Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday cat blogging

Sadly, yet again no photos of Annie, as she remains an elusive model for the camera. I did, however, manage to catch a snapshot of Colin hanging out in a box with Hodag.


Of pimm's cup and banksy's

So, on Tuesday, Colin and I attended a surprise engagement shower for my public health buddy Sammy. Her roommates, Joe and Meroe, planned the whole thing quite carefully, and the bride and groom to-be had no idea we were all lurking in the backyard ready to pounce. At the appointed moment the unsuspecting victims were lured outside and into the festivities. After that, all the guests spent a pleasant evening hanging out in the garden, eating appetizers and drinking pimm's cups. The weather was lovely, the setting pleasant, and the company congenial. the garden had been decorated with tea lights in paper bags, and looked quite romantic. The only thing that could have possibly spoiled anyone's evening was the fact that the neighborhood cats tried to pounce on us. (The Marigny is FULL of cats, and these particular cats had ringworm). Colin and I of course enjoyed shooing the kittens away from the food, so we had a great time.

I was also pleased to continue to expand my repertoire of alcoholic beverages by sampling the Pimm's cup. The particular recipe we imbibed was a mix of the Napoleon house Pimm's cup and the Town hall Pimm's cup with slight alterations. (1 part Pimm's No.1, 2 to 3 parts ginger ale and garnished with a cucumber slice). It turned out quite tasty, but still carried a punch.

Colin and I were also able to view wonderful outdoor art on Tuesday evening, quite by chance. Recently, the Times Picayune reported that several outdoor paintings had appeared across the city, and were being attributed to the graffiti artist Banksy. (You can see photos of the New Orleans instillation here ). We had both read the article, and found the included photos of the street paintings profound, inspiring both joy and sadness. On the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Banksy was able to capture some of the truly emblematic symbols of the hurricane while provoking new thoughts on the tragedy. His work was so politically astute, so relevant, and perhaps best of all, exceedingly local. For example, one of his paintings features the grey ghost, a New Orleans figure (in) famous for removing graffiti. Other very local insights include a walking jazz band wearing gas masks, and a small child flying a refrigerator kite. (The refrigerator, with its rotting food smell, was one of the most visceral results of Katrina). We were able to veiw one of the city's Banksy's while we were driving around the Marigny, looking for the address where the surprise engagement party was being held. While trying to find a one way street going the correct direction, I saw a Bansky and shouted out to Colin to stop and let me out to take a photo. It was the painting of a young girl using an umbrella to fend off the coming storm, only to be soaked by the umbrella itself. Some have suggested that the umbrella is a metaphor for the levee system, designed to provide protection, but which ultimately was a leaky umbrella itself.

After the party I convinced Colin to take a small detour on our way home to see the other Banksy I had accidentally run into a few days earlier. This one I had encountered while walking from the downtown Tulane campus to the LSU's Health Sciences Center for an appointment. I had just turned a corner on my route, when I walked past an abandoned building with a painting of Lincoln with a granny cart on it. I believe that this painting is supposed to represent the displacement and homelessness that many New Orleans residents have faced as a result of Katrina.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

We Love the BBC

Why do we love the BBC this week? Because they publish articles with the words 'Fart gas' in the title. Just like that, with the standard BBC scare quotes.

Hydrogen sulfide causes farts to smell bad. Apparently, it also causes blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure. At least in mice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

Daddy is so weird. This Friday Cat Blogging thing was his idea, and now he just leaves it for mommy to do. Mommy says that he should do it this week, because he doesn't do anything else. But he doesn't have any cute pictures of me, so I had to go find an old picture on his computer, so I can do Friday Cat Blogging for him. Here is me, enjoying the window between my room and my porch.

I'm still annoyed at Annie. She comes into my room while I'm trying to snuggle with mommy and daddy. At least now they ignore her while they are snuggling me.But I'm still annoyed at her, so no pictures of her this week.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Well, I know what I want for my birthday

So, it was Vladimir Putin's birthday yesterday, and guess what he got? A rare Manchurian tiger cub. He plans on donating her to a zoo or a wildlife preserve, which is good, since there are only about 400 of these cats left in the wild. Also, this species of tiger becomes huge when full grown, around 600 pounds, definitely requiring a professional staff and room to romp. Putin seems to be quite pleased with the cub, and he called journalists to his house after midnight to show off his new birthday gift. Here are some photos showing the cub, and you can also watch a video here, in which you can hear her purr.

Putin is thinking of naming the cub
Mashenka or Milashka.

Hmmm that journalist looks tasty.

The money shot.
That is one cute tiger cub.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday cat blogging, Fern edition.

Ahhh, fall in New Orleans. The humidity has finally broken, and a delightful breeze has picked up to tame the warm weather. Since it has been so lovely, the cats have been lounging on the porch, often sleeping under the shade of my fern. I was able to catch Hodag hiding under the foliage, but when I tried to capture Annie, she got up from under it, and Hodag took her place.

Hodag being a jungle cat.

Annie soaking up some sun, while Hodag hides behind the fern
(look closely, and you will see him)

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Monday, October 6, 2008


This weekend the Times Picayune ran a story about how the Orthodox Jews in Metairie (1) have just established an eruv.

I find this fascinating and funny for a number of reasons.

First the funny. It turns out that we have met the family that lead the charge to establish the eruv. Rabbi Uri and his wife and children often attend the Jewish newcomer events in New Orleans that Colin and I go to. They go to make sure that any interested Jews know that there is an orthodox synagogue in Metairie. (You can see photos of them, and read about their congregation, Beth Israel, here). The last time I spoke with them was at a Zephyr's AAA baseball game, when I was drinking a beer and eating a kosher hot dog. I was chatting with Uri, while Daliah ran around after the two boys, who seemed to be really enjoying the festivities. In fact, when Colin and I were trying to find Zephyr Field, Colin spotted a mini-van and said, "Oh, we must be getting close, I see 'The Jews' ". I had no idea what he was talking about, because I could only see the back of a beige minivan, so I chided him about how not ALL minivan drivers were Jews. He replied that he could see the people inside (which I could not from my seat) and it was Uri and his family. Then we both laughed.

Next, the fascinating. The first is that it is nice to see this little community of orthodox Jews rebuild their lives after Katrina. Large portions of Jefferson parish flooded after the levee breaches, and this particular synagogue was completely ruined. Seven Torahs and hundreds of old holy books were destroyed by water. All the other Torahs' in New Orleans had been evacuated before the Hurricane. A rescue operation to save the books was attempted, but sadly all were destroyed by water and mold. They were buried according to Jewish law, which states that destroyed holy books must be buried, because they should be treated like people, rather than as mere objects. The second fascination is that this particular eruv is being established using primarily natural boundaries. Most eruv I know of are established by means of string, or an arrangement of telephone lines, to denote the communal boundaries of a "house". This is done so that orthodox Jews can carry items outside of their homes and not be breaking the prohibition against work on the Sabbath. (Strictly speaking, to carry any item outside the home is considered work). The only natural boundaries I have ever heard of being used before to create an eruv were in Manhattan, where sea walls are used to create walls for the "house". In New Orleans, of course, we use levees and canal walls to mark our neighborhoods, and our eruvs. The Metairie eruv uses canal walls, levees, a highway sound barrier as well as the expected telephone wires to create a community "house". I think I find the concept of an eruv made of levees just inherently funny. I mean, the levees we have cannot protect us from flooding, so who says they make a decent "house"? Well, apparently, the rabbinical council of New Jersey, that's who!

(1) Metairie, it's safe here.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Post-Gustav Photos

Sorry that I haven't posted in awhile. I just dug up a couple of photos that I took the morning after we returned from the Gustav evacuation. As I said earlier, the only indication that our house had been hit by a hurricane was the tree debris scattered all around the back yard. Well, here it is:

The first photo will also serve as a "before" shot, to indicate all the weeds that had overrun the back yard before we moved it. When I saw that photo just now, I was very impressed with us for how much better it looks in just one month.

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