Sunday, December 31, 2006


We've been on the road for nearly a week. I realize now that 2006 is a year in which I haven't set so much as a tippy-toe outside the United States. It's probably the first time I can say that since... maybe 1994? Reflecting on that, I guess it makes sense that this was the year to finally make it to Graceland.

Here are a few photos from the road-trip to close out the year. Ducks and all.

The Grand Hotel of the South in Memphis, Tennessee.

Home to some hard working fowl.

Ducks sashay down the red carpet. We met the Duckmaster a couple of times. Sometimes he carried his special duck cane. Sometimes not. Mom and I had seen him on Oprah. He's a star.

Zen marketing.

Graceland has magic architectural proportions that make it look big in photos. It's small. Like a suburban house that happens to have sprawling grounds. My father looked at this digital photo less than two days after standing next to me when I originally snapped it. "Where is that?" Graceland! You were there. "But the house in that photo looks so big..."

Elvis' final resting spot after being disinterred from the local cemetery.

A truck stop somewhere in Kentucky was very informative about current terrorism concern levels. I should have followed the suggestion to "see cashiers for details", but there was a line.

Another truck stop.

We went out looking for elk after reaching the Grandparent's house since they live in Elk County. Elk, unlike Graceland, appear small in photos but are quite large in real life. Cow sized. Not deer sized.

When my brother and I were little we used to spend days playing in the woods behind my grandparents' house. We'd build stone dams across a creek and catch crayfish. We'd wander with the neighbor kids through the dark pine forest under a canopy of trees that didn't let in the sunlight. When I got to 5th grade and our class read Bridge to Teribithia, I knew exactly what the secret forest looked like because we had grown up playing in one exactly like it.

There are two sets of JP initials carved into the same tree. I'd like to think that I carved one and my brother carved the other, but I can't remember either one of us doing it. I liked finding the tree. The carving includes the date of 1983. If it wasn't us, it was kids playing the the forest back when we were there too.

Happy New Year everybody.

Friday, December 29, 2006


We had an interesting experience at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

I had a lot of bags in the hotel room. Not the bag with my toothbrush or clean socks, but a lot of other bags. A confusing number of bags. In the morning, not long after waking up, my dad asked about a set of bags in the entryway. Are these your bags too? I looked at the unfamiliar black bags. Nope, not mine. My dad said, "I thought I heard someone in our room last night but I figured I was imagining things. and went back to sleep."

He wasn't dreaming. The bag fairy paid a visit and left us a present. That will teach us to not double-bolt the door.

After a phone call to the front desk, a bell-hop came and took the mystery bags away. Someone had made a mistake in the night, delivering them to the wrong darkened room. Some man will be happy his bags finally turned up after all.

We reloaded the car with all of the bags that belonged to us and headed to Graceland. Getting there as it opens on a cold winter morning is probably the best plan of attack. There were no lines. The giftshop didn't yet smell of stale smoke. We could wander the house with our audio guides without bumping into people. By the time we filed out, the lines to get to the shuttle bus were a couple hundred people deep and the enormous parking lot was filling up.

Two things surprised me about Graceland.

One thing shouldn't have surprised me at all. The house is small. Everybody says that. "It looks so small!" and knowing ahead of time that everyone has that reaction does not prevent the shock of it looking small. Smaller than expected small. As an informative free pamphlet from the information center points out, "Most kings have a castle, Elvis had a home."

The other thing that surprised me was Elvis' taste. He liked things that were gaudy and trendy. That's not surprising. But poor quality was not something I was expecting. The carved furniture was badly carved. Shockingly so. Some of Elvis' belongings looked like the kind of furniture the Special Man sells with no money down at Frankie and Johnny's Furniture on St. Claude Ave. in New Orleans. It made me feel sad for Elvis. He probably paid somebody a lot of money for some very second-rate furniture.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The entire goal for today was to make it to the Peabody Hotel before 5pm to see the duck parade. The ducks spend all day swimming around the fountain and parade down the red carpet to the elevator for a ride up to their penthouse roost exactly at five o'clock. If we missed it tonight, we wouldn't get a chance to see the ducks again until tomorrow at 11 am when they ride the elevator down. That conflicts with our plan to be at Graceland tomorrow morning.

We made it. We saw the ducks. They splashed, they quacked, they paraded into the elevator.

There are pictures but I have no idea where I packed the cable that would let me upload them to the computer. Apologies. It's probably with all my other belongings, sitting in the back of the car which is parked in a parking garage plastered with signs that warn not to leave any valuables in the car.

Merry Day After

Hope everyone is having a happy holidays. I'm just about packed up and ready to hit the road. Tomorrow we're headed to Memphis. Tennessee. None of us have ever seen Graceland and it's about time.

I've been too ill to be sad about leaving New Orleans. Too ill to say goodbye to people too. Last night I took a hit off an asthma inhaler someone gave me in the spring. I was always too nervous to use it, afraid someone else's prescription medicine might do me in. But yesterday I finally broke down and it was good. Oh oxygen, I didn't realize how much I had missed you.

Next post will be from the road. I already miss home and I haven't left yet...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Hiatus

There's been no blogging because I haven't been feeling well for a couple of weeks. Nasty allergies. Evil asthma.

I'm leaving New Orleans Tuesday, the day after Christmas. The move to Brooklyn is on. I haven't done such a good job of sharing that information.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

English to Japanese to English

There is endless fun to be had with Google Translator. Here's yesterday again...

I a little was the sickness over weekend. That it happens and when me the sickness and being difficult after in Shokufeh, in order for I to rescue for brown from our teaswap, it is not long, you do not call. If you ask, it receives ye.

Today is good greatly. 80% human. To come out of the pajamas, but it is not sufficiently good, 1-800 telephone number of government disputing with the person concerning the American of the thing which includes biometrics to the passport policy it is sufficiently good to calling. I did not mean the fact that fight is chosen. I possessed question exactly. Do i how obtain one of the new electronic passports?

Impossibility! There are no those! … It is good, is…There are those, it cannot form or as for you obtain one with just prototype. That there is one for overseas travel, it is required. Girl foolish.

As for us as the American citizen has the passport of the biometry data, it can require the government of the foreign country into discussion how approximately it entered. He without visa does not recognize the existence of condition of the citizen from the country of agreement of abandonment of the visa which has the passport of the biometry which continues to enter to the United States. Truth, law presently is not executed, but someone has known that is factual which rank. As for him as for the United States 50 - the passport whose 60,000,000 is new must be issued, because the fact that is meant what the foreign country requires the same technology of the American citizen called the fact that it is impossible to me. As for me the American passport agency if it reaches the point where it works too much with the start of policy of immigration of mutual biometry you do not think of that thing that other government especially does not worry happens to him.

“It denies the maneuvers of the person it denies” was not, it denies usefully. When is the pleasure which obtains visa in order I desire the fact that he is sent to the Paris Indian embassy and to see exactly, it is or, which rank.

As for the part where the telephone is good as for in order to obtain the fact that many speak to the human waiting with grasp it was not to be necessary from several seconds. That is something. Silver lining.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I was a wee bit sick over the weekend. It happened not long after telling Shokufeh that I was saving some teas from our teaswap for when I was sick and grumpy. Ask and ye shall receive.

Today is much better. 80% human. Not good enough to get out of pajamas, but good enough to call a 1-800 government phone number and argue with a man about US policy on including biometrics in passports. I didn't mean to pick a fight. I just had a question. How do I get one of the new electronic passports?

Impossible! They don't exist! ...Well, yes... they exist, but only in proto-type form and YOU can't get one. Nor will you ever ever ever ever ever ever ever be required to have one for international travel purposes. Silly girl.

We got into a debate about whether or not foreign governments could require US citizens to have passports with biometric data. He would not acknowledge the existence of the requirement of citizens from countries with Visa Waiver agreements to have biometric passports to continue to enter the US without visas. True, the law isn't currently being enforced, but who knows how long that will be the case. He told me it was impossible for foreign countries to require the same technology of US citizens because it would mean that the US would have to issue 50-60 million new passports. I don't think it occurred to him that other governments don't particularly care if the US Passport Agency becomes overworked by initiating reciprocal biometric immigration policies.

The man's tactic of "deny deny deny" was not helpful. I would like to send him to the Indian Embassy in Paris to see just how much fun getting a visa can be.

The good part of the phone call was that it wasn't necessary to wait on hold for more than a few seconds to get to speak to a human. That's something. The silver-lining.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blog Withdrawal

I'm missing NaBloPoMo. I got spoiled, checking in on several blogs everyday and always seeing something new.

For those of you who keeping checking in on me to see if there is newness, I'm posting. Even when I got nothin'.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


A few weeks ago an invitation came in the mail for a big party. It wasn't the usual kind of holiday invitation. This one had embossed letters, a golden seal and requested the pleasure of people's company to "celebrate the Birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan."

Last night was the big night. The Emperor was not there, nor was it his actual birthday (not until Dec. 23), but it was a good effort. Thankfully the invitation suggested "business attire" because the appropriate clothing for a birthday party in honor of an Emperor is not something I'm familiar with.

There were a couple hundred guests. Of those, I knew three people. I clung to them like a drowning person clings to a life preserver.

Last night's soiree may have been my first and last Emperor's Birthday party. The Japanese Consulate is predicting that their offices will be moved from New Orleans to Nashville. They're waiting on an official decision to come sometime after the New Year. Yet another casualty of the storm.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dr. Goatherd

I've been reading Barack Obama's autobiography, Dreams From My Father, for the past couple of weeks. Reading isn't quite the right word, savoring is more like it. There is a love of language revealed in his writing that is unusual for a politician. He offers a poetic turn of phrase and mind. An alchemy of words.

This morning, reading the local paper, there was column on the editorial page by Maureen Dowd from the New York Times. A couple of paragraphs in, she mentions that Obama's father was "a Kenyan goatherd". It's true, he was a goatherd when he was young, but his life didn't end there. It seems weird to present it as if it did, as if he didn't go on to get a doctorate from Harvard. But his life didn't end there either. He died a drunk and unhappy man.

I don't know why the goatherd comment bothers me so much. It feels like a half-truth. Selective information. Like saying George Clooney is a tobacco-picker.

Monday, December 04, 2006


No more Heroes until January 22nd! Grrr. Just when they've sucked us in....

Here's hoping Hiro-kun keeps writing posting to his blog during the six week hiatus.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

Right now the trunk of the car is filled with newspapers. This has become common event in the last year. Recycling was another casualty of the storm and friends from all over the city pass on their newspapers since I live within a couple of miles of a newspaper recycling bin. I worry what will happen once I go to New York and this impromptu newspaper recycling service ends.

The friends will not throw away the newspapers. Possibly their houses will fill up with bags and bags of the stuff and in the interest of preventing their homes from going up in newspaper fed flames, or being over-run by rodents who find newsprint to be good nesting material, here's some local newspaper recycling info.

Since I've been the newspaper recycling enabler, it feels like time to empower friends to take over their own newspaper recycling destinies. I did enjoy it though, the feeling of saving trees...

Westbankers can take newspapers to the recycling bin in the parking lot at Aurora United Methodist Church. For the friends who do not like to cross the Mississippi River (you don't know what you're missing) it's possible to take papers to The Green Project in the 9th Ward or call SP Recycling (504-733-1954)to find a newspaper bin near you.

There's a lot more grassroots recycling going on than you might expect. For more information on where to take recyclables download the New Orleans Area Recycling Guide PDF file.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ta Da

NaBloPoMo may be finished, but I'd still like to try to keep posting on a fairly consistant basis, though continuing to write everyday is unlikely.

Internet is back on in the house. But for some reason it's not possible to access my email account. Hmm. JC the Cactus King, I owe you an email. Thwarted, but not forgotten. Hopefully tomorrow.