Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The rebuilding is complete!

For those of you who don't live here, a most reliable source has declared that the rebuilding of New Orleans has been completed.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Under the Sea

Last night, I dreamed that I was watching a middle-aged woman and her 20-something son, standing atop an invisible bridge that appeared to span a part of the ocean. The water was very clear. The son had a rod and reel--I couldn't tell whether it was designed for fly-fishing or bait-fishing--and the woman gave her son a choice between catching a worthless species of fish or catching a type of fruit that held the secrets to life, the universe, and everything. There were fish and fruit floating in the seemingly fast-moving water. She was frustrated and annoyed when he chose to pursue the fish, so she pointed out the fruit to me. I dove into the water after the fruit, and suddenly found myself deep in the water, underneath killer whales, baleen whales, dolphins, and other acquatic life. I realized that I needed to surface soon, or I would run out of air and die. I swam up and up, but couldn't seem to get to the top. As I neared the surface, I grabbed ahold of a creature that looked something like a puffer-fish that could somehow be used to save my life if I surfaced unconscious and with no air in my lungs. At that point, I actually woke up. Damn, if it wasn't 2:00 a.m., and a piece of my CPAP mask broke in two when I tried to get back to sleep.

Autism Conference


We attended the second annual St. Mary's Autism Conference in Alexandria, LA, this week, and spent some quality time with A and T. The conference was organized into small "break-out" sessions this year, and those sessions were more practical and less theoretical than last year. However, I spent most of last year's conference working the parents' group table, so I didn't see all that much of it. I got some hope renewed this year, seeing the miraculous results achieved by a couple of intensive autism programs with which some of the presenters were affiliated. We also received some affirmation that some of the things we've been doing intuitively actually have scientific support. It's astonishing how far applied behavioral psychology has come; it's infuriating how difficult it is for parents to afford the best of these programs. Fortunately for us, St. Mary's is moving in the right direction with its programming, but the autism center there is still in its infancy.

Meta-blogging note--Blogger finally allowed me to switch to the new version, so I can label and organize my posts. Yay!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Saints

We watched yesterday's NFC and AFC championship games, and were a little bummed to see our Saints defeated. However, the Saints' offense is based on timing and rhythm, and, thanks to the Bears' defense and the crummy weather, neither timing nor rhythm really got going. Also, Drew Brees didn't seem to get back in sync after he got called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety and two points for the Bears. The Saints' defense played remarkably well in the first half, given the amount of time it was on the field. Next year looks good for the team if it avoids injuries.

The AFC championship game was likely the real Super Bowl, with the winner of that game emerging as the favorite to win the whole enchilada. I was a little surprised at the Patriots' aggressive play-calling early in the game, but it worked well, to the tune of a 21-6 halftime lead. The Colts showed toughness and determination in the second half, and this year they finally got themselves a trip to the Super Bowl. It was a great game to watch.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Musical Scrubs


Hee! Everything comes down to poo.

Rome revisited


I've watched the first season of HBO's "Rome" on DVD over the past couple of weeks, and the first epsiode of the second season. I'm appreciating it much more the second time around, and I enjoyed it to begin with. The production has reimagined ancient Rome as something like modern Mexico City or Calcutta--a colorful cacophany of confusion where everybody lives on top of each other. Also, the show never forgets that Rome was a society built on violent conquest and that the economy was based largely on slavery. Even Caesar's most trusted advisor was a slave. There are storylines involving the familiar military and political struggles involving Caesar, Antony, Pompey, etc.; storylines involving the women who were sort of shadow rulers while their husbands were off at war (the characters played by Lindsay Duncan and Polly Walker have a wickedly fabulous rivalry); and storylines involving common soliders and their families' day-to-day lives. "Rome" is decadent, violent, and grand. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hollywood South


Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly have purchased a house in the lower French Quarter, have enrolled their oldest child in school, and plan to make this their primary residence. Angelina has been sighted mingling with the hoi polloi in the Quarter, and no doubt my coworker who lives in the Quarter will soon report a sigthing. I told him that if he sees them, he must invite them to the next office king cake party. I'm sure one of our 10 a.m. office shindigs would outshine any of those Hollywood bacchanalias. The Pitt/Jolie move actually makes sense--Brad is making a movie here, and he has taken an interest in rebuilding the Holy Cross neighborhood in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Devastation and frustration




Three photos of Waveland, Mississippi, near the Gulf. About a half mile or mile of the town was flattened by Katrina's storm surge. A railroad berm evidently served as a breakwater, and the part of town north of the berm wasn't damaged quite as badly as the part on the water.

Birthday and the Beach



T. turned 10 years old last weekend.




It was 75 and sunny on Sunday, so I took him to his very favorite place in the world, the beach! However, DW had hid his swimsuit too well before Christmas, when it was too cold for waterplay, so I took T. out in search of one. Academy Sports had no swim suits of any kind, and T. was hitting and kicking me over the fact that we were there instead of at Target, at the other end of that strip mall. I was griping out loud about how dare they hold themselves out as a sporting goods store, etc., when they don't even have something so basic as a swimsuit. Having a kid with you is fabulous when you need to vent about a store like that. Or about people who write checks in the express line instead of using debit cards. Or people who wait until its time to pay to root through their purses or wallets to find their cards or checkbooks. Grrrr! Anyhow, Target had a boatload of swimsuits, and we were picking one out when DW called to say that she had found T's swimsuit at home. To avoid a tantrum, I went ahead and purchased one at Target. Problem is, now he knows where they keep the swimsuits, and a swimsuit is a communication object for the beach, even though he can say "beach." So we went to Waveland, Miss., and had some fun in the water.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Anniversary

Today is my 13th wedding anniversary. We celebrated it a day early. DW and I probably are more in love than we were when we got married. Like most couples, we've had our ups and downs and we've helped each other through some very hard times. We still miscommunicate on occasion, but who doesn't? Working on communication has been one of the most important components of our relationship--DW and I have different forms of communication, and getting each other's modes down took time. Oddly, perhaps, another extremely important component for us as a couple is to give each other whatever emotional and mental space we need to work out our own issues. Anyhow, I can't believe I ever looked like this:

Ride 'em, Borat!

I know I've questioned the ethics of this movie, but here's the notorious rodeo scene from "Borat." It appears to be a bootleg from youtube, so it might not stay up too long. Anyhoo, during the previews before the showing of "Casino Royale" I attended, a college-age man came running in from the screen next door and told his friends that this scene was playing. A couple of the guys ran over to watch it. It is rather funny.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Scary City

We are looking ahead to Sunday's playoff game against the Eagles around here. The Saints have had a surprisingly good season, and, man, has that been good for morale. Things in the suburban areas like my town are moving towards normality--at least we feel safe and comfortable. Things aren't nearly so rosy in the city itself. The crime rate is surging again, and TPTB are struggling with the problem. Many of the streets remain unlit after dark, and, as an article in today's newspaper points out, even routine encounters can invoke fear:

City is in a dark and scary place now

Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Jarvis DeBerry

My gas gauge was completely on E, and the nearest gas station was the Chevron on the corner of Canal Street and Broad Avenue. It was late. No, it wasn't really late; just dark. Approaching 7:30 p.m. on an increasingly foggy Saturday night in a city that had seen more murders than days in the new year, and I pull into a gas station alone.

Nobody's there. Not even a cashier behind bullet-proof glass. And for the first time in -- well, ever -- I step out of my car worried that someone in New Orleans will hurt me.

Read the rest of the article here.

Update--The mayor announced a multifaceted approach to the current crime wave late yesterday. I lived in Uptown N.O. during a couple of crime waves in the 1990s. There was one carjacking epidemic that got to the point where you simply did a quick stop-and-go at red lights between 10 p.m. and dawn. The crime problem isn't new, but it takes on a new urgency as TPTB try to make the city attractive to businesses and residents who left after the storm.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Resolutions, goals, plans, or whatever

I haven't written down my New Year's resolutions in several years, and I rarely actually achieve them anyway (stuff happens, you know), but I thought I'd put some down for 2007. So here are a few things I'd like to achieve this year:

1. Improve my physical health. My physical health has suffered in the past several years, as I've been preoccupied with issues that were, quite frankly, more important. I've made a good start on my cardiovascular system already. The proverbial elephant in the living room wrt my health is obesity, so I'd like to take off at least 40 pounds in 2007. I lost 15 or so in 2006, so there's hope. Also, I need to work on my upper body, likely via pilates/yoga and weight training.

2. Improve my mental health. I have made substantial progress in this area over the past three years, but anxiety and depression occasionally rear their heads. Like many men my age, I've worked through some midlife crisis issues the past few years. That's in large part due to my dream life, in which my subconscious mind has asserted itself very loudly after many years of denial, repression, and suppression. Fortunately, I've worked through things thus far without embarassing myself by pretending to be 25 again (though I seem to be just about that age in a certain category of dreams). I have come to terms with several aspects of myself that I used to view negatively; I suppose that's a good thing.

The sadness, anxiety, and uncertainty about A. and T. and their futures is something that will always be with me. That's simple reality. Also, I've yet to come to terms emotionally with my family of origin's rejection of me. I think I'm still to angry about that situation to feel sadness about it yet. Moreover, there's the fact that I live here, which is something that I don't think can be overlooked. My family was not affected directly by Katrina, but there's a certain amount of stress and anxiety that's seemingly in the air.

The main tools I plan to use for my mental health are robust physical exercise and meditation. I'll still use my prescribed medication and speak with my therapist, who has been very helpful. However, I'd like to think I'm taking more control of my own destiny, so to speak.

3. Be more kind and compassionate to other people. I can be a cold bastard on occasion--a trait that can come in handy in my profession--but I need to be mindful of that fact. I can say that my tolerance of others has improved tremendously as I've dealt with my boys' autism and my own internal issues. I have no idea what makes people tick, so, apart from people who step across boundaries that simply should not be crossed, I'm fairly good at not being judgmental.

4. Continue to love my immediate family and circle of friends. Just reminding myself here.

4. Continue to be cautions with family finances. Again, just reminding myself.

5. Be a better employee. I could stand to be better organized and less distracted on the job.

6. Enjoy life a little more. I've been so preoccupied with my family's health and well-being the past few years that I've ignored doing things that I personally find fun. There may be some scuba trips and kayaking runs in 2007, I don't know.

Well, these are just a few things. I'm sure there are many more things I could work on.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007