Friday, August 31, 2007

Dumber and Dumberer


“But I am still disappointed that his [Bush’s] country has not stepped forward and helped this community like it should have….”

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm Famous.

I'm Famous, I almost got my name in the paper, the Houston Paper. He spelled it Mom'n'em, but it's a made up word so who can blame him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Graphic by Greg Peters

A Million American Movement

Editor B reports;
A new report estimates that over one million volunteers have come here to help us since Katrina
I'd like to thank each and every one of the personally. I know that most Americans are generous, and compassionate people. Most of us care about others, although we all have different ways of expressing it.

I worry about the lack of civil civic discourse. It seems that discourse has become courser and courser. Insults fly like mosquitoes on a Louisiana bayou, buzzing around without much thought for anything. There is little real debate and even less respect for the views of others. People are called all manner of things usually without the speaker/writer actually having the courage to say it in person.

When I returned to New Orleans the first time a little more than a week after Katrina. I was worried about what I would find. There was still water in the streets around the Superdome. My house still had only three and a half feet of water in it, but I couldn't get to it.

I also found a lot of people already at work cleaning up the city. I found people going out of their way to help each other. Our little mission was accomplished only with the help of a dedicated building engineer who, on his own, returned to begin salvaging his employers property without being told to.

The most moving and encouraging thing I saw on that first trip was on our way out of New Orleans. On the highway there were long lines of military vehicles, power company vehicles and all types of construction equipment heading to New Orleans. It was very moving for me to see all of that effort was being directed to help us.

Later when we were able to get to our house, with the help of friends we were able to find people to help us clean it out. This was during the time we were not even supposed to be in the city. About twice a day police would stop by to see what were were doing. They were not usually NOPD but police from all over the country, occasionally military police, one group was the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service. We offered our food and water to them and thanked them for their help. Neighbors occasionally came by, but not many. The city was still mostly deserted.

During my travels to and from the City in the months after the Airport reopened I always tried to make it a point to find out why my seat mate was traveling to New Orleans. In the early days it was usually to work on the clean up. Most of the people were doing a job, but occasionally it would be a volunteer working for some relief group. It didn't matter, I always thanked them for their help. Eventually the people I met were mostly New Orleanians returning from some exile to begin rebuilding. Finally it more or less returned to normal with mostly business travelers and some tourists.

During our much delayed mayoral election, when I voted early, the person who helped me was from another parish. Her parish was also hard hit by the hurricanes but she came to New Orleans to help us successfully restart our democratic process. I thanked her. I was grateful she cared enough to come and help us.

Finally there were the volunteers, who came by the thousands and are still coming. Many were young men and women from high schools and colleges, often organized by churches sometimes giving up holidays, vacations or even semesters of school to come here and help. They often worked under primative conditions doing dirty jobs that Americans aren't supposed to be willing to do, and they worked for free. To help people.

None of those people had to do this. Some were doing it for money. But anyone who was here in those days knows there must have been an easier way to make a buck. Some were adventurous. All of them at some level were trying to help out people in need.

We need to remember them and thank them whenever we can.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Save the Delta Queen

Final voyage for historic Mississippi riverboat?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Delta Queen, a wooden paddle-wheeler that's carried three presidents and a princess on the Mississippi River, will make her final overnight cruise next year unless the federal government extends her exemption from modern fire codes.

The U.S. House's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has declined to extend the 10-year exemption, citing fears that the ship, which was built in 1926, could become a fire hazard.

"I can't imagine the number of lives that could be lost if a fire started on the Delta Queen when everyone is asleep," said Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the committee.

Under the terms of the 1960 Safety of Lives at Sea Act, ships with more than 50 staterooms must be constructed of inflammable materials.

The Delta Queen, owned by Seattle-based Majestic America Line, accommodates 176 passengers on cruises that include the Mississippi, Ohio and Arkansas rivers. The ship's owners have sought exemption from the rules but this year failed to win one when the congressional committee passed its version of the U.S. Coast Guard Reauthorization Act.

Coast Guard spokesman Angela Hirsch said the maritime safety agency has long been "concerned about the safety implications of a wooden vessel."

Majestic America said it is planning "a proper and well-deserved send-off" for next year's last cruises. The company also operates The Mississippi Queen and the American Queen.

An official history of the Delta Queen says she has carried Presidents Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter and Princess Margaret of Britain. Its famous calliope was salvaged from a sunken showboat.

The Delta Queen was en route from Memphis to Little Rock on a seven-day cruise on Monday. Its final voyage, unless things change, will be an Oct. 31, 2008, trip to New Orleans.

Judging by the reaction of the Owner it looks like they aren't too sad that the Delta Queen is going away. They're selling farewell tours. It's a shame that a National Historic Landmark and a treasure will be lost.

A couple of private groups are working to save her, One is Save the Delta Queen another is

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Major Ommission: Heart Like Water

My previous posts pimping Rising Tide have omitted proper mention of Josh Clark and his book Heart Like Water.

The book seems to be gaining tremendous momentum.

We at Rising Tide are extremely fortunate to have Josh Clark as one of our speakers.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

We're all Beauzeauxs on this Bus.

Today I bought a wine called Beauzeaux in the grocery store. It was cheap ($9.95 a bottle) and the name was fun. The wine wasn't bad and I'll likely buy it again.

The name is pretty obviously a spelling game and the label makes that clear.

The name brought back memories of the Firesign Theater from my college years. I have the vinyl LP of I Think We're all Bozos on This Bus in my Go Mini. It seems to have survived but I can't tell for sure since I no longer have a turnable. I tried to save my Cd's and many were savable but a lot of them weren't.

I doubt many of my Rising Tide compatriots are familiar with Firesign Theater. I am sort of the crabby old man of the group, at least 10 years older than they are.

The wine was a sort of a flashback

Friday, August 17, 2007

What is a Home Worth?

Darren G. Mire
1st M.D.
Claude T. Mauberret
2nd M.D.
Erroll G. Williams
3rd M.D.
Betty Jefferson
4th M.D.
Thomas L. Arnold
5th M.D.
Nancy J. Marshall
6th M.D.
Henry F. Heaton
7th M.D.

Recently the reassessments and the mess at the assessors office have been much in the news.

I've generally lumped the problem into two major groups, those who apparently object to paying their fair share, since they never had to do it before, and serious errors and inequities.

I don't think that any person should be able to evade paying taxes because they say "can't afford it". On the other hand the assessment should be fairly and equitably determined. I heard one person on the radio who admitted to appealing his assessment because all of his neighbors did and he didn't want to pay more than they did. He even admitted he didn't think his assessment was unreasonable. That's squarely in the first group.

Most of my neighbors don't feel their assessments are unreasonable but all are worried that someone else will get their taxes reduced so that they will end up paying a disproportionate share.

As usual I ran some numbers.

Our house has been appraised a number of times. In 1999 when we bought it, in 2001 when we refinanced in 2005 for the Road Home and by the assessor just now. I decided to see if these values were in any way comparable, so I decide to apply the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight Home Price Index (HPI). There are several such indexes but I decided to use this one because it was the one the Road Home uses.

Here are the numbers calculated using the most recent HPI.

Price Appraisal Refinance Road Home Assessment
6/30/99 125.11 $195,000 $205,000

6/30/02 142.56 $222,198 $233,592 $237,000

6/30/05 175.93 $274,209 $288,271 $292,476 $238,000
3/31/07 213.32 $332,486 $349,537 $354,635 $288,581 $317,000

We always felt we got the house for a good price since the seller was "motivated" and the house didn't show well.

One interesting observation is that in the last two years the value of houses in New Orleans has risen 21%. I think Katrina has distorted that by limiting sales to the most desirable houses, although the value of damaged homes sold to speculators should also be included in the index as well.

The conclusions I draw are that;
  1. My assessment is a little below market value, except my house if still gutted and I can't live in it.

  2. The Road Home is incompetent.

  3. The Assessor is incompetent.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Why do we owe this man a living?

Stan "Pampy" Barre, a member of Morial's inner circle who pleaded guilty in January to plotting to skim more than $1 million from a $64 million, 20-year contract for energy management services signed in the last days of Morial's administration in 2002.
Why does he still have any public contracts? Seems to me the first thing to do is void all of his contracts and bar him from ever participating in any public contract ever again. Hopefully that and restitution will be part of his sentence

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rising Tide 2: No Holding Back

New Orleans’ Bloggers to Repeat
Successful Annual Meeting on Recovery

A community of over 100 New Orleans, La.-based bloggers will sponsor Rising Tide 2, the second annual conference to examine the state of post-Katrina/Federal Flood recovery in their native city. The conference will be help Aug. 24-27, 2007. The main conference will take place at the New Orleans Yacht Club, 403 N Roadway St, on Saturday, August 25 with registration starting at 8:30 am.

Featured Speaker will be author and columnist David Zirin, author of Welcome to the Terror Dome. His book of essays on sports and society opens and closes with chapters on the New Orleans Superdome, first as shelter of last resort in August 2005 (the Terrordome of the tile) and again when the New Orleans Saints returned to play their first home game against the backdrop of a city still in ruins a full year later.

The conference will feature discussions on issues of the recovery of New Orleans, including panel discussions on Politics & Corruption, community-led recovery titled Civic is Sexy, a panel of New Orleans writers discussing the flood’s impact on their work.

Featured speakers include Matt McBride, whose blog Fix The Pumps has exposed the continuing failures of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans.

Cost of the day-long conference is $20, and includes lunch from Dunbar’s. Featured speakers will be offering their books for sale. This year the conference will kick-off with a Friday, Aug. 24 screening of Katrina-related short films and videos at Buffa’s Restaurant and Lounge, 1001 Esplanade Ave from 7:30-10:30 pm. Cash bar available.

For more information on the conference or to register, visit or call (866) 910-2055.

Last year’s successful conference featured keynoters Chris Cooper and Robert Block, reporters for the Wall Street Journal and co-authors of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bad Reefer Karma

Ice is nice.
We've just come from a an extended period of bad reefer karma.

Almost 4 weeks ago the reefer in the trailer shutdown for no good reason, well there may have been a reason the GFI also tripped. We almost got there in time. Since we had been out of town for a few days all of the food in the freezer thawed and spoiled but hadn't get gotten disgusting. It made a huge mess. We salvaged the stuff we could and threw to the other stuff.
Cleaning the reefer was an involved affair requiring disinfectant and deodorant. It involved a lot of scrubbing and alternate cycles of running the reefer and allowing it to bake out in the heat of the un-air conditioned trailer.

At about this time the reefer in the Kenner Kondo Krapped out. First it stopped making ice them it stopped making cold. We caught this one in time. We were able to move everything in the freezer to the mother-in-laws spare reefer and the other stuff to our office reefer. Some of the stuff stayed in a cooler on the floor.

Fortunately we had a warranty on the Kondo and called U. A. Durr. They responded immediately, but the repairman couldn't come for 4 days. Unfortunately we discovered that we couldn't meet him. He could not reschedule for the next day, they needed another 7 days. U. A. Durr found another guy.He came exactly one week to the day after we called. During that week I began to imagine how people lived without reefers, but they had ice boxes but the iceman came around and put ice in the box every day. We had to go to the store and buy ice.

The Kondo was diagnosed with a bad compressor. I was floored, although we had purchased the reefer with the Kondo it had only been manufactured in February 2004. In 33 years of marriage we have only owned 3 reefers. One we bought shortly after we were married, one we bought when we moved to our current house 6 years ago and lost in the flood and this one. The First may still be running. We sold it with our house in the Irish Channel. I can't imagine a 3 year old reefer failing.

We reached a settlement with U. A. Durr and went to buy a new reefer. It was just like the one that failed. We got it a Lowe's, because they had the best price and more importantly said they could deliver it the next day. That turned out to be a little optimistic. It actually took 3 days. She had to go there and pay for it and pick up the ice maker kit (by the way ice makers aren't covered by most home warranties).
When they delivered the new reefer they also dented the door. That was easily handled, the guys were supposed to come back the next day and replace the door. That also turned out to be optimistic.

When we called to confirm delivery the next day Lowe's said they couldn't simply send a door, they would have to send a whole new refrigerator. For the next two days we dealt with a succession of Lowe's manager who promised to make the delivery and went off duty without doing anything. Finally the same guy who delivered the reefer showed up with the door in his hands. It was 1 day short of three weeks.

It took me 20 minutes to install the ice maker and 6 hours to make ice. I never enjoyed the hearing the sound of ice falling into the plastic ice tray.
Along the way we had another detour. The first repairman told U. A. Durr the reefer was still under warranty. I called Electrolux, since the reefer was a Frigidaire. They told me the sealed components were still under warranty.
The call center gave me three names to call for Frigidaire service. One told me that they weren't doing any seal component repairs. The other two never returned the calls. After reading the warranty. I determined that the warranty was void by reading it. It is non transferable.