Monday, October 31, 2005

What cards!

A few weeks ago, I posted about the advertisers "stealing" October after Katrina "stole" September. Well, I had to laugh when I opened my mailbox and found this card from my cousin Amy. Inside she wrote:

Dear Dana,
Just wanted to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!

P.S. Where has the time gone? I barely remember Halloween or Thanksgiving!!

Then yesterday, I found another Christmas card in my mailbox. This one was from my Aunt Adrienne. Now I know where Amy and Chad get their sense of humor!

I feel so loved.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The power of blogs

I am still amazed at the power of this simple, grassroots tool to shape this country.

Miers withdraws nomination

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's nominee for the
U.S. Supreme Court,
White House counsel Harriet Miers, abruptly withdrew from consideration on Thursday after fierce criticism from the right and the left about her credentials for the lifetime job.

If you have spent any amount of time navigating around the political blogs lately, you can't have ignored the uproar about Miers' nomination. I'll admit that I know very little about her, but because many bloggers whose opinions I respect have voiced their opposition, I am happy with her decision to withdraw. This has definitely been an interesting process to watch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

As if we need another reason to hate Blanco

Pardon the harshness of my language, but Blanco is an @#$# idiot. Everyday, I lose more and more respect for the woman. She has no place in any leadership role. We are so in trouble.

Hattip: Louisiana Libertarian

Monday, October 24, 2005

Three years ago today

My husband and I welcomed our little girl into the world. I can't believe that it has been three years already. It seems like only yesterday that I still mourning my miscarriages and feeling like I would never have a second child. Sometimes I look at her and think, "Where did you come from?" I am truly blessed with both of my children. And as we celebrate Georgie's birth today, I can't help but stop and tell God Thank you.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Why FEMA disgusts me

Check out this post from my blog with about the latest advice from FEMA. Frustrating, very frustrating.

Amazing Race

I have finally gotten around to watching Tuesday night's episode of "Amazing Race." It was bittersweet watching the teams racing through my backyard. As silly as I feel about it, I cried from the time they reached Hattiesburg til the end of the show. It just reminded me of how much things have changed.
I think that I could have done without seeing this one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Katrina aftermath pictures

As promised, here are some of my Katrina pics. I hope that this works. I'm still looking for a nice and easy way to store photo albums online. In the meantime, this will have to do.

Katrina's macabre Halloween decorations

More destruction

Today, my cousin Amy and I went out to get a first-hand view of the destruction and devastation of my mom's house. Everyone said that the pictures didn't do it justice and, boy, were they right. It was surreal. Will post all of my Katrina pictures later.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Katrina destruction

Want to see what me and my family have been doing lately? Well, thanks to my cousin Chad, I can show you. Although these are pictures of my cousin's grandparent's house, the destruction looks much the same as my grandmother's house. I spent the last two weekends trying to salvage anything from her house, which was very little.

Want to know what it is like? The thought that kept coming to me is that it was like going through a ship wreck. There was water everywhere. Sitting in bowls in the cabinet, sitting in jewelery boxes, sitting in drawers. Anything that can hold water. And, if you weren't careful, that water would come raining down on you whenever you opened something. Oh, and the fun part, was that it wasn't clean water. It was moldy, smelly, dirty, disgusting water. (Want to know what it smelled like? Have you ever been inside of a dirty port-a-potty? Imagine it 10 times worse)

Did you know that when wood sits in toxic water for weeks that it turns to mush. My grandmother had many solid wood pieces of furniture. Heavy, solid wood pieces of furniture. I emphasize had. Now when we touch it, it literally falls apart. It was sad and gross.

Oh, but we did see some very interesting mold. Did you know that mold can spin webs just like a spider? Did you know that mold grows in spirals? Did you know mold can be bright yellow, pink and teal blue. My aunt, who lives with my grandmother, won the prize for the most colorful mold in her room.

On Tuesday, my cousin Amy (Chad' sister) is coming with me to go see my mom's house. I haven't been out there yet. I haven't wanted to go with the kids. I didn't want them to see their grandparent's house like that - talk about more nightmares. But now they will be in school, so Amy and I can satisfy our curiosity. I will take pictures and post those.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My thoughts on Mayor Nagin

There is much being said around the blogosphere about New Orleans Mayor Nagin. And, I thought that I would add my local two cents.

First, you have to understand the state of New Orleans politics over the past few decades. In every level and layer, corruption has been running rampant. From the school board to the city commission to the parish. Heck, corruption is synonymous with Louisiana politics. The previous mayor's administration was no different. In fact, I would argue that Marc Morial actually took corruption to an all new level. Which is saying a lot in Louisiana. When Nagin took office three years ago, this was all laid at his feet.

He ran on a platform of cleaning up the city. He wanted to take the corruption out of New Orleans politics. Unfortunately for him, that corruption was so ingrained and so beneficial to all those in politics and in charge, that he didn't stand a fighting chance. In fact, he was doomed. Every initiative, every plan, every candidate, etc. That he supported met with defeat. He had absolutely no support. No one wanted him to reform New Orleans' government because it would lead to their loss of power.

Last year, we were faced with Hurricane Ivan. Nagin ordered the evacuation of New Orleans. Other mayors and parish presidents did the same in their areas. What a disaster that was. Since that time, an evacuation plan was developed. Unfortunately, another outcome of that disastrous evacuation for Ivan was a huge backlash for Nagin. The parish officials in Orleans parish used this to grandstand for their own benefit against Nagin. They convinced their constituents that Nagin was wrong to order an evacuation. There was no need to leave. This set the stage for Katrina.

What many people don't realize is that we didn't know Katrina was threatening Louisiana until Friday before the storm hit. Before that time, Katrina was being forecast as hitting the panhandle of Florida. I remember how surprised I was when, while I was eating dinner out with my husband Friday night, I saw on an overhead TV that the storm was now being forecast more in our direction. Even then, however, it was still just being forecast as a Cat 1 or 2. Nothing too bad, nothing really to worry about.

On Saturday morning, the news started to turn bad. All of a sudden there was a flurry of information as it seemed that the storm continued to grow in intensity. Nagin, as well as other officials, were constantly on TV telling people to leave. Nagin also told people, "Do not come to the Superdome. It is not set up as a shelter. It will be used only as a last resort for the sick and infirm." Nagin kept telling people to make their own evacuation plans (of course, he had been saying this for the past year as part of his evacuation plan). Contrast this with Houston's evacuation for Rita and you will see that they had several week days to evacuate the city. That being said, there were mistakes made. Big mistakes. Buses went unused. Provisions not collected. You all know the mistakes. (I heard that the reason the schools buses were not used is because local officials wanted the buses to have bathrooms and air conditioning. I don't know who decided not to use them for those reason, but knowing the reputations and past idiocy of the city and parish officials, I don't find this difficult to believe).

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Nagin was being compared to Guiliani after 9/11. This was totally unfair. Katrina totally wiped out all forms of communication. There was no cell phones, no land lines, no two-way radios. Nothing. Top that with levees breaking, widespread looting, trapped citizens, officers abandoning posts and total mayhem. He needed help. He felt helpless and hopeless. I don't blame his outbursts. He was in a situation that was totally unprecedented. Those first few days were hell and it was scary. Imagine how you would have handled it. Although his outbursts and rants were widely televised and reported, what was not was the fact that he met with the President and apologized. Nagin and Bush both made amends and both said there were no hard feeling between the two men. Bush seemed to understand the circumstances surrounding Nagin's speech.

Since that time, Nagin has done everything in his power to rebuild the city. He recognizes what needs to be done, that now is the time think "outside of the box." He also realizes that he now has the time to clean up the city. He wants to rid it of corruption. Last Thursday, he spoke to a group of small and medium business leaders about their concerns and the future (Listen here). It was a great speech and when he was done, I was actually excited about the prospects for the future of New Orleans. Some of the things he said were:

1. His goal is to have a transparent city government. He wants to have all dealing with the city in the "sunshine." Closed door deals breed corruption. Those will be stopped.

2. He told everyone there to get used to working with people that don't look like you.

3. He challenged banks to help small businesses with loans.

4. He gave the following advise to the business owners: (paraphrase) If a politician comes to you and offers to reward you with a bid for a percentage of the profits, you kick them out of your office. (This has been the predominant way of doing business in New Orleans. As much as business owners hated it, they had no choice. Too much corruption before. I believe this advise will be wholeheartedly taken.) He also told politicians not to even try it.

5. He said that if you expected to come into New Orleans and win bids without doing much work, they could leave now.

These were amazing words coming from a mayor of New Orleans. I also love his idea of expanding casinos in New Orleans. It is a way to get tourists into the city fast.

So, what is Nagin's biggest obstacle? Not the lack of citizens, not the lack of money, not the police department, etc. His biggest obstacle is Governor Blanco. She has been the true disgrace of our state.

So, do I think that Nagin will win re-election in February? That is a tough question. I think that it depends on who comes back into the city. I hope that he does, but I also hope that those on the city council don't. We need a fresh start. We need to get rid of all those politicians who are in it for power. Unfortunately, that is most of Louisiana politicians.

When Nagin was elected almost four years ago, the conservatives locally were excited about the prospects. Those prospects were extinguished over the next few years. Now, I see a small flicker of hope again. I guess we will see if that light will grow to rival the bonfires that light the way for Papa Noel along the Mississippi River or if it will go out forever. This is our last chance to save New Orleans.

I want my life back

I want my life to get back to normal. I want to be able to go to the grocery store after the kids go to bed. I want stores to stop closing at 6pm because they don't have workers to cover longer hours. I want to go to a restaurant without having to wait 2 hours for a table because they don't have enough people to work. I want to be able to drive 2 miles without waiting in traffic for 30 minutes. I want to go to my maw-maw's house and sit around the kitchen table and laugh like we used to. I want to look forward to the upcoming holidays without wondering and worrying about the future of my entire family. I want to know that the stuffy nose I have been experiencing is not due to black mold. I want to drive down the street without my car getting scratched by all of the tree debris littering the sides of the roads. I want to go sing karaoke at Ron Charles - a restaurant that doesn't even exist anymore. I want to look forward to Mardi Gras. I want to stop feeling guilty that my house is okay. I want to stop hearing horror stories. I want to stop seeing destruction. I want to stop hearing sympathies of others. I want my daughter's nightmares to stop. I want the kids to go back to school and be with their friends. I want to have a third birthday party for my daughter. I want watch fireworks on the lake at my mom's house. I want to go fishing.

I just want my life back.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Not yet

I can't believe that I just saw a Christmas commercial. Not yet. I can't possibly start thinking about that. It's bad enough that it is almost Halloween. It feels like it should still be the beginning of September. The hurricane robbed us of an entire month. It is the weirdest feeling. Life stopped at the end of August and resumed at the beginning of October. We missed Labor Day, my anniversary, my mom's birthday. Now advertisers want to steal October and November. No, no, no. I refuse to think about it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ok, I'll admit it

I'm lame. Lame, lame, lame. I haven't been posting much. But I have a good excuse (well, maybe). The kids are still not in school. I am soooooooooo ready to have them back in school. Hell, I was beyond ready two months ago, but Katrina had other plans. Luckily, they start school next Monday. I'm thinking about having champagne with my MRE's. If I have to say "stop it" one more time, I will go insane. Not just prozac insane, but lock me in a padded room with a straight jacket insane. Actually, that's sounds really nice about now. I'll bet no one would want to know how they make padded rooms, or why... fill in the blanks. (I have a very inquisitive child - which is just wonderful and peachy. I know that I should encourage his curiosity - but enough questions already!) OK, I know that I'm rambling, but it's the first time all day that I can actually form full sentences.

Whew! Now I feel so much better.

About New Orleans. I have a question that I would love to have answered. Today, I heard a mention about the upcoming (February) mayoral elections in New Orleans. I started to think about the logistics of an election when half of your population is displaced. For example, my grandmother cannot live in her house. Even if she decides to rebuild, it will take many, many months to complete. Until that time, she is planning on renting a place on the Northshore. When election time comes, will she be allowed to vote? What about all of the other displaced New Orleanians. This is going to be a huge mess of an election. Will every displaced New Orleanian be allowed to vote absentee? What if they aren't coming back? Do they still get a vote? How do you determine which evacuee gets to vote? Or is it only those that are actually living in the city?

I'm glad that I don't have to decide this one.

UPDATE: Elections In New Orleans Present A Logistical Nightmare