Five Years From Katrina: What thinkest thou, BP? Sunday, Aug 29 2010 

This awesome storm was our most evil nightmare come true.

August 29 five years ago is Southeast Louisiana’s Day of Infamy.  The national media has given that event a lot of coverage in the past few days.  True, horribly true: watching those incredulous images from five years ago and acknowledging that the human tragedy resulting from that national disaster took place in the United States of America is unbelievable. And as a Louisianian with strong ancestral ties to the Greater New Orleans area submerged in Katrina’s after-waters, the emotions are personal.

Aren’t we as a nation better than we seemed to be in those intense days of horror?

And now, on the fifth anniversary, the oil spill has added a chapter to the region’s hard-luck saga.  Katrina was a natural disaster, the oil spill man-made: But how and where do the two events intersect in the Gulf Coast’s past as well as future?

I suspect there numerous points of discussion, but one that I believe we must pursue is BP’s repeated promise in its multi-million dollar media blitz to “make it right” for the Gulf Coast.  To me, “making it right” includes addressing the environmental damage done to the barrier islands and wetlands along the Gulf Coast where hundreds of acres of marsh are claimed by the sea every month, indirectly at least because of the environmental impact of oil exploration.  If BP is going to “make it right,” they (along with Chevron and Exxon and all the others, for that matter) should contribute massively to restorative efforts and projects that will protect the historical and cultural treasure of the New Orleans area from future hurricanes by rebuilding the natural barriers and protections destroyed or weakened not by Katrina (or Rita or any other storm), but by the industry’s rapacious intrusion.

Big oil can afford the cost.  Until the industry repents for the vanishing wetlands tragedy and addresses the environmental issue head on, BP (and the rest) will fall short of “making it right.”

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Katrina’s Approach: Memoir of 5 Years ago today Friday, Aug 27 2010 

What an ugly picture! This is the beast we faced.

The only year in my 58 year old life I journaled was 2005.  Katrina’s year (and a lot more).  Here’s my entry from five years ago this very day, August 27:

August 27, 2005

The storm still figures to hit N.O.—very sad.  I talked to Mama earlier today.  She’s still saddled with Grandma, and they’re planning to head to Bogalusa tomorrow morning to ride out the storm.   Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield called Mayor Nagin this afternoon to warn that this may be “the big one” for New Orleans.  Sad, sad.  We hope it doesn’ materialize.

I remember how my stomach was in my throat those days as we wondered what was about to happen–a very sickening feeling.

As matters turned out, Mama and Daddy drove over here the next day to dodge the storm rather than head for Bogalusa (which turned out for the best, considering how Bogalusa got clobbered), and Grandma stayed at the nursing home in Kenner where she ended up with her own evacuation adventure that’s a chronicle for another blog.

There turned out to be more to this story.  More in days to come, perhaps.

When Day is Done, Night Class: Welcome! Tuesday, Aug 24 2010 

The new semester is starting, so I’m making administrative rounds to see that classes get off to good starts.  The classes I supervise

Welcome to class? Who ever heard!

are all off campus and/or after hours, and almost all of my instructors are part-timers/adjuncts.  But I’m proud of them.  When I arrived at a medical coding class taught by staff at our LSU System sister hospital in Lafayette Monday afternoon, the pic here shows the projected greeting that met me  30 minutes before the start of class.

“Welcome to class?”  When did I ever see (or hear) such a greeting when I was a student back in the day?  What an awesome first impression these three co-teachers made on the students entering the room that evening!  My teachers tended to show up “fashionably late” for first class meetings to make some “I professor, thou student” statement to establish their superiority and put us in our lowly student place.

What sets these working pro teachers apart from other college faculty, in large measure, is the fact that they are practitioners.  Their credentials are industry-based certification rather than academic degrees: In other words, they’re working pro’s who “do” what they teach.

I think many of my academic colleagues could learn a lesson from these ladies’ example.

Keeping the Sabbath (i.e., Saturday) Holy Saturday, Aug 21 2010 

Breakfast coffee on the patio is a holy act on Saturdays.

OK, I’m not Jewish, and I’m not a legalistic Christian.  I’m just a hard-working guy who lays it on the line Monday through Friday, especially during weeks like the one just past where each day was crammed with appointments and crises and travel itineraries and voice mail and email messages demanding reply.  The regular 8-4:30 workdays often ran over into evenings, so by week’s end, I was  pretty run-down, emotionally as well as physically.

So when  Saturday arrived, I remembered what God said about  the 7th day during creation, and it makes a lot of sense.  Gosh, if even God felt the need to rest at the end of a week of breathing the world into existence, how much more does woeful me need a day off after a week in the educational bureaucracy mill?

So, I did my best to keep this Sabbath holy.  What constitutes such holiness?

  • I slept late
  • I hung out on the patio with coffee without worrying about what I should be doing
  • I jogged before lunch
  • I did some light yard work

    Barb-b-que over a hard wood fire: A fragrance pleasing unto heaven!

  • I took the dogs for an outing on campus where Sadie got to chase a squirrel
  • I barbecued on the patio watching Saturday MLB in high def
  • I enjoyed supper with my family, including granddaughter
  • I went for a 4 mile bike ride to work off the excellent supper.

“Holy,” as in “set aside.”  This was a day set aside for re-creation and renewal.  I remembered how badly I need these pit stops along life’s busy way.  Yes, today was truly a holy Sabbath.

Country Roads, Acadiana: “The Spring” and Sugar Cane Thursday, Aug 19 2010 

Cajuns were in this part of Acadiana in the late 1700's.

Driving along La. Hwy. 14 in coastal Vermilion Parish this morning on State business, just outside the tiny town of Erath on the way to the local high school, I came across this historical marker.  My undergraduate major was history, so things “historical” tend to grasp my attention.  And historical markers are kind of like those “ebeneezers” we read about in the bible’s Old Testament–monuments to commemorate special times and places.

So here, “the Spring.”  A late 18th century Cajun settlement in this part of the world.

Since I live in a Cajun community 40 miles north but officially designated as the “Prairie Cajun Capitol” of the world, the “southern prairie” note on the marker caught my attention.  This settlement, farther south toward the coast from where I live, was settled by Cajuns in the late 18th century.  I’m not sure that Cajuns had arrived by that time farther north, although I should do some research to confirm that.  The matter is interesting.

Note the sugar cane growing in the background.  This time of year, a month or more from harvest, the thriving cane grows tall: 8-10 feet.  Cane farmers especially eschew hurricanes, because the severe wind and rain causes the cane to lie down, making it much more difficult to harvest.

Gulf Seafood: To eat, or not to eat? That is the question! Monday, Aug 16 2010 

Les chevrettes de Gulf: C'est si bon!And the answer from me, the practical environmentalist?

Of course, YES!

Since BP’s oil debacle, Gulf seafood is the most tested and scrutinized in the world.  Scientific report after report confirms that it’s fine, in spite of all the negative press and doubts going forth on national media.  Sometimes I wish the networks would just shut up!

As for me and my house, until we receive compelling evidence that it’s bad, we will eat Gulf seafood.

I trust others will do the same.

“La Valse Criminelle”: The Gulf Oil Spill Version Saturday, Aug 14 2010 

The Balfa Brothers and other Cajun bands performed for years a traditional Cajun waltz, “La Valse Criminelle.”  The lyrics recount the douleur of a fellow whose sweetheart’s family opposes his union with their daughter, and he finds their lobbying against him to their daughter  as “criminelle” (criminal).

On joue "La Valse Criminelle"

I had some fun playing around with my iMac’s Garage Band application last week with my own revised version of “La Valse Criminelle,” this one aimed at British Petroleum for their criminality in our Gulf of Mexico.

A vocalist I am not, so don’t take the singing seriously.  But do take seriously the effort to express the cultural groaning of a people victimized by British Petroleum’s incompetence.

Here the MP3 file at Voices on the Gulf.

Hurricane Season 2010: Best is Yet to Come? Thursday, Aug 12 2010 

The climatological norms are not in our favor!

One of the interesting contributors to the Weather Underground blog is Storm W, who sees a rousing upstart to the 2010 hurricane season on the near horizon.

Early prognostications (which indicated a bumper crop of storms this year)  so far have not lived up to billing.  But Storm W warns us not to let our guard down.  There’s a lot of tropical August and September (and even October) yet to come.

Come what may.  I’ve got a generator in case the lights go out,  a year-old roof in case the rains fall, brand new windows in case the winds blow, two happy dogs to fend off thieves, and a loving wife to  hang out with through stormy thick and thin: With such blessings and God in charge, what have I to fear?

New Zion and Me: Where Life Began Monday, Aug 9 2010 

If I am anyone owes much to where I’ve been

By David Pulling

Memories of New Zion Church, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana

Composed July 2009

A family photo from early 60's from the New Zion parsonage Daddy was pastor. (I'm kneeling, first from left)

If I am anyone

Owes much to where I’ve been.

So be still a while.

Listen.

“Every head bowed, every eye closed.”

And hear the summer song 50 years ago,

After cow milkin’s done.

Sense the fragrance of sturdy folk–

Scrubbed with well water,

Groomed with Wild Root and talcum powder,

As they head over to the church house,

A neat frame building dressed in white asbestos slate.

The summer song from sturdy voices

Drifts across the pasture

From windows flung open wide

To hot July:

“Jesus saves, Jesus saves!”

If I am anyone

Owes much to where I’ve been.

And So God Created Saturday: And It Was Good! Saturday, Aug 7 2010 

The patio set-up: TV, boiling pot, fan, etc.

Doing anything out doors in South Louisiana this time of year is adventurous, because if the heat and humidity don’t get you, then the afternoon thunderstorms will. But today was Saturday and I was determined.

So I went for it this Saturday,  taking a few shortcuts that I figured would work in our favor.  For example, rather than barbeque, a process which takes a considerable chunk of the afternoon and requires making a risky fire in the face of possible rain, I suggested to Sarah that we get out the butane bottle/burner and boil some shrimp and vegetables.  Boiling a meal on the burner under the rain-proof patio cover would take no more than 30 minutes, whereas barbecue might take 2-3 hours.

And so we boiled–Corn on the cob, red potatoes, Vidalia onions, and the entree, Gulf shrimp.

Yep, Gulf shrimp.  For all my friends far and wide, in spite of negative perception about the availability and quality of our seafood product, I hereby serve notice that it’s excellent!

I moved the portable TV on the patio and enjoyed Saturday baseball–Yankees vs. Red Sox–in high definition as I tended the bouillasse.  The weather was sticky, but a breeze sprang up to help the patio fan.  The conditions were tolerable.

And so ended a great Saturday made by God just for me: And it was soooooooooooo good!

La bouillasse: C'etait beaucoup bon!

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