Various Things

Adnan came over a couple of days ago; he went to his apartment in New Orleans last weekend to find the roof had caved in and his refrigerator had its own ecosystem. He managed so salvage some personal items like wedding photos, etc. Today he’s off to Houston to catch up with the Tulane people. I think they’re setting up shop in Houston for a few months. Here are some Flickr pictures that give you an idea of what people like Adnan are coming back to in New Orleans.

My office has something of an infestation of fruitflies (Shane and I eat bananas a lot, so it’s probably our fault), so I figured I’d try my mom’s mosquito solution: a bowl of water with some lemony dish soap in it. Sure enough the little bastards flocked to it and died. Yay home remedies.

But the biggest news is that someone who owes me a lot of money from back in 2002 is going to pay me back with interest. $1400 plus. This should safely finance the new computer I’ve been trying to build for awhile.

The Third Blog

One of the limitations of most blog sites is that they make you register as a blogger before they let you comment on your friends’ sites. I realize they want to foster a community, but as more and varied blog sites come on the scene, blog providers really should consider allowing non-blogging accounts. I wanted to post a comment on Mary’s blog but I had to set up a Blogger account, so I did. In a fit of exasperated sarcasm, I called it:

This is now my third blog. I had to do this at Xanga once to comment on Jay’s site, but I deleted that one. I still have a minor blog at and a completely dead one at

There’s a Word for That?

CamelCase” is a term for a name created when capitalized compound words are run together. Web domains in particular have accelerated their usage (MySpace, CompuServe, EarthLink, etc.), and they have become quite the trend with marketers these days. Even large companies (FedEx, GlaxoSmithKline) are sneaking it into the public consciousness.

Incidentally, the rabbit hole through which I found this word started at Heath’s post about corporate subversion, which led me to a link to Ward Cunningham, which led to a link to the Portland Pattern Repository, which led to a link to CamelCase. God bless you, Wikipedia.

Greetings from Sunny Santa Monica

I’m typing from my cousin David’s Mac G4 laptop at his apartment. I have a lot of email backed up, so my apologies if anyone still hasn’t heard from me. So far the trip has been stellar. Erika and her friend Amy took me to Sacramento, which was a surprising delight. I have walked across San Francisco (from the Ferry Building to Golden Gate Park) and I should have a great many pictures to post when I get back. I have eaten some spectacular meals with amazing wines, and I’ve already bought far too many records and CDs. Yesterday I drove Highway 1 and 101 to Los Angeles; it was such a beautiful trip, I’ll defer my thousand words to each of the dozens of pictures I’ve taken. Today David and I did the guitar shops on Sunset and took in the scenery at Venice Beach. In a few hours, we’ll head to the Baked Potato. Tomorrow I’m off to the OC to see my friend Tracy. I’ll be driving my enormous rental Buick. Avis was out of compacts, so I got a free upgrade to a land yacht. It has XM Satellite Radio, which was new to me, so I can’t complain. On the trip yesterday I mostly switched between MusicLab and the Loft. Good stuff. That’s all for now. Maybe I’ll update before Sunday, but probably not.

Californy Here I Come

I leave tomorrow for my California vacation. I’m flying Delta, so pray for me. Erika is picking me up at the airport and she’s going to show me around town and the winery she works at in Santa Rosa. Wednesday I’ll rent a car and drive to LA to stay with my rockstar cousin David. I’ll try to send updates during the trip.

Also, Arkansas Times reviewed my new next-door neighbors. Passing grade. They probably didn’t have the refried beans. I’m kidding, the food is good, and the article explains the strange feeling I had about them. They’re originally from the somewhat dilapidated area of east North Little Rock; someone at the Times described the food as ‘truck stop Mexican,” which is perfect. It will make an interesting addition to the standard Hillcrest fare.

Katrina Timeline

Salon has an illuminating timeline on Katrina that, to my mind, somewhat exonerates FEMA and the federal response to the disaster. It points out that Hurricane Katrina didn’t destroy New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain did. After the storm had passed, there was a widespread feeling that the town had survived and emergency efforts were largely successful. Standard procedures were followed, and if New Orleans had been any other town, everyone would have breathed a sigh of relief and moved on (especially when compared with the devastation in Biloxi and Gulfport). But New Orleans is a city in a bowl, and its levees’ lack of structural integrity has been ignored and swept under the bureaucratic rug for decades.

Much as I enjoy seeing Bush under duress, I have a hard time faulting him for the New Orleans disaster. Sure he demoted FEMA out of his cabinet and put a useless crony in the captain’s chair, and sure he was slow to move on realizing how massive a catastrophe New Orleans truly was, but the flooding was caused by institutionalized denial on a mass scale from local, regional and federal bureaucracies over many years.

Here’s how I see it breaking down:

  • Failure 1 was a failure to prepare New Orleans for an inevitable flood, and that falls on local and state officials, and the federal officials who cut the funding for levee improvement.
  • Failure 2 was poor evacuation planning and execution by the mayor and governor, which again is only considered poor because nobody thought about the levees bursting.
  • Failure 3 was the inability of FEMA to predict that local and regional first-responders would be incapacitated by the peculiarities of the New Orleans infrastructure, namely, broken levees.
  • Failure 4 (the worst, really) was FEMA’s and the governor’s inability to figure out how to get supplies and buses for 100,000 people stranded at the Superdome. Brown’s statement of “We learned about it factually today that that’s what existed” after two days of coverage is pretty inexcusable, as is the miscalculation of turning away the thousands of private citizens who rushed to Louisiana to help.

Am I wrong?

Thoughts on Photography

I’ve been getting some nice compliments on my photography lately, and I have to admit I feel like something of a fraud when someone refers to me as a “photographer.” A photographer, in my mind, is someone who knows how to control light and understands how a camera works. I am not one of those people. I’ve been pondering the schism between the many digital camera photographers who have no idea what they’re doing versus the actual photographers who do. I discovered that the dichotomy resembles that of punk musicians versus “real” musicians. Punk and indie rockers freely and proudly admit that they don’t know the first thing about basic music theory, yet they still create compelling music. Like them, I’m just getting the idea across, and not paying any attention to technique. Heck, I only know what a few of the buttons on my camera do.

As someone who has always approached music from an insider standpoint, I’ve always been a little leery of people who take pride in their ignorance. Now, in the realm of photography, I’m one of them (well, I take no pride, but I’m still ignorant). I guess I’m just too lazy or too busy to sit down and really learn. I wonder if this is becoming something of an epidemic in the world of art as technology makes everything so much easier. I remember an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where there was this tool that sculpted automatically from whatever was in the artist’s mind. No technique required, only the content of the idea. I guess art doesn’t necessarily require technique and training, but with my digital camera I can’t help feeling like I’m cheating.