Wednesday, May 30, 2012

R.I.P. Doc Watson

I found Doc Watson in the 70's through the album Will the Circle Be Unbroken. I think discovering Doc gave birth to my love of guitar music. Thank you and R.I.P. Doc.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hurricane Season

From Sandy Rosenthal at Levees.org.

On the first day of Hurricane Season, June 1, a certain unease creeps into the city of New Orleans.

Residents begin checking the weather forecasts for low depression spots, the harbingers of monster storms. And they start thinking about levees partly because shortly after the devastating flood during Katrina, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported that annual levee inspections in Orleans Parish tended to be quick drive-by affairs ending with lunch for 40-60 people costing the state as much as $900.

While this is true, the same reports went on to suggest that the quickie inspections might have contributed to the catastrophic flooding and that the local Orleans Levee Board (OLB) may be partly responsible. Neither suggestion was ultimately proved true, but the myths persist.

Here is what really happened.

Pre-Katrina, the Army Corps of Engineers was required to administer annual levee inspections of completed federal flood protection levees in Orleans Parish.

ER 1130-2-530, 30 Oct 96 establishes the policy for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of USACE flood control and related structures at civil works water resource projects and of USACE-built flood protection projects operated and maintained by non-Federal sponsors.
This program, called the Inspections of Completed Works by the federal sponsor (Corps) was designed to insure that the local sponsor (Orleans Levee Board) was complying with its federally mandated levee maintenance.

Before the 2005 flood, the OLB's maintenance activity included mainly cutting the grass on levee embankments and removing unwanted vegetation and debris. But, the OLB also performed other activities like checking concrete surfaces for open cracks, and inspecting for ruts, depressions and erosion on earthen levees.

To be clear, responsibility for the annual inspections belonged solely to the Army Corps. It would obviously be a conflict of interest for the OLB to inspect its own work. The Army Corps's inspections should perhaps be thought of as independent annual quality audits of the OLB's year-round maintenance activity.

Additionally, the Corps of Engineers' annual inspections were not designed to verify structural stability and performance and thus, could not have been expected to uncover potential problems with levees' and flood walls' ability to function. In other words, they were not a factor in the flooding as concluded by the preeminent report for information relating to the 2005 flood - the Decision-Making Chronology Report of 2008.

The drive-by levee inspections are therefore, a red herring in the story about the New Orleans flood.

To our knowledge, the Army Corps of Engineers has not directly supported the myth of the levee inspections. The myth apparently took wings on its own, months before the major levee investigations were completed; and in a post-flood environment of anger, grief and a rush to pass judgement.

After the levee failure investigations all concurred that design and construction flaws, not mother nature, was responsible for the flood, Congress responded by passing the first ever country-wide levee safety legislation which may affect the 55% of the nation's population protected by levees. The legislation ordered national policy changes in levee safety and levee building.

And even though annual levee maintenance inspections were irrelevant in the New Orleans Flood, the Army Corps also overhauled its annual inspections protocols nationwide. Now using global positioning and other modern technology, the Army Corps' annual inspections of completed works are more formal, more uniform and pay greater attention to all components of the levee system.

In the meantime, those annual lunches, which were intended as a social occasion for Army Corps personnel to meet staffers from the Orleans Levee Board, are a thing of the past.

Hopefully, myths and misinformation regarding the pre-Katrina levee inspections, and their role in the catastrophic flooding of August 2005, will also soon become a thing of the past.

This article was written with assistance from H.J. Bosworth, Jr., P.E., civil engineer and lead researcher for Levees.org.

Rocky and Carlos REOPENS!!!

Singing with Aaron Neville

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Expect 4-8 Atlantic hurricanes, NOAA says

from CNN.com
Expect 4-8 Atlantic hurricanes, NOAA says

A near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is expected this year, with nine to 15 named storms and four to eight hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

Of those four to eight hurricanes, NOAA expects one to three to be major. The six-month season begins June 1.

NOAA also said it predicts a near-normal season for the Eastern Pacific, estimating a 70% chance of 12 to 18 named storms – with five to nine hurricanes, of which two to five would be major – for that area.

A major hurricane, designated as Category 3 or greater, packs winds of well more than 100 mph. The weakest hurricanes have top sustained winds of at least 74 mph, and named storms have top winds of at least 39 mph.

NOAA officials said uncertainty over whether the El Nino weather pattern will form made it difficult to be more precise in predicting the Atlantic storm season.

"If (El Nino) develops by late summer to early fall ... conditions could be less conducive for hurricane formation and intensification during the peak months (August to October) of the season, possibly shifting the activity toward the lower end of the predicted range,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

The forecasts do not predict how many of the storms will reach land.

Thursday's predictions came as a strengthening Hurricane Bud, churning in the Pacific, appeared poised to bring heavy rain to coastal southwestern Mexico

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

WHODAT Billboard by Georgia Dome....You In?

We want to rent a billboard close to the Georgia Dome. Black background, big gold WHO DAT right in the heart of downtown Atlanta. If we can raise the funds, it’ll stay all season long. We’re working on a tag line, but of course it’ll have to be appropriate for a, ahem, larger audience.

If you're interested, check out the Angry Who Dat website to see how you can contribute. This would be SO awesome

Scuzzbucket of the Month


Some "know-it-all" from ESPN (who HATE the Saints for some reason).

His comments on New Orleans are outlined below

Kristian: Colin Cowherd needs to re-examine his facts
by Kristain Garic , posted May 22 2012 4:01PM
ESPN's Colin Cowherd slammed New Orleans on his nationally syndicated talk show today.

No, not the Saints...the City of New Orleans itself!

"Can I ask you something," Cowherd said. "Why is the least-safe major city in the country now the default destination for every big sporting event?"

Cowherd seemed miffed that New Orleans landed the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the BCS National Championship AND possibly the Pro Bowl, all within the span of one calendar year.

"It is the least safe major city in the country…not my opinion, statistically the least safe," he said. "There are only two where locals will tell you, turn around, don't go that way…Detroit and New Orleans."

To say the City of New Orleans is unsafe is completely unfounded. Are some parts less desirable? Absolutely! Are there segments of this city that you shouldn’t venture into? Yes. But, that doesn’t mean New Orleans shouldn’t host major sporting events. What city is better at hosting sporting events than the Big Easy? None!

Click below to hear Cowherd's remarks:


Several times, Cowherd seemed to equate having a flashy airport with his idea of an ideal sports destination.

"(New Orleans) doesn't have a world-class airport. It is not geographically easy for much of the country to get to. I mean if you live Rocky Mountains west, New Orleans is a looong way away."

This is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. I mean, New Orleans is somewhat centrally located to the rest of the Continental United States and the 31 other NFL markets. How much farther is Miami or New York from "West of the Rocky Mountains?"

"I want a lot of hotel rooms, a great airport, good weather, safety,” Cowherd said. New Orleans is not top-15 in any of those."

Granted, New Orleans has a crime problem, but the numbers are somewhat skewed by violent crimes committed by people who know each other, and drug-related crime in some of the more downtrodden parts of the city. Yes, this is a major problem the city faces...but actual attacks upon tourists, and people in “tourist areas" are pretty rare.

He "wants a lot of hotel rooms?" Had he bothered to check, Cowherd would have found that in terms of hotel rooms, New Orleans is tops in the nation, in both quality and quantity.

And, NOT in the top 15 for "great weather?" Good God, man, where would you rather be in February for the Super Bowl? New York? Chicago? Green Bay?

I think it’s simple why New Orleans hosts major sporting event after sporting event. This city knows what it’s doing. We host a party like no other. We have police PROTECTION like no other. I’ve been to Super Bowls in other cities, and while they were nice, they didn’t have that "personal touch" of New Orleans. That's not just me talking, in Indianapolis dozens of people stopped by our broadcast booth on Radio Row and said, "Yes, Indy is nice, but we can't WAIT to be in New Orleans next year!" And when the Final Four was here, folks I talked to loved their experience.

Cowherd is a West Coast elitist who swoops in for a night or two, stays in a swanky upscale hotel, and gets whisked around in a limo surrounded by security. He doesn’t experience a fraction of what New Orleans really offers real fans in the sports scene. (Hell, no wonder he's so infatuated with hotel rooms and airports...that's ALL he ever sees!) No other city combines food, music, fun, night life, and local flavor like we do. Other cities do certain things well, but only New Orleans has it ALL, and more, within walking distance.

Hey, haters are gonna hate. If Cowherd is getting through the off-season by just trolling hard, I guess I'm just feeding the troll here. But, if he's got a bias against New Orleans because he doesn't like the city, he needs to man up and just admit it. Instead, his arguments are factually suspect at best, and intentionally malicious at worst.

Part of me says, "Screw him, Colin Cowherd can keep stay on the West Coast." But despite everything he said, I'm a fan of Cowherd's and would love to take the time to be a tour guide and show him both the good and bad of our town.

The door is open, Colin. Be responsible and take the time and effort to really learn about one of the greatest cities in the world before you slam it!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Travesty

Dharun Ravi Sentenced to 30-Day Jail Term in Rutgers Bias Case

Dharun Ravi, a former Rutgers University student, was sentenced to 30 days in jail by a judge in New Brunswick, N.J., on Monday following his conviction on charges that he had used a webcam to spy on his roommate having sex with another man. Mr. Ravi had faced up to 10 years in prison.

Judge Glenn Berman of Middlesex County Superior Court said that the jail term was for witness- and evidence-tampering and lying to police, and not for Mr. Ravi’s bias crimes against his roommate, Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge three days after one of the webcam viewings, three weeks into their freshman year in September 2010.

Read More:
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/former-rutgers-student-to-be-sentenced-in-hate-crime/?emc=na

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lake Pontchartrain Facts

From Save Our Lake's website , some little known facts about Lake Pontchartrain.


Lake Pontchartrain is swimmable again. It was removed from the EPA's impaired waterbodies' list in 2006.

Lake Pontchartrain is not a lake, surrounded by land. It is an estuary, open to the Gulf of Mexico.



Lake Pontchartrain contains brackish water, a mix of saltwater from the Gulf and fresh water from rain and rivers. You can find both saltwater and freshwater fish in it.

Lake Pontchartrain has tides that come in and out from the Gulf of Mexico.

Lake Pontchartrain is fed directly by two rivers: Tangipahoa River and Tchefuncte River.



Lake Pontchartrain is 630 square miles in area and is approximately 25 miles across north to south.



Lake Pontchartrain is shallow, averaging only 12-15 feet deep.

Lake Pontchartrain has three beautiful beaches open to the public: Pontchartrain Beach on the South Shore, and Fontainebleau State Park beach on the North Shore.




Lake Pontchartrain has great fishing opportunities with 11 artificial reefs attracting fish.

Lake Pontchartrain has shrimp, crabs, clams, sharks, dolphins and manatees visiting in its waters. Keep an eye out and you may see some.






Thursday, May 17, 2012

Coffee Addicts Rejoice! It’s Good for You

Coffee Addicts Rejoice! It’s Good for You

Pirogue Races Return

After a two year hiatus, the 60th Annual Bayou Liberty Pirogue Races return on June 3rd. During that time, major construction was under way on the property of St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The celebration will be June 3 from 1 to 7 p.m. at the St. Genevieve Landing, located just four miles west of Slidell, on Louisiana 433 at the Bayou Liberty Bridge crossing.


The old Bayou Liberty Bridge

Chaired by the late Junior Pichon for over 50 years, the races have been handed down to his daughter Beth DiMarco.

From nola dot com:
Thanks to DiMarco, chairwoman of this year’s event, her father’s dream will live on.

“We are honored to pay tribute to our dad this year,” DiMarco said. “He’ll be smiling down on us from heaven.”

The day of celebration on Bayou Liberty will feature competitive paddling, including: Men’s championship race; common boat race; two-man canoe race; kayak race; women’s championship race; women over 40 race; men over 40 race; girls 13-16 and 8-12 races; and boys 8-12 and 13-16 races.

ne of the highlights of the day of competition is the hilarious 'blindfold race.'



The prized Bayou Liberty Pirogue Championship raffle also will return. Tickets are $1 each, with ticket holders vying for a 14-foot Fiberglass pirogue, first prize; Propane seafood frying setup, second prize; and fleur-de-lis rocker, third prize.

A separate raffle will be held for a shotgun. Only 300 raffle tickets will be sold for $5 each.

Various game, food and beverage booths also will be featured. Among the traditional race-day favorites being dished out will be gumbo, red beans and rice, hamburgers and hot dogs and snoballs. Ice chests are not allowed on the premises.

Music will be provided by Band of Brothers, and Big Al and the Heavyweights.

Commemorative hats and T-shirts also will be available for purchase the day of the races.

For information on how to support “Back on the Bayou,” contact DiMarco at 985.643.2581

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Window Wednesday

In looking around to come up with ideas for blog posts, I thought taking one day a week and feature pictures I have taken on one subject. I have a fascination with windows of ANY kind, so I thought why not Window Wednesdays? Yeah, I like it! So here is my first picture for WW

Taken at Fort Pike around 2007.




Monday, May 14, 2012

The Old and the New


One of the hundreds (if not thousands) of things that gives New Orleans her charm is the intertwining of old versus new.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The killing must stop

Sam over at NOLA Slate has penned a thought-provoking, heart wrenching post about the state of our kids killing kids and not just in New Orleans. It's happening all across the US. Her post is entitled stabat-mater-dolorosa-on-mothers-day_05

Excerpt:



These are kids. Our kids. Their kids. OUR kids.

The blood is running down the streets like water after a rainstorm. The cop shop says isn't it terrible. The DA files a case against the accused. We all jump with glee that the asshole that did the shooting is caught.

And the mothers keen. And the mothers will never recover. And the family is broken beyond repair. And the mothers keen.

Why are we not looking at the societal issues that cause a 17 year old kid to feel that shooting a gun is the only way to settle a debt, or a moment of disrespect, or to make them a man? Why are guns so easily bought? Are we entering an entirely Darwinian age? Those who are the strongest by virtue of the weapons they carry are the winners? Really? Why are not furious at this situation?


Facebook killed blogging

Or so it seems like. Actually, this morning I rediscovered some of my favorite blogs (non-NOLA) are still active after all these years.

But I was just going over my NOLA area blogs and many of them have either closed shop or aren't actively blogging anymore.

There are a few left that update regularly:

BayouCreole's posts always delight me

Glen over at Bigezbear has me thinking and/or laughing all the time

Cliff is still sitting on his porch

Jeffrey over at Library Chronicles blogs several times a day

NOLA defender updates daily

New Orleans News Ladder can be counted on to update every day

Pistolette is still active and continues to entertain me

Chris over at Prytania Waterline has resumed blogging

Mark Folse blogs about returning to school and his views on everything on a regular basis

Varg's still kicking

Speaking from personal experience, Facebook is one reason I have slowed down blogging here myself. It's too damned addictive! But I'm making an effort to find things to blog about whilst perusing Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others.

Love playing with light



Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Pet Cemetery


This picture so aptly predicts the future of the woman in the foreground. She was Dorothy Thompson from Toca, Louisiana in St. Bernard Parish. The man standing over her - Brandon Nodier - has just been arrested for her murder....27 years after it happened.

NOLA.com published an in-depth article about the history of this case here. It's a great read and would make a fantastic movie. The story starts at the beginning of the 20th century and ends in 2012. I found it fascinating.

Excerpt:

It was estimated that about 5,000 pets were buried on its grounds, mostly dogs and cats, but also parakeets, parrots, myna birds, a cheetah, a hen, monkeys, rabbits -- even the boa constrictor named Serita who had performed on "The Tonight Show" in the 1960s and was afforded a funeral with a choir that sang "Goodnight, Irene."

Graves ranged from simple to very elaborate, costing as much as $2,000. A human-sized Buddhist statue topped one of a pet cat, and one woman's ashes were cemented in a large urn atop her dead dog's tombstone, as per her last wishes.


Thanks to Benjamin Alexander-Bloch from the Times Picayune.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Be Nice or Leave

From the Boston Globe

(I copied the whole article because I've seen how these things disappear after a while)

Written by Farah Stockman , this article strikes true to my heart, as I grew up just north of Boston and can relate to the Northeast stuffiness. Having lived in this area for 30+ years, I can relate and LOVE the fact that this is my home. Enjoy.

-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`-`

I just got back from New Orleans and I’ve been going through withdrawal. It’s been three days since a bartender called me “Sugar” or a stranger chatted me up in the street.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Boston. I have come to accept the arms-length way we show affection for each other. I understand that when the lady-with-the-dog-in-my-condo raises her eyebrow at me, it means: “Are you my new neighbor? Welcome to the building!” I know that the hair-trigger honk a millisecond after a light turns green is just the guy-behind-me’s way of saying hello.

But there is something refreshing about the shameless displays of friendliness in New Orleans. The crush of people waiting for barbecued shrimp at Jacques Imo’s bar are more likely to buy each other drinks than get snippy about who is seated next. No one gets testy with the waitress. A sign instructs them not to. It reads: “Be Nice or Leave.’’


The same sign hangs in Willie Mae’s Scotch House, where the fried chicken is so large it looks like pterodactyl. Back in 2005, the James Beard Foundation gave 89-year-old Willie Mae Seaton an award for making her restaurant a place where people don’t just eat; they belong. After Hurricane Katrina, chefs from around the city helped her rebuild. If that is not down-home friendliness, I don’t know what is.

In fact, those signs — “Be Nice or Leave” — hang all over the city. It’s an audacious mantra for a place that thrives on tourism. Although visitors are returning — 7.5 million came last year — it’s still less than the 10 million who came before the storm. Katrina brought this economy to its knees, yet people here still feel they can afford to demand friendliness from curmudgeonly outsiders. How could that be?

Julie Jackson, a lawyer who helps provides free legal services to artists, told me the signs mean that quality of life is more important than money. In the sharp-elbowed Northeast, it sometimes feels like it’s “be nice and you lose.” But in the Big Easy everyone is expected “to enjoy life without placing too many demands and to take the time to be ‘nice’ to those around you, whether they are strangers or not,” she said.

Connie Zeanah Atkinson, a professor at the University of New Orleans, said history might have something to do with it. Boston was founded by Puritans who shunned fancy clothes and idle chitchat. New Orleans was founded by French-speaking aristocrats who threw lavish costume balls and allowed taverns and gambling dens.

The “Be Nice or Leave’’ signs got popular after the hurricane, Atkinson said: “When we almost lost our beautiful, fragile, damaged city, people started saying ‘Treat her gentle.’ ”

Michael Mizell-Nelson, another historian, said the signs might have originated as a demand for dignity from a hardscrabble underclass whose music and food became the pride of the city.

Mizell-Nelson was one of 2,000 New Orleanian refugees who spent time in Massachusetts after Katrina. The culture shock was severe: Cold weather. Frowning faces. “Bars closing at a certain time,” he recalled. “People would tell me this is something that they really can’t fathom.”

The last stop on my quest was the “Be Nice or Leave” gallery, where an artist called Dr. Bob sells the signs for $35. The place resembles a junkyard that was attacked by a rainbow. Red driftwood with a devil’s face dangles from the ceiling.

Dr. Bob regaled me with tales of riding his motorized bicycle all the way to Biloxi, and an albino hermit called the Onion Man who is said to live in the woods around Lake Pontchartrain, and how a creature called the Honey Island Swamp Monster once briefly abducted his friends.

After 45 minutes, I told him I didn’t want to take too much of his time. I just wanted to know the origin of the signs. He looked deeply disappointed in me. Then told me he just saw one once, at an African-American backwoods bar, and started painting them.

Mystery solved. I’m back in Boston now, where it is considered creepy to make eye contact on the T; where taxi drivers barely pause their telephone conversations long enough to hear your destination. The lady-with-the-dog-in-my-condo didn’t even raise her eyebrow at me. But hey. That means she recognizes me. That I belong here. That I’m home.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Sales Tax Holiday

Hurricane sales tax holiday set for May 26-27
BY: The Associated Press


BATON ROUGE — Stocking up on flashlights, batteries and other items to get ready for hurricane season this summer? You might want to wait until May 26 and 27, when the state holds a sales tax holiday for hurricane preparedness items.

That weekend, Louisiana residents won't have to pay the 4 percent state sales tax on a list of items such as flashlights and candles, weather radios, waterproof sheeting, gas or diesel fuel tanks, batteries and chargers, and storm shutter devices. The sales tax holiday exempts the first $1,500 of the purchase price.

Local sales taxes still apply unless the municipality exempted them.

Hurricane season begins June 1.

interesting quote

The word 'listen' contains the same letters as the word 'silent.' "

--Alfred Brendel,
Austrian pianist