Four Years

The flooding of New Orleans from levee failure in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina nearly four years ago consumed my thoughts at the time, for weeks afterward, and from time to time ever since. In those first days I was incensed and I did an insane amount of reading, writing, and even research. In honor of the city and its people, as well as the others in the Gulf Coast and beyond who were affected by the storm and the morons in the Bush administration, I offer up most of the posts I wrote on the subject.

Memory of New Orleans
31 Aug 2005. Going to New Orleans the year before Katrina.
The City That Care Bush Forgot
31 Aug 2005. That damn photo. Laziness or Something Else?
01 Sep 2005. Research is soooo difficult.
Who Coulda Thunk?
01 Sep 2005. It’s hard to deliver disaster relief in the middle of a disaster zone!
New Orleans Lockdown
01 Sep 2005. One of the first reports from the bridge.
Over Here (Now On FX)
02 Sep 2005. Re-imagining a TV series from one hellhole to another.
Poor, Picked-On Pentagon
02 Sep 2005. Whining from the Pentagon about their failure to move faster.
The Bad Bush Official/Bad Bush Strategy
02 Sep 2005. Reconciling the “people should have left” story with the “nobody anticipated a disaster” narrative.
Who Coulda Thunk 2?
02 Sep 2005. The weird coincidence of a hurricane and high water!
How Long Does It Take to Drive From Shreveport to New Orleans?
03 Sep 2005. The odd disparity between “prepared” and prepared.
Disaster Fatigue
03 Sep 2005. After spending three months chasing around Aruba for Natalee Holloway, it only took a week for the cable shows to start getting bored of New Orleans.
Continue to Think
03 Sep 2005. Treating people like they’re idiots with bootstraps. Continue to think!
Why Did the Convention Center Relief Take So Long?
04 Sep 2005. Not understanding how things were so bollixed up.
Who Coulda Thunk 3?
04 Sep 2005. Nobody could have predicted a threat!
Half-Staff or Half-Assed?
04 Sep 2005. For Immediate Release.
That Explains It
05 Sep 2005. The connection to failure.
Fear of a Black New Orleans
05 Sep 2005. The fear factor.
Photo from the Bayou
06 Sep 2005. Me and a gator.
Nagin on Race and Class
06 Sep 2005. For all his faults…Nagin on the way out of town.
The Hand That Feeds Jonah Goldberg
07 Sep 2005. NPR’s timing at picking JG as commentator was near-perfect.
Did the Proclamation Have to Be Requested, Too?
07 Sep 2005. Prying recognition out of Bush.
8 September 1935
08 Sep 2005. A review of a Huey Long bio on the date Long was fatally shot.
Six Days Before the Presidential Proclamation: Why it Matters
08 Sep 2005. Why’d it take six days to recognize the dead?
The Howler Pleasures Himself Daily
09 Sep 2005. Bending backward to give Bush the benefit of the doubt when news reports going back a year say otherwise.
New Orleans: The No-Fault Disaster? Naaah.
09 Sep 2005. Who knew what when.
Ignoblesse Unoblige
11 Sep 2005. Barbara Bush and her beautiful mind.
Feedback Loop
12 Sep 2005. Bad information will be free.
Bush vs. New Orleans
12 Sep 2005. George Bush doesn’t like black people.
Las Cucarachas
13 Sep 2005. aka “the residents of the city”.
The Plan Unfolds
13 Sep 2005. Oregon’s response.

Feedback Loop 2
14 Sep 2005. How New Orleans dodged the bullet.
Natalee vs. Katrina
21 Sep 2005. How much time MSNBC devoted to the “missing woman” story of the summer vs. New Orleans.
Letter to Dan Abrams, “The Abrams Report,” MSNBC
21 Sep 2005. Natalaee Holloway vs. New Orleans.
Sing Along With Georgie
22 Sep 2005. That other photo.
27 Sep 2005. Asking impertinent questions.
New Orleanians Want to Go Home
08 Dec 2005. Rayh Broussard’s photos of his city..
27 Aug 2006. The Hurricane Katrina commemorative bowl.
Half-Staff or Half-Assed Redux
17 Apr 2007. The selective on-the-ballness of George W. Bush.
Postmark Katrina
30 Aug 2007. Down the memory hole by two years out.
What’s Important to John McCain
24 Apr 2008. John McCain on New Orleans. Or not.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

Bronze Ganesh Statue

Today marks the Hindu holiday of Ganesh Chaturthi, the start of a ten-day festival celebrating the birth of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom and prosperity.

Coincidentally enough, it’s also the first birthday of Samudra, the Oregon Zoo’s latest addition to its colony of Asian elephants.

Barbara and I have long had a soft place in our hearts for Ganesha — particularly as he’s the Remover of Obstacles and the patron of letters and learning, things we love and need. So in honor of the day, we’d like to wish that everyone’s obstacles be removed and that they have a good year until the next Ganesh Chaturthi.

On the other hand, we probably didn’t get the party started off quite right by buying ten pounds of hamburger at Freddie’s this afternoon.

Seriously, Ed

From the LA Times article about how Joe Biden’s a player in the Administration despite his gaffes:

Some who’ve known Biden for years say he has picked up new habits. “Joe’s on the teleprompter a lot more than he was at the beginning,” Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell said.

Yet Biden is still valued in settings where he can be himself. It was no accident that Biden was invited to Obama’s “beer summit” last month to smooth over the arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

“If you said to me, who’s the person in the administration you’d most like to have a beer with, Joe Biden would be the guy most Americans would choose,” Rendell said.



The smart hit the 15,000 mile mark on the trip back from the Bay Area, right about the time I made it to McMinnville. I kept forgetting to look down, even though I knew it was coming up, but just changed to catch it at exactly the 15,000 mark.

Still didn’t see any other smarts on the trip, although I did get a flash of something about the right color of yellow on Monday morning (I had to stop in Yreka about 12:30am or brave the rest of Siskiyous with glasses not really optimal for seeing at distance in the dark) in the Willamette Valley, on the other side of the freeway, heading south. Not as exciting as the trip south, although I could swear that I saw a large mound of dirt with dead sheep piled on it and a couple of large tractors in a field just off the freeway north of Albany.

Raving ‘Bout Ravi

Darrel Plant and Ravi Singh

I wish I could blame it on time and age, but the truth is my mind has never remembered names or faces well. At least not names and faces of people I should know from having met them in my personal life. Names from history, faces from the past, even useless garbage about characters on television shows I’ve never watched, all that kind of stuff seems to fill the nooks and crannies of my mind like so much methamphetamine crowding the dopamine receptors of a brain.

That’s why it’s both gratifying and embarrassing to have someone come up to me that I totally don’t recognize and ask something like “Aren’t you Darrel Plant?” It’s gratifying, because for a moment there I think “Wow, someone knows who I am from the old days.” Then it’s embarrassing when —¬†as happened on Sunday at iPhoneDevCamp 3 in the Yahoo! cafeteria — it’s someone like Ravi Singh, the man behind the Xtras at Ravware. We hadn’t seen each other for something approaching a decade, but Ravi remembered I wore glasses (although he thought I was thinner now, which I most assuredly am not).

Ravi ‘fessed up that he’d spotted me the first day of the camp but hadn’t been sure it was me. That’s a long step up from the likes of myself, because if Ravi had been in a group of five people — much less the several hundred in attendance at iPDC — I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out as someone I’d ever met. It’s a pretty pathetic way to live your life.

Thankfully, not everyone’s as much of a moron as I am, and Ravi decided to put his suspicion to the test. We had a great final day of the camp, watching a very inspirational (if daunting) talk by Steve Demeter, the guy who invented the iPhone app development gold rush by making a small fortune with Trism; talking about the old days, catching up on people we knew, talking about iPhone development, and briefly discussing the Xtras Publisher Who Shall Not Be Named; and watching the presentations of the Hackathon projects (neither of us were participating). And we discussed some potentially cool things for the future.

Running into Ravi really made the drive down to the Bay Area and back to Portland worthwhile. Tom Higgins last weekend in Vancouver, Ravi this weekend. What does the future hold in store?

Seeing Is Believing

They called them “no-see-ums” in the pre-event info sent out from the folks putting on iPhoneDevCamp 3 at the Yahoo! campus this weekend, but as this photo of the door between the parking garage and the building where the event was held, you can, indeed “see-um.” And, dude, there’s millions of them dead on the stairs.

iPhoneDevCamp No-see-ums

Driving I5

It was a long drive down from Portland to Sunnyvale for iPhoneDevCamp 3 on Friday. Here a few random things I noticed:

  • In nearly twelve hours (including stops) on the road Friday and in the couple extra hours I spent driving up to Annie & Eric’s in San Francisco tonight, I haven’t seen another smart car.
  • Down around Roseburg there are a couple of large billboards along the hoighway with several panels morphing the face of a man into a chimpanzee and the header “Are They Making a Monkey Out of You?” apparently for an anti-evolution group. I guess they’ve been there for a while. It’s not even a particularly good morphing job, but I suppose that’s the point.
  • Who Is Your Creator billboard

  • Horses like to hang their heads out the window on hot days, just like dogs. It was unbearably hot in most of western Oregon Friday — even in the morning — and one driver had left the top flaps on his multi-horse trailer open. There were three or four horses sticking their heads out the side to catch the breeze. That would have been a great picture.
  • I’ve been watching the old Patrick McGoohan spy series known in the US as Secret Agent Man. It was originally called Danger Man in the UK, and the DVDs use the Danger Man theme for each episode, which I’ve grown quite fond of. Johny Rivers’s iconic “Secret Agent Man,” is used for the menus, though. Johnny’s making an appearance later this month at the Seaven Feathers Casino in Canyonville, Oregon.
  • They really mean it when they warn you of high winds on the freeway east of Vallejo. And I’m wondering if I can submit an invoice for some front tires to Gov. Schwarzenegger after driving on I680.
  • Being at the scene of an ugly accident is a creepy thing. A couple of hours after I left home, I topped the smart car up in Albany. Just south of town the freeway arches over Midway Drive SE. About a quarter mile further south is an almost unnoticeable flat bridge that crosses Oak Creek, a short connector between the previously unknown to me Freeway Lakes. As I topped the first bridge, I saw traffic ahead of me in the fast lane was coming to a sharp stop, and as I slowed, I could see a small SUV out on the median going the same direction as me at a fairly fast clip, throwing up a dust cloud behind it. Vehicles ahead of me were pulling off to the left, and I did so, which was when I first noticed the bridge over Oak Creek as I crossed it. That was also when I realized why I couldn’t see where the SUV had gone, because the ravine under the bridge was several dozen feet deep, with steep banks on either side. The last I’d seen of the SUV it was north of the ravine, heading straight for it. When I next saw the car, it was upside down in the water, where it landed after driving straight into the ditch. Other, faster people had already stopped and ran down the bank and into the water, pulling the driver out and then flipping the car over to search for any possible passengers. I actually never even saw the woman they saved — apparently they got her out to the bank below where I was standing — and it didn’t appear that there was any real need for whatever I could offer, but since I’d witnessed a portion of the accident (although not the original collision) I stayed to give my contact info to the police. Thankfully, it wasn’t a harbinger of the rest of the trip.
  • Freeway Lakes Crash