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Archive for the 'Hurricane Katrina' Category

The Katrina Myth

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

...the truth about a thoroughly unnatural disaster

Please watch, rate, and share this very important, factual video.

For so long I have been saying much of this to people. I have argued that the irritation many Americans have about giving aid to "just rebuild a city that is below sea level" is misinformed and wrong; most of the city is NOT below sea level.

Furthermore, the idea that rebuilding NOLA is a waste is just plain ignorance and couldn't be more erroneous. Our New Orleans boasts an international airport and is the location of the one of the most important waterways and ports in the world. It is integral to the United States as just about anything that comes into this country via ship begins its journey into the U.S. from the Port of New Orleans.

That doesn't even begin to cover the musical, artistic, literary, and all around rich cultural atmosphere that has inspired and spawned countless artists, architects, writers, musicians, etc.

To say that New Orleans is not important - nay, integral - to this country simply could not be further from the truth.

The truth is - and many people throughout this country do not realize - that it was not Hurricane Katrina (only a Cat 3 at landfall in the city, causing mostly wind damage) that drowned New Orleans - it was the failings of the levee systems, which were the failings of the Army Corp of Engineers. Nature did not wreck havoc on this city and kill thousands - our government and the Corps did.

Please watch this video to learn more and help spread the truth.

You can also visit levees.org for more information and read up on the "Katrina whistle-blower" Professor Ivor van Heerden, the disaster-science expert who was fired from Louisiana State University (LSU) for speaking out against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their responsibility in the post-Katrina flooding that nearly destroyed New Orleans and killed thousands.

Also, for more fact-based information debunking many of the commonly-held myths, misinformation, and careless ignorance that is often bantered about concerning New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, and the tragic events that unfolded in the hours after the levees broke and our beloved city drowned, I point you to an October 2005 post of my own.  In George Carlin Isn't This Ignorant, I minced few words as I - my wounds still fresh and raw  - took on a particularly nasty email that was making its way around inboxes at the time.

Whatever you do, please continue to learn more and educate others about what happened to New Orleans due to the failings of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  As the video above states, there are 120 levees in 28 states that may be vulnerable; sadly, what happened here could happen elsewhere, too.  That is why getting the truth out and seeing justice done is so very important.

Thank you.

When a Little Less is A Lot to Celebrate

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

I have always been a steady 110-115 lbs kinda-gal, and before all of you begin to hate on me, please understand that I only stand 4'10" tall.  While that may not seem like many pounds for the average person, realize that I have a lot less room in which to hold said weight.  In other words, with height comes more room in which to stretch all those pounds out.

Though I am not skinny, but rather shapely and muscularly-toned, my weight was about average for my height.  Still, as any young female raised in an era that crams super-skinny, glossy perfection down our throats, I always thought I was "fat".  Only now, in later years and having actually been overweight, do I realize the folly of my younger, disillusioned body image.  No longer, I vow, will I ever bemoan anything under 125 lbs.  I've only to look back to all those years I missed enjoying the body I had - one I did not realize I'd miss until I'd added over ten pounds to it.

After my knee surgery in the summer of 2002, I began - for the first time, really, in my adult life - to gain weight.  The initial three months of non-recovery after my surgery consisted of a great deal of lying around and very little, if any, physical activity.  The weight began to accumulate.

Around this time, as the realization of my new immobility and disablity began to sink in, I started to drink more than I ever had (or have since).  I was insanely depressed and drinking took the edge off of the nightmare I seemed to have come out of surgery into - one I could not, and would never fully, awaken from.  Then, also, the weight began to accumulate.

Though I tried to cheer myself by remembering that I'd hated my smaller body by believing it to be fat, thereby never allowing myself to enjoy it, I knew that I was overweight.  I wasn't happy about it, but exercising wasn't really something I could do with any real gusto because of my disability, and I swore long ago I'd never torture myself with yo-yo diets or deny myself foods I enjoyed (I grew up watching my mother bemoan every single calorie and constantly starve herself and planned to never put myself through such agonies when I reached adulthood).  The result was that my 4'10" frame soon found itself attempting to accomodate over 135 lbs; not only overweight for my height but an extra burden on my already-pained legs.

In the past year and a half, I have pretty much quit drinking (I barely have a drink once every two weeks) and have closely monitored my eating - I eat less and smaller portions.  I don't deny myself food - I eat what I want when I want it - but I'm careful not to overeat (something I did unconsciously before because of my tendancy to wolf down food faster than a hot dog-eating champion).  Slowly, the weight began to come off.

At first, I didn't really notice it.  Slowly but surely, however, my clothes started to hang on me; my work pants needed belts and I discovered - with utter delight - that I was able to squeeze back into a size 7 pair of jeans I'd owned in my 19 year-old, California-days (ones that had, the year before, not made it up past my thighs).  The real acceptance that I'd lost the weight came this past Christmas, though, when my sister - who, along with my mother - had been telling me how great I looked, showed me pictures on her camera from the Christmas before (2007).

"I don't think you realize just how much you've lost," she told me.

My shock at looking through the photos confirmed that I hadn't.  For the first time I allowed myself to enjoy the fact that I'd really done it - I had really lost the weight.  I've kept at it, and today at the doctor's office I had my final (and best) confirmation:  the scale read 120 lbs.  I couldn't believe it - I was back down to my ideal weight (sure, I'd love to be 115 lbs again, but this is actually healthier for me and more in line with my body shape).  It feels wonderful and I've noticed less pain in my legs and just an overall sense of feeling healthier (less alcohol is never a bad thing, either).

This isn't to brag or rub it in to those out there still trying to lose those pesky pounds, but rather a "you can do it, too!" message.  Well, sure, I want to share my excitement - that, too - but truly, if my lazy ass can shed 15 lbs, you can, too!

To give you an idea of the difference I saw when I looked in Amber's camera this past Christmas, I offer you two photos - one taken in November 2007 and the other just today (March 2009).  Both are thumbnails, so click to see a larger image:

weightloss_nov07-th weightloss_mar09-th

A smaller, lighter me - what can I say?  Is it wrong to be so thrilled?  I know I rally against negative body image and all that, but I also believe we must love ourselves and work with what we've been given.  I disliked being overweight, but I never let myself dwell on it and - instead - attempted to love the body I had so that I didn't miss out doing so years down the road when I might be even larger.  I wasn't even necessarily trying to lose weight - I just made a conscious decision to drink less and eat more healthily.  The end result was just more than I could've even hoped for.

Thanks for letting me gush...and best of luck with your own weightloss goals.  Remember, if I can do it, you can, too!

New Orleans After Katrina

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

My first trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a bittersweet one.  While I saw some progress, the overall feel was of a city struggling to survive.

The French Quarter, if you can imagine it, was nearly bare.  There was hardly anyone about. Jackson Square, for instance, usually teeming with people on a sunny, not-too-hot Sunday late morning and early afternoon, was only sparsely occupied.  There were only a handful of artists hanging around it - maybe 2 Tarot readers and one or two artists selling their work.  I heard someone asking the horse & carriage drivers how they'd "done yesterday" and heard him say "I had only two rides - all day."  It didn't even fully dawn on me until later that "yesterday" had been a Saturday.  Two rides; it shows you the lack of tourists in New Orleans - a hard blow for an economy that largely depends on tourism revenue to survive.  And don't think it's not hurting the overall state as well; Orleans Parish usually accounts for 44% of all tourism revenue in the State of Louisiana.  Tourism is also the second largest employer in the New Orleans region.

We talked to a lot of the local artists, and they were struggling hard.  But we thanked them for staying and supporting the city, and they thanked us for coming and supporting the city.  We plan to buy an art piece every time we go - even if we can't afford it.  This time we got one from some guy that's been out there 15 years; Sam Infinity - it's a wild, dark but colorful little piece of Pirate's Alley (one of my favorite places because William Faulkner's house is there and is now a bookstore).

I saw progress, but not as much as I would've expected.  This is a major city - wherein lies an international airport!  This is a city that is the 5th largest convention destination in the nation, that hosted 10.1 million visitors in 2004 - a city that, without it, "each household in Louisiana would need to spend an additional $2,969 annually if the New Orleans travel industry did not exist"!!  The French Quarter isn't in disrepair so much as the rest, but the impact of loss of tourism is evident.  Other parts of the city were heartbreaking to see - entire streets lined with nothing but trashed and vacant fast food joints, mini-malls and gas stations - their parking lots filled with debris; like a ghost town.  Entire neighborhoods demolished, tarps on roofs, homes obviously never moved back into.

It will be years - many years - before that city is "okay" again.  And for those of us that hold her so dear in our hearts, it's a painful truth to accept.

The Anniversary of Katrina

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

In honor and remembrance of the horror that was Hurricane Katrina, and the devastation it brought to the Gulf and the City of New Orleans, I urge you to read this excellent look-back article, Remembering Katrina, at New Orleans' own The Times-Picayune newspaper.

Yet Her Heart Beats Still

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

This week I spoke with an accquaintance who had recently made his first post-Katrina trip down to New Orleans. He's a New-Orleans-at-heart kinda guy, like myself.

"The Quarter looks okay," he said. "You almost don't know anything happened. But once you step past that...the devastation is horrible."

"I haven't been back yet," I answered, quietly. "I'm still not ready."

"Don't," he said, his voice sorrowful. "Don't go see it. It will break your heart."

There's no doubting that. Pictures of my ravaged city and her surrounding areas still bring tears to my eyes. I still can't bear to think of the numerous places that held special memories for me completely washed away forever from Biloxi; I haven't been able to visit there, either.

I don't know when I'll be ready to set my own eyes on the aftermath of Katrina...maybe I never will be. Perhaps I just need to do it and begin to move on.

New Orleans, her culture and her people, still need help. Perhaps if you have a few extra dollars this, or next, month you might could contribute to a worthy NOLA cause? Here are just a few of my favorites:

New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief

Rebuild New Orleans Public Library

New Orleans Museum of Art

She calls to me, and I feel I must go to her soon. I only hope I am strong enough to see her so broken.

Willy Nagin

Friday, January 20th, 2006

I'm sure you've all heard New Orleans' Mayor Nagin's little MLK-Day "chocolate" reference by now.

Sure, New Orleans will be a "chocolate" city again, but I think what upset most people is that Nagin was blatantly ignoring the fact that New Orleans is New Orleans because of the wonderful and eclectic mix of many ethnicites. New Orleans will be New Orleans again when it is filled with chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana and everything in between once again.

I forgive him - he's under a lot of stress and he tends to say weird, outrageous things from time to time. A few misplaced words are the least of New Orleans worries right now.

Still, even I laughed my ass off when this Photoshop picture made its way into my Inbox; thought you'd get a chuckle, too.

Nagin's Chocolate New Orleans

Don’t Forget

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

While it may no longer be a hot topic in the news, the nightmare is far from over for thousands of people in southeastern Louisiana.

Please don't forget about them.