Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bloggitty Bloggitty Blog

Haven't had much time for blogging lately, as it is final exams time and I have been quite busy with homework.. I was stressing so over my research paper for Cataloging class that I actually made myself a little ill. I have really struggled in that class; I knew it would be hard, but I didn't think I would hate it so very, very much.

I crept onto campus to deliver my paper and beg off of the final class; it's a night class, and I didn't think I would last until 9 PM, and the wretched ride home after on the night bus.

"Oh, too bad," my Catalog prof said. "You would enjoy this class."

"What is it?"

"Cataloging of non-book materials."

"Oh. No, I wouldn't enjoy that. Let Ulrik have it; he's taking Advanced Cataloging."

"Yes, he is. And so should you."

I gaped at her. "Are you kidding? I'm hanging on in this class by the skin of my teeth!"

She waved her hands. "Oh, you're fine." (Well, I'm OK, once she delivered a giant heap of extra credit for us to do.)

"I don't know what your career path is ..." she continued.

"Public libraries."

"Oh, you should definitely take it then. You'll need it."

"Please don't say that ... you're scaring me."

"I'm telling you ..."

"But I hate it."

"Yes, you'll always hate descriptive cataloging. But that's OK. I hate it too."

You wouldn't know this from some of the, ahem, discussions we got into in class. I was quite sure she would be delighted to see the back of me.

"I feel faint," I said.

Sh brandished my research paper. "But you did your paper on Colon Classification. I mean you actually read it!"

"I have to go," I said, and I did.

Fear the proselytizing Catalogers! (Although, I have to say, my heart softened toward her after she made a fizzbin reference in class one day. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in class who got it, too.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

"It’s hard as hell to fight it, don’t buy it!"

On the way home from Thanksgiving dinner at my folk's we went by the CompUSA to see if we could pick up a Playstation 2 cheap. The store was open from 9 to midnight for early Christmas sales.

Well, when we got there the parking lot was full, giant SUVs parked on the curbs, and the line to get in ran down the building and aroud the corner. They were letting peoplein ten at a time or something.

No Playstation for us. Fine. No problem. But getting back on the expressway, we saw that the parking lot at Best Buy was also jammed full, even thought he store was closed. And then we saw them, the people, crouched under blankets, huddlingin line -- waiting at ten oclock at night for the store to open at 6 AM.

Now look, people, this is going too far! Eight hours in the dark and cold to buy some cheap swag? This is not right! It is sick, sick, sick! NO video game or HD TV or Bluetooth-enabled cellphone/MP3 player is worth this level of obsession. You're not doing this because you love your family and want to give them the best -- you're doing it becuase you want to pull one over on other people and buy cheap swag! It's FUCKED UP, people! Enough already!

Buy Nothing Day. Check it out!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

OK, so who is this asshole Alan Richman who peforms a virtual second Katrina on the restauarants of New Orleans in the current GQ? It's Online here:


He mercilessly disses everyone from Galatoire's to Jaque-Imo's, and casts doubt on the whole idea of rebuilding the city at all, even while surveying the devastation of Gentilly as he eats a po-boy from Zimmer's Seafood. Unbelievable! He also characterizes pre-Katrina New Orleans as a joyless theme park, while making the usual inaccurate outsider's errors, such as assuming the people stumbling still-drunk and blinking from the Bourbon Street bars in the morning are locals, not touristas (or contractors as the case may be now.)

It is just a horrible, horrible culinary poison-pen hatchet job. A sample:

I think people either take to the city or they do not. They buy into the romance, or they abhor the decadence. I know where I stand.
New Orleans was always a three-day stubble of a city, and now, courtesy of Katrina, it’s more like five. The situation is worse, of course, in the devastated areas, where the floodwaters and the winds did their work. I know we are supposed to salvage what’s left of the city, but what exactly is it that we’re trying to cherish and preserve? I hope it’s not the French Quarter, which has evolved into a illogical mix of characterless housing, elegant antiques stores, and scuzzy bars, a destination for tourists seeking the worst possible experience. The entertainment values are only marginally superior to those of Tijuana, Mexico.

What's so infuriating about it is that this Richman is obviously the kind of smug East Coast hipster who ought to get New Orleans, but he doesn't. Doesn't have a freakin' clue. Thinks he does, but man, does he not.

New Orleans, unique among Soujthern cities, was never much for mealy-mouthed nicey-niceness, but for once I have to follow the moonlight-and-magnolias line: If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all.

Thanks to the AV Club's Hater for the heads-up.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sucks to Be You , Rummy

I can't say I care for Donald Rumsfeld's intimation during his farewell press conference that the American public is too dumb to understand what's going on in Iraq:

The great respect that I have for your leadership, Mr. President, in this little understood, unfamiliar war, the first war of the 21st century -- it is not well-known, it was not well-understood, it is complex for people to comprehend. And I know, with certainty, that over time the contributions you've made will be recorded by history.

WhatEVER. You're still history, buddy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Back to Hell Again, Sort Of

I suppose I would be remiss if I did not follow the rest of the Nolabloggers and comment on Chris Rose's recent column, To Hell and Back. It is about his depression in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Some people have been sympathetic, others, not so much.

My take? I appreciate Oyster's comment that the column neglects the ontological aspects of depression. (Depressed? After Hurricane Katrina? You have to take a pill for that?)

But given that, I have to say, give the guy a break! He ate, slept and breathed Hurricane Katrina for more than a year. That would make anyone clinically depressed!

Indeed, I know people, plenty of people, people who emerged basically unscathed, who are still just crushed by sadness, by all the tragedy. By the loss of the city. The survival of your own house fades into insignificance next to the loss of 1000,000 houses, and the families they represent.

I wonder whether Rose's depression could not have been treated as well by a long sabbatical in the country, by getting away from New Orleans and forgetting for a while, by good food and enough sleep.

But in the end, I just can't say. It's not my business. It's not my disease, not my treatment. It's just none of my business.

I saw Rose at the Louisiana Book Festival, and he was animated and happy to be there. So his treatment is working. That is a good thing. It would just be spiteful to hate on a guy for not being depressed anymore.

As to his alleged douchebaggery, meh, I don't really have an opinion. He is what he is. He does what he does. He seems to be reaching people beyond south Louisiiana, so that is good. Keep the recovery in the public eye, because we are not OK.

I can't fault anyone for breaking down from the strain of POKSS, or for seeking help. We all need help. I wish him well.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

On the lighter side ...

Some emails from reader's I've received have let me know that this blog is coming across as pretty damn bleak, and going back and reading it in its entirety, I can see that it certainly is. Not my intent, but since I began it in the period shortly before the one-year anniversary of Katrina, it's no wonder.

But let me assure you that all is not doom and gloom, either in my own life, or in New Orleans itself. For example, take a look at this video from YouTube:

I love this video! It cracks me up. I watch it when I am feeling down about the recovery, or my situation. It actually makes me feel better about the recovery. That everything is going to be all right. There is just something so hilarious and beautiful about this pasty, sunburned, fat white man, dancng in the ruins of New Orleans. dancing in front of a house whose door is hanging wide open, because it's so fucking wrecked that it doesn't even matter if anyone breaks in -- there's nothing to steal, and if anyone trashed the place, no matter how hard they tried, they could not measurably impair the state of the house. (My house's door is hanging open right now too.) Dancing in the waist-highh weeds, dancing ... in a neighborhood that could be my own (although I think it's Lakeview) ...

It's hard to describe the rush of incredulous laughter and unexpected, perverse joy I got when I first saw this video. It is so RIDICULOUS, and yet so right. I laughed my head off, and so did my husband.

You see, this is New Orleans! This is what the city is about -- not the houses, not the buildings, the business or the tourist trade, but the people and their spirit. And this is why we will prevail in the end -- white and black, rich and poor, Catholic and Pagan and Voodoo. Because New Orleanians love life! If the storm has wrecked your city and the flood has destroyed your home, what else is there to do but dance, dance! Dancing in the ruins -- in a way, that is what New Orleans has always been about.

There's no drowning the spirit, baby!

The video is by EndlessJoe, the dancer is CaptainPepito, and the music is by DJ Kool. Rock on! Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Still Truckin'

I have updated my GA Journal. I am beginning to learn how to give formal instructional sessions, which is a huge part of academic librarianship these days.

In other news, I have been reading a lot lately, and am upset and frightened by the horrendous crime wave that is occurring in New Orleans lately. It is like the bad old days of 1994, when the yearly murder rate stood above 400, and New Orleans was undisputably the "Murder Capital of the United States." But with the population of the city so much less now than it was then -- less than 200,000 people by last count -- I would say it's actually, objectively worse. I am concerned about my parents down there, and my husband, still living in one of the devastated areas. For myself, I'm glad I'm in Baton Rouge right now.

Hopefully the recet dismissal of revolving-door judge Elloie will put some brakes on the crime spree. His was just another example of the lack of leadership that has plagued the city throughout the recovery effort.

I really struggle with the idea of returning to New Orleans after I finish my degree. There are good reasons to return, and just as good ones to "shake the dust of [that] crummy little town off my feet" and never, never return. The good reasons are: my family is there; all my friends are there; making a difference by contributing to the rebuilding, and; it is home after all.

The bad reasons are: why go to all this struggle and sacrifice just to go creeping back to my old life; the recovery is not going well; News Orleans will never be what it was; it is still lacking in economic and professional opportunity, and; it is a crummy little town after all.

I love New Orleans, don't ever say I don't. I love it with all my heart. Seeing the city ruined, the people scattered, has been a nightmare, a kind of living death. I grieve for the dead and for the city ruined. But having lost everything, I want to create a good, new life for myself and my husband now. That is why I am in school after all, trying to better myself, trying to take something positive out of this horiffic catastrophe. And I suspect I can do a better job of that somewhere else, than in ruined, staggering, broken New Orleans.

It kills me to say that. N.O. loyalists would call me a traitor, a weakling, and they might be right. I greatly admire people like Mark Folse -- expatriates who've come home and are struggling to rebuild their hometown. But as heroic as that is -- they didn't live it. They didn't flee with the clothes on their back and live a gypsy's life for months while the city lay submerged and off-limits. They don't wake from dreams of drowning in their own house, struggling to climb the attic ladder as the cold lakewater sucks at their legs and thighs. They don't know who lived in the houses with the numbers in the search tags.

You know, I'm just tired. I want it all to be over. When I graduate, I want to get a good job where I can put to use all the things I'm learning in library school, buy a nice house, and live in a community where I can shop and go to the movies and run errands without it being a major operation. I want a future.

It's almost a year still until I graduate. A year from now, I might find those things in New Orleans. But i don't know, I don't know. A fresh start -- is that so much to ask?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Library 2.0 Redux

I enjoy this hit I just got from the famous Library 2.0 Idea Generator: embrace the biblioblogosphere using a folksonomy.

Well, you'd have to, wouldn't you?

And this one from the whiteboard: rant about your library and call it a ''Rich User Experience."

Yes, we should unload on patrons and they should thank us for it!

Ha, ha, just kidding, potential employers!

Seriously ... just kidding. Irony! Irony!

100 Days

Here from the Times-Picayune is the official assessment of Mayor Nagin's "100 Days:"

Nagin says city making progress

To quote,
"While committees on topics ranging from health care to repopulation met during the past few months, neither Nagin nor any of his advisers hinted Tuesday at any major change in direction for the city. Much of the progress they touted sounded more like the return of a hobbled government to some level of functionality than the realization of a bold new vision.

As Nagin put it: 'The key question is, is New Orleans in a better position today than it was 100 days ago. And my conclusion is that we are.'"

But the things they cite as their "accomplishments" are things like the trash being picked up more frequently. Which is nice as far as it goes, but people in the devastated areas still don't have reliable electricity or phone service. People still don't have houses! And the displaced working poor are still displaced, in cities like Houston where they are rapidly wearing out their welcomes.

The whole thing has been a huge disappointment. The joke around town has been, Hey, Ray, a 100-day plan means you do stuff in the first 100 days, not take 100 days to come up with a plan. I thinks it's safe to say nothing has really been accomplished.

Not that I expected anything from him at this point, but a lot of people did.

It's a bad sign.

People are also extremely frustrated with the nightmarishly bureaucratic Road Home, to which you have to apply with an extremely long, complex and number-heavy application before you can get in to see anyone or even really talk to anyone one the phone. It turns out the "applications" people filled out online months ago were really just "registrations" and generated no useful effects except maybe to give the LRA some rough idea of the numbers of people who have been applying.

It's just all very discouraging, and I'm worried. About six months ago the scuttlebutt was about people moving back into the city: evacuees who swore they would never return coming home after all, and expatriates like Mark Folse moving home to take a stand and try to save their city.

But now, I'm starting to hear about people giving up and moving away. The rebuilding hassles, the spotty electricity, the outrageous spike in the cost of living, the rising crime rate -- some people have just had it. It's so sad. It doesn't have to be that way. Another New Orleans is possible.

There is a Recall Nagin movement afoot. I'm not sure that's the right move at this point, or in fact if it is even legally possible. But someone needs to hold his feet to the fire. 100 days of nothing still equals ... nothing.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. But the fact is, I don't feel much like celebrating or comemorating it. For me now, my life is about struggling to move on, not look back. In a way, for people like us who have been displaced, Hurricane Katrina has never really ended. It is still going on.

This is certainly true in New Orleans proper -- where there are not enough hospitals, not enough schools, where whole neighborhoods still don't have phone sevice, where two-thirds of the potable water in the sytem leaks out before it can be delivered, where the power still goes out every time it rains. And where the levees are still not fully repaired. Make no mistake, New Orleans is not OK. There is still a long, long way to go. Even in the Sliver by the River, life in the one-time City That Care Forgot grinds you down. This month I had my Mom come up and spend a few days with me in Baton Rouge, because she was getting so depressed, and she lives well Uptown; her home never flooded.

Normally I am no fan of supressing your emotions -- I feel the only way to deal with them, is to feel them fully. But in this situation, I see no point in dragging up all the grief and anger about the destruction of my home and may way of life, about the dead, the lost, and the city ruined. That grief, that loss is so huge, that I think if I give into it, it will consume me. I will never stop mourning. Never stop crying. It is too vast. I think this is why people obsessed over their missing pets so much -- that loss, that small loss in the face of so much death and desctruction, was something they could handle, a grief they could encompass. A way to express, yet contain the grief. It was just a dog or a cat, after all. Not a wife, not a parent. A child. A universe.

So I can't go there. If I think about evrything I have lost, how alone I am up here, I will just fall apart. No. I have to keep going forward, try and build a future. One lonely day at a time. The New Orleans of August 28, 2005 is gone forever. Whether here or there, we can only move forward. We have to keep on truckin. Like Scarlett O'Hara said, Don't look back. The past will only drag you down.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Katrina Anniversary Update

Oh, and in NOLA news, it seems City Hall has scaled back its official Katrina observances, due to a firestorm of criticism about its glitzy, convention-esque functions. No more Charity Jewels Auction or Platinum Gala. This is a good thing.

See if someone is organizing an observance in your own neighborhood. That would be more appropriate, I think. The civic association for Gentilly, my old neighborhood, is organizing a service at the London Avenue Canal, the breach in which destroyed the neighborhood. It will be hard, but good. Much better than some phony parade.


Today I joined the Library and Information Technology Association (, a division of ALA that concentrates, appropriately enough, on the use of information technology in libraries. In the past it concentrated on things like integrated library systems and retrospective conversion, but today it is mostly concerned with the use of the Internet and Web in libraries, a topic I am very interested in myself. It also covers Library education and technical issues such as authority control and Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information (MARBI).

My favorite committee is the Top Technology Trends Committee, which tracks and educates about emerging trends in library technology. They have a good webpage compiling information, available to the public, about new developments in IT. Check out their pages on blogging and folksonomies, for example.

Unfortunately, I sort of missed the LITA conference this year. It takes place before and during ALA Annual, which I did attend this year as it was in New Orleans, but at that time I was not aware of LITA and so did not seek out any of its events. I may have stumbled across some, but frankly I don't remember -- so much stuff goes on at Annual it is hard to keep it straight. A very similar experience to the World Science Fiction Convention, which I attended in 2000. Fun but exhausting.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I have updated my GA Journal.

I would be intersted in hearing anyone's thoughts on the Spike Lee documantary about Katrina, When the Levees Broke. I don't have HBO so was unable to see it. I hope it becomes available on Netflix soon.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Library 2.0 Nirvana

I have to say, this is pretty funny:

The Library 2.0 Generator

My favorite commandment was, "Attract Walt Crawford and reach Library 2.0 Nirvana overnight."

Although I have to look up Walt Crawford now.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Katrina Dinner

This is a splendid idea:

A memorial supper on the anniversary of Katrina for still-distant New Orleans refugees. It's based on the form of the Jewish Passover seder, with some distinctive New Orleans touches. Menus and New Orleans-themed playlist included.

People actually in New Orleans could do it too.

This is way better than a "Diamond and Platinum Gala" and a phony jazz funeral.

Memento Mori it's not.

Recently City Hall announced its plans for the official city remembrance of Katrina at the one year anniversary. (I found it via Wet Bank Guide. )

Some of it is appropriate, like a prayer breakfast and the laying of wreaths at the canal breaches. But a lot of it is a tacky-sounding, conventionesque spectacle based at, of all places, Harrah's Casino.

  • A silent jewelry auction?
  • Cooking demonstrations by Emeril?
  • A talent competition?
  • A "gala ball" at Harrah's for Diamond and Platinum ticket holders?

And maybe worst of all, a One New Orleans Parade "in the tradition of a Jazz Funeral" from (shudder) the Convention Center to the Superdome.

I get what Nagin et al are trying to do with this. They are trying to create a tourist spectacle, trying to show that NOLA is still open for business.

But I think this is exactly the wrong approach. The one-year anniversary is not a tourist spectacle, not some twisted version of Mardi Gras. It should be for us, the survivors, the people. Not the tourists.

When they are still finding dead bodies in the Lower Ninth, when people still cannot live in their own houses a year later, when Gentilly and NO East have no phone service and spotty electricity, the idea of a "diamond and platinum gala" is offensive and inappropriate.

"In the tradition of a jazz funeral?" Why not a real, honest to God Jazz Funeral? A funeral for the missing and presumed dead. A funeral for the New Orleas that was.

Friday, July 28, 2006

GA Journal

My professors, and articles in the library literature, advise me to keep a journal of my activities during my assistantship, or any pratica, so that I will remember them later, when it comes time to update my resume.

So here it is, my GA Journal. The blog seems as good a place as any. I will update it as conditions require.

  • Assisted with the development of Tiger Tail, an information literacy tutrial.
  • Compiled statistics on class and instructional session attendance for the Instructional Committee.
  • Assisted patrons at the reference desk, conducted reference interviews, located information resources, provided bibliographic instruction on the Libraries' webpage, the OPAC, and subscription databases.
  • Proofread and fact-checked a journal citation exercise for one of the Instructional libraians.
  • Created a bibliography for an article two of my librarians are co-writing.
  • Searched Yankee Book Peddler and downloaded order lists to add to the "Recent Acquisitions" pages on the Library website.
  • Assisted a librarian with a One-Shot bibliographic instruction session for Geography graduate students.
  • Helped the Chemistry Liaison evalaute some old videos on lab technique for possible inclusion in the collection.
  • Graded two sections worth of papers for one of the instructional librarians from the basic information literacy class.
  • Created a new form for archiving the results of user statisfaction surveys which follow up on our one-shots.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Road Home

Tonight I watched a show on LPB, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, about "The Road Home," the Louisiana Recovery Authority's home-rebuilding plan. Governor Blanco was on the panel, as well as Walter Leger, head of the LRA's Housing Task Force. (Here's the website to the show here.)

I'm glad I watched it because I learned that there should be assistance options even for people who think they don't qualify, because their insurance paid out fairly. Simply put, the LRA is covering people up to 150,000 dollars, minus whatever your insurance pays. So if, like me, you owned a modest house that was destroyed, even with a full insurance payout you might still earn an LRA grant to help you rebuild or relocate. There are also low-interest loans available. Once you register with the LRA, a financial counselor will call you to discuss your options. "There will be 123,000 different solutions," Walter Leger said, alluding to the 123,000 owner-occupied homes destroyed by Katrina and Rita.

So, even if you thought you wouldn't get anything, you should still register with the Louisiana Recovery Authority. You never know. The intent is to rebuild, after all.

You can register online. Here is the Road Home program's website: .

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Kirsten 2.0

I am a Hurricane Katrina survivor. When I lost my job, my home, and indeed my city in August 2005, I decided to go back to graduate school, and get the degree I had been putting off for years. When you don't know what to do, you go to graduate school, right? So I'm studying library science, working toward my MLIS, Master's of Library and Information Science, and looking forward to my first professional library job.

In his current "Internet Librarian" column in American Libraries (it's here), Joseph Janes mentioned in a discussion of the "Library 2.0" concept, that the ALA Annual convention was upcoming "in New Orleans, a city coming to terms with a 2.0 of its own." This analogy stunned me with its appropriateness. New Orleans 2.0. That's it, that's what it is. The same entity, but a new iteration. It'll never be the same.

And I realized I was living a 2.0 of my own. Here I am: new city, new job, new apartment, back in school, living on my own really for the first time in my life, husband still back in NOLA, and me, alone, fending for myself. A whole new life that I never imagined, and didn't want. Yet here it is. Same woman, new world. Kirsten 2.0.

So, a new blog for the new life. Here I will post my thoughts on my studies in the field of library science, as well as developments in the recovery of New Orleans. Even at a distant remove it is still vitally important to me.

I still cry often. I mourn for the dead, for the city ruined, for all the waste and tragedy. Get over it? I can't. Hurricane Katrina is a part of me now. You never "get over" something like that. You learn to live with it, which is not the same.

Reinstall and reboot. K2.0. That's what it is.