Friends

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Blogging While in Labor

Miss Zoot is an old college buddy of mine, and boy, is she one dedicated blogger. So dedicated, in fact, that she blogged her labor before giving birth to a beautiful baby girl whose blog pseudonym is NikkiZ. Read all of her labor/birth posts; they're funny and sweet as her posts always are.

Houston MAC Location Accepting Donations

A good friend of mine who manages a MAC store in Nashville told me that one of the MAC stores in Houston is accepting goods for hurricane survivors if anyone wants to send stuff (she mentioned clothes, shoes, accessories, and toiletries). The address is:

MAC
Houston Galleria/Training Room
5015 Westheimer Rd #3325
Houston TX 77056

And I know I'm late in responding to those Barbara Bush remarks, but still: Yeah, this kind of living arrangement is probably what they've always dreamed about; I know I would LOVE IT!

Look at the whole set.

More News from Baton Rouge

UPDATE: An email from a professor/administrator at LSU.

UPDATE: It's not about Baton Rouge specifically, but you MUST READ this post by Miss Alli at This Is Not Over. Exactly, yes, perfect, precisely, eloquently put. Please read it now. Via a comment at blackfeminism.org.

Last night I received another update from Baton Rouge (here's the first). Brief excerpts removed to protect my friend's privacy:

Well, things have sort of gotten back to normal here (I use the term loosely). BR has doubled in size and roads the grocery stores can't keep up with the demand. I had a choice of lemons or cucumbers in the produce section yesterday. But classes did resume today. Everybody tried to pretend that the largest field hospital ever wasn't in the assembly center and that there weren't bodies filling the makeshift morgue in the gym. No one mentions the many missing students who filled the desks 2 weeks ago, but rather try to welcome the 1200 new students from NO schools who are now at LSU. It's weird trying to go on as if the devastation didn't happen.

On another note, I learned yesterday just how much the people from BR and NO dislike one another. The people from NO think BR is a small conservative town with little to offer and bars that close at 2 am instead of staying open 24/7. The BR folks see those from NO as bohemians from a dirty city and were not in the least surprised by the violence that took place last week. For most locals here, NO is a place to visit and wash off as soon as you leave. As the living situation isn't likely to change anytime soon, the tension is sure to increase.

My houseguests took off for San Diego today and plan to fly back here when people are allowed back in NO. Both lost their homes and have no intention of returning to Louisiana to live.

[. . .]

Thanks to all of you for your warm wishes. With I-10 pretty much destroyed from Mississippi east, looks like I'll make it back to [a state in the east] for the holidays at the earliest. And phone service is still pretty crazy, so I'll return those calls when I can get a line out.

Email from a friend in Houston

Got this today from a friend in Houston:

Houston has about 25,000 additional residents now, thanks to Hurricane Katrina. I am sure the official # is much much higher, but this is what the media has reported. I am sure most of you have been watching the news and seeing the footage of the evacuees, and it is incredibly depressing.

Being RIGHT HERE, I felt that I had to do something. In addition to all of the Shelters and the Astrodome, there is not a single hotel vacancy in the area. As you drive around the city, you see Louisian plates everywhere. Some families are just hanging out in the hotel parking lots waiting for other families to check out. Friday, some of us from work pitched in to buy pet food for the SPCA, which is housing roughly an additional 1000 animals.

Yesterday I went to drop of donations of all of [her 2-year-old boy's] old clothes and Volunteer at the Astrodome. The Police were turning away volunteers and sending us to other shelters, which is probably best because the stomach problems and diarrhea are epidemic in the astrodome now. Apparently, whatever is in the water in N.O. takes a few days to start messing up your system.

We ended up spending the day at the George R Brown Convention Center, setting up the shelter there and helping with the evacuees. I have to say it was amazing to see how many people showed up to help.

We spent the first few hours sorting all the donations and setting up the "store" so that the evacuees could get fresh clothing in the right size as they arrived. The amount of clothing donated is phenomenal, we barely made a dent (there were probably 100-150 of us sorting clothing), and they were still receiving donations when we left last night.

After that, I went to serve food, and I have to say that everyone I met was so gracious and nice, and just thankful for everything that was being done for them. No one really was talking much, for the most part I imagine everyone is just exhausted at this point. But every single person made a point of saying "thank you for helping us."

The Convention Cetner set up is really cool. They have created activity areas with all the stuff that has been donated for all of the children that are displaced. The parents bring them up, sign them in, and then mom or dad can go take a nap or have a hot shower or adult conversation and know that there children are safe.

I spent some time in the "Library/Quiet Activities Center" to be with the kids. They told us that alot of these children are extremely angry and may or may not want to talk about what has happened, but most of them i saw did not want to talk AT ALL. I played a few games of Connect Four and colored in some coloring books, and generally got to play with the kids. I think it's good for them to finally interact with people that aren't stealing from them, or hurting them and God knows what else, or sticking a microphone in their faces and asking, "Johnnny, your 7. How do you feel about all this?"

I think the children will have the most problems emotionally and health wise in the long term. But it did feel good to at least help start that recovery, and begin to teach them its okay to trust again.

Anyway, I hope all of you are happy and healthy and safe. Please do what ever you can to help. I didn't have money, so I gave my time and what things I already had that these people need. Which is EVERYTHING. As I volunteer more, I will post pictures so you can see what I have seen first hand, and that these people are not all the bad things you are seeing on tv.

I'll post the pictures when she uploads them to MySpace.

Email from friend at LSU

Got this from a friend in Baton Rouge:

Here's an update from Baton Rouge. While we suffered very little damage from the hurricane here, the aftermath of what happened in New Orleans has hit us pretty hard. In less than 48 hours the city doubled in size; BR is now the largest city in the state! Services are still out in a large portion of the parish and things are getting a little crazy. The refugees who arrived without anything have bought out most of the grocery stores in town. Even cellular phone service is questionable, but I've made it through a few times to Mama and Daddy back in [location omitted].

The university has been turned into the search and rescue headquarters and the campus buildings are being used by both refugees and various relocated NO organizations. The dorms are packed with students' family members with nowhere else to go. Classes at the university are supposed to start up again on Tuesday, but it's possible that the semester may be cancelled completely like those at the NO schools. We still aren't sure how many students or faculty will be returning and as of now, classroom space is limited. Many of us have considered heading back to our respective home states, but the gas stations are now out of gas and having trouble getting shipments in.

I live between campus and downtown and there is the almost constant sound of sirens. The looting and civil unrest you've seen and heard about in NO is now happening here as the city continues to swell. A group has apparently started pillaging in the downtown area and we have been advised to stay inside with doors and windows locked after 7pm.

Of course, tensions are extremely high all around as we try to figure out what to do. Right now I'm housing a friend and her boyfriend who both lost homes in NO and don't know when/if they will be allowed back in. As of tomorrow, I'm devoting my time to volunteering with the hundreds of displaced animals; there are too many volunteering with the human shelters already.

Thanks to all of you who e-mailed to check on me. I'm hanging in there and would very much appreciate your prayers!

Terrible. I have a friend in Houston who's going to send pictures this weekend if she's able to volunteer at the Astrodome; she wants me to post them here.

State Fair Videoblogging

My first-ever vlog post -- I bring you Karen and Amy playing Whac-a-Mole (Right click, save target as, or CTRL-click, save link as on a Mac).

And me, playing Whac-a-Frog. Yes, a few seconds into the movie I do say, "Do you have to get 'em in the lily pads?" (Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!) But in my defense, before we stepped-right-up to the booth, I was watching other people play, and they couldn't even get the frogs into the pond. The guy running the game said, "You gotta hit it like you're MAD at it!" I thought maybe you'd get a little prize for consistently getting them in the pond, but something extra big and cheesy for getting them in the lily pads. I should have known that would be way too easy.

For more, see my set of fair photographs on Flickr.

Also, a reflection on videoblogging: As I get ready to hit "Submit," I'm a little nervous and self-conscious. Videoblogging is different from straight-up text blogging, for sure; I'm putting myself out there in a way I haven't before, in an exceptionally goofy, silly moment at that. But it's honest, and risky in a good way, so I'll leave it up unless I'm asked to take the first one down. Please be kind.

Remembering John Lovas

I want to join Cindy, Samantha, Mike, Jenny, Collin, Joanna, Derek, and Jeff in expressing my sorrow at the passing of John Lovas. I plan on reading and contributing to the festschrift, but for now, I don't know what to say. Too soon. He did what he loved -- taught writing -- until the very end. He cared so much about all of us. About his students. They kept in touch with him after they took his classes. He was proud of them; you could tell by the way he wrote about them on his blog and the way he talked about them in person. I only met him once, last March at CCCC. I'm glad I did.

At the beginning of his CCCC presentation, he made some remarks about his reasons for starting blogging. From my notes on his session:

John's presentation was titled "A Writing Teacher's Blog: New Knowledge and New Colleagues." In it, he talked about his motivations for starting his weblog. He said he was hearing "time's wingèd chariot hurrying near" and was worried that his words wouldn't end up having an impact. He has a wealth of accumulated knowledge about teaching writing, having done it for forty (!) years now, and he was concerned that what we as writing teachers do isn't understood well by the public (he referenced the "Well, I'd better watch my grammar around you!" joke we all know). So he decided to start a blog.

They did have an impact. I'm so grateful that he started and maintained his blog. I am a better teacher for having read his words, for having known him. I'm sure I'm not the only one. One time one of my students wrote something on the class blog that alarmed me, and I was afraid it would have a negative effect on the class morale. John was the person I emailed in panic, the person I trusted to give me the best, fairest, most caring advice, and he wrote right back and made me feel much better.

He will be missed. He already is.

Tired (More Links and Half-Thoughts)

I got back into town last night and haven't quite recovered from the month-long trip. I'm trying to get my apartment cleaned up, groceries bought, laundry done, etc. Oh, and tons of academic work, too. I'm just sluggish. Ah well. Maybe blogging some quotidian thoughts and occurrences will help.

A good friend of mine at home was ranting about these ribbons on people's cars that are arranged so that the text, "Support Our Troops," is horizontal. "Yeah, I sure am glad they made it so we can see the text horizontally. I wouldn't have been able to read it otherwise. Seriously! People can read all kinds of ways: Diagonally, vertically, backwards even!" Indeed it is ubiquitious. Here in Minnesota too, I've noticed. Is there some special reason to stick it to the car that way that I'm not aware of?

The Blogora might switch to Drupal. How hard is it going to be to import the MT archives? Anyone have firsthand experience with that?

When I went to the office to check my mailbox, I found the 2005 reprinting of the 6th edition of the MLA style guide. I guess as it's a reprinting, they didn't make any changes or addenda, but I looked for any mention of citing weblog entries and comments anyway, but didn't find any. I know there are improvised ways to do it, but I'd like to see weblogs mentioned in the actual guide.

Computers & Writing Online is in full swing! Be sure to comment!

I just finished reading Franny and Zooey for the first time. That's got me a little drained, too. The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking that it would have made a great movie, maybe still would. What do you think? Thora Birch as Franny, or possibly Christina Ricci? Tobey Maguire, or maybe Joaquin Phoenix as Zooey? Speaking of books, I never did take that trip, so I didn't listen to those books -- actually, I listened to exactly half of The Picture of Dorian Gray just driving around town (my Oxford World's Classics edition has 224 pages. I looked, and I'd listened up to page 112), and now I have to read the rest. So far, my literature consumption since the beginning of May includes:

  • The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
  • Passing, Nella Larsen
  • Jazz, Toni Morrison
  • Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • and half of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

Not bad, huh? I should get back to research-related non-fiction though.

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