Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday cat blogging, Politics addition!

Now, I know that I swore I would never mention politics on this blog (because I feel that far to many people use their blogs as their own little HTML soapbox), but I have to mention politics just this one time. Today I conducted a little experiment, the results of which you can see in photo format below. I decided to determine if our cats were democrats or republicans. Therefore I placed in front of them a stimuli that could be interpreted as positive or negative, depending on your political affiliation. The chosen stimulus was 'Lefty' a beanie baby in the shape of a donkey.

I tested Annie and Hodag with this stimulus to determine their political leanings.

As you can see, Annie at first investigated the stimulus, and then promptly got up and left it. She remained uninterested in the stimulus despite repeated presentations.
Conclusion: Annie is a Republican.

Now we see Hodag's response to the stimulus. He investigated it and then proceeded to mark it, a universal sign of cat affection. Conclusion: Hodag is a Democrat.

Oh, also as Kevin Drum reports the Hemmingway cats have resumed their rightful place on Hemingway's property in the Florida Keys.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Warning:This post contains profanity!

So a few weeks ago, when Gustav was still an incoming hurricane, and Mame was visiting, I had a brilliant idea.

It was when we were putting up plywood over our windows. Basically, this involved either one or two of us lifting a 4 foot by 8 foot half inch thick plywood sheet and holding it up while the last person screwed the sheet into the window frame with a drill. I must admit that I had no idea how heavy and awkward outdoor grade plywood was before that afternoon. To make the time pass more smoothly, we mixed up a pitcher of Hurricanes. It was when we were on the last piece of plywood, and I had been drinking all day when it hit me.

If New Orleans and our house survived this storm, we would need to celebrate. My plan was to host a huge barbecue. We would invite everyone we knew, grill a ton of sausages and burgers, and for dessert, serve sheet cake. The sheet cake was in fact what the flash of brilliance was all about, because suddenly, as if it was before my very eyes, I could see a sheet cake emblazoned with the phrase "Fuck off Gustav".

Fast forward to this weekend. Colin and I hosted a huge housewarming BBQ party, we grilled meat all day, and for dessert I got my very special cake. Just in case you were wondering, it turns out that the Rouses on Tchoupitoulas will put whatever profanity you want on a cake, you just have to ask nicely. Although, I will admit that I got a funny reaction from both the cake decorating lady "you sure you want that on a cake?" and an odd look from the check out lady.

I think it came out beautifully.

The BBQ was a smashing success. We had a great time giving people tours of the house, and everyone seemed to enjoy the food, the company and the surroundings. Perhaps best of all, everybody loved the cake.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday cat blogging

Recently the weather has been lovely. I do not know if it is early fall, or only a temporary respite of relative cool, but it has been great. Due to the nice weather we have been using no air conditioning and keeping the windows open, including the window that leads to the second floor Hodag porch. Both cats have been taking advantage of the lovely weather to explore these new sitting places.

Hodag on the porch.

Annie exploring a window in the office.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thank you Wells Fargo

Recently, our local mortgage company transferred our mortgage to a national company, Wells Fargo. In fact this happened just around when we were moving in to the new house. Our first mortgage payment was due on the first of September, and we mailed it (ironically) just a few days before we evacuated for Gustav.

Today, I received a really amazing phone call from Wells Fargo. At first I was quite worried that somehow in the midst of the hurricane, our mortgage check had been waterlogged, or even lost. The associate assured me that my check had made it in just fine, and there were no problems.

Actually, he was just calling because Wells Fargo had heard that we had a house in what had been declared a federal disaster area. He said that Wells Fargo just wanted to make sure we were OK. He asked if if we had someplace to stay, if we had been able to return from evacuation and enter our property, and if all of the members of my family were alright. Stunned, I told him that we were "just fine, thank you". and that we were in the undamaged house at that very moment. He thanked us for our business, made sure he could not assist us in any other way, and politely ended the call.

How awesome is that? Considering all of the craziness in the lending business right now, my lender decided to take the time to call everyone on the Fema list and make sure that they were alright.

So, from the citizens of Louisiana, thank you Wells Fargo. It is a pleasure doing business with you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday Bike Blogging: Post-Gustav Edition

I don't have any photos this week, but there are a few things to report from my travels yesterday and today on the bike. The first is that New Orleans's streets are only slightly more hazardous than they were before Gustav. There is noticeably more debris in the road, but not so much that it causes major problems for bikes. That seems to be a combination of there not being very much damage to begin with, and a relatively efficient clean up effort. The other thing to report is that the farmers' market this morning was about half its normal size. The specific people that I noticed missing were the people with the Cajun meats and sausages, and the people from Plaquemines Parish with the satsumas. I hope they're all doing okay.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008


We're home. We got back at about 8:00 last night, after an 11 hour drive. The house is just fine. It barely looks like it was just hit by a hurricane. We have not noticed any actual damage. The back yard is littered with all the smaller and less well-attached branches from the tree. We lost all the food that was in the refrigerator and freezer. There is one window in the attic that we knew was missing a pane when we moved in, and haven't had time to get fixed yet. We boarded that window up (from the inside) to prevent rain from getting in. The portion of that board facing the missing pane is noticeably water-damaged. Other than that, we haven't seen anything that requires our attention. I bought a rake and a larger outdoor push broom earlier this evening, both of which we needed to get anyway. To top it all off, the power was even on when we got home last night.

What we've seen so far of New Orleans, both in person and in the news, suggests that our experience is representative of the city as a whole. That doesn't mean that there wasn't a lot of damage, though. The central coastal of Louisiana (particularly Terrebonne and Lafouche Parishes) got the brunt of the storm, and we could see a lot of damage in Baton Rouge just driving through on the interstate last night. We didn't see any damage in Lafayette while driving through there, but we did see a huge convoy of emergency vehicles and National Guard get off the interstate near there. We heard there was a lot of damage there, and we didn't see much of the city on the way through. There were also a few levee breaches in Plaquamines Parish, downriver from New Orleans. They didn't flood anyone's home, but did cause some problems there.


Thursday, September 4, 2008


So Colin and I have been spending our Gustav evacuation vacation in Granbury Texas. This is a small town outside of Fort Worth. We have been quite lucky in our evacuation location, because we have been enormously well treated by our host, Ken. Even though there are 12 of us sleeping in a three bedroom house, we still have managed not to go completely mad.

We are staying in what might be the strangest gated community I have ever seen. It is called Pecan Plantation. It has the following ridiculous amenities: a golf course, a marina, an EMS/Fire fighting service, a pool, a tennis court, and a bi-plane airport. I had no idea they even made gated communities with airports! Perhaps what is oddest of all about this is that most of the houses in the community are not overly lavish, and are of footage less than or equal to what we have in New Orleans.

Mostly we have been cooking and sleeping. All of us are recovering from the stresses of evacuation and worrying about our city and our lives. Luckily, New Orleans was spared from the majority of storm damage. We received a text message earlier in the week from the only neighbor who stayed in our block, (his wife works for the Times Picayune, and was covering the storm) that our house was not flooded and did not have major damage. We are quite relived by this, but we could still have interior damage.

We did manage to go to Dinosaur Valley State Park this afternoon though, which we were all really happy to have done. The weather was wonderful, and the dinosaur tracks were easily visible in the limestone of the riverbed. Near one set of tracks there was an awesome swimming hole, and we all took a dip in the beautiful water.

Colin wading.

Erin, David and I in the water.

Limestone riverbeds.

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Evacuation photos

We evacuated to Texas on Sunday morning. We took route 10 to Baton rouge, then route 49 to Shreveport and finally route 20 to Fort Worth. The drive itself was not too bad, we were lucky to have Mame and the cats for company.

The cats were real troopers. They mostly slept all day, with occasional bouts of meowing and activity. Later on, Hodag got more active. (I think the lights visible from the freeway excited him.)

Hodag checks out the lights shining onto the freeway from a Texas Wallmart.

Mame, Colin and I made it to the Texas border! Amusingly, almost all of the license plates of the vehicles in the border rest stop were Louisiana plates. Also present were stickers for the radio stations WWNO and WWOZ , as well as from colleges such as Xavier and Loyola.

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The day before evacuation

Before we left due to Gustav we took some pictures (on Saturday of last week). This was while Mame was in town visiting, so we were trying to do some touristy things. Sadly, we gave up about midday to return to the house to make final hurricane preparations.

We took Mame to the french quarter for breakfast on Saturday, while we were there we saw some advance National Guard troops getting coffee.

Mame also enjoyed the coffee and the beignets available from Cafe du Monde. The rest of the French quarter was really deserted though, since everyone had already begun to evacuate. (Even the Mules were absent from Jackson square.)

later that day we worked on boarding up the house.

The result of our hard work, all shutters locked and windows boarded up.

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Monday, September 1, 2008


A few notes to let everyone know that we're safe.

1. We left home at 8:00 am yesterday morning. "We" means both of us, Mame, and the two cats. Getting out of the city was very easy, thanks to the contra-flow. We ran into some traffic congestion just north of Opelousas, at a point where they were converging four lanes of traffic into two. That delayed us a bit, but then it was clear sailing again until we got to Texas. Mame has another friend in Dallas, so we met him for dinner and dropped her off with him. We ran into some more traffic in Texas, and got lost around Fort Worth trying to find the road to the house. We arrived just before midnight.

2. CNN is running a story about storm surge overtopping levees. As best we can tell from here, it's not nearly as bad as it might sound. It's at the Industrial Canal, which seems to be holding okay. The fact that it's overtopping instead of breaching means that not very much water is actually getting onto the wrong side of the levee. There isn't much we've seen or heard about our part of the city, except that campus looks fine. Gustav is continuing to pass us by and weaken, so it looks like we're going to be okay.

3. We are currently at the house of the father of a friend of mine from the Physics Department. There's a lot of physics grad students here with us, and we're actually quite comfortable. Tulane has canceled classes this week, and we hope to be back later this week or by the weekend. Hannah and Ike willing, of course.