Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Cocktail - Black Apple Martini and Flirtini

2 for 1 this week. First, the Black Apple Martini via Cocktail Times:

  • 2oz Phillips Union Whiskey
  • 1oz Apple Schnapps
  • 1oz Cranberry juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Phillips Union Whiskey is a new blend of Kentucky Bourbon and Canadian Whiskey. It also comes in cherry and vanilla flavors. The cherry should be good in a Manhattan, though I don't know if I'll ever run into this stuff around here. I'll probably just substitute bourbon, or blend my own without flavors.

I'm adding the Flirtini because I've got a bottle of champagne in the fridge and this sounds tasty:
  • 2 pieces fresh pineapple
  • 1/2oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • 1/2oz Vodka
  • 1oz Pineaple Juice
  • Champagne

Muddle pineapple and Cointreau in a mixing glass. Add ice, vodka, and pineapple juice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with champagne.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema
Paris police have discovered a theatre and bar in the catacombs. They found sensors that triggered surveilance equipment and barking dog noises as they went into the space. The theatre had modern projection equipment and a variety of films. When police returned with electrical experts to track the system, they found the lines cut and a note telling them not to follow.

BR: Grad Students & Ego Trip Shows Tonight

Start at Foster Hall on LSU's campus for a reception for the Graduate Students show from 6-8pm. See what the Grads have been up to over the summer and early in the semester.

Then head to the Backyard Gallery, 870 Violet St., for the rescheduled Ego Trip show, featuring all varieties of self-portraits. Janet's got a piece in the show, that I can only describe as a video painting and that doesn't quite work either. Can't wait to try to put it in a category on her website. The show goes from 8 til ?

Speaking of art in Baton Rouge, the Art Car parade has been postponed until March 4, 2005. Thanks to all who offered space for visiting car artists. We were able to house everyone, but due to the special Tulane vs. Southeastern game at Tiger Stadium, the police would be spread too thin to adequately cover a parade and the game, so they effectively canceled the parade. Don't be too upset, they were doing the parade for free, so I'm sure they're getting paid for the football game. The March 4 date coincides with the first anniversary of the Shaw center, so it should be a great big arty weekend downtown.

Also speaking of art in Baton Rouge, I'm going to try to start all Baton Rouge specific posts with BR in the title for those of you using rss readers from afar who aren't interested in the local stuff.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Subway Stations as Art

Metro Arts and Architecture - Metro Bits -

Tour beautiful subway stations from around the world. The above picture is from Stockholm, where art can be found in 90 of the 100 stations. Other stations, like Moscow below, take a more traditional approach.

Via PCL LinkDump

Wednesday, September 28, 2005



Still from the video "Pulse" Janet LuRu

Completely redesigned and ready for your enjoyment. Please enjoy the video art, installations, sculptures, costumes, and drawings of Janet LuRu. We collaborated on the design and I did all the technical stuff. I'm a novice and there are likely some errors, so feel free to let me know.

"She Comes by it Honestly" Janet LuRu: Ceramic, Metal, Fabric, Toy Monkey

Although the redesign is complete, there are a few things I haven't had a chance to finish. I had been working on this and planned to finish the weekend of hurricane Katrina, resulting in a delay. Then this article came out and I wanted to have the site up, even if not ready. I was waiting to announce the site here until completely updated, but gotta capitalize on all that good traffic. I'll remind you as we update in the future. There's lots more video clips on the way.

"Electra" Janet LuRu: Ceramic, Metal, Feathers

Art Parade in NYC by Deitch Projects


Lots of creative goodness on display a few weekends ago in NYC. Maybe this would be easier to pull off than the Art Car parade, which has been postponed until spring due to the hurricanes and other rescheduled events.

More photos at flickr, tag artparade.

Click for a zip code picture

Click for a zip code picture
Handy google map hack that allows you to enter a zip code, then you get the outline of that zip code on the map. I could have used this when appartment hunting when we first moved to Baton Rouge.

Woo Hoo! Recognized by we make money not art:

My post about Flexi/cardboard/oddity records was reblogged at one of my absolute favorite blogs, we make money not art.

It's lead to a ton of new traffic here at experiment 33 and I thought I should mention to the new visitors, that the blog usually resembles we make money not art, boingboing and to a lesser extent coolhunting. However, being based out of Baton Rouge, the recent posts have been hurricane related. When I started the blog in February, I intended to post at least one thing that I thought one of my favorite sites would find interesting that they hadn't yet posted, so pick up my feed and come back. I'm working back to posting more and more of the web curiosities we all love.

Since the recent posts are so text heavy here's something more visual:

"Gossip" by Janet LuRu kinetic sculpture/installation

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"The Maidens" at the Black Box this weekend

I love supporting the Black Box, but this might be a little heavy for me. From the press release:

The HopKins Black Box theatre at LSU presents The Maidens, an experimental performance inspired by the stories of the "Hiroshima

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. In 1955, 25 young female hibakushaor witnesses/survivors of the atomic bombs were brought to America to participate in radical plastic surgery by US doctors. These women came to be known as the Hiroshima Maidens. While in the states, the Maidens also participated in lessons on US women's customs and manners and were featured on a
popular television show, "This is Your Life."

Director Benjamin Powell, a PhD student in Performance Studies, has adapted material ranging from radio broadcasts from the 1950s, the Book of Esther, descriptions of various plastic surgery techniques dating back to 600 BCE, ancient sun myths of China, interviews with Los Alamos scientists, and his cast's own writings during the rehearsal period. The production uses non-western performance and training forms,
including karate, kabuki, and butoh.

The Maidens will play in the HopKins Black Box theatre, September 28th, 29th, 30th and October 1st at 7:30 PM and October 2nd at 2:30 PM. All seating is by general admission. A suggested donation of $5.00 may be paid at the door. For more information, call the Department of Communication Studies at 578-4172 or visit the website at <>.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Armed and dangerous - Flipper the firing dolphin let loose by Katrina

Armed and dangerous - Flipper the firing dolphin let loose by Katrina

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.


Flashbased interactive tour of an abadoned hospital. Haunting images. Can spend a lot of time poking around.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday Morning and All's Well in Baton Rouge

Just a quick note to let you all know that we're doing fine here in Baton Rouge. We're on the eastern side of the storm this time, which means much more rain. Winds seem similar to Katrina, but blowing in a different direction. Hopefully most things that could be blown down were already taken care of by Katrina. We lost power sometime in the night, but obviously it's back on now. Hopefully it will stay on and we'll just end up with a relaxing weekend just staying inside with the kitty. Maybe that's what we needed anyway.

LSU was scheduled to have a pretty big football game here this evening. Thursday night, the powers that be decided to reschedule for Monday night. When I got off work early Friday I called a friend to go to lunch (we had already completed all our storm preparations). While we were at lunch he was saying that it was ridiculous that they hadn't cancelled classes for Monday, so the traffic and parking was going to be insane. Obviously, you can't cancel classes for a football game, but he figured that they were going to have to cancel classes for "hurricane damage". Sure enough, by the time I got home, I checked my email and there was a message for faculty and staff the the facilities services folks anticipated they would need 2 days to clean up from the storm, so classes are cancelled for Monday. Hopefully it won't rain too much and we can all get our tailgate on.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Cocktail - Repost Hurricane

There's really only one appropriate cocktail for today, so even though it's a repost, here's the hurricane:

Cocktail of the Week - Hurricane

Hurricane Cocktail
Thinking about our coming trip to New Orleans led me back to the well of New Orleans cocktails for this week's libation. Many of the drinks passing themselves off as hurricanes are nothing more than red sugary punch and rum, possibly blended with ice. This is a terrible injustice to a fantastic fruity cocktail. Here's an excellent recipe:

  • 1.5 ounces light rum
  • 1.5 ounces dark rum
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice (NOT Rose's or RealLime)
  • 1/4 cup passion fruit juice, or 1 tablespoon passion fruit syrup
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grenadine
  • Cherries with stems, and orange slice to garnish
  • Ice cubes

"In a cocktail shaker, mix the rum, passion fruit juice or syrup, the other juices and the sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add the grenadine, and stir to combine, then add ice and shake. Half-fill a hurricane glass with ice, then strain drink into glass; add ice to fill. Garnish with orange slice and cherries."

A cocktail made with this recipe will look a lot more like this:

than this:


Right now, heavy rain in Baton Rouge, no significant wind. We're at home tucked in with the kitty.

Baby Math Capabilities Discovered

Through the use of scary hats:

I really just had to share the picture, though the article does describe an interesting psychological study where the researchers have been able to detect the ability of babies to do "perform very basic mathematical operations like addition and subrtaction."

Via FutureFeeder

The Internet Museum of Flexi / Cardboard / Oddity Records

The Internet Museum of Flexi / Cardboard / Oddity Records

The title pretty much says it all. A collector of strange records has scanned in the images and in many cases provides real audio clips. I particularly like the section on postcard records. I would love to receive a playable piece of cardboard in the mail.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Encyclopedia: MythBusters Episodes

Encyclopedia: MythBusters Episodes

MythBusters is a show where these 2 special effects guys try to test myths and urban legends in a semi-scientific and usually entertaining way. They focus on opportunities to blow stuff up. This website catalogs the episodes, the myths tested, the results, and a description of the tests. FYI peeing on the 3rd rail of an electric train will not electrocute you, but peeing on an electic fence will.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Art Car Parade Housing Needed ASAP


With the housing situation in Baton Rouge being what it is, the first annual Art Car Parade set for October 1, is in danger. If you have any space available to host out of town art car paraders (a fun group of folks), please go to the, click volunteer, then volunteer to be a host. This city needs a parade, so help if you can. Please forward this to as many people as you can.

Solution from PC Magazine: Upsample Your Images

Solution from PC Magazine: Upsample Your Images

Upsampling helps improve the quality of low res pictures. I just got a new mobile phone with a cam, so this technique might come in handy. Seems pretty straightforward.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ji Lee Pleaseenjoy

Ji Lee Pleaseenjoy
Now for an art break

This is part of a series where the artist put the empty bubbles around the city, then went back later and photographed the results.

Via BoingBoing - Senator John Kerry's Speech at Brown University - Senator John Kerry's Speech at Brown University
I've tended to keep politics out of this blog, and I have yet to talk much about the politics of Katrina. Honestly, I'm so enraged that I don't think it's good for me to start, but here are some excerpts from a speech John Kerry will give today at Brown University, that work pretty well for me. Overall, I'm not sure how the speech will play out, but I hope many will listen, and listen well.

They didn't listen to the Army Corps of Engineers when they insisted the levees be reinforced.

They didn't listen to the countless experts who warned this exact disaster scenario would happen.

They didn't listen to years of urgent pleading by Louisianans about the consequences of wetlands erosion in the region, which exposed New Orleans and surrounding parishes to ever-greater wind damage and flooding in a hurricane.

They didn't listen when a disaster simulation just last year showed that hundreds of thousands of people would be trapped and have no way to evacuate New Orleans.

They didn't listen to those of us who have long argued that our insane dependence on oil as our principle energy source, and our refusal to invest in more efficient engines, left us one big supply disruption away from skyrocketing gas prices that would ravage family pocketbooks, stall our economy, bankrupt airlines, and leave us even more dependent on foreign countries with deep pockets of petroleum.

They didn't listen when Katrina approached the Gulf and every newspaper in America warned this could be "The Big One" that Louisianans had long dreaded. They didn't even abandon their vacations.

And the rush now to camouflage their misjudgments and inaction with money doesn’t mean they are suddenly listening. It's still politics as usual. The plan they’re designing for the Gulf Coast turns the region into a vast laboratory for right wing ideological experiments. They’re already talking about private school vouchers, abandonment of environmental regulations, abolition of wage standards, subsidies for big industries - and believe it or not yet another big round of tax cuts for the wealthiest among us!

And amazingly -- or perhaps not given who we’re dealing with -- this massive reconstruction project will be overseen not by a team of experienced city planners or developers, but according to the New York Times, by the Chief of Politics in the White House and Republican Party, none other than Karl Rove -- barring of course that he is indicted for "outing" an undercover CIA intelligence officer.

Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn't do. Michael Brown -- or Brownie as the President so famously thanked him for doing a heck of a job - Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to slam dunk intelligence; what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad; what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy; what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning; what Tom Delay is to ethics; and what George Bush is to “Mission Accomplished” and "Wanted Dead or Alive." The bottom line is simple: The "we'll do whatever it takes" administration doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.

That’s the unmet challenge we have to face together. Katrina is the background of a new picture we must paint of America. For five years our nation's leaders have painted a picture of America where ignoring the poor has no consequences; no nations are catching up to us; and no pensions are destroyed. Every criticism is rendered unpatriotic. And if you say “War on Terror” enough times, Katrina never happens.

Well, Katrina did happen, and it washed away that coat of paint and revealed the true canvas of America with all its imperfections. Now, we must stop this Administration from again whitewashing the true state of our challenges. We have to paint our own picture - an honest picture with all the optimism we deserve - one that gives people a vision where no one is excluded or ignored. Where leaders are honest about the challenges we face as a nation, and never reserve compassion only for disasters.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Another Post-Katrina Baton Rouge Update

More updates from Baton Rouge. Tuesday night we headed to the river center again. Janet decked herself out in her “fifth grade boy” outfit of tennis shoes, cords, and her Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirt. This is an important detail because an evacuee in line behind us sees her shirt and just starts going crazy about it. Stopping people as they walk by and pointing at Janet’s shirt. He, then decides to include the yellow shirted, high school hipster, scientology volunteers in his antics. He keeps telling us we’ve got to see something. He also tells us he’s a little drunk, but he’s going right to sleep, and asks us not to turn him in. Once we get through security, he takes us to his cot, to show us his Steeler’s hat, freshly autographed by Terry Bradshaw who visited the shelter last weekend. I really wanted to take a picture, but I just couldn’t do it inside the shelter.

That night, we got shower duty. The showers are in tents set-up outside the building. I don’t think there was any hot water and only minimal privacy. There were only 3 shower stalls inside the tent, so most of the job was maintaining a line and distributing fresh towels. We had a steady flow of people, without too much back up from 7-9pm. We talked with those in line, more than we’ve talked with anyone in previous volunteer times. I talked with two men who got jobs getting bussed into New Orleans in the morning to do clean-up. They were happy for their jobs, said they were paid and fed well, even tipped (apparently they were working in a nicer neighborhood where residents were allowed in during the day). They did stink like you wouldn’t believe and were happy for the cold shower.

That was all we were able to volunteer this week. Janet worked at the gallery this weekend. Many of you know, or know of, our friends Rod and Greg. They were on vacation when the storm hit and flew back to Houston, where they’ve stayed with friends. Greg’s office is in Houston (he used to telecommute) so he’s been working. And, Rod’s been able to switch to telecommuting himself. They got a voicemail from a friend who’s a reporter for the New Orleans paper, that he was standing on Rod and Greg’s porch and could see no damage. There were even a couple of newspapers still on their porch from the 2 days before Katrina. Greg, went to the New Orleans airport to pick up his car on Saturday. The lot did not get any flooding, and his car started right up. They only charged him until the day Katrina hit, which was shorter than their original plans.

More good news from my boss, who had been commuting most days from her condo in the same neighborhood as Rod and Greg, she took the day off Friday for her first trip back to see her place. She reports that all was well for her. There were lots of downed trees and power lines on most streets. Some large streets were so filled with debris; there was only a path for one vehicle to pass. She said Kenner smelled horrible, and it was still bad in the Marigny, but roses by comparison.

Unfortunately, not all our stories are good. We have seen 2 couples of artists this weekend whose studios are probably still underwater. Both couples are waiting to see when they can go back and see what they can salvage. At least they have pretty good Baton Rouge living situations.

We’ll be back to volunteer again tomorrow, and we’ll check in with you all again soon.

[ ]: Tale of someone who went home to New Orleans Briefly

I'm mainly reblogging this from BoingBoing because the blockquote they use makes it seem as though the author lost his pet. I just want anyone who read it on BB but didn't have the heart to read the whole story, to know that Lola survived, and she looks like our Zandra.

I plan to post another Katrina related update later this afternoon.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday Cocktail - Back with a Bang


Just didn't feel right to post cocktail recipes in the middle of my hurricane recovery posts. Now, the Friday cocktail comes back with a bang. Not just a tasty recipe but a whole lunch break's worth of diy tv silliness from TikiBarTV. Eight episodes featuring some friends taking on silly character roles, and drink recipes in their apartment tiki bar. Really sounds like something we should do ourselves with a space age lounge theme. Just gotta get the other video project going again first.

Most of the episodes have a featured recipe, though you have to pause it to get the ingredients. Most of the recipes have been new to me. Here's one that sounds tasty:

Suffering Bastard:

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • .5 oz Bourbon
  • 3 oz Gingerale
  • 1/2 Lime
  • Sprig of Mint
Mix in a highball glass with ice, garnish with mint.


Via Eye of the Goof

SmitHappens- SNL Celebrity Jeopardy Videos!

SNL Celebrity Jeopardy Videos!
The complete collection just a click away.The Sean Connery bits always cracked me up.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Movie's and Music on the Lawn: more films of Georges Melies this Saturday

Also showing another episode of "The Power God" which is getting better and Melies follower Pathe. Same set-up as usual, $5, free for members, free to New Orleans ID holders, concessions available at a modest price, free popcorn. Bring a blanket. If it rains, it will still happen inside. Hope to see you there.

Image from another Melies film, probably not one that will be shown this time.

GREETINGS FROM NEW ORLEANS: An Experiment in Found Art

Greetings from New Orleans: An Experiment in Found Art

So, I get an email from my graduate advisor from Cincinnati this morning with a link to this site, and asking me if we're the Balcony Revelers. We most certainly are. As it turns out, my advisor's son, completed this postcard art project a few weeks prior to Katrina with the intent of showing it in New Orleans, where he was located. The project itself is great. He took the wonderful photos, made them into postcards, wrote fictitious messages, stamped them and finally "lost" them throughout the city. They all had Ohio addresses where he would be able to retrieve them. He received 47 of the 99 lost cards.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005



Art Car/Lesson in gothic cathedral archetecture (larger picture at the site is more legible). This car's in California, and isn't planning on coming to the Baton Rouge Art Car Parade. I just happened to stumble onto it today. Speaking of the BRArtCar parade. It will roll as scheduled. Unfortunately, the project Regeneration car we were working on will not happen. The volunteers are all working in one way or another with Katrina relief and the car is needed for basic transportation once again. We'll start early for next year.

Via Coudal Partners

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Interactive Video Exquisite Corpse

Anova Design - Jesper Bentzen

I know some Experiment 33 readers are quite fond of the exquisite corpse drawing game, where you fold a piece of paper in thirds, and draw a part of a body (or face) then pass it to the next person, folding your drawing under and not revealing the result until all parts have been drawn. Here's a more modern version, with video of it in action.

Via Future Feeder

Minority Report Style Electronics Interface Becoming a Reality

Laser-based tracking for real-time gesture acquisition

Not the wooden ball, the 3-D touch screens. Actually it's been a while since I saw the movie. Didn't they just gesture in the air to make things happen? If not, forget the title, but this interface is cool regardless. Would be great for small electronics with those tiny buttons.

Via Future Feeder

Threadless T-Shirts - Regrowth: Katrina, by Ross Zietz

Threadless T-Shirts - Regrowth: Katrina, by Ross Zietz

Here's a smooth transition back into my regular blogging. Threadless, everyone's favorite site for hipster t-shirts has just released this new t and all proceeds go to Katrina relief. Actually, for the first 2,500 t's they sold in under 48 hours, they donated $20 per shirt, that only cost you $10. Now, they are still donating the full $10 and the total is at the top of the page. It was up to $81,670 at the time I bought ours.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Getting More Normal

Things are getting much more normal for us since I last wrote. As I mentioned last time, we've had to cut back our volunteer time in order to keep up with our regular responsibilities. That seems to be true for many here in Baton Rouge. Of course, this mainly applies to those of us with solid job situations and no friends or family staying with us.

The city is mostly back up with power, and most trafic signals are functioning. Still lots of debris everywhere you go, but for the most part it's been piled up and is waiting for the extra trash trucks to pick it up.

We've been back to the River Center twice since I last wrote, and it's a very different place. The numbers have dramatically decreased from a high of around 7,000 to somewhere between 2 and 3,000. All of the people who had been on the second level have moved out or down to the first level. The immediate needs for food, clothing, blankets, etc. have been met. Now, the more difficult task of helping families reconnect and evacuees figure out what to do next is taking the fore. Saturday we were assigned to the communication center where Janet worked on data entry into the red cross database (entering names and the shelter they are located). I ended up doing something with a more administrative flavor, but way to complicated yet boring to bother to explain. Suffice it to say, I was probably the right person for the job. For a time, Janet was also physically assembling and testing computers for what will be a computer lab for the evacuees. I expect that when we go back tomorrow, they will have at least 20, though probably more, computers connected to the web that they can use to reconnect, and gather information to make plans.

Things are still safe and calm downtown and throughout the city. Traffic is noticeably worse than usual, but noone's complaining, just noticing. You can feel the extra students on Southern's campus (and I have heard LSU's as well). The community college is adding a whole 8 week session worth of intense courses to help displaced college students stay on track with their degree programs.

Last Tuesday, I received an email from our neighborhood association, letting us know that a young evacuated couple had just found temporary refuge in our neighborhood, staying in a house that is in limbo between sale/closing/and moving in. They lived near the New Orleans airport, in an area that was hit hard. They had just moved from Pennsylvania and were living there because one of them was teaching at Tulane University in New Orleans, and the other at LSU. Both, recent PhDs in psychology. After weathering the storm, but being without power etc. through Thursday, they walked to the airport because they could hear so much hellicopter traffic they figured they might be able to get out. They ended up spitting a cab with some other people and making it to Baton Rouge. They didn't carry much from their home to the airport. We walked over to where they are staying Tuesday night asked what they needed and invited them to dinner on Friday. Janet prepared a multi-course Mexican feast to make it a relaxing evening. They are holding up amazingly well, considering they didn't bring anything, they don't know what the Tulane situation will be, and the one who's teaching at LSU is teaching for the first time. Oh, and they're flying back to Pennsylvania next week to get married.

I think I'll return to the original Experiment 33 tomorrow, and post more of the amusing and unimportant net flotsam and jetsam some of you have come to expect.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Some Good News - BR likely to avoid health problems some originally feared

A little good news today:

Even as medical teams gear up for the final phase of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center's use as a hurricane hospital -- infectious disease treatment -- doctors don't anticipate an epidemic of storm-related diseases.
No big update today, one thing I forgot to mention yesterday is that when we volunteered on Monday, there was a mandatory handwashing station for everyone who entered the center.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Baton Rouge Relief Effort Weekend Journal

In some ways, there’s nothing new to report, and in others, I could easily write another extended tome about our weekend experiences in the wake of Katrina. Everyone is dealing with raw emotions, unsure what will trigger the next outburst of sorrow, anger, anxiety, or even joy. The overall picture is that we are recovering.

Friday was another weird ghotstown day at work. Most of which was spent on correspondence and news watching. We are now getting back to real work, especially the task of helping our sister colleges by integrating their students and in some cases, faculty. Friday night, we went back to the River Center to volunteer. We’re extremely happy to report that downtown is very safe and secure. We have found a ‘magic’ parking spot just one block from a police check point for controlling traffic to the shelter. We’ve parked there all but 2 times (once getting a little closer, and once parking one spot behind). So know, that from the time we get out of our car until we get into the center we are within eye and ear shot of the police. That said, let me make it clear that things feel very safe and secure regardless.

We’re also happy to report that the volunteer situation has become much more organized. Now, after we enter, we report to a check-in station where we are assigned a task and usually a person to report to. There are so many volunteers from all over the country that Friday night; we actually waited an hour for an assignment. We actually decided to leave. The volunteers from far away will have to go home someday, and we’ll still be here. We spent the latter part of Friday night at a cookout exchanging stories and friendship, vacillating between avoidance, heartwarming stories, and the negatives.

Saturday, we volunteered at dinner-time and put in a good shift running meals to people who could not get in the lines. Even though we were interacting more with the refugees than in the past, it was too busy to really have much to say. We were again serving meals ready to eat, which they were not happy about (though they were quick to let us know they were grateful, just hoping for something more comforting). That should stop now. We were specifically serving the MREs so they could get a more accurate count of refugees. Although the shelter is full, the Red Cross keeps taking new people in, and these people are in the worst shape. On the other hand, people are leaving, in many cases families are driving in and finding relatives. So, getting a solid count will help so that when they prepare meals they will all be eaten and all will have meals to eat.

Maybe you’ll be interested in the grand layout of the shelter (and now I realize I’ve gone the tome route). Here’s a link to the layout maps of the center: The ground level map is probably the best.
The exhibition halls are really just one hall (I suppose it can be sectioned off for exhibitions) and was the first place to fill with refugees while we were on the loading docks Tuesday night. Before we left, on Tuesday, the arena was filling up. At that time cots were scarce. When we returned on Wednesday, they had opened up the Galleria, Veranda, and meeting rooms on the plaza level. The meeting rooms are now used for Red Cross coordination, a movie room for entertainment, and infirmary rooms. Every open space on that level is full of cots, people, and whatever possessions they were able to bring. The loading dock is where we’ve spent the bulk of our time. It appears that they are letting anyone with donations drive right into the dock, and we unload for them, and sort it. There are supplies of all kinds in every free space throughout the dock area. We spent a lot of time yesterday sorting blankets, sheets, pillows, and towels. As quickly as we sorted the blankets, they were all gone, given to a new busload of 120.

We are constantly amazed by our first-hand view of the generosity of our fellow people. There’s a near constant flow of vehicles with donations. SUVs filled with brand new towels and gently used bedding, and when they leave, they say we’ll be back. When we left yesterday, the volunteer room was absolutely full of new volunteers waiting to take our places. We’ve also had the great fortune of running into many friends and co-workers volunteering. Friday night, as we were leaving, we ran into our next-door neighbors. They have an eighteen-month-ish (you know how good I am with that stuff) baby, and they had a babysitter, so this was their date night. They were told to familiarize themselves with the layout and come back for an assignment. We showed them around on our way out, and as we walked through the baby supply area we overheard a supervisor saying she needed two reasonably competent volunteers to organize the baby supplies. Voila, a perfect match.

Well, that’s enough for now. Leaving on an up note. This week will be strange, with the colleges starting up again, filled with a few new students. That also means that neither of us will have as much time to volunteer. We’ve decided we can do Monday and Tuesday evenings, and sometime on Saturday. I think the updates will be less frequent, but I promise to keep touching base with you all in the days ahead.

Friday, September 02, 2005 News - Police, deputies show force to quell riot rumor 09/02/05 News - Police, deputies show force to quell riot rumor 09/02/05
This looks like the explanation of what we went through yesterday. There's also a really good video clip of our Mayor being firm and compassionate about his stance on the issue with one of the evacuees who was upset at his use of the term "thug" in this article (or maybe in an earlier article). The link to the clip is on the Advocate's homepage, but it might get rotated out by this evening. Interesting to note at the end of the clip the reporter talks about the Red Cross volunteer efforts and they are capping it at 200 volunteers per shift. They're doing 12 hour shifts from 7 to 7, so I don't know what we're going to do next. I don't know if we can take an overnight shift. Maybe we'll have to find another place to volunteer. There's lots of other work that can be done.

Mental Health Day

Yesterday turned out to be very hard. As you know from prior emails, we've gone from fear to relief to anxiety and grief to starting to feel a little better due to the volunteering. With the volunteering, also came adrenaline. Yesterday came the inevitable crash of exhaustion. Accompanied by the miserable reports from New Orleans and the ridiculous rumors about our own downtown.

Ah, the rumors, don't know if any of this made the news, but as early as Wednesday night, there were small rumors of muggings and carjackings in downtown Baton Rouge, near the shelter. We made a point of walking in a large group with other volunteers to our cars at the end of our shift, and encountered nothing of any concern. Then, yesterday the rumors grew, making it sound as though the New Orleans looting fever had caught on in our city. It is not true! Apparently, sometime in the morning, someone did try something in the shelter. The police, anticipating this, rushed in with a large show of force, to try to get a message across to anyone who might think of trying anything later. This did cause a large number of bystanders to panic and run from the area, which a friend who was reporting to volunteer happened to get caught up in. She was pretty shaken up and left. She didn't know what had really happened, only that there was a stampede. I've pieced the details together from the news and I trust the news on this. Louisiana cops know how to deal with large crowds. I'd bet they're better than any in the world. I'm willing to trust that their calculated show of force was the right course, even though in the short term it caused some panic.

After that, the rumors went nuts. Another truth is that several downtown buildings sent workers home, or went on lock down, and LSU went on lock down as well. I think it was really just part of the effort to exert control and send a message. Unfortuntately, office workers locked in their buildings with internet access can get a little nervous.

While this is all going on, I'm at work. At noon the whole staff went to a university wide prayer service. The service was beautiful. Officials of several faiths spoke of overcoming this disaster, of generosity and love, and of thankfulness for what we still have. As, with any service here at a historically black college, the highlights were the songs of the interdenominational choir who blessed us with several selections. Although, I was feeling some physical exhaustion in the morning, I left uplifted, having cried and held hands with my coworkers. I was ready to go back to the shelter.

Janet was having a very different experience. Her friend who witnessed the stampede was giving her a first-hand account of her ordeal. This embelished by the rumors really affected Janet. She couldn't help, but remember the horrible Cincinnati riots that we were so close to. She's also feeling the physical and emotional exhaustion of the past few days. So she calls me at work and the phone rings and rings with no answer. She doesn't know we're at the service. Now her wheels start turning, maybe they've shut down the university and everything is true. What if Don has to take an alternate route home and go through downtown? I almost drove into the start of the Cincinnati riot heading downtown to pick her up from work, unaware that anything was brewing. Janet gets contacted by another friend who is frustrated that she's been told not to come in to volunteer, another lock down situation. This friend is pretty convinced that it's mostly rumors and starts to ease Janet's fears.

I have now come back to my office from the service, to some disturbing email asking if I know anything about the safety of going downtown to volunteer, and one message from a friend who is in a locked down building. Now, I'm starting to get caught up in it. However, I went to the local newspapers website and found a very clear article stating that there were some precautions being taken, but our city is secure. There was also video of a press conference with our mayor (only good thing to come out of the last election). He was explaining the danger of rumors and the truth of the situation. Janet finally reaches me and we realize, maybe we need a mental health day. One of the best parts of the Red Cross orientation is that you must take care of yourself, if you are to care for others. Besides, there were announcements on the radio that volunteers should not come in anymore yesterday. They were staffed, and controlling the flow of people around the shelters.

Ah, but there's more. We have two friends (Malcolm and Chicory) from New Orleans who teach at LSU. They keep an apartment here, so they've been safe throughout. However, the apartment here is just a place to sleep during the week, so it's small, and they've been without power since Monday. They also have Chicory's mother, her mother's pets (I'm not sure how many, but several dogs and even chickens), and 2 friends. We had already offered for any or all of them to stay, but they weren't taking us up on it. They had stopped by a few times to check in on the news. Chicory did spend Wednesday night with us, due to pet allergies (and maybe a brief bout of mom allergy).

So, for Janet's mental health break, she cooked a big pot of a cajun influenced stew with chicken, sausage, and shrimp. And, she and Leanne did their toenails. We had Malcolm and Chicory and their crew over for dinner and we were able to enjoy each others company for a few hours.

Now, with bodies and minds refreshed, we're ready to get back at it this weekend.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

DigitalGlobe image of New Orleans Flood Damage from August 31.

new_orleans_msi_aug31_2005_dg.jpg (JPEG Image, 4062x4544 pixels) - Scaled (12%)

When I first looked at it, I thought that it couldn't be recent. Then I really looked. All the dark green should be grey streets. For those not familiar with the area, in the bottom right corner, you see the river, near the middle (bottom) the white circle is the superdome. From the superdome to the river and upward along the river is the French quarter. It's mostly grey, and if you follow on around the bend in the river, that's our friends' neighborhoods, the Marigny and the Bywater. It's also grey. Following the link will open a larger picture and clicking the picture should zoom in, but it might be harder to navigate. I'm holding out a little hope. People with more familiarity with New Orleans should feel free to comment and point out other areas of interest.

NOLA Marigny/Bywater Forum Map #2

NOLA Marigny/Bywater Forum Map #2
Via Metroblogging New Orleans

Larger image via the link.

Volunteering Day 2

First, a few things that have come up in e-conversations that might need clarified:

1. I may have downplayed the damage done to Baton Rouge. I haven't been able to focus on the numbers, but many parts of the city are still without electricity. I counted traffic lights on my way home last night, and 5 of 8 were not functioning. There are trees down everywhere, but most have been at least removed from streets. That said, we were never very scared during the storm. We're in a very good place. A representative from Entergy said on the news last night, that they expected to restore electricity to the whole parish (county) by Saturday.

2. The people in the shelter where we are volunteering are from New Orleans, or other areas that were hit harder than us.

As I mentioned yesterday, it felt very weird being at work. Both LSU and Southern have cancelled classes until next week, so it was a ghost town, with only about half of the staff returning to work. Janet was back to work at the gallery, but they closed early so we could head back to the shelter.

As we walked toward the shelter, we saw lots of people milling about, getting some fresh air outside. And saw a touch football game being played by 10-16 year old children on the levee. Yes, it was a sloped field, but running and playing had to feel better than being cooped up inside. On the other hand, I felt for the teenage girls walking behind us, whom we overheard say, "Just chillin, there's nothing to do but chill." Invoke heavy sarcasm on the last chill.

Inside the shelter last night was a little more organized. We arrived just before dinner service and helped pass out food. It was a very long, slow line, but orderly. There were many more volunteers, who appeared to have things under control, so we floated around doing odd jobs. A semi-truck full of cots and blankets arrived on the loading dock, but couldn't pull in because someone had parked in a way that impeded the turn. Frustration rose, as cars, trucks, and vans full of donations stacked up behind the semi. We started going to the vehicles and carrying the donations, not ideal, but it relieved the congestion quicker.

Back to odd jobs, this time we started cleaning up behind the food distribution area. Empty packaging littered the area behind where the food was being served. As I was throwing away cardboard packaging, two other volunteers who we had met earlier said not to throw away the thick cardboard. They had worked through last night and said that soon people without cots would come asking for cardboard to provide a little more warmth and softness atop the concrete arena floor.

We then switched to "running". Running consists of going out onto the floor, finding a family and asking them what they need, jotting it down, and heading back to the donations area to see what we could find to fill the list, "size 6 girls shoes, socks, underwear, and a blanket, etc." The donations area was much more organized than the night before. There was a pretty clear clothing area, baby area, and toy area. But sizes were very mixed. Most of the volunteers were sorting or running because the meal service was running so smoothly. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the running was interfering with the food service and all runners were asked to stop until the food service was complete. It was hard to stop because after you dropped a load with a family, another family was asking for help. The reason this might have been a little fortunate, is that everyone switched to sorting, so hopefully future running will be much quicker. Oddly enough Janet and I found ourselves sorting children's shoes, pairing them, and sorting them by size. I really hope someone's list of needs includes girls size 4 tap shoes. A little tap show would probably do all some good.

As we were about to leave, a volunteer meeting was called and it looks like tomorrow will be even more organized. We'll have a check-in point, and be assigned a specific job. We'll look forward to that. We also found out at the meeting that this shelter was guaranteed to be open at least 30 days and that all shelters in Baton Rouge are now full.

Once again, we ran into friends volunteering. And met new friends. The spirit of camaraderie is overwhelming. Several times we found ourselves working side by side with strangers, not talking much, focusing on the task at hand, but when we or they left for the next task saying goodbye as though we were longtime friends.

Well, I really should attempt to do a little more of my job today than yesterday.