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Friday, Dec. 16, 2005
I’d encourage everyone to have a look at something from New Orleans, here. This video gets about as close to being there as anything I’ve found after hours of looking around online.

It’s a big file, about 12 minutes long. If you have the bandwidth (hell, even if you don’t) it’s well worth the time.

I’ve put more effort into thinking and researching this whole idea of Outfoxed Goes to Nawlins than anything since starting up a construction company nine years ago. It’s been a very soul searching thing for me, and I’d like to say thanks to those who offered support in the Guestbook.

Here’s the conclusions I’ve come to so far:

1. It’s not an inexpensive venture. Even for a couple of months, which isn’t enough time to really accomplish much, I’d be out about $20,000 in start up costs. Bigger truck, some back up supplies and the usual hedge fund against starving or the like. This isn’t all about the money, but being stupid about it isn’t going to help anyone either. Quixote-like gestures are just not going to be effective.

2. There’s a dynamic going on right now in that area which says, “Is this all really worth it?” I mean, you’ve got as many people vowing not to return as there are actually wanting to. And the reasons are legion, but one things for sure. There’s the equivalent of financial and moral anarchy going on. One positive - looks like the levee thing is finally getting some help.

3. I read a lot about 3 billion here, 100 billion there and can’t help but think “Holy farkness. Why not just up and hand over a hundred grand to every homeowner and small business within the city limits and be done with it already? Spend your 3 billion on the levees and let the rest sort itself out, for crying out loud.” I’ve never understood, and quite possibly never will understand why government insists on spending 2 dollars in committee, beaurocracy and wearying restrictions for every buck it actually hands out. Come to think of it, they ain’t handing out anything, it’s our money in the first place! But at any rate, more than a few sites have suggested that there is a real malaise going on this month, as people are caught in the waiting game, waiting on insurance to clear or permission to begin work.

4. On a realistic note, most of the area just isn’t ready for what I do, which is finish work. I say most, some of the region is blazing along in rebuilding because they just didn’t get hit as hard as others. I don’t doubt that I could be useful, but the timing is off for what I do best.

So it’s a wait and see, right now.

Something might happen in the next couple of weeks that would change my mind.

Right now the engine’s rumbling and the anticipation is on simmer.


In marked contrast, yesterday was the annual pilgrimage to inflict as much damage on my bank account and the local vendors as possible. Happens every year about this time.

I actually went a week early this year, my holiday shopping seldom takes place before Christmas Eve in any given year. Which is a testament to the steadfast interest I have in sloth, slackerdom and being the cheapest bastard in town.

But Ally was in full blown wrapping humor, the sort of wrapping that requires multiple rolls of paper and self-stick labels (with Christmas themes! New for 2005) so I had no choice. It’s a slow week, neither of us feel like shopping during the evening, so I was tapped for duty.

Lemmee tell ye somethin’. When it comes to shopping, I don’t fool around.

I’m a standard male in that regard. I’ve got zero tolerance for getting starry eyed in a department store. Or browsing in a mall. I plot a circuitous route around town, with the Watering Hole as an anchor in the middle and get at it. I don’t like bargaining. I loathe coupons and those who use them. Saving 5 dollars on an item while driving 15 minutes out of the way and standing in line to get it? A pox on that idea.

Ally wasn’t being all that helpful, in the sense that she was following my exploits around town as if I was tethered by an invisible GPS system or something. Which was disconcerting since I had a plan and was executing it with laser precision.

“Hello?”

“Hey babe, how you doin’ so far?”

“I’m in farking Home Depot. Number 4 on the list. Tool for Ben.” And one for me. Tool for Ben, one for me . . .

“Good. Say while you’re out running around could you stop and . . “

“No. If it wasn’t on the list, I ain’t interrupting a perfectly good speed run to get one more damned thing that we likely don’t need anyway.” Ten minutes to Watering Hole and she’s tossing in a ringer, sheesh the nerve.

“But I just thought of something you could get for my Mother.”

Oh jesus. Don’t even tell me. Just give me the store.” This is part and parcel of how I shop. The item isn’t really the issue, it’s where it might be found and whether it fits with the mental map I’ve drawn in my head for the day. Works well for me.

“Oh any Wal-Mart will probably have . . .” sounds of the klaxon on a great ship blaring, the din of a fraternity lodge on keg night, inserting head into the amplifier at a KISS concert

“. . . and if they have it in gold that would be good, too.”

“Huh?”

“What ‘huh‘? Didn’t you hear? You go to the Wal-Mart and . . .” Head crushed under Roseanne Barr’s armpit while underwater during a monsoon while wearing earplugs

“ . . . but if they’re out of gold, green would go just as well. Got it? And don‘t worry about wrapping paper I‘ve got plenty.”

“Oh. Yes. Yes you do.”

“Okay, have a nice time shopping (and yeah, she was giggling at the time). See you.”

Like 99% of all Home Depots on the planet, there was a Wal-Mart right across the street.

I don’t do Wal-Mart. And this one had the distinction of being (I read about this in the paper) one of the 10 busiest in the country or something. I don’t do busy all that well either.

I normally try to accommodate my wife, I really do. But buying some open ended thing for the mother-in-law, at Wal-Mart, ten days before Christmas? It was time for an adult decision. And this adult decided on the Watering Hole. Hell they both start with a W. And shortly after that two hour brief diversion, I was on my way to the Jewelry Store. Another annual event. And after making several attractive women swoon in the store by depositing an obscene amount of money for three small baubles (I console myself by thinking of them as investments, you see) I was back on schedule. A bit woozy, but moving. And the phone rings again.

“Hey babe, where y’at now?”

“Still shopping.” Which was a lie of sorts. I was on the way home.

“Well I know that eventually you’ll be going by the Watering Hole.” Heh. This is why you don’t get to go shopping with me, lass. “Why don’t you just get dinner from the Chinese place next door when you go, and bring it home? I’ll have the shrimp fried rice and . . .”

“Whoa whoa. You want Chinese?” This is the same woman who, in the course of 25 years of marriage, has maybe eaten Chinese food twice, and complained bitterly both times if memory serves. My wife may be many things but having a wide variety of tastes in food is definitely not one of them. Stray too far from beef and potatoes and she gets violently disinterested, she does. Me, on the other hand, will eat Chinese or Mongolian or Ethiopian or anything else available, and like it. Everything goes well with beer, as they say.

“Well sure, and it’s not like you’ll have to go out of your way to get it or anything.”

Well, just damn. For once the stars and planets aligned, the forces of nature calmed and the waters parted for Moses. My wife wanted Chinese food and thought to steer me in the direction of the bar to get it.

I listened to her wise council. Why, they even had the same parking space opened for me.

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