Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Birthday Infrastructure Katrina

This afternoon near my house a water main broke and water shot more than 40 feet in the air, closing down Banks Street in front of Jesuit High School. Here's a picture I just took. Notice the rainbow:
This sort of thing happens all the time in New Orleans. Since Katrina, the Sewerage and Water Board averages 17,000 repairs per year, and only half of the drinking water pumped into the pipes makes it to homes. The infrastructure of the entire city is old, and furthermore it was damaged by the flood after Hurricane Katrina.

Similarly, today I'm 45-years-old. Like my city, my infrastructure is both antiquated and damaged from Katrina. Here's a picture of me right now as I type this. Clearly the infrastructure is broken. Notice there is no rainbow. Just Saints magnets and a paddle to stir crawfish:
Photo on 2011-01-26 at 14.28

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'll Meet You At The Door

Therese's paintings of Kalypso and Gilgamesh, and our fleur du lis doorbell with Mardi Gras decorations, appeared on page 10 of the Inside Out (Home/Garden) section of the Times-Picayune this morning.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Yesterday morning we awoke to some louder than usual squawks from our chickens, and we were delighted to find two eggs in their nesting boxes. With today's developments, the total is up to three now. Pictured here is egg #3:
The eggs start off a bit small and get to their regular size in about a month. We got our Rhode Island Red hens on Therese's birthday, so that means they are now just over five months old. The chickens I mean are that young, as Therese is much much older. With five hens I'm thinking we should start averaging 3-4 eggs per day.

Charles Portis

Interested in the Coen brothers' remake of one of my favorite films, True Grit, I picked up the original novel by Charles Portis. I'm glad I did, as now I'm a big Portis fan. His brilliant portrayal of landscapes and characters, especially Mattie, led me to another of his novel's, The Dog of The South. There he creates one of my all time favorite characters, Ray Midge. Midge reminds me of another of my favorite characters in literature, Ignatius Reilly, in that the reader is offered a window into the perverse world view and corrupted logic of antiheroes who perhaps mean well but lack enough self-reflection to avoid obtrusiveness. While Ignatius obsesses on his pyloric valve and Boethius, Ray Midge focuses instead on grammar and Dr Buddy Casey at Ole Miss lecture on the Siege of Vicksburg.

In The Dog of the South, Ray noticed his marriage started falling apart when he began the Algebra lessons for his wife every Thursday at 7PM. He figured if he could teach his wife ninth-grade algebra he could teach anything to anybody. She started turning in answers she copied from the back of the book without showing her work, and he would grade her tests with a 0. So she runs off in Ray's car with a dreamer named Dupree, Ray sets out to get her back, and along the way we meet several memorable characters. Funny stuff, and I look forward to reading more from Charles Portis.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

725 Days of Smelling the Greatness

Beginning with the victory over the Detroit Lions on September 13th 2009, until the loss yesterday to the Seattle Seahawks, I certainly had the time of my life. The Saints next year, if there is a season at all, will certainly have a very different personnel and coaching staff. So thanks to the 2009-2010 team. You did so much for this city and region.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Attention To Detail

Buried in my 5 page syllabus is the following phrase: "Look at my webpage Course Commitments and send me an email saying hello and stating whether or not you can keep these commitments."

In a class with 30 students, I typically would get 3 or 4 emails fulfilling this task. Invariably, this is the strongest forecaster of success in my class. Students who send me this email, even before I meet them, are almost certainly going to be in the elite ~10% of students who get an A.

This reminds me of the story of Van Halen and brown m&m's. Van Halen in their contracts had a clause buried somewhere in the middle that stated the band needed a bowl of m&m's with the brown ones removed. The band knew that if there were brown m&m's, then the more vital aspects of the contract involving stage safety issues were in jeopardy of being unfulfilled to specification.

So success in college is really pretty simple from my experience. I'd advise perfect attendance, feigning a facial expression of interest, sitting in the front, visiting the professor during office hours, and carefully reading the assignments.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

End of a Homan Farming Era

Immediately before the end of 2010, my siblings and I sold the farm we inherited from my father. It was located in Cedar Rapids, Nebraska, and had been in my family for quite some time. My father liked very much the man J.K. whom we sold the farm to, and my dad thought he farmed well. My father grew up farming, his father farmed his entire life, as did my great grandfather, and his dad immigrated from Luxembourg to farm in Cedar Rapids.

This picture was taken in October of 2005. As I would often do when I visited my dad in Columbus, we would drive 50 miles east to visit Cedar Rapids. That's where my dad grew up.
He would point out the house in which he was born, his school, and many other locations. I was always proud to take my children there and let them hear from my father what life was like during the 1930's and 40's. Kids back then, in rural Nebraska, had so many responsibilities. While I'm sorry that this connection between the Homan farmland and my family has technically come to an end, I'm very thankful for the memories and the heritage. Just today I was telling my colleagues about my ancestors living in sod houses to survive Nebraska winters. With the proceeds from the sale, I was able to finally pay off my student loans and have some funds to spare. So thank you dad, and thanks to all of my ancestors before you who made all of this possible.