident that the real population is pretty close to both estimates.

Both group's websites have a plethora of relatedinformation. GCR is a general consulting firm, so their information is less obvious, but they have a lot of work for local governments.