November 2005

Home, Again

Mom, Dad and I drove back to New Orleans today. I had to get up early this morning as we were to leave before ten. The car was packed pretty tight with a lot of stuff mom had with her during the three months she was living with Larry, Anne, Chelsea and Grandma Laughlin. Goodbyes were rather emotional due to the difficult and unfortunate circumstances of the last few months. The drive home wasn’t out of the ordinary. Nine hours, five stops, two cokes and two bags of beef jerky. We stopped for lunch at the Cracker Barrel outside of Montgomery, Alabama. I had never been to one of these places before. The gift shop was cute and the food was good. I had fried catfish with fries, macaroni & cheese and cole slaw. As we approached the city, we had to merge into one of the two twin spans. Both were severely damaged by Katrina and only one of the two has been fixed. Driving through New Orleans East, it was hard to see anything as it was completely dark, both because it was night and there is still no electricity in the area not that it would matter as many of the homes were destroyed. The only light came from the windows of FEMA trailers. As we got closer to downtown, you could see more lights businesses that had reopened, street lights, and then homes. We had to stop at the train station downtown to retrieve my car, which we had to leave when we took the train to Atlanta. We got home around 7:15 and unloaded the car in the sporadic rain. It started pouring pretty heavily soon after. The power went out at ten minutes to eight. It stayed out for over an hour. I wanted to get things organized and cleaned up in my room but I couldn’t see. The power came back on just after nine. It went out again half an hour later and was out for about 20 minutes. When it came back on again, I used my computer for a while before going to bed.

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I got up at nine this morning. Mom, Dad and grandma had already left Uncle Larry’s house to take grandma to get a tuberculosis test, largely a formality for admittance of an assisted living facility. I didn’t do much of anything this morning. At about two, I went with Uncle Larry and Aunt Anne to the movies. We saw Jarhead, a movie billed as being about operation Desert Storm. The film is very reminiscent of Full Metal Jacket, in that it was divided into the ‘training’ and ‘combat’ halves. They even used some of the lines from the movie. Unlike the Kubrick film, however, Jarhead didn’t seem to so much be about anything in particular. That may be because no combat was depicted. Rather, the second half of the film was more-or-less about Desert Shield. In any case, the film was disappointing. After the movie we headed back to Uncle Larry’s house, making a few stops along the way. First we stopped at Best Buy at my request. I wanted to pick up a Saitek Eclipse keyboard. What’s special about this keyboard is the keys and lettering light up. On top of that it’s just a very well put together keyboard, nearly silent. After that we stopped for something to eat at a Mexican restaurant. I don’t remember the name but it wasn’t a familiar name. I had some sort of fajita dish which was pretty decent. After dinner we stopped at PetsMart for cat food, and then went home. We watched some TV this evening and went to bed not long after that.

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Thanksgiving – Thrashers vs. Rangers

I woke up around nine or ten this morning. Aunt Anne cooked some sort of eggs and sausage casserole for breakfast, which was pretty good. I didn’t do much this morning outside of getting clean and dressed. I was still rather tired as I didn’t sleep too well last night. We had Thanksgiving dinner around four this afternoon. Anne and Larry cooked ham, Cornish hen, spinach casserole along with several other side dishes and desserts. It was all very good, especially since I wasn’t involved in the cooking part. A little while after dinner, I went outside with Andrew and Larry. Gas-powered R.C. cars are a little hobby of Larry’s and Andrew seems to have learned a few things during his stay here in Lawenceville. Larry has a little track in the back yard and I watched them drive the cars around for a little while and eventually got a try myself. I didn’t do so well. At 5:30, Dad, Andrew and I drove downtown to Philips Arena to see the Atlanta Thrashers play the New York Rangers. We found parking pretty close to the Arena. Andrew and I loitered for a little while as Dad haggled with the scalpers. He eventually got some pretty good club level seats. With tickets in hand, we made our way inside. There were a lot of people around but it didn’t take long to get inside and find our seats. The Arena has a smallish look too it but is still has plenty of seats. The grade on the upper deck looks rather steep. One side of the arena has no upper deck, but a wall of suites. I don’t think I’ve ever seen to many in an NHL arena before. Then again, it’s been a while since I’ve been in one. I haven’t seen an NHL hockey game in at least eight years. When I lived in Colorado, I saw several Colorado Avalanche games, but I have not had a similar opportunity in New Orleans. I did see a minor league game when the Brass was in town. The pre-game spectacle was interesting, much like what I remember in Colorado. The dark Arena, colorful spotlights, the melodramatic announcer and the fire-breathing mascots hanging from the ceiling. The Thrashers looked pretty good during the first period, keeping the pressure on the Rangers’ defense. Atlanta scored first with a power play goal about six minutes into the match. New York answered a few minutes later with a goal form behind the net. Things looked good going in to the second period, but New York took the lead with a goal 59 seconds into the second period. They scored again about a minute later with a score between the goalies legs, bringing the count to 3-1 Rangers. The Thrashers shortened the gap about 45 seconds later and then tied the game with four minutes left in the period. However, New York answered again and the period ended 4-3 New York. Although Atlanta didn’t look too great in the third period, they played alright. They were able to kill three back-to-back penalties. However, the Rangers increased their lead with a goal mid-way through the third period and again in the last minute of play with an empty net goal. Even though the ‘home team’ lost, it was still a very enjoyable game. Hockey is easily the best spectator sport in my opinion. Television does no justice to the speed and action of hockey. The drive home was about a half hour. I watched some TV this evening and then went to bed.

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Dad got me up before six this morning. We were taking a train to Atlanta for Thanksgiving. Mom and Andrew are there with her brother Larry, his family and Grandma Laughlin. We called a cab but it didn’t show in time. Dad drove my car to Union Station downtown. We arrived shortly after seven. After retrieving our tickets we boarded the train, and it departed on time just a few minutes later at 7:20. Not too long after taking our seats I noticed there were no electrical outlets in the car we were seated in. A nice gentleman in the next car offered to exchange seats with us so I could plug in my laptop. As the train made its way out of New Orleans, I got my first look at some of the more significant damage in the city. The tracks go through New Orleans East, which was flooded rather badly. While there was a lot of significant wind damage, the flooding with what ruined tens of thousands of homes. The water lines I saw looked to be as high as ten feet. Later on, I listened to some music and watched a couple Stargate episodes. I joined Dad in the lounge car. He had been there for a while, talking to some of the other passengers. I remained there for a good while before returning to my seat. At around five, I went back to the lounge car, expecting the dining car to be open shortly. It wasn’t open to us lowly coach passengers until after seven central however. Until then, I just sat in the lounge with mostly the same gang that was there earlier in the day. I had to wait in a hallway with several other folks for a few minutes before we were seated. I shared a table with a lady and her son. She is the assistant provost at Delgado’s city park campus. We spoke intermittently during the meal. They first brought out a salad with Italian dressing, as that was the only kind they had left. They were also out of any sort of soft drinks. I had the seared catfish with rice and vegetables. It was more than tolerable but certainly not worth the price. Looking at the menu provided some insight as to why the tickets were so inexpensive. After dinner I walked back to my seat. By this time, sometime before ten eastern, we were pretty close to Atlanta. The approach was interrupted, as our trip had been several times today, most likely all by freight trains with the right-of-way. We arrived at the station sometime around 10:30, around two to three hours late, as is rather typical with this line. Everyone in our car and the one behind us got off here, with a single open door between them. It took a while to get everyone off. We waited to be last in line. As we walked through the station we said goodbye to a woman we were speaking to on the train and her family, who both Dad and I spoke with on the train. Uncle Larry picked us up from the station. Mom and Andrew were also there to greet us. The drive to Uncle Larry’s house must have been a little over 20 minutes. We arrived at about 11. As it was rather late, some of us just watched a little TV before going to bed. I slept on the living room sofa.

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Browsing the Bookstore

I was at home pretty much all day. I didn’t do much of anything productive outside of laundry. The house was especially quiet as Dad was at work today, as yesterday. Dad cooked some steaks for dinner. We went to Barnes and Noble this evening for no overwhelmingly specific reason. We were there for an hour just looking around. Late this evening I packed for our trip at Atlanta tomorrow.

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Sunday and Monday

This entry is late so my memory is already faded. If I remember right, I only left the house on Sunday to go to Wal-Mart for some things, although I only bought pillows. On Monday, Dad and I went to Best Buy. He wanted an external hard drive and got one. I just browsed around a while. Since I was at home these two days I had the chance to get my room all cleaned up. It was pretty cluttered when I returned but it’s now pretty much normal.

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It's Good to be Home

Dad got me up sometime around ten. He cooked breakfast. Not too long after that, we drove out to Metairie to Dr. Stephenson’s apartment. We were there again to help unload some more stuff. Glenn’s SUV was still filled with furniture and some other things. It didn’t take too terribly long to do that. Soon after, dad went with Doc downtown to retrieve his car. I stayed with Glenn to help him construct a bed frame. The saw he had couldn’t quite cut it. He got the help of someone named Frank, who was doing cabinets for the 1st floor apartments, all of which were flooded. Dad and I left shortly after one to visit Grandma Janet, who lives nearby. We stopped at McDonald’s first. Aunt Dionne was the only one home. Everyone else was at Uncle Joe’s house nearby. We all walked over there. Several people were there. We visited for quite a while. Several funny stories about Dad’s childhood were exchanged. We went back to the apartment for a little while afterward. I don’t remember what was left to be done but we must have finished. I’m not sure when we got home, sometime around four perhaps. When I got home I finally had some time to straight up my room, which was cluttered with things of my own and some other people. I didn’t make much progress though. Dad cooked a couple steaks for dinner which were rather good, especially after a couple months of the Tech cafeteria. Ami called this evening and we spoke for a little while. Sometime after ten, Dad and I went across the river to the Quarter for some beignets at Caf Du Monde. They’ve been open for a while but they no longer operate 24/7. The beignets were great as always. I hadn’t been to there in over six months too long. The waiter actually asked what size orange juice I wanted, a first. The French Quarter looked fine. Jackson Square was a a sight for sore eyes. One thing noticeably missing however was people. Even though it was Saturday night, there were very few people out. Having had our fill, Dad and I walked over to Pat O’Briens for a drink or two. Shortly after we got there we ran into an someone Dad used to work for. Dad was a bartender at Pat O’s back in ’78 or somewhere around there. We were there for a good while. I think we left sometime around 11.

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I woke up at nine this morning and finished packing. There were only a few things left to do as I got most of the work done yesterday. I had the rest of the pizza from last night for an early lunch. There were still a number of people left in Cottingham, most all of which left this morning. The residence halls closed at noon today, bur I wasn’t able to leave until a couple hours later. I talked to Joe, the R.A. last night about it last night though and it wasn’t a problem. I had pretty much everything ready to go by noon so I spent a couple hours just waiting. Dr. Stephenson and his brother Glenn arrived at about 2:30. From the rather sparse directions I gave them, they actually parked right outside my window in front of Cottingham. They were driving a sizable SUV with a trailer, although both were packed pretty tight already with Doc Stephenson’s stuff. It took about a half hour for me to carry all my things downstairs and find places to put everything. At first glance, I didn’t think I’d be able to take my fridge, but we managed to get almost everything on the trailer. I had just a couple items in the Yukon. I only had to leave behind a box of food and all the bedding I bought, which quite honestly I wouldn’t have had use for anyway since there are no twin beds in the house. Just before I left, I locked the room and went down to check out and turn in my key. Joe signed me out, and so ended my time in Ruston. The ride to New Orleans must have been about six hours or so. The sun set about two hours in. We drove west to Jackson, Mississippi and then headed south to New Orleans. We stopped in Jackson for gas and to check on the trailer. All the ropes and ties were fine with the exception of one frayed line. I noticed that one of my demotivators posters, Indifference, fell off the trailer. It was ‘secured’ under some straps atop the mattresses. Both Glenn and I thought that was a fine place for it but apparently not. It wasn’t really a big deal, although I hope it didn’t hit anybody. To be honest, the bigger loss was the cheap poster frame. I had to painstakingly cut it with an X-Acto knife to fit the poster. I’m not sure, but I don’t remember stopping again until we reached Hammond, LA. I called Dad at a gas station there and told him we were getting close. As we approached the city, I couldn’t see all that much as it was dark. The only apparent signed of damage were bent and broken signs of businesses. We arrived at Doc’s apartment complex, Chateau Napoleon in Metairie, some time after ten. We were there for over an hour unloading the trailer, which contained some mattresses, a number of boxes and a quantity of lumber. I got all of my things out and put them in Dad’s car. I don’t recall any details about the work that are work documenting, although I was rather tired by the time we were finished. We drove home when we were finally finished. As it was night time, I couldn’t see a whole lot as far as damage goes. I noticed the Superdome roof looks fixed. I suspect if I were the poetic type I could come up with some fancy metaphor related to returning to my broken home town at night… good thing I’m not that type. Our house was fine and familiar. The big tree that was in our front yard is gone. Inside, there was a lot of unfamiliar furniture and things from Aunt Lauren’s house, which was flooded and largely ruined, as well as Grandma’s Laughlin’s house, which was sold shortly after the hurricane. I got something to eat, watched a little TV and was on the computer for a while before I went to be shortly after two. Commentary On My Stay at Louisiana Tech I wasn’t looking forward to spending a term at Louisiana Tech, perhaps just because I don’t like change. That and likely because I was going to miss the very cozy situation I had in New Orleans and have to stay in a dorm, in a small town I can’t stand small towns, at least not for extended periods. Visiting is fine and all. Looking back, it is somewhat difficult to understand my trepidation as I’ve become a very optimistic person in the last few years, a far cry from my unyielding pessimism in high school. I wasn’t entirely apprehensive however, as I went in knowing I already had friends there. Bianca and Khadijah most notably, as well as several other familiar faces from Edna Karr. As it turned out, the quarter I spent at Louisiana Tech was actually a very pleasant experience. I did not encounter a single unpleasant person during my stay. I couldn’t possibly have been luckier with my dorm assignment. Cottingham, the ‘honors dorm,’ is probably the cleanest and most spacious dormitory on campus. My roommate John was pleasant and harmless. Overall my classes were pretty decent. I just took general studies B.S. to fill the hours. Introduction to Economics was pretty fun. Professor Blackstock was refreshingly candid, honest and conservative, a much needed inoculation before going to Dr. Martin’s sociology classes. The tone of her lectures and the curriculum made her sound like a closet communist. French was fun. This was my only small class this semester with under 20 students. Unfortunately I did rather poorly and barely passed. I’m not sure I could show my face to my high school French teacher again. The history class wasn’t bad. Dr. Anderson was a very competent teacher, although he’s more than somew3hat full of himself. His lectures were interesting enough and he makes great PowerPoint slides. In my book, however, he couldn’t hold a candle to my world history teacher in high school, Alton Bryant.

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Last Exam

I got up at a decent hour this morning even though I had nowhere to be until four this afternoon. There was a lot of activity in the residence hall with many students leaving today. I packed some things this morning I left my room at about 12:30. I had stir-fry and salad during my last visit to the cafeteria no tears shed there. I went to Tolliver to sit around for a while after lunch. Kasey met me there sometime after 1:30 as we arranged this morning. He wanted to ask me some things about this afternoon’s history exam. Some of his questions were embarrassingly mundane. I left at about 2:30 maybe and went to the bookstore to get a couple boxes to pack some of my things. They were pretty accommodating there, even though the place was kind of busy. With a couple sturdy boxes in hand, I walked back to my room and did a little more packing. I left my room at about 3:30 and headed over to Madison for my last class. During the last history class this afternoon, the class of about fifty took the third and final exam. There were 65 questions, most of which were pretty easy although there were some particular details I didn’t know. There was also a sheet with bonus questions of various vocabulary words. Throughout the course, Dr. Anderson presented a number of semi-obscure vocabulary words, not necessarily directly related to history. He frequently emphasized the importance of having a large vocabulary. I walked to Tolliver Hall after I finished the exam just to relax for a little bit, having finished my last bit of work at Louisiana Tech. I went back to my room after talking with Kasey for a little bit. I ordered a pizza not long after I got back to my room and started a load of laundry. I watched C.S.I at eight while folding and packing my clothes. At about nine I walked over to Bianca’s to visit for a little while. We watched House of Wax. It’s a pretty pathetic horror movie but at least I can put in on the list. After the movie we talked for a while and I did a little work on an old laptop of hers. I went home at about 12:30 and went to bed.

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French Exam

It was quite cold this morning, 45 degrees. We had our final exam in this morning’s French class. The better part of the exam was filling in various blanks with words and particular forms of words. I’d like to say I did well on the exam but I’m not a liar. I went to Tolliver Hall afterward. I sat around until shortly after one and the got some lunch and returned to my sofa. Not too long after that, Bianca spotted me and sat down for a good while and did some homework. A friend of hers joined us a while later. Kasey from history class also came by to look at the outline from yesterday’s review session. I called dad, who said I had a ride back to New Orleans on Friday with Doc Stephenson and his brother. Bianca left sometime before five. John walked by sometime around seven and sat down. We talked for a while before he went back to the room around eight. I didn’t leave Tolliver until shortly before ten. I had been sitting around for hours waiting to be hungry enough for dinner, but that time didn’t come until after the cafeteria closed. I got some dinner in Tolliver before going home for the evening. Aside from tweaking the color schemes on my website, I didn’t really do anything.

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Two Down

I got up a little earlier than usual this morning so I wouldn’t have to worry about rushing to CAB for my Economics exam. Before the test started, Professor Rob Blackstock offered the class one bonus point if the tests and answer sheets were in perfect piles on a table after everyone finished, bugt stipulated that one person could screw it up for everybody. The test itself was shorter and easier than I was expecting. There were only 34 questions and a sheet for bonus questions. I went to Tolliver Hall after I was finished to sit around for a little while. The power went for a few minutes while I was there. With all the natural light in the building, I only noticed the outage because my laptop screen dimmed. I left Tolliver shortly before noon and walked to the Dawg House for lunch. There was a pretty healthy crowd there. In the past I’ve gone right after they open, before many people show up. I had the roast beef sandwich, which was fine. It was raining when I left. I waited for a minute or two and the rain stopped and there were blue skies immediately overhead. I walked back to Tolliver and remained there until I had to go to my two o’clock class. The exam in Professor Cathy Martin’s Sociology class was about 50 questions and didn’t take me long. I didn’t study so there were some finer points I wasn’t entirely sure of. Even so, I think a man off the street with just a healthy amount of common sense could have passed it. I walked back to my dorm after the test. By this time it was completely overcast outside and getting darker. It rained heavily and briefly while I was in my room. I returned my dad’s phone call after I got back. He said there was a chance I’d have a ride back to New Orleans with Dr. Stephenson and his brother although the timing might be a problem. There was no final exam in history class this evening, just the last lecture which covered the end of the cold war and the ‘new right.’ Shortly after the class, there was a review session for the exam, in which the professor went over all the points that will be on Thursday’s exam. The final will cover events between World War II and the end of the Cold War nothing terribly difficult. I almost regretted giving up the 30 minutes of my life for the review. I had dinner in the cafeteria afterward, at about quarter to seven. I walked back to my room when I finished. By this time it was uncomfortably cold outside quite a change from the rather mild weather this morning. I did a load a laundry this evening, watched some TV and didn’t study for my French exam tomorrow.

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Finals Week

There was a listening comprehension exam in French class this morning. This was my first test of final’s week. I don’t think I did spectacular but I’m not worried about passing. After the test, Prefessor De Mattos reviewed a few things before excusing the class at quarter to noon. After class I walked over to the housing office to speak with Anthony Jackson, a student coordinator. I needed to know if I would be able to leave my belongings in my room over the break as I won’t be able to carry most of them with me. He said it wouldn’t be a problem for me to leave my stuff and retrieve it when me and my parent’s drive back from Atlanta after Thanksgiving. Coincidentally, Anthony’s father in in charge of the residence halls at Tulane University he must be one busy man. I went to Tolliver Hall after that, where I remained for quite a while. I wasn’t especially hungry, not enough to wait in the lunch-hour lines, so I found a comfortable chair and remained there for a while. I got something to eat around one and then went back to my chair. I spent the afternoon working on my website. I added 22 desktops to the Vaio wallpaper page and made a number of other small changes. I spoke with Kristian this afternoon online about a possible web project for a Quake 2 railwarz clan migrating to Quake 4. I remained in Tolliver Hall until shortly before seven. I think I went to the cafeteria for dinner. At eight o’clock, I went to a concert at Howard Auditorium which was put on by a music-related fraternity. I can’t remember the name of it. They performed a number of musical selections from video games, most notably Super Mario World. There were about ten musicians who played xylophones, drums, horns and pianos. I recognized a couple of the members from the Jazz concert last Friday. Apparently most of them are in one Tech band or another. While most of the musicians were not quite prodigies, it was still a very enjoyable show. The Mario stuff was a big hit with the crowd of 50 or so, which was a pretty good turnout considering the only advertisement for the performance was a handful of posted flyers. The event wasn’t on the school’s website’s calendar and there were no mass emails. John and I went back to the dorm after the show. I spent the evening not studying for my exams tomorrow. I got some feedback on my website update on a few forums. One person said Safari wasn’t rendering my website properly. Joe, the Cottingham RA, lent me his Powerbook so I could check on it, my site renders fine in Safari, looks just like Firefox.

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Raiders Lose Again

I woke up at nine this morning, a considerably more respectable hour than yesterday. It didn’t really matter though since it’s not like I needed the time for anything. I went to the cafeteria at about 12:30. I listened to the Raiders game this afternoon, they lost. I won a flip clock on eBay though. This evening I played a game of chess in the lounge with some kid from Cott and watched The Color of Money.

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Tulane Loses Again

I got up at a sinful hour this morning or afternoon perhaps. The whole day was rather devoid of activity. I listened to the Tulane football game versus Rice. Rice, who was 0-8 beat Tulane, which was more than somewhat disappointing.

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