Tuesday, June 24, 2008

America, they are washing us away

So, first it was levee breaks in New Orleans, now it's Iowa.

When New Orleans flooded, I remember being horrified when people said that the residents should just move away, because it was too dangerous to live below sea level. Nobody seemed to remember that New Orleans was the inventor of the only true American music genera, Jazz. Nobody mentioned that New Orleans was one of Americas busiest ports, and the main refinery for petroleum in the US. Now the Midwest is flooding, and I heard a similarly horrific statement the other day from an economist about the flooding in Iowa. He said that protection on those levees was poor because it was hard to enact legislation for levees in farmland. He said it was not cost effective to offer buyouts for the farming families who lived on the land, and that levees were too expensive to create just for some corn fields.

Just some cornfields? Cost effective? Has the whole world gone insane? Americas Midwest is the bread basket for the world. The iconic image of the small American farmer is as legendary and iconic as the puritan New Englander (and one hell of a lot less judgmental). If we cannot, or are unwilling to protect the plucky American farm family, the people who feed this country, then who are we willing to protect? Who is worth saving anymore?

There is a song that I have heard since moving to New Orleans. It was written by Randy Newman, and it is about the 1927 flood, a flood that covered parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Louisiana. The version I like best is sung by the author, and backed up by the Louisiana Philharmonic orchestra and members of the New York Philharmonic. I tear up every time I hear the music swell and the lyrics start:

The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through, cleared down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tyrin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away

now, it seems like they are trying to wash us all away.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Quote of the Week

I can haz Cheezburger wins the internet this week:



Friday, June 20, 2008

Exciting news!

We are pregnant!

Hahhaha! I got you didn't I? No, there are no little Friedman-McFaul's on the way, but we are in the process of buying a house, which is exciting enough, thank you.

We have been looking at houses in New Orleans for a few months now. We figured that since we were going to be here for another four or five years we might as well be accruing some equity rather than just renting. We had some requirements for our new home, we wanted it in a no flood zone (no flooding during Katrina), central heat and air conditioning, it needed to have a yard for some gardening, and of course, it had to have a Hodag porch. I am pleased to say that we have been lucky enough to find a home that fits all those requirements.

Front of our new house, note the second floor Hodag porch.

Side of our new house, showing the elevation which prevented flooding. Also, you can see the awesome stained glass windows on the first floor.

We made an offer and learned that it has been accepted by the sellers. Almost exactly one year after our arrival in New Orleans, we have a contractual agreement to buy a home here. several things could still go wrong, and prevent us from actually moving in to the house, (the inspections could turn up some horrific violation for example) but we are pretty excited anyway. Once we have actually signed the closing there will be more pictures, but for now I don't want to jinx it.

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Friday cat blogging

A few weeks ago Colin and I were at the New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, and we saw this amazing cat statute in the back of a pickup truck. I can only imagine that it was a delivery for an installation, but I have no idea for what show. I think I like the statue because the lion looks really grumpy at being cast in bronze.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy Anniversary

It was one year ago today, as best we can remember, that we arrived for good in New Orleans. To mark the day, a few photos from the archives:

Nora was defeated by the first day's driving, and collapsed onto the motel bed:

This is Hodag, investigating his new street. We arrived in the middle of an enourmous rainstorm. Fortunately, it let up just enough (and just long enough) for us to get the mattress, ourselves, and Hodag inside.

Our mattress ended up in the living room for the first few days. We were so tired when we finally got here, and the only thing we could manage to get into the house that first night was the mattress. We spent the first few nights on the bare mattress in that exact spot.

The power was really flaky last summer. We later discovered that that was due to a bad connection at the breaker box; the problem has since been fixed. We were warned not to stress the power too much (specifically, by not turning on all the AC units at once). The power was particularly unreliable during storms. The first thing we did when we arrived was to turn on the AC unit in the living room to air it out a bit. After it had been on for about 30 minutes, the power went out. At that point, we just decided to go to bed without power.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: I'm a kitty!

Oh, I'm the 'Dag. I'm such a cat.

Wait, why am I in this bag? Why did I become a 'Dag in a bag? It was probably daddy. Daddy, you're such a jerk! Why do I put up with you people?

Oh yeah, because you let me nap on your rug at your feet. Look at me. I'm so cute. I love my daddy.



I bet you are thinking that since I am a public health expert I am going to start talking about the multi state Salmonella outbreak involving tomatoes. That I am going to bemoan a public health network that allows contaminated tomatoes to be eaten in 23 states of our fair country. Actually, I am going to talk about Creole Tomatoes, the local Louisiana tomato breed. They are ripe beginning in May and are abundant until the fall (unless summer temperatures are too high, which wilts the tomatoes). Colin and I enjoyed many a Creole tomato last summer, and are glad that the season for them has come around again. We get all our Creoles from the Tuesday morning farmers market, where several different farmers sell their tomato crop. They are delicious in salads, (especially as Insalata Caprese) in tomato sauces and in any other recipe that requires tomatoes.

This weekend the French Market is reopening in New Orleans, and THREE festivals are happening in the French Quarter to celebrate. The Creole tomato festival, the Louisiana Seafood Festival, and the Cajun Zydeco Music Festival. Colin and I are going to go and purchase some of the delicious, red, ripe tomatoes for sale while listening to Cajun and Zydeco music. We will be supporting local farmers, local Acadian culture, and best of all, not getting Salmonella.

In case you want the Creole stats for ordering seeds:
Creole (L134) - Breeder: Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. Vendor: Reuters Seed Co. Parentage: Jefferson, Red Global, L145, Hotset. Characteristics: fruit set under warm humid conditions. Resistance: fusarium wilt race 1, alternaria stem canker, cracking. Similar: Floralou. Adaptation: southern United States. LSU Hort. Res. Circ. 54. 1970.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Well, my inch a day plan has gone to hell. Futurebaby is now presentbaby. Charlotte Emma Golden was born June 10th 2008. Now I will have to institute a two or three inch a day plan just to make sure it gets to her before her one month birthday. Stupid premature babies ruin everything! Now I have no guarantee to keep me from making snide remarks in my classes. Sigh. anyway, here is how the blanket looks so far:

I have 8 pattern units done (each square is a pattern unit). The finished blanket will have 20 pattern units and should be about 32 inches tall and 32 inches long.

close up of the blanket pattern.

Summer classes blow.

There, I said it.

I am currently taking Environmental Health and Health Systems Management, two classes required for my masters degree. Since these are summer classes, they are highly condensed. This means I have environmental health classes from 11 to 1:30 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, for the month of June. Health systems management is spread out over two months, so I only have that class Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 to 4:30. The condensed nature of these classes is not in and of itself, that bad. I have no problem going to class every day and being expected to learn quickly. The problem I am having with these classes is that they are alternately boring or infuriating.

Environmental health as a topic is cool, and the professor is adorable, but the pace of the class is killer. The professor has a tendency to tell stories in the middle of his lectures, so we never really finish the material we were supposed to get through for each class. Also, a whole bunch of people in the class want to ask every environmental health question that ever occurred to them, slowing the pace of learning even further. (Not that I am saying questions are bad, but these seem to be questions that are not quite on topic, or questions that are trying to provoke an in depth discussion.)

On the other hand health systems management is always interesting. This professor wants us to enter into discussion, but the other students seem to think that discussion is stating their opinion and not listening to anyone else's. Last class I thought we might come to blows over the topic of universal health care. Not that I am blameless in instigating violent discussion, whenever someone says something factually incorrect, or illogical, I have trouble not setting them straight. However since nobody actually wants a discussion, my attempts to clarify or dig deeper only get me dirty looks from my peers.

To solve both these problems, I have begun my "inch a day" program. One of my close college friends is pregnant and is due in July. This is my first friend who is expecting, and I have decided to knit a baby blanket for the University of Chicago futurebaby (not to be confused with the actual futurebaby.). Since the baby is due soon, to finish the blanket I would need to knit an inch a day. Luckily I have plenty of free time during my classes, so I am doing pretty well so far. The blanket needs to be 32 by 32 inches, and I so far have 32 by 7 inches. I had a temporary slow down because of a tangle in my yarn, but until that happened, I was nearly managing the required inch a day. I am hoping that by knitting I can keep myself from going insane with boredom and prevent myself from inciting riots.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Friday cat blogging

This may be one of the best photos of Hodag I have ever taken.
This was him looking up at a bird while on the porch a few weeks ago.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Holy crap, new computer screen!

Wooot! I can see my whole computer screen again. Its only been like six months since I have been able to do that, but let me tell you, it sure was inconvenient. Anyway, now that my computer is fixed I can show you photos of what we have been doing for the last few weeks.

Strawberry season in Louisiana has just ended. Strawberry season down here is from September (planting) to mid May (harvesting). This years crop was abundant and delicious. About 40 strawberry farmers are located in Louisiana, and this year they produced a crop worth an estimated 13 million dollars. In Ponchatoula (not far from us on the north shore) there is even a Strawberry Festival in April. Recently we saw the last of the strawberries for this year at the Tuesday farmers market near our apartment. A grower from Ponchatoula was selling flats of for $15. Colin and I decided that we should purchase a flat and make jam out of the local strawberries, even though neither of us had ever made jam before. Despite our inexperience, we were fairly successful in our jam making endeavor. I say fairly, because we did not get a perfect jam like consistency (ours was a bit too liquid) but it was safely and beautifully canned. Here are some photos from our jam making session.



and after boiling.

Hodag assists by handing us the mason jars and their tops.

canning the jam.