Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What does "mominem" mean in Japanese?

Since I started this blog I have received relatively little spam to my blog email account. I'm actually surprised at that because I have used this email address in a lot of comments on other peoples blogs

The odd thing about the spam I have received is that virtually all of it, to the extent I can tell, is Japanese. The addresses are Japanese, the content is Japanese, usually in Japanese fonts and the names of the senders, to the extent I can read them, are Japanese. Like this sample from;



If the above quote looks like gibberish, you don't have the proper language support installed.

This lead me to the conclusion that "mominem" must mean something in Japanese or be a Japanese name. A few googles turned up nothing. I found mostly references to me, somehow juxtaposed to Japan or Japanese in other peoples blogs. Usually associated with one of my comments.

Got a clue?

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Night the Lights Went Out

I've been in Atlanta for a few days. On Thursday night we went back to the Trailer. When we got there is was dark, not just the sun going down but the trailer lights and the carport automatic lights did not come on.

Not Good. But not that bad. I've had similar problems before with the trailer blowing a breaker or Entergy losing power, although I thought since summer was over that particular problem would subside.

I checked that panel in the trailer the main breaker was tripped. I reset the breaker and still no power.

I checked the panel in the house and all of the breakers were fine. There must be an Entergy outage in the area. I went out and checked around the neighborhood.

I was wrong. The power was out but only in my house. There were circuit breakers blown in the trailer but not in the house.

She called Entergy and they told us they would send someone right out, sometime between 7:30 and 10:40. Yes that accurate 10:40. I have no idea how they arrived a that particular time span.

We decided to go store the groceries we had just bought. Entergy said we didn't need to be there. At about 7:15 She got an automated call on her cell phone saying that the problem had been corrected. We turned around a headed back to the Trailer.

When we got there still no power. I checked and Entergy had indeed been there. They removed the seal from the meter but had not done anything else. We called Entergy again. Again they said they would send someone out before 10:40. I decided to stay and if necessary spend the night as we could not be sure what Entergy would need when they came back out.

She decided to wait for a while and see what happened. About 15 minutes later another Entergy guy showed up in a bucket truck. That seemed a little odd as our electric service is underground.

It took him about 15 minutes to determine that all of the wires from the manhole in the sidewalk to the house were dead. He tried several ways to get the service back up but it was useless. He offered to have another larger crew come out and see if they could replace the wire or rig a temporary supply that night, but he said he it would be late, very late and he wasn't sure they could really do anything anyway. He suggested we go stay somewhere else, if we could.

She could go to her mothers I was considering staying in the trailer anyway, it was cool and I didn't need electricity to sleep. Eventually I realized that I did need electricity for hot water so I went with her.

The next morning I dropped her off at work and headed to the house. Entergy was there setting up when I got there. Two guys gave me a run down on what they were going to do and the possible things they could do to get us back up. They also said they might not be able to fix it.

I went about some chores I had to do and let them work. In a little while they came and told me it was no good. There was a short in the underground cable either under the house or under the driveway. I would need to get an electrician to replace the service.

They gave me their numbers and told me since I was living they they would put me at the top of the list as soon as I was ready and they would come and hook me up.

Great. I am now trailerless.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Excursion: Cameron Parish

After visiting my parents over Memorial Day we headed home. On the way back we stopped at the Louisiana Welcome Center to pick up a current Louisiana state road map and a Tourist Guide. The Tourist Guide was not worth the gas to haul it to New Orleans. The road map was interesting and seemed to have been updated since Katrina/Rita, showing road closures.

As I have written we had begun looking for weekend escapes. A couple of years ago we had spent a pleasurable night a Madewood Plantation. Madewood is an interesting place located on the bayou and offers a interesting take on a Bed and Breakfast. They include dinner and cocktails in the bed and breakfast. We met several interesting people and had a very nice dinner. It was great. I was looking for similar opportunities.

As She drove back I studied the map and guide book looking for interesting possibilities. As I stared at the map, a new name jumped out at me, Holly Beach. Beach. I never associated beach with Louisiana, although I am ignorant of Southwest Louisiana. The possibilities made my head swim.

After reaching home I began to obsess over the possibilities. I searched the Internet and discovered that on the Southwest Louisiana coast is a virtually virgin beach with incredible natural beauty.

Oil Exploration in the Marsh.

I began to plan an Excursion. The areas had been rural to begin with and had been devastated by Hurricane Rita. Eventually I determined that the most scenic route would be through the I-49 Corridor to Abbeville. With a day trip along The Creole Nature Trail to the coast and back to Lake Charles. The final leg was a straight shot on I-10 back to New Orleans.

In June we embarked on the Excursion.

The trip through Southwest Louisiana revealed incredible natural beauty, with natural swamps, marshes and occasional wooded islands.

Marsh along the Creole Trail

We "discovered" a bed and breakfast in the charming town of Abbeville. The house is a charming Victorian cottage which would be right at home in many areas of New Orleans. The best thing about Abbeville is that there are several old, excellent seafood restaurants.

Abbeville, Louisiana home of the "Blob".

We chose Dupuy's Oyster Shop. Dupuy's claims to be the oldest oyster restaurant. It was established in the mid-nineteenth century. Unfortunately we visited in June. Dupuy's adheres to the age old rule, no oysters in months with no "R". Fortunately they fry everything else just as well.

Dupuy's Oyster Shop

Heading south from Abbeville generally along the Creole Nature Trail again through the incredible natural beauty of coastal Louisiana. As we progressed we saw increasing signs of the devastation of Hurricane Rita. Usually the damage was isolated as were many of the structures. the impact of Rita became clear when we passed through Grand Chenier, which was simply wiped off the map. The piles of debris had been largely removed by the time we visited. Non the less we passed many many vehicles washed far into the marsh or former building sites which were now mere slabs or bare spots in the dirt.

Grand Chenier

As we headed further on toward the areas of Oak Grove and Creole, the story remained the same. Natural beauty punctuated by brief intervals of nearly total devastation.

As we approached Cameron the scene began to change. The industrial areas became for frequent the damage became less complete. Most of the industrial installations appeared to have survived quite well. There was evidence of damage but it was limited and there were signs of repair.

Cypress Swamp

Not knowing what to expect we had planned to fill up in Abbeville and carry our own food an water with us. We weren't sure we could buy food fuel or water in south Cameron. We were too conservative. We could have gotten gas in a number of places and although no restaurants appeared to be operating we could have gotten something to eat. In any event after a full breakfast our precautions were excessive.

Fishing Boats at Cameron.

At Cameron we crossed the ferry and continued along the coast road. We were soon on the beach and it is a magnificent scenic vista. The beach is virtually undeveloped with a long slope and gentle surf. The sand is hard an easy to drive on.

Holly Beach, post-Rita

The first area of development we encountered was Holly Beach. the same name on the map which had excited this Excursion. It no longer existed. I had seen pre-Rite areal photos of Holly Beach which showed neat rows of small beach cottages. They were all gone. Nothing more than sand was left.

There are several other beach communities along the Louisiana Coast which were almost as devastated. Here and there individual structures remained. Some damaged some almost pristine. The condition of the structures correlated to two factors, age and location. These two factors seemed to coincide. the newest structures seemed to be both better constructed and further West.

The Drive By complete we headed to our accommodation's for the night. We were unable to find accommodation's we liked. Instead we ended up at L'Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles.

L'Auberge du Lac

I'm sorry I just don't get Las Vegas and I certainly don't get faux Vegas. For a while I enjoyed going to Beau Rivage, which offered an enjoyable experience. Vegas and its mini-me clones don't offer anything to me except a false experience of pseudo opulence and pseudo hedonism. But then I think gambling is fairly uninteresting and relatively dull pastime.

After spending a lot of money on a ho hum room and a couple of mediocre meals we checked out and headed home.

Friday, October 20, 2006

RFI - Road Home Program

Michael Homan (better known as Kalypso's dad) has recently posted some information about his Road Home Grant. The numbers doesn't seem to add up, based on my understanding of the Road Home Program. I posted my initial comments on his blog.

I've been looking for a source of the actual grant calculations.

Did they explain the calculation?

I was looking at your numbers and no combination I can see gives the result you reported.

I understand (but am not certain) that the grant is based on the lesser of the damage or the decrease in value, minus insurance and FEMA grants.

If you use their pre-K value ($146,154.00) and deduct the insurance they list ($77,036.67) you get $69,117,33.

That means they have valued your home at $5,000.33.

Got any ideas how the did their math?

For a while I have been looking for information on the Road Home Program but little detailed information seems to be available.

I'd like to ask bloggers or anyone else out there to post of email me any information you may have, especially actual examples. I know there have been relatively few, so I don't expect much, at least no right away.

As information becomes available I'll post information, conclusions and speculation about how it works.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Comment Policy

I have recently been taken to task by one of my fellow bloggers over a perceived capricious rejection of comments here.

That comment was mistaken. I invite and relish respectful discourse on the topics I post on. I welcome dissent. I welcome principled debate.

Some have suggested that blogs are an open forum. I disagree with that, blogs are the province of their creator, for better of ill. The creator is responsible for the blog in total including the tone and policies. The policies should however be made clear the readers and especially the commenters.

My rejection of comments here is not capricious, I read and consider all comments before allowing them. I have only rejected a few comments. Fortunately that is easy because not many people leave comments because not that many people visit my site.

Of the few comments I have rejected, one I considered spam and the rest were obviously duplicates. In at least one case I went to considerable effort to recover a comment I had erroneously deleted.

I do demand decorum and respectful language. Ad hominem attacks will be deleted. Some may disagree with my position and limits. That is their right and I respect that, but elsewhere.

I will endeavor to inform individuals of the reasons for deletions, if their comments allow me to email them. If anyone posts anonymously and their comment does not show up in a couple of days, I invite them to email me, my email is in my profile.

I also comment on an number of blogs. Mostly those listed in the New Orleans Blog Roll. In a number of recent cases I have left an on topic comment which have not shown up on the blog. I wonder why. It may well be technical difficulties of the kind I experienced that caused someone to question my posting policy.

I invite anyone who has a problem with any of my posts to contact me and explain why they have a problem. My email address is posted in my profile. I will endeavor to reciprocate.

I also invite anyone who reads this to comment on the comment policy either here or elsewhere.

Monday, October 16, 2006

They Say It's Your Birthday

Notable birthdays today

October 16, 1958 Tim Robbins

October 16, 1947 Bob Weir

October 16, 1946 Suzanne Somers

October 16, 1925 Angela Lansbury

October 16, 1898 William O Douglas

October 16, 1854 Oscar Wilde

It's My Birthday Too,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Head'em up, Move'em out

I've written before that my neighbor has been trying to get rid of his unused FEMA trailer for months. It's gone. It disappeared over the weekend. I hope FEMA came and got it and it wasn't stolen.

The odd thing is I didn't notice it was gone immediately. I noticed on the way out Sunday but I didn't notice it on the way in or out Saturday, any of several times. It couldn't have disappeared while we slept. You'd think I would have noticed something that big missing.

This is doubly odd because on the way home Saturday afternoon I saw a crew moving a trailer out down the street.

That's at least two less trailers in the neighborhood.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Oompah - Oktoberfest

Last Friday She and I went to Oktoberfest at Deutsches Haus on Galvez. We went early. We wanted to be home early, so we went directly from the office in the CBD. We got there about 5:30, just as people were beginning to arrive.

It was a beautiful evening with just a hint of Oktober in the air. We have a friend who is very active in Deutsches Haus, exactly what she does I don't know except that she dressed like the fabled farmers daughter and poured beer. She told us they had tried to have 40 different German Beers this year but unfortunately some had not yet arrived. They also have a nice selection of German wines.

I was amazed at how much the members accomplished getting the Haus back in order for Oktoberfest. They still have a lot of work to do but that is mostly up stairs. In years past we have stopped off several evenings if only to have dinner. This year we will probably only be able to go once.

The food starts at 6:00 and this year they were serving diner plates consisting of a main course, (pork loin or cabbage roll) a sausage (bratwurst or knackwurst) and the choice of 2 vegetables (sauerkraut, red cabbage, potato salad or mashed potatoes with gravy). $10.00 per plate. For $20 you can have one of each, which is what we did. In addition to the main serving lines inside there was the pretzel stand outside with was serving fresh pretzels and sausage. I think knackwurst and weisswurst on buns but probably some other things. We had some of that too.

As usual one of the fun parts of Oktoberfest is sitting a a long table with lots of interesting people. This year was no exception. We met some new people and their families, unfortunately we'll probably not see them again until next year.

The usual German band music played all evening. Finally we decided we had had enough about 8:00 and started out. By then the place was packed. People were jammed in. It was far more crowded than I remembered in past years, although part of the beer hall hasn't opened yet. That may have had something to do with it.

They seem to have cut back the chicken dancing. The first one started as we were leaving, which I thought was a shame. I always like to watch the little kids chicken dance and it was getting a little late and a little crowded for them by then.

Oktoberfest continues for the next three weekends. Friday and Saturday until October 28.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Trailer Tweaks

Living in the trailer means we have to enjoy the simple pleasures we can.

One of the first things I did, After spending a couple of night on a soft foam mattress with a hard plywood under it. Was to install a thermal foam mattress cover. It really make the bed tolerable. It wasn't that expensive and I'll probably move it back into the house when we're done.

While cleaning out the house we discovered we had bought a set of Noritaki china. We had bought it for an aborted Florida condo and stored it away, high in a closet. Using real china makes dinner a little special, even if you do have to wash it by hand.

One of the most important is the salvaged Baccarat Dom Perignon crystal champagne flutes, for Her Favorite Beverage. The box didn't survive but the flutes did. We use them every time we celebrate being together. They were a gift for for serving on the board of a professional organization. They were very kind to include two and make mention of me when they were presented.

Every time we take them out we toast our future. We take them out often.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I think I figured C. Ray out.

Bear with me on this it will take a while and some 'splaining.

Ray Nagin operates the way he does because his understanding of business is from his experience in the cable industry. He was successful in the cable industry largely because he was from New Orleans.

I have over the last dozen years observed cable operators (not Cox) from the inside. It's a very interesting culture. We are in the first generation of the cable business, it really started big time in the eighties. For some reason, now lost in the mists of my memory, there was a stampede to cable the country. The land rush resulted in lots of small entrepreneurs competing for cable franchises in lots of different jurisdictions. The local jurisdictions held all of the cards, they owned the rights of way the companies needed to string wire.

The Cable Cowboys were as wild a group of gamblers as any oil patch wildcatter ever imagined. They were wheeler dealers and they made offers which any sane person would never believe. Of course these offers were made to public officials who almost certainly didn't believe them but calculated "what's in it for me?"

Over time many of the people have cashed out and moved on, leaving the survivors. The survivors are not necessarily the profile you would expect. Often in the early days people were hired not for their demonstrated ability but for their local connections. The result is not a typical business "old boys club" but a close knit group of ambitious, capable survivors. They were often pitted against groups from other industries as the industry consolidated. USWest and ATT both bought into the cable business and infused their telco employees into existing operations, setting off "culture wars" which see sawed back and forth through through the financial and corporate cycles.

Cable companies largely viewed the governments they deal with as their customer and their subscribers as a source of income. This view is reinforced by their customer contacts. Happy customers merely send in their money. Irate customers show up at corporate headquarters and take their clothes off in the lobby, if they don't see someone in charge. That's a true story. I've almost been there myself at times.

Perhaps you've noticed the corporate office does not contain a "customer service center". Cox recently moved the one in their Airline Highway offices to a store front on Williams Boulevard.

I remember when Al Copeland owned Popeye's he required every corporate employee to work one or two days a year in a Popeye's store. I wonder if Cox does that?

As a result of all of the changes, swaps, consolidations and movement in the industry, every one knows everyone else and they all have their favorites. They also know they might be out next week, next month or next year. Personal relationships are important. It's how the cable industry functions.

Let me digress again.

I began to think of this recently because I was helping set up an new residence for a displaced citizen who is trying to rebuild her house. She bought a condo in Kenner in the interim. In a single day she switched the electricity and turned the phone on. I called Cox.

In spite of her status as a long time premium customer, Cox had no corporate memory, unlike Entergy or BellSouth. The Applications Department had to call back and schedule Installation. Installation was scheduled for three weeks in the future. There was a "COD" charge of almost $150. It wasn't really "Collect On Delivery" but a prepayment. The nice young lady I spoke to confided "they just call it that". It was due before the order would even be entered. Making the payment required giving Cox a credit card or back account number over the phone or visiting one of their "customer service centers". I don't know about you but I am reluctant to divulge that information to anyone. A quick visit to a "customer service center" required signing in sheet and a gatekeeper (guard?). There were many rows of cheap chairs. A review of the sign in sheet revealed a wait of at least forty five minutes.

Having made the "COD" payment and scheduled the install, I imprudently volunteered to wait of the cable guy and set up the wireless Internet. I called the day before to confirm the 'work order' and get a confirmation on the time. A perfectly nice fellow told me it would be between 10 AM and 12 PM. He also told me that if I hadn't heard for the Installer by 10:30 or 11:00 I should call and they would page the Installer. At 11:30 I called Cox. Another very nice person, this time a lady, told me no time was noted on the work order, it could be any time that day. She also informed me that the Installer would call twice and if no one answered, they would skip the install. This was totally new news. No one had ever said you had to wait by the phone for the Installer to call. I wondered if the Installer had already called and I missed it. Fortunately the Installer showed up (without calling even once) and did his thing. He was a personable and competent fellow who performed his job in about half an hour.

The Installer told me he was in New Orleans from Birmingham, helping Cox 'catch up'. He also told me he was staying in a hotel that had no elevators. He was staying on the seventh floor and had to walk up and down several times recently. In one case because the hotel had to move him because his plumbing was broken. That only took 4 trips up or down.

Are you detecting a familiar pattern here?

This is almost exactly how the City of New Orleans treats its citizens, except the Cox people were generally politer and at least attempting to be helpful. It is how New Orleans has always treated its citizens. What Ray learned here, the cable business did little to change. He learned to manage in the cable business based very largely on personal relationships, exactly like New Orleans.

The jump from business to politics was not that great.

I've often wondered what Ray did for Cox before he came here to fix their problems. I've often suspected Cox viewed their problem as a regulatory/governmental problem and sent a "government relations expert" to solve it. I really don't know and my feeble attempts to find out have been unsuccessful.

I don't know if this is right but its probably as good as any theory.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cold and Damp

With the recent cooler weather, I recall last fall and winter when I first started living in a trailer.

We were in the midst of a severe drought, unless you were living in a trailer.

Travel trailers are designed to be sealed up for storage an travel. They are also designed to minimize the enclosed volume. This means moisture does not escape from a trailer and there is a limited ability for the trailer to absorb additional moisture. Left closed up even in moderate to cool outside temperatures moisture accumulates in a trailer much more than in a house.

Moisture is generated from cooking both by water vapor from the food and water vapor formed by the combustion of propane. Moisture is obviously introduced by washing and bathing. Just sitting around people give off moisture in their breath. I could tell the difference in the interior environment when She was there. The moisture released by two people results in an entirely different feel.

In a house this does not matter because the amount of moisture is a relatively small compared to the volume of the house. In an old house in New Orleans you can barely keep the heat in. You can often feel the wind blowing through the house. At least I could in the camel back we lived in uptown.

The only solution is to actively operate the trailer in response to the weather and use. You can run the air conditioning all the time to keep the interior dehumidified. That's pretty much what we did all summer. Last fall I opened the trailer doors, windows and hatches up to allow the moisture to escape. It worked pretty well as long as temperatures were moderate and humidity was low. It doesn't work well when temperature are low or humidity is high.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I'm at my mominems

To those who have commented recently about not seeing their posts promptly or suggesting I had rejected comments. The place I've been staying has limited connectivity. I haven't been able to check my email for comments as often as I usually do. I have rejected duplicates, but no other comments.

I'll be back in the Trailer soon.