Archive for April, 2008

Computer Literacy at Freret Community Center

Freret  Community Center

I have always seen a need for a computer technology center in New Orleans, or hell, like eight of them. CTC’s are community centers with a focus on computer tutoring. I thought I could start one in Treme once I got my house done over there. . . but due to a wicked turn of events, that didn’t happen.

I sort of gave up on that project over the last couple of years. But New Orleans is funny to me, it seems to secretly hold all my wants and desires and places them squarely before me to cure a bad episode of city cynicism. Rewards for my loyalty and perseverance.

So one day in December, when life was looking rather dreadful, I sat down and had three beers with Jack Ware. I figured his life is likely scarier than mine . . . he’ll help me keep my perspective. So, we’re yappin and he starts telling me that he’s set up this network for a computer lab at the Freret St. Community Center. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Completely stunned. The facility was there, the computers had been found, the operating system installed. All I had to do was get in and start teaching. I just went into shock. I couldn’t believe that Jack, with all his, non-community-meetin’-bullshit talk had done this! I explained to him that this was something that I had always wanted to do in the city and he and Kimberly had already done all the really hard stuff that I would have had to plod through in order to get to the part that I really wanted to do.

So the lab is up and running and we have been doing a soft rollout with some students which has already proven extremely rewarding. I teach on Saturday mornings, which means my Friday nights are pretty nerdy too . . . but it is a really great facility and the students are so grateful. The workshops are student driven and very flexible because we truly are teaching the fundamentals of using a computer and I do not want people to feel that they have any pressure on them. They can’t fail. Most of them are doing the two finger poke on the keyboard but that’s ok, we dive right in and start mousing around the desktop and Googling their curiosities and creating emails.

Kimberly VanWagner and Kate Peak run the center. They have a broad spectrum of programs/activities for kids and adults from FREE yoga on Wednesdays, to math workshops and there is an art gallery in the center with rotating exhibits. There is a nice backyard with a small stage, it’s a wonderful space.

The kids from the center made $600 from their art booth at the Freret Festival last week and today they did a math class about there profit/investments and about philanthropy and decided how much they would give back to the center.

For more information about activities at the center:
Freret Neighborhood Center
4605 Freret
New Orleans, LA 70115
504.373.6403 phone

Current Flood Warnings Confusing

Bonne Carre Spillway Mechanisms

If you’re on the NOLA text/email warning message system, you have gotten a couple of these warnings in the last two days.

THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT NEW ORLEANS. * FROM LATE SATURDAY NIGHT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE…OR UNTIL THE WARNING IS CANCELLED. * AT 7:00 PM THURSDAY THE STAGE WAS 16.9 FEET. * MINOR FLOODING IS FORECAST. * THE FLOOD STAGE IS 17.0 FEET. * FORECAST…THE RIVER IS VERY NEAR FLOOD STAGE AND IS EXPECTED TO FLUCTUATE NEAR FLOOD STAGE THROUGHOUT THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS. * IMPACT…AT 17.0 FEET…THE RIVER WILL RISE ON THE LEVEE MAKING NAVIGATION AND DOCKING DIFFICULT. THE CITY IS PROTECTED TO A PROJECT HEIGHT OF 20 FEET. * THE BONNET CARRE SPILLWAY WILL LIKELY BE OPENED TOMORROW TO LIMIT THE FLOW PAST NEW ORLEANS AND PREVENT FURTHER RISES AT THE CARROLLTON GAUGE.

I asked a friend of mine who is a meteorologist in the area what this means as far as preparedness. I know an overtopping or compromise in river levees would be a worst case scenario. But I asked him, ‘what are we supposed to do?’

He said he anticipated some confusion about these warnings and his response explained the risks a bit more for me.

“There is always a remote chance of two very bad things happening. One, seepage under a levee from boils (a normal occurrence) compromises the levee and the levee fails allowing water to “fill up the bowl”, including portions that did not flood during Katrina. This is probably not likely because there are levee patrols and inspections going on continuously now. The second, slightly more possible scenario – a runaway large ship, like the one that tried to get you at the Riverwalk mall, or a runaway barge, slams into the levee and slices a gap that would pour water into the city and f”ill the bowl”. There are precautions to prevent that from happening as well – a rescue tow boat in the area can be called to keep the runaway vessel from slamming into the levee. If the disaster did strike, there would be insufficient warning time to evacuate in these scenarios, but if it happened, I’d grab the kitties and head to the Lakefront levee.

The opening of the Bonnet Carre’ spillway today should alleviate the pressure on the levees and get us out of the warning mode but as most of us locals realize that a comprehensive program to divert river water to re-build the wetlands in some unpopulated areas is the real solution.

Wendy’s got no steak, but possibly eggs

Asked whether she could forgive her husband after an extramarital affair…Wendy Vitter told the Times-Picayune: “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary [Clinton]. If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

ABC News, July 2007

Sadly, Wendy had to eat those words. Maybe she was worried about finding the right knife. Or perhaps she was concerned about the legal ramifications of conducting an unauthorized penectomy. Or maybe she underwent a great sexual awakening and found herself more titillated by her husband’s peccadilloes than she’d imagined. Whatever: her bloodthirsty moment passed.

But now girlfriend may get another chance. Because just as the “DC Madam” case is going to trial, the Louisiana senate has passed a bill that paves the way for legalized castration. Which is not quite the same thing as a penectomy, of course, but it’s in the ballpark.

Idiots in the house. And on the roads.

Bad news: Our “leaders” in Baton Rouge are looking to repeal a law requiring motorcyclists to wear–gasp!–helmets.

Good news: If the repeal passes, the mortality rate for idiots will skyrocket.

Bad news: David Vitter loves fast cars and loose women, but to the best of our knowledge, he doesn’t ride motorcycles.

Good news: Former governator Mike Foster can give him helmet-free lessons.

Bad news: Our recent eBay purchase of an Arte Johnson-style Kaiser Wilhelm helmet may have been for naught.

Good news: Sources say legislators may attach a friendly amendment also outlawing chaps.*

* Funny, you’d think that as a gay man, I’d be all into the chaps thing. But one too many sightings of a leathered-up Grandpa Walton getting gassed up at the Exxon has totally cured me.

Restaurants with kids – VooDooBBQ

Since adding the baby to our little family we have been searching the city for a new type of restaurant. We used to be looking for a bar with food somewhere with drinks and a good menu or damn good drinks and an ok menu either way we were not concerned so much with the atmosphere. As long as we did not feel as though we might leave the place with blood spatters on our clothes (though that can make for one hell of a story) we were pretty much good to go. Now however things have changed just a bit. The places we frequent for food and drink must be kid friendly. They don’t have to be kid oriented like Chuck E. Cheese but they need to at the least allow children through the doors. They get double points if they actually have high chairs in stock.

Finding these places in a city known for its drunken debauchery can be a little challenging. Ok maybe debauchery is a little far but New Orleans certainly hasn’t been known for its kid friendly aspects. That being said I also find a lack of high chairs in restaurants. We live in the Marigny and sure there are actually quite a few restaurants that we can even walk to that will allow the baby inside but if they don’t have a high chair then it is a logistical challenge to enjoy a meal there. Anyone with kids will tell you it is a bit of a challenge to enjoy a meal in a restaurant with the little one(s) in tow under the best of circumstances so making in harder on me by frequenting non highchair venues is not top on my list of things to do.

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