Katrina overload

Well I never thought I would say I have too many facts about the storm, but having watched When the Levees Broke, New Orleans: Anatomy of a Disaster (Nova), AND National Geographic: Inside Hurricane Katrina, all in the past week [which all echo Douglas Brinkley’s book The Great Deluge], I think I’m back on track with what little I knew then, what I learned from the Internet that fateful week and since the recovery started, and what I’m just learning now. The main thing is that I want more people’s stories–like I said way back when all of this was happening, I don’t care what Blanco or Nagin should have done or the extent to which the federal government dropped the ball, the media had little to report that concerned MY neighborhood. What were people in Gentilly seeing? Where are they now? What did they return to? Spike Lee’s 4-part epic came closest to fulfilling my needs as an eager audience member in need of information, still his work focused mainly on the 9th ward, not the 7th where I was raised.

I started writing my narrative for Ellis’s class a few weeks ago then stopped, realizing that I had too much to say. I needed to figure out a way to frame things. I thought that frame might be “love amidst disaster and the guilt that causes me” but I think if I want to make this paper work as the beginning of a dissertaion in Rhet/Comp, I may stress the public writing and comfort that the Internet provided me when all other mediums failed. Who knows. I’m sure if I write it how I want to, emphasizing the personal and the public, both narrative and analytical frames will be present. Plain and simple: whatever I can focus on for the next 3 weeks is what it will be! At least for now…

A wise man told me today that I need to stop thinking about this as writing a dissertation and instead think about it as my work, my future.

No wonder I’m marrying him! 😉



Things I’ve done:

1. Got engaged!!!
2. Went to a ZUMBA bash with the creator of the exercise craze himself
3. Met and heard David Sedaris read–the funniest of all 3 times I’ve seen him!
4. Went to Disney World
5. Saw 3 Pet Shop Boys concerts in 5 days

No more dancing top hats for me, it’s back to the trauma of writing Katrina-related narratives… 😉


race and access

The battle by both races for money post-Katrina continues, although this article proclaims that “Whites appealed Katrina insurance more”:

State workers crisscrossed the state, using mobile complaint centers, user-friendly Web sites and advertisements on television and radio. When complaints were received, state insurance officials determined whether they had merit, and lobbied insurance companies for more money for homeowners when warranted.

That message, however, never reached the water-stained stoop of Doretha Kitchens’ house, which was enveloped in a 9-foot wave of muddy water when the Lower Ninth Ward’s aging levees broke. For months, she had no access to computer, radio or TV and couldn’t hear the state agency’s messages.

Kitchens also didn’t know she could appeal Allstate Corp.’s settlement offer to the state, but doubts it would have changed anything. Her husband, she said, simply lost faith that anyone would help.

“My husband didn’t want to be bothered. I asked him, ‘Why don’t we sue the insurance company?’ He said, ‘They ain’t gonna do nothing no way.’ White just decided they was gonna go file. Black, we just gave up easier.”

I think post-Katrina EVERYONE finds it tempting to give up. I know my parents would love to with all the stupid forms they have to file. Yet word of mouth and new friends at their Senior Center keep them informed. They’ve never been on the Internet, except for pages I’ve shown them, and that often is more confusing. Remember my “FEMA sucks” post complaining about how that government website required Internet Explorer?

Easier said than done, but no one should give up, as tiring as it all seems. The fight must continue otherwise the rest of America will forget and give up on us too.


Associated Press Managing Editors conference

While searching for epistolary essays for my students to read, I came across this: APME Conference In New Orleans Centers on Katrina and Web . It’s next week so of course I can’t even try to figure a way in, but at least the attendees “will get a first-hand look at the area’s devastation with bus tours.” I think that’s a step in the right direction in terms of getting a true sense of place and of the areas that still haven’t even heard the word “recovery” yet.

Speaking of having mixed feelings of optimism and dread, check out Chris Rose’s latest essay: “Making Conversation.”

Sometimes I worry that those of us who have chosen to stay here and rebuild this city have developed the same kind of information filtration system that the mayor has, where all the bad news just seems to wash past him while he keeps telling us everything is groovy, everybody’s moving home, the streets are safe, go Saints.

Maybe they’re putting the Nagin Kool-Aid in the water. I mean, I’ve got this weird thing going on every morning where I look in the mirror and say: I believe.

Don’t ask me how, but I believe.

Similar to the narrative I’m writing, it’s about how everyone in NOLA has a story to tell, then segues into wondering how we can even be confident that our city is on our way back when we’re all still dealing with insurance companies and FEMA and lord knows what else! Personally, I feel guilt everyday, that I am so happy, in love, and have all sorts of free time to go to Disney World and eat steak dinners [although those were in celebration of the engagement, not every day!], which makes it easier for me to believe that some people may be better off and that this storm has shaken things up for the better in terms of reform, but somehow I don’t think that’s the case, not for long at least. I’m hearing more and more about relationships being on the rocks and the crime rate soaring, but dammit I still love that city and desperately want to go back!


my personality defect

Haughty Intellectual
You are 57% Rational, 42% Extroverted, 28% Brutal, and 100% Arrogant.
You are the Haughty Intellectual. You are a very rational person, emphasizing logic over emotion, and you are also rather arrogant and self-aggrandizing. You probably think of yourself as an intellectual, and you would like everyone to know it. Not only that, but you also tend to look down on others, thinking yourself better than them. You could possibly have an unhealthy obsession with yourself as well, thus causing everyone to hate you for being such an elitist twat. On top of all that, you are also introverted and gentle. This means that you are just a quiet thinker who wants fame and recognition, in all likelihood. Like so many countless pseudo-intellectuals swarming around vacuous internet forums to discuss worthless political issues, your kind is a scourge upon humanity, blathering and blathering on and on about all kinds of boring crap. If your personality could be sculpted, the resulting piece would be Rodin’s “The Thinker”–although I am absolutely positive that you are not nearly as muscular or naked as that statue. Rather lacking in emotion, introspective, gentle, and arrogant, you are most certainly a Haughty Intellectual! And, most likely, you will never achieve the recognition or fame you so desire! But no worries!

To put it less negatively:

1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.

2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more ARROGANT than humble.


Your exact opposite is the Schoolyard Bully. (Bullies like to beat up nerds, after all.)

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Braggart, the Hand-Raiser, and the Robot.



If you scored near fifty percent for a certain trait (42%-58%), you could very well go either way. For example, someone with 42% Extroversion is slightly leaning towards being an introvert, but is close enough to being an extrovert to be classified that way as well. Below is a list of the other personality types so that you can determine which other possible categories you may fill if you scored near fifty percent for certain traits.

The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

Be sure to take my Sublime Philosophical Crap Test if you are interested in taking a slightly more intellectual test that has just as many insane ramblings as this one does!

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 63% on Rationality
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You scored higher than 36% on Extroversion
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You scored higher than 26% on Brutality
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You scored higher than 99% on Arrogance

Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

information literacy lacking

Interesting finds from the Educational Testing Service [link to the Chronicle, subscription required]: “According to the preliminary report, only 13 percent of the test-takers were information literate.”

Among the study’s findings, the ETS labeled the following as “good”:

Students generally recognized that Web sites whose addresses end in .edu or .gov were less likely to contain biased material than those with addresses ending in .com.

Students typically favored print material over Web sites for authoritative information.

When searching a database of journal articles for a research project, 63 percent of students identified reasonably relevant materials.

The testing service labeled the following findings as “bad”:

Some students were too willing to believe print materials, failing to distinguish authoritative from mass-market sources.

Students were generally poor at identifying biased Web content.

When searching a database, only half of students downplayed irrelevant results.

Since I’m not teaching first year writing in a face-to-face environment this semester, it’s hard for me to compare these numbers to what I’ve seen over the past few semesters; however, I assume it would be safe to say that with the number of students on Facebook and MySpace, many are looking at the Internet as a fun and social medium, which explains the answer of print sources as thre more reliable. Still, despite their findings, I doubt many have been introduced to proper datebase searching skills that can last throughout their college careers. I think we all know how easy it is to eventually chalk it all up to Google, right?

Maybe I’m being negative…but knowing all that my own department is doing to make use of technology, I don’t really see much in terms of discussion of teaching information literacy, just pointing to website after website. I need to get on my “public writing” research to help me articulate this information literacy debate better. More soon!


one more site

Dawn Saves Wildlife

Wildlife that comes into contact with oil is at serious risk. Oil destroys the intricate layer of feathers that protect birds, exposing them to extremes in temperature. When they try to get it off with their beaks, they risk poisoning themselves. If the oil isn’t removed quickly, they’ll die.

Thankfully, Dawn quickly removes the oil, without harming the skin or feathers of the animal. That’s because Dawn is tough on the grease – but mild on fur, feathers and skin.

Go to the “How you can help” tab; it’s the most important!



Just heard about this new site on the AOIR listserv. Kind of spooky–I looked up New Orleans and in addition to telling me where restaurants and wifi spots were, it pointed to people’s homes and businesses, and the more info and pics they willingly enter, the easier it is to physically find them?!?!?

This is from the FAQ

Plazes adds physical presence to the web. The Plazes website automatically detects your location and connects you to people and places nearby. See people in your area, discover other locations and follow the whereabouts of your friends.

All I can say is “I wear my sunglasses at night…”



Since I made the decision to postpone my comps, I’ve blogged less, but I have been writing. The Placeblogger.com launch should happen in a few weeks and you’ll see an article from me up there.

The Carolyn Ellis class I am taking continues to be fascinating. We’re writing a narrative and I hope I can make it the opening chapter of my dissertation. I’m slightly worried that I’m veering toward the personal, but right now I just want to write that way and see where it goes. All of the reading we’ve done for her class blends in theory very well albeit slightly but the writing still leaves a major impact, and that’s what I’m aiming for in my diss. I know the other chapters will be more rhetorical and theoretical, so let me have my intro and tell my story, OK? Heehee. I don’t mean to be defensive to a nonexistent critic, but I guess I foresee having to defend some of my choices in the long run. What else is new?

Other than that, October is shaping up to be a very busy month. Seeing David Sedaris speak next week then 3 Pet Shop Boys concerts–WOOHOO! I can’t wait for Thanksgiving with the parents as their house is getting an addition put on and it’s always exciting to see their new home grow, whether it be structurally or with the 3 kittens they have running around now.

My kitty Sweetness continues to be a joy and she’s even found a nice group of friends on MySpace: White Cats Rock! Hilarious! 🙂

OK I am off to grade papers and continue reading Final Negotations.


my crime space

I read that the most recent Colorado school shooter may have identified his victims beforehand on MySpace. I haven’t been able to verify that yet but I did come across this blog that apparently tracks any crime with a connection to MySpace profiles.

Very scary that it’s come to this, but I think it’s also intriguing to consider for those proponents of public writing like myself.




Congrats to Joe Mauer, Major League Batting Champion!

Take that, Derek Jeter!!!!!

I would write more but we biked almost 20 miles today and spent the day at the beach yesterday and I think I’ve had a bit too much sun. I need to crash!

P.S. We saw this guy biking yesterday and now that we’ve seen his billboard, we can’t wait for the BICYCLE BASH!