Friday, January 30, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Truth

As usual that guy on Toulouse Street puts into words better than I could about the rampant crime spree going on in NOLA:

we are living with the product of the second and third generation of people who have given up.

The same hollow eyes and gunman swagger you see in Somali pirates on the evening news, that’s what you can expect when culture and government and all of the things that make a civilization start to break down, and people just give up and do what they have to do to survive. And when the parents have given up, when they accept the street as the way it is, you start down the road that turns out the young men who jack ships off East Afraica and who stalk our own streets.

We have all spent and given too much to be here to walk away now. So which side are you on, boys, which side are you on? Will you run to the Northshore, or add some iron and lights to the house and never venture out? Or is it time to stand up and demand immediate action and results, or dire consequences, for Riley and his boss Ray Nagin and from the entire city government

If you enjoy Mark's writing, may I suggest you pick up is book Carry Me Home . A collection of short essays written under Mark's post Katrina blogs, "Wet Bank Guide" for the first two years Post-K.
I keep it in my car to pick up whenever I'm stuck in traffic. His writing brings you to the place he talks about.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bald Eagles return to Fontainbleau

From a Northshore newspaper:

image from Chuck Cook - Times Picayune

For the first time since Katrina, the bald eagles have returned to Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville.

Not exactly a common sight, these living symbols of America's spirit of freedom were first spotted at Fontainebleau about a year ago.

"In fact, a visitor to the park saw an eagle getting fish from the lake," said Rita McMurray, an interpretive ranger at the park. "We had to find the nest."

Bald eagles like habitats near seacoasts, rivers and large lakes, which makes Fontainebleau, with a setting on Lake Pontchartrain, ideal.

They feed mostly on fish, but also eat small rabbits and squirrels, McMurray said.

Eagles are extremely sensitive to human activity and like to keep a safe distance from people.

With his powerful scope set up on a steady tripod, ranger Steven Welch focused it on the uppermost limbs of the tree and pointed out the white head of the female, which sat on her eggs -- probably two, he said. They're the same pair who were at Fontainebleau a year ago

"They're pretty smart," Welch said, as he explained the location of their nest in the park. "It's about 150 feet from the water and a good distance from the campgrounds on one side, and from the day use area on the other side."

The eagles will probably leave the area in the summer and return again next winter. In the meantime, the best time of day to spot them may be the warmest part, McMurray said. You might just catch sight of one of the great birds sitting royally on a tall branch in the distance, head turned to the side, keeping watch.

Here's a two minute video about the birds courtesy of the Times Picayune:

Video: Bald eagles return to Fontainebleau

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wetlands Preservation

From The Times-Picayune
St. Tammany Parish has received $1 million toward the acquisition and preservation of forested and wetlands property along Bayou Liberty.

The 22-acre parcel, located south of Interstate 12 and west of North Shore Boulevard, is a blackwater stream habitat that is "extremely rare" and "increasingly vulnerable to development," the parish wrote in its grant application.

Parish President Kevin Davis said in a statement that the preservation project is part of St. Tammany's ongoing effort to "preserve our existing wetlands and restore that which we have lost."

The Trust for Public Land acquired the land for $1.5 million on behalf of the parish in 2006, and the parish agreed to purchase the land from the Trust. St. Tammany will pay the balance of the funds through future grants and parish funds.

I know this bayou well, as it's right in my backyard. Part of it runs behind the
Slidell Trailhead of the Tammany Trace.

This is a small step towards the preservation of Louisiana wetlands, but I'm glad that this little piece is safe from development. For the longest time it seemed as if three acres of it was for sale behind the super Walmart on Northshore Boulevard. Thanks TPS and St. Tammany parish.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

List of Katrina's Dead

Noticed a lot of hits on this site for the list of Katrina's dead.

Updated, here it is

More Scuzzbuckets

A federal judge on Thursday rejected a bid to hold the federal government liable for the deaths of three elderly people during Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.

Without dissent, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's dismissal of wrongful death suits filed by the victims' families.

Don't you love the fact that the papers neglected to give the names of the three judges who have no fucking backbone?

U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey ( a G.W. Bush appointee) ruled in April 2007 that several federal agencies and officials are immune from suits brought by survivors of Ethel Freeman, 92, John DeLuca, 76, and Clementine Eleby, 79.

Freeman and Eleby rode out the Aug. 29, 2005, storm at their New Orleans homes before seeking refuge at the city's convention center, where they died while waiting to be evacuated. Photos of Freeman's lifeless body, slumped in her wheelchair and partially covered by a poncho, were widely published after Katrina.

John J. DeLuca, 77, who rode out Katrina at an eastern New Orleans assisted-living home, died Sept. 3 after a helicopter rescue team took him from the home to Interstate 10 at the interchange with Causeway Boulevard. DeLuca languished for three days before dying, court records said.

Plaintiffs attorneys claim the government acted negligently, failing to provide "basic humanitarian aid" to people stranded in New Orleans after Katrina, and therefore isn't entitled to immunity from the suits.

But the 5th Circuit panel wrote that although "federal government has publicly admitted that it made many mistakes," its actions were covered by a general shield that protects it from lawsuits.

This court is very sympathetic to the plaintiffs for the loss of their loved ones, however, this court is prohibited from changing the laws that Congress has enacted," Judge Jay Zainey wrote last year.

Sounds like a cop out to me, Mr. Zainey

I certainly hope that no one you know has to suffer as Mr. DeLuca, Ms. Eleby and Ms. Freeman did on that horrific week in 2005. And to the spineless 5th Circuit Court of Appeals: y'all suck.

Scuzzbucket of the Week Part 3

The ignorant, racist, redneck moe-ron who did this.

Louisiana has a bad enough reputation across the country for mindless racism.
We don't need idiots like this einstein to further perpetrate this this sophmoric antic.

Good Photography

Here's a link to a flickr site that contains pictures of one of my favorite places in the world, Bay St. Louis

Scuzzbuckets of the Week Part Deux

The parents of these fifteen year old youths who murdered a young woman in cold blood for no reason.

The teens, identified as Drey Lewis and Reggie Douglas, were taken to the jail at 3:40 p.m. (January 22, 2009) They were each booked with one count of first-degree murder.

The District Attorney's Office is weighing whether to prosecute the boys as adults in Criminal District Court. The suspects said nothing to news media gathered at the jail. If convicted, they face life in prison.

Where were these mothers when their sons were out there trolling the streets for a victim? Where were these mothers when it was time to teach these children about respect - for both self and others? Where were these mothers when it was time to give the kids a curfew? I wouldn't let my daughter roam the streets after dark when she was 15 - call me an old fashioned mother.

But these mothers finally had to face the music and turn their "babies" in for murdering 39 year old Wendy Byrne for no damned reason.

Scuzzbucket of the Week

Between the holidays and much O/T at work, I haven't had much time to post, but this story could not be ignored

from the Weekly Vice website :

Shannon N. Cooper, a 21-year-old Louisiana woman was arrested Tuesday after fracturing her 3-week-old son's skull twice by throwing the child across the room.

According to the Parish County Sheriff's Office, deputies first learned about the abuse after staff from Ochsner Medical Center contacted them last Thursday about a newborn boy that was in intensive care.

The child was rushed by ambulance to the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit after the child's grandmother called 911. The grandmother told authorities that the child had fallen off a sofa and hit a wooden coffee table, according to the arrest report.

Doctors however told authorities that the child had suffered two skull fractures, resulting in internal bleeding at two different locations. Doctors told police the evidence suggested that the two injuries occurred at two "distinctly separate times" because the injuries were at different stages of healing.

Investigators say Burke admitted to throwing the child across the room on two occasions because she was frustrated that the child wouldn't stop crying. She said the incidents occurred within a few days of each other.

Cooper was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on two counts of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile. No bond has yet been established.

Cooper's son and 13-month-old daughter are both currently in protective custody, according to the sheriff's office.

Oh, my god, what is wrong with these young women? They allow their pregnancies to go full term and then turn around and abuse their newborn babies. I'm all for sterilizing this ignorant bitch immediately and anyone else that treats a human being - their own flesh and blood - in this fashion. I never threw my child across the room because she cried! In another recent case a babysitter put a baby in the dryer because it was crying .

Screw the NAACP, People's Rights groups and anyone else that fights for the rights of these obviously ignorant, horrifically bad parents.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On this day

On an historic day for the United States with the swearing in of Barack Obama and the FINAL exit of the worst president ever, all I can say is

God Bless America

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby Steps

From New Orleans City Business dot com

The state of Louisiana will use $101 million in hurricane protection money for a long-awaited levee project in Terrebonne Parish.

The state dollars, combined with $94 million in local money and federal block grant aid, will go toward the Morganza-to-the-Gulf project — a system of levees, floodgates and a lock — that was first proposed 16 years ago to protect Terrebonne Parish and parts of western Lafourche Parish.

Authorized by Congress in 2000, then again seven years later, the project has been mired in red tape. Jindal called delays by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unacceptable.

"For too long the federal government has been sitting on their hands while our coasts remain vulnerable," Jindal said in an address at the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum. "The time for studies, the time for waiting is over."

Only one section of the Morganza, levee, a three-mile levee in Pointe-aux-Chenes has been built since the project was proposed in 1992. Under the local plan, the remaining levees will be built from Dularge to Pointe-aux-Chenes along the alignment approved by Congress in 2007 and will be built to corps standards when feasible and cost-efficient.

The interim levees can be bolstered later, proponents have said. Several pieces of the alignment are in the design phase and work on various sections will proceed simultaneously, Terrebonne Parish levee board President Tony Alford said.

The Morganza package includes $101 million from state surplus money, state construction dollars and funds set aside for the Coastal Impact Assistance Program. The rest will come from a special local tax dedicated to the project and federal Community Development Block Grant money.

About $7 million of the money will be used immediately to build a three-mile section of levee in Chauvin. Workers were expected to break ground this month on the dirt levee, which will provide storm-surge protection to east Houma, Chauvin and Grand Caillou, all communities that experienced unprecedented flooding during Hurricane Ike last year.

Terrebonne Parish had twice the damage of any other parish in Louisiana from the twin blows of hurricanes Gustav and Ike in September, Parish President Michel Claudet said.

Hurricane Gustav blasted through Terrebonne Parish on Sept. 1 after making landfall near Cocodrie, knocking down trees and utility poles by the hundreds and shearing apart roofs and homes. About 10 days later, Ike, which made landfall in Galveston, Texas, pushed up to 9 feet of storm surge into lower Terrebonne Parish, flooding an estimated 2,500 homes and businesses from Dularge to Pointe-aux-Chenes.

The destruction from the 2008 storms came three years after Hurricane Rita flooded about 10,000 homes and businesses in the same area.

Jindal praised residents' resilience in rebuilding, noting the federal government has paid out millions in storm claims.

Decades of wetlands loss and coastal erosion have also made the parish more vulnerable to Gulf storms.

"We've got to get this done," Jindal said of the levee project. "Time is not on our side

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some National Guard to become Police

Fromthe town talk dot com word that 17 National Guard troops who have been patrolling the streets of New Orleans began a special session of the police academy on Monday.

Most guardsmen have been in New Orleans since the storm, a good number of them arrived in June of 2006, as shown in the photo above.

The guardsmen will finish the class in 12 weeks, instead of 20. The experienced troops will be able to step into the job quickly and provide a real boost for the department.

Too bad someone with as much experience couldn't take over Riley's spot. Then we'd see some positive leadership from the NOPD.

Monday, January 12, 2009

WAMA Reopens

The Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs, Mississippi is now reopened.

From their website
A visit to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA), opened in 1991 in historic Ocean Springs, MS, is an enchanting and unique experience. WAMA is dedicated to the celebration of the works of Walter Inglis Anderson (1903-1965), American master, whose depictions of the plants, animals, and people of the Gulf Coast have placed him among the forefront of American painters of the Twentieth Century; and to his brothers, Peter Anderson (1901-1984), master potter and founder of Shearwater Pottery; and James McConnell Anderson (1907-1998), noted painter and ceramist.
The watercolors, drawings, oils, block prints, ceramics, and carvings by the three Anderson brothers are all represented in the museum’s permanent collection. Diverse changing exhibitions, many featuring the work of other significant artists, occur throughout the year.

The museum’s sky lit interior of warm southern yellow pine includes a main galleria and two additional galleries, which echo the natural beauty and simplicity of its setting. Adjacent to the museum is the Ocean Springs Community Center, home of Walter Anderson’s largest mural.

I found the link to Walter Anderson's life fascinating yet tragic. The work he did in the last years of his life are beautiful. Wikipedia has an extensive article on him as well. /
And yet another interesting piece here

Recovery in Ocean Springs

Ocean Springs' popular nature and recreation site marked a milestone in its rebound from Hurricane Katrina with the official opening of the William Colmer Visitor Center.
The William M. Colmer Visitor Center, named for a veteran Mississippi congressman, is located at the end of Park Road.

Presentations covering all aspects of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi are available. An exhibit area that incorporates the art of local artist Walter Anderson explains the different ecosystems and features local plants and wildlife. An exhibition of work by other local artists changes on a quarterly basis. The twelve minute film " Tides, Winds, and Waves" is shown daily in the auditorium. Administrative Offices, restrooms, water fountains, and the Eastern National Bookstore are housed in the building. Park Rangers are available at the information desk to answer questions.

Inside the center, an open house Saturday gave visitors a chance to test out models of future educational displays on local plants and wildlife.

Amaze Design Inc., who designed the interior of the center, brought in another company to evaluate how people responded to the models, looking for ways to make the displays accessible and easy to use.

At a display about aquatic bottom-feeders, guests were asked whether it was easier to slide a handle or turn a knob to reveal a pic ture of a clam. Opinions were also gathered about the height of the displays, particularly for people who use wheelchairs.

The park used about $1 million to restore the building and decking, said Gail Bishop, chief of interpretation at Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Park officials were not able to make drastic changes, because the federal money was designed to pay for restoring what existed before Katrina, Bishop said. Park rangers had been working out of a trailer since Katrina.

Gulf Islands National Seashore offers recreation opportunities and preserves natural resources along barrier islands in Mississippi and Florida. The Davis Bayou area in Ocean Springs consists of more than 400 acres, according to the National Park Service.

The visitor center is open 8:30 to 4:30 daily.

I can't believe we survived this moron

WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush is defending the government's record in responding to Hurricane Katrina, even while admitting once more that some things could have been done differently.

At his last formal news conference, Bush at one point said, "Don't tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs" not long after the hurricane passed over the Gulf Coast.

He said it was "a devastating storm" and that hard work remains to bring New Orleans back to the kind of life people had before the hurricane that hit in the summer of 2005.

Bush said, "More people need to have their own home there, but the systems are in place to continue the reconstruction in New Orleans."•

Reactions from locals:

Spoke the cat




Mark Folse at Humid City

Katrina Recovery

From the Clarion Ledger dot com:

After a hurricane, putting Humpty Dumpty back together again is no simple task.
But now that federal relief funds are beginning to flow, Hancock County has a long list of recovery projects already under way, in the application process, or on the drawing board.

It all stems from damages done by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

It has taken us a while to get to this point, county Supervisor Steve Seymour said. "But knowing how the wheels of government move, it's a slow process."
Most of the recovery projects are being paid with federal money. That means county officials have had to deal with multiple federal and state agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Mississippi Development Authority.

Then, supervisors have waded through requirements for each project, including environmental assessments and screening and hiring architects, engineers and construction firms.
Recently, supervisors reviewed an updated list of projects and their status. Some are in the funding application process, while others are awaiting environmental review. The projects range from the courthouse and jail to a new fire station, a county government complex, community centers and a series of hurricane shelters to be built above I-10.

One major project, a $4.8 million reconstruction and addition at the historic courthouse on Main Street in Bay St. Louis, is well under way and scheduled for completion in April. And a project to build a new county government building in Bay St. Louis is awaiting a wetlands delineation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Officials are hoping to break ground for the 28,548-square-foot complex early in the year.
Supervisors acknowledge it seems like forever since Katrina came and went, taking so much with her. But they think the county is turning a major corner now.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Scene in Slidell

Click on image for larger version.

Crosby Aboretum

On a recent trip to the Crosby Aboretum in Picayune Mississippi, hubby and I snapped several hundred photos. Here's a small sampling
click on photos for larger versions

The entry pathway

The Savannah trail

Winter "blooms"

A pitcher plant, similar to a venus flytrap

The Pinecote Pavilion, which is the centerpiece for the "pond walk" AND is available to rent.

A plaque along a trail

A rest stop

Moss by the pond

the Pavilion across the pond.

The Old and the New

During our trip to the Crosby Arboretum we noticed acres of young pine trees growing amidst the skeletons of Katrina trees.

The trees killed by the storm are taking on hues that show the passage of time. They're turning gray. Yet they still stand to serve as tragic memorials to Katrina's violent winds and storm surge.

The young pine trees exude rebirth and give us hope.

A day trip to the Gulf Coast

Hubby and I took a ride the other day to test out the GPS unit he got for Christmas. It was quite interesting and the little device got us where we wanted to......eventually.

We started out at the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune. A beautifully serene place, this park has many different trails that offer so many beautiful scenes to enjoy and photograph. More on that later.

Upon leaving Crosby, we decided that we'd like to take the back roads from Picayune to Bay St. Louis, where we wanted to have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Rickeys.

Using the directions from the GPS, we headed down the service road that the Arboretum is located. Not too far down the road, we noticed this sign, which
speaks volumes about "aggressive sports" in this area.
click on pictures for a larger version

We continued down the road, obeying the instructions given by the GPS. Here are the results

Just a little past this part of the road, we came upon a man driving a big old earth moving vehicle. He looked at us kind of strange as I waved. We continued on.
Until we came to this

Sooo, hubby had to turn around and we backtracked.

When we passed the earth-moving-farmer-guy, we stopped and hubby apologized for us trespassing on his land and blamed it on the GPS. The farmer had an extremely strong Mississippi accent and did not smile. I'm just glad he wasn't pointing a shotgun at us. The farmer explained to us that he had owned the land we were driving through for 20 plus years and had just purchased 40 more acres and was clearing it out. He gave us directions to Bay St. Louis (follow the dirt road till you get to the NASA highway) and we retraced our steps all the way back to where we started.

The NASA highway is apparently a combination of Highway 607/3 Notch Road/Texas Flat Road which runs adjacent to the Stennis Space Center. Newly paved, it's smooth as a baby's butt and there is NOTHING - no houses, no businesses - along this road.

We finally made it to Rickey's, despite the GPS and found it closed! So we ventured down to historic downtown Bay St. Louis and ended up at

The Buttercup Restaurant on Second Street. Home of one fantastic flame broiled burger!

The restaurant looks like it was built using the Katrina Cottage structure and is very light and airy. Great waitstaff and food. We will return.

After eating a half pound of beef each, hubby and I decided that we needed to walk for an hour or so. In an antique shop down the street from the Buttercup we enjoyed browsing around while listening to the music of Coco Robicheaux. Very nice.

It seems like a lot of folks that own businesses in downtown Bay St. Louis are from New Orleans. The quality of their shops, the quality of their service and just the fantastic New Orleans outlook made it an excellent trek.

As we were leaving, I noticed some new construction on Main Street:

Three years post Katrina Bay St. Louis and its neighbors continue to work tirelessly to rebuild with the help of thousands of volunteers. Although this courthouse looks completed, the roads around it are still torn up in the midst of reconstruction.

I wanted some more info on Hancock County so we could be sure that we knew the dates of upcoming festivals. So we backtracked through about a mile of roads-in-work to find the Visitors Center located in the new train depot.

We found it, but it was closed for the holiday weekend. The building is charming, with a middle east feeling

And it was worth the drive because we discovered a "restaurant district" right next to the depot that we will have to check out in the future.

The GPS is a great tool, but beware those back roads!