Saturday, September 30, 2006

Un-Stuck on Stupid

Lt. General Russel Honoré has been lionized by the local political class. I don't really know what he actually did, except for his most famous remarks to a journalist. That seems to have been a personal mantra, used more than once. He sure made people feel better, that someone was in charge and doing something.

His phrase "stuck on stupid" has entered the popular culture. A google for "stuck on stupid" gets 530,000 hits, with a bullet.

A few weeks ago I thought the whole city was stuck on stupid. I even started a new blog about it. If anyone looked at my profile you might have seen it. But I never could get over feeling a little dirty about it, so I never published anything. Yesterday I deleted it.

I wondered why so many in the city were still stuck on stupid. Our mayor couldn't seem to get out the way of his mouth. Everything in government is broken and no one seems to be doing the obviously important.

Our DA, who can't seem to hold his temper or prosecute a case, was investigating the Gretna Police Department, instead of the New Orleans Police Department or prosecuting murderers.

The owner of the Saints was behaving badly (he still is, but some things never change).

In spite of this everywhere I sensed there was a slow steady reawakening of the city. Ordinary people, with little help from those paid to help them, are finding ways to rebuild and return. The changes are slow, I only really notice them when I leave town for a few days. I have been gone for a week and just returned Monday morning.

I can detect small noticeable differences. For example;
  • A nice guy bought the house behind us and is working to repair it. He hopes to be in in November.
  • We reached an interim settlement with our insurance company and a check.
  • Commander's Palace re-opens Sunday.
  • Deutsches Haus re-opened Friday
  • The Saints played well on Monday night and we all got some good press.
On Monday night that awakening exploded I think. The Saints have made a lot of people feel like they can come back from disaster. The Saints are coming back from their own disaster of last year.

None of our local politicians embarrassed us. Either that or I just didn't care anymore. I'd settle for the politicians staying our of the way, with their kind of help I'm not sure we're better off.

Either way it was a good week.

Oh Yes, and Oktoberfest started Friday.

This week was a very good one, perhaps the best in over a year.

I think we'll be OK, but We're Not OK -Yet.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Excursion: Big Spring Jam

We just returned from Huntsville, Alabama.

Just about every fall we visit one of my best friends, an old college room mate. We don't see each other that much, maybe twice a year if we are lucky. In recent years we have attended Big Spring Jam in Huntsville, Alabama. This year we didn't go to the festival, the weather was too threatening with heavy thunderstorms and Tornado Warnings, so we just hung out.
Held in September the name confuses me and apparently a lot of other people. It turns out that the event is named after The Big Spring Park which is in turn is named for the Big Spring. The park is located in the center of Huntsville, adjacent to the Von Braun Center. The festival is held in the park and the surrounding area.

Its sort of a mini Jazz Fest. In 2005 it was held Friday, September 23rd through Sunday, September 25th. The line up is usually very eclectic, including a lot of old favorites, southern musicians and local groups.

Herman's Hermit's and Al Green were there, along with Travis Tritt and Charlie Daniels.

There were New Orleans musicians there too, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and bunch Cajun bands, Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys,

C.J. Chenier & the Rod Hot Louisiana Band and
Lil' Brian & The Zydeco Travelers.

We camped out at one stage and had a great time. Before and after the music we had a chance to refresh our spirits with longtime friends. It was a welcomed respite in our Post-Katrina turmoil.

This coincided with Hurricane Rita and opening of parts of New Orleans. We had arranged a crew of workers to clean out our house, starting Monday. We headed back to New Orleans for my third trip and her second one since the storm flood.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

da 'Dome

I was there last night.

I've been in the Dome many times for many events. A lot of Saints games. Some Super Bowls. Some Sugar Bowls. I don't really know how many. I watched a lot of Saints games in Tulane Stadium.

I never saw the Dome so full or so energized. It was a special evening.

Here is an Article by Michael Smith

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Looking for Links in all the Wrong Places.

Most Blogs have a list of dozens of links. I've got eight.

NOmenu. Tom Fitzmorris' website is not a called a blog, but its pretty close. I listen to his radio show every day on the way home from work. He is doing a tremendous work promoting eating, drinking and happiness in the only place in North America that cared about eating and drinking prior to 1960.

Kalypso The Odyssey A nice your lady.

Dangerblond. What can I say the girl's an original.

VatulBlog. Maitri Venkat-Ramani has lot going on.

timsnamelessblog. Tim lives close to me, is rebuilding and lives in a trailer too.

Clif's Crib He's a man who has his head on straight.

b.rox. was flooded and is rebuilding.

Deutsches Haus I'm not a member but love their spunk and Oktoberfest.

Rising Tide New Orleans 2006 A link for the conference.

I don't know how those people have time to read all of this stuff and have a life and a job. I barely have time to do my little blog, make a living and try to fix my house. And I'm not so sure about the last two.

I have begun to feel guilty about the lack of links here. I can't go out and search the Internet read every blog every day and I do have some standards.
  • Need to I feel a connection.
  • The subject should be somewhat related.
  • I don't want to be political.
  • Not too much anger.
I'd like to ask anyone who has a a suggestion to chime in.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How I Became Trailer Trash - Part 3:

Hooking Up

Our trailer was left sitting in our neighbors driveway, there was no place to put it on our lot. The entire front yard was full of debris from the ongoing gutting. No one had been by to haul the debris. The Trailer was too tall for our driveway.

No FEMA krewe would come by to hook up up. Our Trailer was a "Drag and Drop". We were on our own.
We had no idea how to hook up a trailer, never having been in one until recently. We quickly discovered we needed a thirty amp electrical outlet, a water hose and a sewer connection to be able to use the trailer. We also needed place it, level it, and anchor it to the ground.

We wanted it in the back yard, we thought it would be more private and secure, besides it wasn't full of stinky debris. It turns out that we couldn't put a truck on the hitch and push it into the yard. Since the guys were still gutting the house, we got them to simply roll the trailer into position. I think we'll have to get it out the same way we got it in.

Since this was early November I hadn't seen a lot of trailers, FEMA was just beginning to deliver them. The FEMA install we are all now familiar with was not very common. FEMA had only delivered a few trailers and they were mostly going to critical people. I went to the Marietta Georgia RV dealer we had visited to check out trailers and bought a couple of adapter fittings for the sewer connection.

On one of my early flights back in to town I happened to sit next to a guy from North Carolina who was installing FEMA trailers. He was returning from a visit to his family. He explained how they installed trailers. He offered to install the trailer for me. I got his number and had my guys call him .

My Contractor found another guy who said he could install the trailer. He was a trip. He showed up in a Lincoln, wearing the gold chain and looking like he stepped out of the Sopranos. They had no material and spent the better part of the day gathering concrete blocks, wood blocking, plastic pipe and electrical supplies. They also had few tools, fortunately I had most of mine, although some of them were a little rusty.

After two full days the trailer was sort of set up. I had power, water and a sewer connection. I would be able to spend the night in the trailer, using FEMA provided linens and plastic dishes.

I still had to learn how to operate The Trailer.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Our Building Permit

We have a building permit. She went and got it because as usual, She would not be denied.

The process was interesting and I'll relate it second hand. Since She did this some time ago the process may have changed so take this historical account with a grain of salt.

We printed out Damage Assessment. These forms have changed a number of times, the early version including dollar amounts which as far as I can tell were completely made up. I guess FEMA might have had a hand in them. In any event they were pre-determined and had little relationship to construction cost, property value or insurance value.

She and I went over it and decided what we could contentiously justify as a damage assesment. She went to City Hall paid a fee ( inspite of being told she colud get it fee over the Internet)

Life on The Edge

A lot of people in New Orleans and elsewhere are on the edge. My trailer is literally on the edge. One block north families live relatively normal lives with a few signs of the disaster. One block south nobody lives, and there are few signs of activity, let alone recovery.

I am also on the edge of my neighborhood and the edge of the flood zone.

On my own block there are two houses under repair (counting mine) four houses for sale, two demolitions and two in indeterminate condition. I hope the demolitions are a good sign. I hope it means that they are going to rebuild. I am hopefully waiting for the foundation work to start.

My own neighborhood escaped the worst flooding but I live on the perimeter of the neighborhood and everyone on my block flooded. On my block there are two houses being worked on, one house mostly sitting, four houses for sale and two houses were torn down in the last few weeks. What is going back on those two lots, if anything, I haven't a clue. I would welcome a McMansion, It would help our spirits and our property values. One block behind my house everything looks pretty normal one block in front to it everything looks devastated.

The flood maps are equally interesting. Our flood zone has a requirement that new construction be located three feet above the highest adjacent grade, my lot is at plus three feet, the slab is one foot higher than the lot. Across the street in they are in a different flood zone. It is approximately three to four feet lower than my lot. That flood zone requires an elevation of minus one foot. They are also required to build three feet above the highest adjacent grade. New construction on my side of the street will be approximately four feet higher than new construction on the other side.

That makes absolutely no sense. Why can't we set a single flood elevation for the entire city?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trailer Stuff

It's kind of interesting. There are many thousands of trailers in New Orleans and no one apparently sees that as a business opportunity.

There is stuff that people in trailers need. Most of it is readily available but a some things are special. For example some one stole removed the battery from our trailer. The FEMA Contractor responded fairly quickly. In the process the main 12 volt fuses blew. They are 40A automotive type fuses but they are also higher amperage than most automotive stores carry. The FEMA maintenance guy didn't have any, I went to three auto parts stores to find them.

The little 12 volt "acorn" light bulbs are more difficult to find. These are specific parts necessary for a trailer and only really used in trailers, as far as I can tell.

I've noticed that there are a lot of non-FEMA trailers set up around town. They are easy to spot because they are often old, they aren't white, aren't installed FEMA style or don't fit the profile. These people don't have anyone to call for service. They also need to be anchored to the ground with auger anchors and and metal straps, I had to go to an RV dealer to get the ones I needed.

There is a much larger range of' 'dual use' products, things which are helpful utilizing the limited space available in the trailer.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

I wonder who, if anyone, reads this stuff. I'd like to know who is actually looking in. Unfortunately blogger, doesn't offer such facilities and the options that exist are outside services. I wasn't so sure which ones are as confidential as I would like. I know when I surf unknown or new web sites, I worry they are gathering and sharing information.

I finally decided to install StatCounter for fun.

It's kind of interesting how obsessive you can become about these things. I had my first high hit day (paltry by any standard ) on Monday August 28. That made a lot of sense to me. I had written about Katrina and had a post about the Rising Tide Conference which was mentioned on a few blogs. With the anniversary and all I thought it not abnormal.

Things quieted down to normal until Tuesday September 5. For some reason I had more hits on that day than the previous Monday, August 28 the eve of the Katrinaversary. The curve is pretty steep, more than twice as many hits as the previous day. I actually had the most hits I've had to date.

I think about half the hits are me fooling around with the articles, you see I never get them right the first time and almost always have to go in and edit them.

I can't figure this Internet stuff out.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wanna B Victims

I have noticed a tenancy among a number of acquaintances to portray themselves as victims of crime related to Katrina. To be sure they were all affected by the events.

My barber told me shortly after reopening that he had been looted. I don't think so. His storefront window was broken and he had some damage, but most of his stuff was still there, including things I think most looters would have taken. His window was most likely broken by wind or flying debris. I was back before he was. I was at his shop within two weeks of the storm and saw the damage then. He was gone much longer.

My neighbor recently told me people were living in his gutted house. Odd, my trailer is right next door. I never saw anything, except the front gate open. As far as I can tell some people may have entered his house but no one was staying there. He also told me someone one had broken into his trailer and messed up the bed. The bed had never been made. The linens were never unpacked. These were very odd intruders, they left the battery and the propane tanks sitting on the floor.

I have theories but I can't be sure.

I'm not entirely sure what happened in either of these cases. Like many of rumors still circulating about the events following the flood. The stories I've been told don't seem to match the evidence.

I have, for example, recently been informed in all seriousness about second and third hand reports of wide spread FEMA favoritism and Superdome deaths numbering in the thousands. Then there are the more widely publicized rumors of all sorts of things.

Why do otherwise reasonable people want to believe these things?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How I Became Trailer Trash - Part 2:

The wait.

For a long time we didn't know how our house had fared. Like everyone else we studied the news clips to see if we could find out if our house was damaged or worse flooded. The evidence was ambiguous. We live fairly close the the Lake Ponchartrain Levee. Some pictures showed houses nearby weren't flooded. Because of the location the only access would have been by boat. Other matters seemed more pressing than securing a boat. Finally complete high resolution aerial photos were released. We saw a boat running down our street. We were now officially flooded.

Looking for a Home.

After it became apparent our house was was flooded. We needed to find a place to live. The problem was there was still no power nor any reliable communications. We didn't even know if the Mother in Law in Metairie had escaped flooding. She was in Houston with a house full of relatives. I made a List. The alternatives we came up with;
  1. Mother in Law's.
  2. Mother in Law's Back Room.
  3. A Relatives House.
  4. Rent a Place (hopefully from a friend).
  5. Get our own Trailer.
  6. Get FEMA Trailer.

Investigating and Deciding.

I should explain the Back Room. It is an enclosed carport/party room built by Her Father which had fallen into disuse. It has space and privacy. We had no idea whether it was damaged or not. The same was true of everyone else's house. It turns out the Mother in Law's was not damaged but all of the other relatives either had wind damage or some flooding. Renting a place seemed like an alternate but most of the people we knew of who had rental property had tenants, or had damage. One friend offered to rent her weekend condo in the Warehouse District, but then she decided to sell it. None of these alternatives were certain.

We decided to look at Trailers. We took a trip to the Three Way Campers in Marietta Georgia. The people there were nice and simply let us wander around the lot looking at trailers. Of course I'd done the obligatory Internet Investigation. I had a dangerously limited knowledge of Trailers. I knew the difference between a Fifth Wheel, a Travel Trailer and a Motor Home. Mostly I wanted to see if She thought we could live in one. If so how big did it need to be? I figured because of Catch-22 we could not qualify for a FEMA Trailer.

A Contractor friend changed everything. He told us how to get FEMA trailer real quick, without dealing directly with FEMA.

How we got our Trailer

We got our trailer through the Early Return Program of the State Department of Economic Development, The Governor considered us essential to the recovery. In reality I think anyone who asked would have been considered essential. The Catch (some lower number than 22) was the we had to set up and hook up the trailer ourselves, at our cost. That turned out to be relatively easy to do. We got our Contractor friend to do (it for a small fee).

She undertook getting a trailer as a crusade. She got the forms. There are always forms. She faxed them to a woman at the State who tracked our trailer application and delivery for us. We found out about the program in early October and by the end of the month She was calling every day (sometimes twice) to see where Our Trailer was. It was their own fault. They told Her how quickly they could do things. She held them to it.

We finally got The Call. Our trailer was to be delivered the First of November. Late in the evening, after dark, in a depopulated part of New Orleans. Neither of us were in New Orleans so we asked someone from our office to meet the trailer. It was her first day on the job. The FEMA contractor (Flour) called it a “drag and drop”. They couldn't even drop it in our yard. It had a 6ft high pile of all the stuff we used to have. The trailer was also too tall to fit down our driveway. They had to drop it on my neighbor's driveway.

First Sight.

I returned to New Orleans the day after the trailer was dropped.

I had never visited the house after dark before. I also needed to go pick up the trailer keys. They were left in the furnace compartment of the trailer. Besides I couldn't wait to see the trailer. I also wanted to see what the city looked like after dark. I grabbed my flash light and headed out. Things were not looking good. I drove out from downtown. As I drove through Lakeview and Gentilly it is was dark. There were no lights at all except for an occasion puddle of an occasional street light or a random generator.

Of course the major problem we thought we would have was electricity. Without it we couldn't occupy the trailer. We were investigating generators and getting temporary power from Entergy. Neither looked like good options, although the generator could work. I was thinking about this on the way out to the house.

I was also thinking "I am not lucky". She is. One of the reasons I married Her was to partially counter my own abysmal fortune. I was born under a bad sign. If it wasn't for bad luck. I wouldn't have no luck at all.

As I approached our neighborhood I began to notice a glow in the dark. I arrived at our street. I was elated to see most of the street lights were on. She had worked her magic. There was power on our street. The possibility of power to the trailer had improved considerably.

I drove into our driveway and retrieved the keys. I did a quick check of the trailer. It was pretty much as I had expected. I did a quick inspection and decided to head back, there was still a curfew. First for some reason, I decided to look at electric panel in the house. It had a red tag on it. Another miracle, our electric meter had not been removed. I had a legal connection to power. She is a Goddess.

We determined later in the daylight that, unlike our neighbors who had all had their meters disconnected, our electric meter and panel had been located high enough that even though the house flooded the water never reached the panel.

All we had to do now was hook the trailer up and move in.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Excursion: Hollywood Beach

Before the flood we had planned a trip to South Florida for the Orange Bowl. The trip was to include a week on Key West including New year's Eve and a trip to the Dry Tortugas.

When Katrina approached Florida I was in the process of finalizing my plans for a return to South Florida. I was planning on renting a condo on the beach for the Orange Bowl. I called one of the Owners, who told me she had a unit available but couldn't really do anything right now because they were getting ready for a hurricane. I told he I'd called her back in a few days. What a joke that turned out to be.

After a few weeks of complete chaos we began to plan again. We still had tickets to the Orange Bowl, but couldn't really see spending a week away with so much going on. We finally decided to go to the Orange Bowl.

We also decided to scale back. The New Plan was to find a place on the beach near the stadium and the Fort Lauderdale Airport, since I refuse to enter the Miami Airport from the land. I will only go there to change planes and then only if unavoidable. We we trying to find specific accommodations at the last minute.

I am a big fan of old Florida, the Florida I grew up with. You see in the late Fifties my grandparents bought a small house in Melbourne and began spending winters there. They soon decided to move full time and two of my Uncles and some of my Grandmother's family moved there. We usually made two trips a year so I had a lot of time there as a youngster. That Florida hardly exists any more except in memory and in faint reflections, replaced by a much more upscale flashier Real Estate Florida.

There are a few bits and pieces left, but they're going fast. All along A1A in South Florida old beach front motels are being replaced by Trump Towers. I think the Donald is franchising his name, getting a piece of the action for little if any contribution except a few personal appearances.

In any event one of those remaining vestiges is Hollywood Beach. Only a few years ago it was a sleepy downscale tacky little resort largely frequented by Canadian and German tourists for no apparent reason. It was great. There is a blacktop board walk with cheap bars (with expensive drinks), tee shirt shops, and mostly bad restaurants. They even have an amphitheater on the beach where the City of Hollywood puts on free concerts.

The buildings lining the beach a mostly old and sort of Art Deco, except for the newer ones which are mostly old. Unfortunately there are signs of redevelopment.

One of the attractions is the Orange Bowl Beach Bash which is an all day music festival held on the sand on the day before the Orange Bowl. Mostly the music is not that good but the thing is fun, especially if you have a nearby place to go when you can't take it any more.

We must have called two dozen places before finally locating a timeshare with a unit for rent. We were set. We went over for in time for New Years and a relatively quiet New Years Eve drinking Champagne on South Beach. (Much quieter than the 1999 New Years Eve we spent in South Beach where we watched two naked women and a guy on the balcony across the street from the restaurant set fire to the curtains, while we were having dinner on the veranda, and that was early.)

We have been to Hollywood Beach several times and there are two mandatory food stops, Nicks Bar and Grill on the Board Walk and Taverna Opa on the Intracostal, about 3 blocks away.

Nicks is on the board walk and we stop in after a hot afternoon of beach for a cold Perone and a dozed raw oysters. Sometimes we go back several times.

Taverna Opa is a Greek restaurant on the water of the Intracostal Waterway. It features all manner of Greek food including grind you own Humas, Greek dancing on the tables and popular Greek music. I knew I loved it the first time I was there when I hear them play a recording of "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" in Greek, it took a while to figure that one out. The clue was the Greek word for Bikini, which is of course Bikini.

Game Day we went to the Orange Bowl tailgate party and watched a great game between Penn State and Florida State. The day after the game we spent sleeping late and going to the Beach. Our flight left very early the next morning.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Earth Moved

Last Sunday morning we had an early errand, we had bought some stuff at the Kirshman's going out of business auction and had to pick it up. It all went smoothly and we were back at the trailer for breakfast before 10.00 AM.

At about that time the trailer shook and She, startled exclaimed "What was that?" In my usual dull manner I replied "Nothing, big trucks shake the trailer all the time." I thought it odd she would notice, although in truth I had felt it too.

Later I heard that at just about that same time there was an earthquake in the Gulf. I wonder if in her usual sensitive manner She felt the earthquake or if the trailer is somehow tuned to the earth as a sort of seismic echo chamber. It reminds me of a science project I once did, building a seismometer, I won a prize even though it didn't really work.

I wonder how many more dramatic natural proto-disasters I'll have to experience? So far there's been a hurricane, a flood (the big one), a tornado (I heard the freight train and several houses a few blocks away were demolished) and earthquake. No pestilence so far but there are a lot of flies around.

I still wonder if what we felt was really the earthquake?

Politicality II

I am violently anti-political. I have for a long time described my political views as "small l" libertarian. I am anti-government.

I believe government usually operates for the apparent benefit of the bureaucrats and the politically connected, not including the governmentally dependent, who are generally exploited by the governmental structure to perpetuate power. Public employees are more equal the other citizens and pressure groups of all kinds are monomanically evil.

I have political theories but I believe that every citizen should be involved. I even believe that corporate executives have a right to express a opinion. I believe in cacophony. I believe in the Internet as the democratization of information.

New Orleans and Louisiana have long nurtured a culture uniquely political and a whole popular culture has grown that filters everything through politics. We have too many elected officials. Some of them are jobs which should be filled by public employees.

Orleans Parish Elected Officials
  1. U. S. Representative, 1st Congressional District "Bobby" Jindal, Republican
  2. U. S. Representative, 2nd Congressional District William J. Jefferson, Democrat
  3. Associate Justice, 1st Supreme Court District of Louisiana Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., Democrat
  4. Associate Justice, 7th Supreme Court District of Louisiana Bernette Joshua Johnson, Democrat
  5. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit at Large James F. McKay, III, Democrat,
  6. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit at Large Roland L. Belsome, Democrat
  7. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit, 1st District, Division A Edwin A. Lombard, Democrat
  8. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit, 1st District, Division B Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr.
  9. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit, 1st District, Division C Dennis R. Bagneris, Sr., Democrat
  10. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit, 1st District, Division D Max N. Tobias, Jr., Democrat
  11. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit, 1st District, Division E Terri Love, Democrat
  12. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit, 1st District, Division F "Pattie" Murray, Democrat
  13. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit, 1st District, Division G Joan Bernard Armstrong
  14. Judge, Court of Appeal, 4th Circuit, 1st District, Division H Charles R. Jones, Democrat
  15. Public Service Commission, District 1 Jack "Jay" Blossman, Jr., Republican
  16. Public Service Commission, District 3 Lambert C. Boissiere, III, Democrat
  17. Member, BESE, District 1 Penny Dastugue, Republican
  18. Member, BESE, District 2 Louella P. Givens, Democrat
  19. State Senator, 1st Senatorial District Walter J. Boasso, Republican
  20. State Senator, 2nd Senatorial District Ann Duplessis, Democrat
  21. State Senator, 3rd Senatorial District Derrick Shepherd, Democrat
  22. State Senator, 4th Senatorial District Edwin R. "Ed" Murray, Democrat
  23. State Senator, 5th Senatorial District Diana E. Bajoie, Democrat
  24. State Senator, 6th Senatorial District Julie Quinn, Republican
  25. State Senator, 7th Senatorial District Francis C. Heitmeier, Democrat
  26. State Representative, 82nd Representative District Stephen J. "Steve" Scalise, Republican
  27. State Representative, 86th Representative District James W. "Jim" Tucker, Republican
  28. State Representative, 91st Representative District Jalila Jefferson, Democrat
  29. State Representative, 93rd Representative District Karen Carter, Democrat
  30. State Representative, 94th Representative District Emile "Peppi" Bruneau, Republican
  31. State Representative, 95th Representative District Alexander "Alex" Heaton, Democrat
  32. State Representative, 96th Representative District Juan LaFonta, Democrat
  33. State Representative, 97th Representative District
  34. State Representative, 98th Representative District Cheryl Gray, Democrat
  35. State Representative, 99th Representative District Charmaine Marchand, Democrat
  36. State Representative, 100th Representative District Austin J. Badon, Jr., Democrat
  37. State Representative, 101st Representative District Cedric Richmond, Democrat
  38. State Representative, 102nd Representative District Jeffery "Jeff" Arnold, Democrat
  39. State Representative, 103rd Representative District Kenneth L. Odinet, Sr., Democrat
  40. Judge, Civil District Court, Division A Carolyn W. Gill-Jefferson, Democrat
  41. Judge, Civil District Court, Division B Rose Ledet, Democrat
  42. Judge, Civil District Court, Division C Sidney H. Cates, IV, Democrat
  43. Judge, Civil District Court, Division D Lloyd J. Medley, Jr., Democrat
  44. Judge, Civil District Court, Division E Madeleine Landrieu, Democrat
  45. Judge, Civil District Court, Division F Yada T. Magee, Democrat
  46. Judge, Civil District Court, Division G Robin Giarrusso, Democrat
  47. Judge, Civil District Court, Division H Michael G. Bagneris, Democrat
  48. Judge, Civil District Court, Division I Piper Griffin, Democrat
  49. Judge, Civil District Court, Division J Nadine Michele Ramsey, Democrat
  50. Judge, Civil District Court, Division K Herbert Cade, Democrat
  51. Judge, Civil District Court, Division L Kern Reese, Democrat
  52. Judge, Civil District Court, Division M Paulette Irons, Democrat
  53. Judge, Civil District Court, Division N Ethel Julien, Democrat
  54. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section A Charles Elloie, Democrat
  55. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section B Lynda Van Davis, Democrat
  56. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section C Benedict "Ben" Willard, Democrat
  57. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section D Frank A. Marullo, Democrat
  58. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section E Calvin Johnson, Democrat
  59. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section F Dennis J. Waldron, Democrat
  60. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section G Julian Parker, Democrat
  61. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section H Camille Buras, Democrat
  62. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section I Raymond Bigelow, Democrat
  63. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section J Darryl Derbigny, Democrat
  64. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section K Arthur L. Hunter, Jr., Democrat
  65. Judge, Criminal District Court, Section L Terry Q. Alarcon, Democrat
  66. Magistrate, Magistrate Section, Criminal District Court Gerard J. Hansen, Democrat
  67. District Attorney, Criminal District Court Eddie Jordan, Democrat
  68. Judge, Juvenile Court, Section A Ernestine S. Gray, Democrat
  69. Judge, Juvenile Court, Section B C. Hearn Taylor, Democrat
  70. Judge, Juvenile Court, Section C David L. Bell, Democrat
  71. Judge, Juvenile Court, Section D Lawrence L. "Larry" Lagarde, Jr., Democrat
  72. Judge, Juvenile Court, Section E Louis F. Douglas, Other
  73. Judge, Juvenile Court, Section F Mark Doherty, Democrat
  74. Civil Sheriff Paul R. Valteau, Jr., Democrat
  75. Criminal Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman, Democrat
  76. Clerk, Civil District Court Dale N. Atkins, Democrat
  77. Clerk, Criminal District Court Arthur A. Morrell, Democrat
  78. Assessor, 1st Municipal District Darren Mire, Democrat
  79. Assessor, 2nd Municipal District Claude Mauberret, Democrat
  80. Assessor, 3rd Municipal District Erroll Williams, Democrat
  81. Assessor, 4th Municipal District Betty Jefferson, Democrat
  82. Assessor, 5th Municipal District "Tom" Arnold, Republican
  83. Assessor, 6th Municipal District Nancy Marshall, Democrat
  84. Assessor, 7th Municipal District Henry F. Heaton, Democrat
  85. Coroner Frank Minyard, Democrat
  86. Recorder of Mortgages Desiree M. Charbonnet, Democrat
  87. Register of Conveyances Gasper J. Schiro, Democrat
  88. Mayor, City of New Orleans C. Ray Nagin, Democrat
  89. Councilmember at Large Arnie Fielkow, Democrat
  90. Councilmember at Large Oliver M. Thomas, Democrat
  91. Councilmember, District A Shelley Stephenson Midura, Democrat
  92. Councilmember, District B Stacy Head, Democrat
  93. Councilmember, District C James Carter, Democrat
  94. Councilmember, District D Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, Democrat
  95. Councilmember, District E Cynthia Willard-Lewis, Democrat
  96. Judge, Traffic Court, Div. A, City of New Orleans Dennis J. Dannel, Democrat
  97. Judge, Traffic Court, Div. B, City of New Orleans Robert E."Bobby" Jones,III, Democrat
  98. Judge, Traffic Court, Div. C, City of New Orleans Paul A. Bonin, Democrat
  99. Judge, Traffic Court, Div. D, City of New Orleans Ronald J. "Ron" Sholes, Democrat
  100. Judge, 1st City Court, Sect. A, City of New Orleans Charles A. Imbornone, Democrat
  101. Judge, 1st City Court, Sect. B, City of New Orleans Angelique A. Reed, Democrat
  102. Judge, 1st City Court, Sect. C, City of New Orleans Sonja Spears, Democrat
  103. Judge, 2nd City Court, City of New Orleans Mary "KK" Norman, Democrat
  104. Judge, Municipal Court, City of New Orleans Paul N. Sens, Democrat
  105. Judge, Municipal Court, City of New Orleans John A. Shea
  106. Judge, Municipal Court, City of New Orleans Bruce J. McConduit, Democrat
  107. Judge, Municipal Court, City of New Orleans Sean Early, Democrat
  108. Clerk, 1st City Court, City of New Orleans Ellen M. Hazeur, Democrat
  109. Clerk, 2nd City Court, City of New Orleans "Marty" Broussard, Democrat
  110. Constable, 1st City Court, City of New Orleans Lambert C. Boissiere, Jr., Democrat
  111. Constable, 2nd City Court, City of New Orleans Ennis Grundmeyer, Democrat
  112. Member of School Board, District 1 Heidi Lovett Daniels, Democrat
  113. Member of School Board, District 2 Cynthia Cade, Democrat
  114. Member of School Board, District 3 James "Jimmy" Fahrenholtz, Democrat
  115. Member of School Board, District 4 Lourdes F. Moran, Democrat
  116. Member of School Board, District 5 Phyllis Landrieu, Democrat
  117. Member of School Board, District 6 Una Anderson, Democrat
  118. Member of School Board, District 7 Torin T. Sanders, Democrat

The above list of 118 elected officials includes;
7 Assessors. 1 should be enough.
4 Clerks of Court, 2 Recorders/Registrars. 1 Parish Clerk should be enough.
2 Sheriffs and 2 Constables. 1 Sheriff should be enough, and we might not even need 1.
That works out to more 1 elected official for every 3,000 pre-K registered voters.

Soon enough the Legislature will reduce the number of State Senators and Representatives.

I also noticed the the number of registered voters is reported to be 308,871. The population over 18 was reported to be 355,266 (2000 census). That's almost 87% of the people old enough vote. That seems kind of high, especially since some of the people over 18 aren't really eligible to vote.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Tale of Two (Bowl) Games

In the 2005/6 college bowl season. It was the best of games. It was the worst of games.

Now that Football season has started for real it's time to start making plans for the post season.

As an occasional LSU alumni (and perennial Saints hopeful, but that is another subject). I was excited by their showing in 2003, and assumed the inevitable repeat in 2004. I decided to cover my bets and get tickets to two college bowl games. The Sugar Bowl and The Orange Bowl are two of the 3 oldest college bowl games (only the Rose Bowl is older). Both bowls required a two year commitment. We ended up going to the National Championship Orange Bowl game in 2004/5. I was looking forward to the 2005/6 games. I have always wanted to spend a few days on the beach in January so I was hoping LSU would end up in the Orange Bowl.
Because of Katrina the Sugar Bowl was moved to the Georgia Dome. We were sort of in Atlanta, so we hoped to receive tickets to that game, in place of the tickets we had already purchased and paid for. That was not to be. The Sugar Bowl ended up with fewer general public tickets for the Georgia Dome than the Superdome. I think they gave a large block of tickets to the Peach Bowl in order to secure the use of the stadium..

Since I was in Atlanta a lot of the time, I was looking forward to attending the game. Communications, however, were a mess. The Sugar Bowl staff relocated to Atlanta, but were generally unreachable. Ticketmaster handled the ticket sales but they could find no record of my tickets in their computers or offer any information. Eventually I received a letter, forwarded from my closed office, with an offer allow a some ticket holders to purchase tickets. Unfortunately the date sales were to begin had already passed and when I called (the same day I got the letter) they had all been sold.

I wonder why they chose to send a letter? They must have known it would likely be lost. Throughout this same time I regularly checked the Sugar Bowl web site, which contained little information other than the notice the game was relocated. Eventually I got a refund for the tickets I wouldn't be sent. Oddly the refund came from Ticketmaster, who previously had never heard of me.

I hear we will be offered the opportunity to purchase Sugar Bowl Tickets again this year.

On The Other Hand dealing with the Orange Bowl staff is a pleasure. I can call them at any time and they actually return phone calls, that in itself is enough for a Customer Service Award. When I first got tickets in 2003 they ran a very professional lottery for new purchasers. They gave out numbers and then had several rounds of drawings, to decide who would win the opportunity to purchase tickets.

After I got slightly reoriented, I called told the Orange Bowl about my situation. They FedEx'ed me my tickets and all of the other stuff. I was even able to upgrade my seats over the phone by simply calling up and asking what seats were available. They would have let me purchase more seats or move anywhere I wanted. There was no service charge, other than the cost differential of the face value of the tickets. I can keep these seats as long as I want, all I have to do is keep buying them every year.

For a while it looked like a good possibility that LSU would go to one of the bowls in 2005, but as luck would have it, LSU ended up in neither game.

We went to the Orange Bowl last year and are planning to go again this year.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Who Could Have Guessed.

As I look back on the events of the last year and our current problems rebuilding our homes and lives it is hard to recall the great outpouring of assistance every one of us received, mostly from ordinary people, often through their churches with no public assistance.

Our story is typical. In the immediate aftermath of the flood we decided to temporarily reconstitute our business in Atlanta. We intended to keep working in New Orleans and return as quickly as possible. We made arrangements to have people working on the ground in New Orleans.

We asked all our people to report to work in Atlanta, as soon as possible. We also began informing everyone we could think of about our situation and plans. The response from our acquaintances in Atlanta was unexpected and heartening.

One of the organizations She is involved with got together and gathered household goods clothing and other necessities for everyone to set up temporary housekeeping. A national apartment management company offered each employee an apartment for 90 days rent free. A furniture rental company offered deeply discounted apartment furniture.

In short order we had everyone relocated, housed, furnished and clothed. Fortunately no one but She and I suffered severe damage to their home, but they couldn't go home and we couldn't move back into our New Orleans office. The building was severely damaged and closed.

This small example of a relatively few people helped was replicated many times over in many many places. My parents church opened their kitchen and fed people, until hurricane Rita hit them. I also ran into a lady from Cameron Parish who lost a great deal property in Rita who was involved in helping a group of total strangers who ended up in Johnson Bayou, Louisiana.

Some friends of ours in Denver even sent us a "care" package including a couple of bottles of wine, just to let us know they were thing of us.

I think that the efforts of many many people to help in our time need should never be forgotten by any of us.

Friday, September 08, 2006

FEMA needs new clothes.

It has recently occurred to me that FEMA needs a sense of dedication, a feeling of a special mission. They also need clearer lines of communication and responsibility.

I have a suggestion.

Abolish FEMA and create the FDRS (Federal Disaster Response Service) as the country's eighth Uniformed Service, along the lines of the PHS and the Coast Guard. Using military style organization and headed by a professionally qualified Director General, similar to the Surgeon General (or the Commandant of the Coast Guard).

I have read that some find the PHS redundant and unnecessary, that may be. The addition of military rank, discipline and uniforms will, I think, help FDRS interface with the mostly similarly uniformed and organized First Responders and military support essential in the early stages of any major disaster response.

As a Uniformed Service the FDRS could fall under the administrative umbrella of the DHS during normal times but in upon declaration of a disaster the Director General should report directly to the President, much like the military, or the Coast Guard (which in times of war comes under command of the Navy). Next time they might be able to be as effective as the Coast Guard was mobilizing and delivering help.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Now for Something Completely Different

The third former Illinois governor in the past three decades to be convicted of federal felonies was sentenced today.

George Ryan (#41 Republican 1999-2003) was convicted of corruption for steering state contracts and leases.
Dan Walker (#38 Democrat 1973-1977) was convicted of corruption involving bank loans.
Otto Kerner (#35 Democrat 1961-1968) was found guilty in a racing-stock scandal.

It's a little out of my area but, given all of the heat we have taken over the "corruption" hereabouts I thought this might be interesting to note.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Electrailer: Basic Cable

Our trailer was wired for electricity, and it seems perfectly adequate. It was also wired for a telephone, an amplified TV output and a CATV connection. There is an interesting TV antenna which elevates and trains with a mechanical locking crank and dial arrangement. The "entertainment center" consists of a built in "boom box" ( AM/FM/CD/Clock/Alarm) with an exterior radio antenna, and a pair of car speakers mounted under the cabinets.

When I first occupied the trailer around the beginning of December, it was not clear what connections to the world there were. I determined that the first step I needed to take was to get a TV, if only to fill the hole where a TV was supposed to go and make sure I wasn't missing anything. In December, shortly after connecting power to the trailer I visited Walmart in Kenner late one evening and purchased MY FIRST GREAT BARGAIN. I got a 21" flat screen TV with a built in DVD player for $112. It has a great picture.

I also discovered that only a few of the broadcast TV stations were back on the air. After several calls to Cox, all I could get was a suggestion to try to hook it up and see if it works. After a Saturday tramping around in the weeds, salvaging cable from the house and installing a makeshift connection I was amazed that I could get Basic Cable. I had information coming in again. Some of the off the air stations were actually sending a signal over the cable TV system.

Around the middle of December I was able to move in pretty much full time. I started to look into a better way to connect to the Internet. At this point I had no phones at the office nor did really we have an office. I was using the Internet at my mother-in-laws house in to get email, but had no files nor anyplace to keep anything.
When I called Bellsouth and was stunned when told they could install my phone by the end of the week and provide me with high speed Internet. I signed up immediately, although I was skeptical. A few days later I saw a telephone guy in my yard, he replaced the Network Interface and told me he was doing every house in the neighborhood. Things were looking up.

I was eagerly anticipating a reliable connection to the world. Of course I had my cell phone but it had never worked really well in our area even before the flood. The installation day (a Saturday) came, by this time I had rigged an extension from the trailer to the Network Interface. The day passed without Bellsouth or a dial tone. I called and was informed that they were "waiting on facilities" and they couldn't tell me when my service would be restored.

By now, late December I had phones and an Internet connection at the office, even if we didn't have much furniture. I could at least communicate. I called "my friend in the digital age" and asked if I could get high speed Internet. They weren't sure, their suggestion again was to try it and see if it worked. They offered to replace my flooded equipment. I went down to the Cox headquarters and picked up a new cable modem. Son of a gun it worked, most of the time at least.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Movie Trailers

Travel Trailers keep turning up in movies on TV. I saw this one recently on Turner Classic Movies.

The Lusty Men

An ex-rodeo champ eyes the wife of a rodeo rider he coaches to fame.
  • Susan Hayward
  • Nicholas Ray
  • Robert Mitchum
The main characters live in a trailer as they travel the rodeo circuit. Susan Hayward makes pot roast in the trailer.

Then there is the classic trailer movie;

The Long Long Trailer

Nicky and Tracy are just married. After the two are hitched, they hitch up their trailer and begin their honeymoon. The humor comes from several disastrous adventures the couple has while traveling including Tacy's awkward attempt to cook dinner in a moving trailer, and a cliffhanging ride through the mountains that nearly destroys their marriage.
  • Lucille Ball .... Tacy Bolton - Collini
  • Desi Arnaz .... Nicholas 'Nicky' Collini
  • Marjorie Main .... Mrs. Hittaway
  • Keenan Wynn .... Policeman

Recently I also saw this one. A big portion of the early action takes place in a trailer.

Charley Varrick

Charley Varrick and his friends rob a small town bank. Expecting a small sum to divide amongst themselves, they are surprised to discover a very LARGE amount of money. Quickly figuring out that the money belongs to the MOB, they must now come up with a plan to throw the MOB off their trail.
  • Walter Matthau .... Charley Varrick
  • Joe Don Baker .... Molly
  • Felicia Farr .... Sybil Fort
  • Andrew Robinson .... Harman Sullivan
  • Sheree North .... Jewell Everett
  • Norman Fell .... Mr. Garfinkle
  • Benson Fong .... Honest John
  • Woodrow Parfrey .... Harold Young
  • William Schallert .... Sheriff Bill Horton
  • Jacqueline Scott .... Nadine
Charlie and Nadine live in a trailer. Charlie hopes his big score would be a few thousand dollars. He got $750,000.

Anyone know of any other movies with Trailers in them?

All of the movie descriptions were taken from the Internet Movie Database

Monday, September 04, 2006

Passing for Normal

Part of what I wanted to do when I started this blog is record my recollection of the events following the flood while I still remember them sharply. Likely my memory is not as accurate through the fog of the events and I reserve the right to some dramatic license.

Some of the things I that happened I didn't want to record immediately, things like The Raid. If the porous perimeter had been widely known, likely security would have been tightened.

We were also too preoccupied with stress, and activity to take time to record what was happening as it happened.

I guess I'm proof you can get used to anything, My life is obviously not normal but at present we seem to be settling into something that passes for normal. A routine of abnormal activities like talking daily to insurance adjusters, contractors and generally coping, all the while living in an eight by thirty tin can.

We seemed to have turned a corner lately in our lives. Things are less hectic and less stressful. The recent commemoration of the one year anniversary has lead to personal reflections. I am planing to get back recording my recollections.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Excursion: East Texas

My parents live in East Texas. We usually visit them a few times a year. Since August 29, 2005, we had not be able to visit and they were not able to accommodate us. We decided to make a trip on Memorial Day weekend.

Driving over Saturday morning wasn't too bad, just the same old I-10. One thing I wanted to show Her was the (relatively) new Texas Welcome Station. It's really something.

The whole building is raised on stilts and the rear opens to very nice vistas of the Blue Elbow Swamp wetlands. There is even an elevated walk over the wet lands. We stopped and took a walk around.

Next time you head that way I suggest you stop, take a walk and get a Texas Map and Travel Guide. They're free and well worth the cost.

My parents and I have a somewhat shared experience, hurricane damage. You see they were in the path of Hurricane Rita. Just as I was dealing with my house being flooded they had a pine tree dropped on their house. While we shared the Betsy experience I didn't really get it then but I do now. Luckily, their damage wasn't too bad. They had a some roof damage, a branch poked a hole in their bedroom ceiling.

By Memorial Day it was all fixed and when we got there no damage was evident. The roof had been replaced, the ceiling patched and painted.

We had a nice visit.

Heading back I decided to stop at the Louisiana Welcome Station a pick up a free map and compare travel guides. While She drove I studied the map and noticed a small circle on the map labeled Holly Beach!

More to come ...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fixing the Trailer II.

Last week I returned home to find a "Monthly PM Checklist" stuck in my door. Thats the first one of these I've seen. I guess they finally found me. As usual there was no information on the checklist to identify the company that made the inspection nor any emergency contact number.

My new problem is the roof leaks. Every time we have a hard rain we had a few drops of water coming out of a light fixture. Nothing dramatic, just a few drops, but I was concerned that the light might short out or the leak might get worse.

I decided to call maintenance. I had gotten the number before but lost the note.

I looked on the FEMA website to see if there was a directory for such things. No such luck. I called the FEMA toll free number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to ask for the trailer service number for New Orleans. That lead to a 20 minute phone question and answer session primarily designed to fill out a form on the screen so that my call could be tracked in their system. Why do they need all of that information to answer provide a single phone number which should be public anyway?

Even though I prefaced my with a statement that I was living in a FEMA trailer and needed service. The operator did not immediately offer to give me the FEMA trailer hot line 1-888-294-2822 or ask my zip code which would have identified the correct maintenance contractor as Smith Research Corporation.

Interestingly the Smith Research Corporation website does not have any phone numbers on it. nor can I find any web resource which would allow me or anyone else in Louisiana or New Orleans to figure out the correct number. I did find such a site for Mississippi. You'd think someone would have thought to communicate these things in a way that is easy to find.

Fortunately I had stored it in our office electronic address book. Once I thought to check there I was able to find it and call them at 1-866-476-7329. The sent someone out that afternoon.

The two guys were appropriately concerned and took out the light fixture. They said it was to get a new part, and to show the supervisor the problem. I was told they would call back Monday or Tuesday. No call back.

It rained again a few days later. This time there was a lot more water and it came in through the TV antenna. The TV antenna is a complicated rig. It is on a mast which is raised an lowered by a hand crank and aimed by a locking rotating ring arrangement. It works pretty well, I used it for a while before I got cable TV. It leaked so much the floor was wet and it filled a pair of her shoes, that were unfortunately left right under the crank. I called again. Again they sent two people the same night, arriving at 1:20 AM. Of course they couldn't do anything in the dark. The guys promised to come back at 3:00 PM the next day.

The next day I took off early work so I could be there. They told me some one must be there for them to work on the trailer. I think it's so you can sign the work order for them to get paid. Unfortunately they never came back. The next morning I called again. This time they called back. I was told they would send someone out after five. I left work early to meet them. One guy came out, looked at the situation and caulked some stuff. It seems to work so far.

I'm still waiting for them to replace the light fixture. I made one appointment and they didn't show up. I guess I'll call about that next week. I'm sure it will be the third installment in this saga.