Sunday, May 25, 2008

Techno impared!

Help! I am techno impared!
First I washed my cell phone (on soak no less) and put it in the dryer. My zealous attempts to prevent strawberry stains on our market bag cost me my phone and all the numbers that had been stored on it. (If you want me to have your number, email me or call me, please.)
Then I sent my computer off to a repair company to replace the screen. Sometime last October I managed to step directly onto my laptop screen and crack it. I was waiting for a suitable time to send it off for repairs, and summer break seemed an opportune time. Until my computer comes back I am forced to blog on Colin's ancient computer which has the annoying habit of taking forever to do anything. I am afraid that my blogging capabilities will be severely reduced until I get my computer back. I have several posts I wish to do, but I require my computer to download and post photos. In the meantime be patient with us during our technical difficulties.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday Bike Blogging

While I was in Chicago last week, Mame told me that she misses Tuesday Bike Blogging. It's been a very irregular feature, and I'm going to try to make it more regular. Sorry about that.

Our market adventure was too exciting for me to get any bicycle-oriented photos, so today's installment will deal primarily with bike-related news in New Orleans. The Times-Picayune reported yesterday that the city's first bicycle lane has been completed. Yes, it's a bit depressing that the city is only now putting in bike lanes, but it's a start. As the article describes, this bike lane services St Claude Ave, which connect the Lower 9th and Bywater to the Marigny and the French Quarter. As such, it's not much use to the two of us; on the few occasions we are able to get out to that part of the city, we're usually in the car. It is a good place to start with the bike lanes, though; Faubourg Marigny is becoming the place to live for much of the younger, artist-type crowd in the city. And as far as I can tell, it seems to be the center of mass of bicycle culture in New Orleans.

Our morning bicycle adventure came about because Tuesday is also the day of the Uptown Crescent City Farmers Market. The market is right next to campus, so it's really convienient for us. We rode our bikes together along the river levee, and purchased way too much food. So rather than coming straight to campus from the market, I needed to help Nora get all the stuff home. What really put us over the top was the flat of strawberries. We couldn't fit it into my basket as it was, so we had to pour all the strawberries out into our cloth bag. The strawberries suffered a bit of damage on the way home, but not too much; we're going to try making jam with them anyway. The bag will need a thorough washing, though. Nora plans to pick up jelly jars today, so hopefully there will be a cooking adventure to report on soon.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Termite swarm!

A few nights ago Colin and I experienced what I believe is a uniquely gulf coast phenomenon, a Formosan termite swarm. It all started around 8:30 at night when I noticed a few bugs flying around our ceiling fan in the bed room. I thought they were small moths and did not pay much attention to them. Then I went into the bathroom to talk to Colin for a second while he was shaving and noticed half a dozen more of the 'moths' around the bathroom lights. This was when I began to become nervous, it seemed unlikely that a whole flight of moths would have entered our house at once. After dispatching of the insects in the bathroom I reentered the bedroom to find about 40 insects on our bed spread and around the fan. As the apartment had been inspected for termites just one day earlier I became nervous that these were termites emerging from the house due to an insecticide treatment. I called our landlord who confirmed that the insect I was describing was a termite, and that they seemed to be "swarming". She said she would call the termite control company and have them return the next day.

Luckily for us (and our landlord) the termite swarm we saw did not actually originate from inside the house. Instead it consisted of termites who were attracted to the light in the bedroom from the outdoor porch. The termite control guy told me that had there been an actual swarm inside the house, thousands of termites would have been in the bedroom, not the 50 or so we saw. He gently chided me for my concern and told me that seeing my first swarm, was in fact, my real introduction to New Orleans.

It turns out that the termites were the adult male and females who emerge from their subterranean lairs to mate and create new termite colonies. The adult termites come out of the soil searching for light, which signals that they have reached the surface. (Which is how they ended up in our bedroom, they were attracted to the lights from the porch of the bedroom.) They have wings and can fly for short distances, but loose their wings quickly when they land. Formosan termites swarm in spring, and can be so numerous that they can resemble a heavy fog in terms of visibility. For more information on the Formosan termite, click here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Future? (or how to make your summer break stressful)

So, I am officially done with my second semester of graduate school, yay! I resume classes in the summer semester from June 2nd to August 1st. I will be taking the required classes to allow me to get my master's degree. These classes are Environmental Health, Health Systems Management and Social and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health. These are your typical basic classes in some of the major departments of Public Health. (I have already taken basic Epidemiology and basic Biostatistics). When I complete these classes I will only have one more required class to graduate, and of course some sort of thesis.

Oh, right, a thesis. Crap, I guess I should figure out what I want to write it on. And, while I am at it I might as well figure out what my PHD is going to be on and in which department exactly I want to get be in for the PHD process. And, now that it looks like Colin and I will be here through his PHD, I guess I should also find us a house to live in while all that happens. Dang, there goes my relaxing summer vacation.

We will also be doing fun things this summer, we have three(!) weddings in which our friends are getting married. Also, hopefully, several of our friends will also be visiting us here in New Orleans. If we are really lucky we also hope to have Sean, Colin's younger brother out here to do some public service and work on houses for habitat for humanity.

More on all of these events/decisions as they are figured out.

Friday cat blogging


Last night Colin and I were folding laundry when Hodag decided he needed to help us. Laundry folding time is nearly his favorite time to be helpful, other than when we make the bed in the mornings. He sat on an empty laundry bag and helped to direct the folding. I caught this photo of Colin giving Hodag a noogie in recognition of his assistance.


Sunday, May 11, 2008


Natural disaster necessitates a public health response.
Watching what little footage has been coming out of Myanmar has been like a Tropical medicine public health specialists worst nightmare. I remember feeling much the same way when I saw footage from Katrina. Somehow this is worse, because while in America we were just incompetent and unprepared, in Myanmar they seem to be actively denying any assistance. They need major help from outside the country, and need to let the rest of the world give it, before it is too late.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday cat blogging

Here are Colin and Hodag last weekend snoozing on the bed.
Look pretty comfortable, don't they?


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Jazz Fest

We were able to take a day away from our studying and attend a premiere New Orleans event, Jazz Fest. We went on Saturday and had a lovely time. Saturday morning it was pouring rain and actually had a tornado warning. Colin and I were undeterred by the foul weather, and set off in a drizzle to bicycle to the New Orleans Fairgrounds, a little over a four mile trip (each way) from our house. The rain had actually stopped by the time we arrived, and the sun came out soon after. The fair grounds were muddy and full of standing puddles, but the weather was quite lovely.

Here is a list of the artists we saw:
Lillian Boute (jazz singer)
Pine Leaf Boys (Zydeco band)
Dirty dozen brass band (Brass and Jazz)
Ruthie Foster (Blues singer)
Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea (improvisational jazz and Bebop)
Irvin Mayfeild and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (full orchestral jazz)

In addition to great music, Jazz Fest also has incredible food. Colin and I had lunch and dinner plus a snack at the festival, so we were able to sample as much as possible of the cuisine. I think our favorite dishes were the duck po-boy, the cochon de lait po-boy and the pheasant, quail, and andouille gumbo.

Entrance to Jazz fest at 11 am, notice the rainy conditions.
New Orleans Jazz Orchestra

Beautiful weather later, we actually are using our umbrella here for shade.

Evidence of muddy conditions on the fairgrounds


Almost over!

Colin and I are almost done with exams. I have two more, a Biostatistics exam this Wednesday and a take home exam in Advanced Entomology due Friday. Colin only has his Atomic and Molecular physics exam on Wednesday. After his last exam, Colin will be traveling to Chicago for Scavenger hunt. If you are in Chicago, and want to see him, drop him a line via email (his cell phone number has changed and is now a New Orleans number, so email is probably the best route).