Sunday, August 31, 2008


It's Sunday morning. Three years ago we left on a Sunday morning for Katrina and didn't come back for five weeks. Who knows was the law school is going to do if we can't come back in a few days; I do NOT want to do that again.
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Gustav Countdown/Bruce Springsteen's "Jambalaya"

The wife and I were on the porch this afternoon - Saturday - when we got our Sunday New Orleans Times Picayune delivered to us. We never see our delivery guy, but they must have printed the Sunday paper early doe to Gustav. My stress over potential hurricane activity here in town was only accentuated by the news that "For Better or Worse" is ending its run in the comics. But the cartoonist is, apparently, starting a new strip with a completely different set of characters? Whatever....

Earlier today, I had my new external hard drive with my 120GB of music on it running on random, and I noticed a Springsteen song I've never listened to before. I have about 7GB of his bootlegs, so THAT'S no surprise since he has more unreleased tracks and alternate takes that just about any other artist I know besides Prince and, maybe, the Beatles. I saw that the track was called "Jambalaya" and played it, but it wasn't the traditional/Hank Williams song. The song starts out:
Well, I got a girl I want to tell you her name
She lives way down south in New Orleans
Well she's strong like a lion, she's wild like a tiger
And I call that woman Jambalaya
You can see from the lyrics why this wasn't released on any of his albums. Why would you call your woman - first, by any other term but her name or a semi-traditional nickname ("Babe", "Sweetie", "Hot-Pants", "She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed") - and, second - by "Jambalaya"??? unless, I guess, she was spicy and smelled like seafood. :) It has some musical elements identical to some other boots/early takes of his other songs, but with Gustav threatening, I was a little put off by one of the next lines:
Well she hits you like a hurricane
Which, again, with Gustav finally passing over Cuba and Mayor Ray "School Bus" Nagin saying that AGAIN this is the "mother of all storms" is NOT what I wanted to hear, BUT this was only a semi-ominous portent since the song itself didn't come up randomly in my Winamp rotation, but was a song adjacent to the Springsteen tune that was actually playing (which was something like the 19th take of "Racing in the Streets" or one of his other standards - not that I don't love the early studio variations of the songs all of his fans know).

And I thought I would upload my copy of the Boss's "Jambalaya" to YouTube as just an audio file with a still photo, BUT, of course, someone has done this all ready:

(Is it some legal requirement that all bloggers have to embed a YouTube clip in every three or four posts or so?)

And, about Gustav, we're going to ride it out unless - come Sunday morning by which time the damn storm itself will actually be in the Gulf of Mexico - it takes a turn to the East. In the meantime, Mayor Nagin and all the other local yokels are just playing a grand game of CYA because of their incompetence three years ago.

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Searching Blogs, Part II

Aha! It took about three days for my unique target phrase from Wednesday to appear in a Google search:

Even with this being a brand-new Blog, that was pretty quick. Now, the thing to test is to post a unique phrase on my main work page and see how quickly that is picked up by Google. But I can't FTP in from home, so I'll try that next week.

Anything to distract me from Gustav.
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Friday, August 29, 2008

Gustav Contingencies

The law school is closing down today and Loyola is closing the university tomorrow morning. When evacuating for Katrina three years ago, I kept thinking of the sequence in Gone With the Wind where Atlanta is being evacuated in anticipation of the threatening Yankee hordes. Said sequence is, of course, on YouTube:

That same vibe is in the air today.
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Watching Gustav...

The universe does NOT operate this tidily. There is NO WAY that New Orleans is going to get another semi-direct hit from another major hurricane almost three years to the day since Katrina. But, to be safe, Loyola is cancelling classes Friday and closing down the university Saturday, so I won't have to work and can take care of stuff at home.

No hits yet for my target phrase from the earlier post.
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Searching Blogs

This may be mildly informative. How quickly does Google index new blog entries? They own Blogger/Blogspot so I would guess pretty quickly. Here's a sentence with a unique two-work phrase that isn't on-line.

As a child, my favorite snack was a tarpaper kumquat.

I'm posting this at 10:40am local time. I'll try to google that phrase every couple of hours for the next few days and see when it turns up.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Half-fast Salespeoples

So I spent forty-five minutes or so with a sales-person from one of the big legal publishers. He wanted to talk to SOMEONE here about the electronic packages of the titles that they were offering to different schools, to which he said many other firms and law schools had subscribed.

Within ten minutes I found a question he couldn't answer and a glitch in his company's software that he couldn't explain. The clock is counting for him to "get back to me" as he promised, but I'm not waiting.

And its not just a law school thang. My wife teaches english lit and composition at a community college here in town and experienced the same phenomena the other day: a sales-geek from some company couldn't get his product to work and my wife, who had actually used the damn thing, was apparently the only person there among the trainers and trainees who could show how the software did its stuff.

So this leads me to formulate a thesis about software development. The programmers who write the code can make their programs work, but generally can't speak plain english and explain it to customers and users. The salesmen who demonstrate the programs have two or three canned demos that work fine but when they are asked by the demo-ees to try something else they often run into either situations that their training hasn't prepared them for or glithes in their company's software that they have never come accross before.

SOOO... that leaves the actual USERS - the librarians, faculty, etc., who actually put the program/software/whatever to the test by using it in their classes or with their patrons - who know how the DAMN THINGS WORK!!!

And its US who can explain it to our fellow users and send notes back to the programmers about the bugs we discover.

So MAYBE we should be getting a cut of the money from the software companies. My wife e-mailed the sales rep who sent the half-assed trainer to her school to flail about and show his incompentance and told the company that SHE should get a cut of the sales contract with her school.

SO my solution is that the software companies should cut out their sales force and pay a per diem to the folks on the front lines who have learned how to use their products in the field to show other faculty and librarians how the stuff work.

If Gustav actually follows its projected path, maybe that's what I'll do.
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Friday, August 22, 2008

Thwarted Research...

I guess if I was a reporter I might have had success. As it was, neither the Obama or McCain campaign would return my calls or e-mails. Eventually, I did get a personalized response, which was NO.

See, I had a great idea - the editor at American Libraries magazine, where I’ve had luck writing a few articles (two here, and one forthcoming - full text should be available there soon) in the past - liked it: who does research and confirms facts on presidential campaigns? I haven NEVER read anything about that and a literature search turned up nothing.

The impetus for the article was a scene from “The War Room”, the documentary about the 1992 campaign of Bill Clinton. Bush Sr.’s speech accepting the republican re-nomination is on the TV at the Arkansas campaign HQ and James Carville asks a staffer “Liz, I want to know if I can say this is the first time an incumbent president has given an acceptance speech and not mentioned his economic record.”

Great question! Who is Liz? Was it answered? Is that answer yes?

Anyway, I e-mailed Carville’s people, tracked down who “Liz” is and what she’s doing know, and called and e-mailed both the Obama and McCain campaigns. I also researched the question about that speech and, yes, that was probably more or less true, except that for most of American history, nominees didn’t even attend the conventions - as late as 1932 Hoover was notified of his re-nomination by telegraph and accepted it in kind. So it would have taken too many qualifications for that fact to make a decent soundbite.

Anyway, the Obama campaign is notorious about not being helpful with media requests unless you’re with some huge, mainstream outlet. Even after I heard that Blender Magazine ran a article with the two candidates top ten favorite songs:

White House DJ Battle (Blender Magazine)

and I got all haughty in a new round of e-mails (“someone on the campaign talked Blender Magazine about the Senator’s taste in music, but you’re blowing off the 100,000 readers of American Libraries magazine???”), still nothing. I just wanted to talk to some low-level flunky who did this sort of grunt work.

So I had to make this blog to have a place to vent. Hahahaha....

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