Tuesday, December 09, 2008

OK, now THIS is corruption:


Wow, are we sure this guy isn't from Louisiana?

Well, no, Chicago pols are no slouches indeed when it comes to corruption. Mayor Richard Daley was alleged to have stolen the 1960 Preisdential Election from Richard Nixon for JFK by vigorous ballot stuffing in Chicago precincts. That election was one of the closest in history. The Daley poltical machine was one of the most notorious ever. But still -- selling a US Senate seat to the highest bidder? That is BRAZEN!

Saturday, December 06, 2008



Associated Press: Anh 'Joseph' Cao has beaten Rep. William Jefferson in 2nd Congressional District

So the wretched Dollar Bill has FINALLY been dethroned. I'm listening to his sour-grapes non-concession concession speech right now. Halle-freakin-lieujah!

I have never, ever voted for a Republican before, nor could I ever imagine voting for one. But I voted for Cao. I really think, in a newly bipartisan Obama Washington, even a newbie Republican Congressman has a beter chance of representing NOLA than Dollar Bill, even if he's never convicted of anything. I'm also happy to see the Vietnamese community take more of a part in local politics. Maybe it can help break the toxic racial deadlock that posions every poliyical discussion in New Orleans.

Go Cao!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

OK, people have been nagging me to get back to my blog, and here's Arianna Huffington on Jon Stewart rhapsodizing about blogging. so here I am. Hoo freakin ray.

I didn't blog because I felt very shut down after Gustav. I didn't know how to feel about this hurricane redux -- should I feel angry that it happened, relieved to have been spared another Katrina, proud of the evacuation, scared, giddy, what? I didn't know what to feel, so I didn't feel anything at all. Not conducive to blogging -- no feely, no bloggy.

Later, when I was feeling better, I dunno, I just wasn't into it. I had gotten out of the habit.

Then, I got a new job, so I have been very very busy the last month or so. I've been promoted to head of the "Periodicals, Arts & Recreation" division of the Main Library downtown -- my old division where I worked as an associate before Katrina. You know, Kirsten 1.0? I am sitting at my old supervisor's desk. I have her phone extension. I'm signing people's timesheets. It's pretty weird.

And pretty hectic. I'm running around like a chicken with no head, in part because the division is severely understaffed and there is more than enough everyday grunt work for everyone, and in part because I am just trying to figure out what is going on. and make decisions about some of the stuff that has piled up since the division was without a head librarian. Busy busy busy. There aren't enough hours in the day -- every day, I'm like, damn, it's five o'clock already?

So that is what I have been up to lately. If you work downtown, come by the second floor of the Main library and see me. I'll be there.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

This is what it looks like ....

libray disaster prep

... when a library prepares for a hurricane.

We take items off the lower shelves and shift them up as high as we can. This was in the back room, so there's no risk of windows breaking, so we don't need to cover these shelves with visqueen. We unplug and lift up the computers too.

We were busy today, people coming in to turn in their materials, and pick up some entertainment for the evacuation. Everyone wanted to talk about it. People are incredulous, a little angry that this is happening again, AGAIN, now, so soon -- but also ready to man up and do what needs to be done, whether that means evacuating or bunkering down for the duration.

Myself, I'm not so steely. Mostly I just feel numb, stunned that this can be happening again. But I had a really hard time concentrating on my tasks all days, so I think it's getting to me more than I'd like to admit.

All NOPL libraries are closed saturday through monday. My husband and I are evacuating to Baton Rouge like we did last time.

Whether you decide to go or stay, GOOD LUCK.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Katrina Dreams

My brother and his wife just recently relocated back to NOLA from Raleigh-Durham, NC. I mean just recently, like a week ago. Last night we went out with them for coffee. We talked for a long time about the whole NOAh scandal, the pace of recovery, the staus of my old neighborhood, Gentilly, and suchlike. NOLA recovery stuff.

Well, I guess it really got to me, because last night I dreamed that my whole family -- my husband and I, my mom and dad, brother and his wife -- were living in one room in some wracked-out apartment building by the Interstate in Central City somewhere. The wehole front wall of the buidling was torn off somehow. missing, staring out into empty space. We had gotten some visqueen and stapled it over the studs of the missing wall. So any- and everyone could stare straight into our home, but we counted ourselves lucky that the roof and the other three walls were intact. We spent the bulk of our days going downtown and arguing with the Feds to try to get out of there.

Jesus Christ. May it not be so! But it's inside me. Katrina is still inside me. It'll alwaya be part of me. Of us.

I wonder if people who weren't here hten, who came later, like my brother, feel left out?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Latter Library is Not Closed!

There's a rumor going around town that Latter Library Uptown is closed permanently. This is not true! I have an idea about how this rumor got started -- somebody misread the library Master Plan, which is on the website, noticed Latter was closed, put two and two together and got 5.

The deal is, Latter's AC is broken and has to be completely replaced. The branch will re-open when it is -- hopefully next week sometime.

According to the Master Plan, Latter is scheduled to be scaled back as a circulating library, and serve as administarive offices and programming space for special events. But this is not for years. And it will probably always have a small DVD and Pop Reading collection, and be a place where you can pick up holds. That's my guess anyway.

To reiterate -- Latter Library is temporarily closed for repairs. So quit panicking!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Library Day in the Life: July 22, 2008

Today I am at Nix branch, the second branch of two that my manager manages. Some of the staff circulate around, some stay put. I circulate.

Supposedly I am being groomed to take over my own branch, one of the Gates modulars. I look forward to this. No more circulating.

8:30: Get dropped off by my husband at a coffeebar close to the branch. We carpool into work together. I need my iced coffee and pastry or I can't function.

8:45: My branch manager stops by for his coffee too.

9:00: Get into work and start doing the usual pre-opening things: the holds report, pulling the expired holds, general cleaning and tidying up.

10:00: Open up the library. The usual Internet crowd arrives and starts signing up for the computers.

10:30: The branch run arrives and we start checking in the delivered items, tagging them up for holds or shelving them as required.

11:15: I get a call from one of the branch managers. Her Summer Reading performer never showed up -- oh no! One of my particular nightmares these days. If you have a full house of patrons and no performer, it can be very embarrassing. I start calling and emailing the performer, trying to figure out what's going on.

Continue serving patrons while working the phones. It's a little chaotic -- the queue display for the Internet computers is down for some mysertious reason, so the "Innanet" crowd keeps clamoring at the desk for their times. We have to yell out the names as they come up -- not the most serene atmosphere for a library.

12:00: No luck on finding the errant performer. Luckily only one family showed up for the program, so it could have been a lot worse. I call the branch head and let her know the latest, and then flee to lunch.

1:00: I look through my old email correspondence, and begin to get a glimmer that this scheduling error with the performer may be my fault. Damnit! I swear I TRIPLE-CHECKED that programming schedule! Well, these things happen. No point in rescheduling it now, so close to the end of Summer Reading.

2:00: More hassles! I get a call from one of my summer reading committee members, telling me that the PR flyer announcing the Summer Reading Wrap Party has a major typo in it. The times are wrong. This is bad. I inform all the branch heads and committee members right away. Hopefully we can get some new ones printed up.

2:30: I go through and manually correct all my Wrap Party flyers. My branch manger laughs at me for this, but I hate wasting all that paper. It's hard to live green in an organization that chews through as much excess paper as a public library.

3:00: Man, I'm tired. All the rest of the Uptown branches have been unusually busy since Latter branch has been closed. Latter was by far the busiest branch since the hurricane, the second busiest site after Main Library. We are getting their spillover.

It's getting hotter and hotter at the branch as the old air conditioner wheezes under the full assault of a New Orleans summer. Come on, five o'clock.

We're making a lot of new library cards. Still amazing to me that people are moving *into* New Orleans, what with all the dysfunctions. A lot of them are people moving home after being displaced. That is a triumph. I am very happy when I make one of those cards.

4:30: Pre-closing announcement. People are still lining up to you use the computers, even though they'll only get ten minutes.

4:45: PCs automatically log themselves off for the night. Nice change from having to coax patrons off and physically lock up the computers at Mid-City.

4:58: We stare and stare at the one patron, still on the Wi-Fi on her laptop, who refuses to leave. Are we going to have to frogmarch her out of here?

4:59: She finally leaves. The staring worked.

5:00: Lockup and set the alarm.

5:05: Workon this blog post while I wait for my husband to come pick me up.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Library Day in the Life

Now this I can do:

A Library Day in the Life

Describe my day as a librarian for LIS students and those strange others who might be interested.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

8:40 AM. Get to work at Mid-City Branch. Start making coffee. Lock myself outof the library when I go to the back hallway for water from the drinking fountain. SWELL. Going to be THAT kind of day.

8:50: Get the landlord to let me in.

9:00: Sort out some of the passes to the local Zoo which are one of our Summer Reading Club prizes, to go to the different branches. I am chair of the Summer Reading Program Committee this year. My co-workers arrive.

9:15: Coffee's done. Eat my breakfast.

9:20: Take out and set up the library's laptop PAC computers. Mid-City is a temporary library under the Gates Foundation/Solinet Gulf Coast Libraries Grant for post-Katrina recovery. A lot of our equipment is small and portable.

Branch run arrives: books returning home to us, or requested by our patrons. Today's run also includes a shipment of new DVDs and music CDs from Cataloging. We will check these in later. Send the Zoo passes out in the outgoing run.

9:30: Pull the morning's Holds Request list -- books requested by patrons around the system, to be held here or sent to the branches.

10:00: Open the library. People start linig up to use the computers.

10:15: Call one of our Summer Reading performers, a magician, and cancel the performance for next Monday at Latter Branch. The branch is closed since it's air conditioning is broken. We have been unsuccessful at finding alternate locations for library programming so far.

10:30: Call a local vendor and secure a donation of ice cream for the Summer Reading Finale Party on August 2.

10:45: Work on checking in the branch run materials while assisting patrons at the circulation desk. Field a call from my intern, who is late and anxious. No problem; she is doing outreach and riding public transportation. She'll get here when she gets here.

11:00: Check email; answer some emails about planning/programming for Summer Reading. Continue to assist patrons with circulation, reference and computer questions.

12:00: Shift off the desk for a co-worker. Shelve some books. Straighten up the materials for purchase on the Book Sale table.

1:00: Lunch. Intern has not arrived. I'm a little anxious now.

2:00: Back on the Circ desk. Between patrons, write up the minutes of the last Summer Reading Committee meeting. Remind my branch manager via email of my next committee meeting, and of the Summer Reading Finale Party, which I must attend.

3:00: Intern arrives. She ate lunch first. I set her to labeling up and checking in the new CDs that arrived.

The Circ desk becomes extremely busy, with many checkouts/ins and new patrons requesting library cards. I am not at a Circ computer, but help as I can, signing people up for computers and answering general ref questions.

When the rush ends, I have my bad momoent. This happens every Wednesday. Wednesday is the only night we are open late, and I work an 11-hour day. On most days, three o'clock equals two hours til quitting time! On Wednesdays -- five hours! Gah!

4:00: Fuss around and surf the biblioblogosphere while riding the Circ desk. Set my intern to updating the computerized statictics for the Summer Reading participants at the branch. Answer some more emails about Summer Reading, the next committee meeting, and the Finale Party. Two kids come in and redeem their Summer Reading logs.

5:00 -- 5:15: Take a break before the bulk of the staff leaves at six.

5:15: Things get much slower after five. Chat with my coworkers. Winnow out my email inbox. Find the day in the life project and start typing.

6:15 Have to rein in a kid who's tearing books off the shelves like the Tsmanian Devil. My coworkers are men and leave me to deal with the kids, although I am no more a kid person than these bachelors are. Not too cool.

7:30: Make the "half hour til closing" announcement.

7:45: Take down the PAC laptops and lock them up for the night. Well, actually one of my coworkers does this while I "supervise." :-)

8:00: Run the last one or two diehards out and the library is closed!

Monday, July 14, 2008

NOLA bloggers think hard on names - NOLA.com

OK, I have got to get my blog on. I am not even mentioned in this article!

NOLA bloggers think hard on names - Living/Lagniappe - Times-Picayune - NOLA.com

Of course neither is Oyster or Loki or Jeff, so I guess I can live with it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ralph Nader is an Idiot

Check this out:


Damn, what an ignorant thing to say. He is destroying his good legacy with all his latter-day crazy talk. I’m sorry I voted for the fool now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Orleans Regional Transit Authority : Advisories

Well, this brought tears to my eyes when I saw it. Almost three years, it's been. "You don't know what this means to us," I told my intern C. as she stared at me wide-eyed.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dice Jockies

Check out the debut of thie new web series by my good pal Charlie Brown:

These are my boys. Well, Charlie and Bill are. This is what we do. Don't LAUGH! It's art, damnit!!!

Actually I love it. I hope Charlie lets me write an episode soon. I could write about Bill's ... dice envy. Yeah. Bill would love that.

The website is www.dicejockies.com, where there are character bios and a FAQ, where you can perhaps learn the answer to the most pressing question -- why???

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tidings Sad and Better

Summer Reading Club has been all-consuming for me and I have been neglecting the blogosphere. Thus, too late was I horrified to hear of the death of staunch Nolablogger Ashley Morris. I didn't know Ashley, but he was well known around town and us Nolabloggers have to stick together, so his death will be keenly felt. He was only 44, and left behind a wife and three small children. There's really nothing I can say that his real friends haven't already said, except he will be missed. PLease donate to his family's memorial fund if you can: Remember Ashley Morris.

In happier news, my library was visited Thursday by one Tom Javoroski from Indiana, who is one of the founders of a charity group called Gamers for Humanity. As in computer gamers, board gamers, RPG gamers, dare I say it even LARPers? ... The group is down here doing rebuilding work with Phoenix of New Orleans. Tom also donated some used books to our library, gifted us with some nice Gen-Con swag, met my husband and gifted him with some RPG rulebooks, as if he needed any more, my god. It was cool to meet him and great to hear about the work his group is doing. They are planning to come back next year, too, so surf by their site and give them some love: www.gamersforhumanity.org. Tom took some digital pics and I'm hoping he'll let me borrow one to paste here.

People around the country are still helping. America has not given up on New Orleans yet, and that's good to know. I think Ashley Morris would be pleased.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Elephant Paints Self Portrait - AOL Video

You have to watch this video, it's incredible:

Elephant Paints Self Portrait - AOL Video: ""

I suppose this elephant could have been trained to do this without understanding it, but it doesn't look like it, does it?

Also read this article from the New York Times Magazine. Amazing and sad.

Did you know that elephants bury their dead? The only other lifeform to do so. They also bury human remains when they come across them. What does this mean? It means elephants are sentient beings. Doesn't it? I was always taught in my history and anthropology classes that the first glimmerings of true sevtience in humans were evidenced by the habit of Neaderthals burying their dead, which meant care for the dead one beyond life, understadning of a consciousness and a possibility of an afterlife. It has to be the same for other lifeforms too, then, right?

What can we do to save these elephants before they are all gone?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Well we took the cat for a checkup yesterday and she is doing remarkably well.  A much greater improvement in heart function than was expected.   The pill dosing is going better as well.  I just decided to stop stressing out so much about it – if the cat is available, I give her her pill, and when she’s not, I don’t.  She is more relaxed about it too.  She must have been picking up on my anxiety.  Between us the hubster, the cat, and I have worked out a system that works pretty well.  Hubby holds her in his arms and I use the pill gun to dose her.  She still doesn’t like it, but she’s not so determined to avoid it anymore.  She even seems to come in sometimes specifically to get her pill. (We could be anthropomorphizing.)  But I do think that somehow she knows she has to take it.  Or at least, she knows we want her to do this thing, so she complies.


OK.  Enough cat blogging.  The other big news in my life lately is that I have been appointed chair of the library’s Summer Reading Program, which is keeping me *very* busy.  Summer Reading Club is our major programming event during the year and it is a BIG DEAL.  It reminds me of nothing so much as planning my wedding – I have to secure food, book entertainers, order all kinds of special customized items, meet numerous deadlines, print invitations, etc, and harness all these people and channel them in one direction to a specific purpose.  Except I have three months to plan it, rather than a year.


I have never served on Summer Reading Committee before, nor even attended any of the programs, nor have I chaired a committee before.  So I really feel like I am making it all up as I go along.  When I cry out for help, my more experienced colleagues do help me, but there is often a “ha-ha, now it’s your turn!” vibe to it.  Which I’ve been told, happens to every committee chair every year.


It takes up all my time and attention.  Seriously, I dream about it. 


But I have a good committee – all volunteers – who are doing good work and not dropping the balls.  It is more fun now that I have people to delegate to instead of trying to do everything on my own.  Actually I am enjoying the challenge.  I didn’t think I would, but I am.  I wanted my work to become more challenging, so now it has.


Right now we are booking programs to draw kids and their parents into the library.  So if you are a performer who charges a reasonable (ie, inexpensive) fee, or an educator who has an outreach program or WHATEVER, email me!

Thursday, March 06, 2008



Well it has been a rough couple of weeks.  Every time I decide to concentrate on developing my blogging, some crisis comes along and torpedoes it.


Weekend before last we had to take one of our cats to the emergency vet at one o’clock in the morning.  She was having trouble breathing.  Turns out, she has congestive heart failure.  Her heart wasn’t pumping strongly enough and her lungs were filling with fluid. 


It was scary.  She had to be kept for observation for a while.  We dropped a thousand dollars on her care, easy.  We were in total shock – sticker shock too.  She had seemed perfectly fine the day before!  But the vet actually thanked us for allowing her to treat the cat, and not just letting it die.  God, do people actually do that?


We had to follow up with a regular vet too.  If you live Uptown and need a vet, go see Dr. Biondolillo at Prytania Veterinary.  She is amazing.  She let us see the cat’s ultrasounds, and even drew us a little picture of the chambers of the cat’s heart and how they were not working.  And she called us at home in the evenings to follow up!


Well the cat is on medication now and feeling fine, back to her old self.  But she has heart pills, diuretics and mini baby aspirin for blood thinning, and sometimes has to take up to four pills a day. 


This is easier said than done.


Giving the cat her medicine has become a Bugs Bunny-like contest of wills.  My husband holds her, and I pry her mouth open and use a syringe-like thing called a “pill gun” to shoot them down her gullet. This does not fly.  She avoids me, I trick her, she slips through my grasp.  I tried to fool her by hiding the pills inside a special hollow kitty treat.  This worked exactly once.  That evening she was chewing the treats to shear off the “meat” and spitting out the pills.  She’s no dummy.  She knows exactly what’s going on.  I think she even knows she has to take the meds on some level – occasionally she will meekly submit – but she is like a little kid who doesn’t want to take her cough syrup cause it tastes bad.


Oh dear.  I am blogging about my cat.  I’ve been told, that way lies madness.  But it’s stressing me out, man!  The cat, too.  And the cat is supposed to avoid stress.


I had a fight with my husband about it.  “You’re obsessing too much!”  he said.  “What about her quality of life?”


“If she doesn’t take her PILLS she’ll have NO life AT ALL!”


We have appealed to the vet, who is going to try to figure out some alternate formulation for the heart meds so she doesn’t have to be dosed so much.


It is upsetting.  The cat is only six years old.  I had three cats when I was a child who lived to be 18, 21, and 24 years old, going out whenever they wanted and eating Friskies cat food their entire lives.  Why are the cats of my adulthood dying at six and seven years?  I try to be a good cat parent – they are fixed, they get their shots, flea meds … it’s not fair.  I can’t take all these dying cats.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bad news from CNN.com

New Orleans' record on rebuilding firehouses: 0-22 - CNN.com

This is an article about how the City of New Orleans has not yet rebuilt a single firehouse, two years after Katrina. Now this I did not know. It was forwarded to me by my husband, who used to work briefly for the Fire Dept. It turns out Dennis Leary, the actor and comedian, has rebuilt more fire stations with his foundation that the City of New Orleans.

Shit! That is deplorable! It makes me ashamed to be a New Orleans civil servant. Even I cannot agree that it is better to have rebuilt the libraries than the police and fire stations.

(I mean, it's not a zero-sum game, they should all be rebuilt -- but damn!)

In the article Dr. Ed Flakely, our Magic Recovery Crane Fairy, once again exposes his ignorance and mendacity.

In the article, Dennis Leary is quoted as saying, "it's a sad commentary on society when actors and musicians become the key players in helping a city rebound." In one sense, yes, where is the government? But in another sense, it's great. Who better to rebuild NOLA than artists and musicians?

But again, it's not a zero-sum game. Bureaucrats and artists both are required. We shouldn't have to pick between them.

Blog this on, please, people. It's a disgrace and people ought to know how New Orleans' Bravest are being treated by the City.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

NOLA Invictus

As a Pagan, insteads of Christmas I celebrate the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, when the Wheel turns, winter begins to end, and the new sun is reborn from the womb of the darkest night. My favorite name for the Solstice is the one the Romans used, Sol Invictus, which is Latin for The Unconquered Sun. I love that image -- The Unconquered Sun! It brings me such hope. At the point of his greatest weakness, when defeat seems inevitable, the darkest night of winter, the Sun returns reborn, renewed, unconquered.

Looking back, I have to say 2007 was a good year for me and mine.  I finished school, graduating at the top of my class.  I came home and reunited with my husband.  I went right back to work.  I reconnected with old friends, my old life.  We sold our house and it wasn’t even demolished, but renovated and expanded, and there is already someone new living there, in deepest Gentilly.


2007 was also a good year for New Orleans Public Library.  We continued to expand and rebuild our services – 10 of 13 pre-Katrina locations now have at least some level of service a few days a week.  We hired a new director, after being without one for almost two years.  We opened the first 3 of our Gates Foundation/SOLINET temporary branches, including my own branch, Mid-City.  (The other two are housed in the Martin Luther King and Einstein Charter schools, in the Ninth and NO East, respectively.)


For the city, too, I feel like things got better in the last half of the year.  After an endless parade of one fuckup after another, there finally seemed to be some signs of the recovery making progress.  Eddie Jordan resigned, hallelujah.  The Road Home finally started to cough up some cash.  The St. Charles streetcar rebuild is running ahead of schedule.  Congress passed the much-delayed water resources bill.  C Ray was mercifully absent most of the time and kept the crazy proclamations to a minimum.


Some things are still bad.  Race relations are terrible, and crime is completely out of control.  And yet I feel weirdly hopeful about this year, for myself and for the city.  Somehow things seem to have turned some kind of corner to me. (This may have something to do with the fact that I am back now, and can actually see and feel what is going on.) Or maybe not. Maybe things really are better. At least, we have the hope of them being better, where for a long time, the whole first year post-K, there was very little hope. Almost no hope. But from that period of darkness we rise, renewed, unconquered like the sun.