25 December 2006

Having a Merry X-mas?

"Any idiot can learn to juggle chain-saws. It's the day-by-day, balloon-animal making that wears you down."

-Anton the Clown




21 December 2006

Working too hard on finals? Maybe it's time to take a break.

TakeABreak

How long?

RiceBush.jpg,

This much longer until the war with Iraq is won! (of the size of Dubba's whatsit).

Feeling a zen moment after finishing my last final for the semester:ZenCrossword.gif

My next paper will be about the Drug War - Spinach.jpg

But I can't ride my motorcycle as much if it keeps raining!

Hangup_3.gifwoman_driver_02.jpg

Though I've been thinking of upgrading to something that would fit in a little better for the trips home to Sonoma:



Well, if I have to stay indoors, at least I'll have more time to "mod" my OC'd computer:

FixedComputer.jpg
Maybe not, you know how I get when I drink:
Sons_10.jpg

I just remembered the first time I got drunk (Calculus part in high school at Mehgan's house, good times) ... I think Travis White put my head inside a Bushc box (maybe it was Jon K and Natural Ice though):



These are just cute:
yet_more_cute_36.jpgyet_more_cute_43.jpgyet_more_cute_46.jpgporcupine_babies.jpg
Quarterhorse.gif


animals_11.jpg
animals_13.jpg

20 December 2006

18 December 2006

Are you getting enough spam?

Turns out I'm getting 72.1% spam (unsolicited emails) on my berkeley.edu account. The tech guys at work said they've noticed an up-tick in spam for everyone, so did their spam killing service provider.

Using a new program to deal with it called Popfile, here are my statistics:

The program reports that it has been correctly classifying spam almost 99% of the time (when it's wrong, 6 out of 520 times, I just "reclassify" the email and it adapts).

Anyone else noticed that they're getting more spam? What anti-spam program/service do you use?

Where does UncleZeb go with online free time?

In no particular order, these are some good time killing sites:
Digg (social news site)
Boingboing (interesting stuff blog)
Dailykos (political blog)
Fatwallet or slickdeals (deal websites)
Engadget (Electronics and tech blog)

Where do my friends go to waste time? (fixedgear.com, eh?) Post your time killing sites in the comments.

30 November 2006

Naked man smokes crack and gets attacked by an 11-foot aligator.

This is better than having pillows shaped like anti-depressants, well, at least it made me giggle.
This morning in Florida, a large alligator tried to eat a naked gentleman who was smoking crack.

[Adrian J.] Apgar, 45, of Polk City, suffered a broken arm, partially amputated left arm and trauma to his left leg.

The alligator had the man in his jaws when deputies arrived at Lake Parker in Lakeland about 4 a.m. today. They were called by nearby residents who reported hearing a man yelling for help.

The full story here.

powered by performancing firefox

Live action video game with Hamster - Kubbur on the run!

Staring Kubbur the Cool apparently.


So this is mild animal cruelty or just too much time on you hands?

03 November 2006

25 October 2006

Why does orange juice taste so bad after brushing your teeth?

My mom's a dental hygenist and I've always wondered, seems that now there's an answer to this age old question:

"a certain ingredient in toothpaste called sodium laurel sulfate. It actually blocks sweet sensors. All the other taste bud cells in your mouth are firing away nicely, but the receptors which pick up the sweet sensors are not working anymore. Not only does it block the sweet sensors, it enhances the sour and bitter, so you get this massive influx of sour and bitter taste coming through the mouth."

Also, only some people smell that funky asparagus pee scent:

NLG Annual conference in Austin - giving 'til it hurts

The National Lawyers Guild "Law for the People 2006" convention was held in Austin this past weekend.

The panels were uniformly GREAT (I laughed, I cried, I gave a power point presentation). The issues were broad from Katrina to immigration, from Loan Repayment Assistance Programs to ending prisoner rape.

We gave $50 from the Boalt Chapter on behalf of John Yoo =)

There was plenty of fun and socializing at night (Austin has great music, but they also have cheap beer ... new favorite: Loan Star, yip!).




Roger Toussaint,
2006 Law for the People Honoree



Rudy's BBQ was also my favorite chow spot ... dirty enough to be authentic, there was a mangy but happy cat watching us eat and some strange looking grackles watching the cat. Plus there's a toy store and coffe shop near by.


See you all at Shaking the Foundations this Friday and Saturday, October 27th and 28th. Lakoff and more! (thanks to the firm to my registration)

22 October 2006

How to engines work (or where's all that gas going)?

How to engines work? Hard to explain to kids or non-pyro-engineers. This video has a very simple explaination ... air plus fire:




11 September 2006

Plainitff side law firms in the Bay Area

Something I put together:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=p1suH5w6dNJzTGbhuPcYuGw

11 June 2006

Calorie counter search bar

Here's a search bar for any food's nutritional info:



The Hacker's Diet ... a sign of desparation

Well, I'm going to give this weight loss thing a try. The strategy is pretty much in The Hacker's Diet and I'll be keeping track on http://blog.physicsdiet.com. Already bought most the food I'll need, loading up on water, and not eating late. We'll have to wait and see. Hoping to lose 30lbs over the next 10 weeks.

05 June 2006

Plaintiff's unite!

Well, after taxes my friends will be taking home about $1650 from their big corporate defense firm jobs this summer (that's a raw $2400/week, some are making more like $2500). This translates into about $17,000 over the summer, enough to pay for, well, the better part of tuition at Boalt (which is about $25,000/year plus and *estimated* $17,000 in living expenses, though the frugal can make due on MUCH less).

My friends at non-profit or public sector jobs all get $4,000 for the summer (untaxed Boalt Hall Grant) or more if they got other grants like the OC Scholarship available to more students this year than ever!

And for the plantiffs? It varies, let's use a hypothetical firm in Oakland, Ca. Salery is $30/hour for a 35-40 hour work week ... though time and a half at 41+ hours is $45. So a 50 hour week nets $1,650 or about $1,122/week (11,220 over the summer). There are no hot air balloon rides, but there are plenty of tickets to baseball and basketball games as well as free massage, cake every other week, and moral standing on the side of workers rather than corporations. Plus, we don't need to dress up if we don't want!

Just crunching numbers

13 February 2006

Cheney shot a guy ... here he is with me at a press conference about it

Elections coming up ... give some time and money! (plus my roommate got mugged!)

I have a hard time figuring out national politics, California seems to be fine when it comes to most Senate and Congressional seats, but other areas can use what help you can give (so far I'm in for $50 but when you add the interest I'll be paying on my student loans over the next 30 years it more like $75).

If you are thinking about pissing on Bush's parade in 2006 then give to some of the folks picked out by the researchers at ActBlue.com. Here's the list:

HERE'S THE LIST (CLICK HERE)

I've been to Florida for Get Out the Vote, I've walked door to door more than I care to talk about, and I've given money even though I owe $55,000. If you can skip a coffee or a new sweater that, let's be honest, you're not going to wear, then give a couple bucks to these pretty freakin' good candidates (and show the DLC corporate democrats that we need a real party, not any more Joe "Bush gave me a kiss" Liebermans!

---------------------------

An unrelated story, my roommate told my landlord that he was mugged/attacked by the mafia ... but he told a friend that he just left his wallet and phone in some random guy's truck after getting a ride home from him. He even told the Landlord to "look out for people walking by the house ... do you know if the mafia's strong in Berkeley?" He says he's moving to SF soon ...

Elections coming up ... give some time and money! (plus my roommate got mugged!)

I have a hard time figuring out national politics, California seems to be fine when it comes to most Senate and Congressional seats, but other areas can use what help you can give (so far I'm in for $50 but when you add the interest I'll be paying on my student loans over the next 30 years it more like $75).

If you are thinking about pissing on Bush's parade in 2006 then give to some of the folks picked out by the researchers at ActBlue.com. Here's the list:

HERE'S THE LIST (CLICK HERE)

I've been to Florida for Get Out the Vote, I've walked door to door more than I care to talk about, and I've given money even though I owe $55,000. If you can skip a coffee or a new sweater that, let's be honest, you're not going to wear, then give a couple bucks to these pretty freakin' good candidates (and show the DLC corporate democrats that we need a real party, not any more Joe "Bush gave me a kiss" Liebermans!

---------------------------

An unrelated story, my roommate told my landlord that he was mugged/attacked by the mafia ... but he told a friend that he just left his wallet and phone in some random guy's truck after getting a ride home from him. He even told the Landlord to "look out for people walking by the house ... do you know if the mafia's strong in Berkeley?" He says he's moving to SF soon ...

05 January 2006

New Orleans - Day 10 - Mark Knopfler, high and dry, closing the trip up soon

Well, our time approaches an end here in NO, we’re finalizing the projects we’re working on right now, making last calls and saying good byes. The pressure to finish up is building a little and we’re spending more time in the office and tying up loose ends. A morning of phone calls ended with helping Bernadette move some boxes from her office in Tulane (she was a prof. there last year but came back to NOLAC after the hurricane (she also ran for judge once and is on a governor’s board, and, well, she’s awesome). Tulane’s campus was great, the new building at least. The staff all were sad to see her go, they all basically asked the same questions after saying hello, “how’s your house, high and dry? Get the insurance payment yet? Moved?” She also is going to give me some Dylan and Mark Knopfler.

After work we all made our way down the Jay’s house near Frenchmen and Burgundy to a great dinner (someone mentioned that it felt like a “firm dinner” (but without the guilt) that he forced his way into paying for (but said we could leave a big tip after much resistance). He and Linton were great to us and their beautiful house was an experience in itself (he says look to a book by Charolette Seidenberg’s The New Orleans Garden: Gardening in the Gulf South if you’re interested). He keeps some stray cats from the hurricane and let a homeless local stay at his place during the hurricane, great guy, made the trip better for everyone, thanks Jay!

After dinner, which included some Spanish wine, we walked down Frenchmen and took in some jazz and local brews. A long walk across the French Quarter summed up our final night in NO.

I’ll miss the attorneys at NOLAC, the adorable dogs that people had taken up after the storm, the lecherous 40 something white guys wandering the streets, refrigerators with tags as profound as their smells, the mold, Arlo Guthrie, and the incredible students who shared this with me (special thanks to Jen and Janelle for shouldering so much of the organizing). But there’s another day of work to be done before returning for motorcycle safety training, my only Sunday off, then school’s dreaded return on Monday the 9th. The only thing I regret about this trip is being away from Megan for so long. But as we plan for another team to return this summer I know that all the single Boalties have nothing to worry about when the arrive here except that they may enjoy the food, work, and city a little too much—and that would be just fine in New Orleans.

New Orleans - Day 10 - Mark Knopfler, high and dry, closing the trip up soon

Well, our time approaches an end here in NO, were finalizing the projects were working on right now, making last calls and saying good byes. The pressure to finish up is building a little and were spending more time in the office and tying up loose ends. A morning of phone calls ended with helping Bernadette move some boxes from her office in Tulane (she was a prof. there last year but came back to NOLAC after the hurricane (she also ran for judge once and is on a governors board, and, well, shes awesome). Tulanes campus was great, the new building at least. The staff all were sad to see her go, they all basically asked the same questions after saying hello, hows your house, high and dry? Get the insurance payment yet? Moved? She also is going to give me some Dylan and Mark Knopfler.

After work we all made our way down the Jays house near Frenchmen and Burgundy to a great dinner (someone mentioned that it felt like a firm dinner (but without the guilt) that he forced his way into paying for (but said we could leave a big tip after much resistance). He and Linton were great to us and their beautiful house was an experience in itself (he says look to a book by Charolette Seidenbergs The New Orleans Garden: Gardening in the Gulf South if youre interested). He keeps some stray cats from the hurricane and let a homeless local stay at his place during the hurricane, great guy, made the trip better for everyone, thanks Jay!

After dinner, which included some Spanish wine, we walked down Frenchmen and took in some jazz and local brews. A long walk across the French Quarter summed up our final night in NO.

Ill miss the attorneys at NOLAC, the adorable dogs that people had taken up after the storm, the lecherous 40 something white guys wandering the streets, refrigerators with tags as profound as their smells, the mold, Arlo Guthrie, and the incredible students who shared this with me (special thanks to Jen and Janelle for shouldering so much of the organizing). But theres another day of work to be done before returning for motorcycle safety training, my only Sunday off, then schools dreaded return on Monday the 9th. The only thing I regret about this trip is being away from Megan for so long. But as we plan for another team to return this summer I know that all the single Boalties have nothing to worry about when the arrive here except that they may enjoy the food, work, and city a little too muchand that would be just fine in New Orleans.

04 January 2006

New Orleans - Day 9 - Rose Bowl, Misinformed about miners, Alice in Wonderland

Today was as normal as it gets around here. Breakfast consisted of more coffee or tea and less grits (sorry Dixie Gyro), but lunch as gotten even better with Steve's (yes, two days in a row - today was roasted chicken and Mac 'n' cheese, so good I wanted to take it home to my parents just to prove it to them but decided it was probably not a good idea since it may interest the bomb sniffing dogs which would be a bit much after waiting 10 minutes for them to wipe some tissue to look for chemicals or something). I finished some work for Mark, took on some calls for a returned attorney, Doug Carey, great guy though he won't let me call him Dougie. Some law firms in Los Angeles sent over some clothing from the lawyers who lost their business clothing in the storm, fun to watch them pick through it, wonder what the orange shoes are for, could get interesting with the cherry red blazer.

Some other students from the Law Student Hurricane Action Network (gosh, I'm sure I got the name wrong, but you get the gist of it) are huddled in the library, seem to be a few from Columbia, one working the summer at the same firm as one of our team (Wilmer I think). They're in the office for three days, two days at a disaster relief site. They were jealous of our accommodations at the Marriott Renaissance, yet more proof that Boalt beats Columbia in the rankings in spite of what some putz at US News thinks.

The night was spent in the French Quarter looking for knick-knacks to give friends and family then puttering around near Jackson Square staring at some crazy Calico cat sitting in a tree staring back at us. At the hotel we ate Dominos (yeah, it was late and we were lazy and cheap, okay?) while watching the Rose Bowl. I fell asleep before USC lost, but I wasn't as excited as I thought I'd be watching two teams I wanted to lose (sorry USC friends). After calling Megan to check in on her second day of teaching her own classroom (much better today!) I passed out, it's been a long week and that pizza probably had something in it (l-tryptophan is in cheese isn't? Yumm ... cheese Gromit!).

New Orleans - Day 9 - Rose Bowl, Misinformed about miners, Alice in Wonderland

Today was as normal as it gets around here. Breakfast consisted of more coffee or tea and less grits (sorry Dixie Gyro), but lunch as gotten even better with Steve's (yes, two days in a row - today was roasted chicken and Mac 'n' cheese, so good I wanted to take it home to my parents just to prove it to them but decided it was probably not a good idea since it may interest the bomb sniffing dogs which would be a bit much after waiting 10 minutes for them to wipe some tissue to look for chemicals or something). I finished some work for Mark, took on some calls for a returned attorney, Doug Carey, great guy though he won't let me call him Dougie. Some law firms in Los Angeles sent over some clothing from the lawyers who lost their business clothing in the storm, fun to watch them pick through it, wonder what the orange shoes are for, could get interesting with the cherry red blazer.

Some other students from the Law Student Hurricane Action Network (gosh, I'm sure I got the name wrong, but you get the gist of it) are huddled in the library, seem to be a few from Columbia, one working the summer at the same firm as one of our team (Wilmer I think). They're in the office for three days, two days at a disaster relief site. They were jealous of our accommodations at the Marriott Renaissance, yet more proof that Boalt beats Columbia in the rankings in spite of what some putz at US News thinks.

The night was spent in the French Quarter looking for knick-knacks to give friends and family then puttering around near Jackson Square staring at some crazy Calico cat sitting in a tree staring back at us. At the hotel we ate Dominos (yeah, it was late and we were lazy and cheap, okay?) while watching the Rose Bowl. I fell asleep before USC lost, but I wasn't as excited as I thought I'd be watching two teams I wanted to lose (sorry USC friends). After calling Megan to check in on her second day of teaching her own classroom (much better today!) I passed out, it's been a long week and that pizza probably had something in it (l-tryptophan is in cheese isn't? Yumm ... cheese Gromit!)

03 January 2006

New Orleans – Day 8 – Mark returns with work for Abe, visiting the courts, African food

After an earlier start then usual at Dixie Gyro (pronounced Yee-roe I’m told) of grits and toast (Atkins friendly as usual) we arrived at work to find more attorneys returned to the office, so many that we lost our exclusive offices and some of us migrated to the “clerks office” (my office got a couple more occupants today, but the attorney—some kind of litigation supervisor—has not returned yet). We checked in with our supervisor Bernadette and met Mark the executive director then handed out assignments for the remaining days. I finished off a memo for Mark on possibly inadequate notice to a client whose house was taken by the city after they sent notice of the seizure to a vacant lot rather than to the client then I’m supposed to write a brief on a similar topic. We went to Steve’s dinner for lunch, actually more of a Taco Truck (they call them Marti Gras trucks here) driven into the side of a building and serving a limited menu until their actually ‘dinner’ is gutted and cleaned up. I cannot recommend this place enough for anyone who makes their way to New Orleans … it’s a couple blocks from the main road down the French Quarter (where Bourbon st. and Canal st. intersect), easily the best NO food I’ve had since arriving, reminded me of what my step-mother’s cooking would be like if she were actually a southern native with a big family to feed (that means it was really good!).

After lunch we filed a suit in Civil Court which is actually just a few blocks from our office, great building even with some of the windows and lettering broken from the winds. Tomorrow’s the last day for filing these suits after the few month extension that was granted after the hurricane, we saw a story on it later tonight (“hey, we were there today, we were there!”). Afterwards we walked (yeah, no cars required … bad reference to no batteries required, anybody?) to the 4th district court house which is new and really gorgeous. It’s also the house of the state Supreme Court I believe, right in the middle of the French Quarter.

The clerks were frustrated but not too overcrowded. Normally what happens next is the opposing party (the ones who didn’t turn in papers yet) go to the court, look at the papers and the arguments they contain, then write a response that’s due maybe a week later, just a little while before the “hearing date” where they actually go to court. This way everyone knows what the arguments are and has their best responses and research already done—when they get to court they just have to summarize since the arguments are all already done basically. The courts normally accept mail post dated to the date it is supposed to be submitted. BUT, they have some serious problems getting mail down here, some regular mail takes as many as 20 days to reach some addresses if it makes it there at all. That is longer than the due date for the response to the papers that are still in the mail. It may even be longer than the time between filing the papers and the hearing date. The clerks are still accepting mailed submissions but this can be a problem that makes the courts delay hearings. After a certain time this just takes too long (lawyers may call it a “due process violation” because they have to have a hearing in a “timely manner”) and being “fair” to lawyers who file by mail become unfair to those filing suits or those waiting to have suits dismissed. Anyway, it’s a problem.

I answered phones for 45 minutes today, nothing exciting, but I did get to make one of the attorney’s I was working for come into the secretary’s office so I could give him a summary of my last memo to him.

After work we went home and relaxed for a while, got dinner next to the mediocre Italian place from the night before at a African food place that turned out to be excellent (great quality ingredients, way relaxed vibe inside, affordable prices).

We went home and saw that the miners in W. Virginia had been rescued, freakin’ amazing, we were all pretty riled up for a while.

Tomorrow we may visit Chalmette (sp?), then back to work on the brief if it turns out the opposition filed their papers on time.

Megan’s first day of teaching today, go Megan! Sounds like it was hard for her but she is in control and I’m confident she’ll whip the kids into shape faster than even she believes possible.

New Orleans – Day 8 – Mark returns with work for Abe, visiting the courts, African food

After an earlier start then usual at Dixie Gyro (pronounced Yee-roe Im told) of grits and toast (Atkins friendly as usual) we arrived at work to find more attorneys returned to the office, so many that we lost our exclusive offices and some of us migrated to the clerks office (my office got a couple more occupants today, but the attorneysome kind of litigation supervisorhas not returned yet). We checked in with our supervisor Bernadette and met Mark the executive director then handed out assignments for the remaining days. I finished off a memo for Mark on possibly inadequate notice to a client whose house was taken by the city after they sent notice of the seizure to a vacant lot rather than to the client then Im supposed to write a brief on a similar topic. We went to Steves dinner for lunch, actually more of a Taco Truck (they call them Marti Gras trucks here) driven into the side of a building and serving a limited menu until their actually dinner is gutted and cleaned up. I cannot recommend this place enough for anyone who makes their way to New Orleans its a couple blocks from the main road down the French Quarter (where Bourbon st. and Canal st. intersect), easily the best NO food Ive had since arriving, reminded me of what my step-mothers cooking would be like if she were actually a southern native with a big family to feed (that means it was really good!).

After lunch we filed a suit in Civil Court which is actually just a few blocks from our office, great building even with some of the windows and lettering broken from the winds. Tomorrows the last day for filing these suits after the few month extension that was granted after the hurricane, we saw a story on it later tonight (hey, we were there today, we were there!). Afterwards we walked (yeah, no cars required bad reference to no batteries required, anybody?) to the 4th district court house which is new and really gorgeous. Its also the house of the state Supreme Court I believe, right in the middle of the French Quarter.

The clerks were frustrated but not too overcrowded. Normally what happens next is the opposing party (the ones who didnt turn in papers yet) go to the court, look at the papers and the arguments they contain, then write a response thats due maybe a week later, just a little while before the hearing date where they actually go to court. This way everyone knows what the arguments are and has their best responses and research already donewhen they get to court they just have to summarize since the arguments are all already done basically. The courts normally accept mail post dated to the date it is supposed to be submitted. BUT, they have some serious problems getting mail down here, some regular mail takes as many as 20 days to reach some addresses if it makes it there at all. That is longer than the due date for the response to the papers that are still in the mail. It may even be longer than the time between filing the papers and the hearing date. The clerks are still accepting mailed submissions but this can be a problem that makes the courts delay hearings. After a certain time this just takes too long (lawyers may call it a due process violation because they have to have a hearing in a timely manner) and being fair to lawyers who file by mail become unfair to those filing suits or those waiting to have suits dismissed. Anyway, its a problem.

I answered phones for 45 minutes today, nothing exciting, but I did get to make one of the attorneys I was working for come into the secretarys office so I could give him a summary of my last memo to him.

After work we went home and relaxed for a while, got dinner next to the mediocre Italian place from the night before at a African food place that turned out to be excellent (great quality ingredients, way relaxed vibe inside, affordable prices).

We went home and saw that the miners in W. Virginia had been rescued, freakin amazing, we were all pretty riled up for a while.

Tomorrow we may visit Chalmette (sp?), then back to work on the brief if it turns out the opposition filed their papers on time.

Megans first day of teaching today, go Megan! Sounds like it was hard for her but she is in control and Im confident shell whip the kids into shape faster than even she believes possible.

02 January 2006

New Orleans – Day 7 – Back to work, smokey jazz club, bad pasta, THE levy breach

Well Ive finally be overwhelmed by a legal research request from our predatory lending supervisor about arbitration agreements applicability to rescinding a loan. Theres only one particularly relevant case and it was argued by NOLAC then appealed to the 5th circuit only to get an unfavorable outcome (basically, hey, you have to go into arbitration first where youll get less information and have to settle for whatever agreement the company tells its Alternative Dispute Resolution team to allow because they are repeat players with the ARD people and you only get screwed once). Maybe some good sleep will allow me to wrap my mind around it, but it is good to be challenged, Im sure Laura Nader would be proud that Im on this project, this was her baby topic (ARD is the end of legal history to her because the hearings have no precedential effect if one worker gets $100,000 for breaking his back on the job because the employer was negligent another worker in the same position may get nothing or a lot less and never know that he deserved more this is supposed to be more efficient because courts arent involved but if the facts of one case are applied to other cases that are very similar then you dont need to have trials for all those cases, you can just settle for a similar amount which is often more efficient but also more costly to companies so they set up these ADR schemes to save some dough).

Breakfast was PB&J to save budget and because the breakfast recommended to us at the JW Marriot was freakin $17. Katrina hasnt changed some things at least for businessmen with expense accounts. The sandwiches were actually a great change from the generally greasy fare weve encountered though greasy is great for a while it can quickly get too much even for the most fried chicken, fish, potato, or shrimp lovin among us.

After work we were taken by our supervisors to the lower 9th ward again, this time right up to the levy breach. Basically its as bad as you might imagine plus a lot of water and overturned cars. A barge actually escaped the levy and was stuck up against a few houses. Most houses were gone including their cement foundations, cars were crushed, twisted, overturned, and some perverse combination. There were maybe 20 other people reviewing the damage, some just drove through, others got out and surveyed the damage up close. Common Ground was clearing the interior of one of the few houses that remains standings, if tilted a little to the left. Everything metal was rusted, every thing wooden was broken and splintered, brick walls were torn apart and fences caught and twisted around anything strong enough to stay put. Imagine taking all the little houses from your Monopoly set in a close square next to each other then dropping a grand piano on them from 30 stories high the little hotels would have been in better shape then the lower 9th.

After the initial breach in the levy the residents (who are all gone by then) got a second flood when the water levels raised up again during Hurricane Rita which passed nearby on its way to Florida. We met some men kicking the dirt around in front of a cement slab which was all that remained of their friends house, they believed the levy was blown up by the government to get rid of the people in that neighborhood. While this is not an unheard of theory we guessed that it may be more likely that the levy simply was not maintained in this area as well as in industrial, commercial, and higher class neighborhoods because of the differences in political power. Though this doesnt place the government with its finger over a switch to blow the levy the result is just the same: this area was intentionally disregarded and the economic powers were protected. Some have suggested that the increased depth and volume of the leviesdemanded by a thriving port industrymade the damage much worse. Did the residents of the lower 9th own stock in Shell Oil or other industries making massive profits from their southern port? Dividends or not, they certainly paid the price for industrial gains.

What will happen to this flattened community? A loon in the jazz club tonight (The Maple Leaf, great joint at 830X Oak st) suggested a golf course since that would mean fewer blacks returning to NO which to him meant he wouldnt be mugged again (yes, thats called racism, alive and well in these Southern suburban section of NO). My guess is that some will be rebuilt into mass produced suburban units and most will be turned over to industries that, some suggest, will bring new profits and jobs to New Orleans. If theres anything to be said in favor such a plan it is that they would certainly use their political capital to ensure that the levy was reinforced there to protect their buildings which would act as a buffer preventing the same massive flooding from recurring in the area. But if we were surprised again by the force of nature and the levy was breached again with these new industrial zones in between there would be massive environmental problems, then rebuilding really may not be a possibility.

For all the talk of sending money to NO to prevent the problem from recurring the still breached levy was being worked on by a single crane though it was guarded by two hum-vees (National Guard who are better loved than the NO Police force it seems), three Ford Excursions (Department of Homeland Security), and several local patrol cars trying to keep people from invading the few homes still standings not because of looting but because the buildings are completely unsafe chemically and structurally. This area is a legacy of the service workers, the poor of NO, it was, and for some remains, their home. Should it be rebuilt? If so, how and with what money and for who? Walk too far down that path and you might question why we have forced people to live in such dangerous areas is it because they cant afford anything else? If so, what is the system that keeps them subsisting month to month? Who benefits from the high cost the poor of NO have paid? In the end I think the idea that markets which promote the industries in the area would raise all boats has left some investors pockets stuffed with bills while the lower ninth is anything but high and dry.

New Orleans – Day 7 – Back to work, smokey jazz club, bad pasta, THE levy breach

Well I’ve finally become overwhelmed by a legal research request from our predatory lending supervisor about arbitration agreements applicability to rescinding a loan. There’s only one particularly relevant case and it was argued by NOLAC then appealed to the 5th circuit only to get an unfavorable outcome (basically, “hey, you have to go into arbitration first where you’ll get less information and have to settle for whatever agreement the company tells its Alternative Dispute Resolution team to allow because they are repeat players with the ARD people and you only get screwed once”). Maybe some good sleep will allow me to wrap my mind around it, but it is good to be challenged, I’m sure Laura Nader would be proud that I’m on this project, this was her baby topic (ARD is the end of legal history to her because the hearings have no precedential effect … if one worker gets $100,000 for breaking his back on the job because the employer was negligent another worker in the same position may get nothing or a lot less and never know that he deserved more … this is supposed to be more efficient because courts aren’t involved but if the facts of one case are applied to other cases that are very similar then you don’t need to have trials for all those cases, you can just settle for a similar amount which is often more efficient but also more costly to companies so they set up these ADR schemes to save some dough).

Breakfast was PB&J to save budget and because the breakfast recommended to us at the JW Marriot was freakin’ $17. Katrina hasn’t changed some things at least for businessmen with expense accounts. The sandwiches were actually a great change from the generally greasy fare we’ve encountered … though greasy is great for a while it can quickly get too much even for the most fried chicken, fish, potato, or shrimp lovin’ among us.

After work we were taken by our supervisors to the lower 9th ward again, this time right up to the levy breach. Basically it’s as bad as you might imagine plus a lot of water and overturned cars. A barge actually escaped the levy and was stuck up against a few houses. Most houses were gone including their cement foundations, cars were crushed, twisted, overturned, and some perverse combination. There were maybe 20 other people reviewing the damage, some just drove through, others got out and surveyed the damage up close. Common Ground was clearing the interior of one of the few houses that remains standings, if tilted a little to the left. Everything metal was rusted, every thing wooden was broken and splintered, brick walls were torn apart and fences caught and twisted around anything strong enough to stay put. Imagine taking all the little houses from your Monopoly set in a close square next to each other then dropping a grand piano on them from 30 stories high … the little hotels would have been in better shape then the lower 9th.

After the initial breach in the levy the residents (who are all gone by then) got a second flood when the water levels raised up again during Hurricane Rita which passed nearby on its way to Florida. We met some men kicking the dirt around in front of a cement slab which was all that remained of their friend’s house, they believed the levy was blown up by the government to get rid of the people in that neighborhood. While this is not an unheard of theory we guessed that it may be more likely that the levy simply was not maintained in this area as well as in industrial, commercial, and higher class neighborhoods because of the differences in political power. Though this doesn’t place the government with it’s finger over a switch to blow the levy the result is just the same: this area was intentionally disregarded and the economic powers were protected. Some have suggested that the increased depth and volume of the levies—demanded by a thriving port industry—made the damage much worse. Did the residents of the lower 9th own stock in Shell Oil or other industries making massive profits from their southern port? Dividends or not, they certainly paid the price for industrial gains.

What will happen to this flattened community? A loon in the jazz club tonight (The Maple Leaf, great joint at 830X Oak st) suggested a golf course since that would mean fewer blacks returning to NO which to him meant he wouldn’t be mugged again (yes, that’s called racism, alive and well in these Southern suburban section of NO). My guess is that some will be rebuilt into mass produced suburban units and most will be turned over to industries that, some suggest, will bring new profits and jobs to New Orleans. If there’s anything to be said in favor such a plan it is that they would certainly use their political capital to ensure that the levy was reinforced there to protect their buildings which would act as a buffer preventing the same massive flooding from recurring in the area. But if we were surprised again by the force of nature and the levy was breached again with these new industrial zones in between there would be massive environmental problems, then rebuilding really may not be a possibility.

For all the talk of sending money to NO to prevent the problem from recurring the still breached levy was being worked on by a single crane though it was guarded by two hum-vees (National Guard who are better loved than the NO Police force it seems), three Ford Excursions (Department of Homeland Security), and several local patrol cars trying to keep people from invading the few homes still standings … not because of looting but because the buildings are completely unsafe chemically and structurally. This area is a legacy of the service workers, the poor of NO, it was, and for some remains, their home. Should it be rebuilt? If so, how and with what money and for who? Walk too far down that path and you might question why we have forced people to live in such dangerous areas … is it because they can’t afford anything else? If so, what is the system that keeps them subsisting month to month? Who benefits from the high cost the poor of NO have paid? In the end I think the idea that markets which promote the industries in the area would raise all boats has left some investors’ pockets stuffed with bills while the lower ninth is anything but high and dry.

01 January 2006

New Orleans - Day 6 - good food, revisiting the 9th ward, staying jazzy

Waking up at 11:45am was the best part of the trip so far, actually it was a sign that this would be the best day of the trip. Rallying the team to motion by 1:00 we split up for lunch, some opting for a trip to the area near Tulane for lunch and relaxation (we got Mediterranean food, it was fantastic, so much better than the generally fried food of the French Quarter … I know there’s good food there, but it’s out of our price range, so fried and greasy it is), others to a “Black Church” which turned out to have finished services before they arrived.

At 3:00 we got coffee au lait at CafĂ© Du Monde and returned to the 9th ward in separate cars. My car ride veered toward the St. Bernard parish area, we ended up near a breached levy area where one house was perfectly settled in the middle of the road on top of a Ford F350. Many of the houses which had been on cement piers or raised up to avoid water damage turned out to be easier to move as the water came in so quickly and powerfully so they were pushed away from their foundations. Others stayed in place but had canisters and plastic and bits of wood on their roofs (usually where the roof made an angle over a garage or carport). The most common item I recall making it to the roofs was a red and yellow plastic toy car that toddlers usually sit in and push around Flintstone style. Even brick houses had walls missing, including a school auditorium. Local newspapers suggest that perhaps 8,000 people have returned from an original population over 65,000. We was less than a half dozen people mostly moving debris to piles in their front yards or moving around outside trailers they’ve put in their yards to live in while they clean up. Signs threatening looters are prevalent, though I’m not sure how serious the threat is anymore. Others have tagged their homes with phone number and instructions for agencies: “do not bulldoze,” “crush/tow truck,” “gut,” or just statements like “thanks for the memories.”

The damage to individual homes is incredible, but looking at them you think, “well, with some new drywall, removing the carpet, get rid of the trash, well gosh that house may be livable again.” Yet as you drive for miles and miles through thousands of destroyed homes the problem becomes so much bigger, it’s worst the a fire or a bomb, ever house needs an incredible amount of work and it starts to seem impossible. As Eddie Izzard says, if you kill someone you are put to death and hated, but if you kill thousands it’s almost as if we’re all kind of impressed, ‘you must get out of bed very early in the morning!’ The problems here have the same kind of numbing power; Habitat for Humanity may be helping people build houses one at a time, but at that rate rebuilding these communities would take decades, maybe it will.

In the lower Ninth there is a law enforcement “camp” of sorts next to an industrial area bordered by the railroad. There silos on one side and green military tents flanked by white pre-built housing units for staff. The major FEMA disaster relief center is in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The connections between police power and commerce are as clear as could be. The cops are closer to the industrial and commercial sites than any thing else, the homes are only patrolled by Red Cross trucks and residents. The whole thing reminds me of the Port of Oakland where the environmental impact is placed completely on the residents while those who benefit financially live far, far away.

After our “tour” (one house even advertised “tours within”) we returned to the hotel and figured out dinner: fortunate for us the “it” Indian food place has reopened on Magazine st (Nirvana, 4308 Magazine st, great buffet) and we got a very filling dinner.

New Orleans - Day 6 - good food, revisiting the 9th ward, staying jazzy

Waking up at 11:45am was the best part of the trip so far, actually it was a sign that this would be the best day of the trip. Rallying the team to motion by 1:00 we split up for lunch, some opting for a trip to the area near Tulane for lunch and relaxation (we got Mediterranean food, it was fantastic, so much better than the generally fried food of the French Quarter I know theres good food there, but its out of our price range, so fried and greasy it is), others to a Black Church which turned out to have finished services before they arrived.

At 3:00 we got coffee au lait at Caf Du Monde and returned to the 9th ward in separate cars. My car ride veered toward the St. Bernard parish area, we ended up near a breached levy area where one house was perfectly settled in the middle of the road on top of a Ford F350. Many of the houses which had been on cement piers or raised up to avoid water damage turned out to be easier to move as the water came in so quickly and powerfully so they were pushed away from their foundations. Others stayed in place but had canisters and plastic and bits of wood on their roofs (usually where the roof made an angle over a garage or carport). The most common item I recall making it to the roofs was a red and yellow plastic toy car that toddlers usually sit in and push around Flintstone style. Even brick houses had walls missing, including a school auditorium. Local newspapers suggest that perhaps 8,000 people have returned from an original population over 65,000. We was less than a half dozen people mostly moving debris to piles in their front yards or moving around outside trailers theyve put in their yards to live in while they clean up. Signs threatening looters are prevalent, though Im not sure how serious the threat is anymore. Others have tagged their homes with phone number and instructions for agencies: do not bulldoze, crush/tow truck, gut, or just statements like thanks for the memories.

The damage to individual homes is incredible, but looking at them you think, well, with some new drywall, removing the carpet, get rid of the trash, well gosh that house may be livable again. Yet as you drive for miles and miles through thousands of destroyed homes the problem becomes so much bigger, its worst the a fire or a bomb, ever house needs an incredible amount of work and it starts to seem impossible. As Eddie Izzard says, if you kill someone you are put to death and hated, but if you kill thousands its almost as if were all kind of impressed, you must get out of bed very early in the morning! The problems here have the same kind of numbing power; Habitat for Humanity may be helping people build houses one at a time, but at that rate rebuilding these communities would take decades, maybe it will.

In the lower Ninth there is a law enforcement camp of sorts next to an industrial area bordered by the railroad. There silos on one side and green military tents flanked by white pre-built housing units for staff. The major FEMA disaster relief center is in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The connections between police power and commerce are as clear as could be. The cops are closer to the industrial and commercial sites than any thing else, the homes are only patrolled by Red Cross trucks and residents. The whole thing reminds me of the Port of Oakland where the environmental impact is placed completely on the residents while those who benefit financially live far, far away.

After our tour (one house even advertised tours within) we returned to the hotel and figured out dinner: fortunate for us the it Indian food place has reopened on Magazine st (Nirvana, 4308 Magazine st, great buffet) and we got a very filling dinner.