April 2008

Jazz Fest Blues.

Are there no Andouille Calas with Green Onion Sauce at Jazz Fest this year?? We missed them on Friday and I cannot find anything about them in Off Beat for next weekend. I scoured Food Area One for a good half hour, loosing our window for the Cochon po’ boys before the line got unbearable. In other words: it was a truly dedicated search.

Seriously, it is easier to wait and have them once a year at Jazz Fest then it is to get a babysitter and have dinner in Kenner. Plus, it makes it much harder to enjoy Rosemint Tea, Cochon de Lait po’boys, and Fried Eggplant with Crawfish Sauce without knowing that I can have Calas before and after.


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"Kate, give me a big girl smile!"


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Shoes for ‘Women Fighters’

This email is from my friend Leigh Ann, who has been working for the CDC and conducting her dissertation research in Zanzibar over the last year. If you have shoes you’d like to donate, contact me (coldspaghetti (at) gmail (dot) com) and I’ll pass on Leigh Ann’s information.

UPDATE: If you’ve got any soccer cleats, these would be like solid gold. THANKS!

Greetings Friends,

In every country where I work, I pick one local cause to support. I wait for an on the ground sort of outfit that you wouldn’t know about unless you were there to find me. One always does.

In Zanzibar, my cause is the women’s soccer team ‘Women Fighters.’
I first heard about them from one of my Researchers who is a founding member of the team. Then they were featured at the Zanzibar International Film Festival in a film called “Zanzibar Soccer Queens”.

After I saw the film, I was hooked! These women are infectious with their love of the game despite the social and cultural barriers to women being athletes in even a fairly progressive Muslim context. They face all the protests and admonitions you’d expect from everyone including husbands, brothers, religious leaders, etc. And yet the Women Fighters play on.

Once I watched the film, I asked my Researcher to introduce me to the team.
I’ve since practiced with them which involves simultaneously embarrassing myself and laughing loudly and often. I’ve also helped out the team a bit by getting equipment to them. In November when my family came out, they divided up 60 pounds of gear donated from my friends at Wake Forest University and carried it out. It was like kids at Christmas to see the team open the bags of gear!

Now as I’m getting read to visit Zanzibar again, I’m writing to ask you if have any running/athletic or soccer shoes in women’s sizes which you could donate. These shoes can be worn. When I’ve practiced with the team, they have fewer pairs of shoes than players. When a player subs-in, she switches shoes with a player who’s leaving the field. Shoes are the one thing the team asked me bring when I visit them next.

If you have shoes, please get in touch with me via email or phone. I leave for Zanzibar on May 6th so I will need to collect shoes this week. I’m hoping to get a dozen or so pair of shoes. I’m traveling on my own this trip so I won’t be able to share luggage weight rations with other travelers.

Asante sana~ (thanks in Swahili)

This link is to a website about the film.
Warda is one of my favorite characters from the film & on the field. This girl’s got game! She shows up for practice dressed like the shot on the left. Then she strips down to shorts & a t-shirt to run around.


WARDA KHALID, 20, [Midfield] gets support from her mother who
clearly sees a connection between sports and women’s development.
WARDA is determined to gain employment before getting married, as
this will prevent her future husband from oppressing her. She hopes to
gain employment through playing football and also aspires to play
abroad. “My aspiration is to become a good footballer. I would also like
to visit other countries. I don’t want just to be stuck here in Maissara.”


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Jazz Fest crack problem

I will burn for all eternity for this.   Burn burn burn.   The devil made me do it.

Art & Photography

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Foaming at the walls

Coordination and handling supply, delivery, and storage are our current nightmares.
– Still must finish plumbing and electrical before drywall.
– Found drywaller (phew!)
– Ordered drywall and supplies this morning
– Need to rent scaffolding
– Drywall delivered Tuesday, will take about a week
– What about having a light in the back yard from the house? Yikes!?
– Hopefully, can have bathroom drywall done a little bit earlier to start laying down the board to start tile work
– Tile design/layout finished and calculated
– Tile ordered; a few decoratives remain… hope Derby‘s have ’em in stock
– Need to decide on flooring for porch/study… laminate? unfinished wood? ???
– Paint selected for new rooms, but considering most of the house hasn’t been painted from when we moved in, we’re not holding our breath. But since we have to paint the drywall, we figured it made sense to try for the gold
– Vanity/cabinets arriving soon
– Floor tiles arriving soon
– Plumbing fixtures, sinks, faucets arriving soon
– Where are we going to put all this?
– Need to select commode
– Need to cut out hole in tub deck for the tub… then finish the plumbing
– Rest of the hardie siding? That can wait until June.


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Almost time for Elmo Underwear

It’s a red-letter day in our house… Kate asked to sit on the potty AND THEN USED IT FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME. It’s tough to appreciate the momentousness of this occasion if you don’t yourself have children, and I was trying to think of something that would compare. The joy of a teenage boy who just got to first base for the first time…? The relief of a parent who has just paid their last college tuition check for their child…? No, it’s more like being covered in a sea of poop and for years and suddenly being lifted out into the sunshine. You are filled with an unbelievable feeling of what the clean world could be like and long for each moment to be so lovely…

We actually think this potty training thing could happen soon. Kate: thank you for being an early talker. In this situation, we REALLY appreciate your tenacity at growing up.
Extra fun: NANA (Paul’s Mom) arrived today and was able to share in Kate’s big day!


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Down to the Wire

Some pre-insulation photos… I took these this morning while Paul quickly tried to finish up a few more electrical details on the exterior walls. It took a few hours for the team to spray foam through the walls. We’ll have them come and do under the house eventually. The smell in the house is strong… I can’t imagine what it would be like if we hadn’t used the “green” product. Ick.


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Let’s go see the stars!

I saw this meme on Charlotte’s blog and it made my night. I had to keep the entertainment high and continue it here.

The Rules:
Post a quotation from 15 of your favorite movies. (Use IMDB if you need a little help.)
Fill in the film title when it’s guessed (guessers leave your answers in the comments) or when it’s evident no one can guess it.
No cheating with Google, etc!

1. “I always think there’s a band, kid.
What movie would you chose if there were only one movie you could have to watch for the rest of your life? For me, it’s The Music Man. The line above is toward the end, when Harold Hill has been discovered, and admits that his passion for The Band is real… even if the actual teaching and use of the instruments is not. Picking a scene from this movie as a favorite is like choosing between children. But the universality of ‘Ya Got Trouble,’ drumming up suspicion out of air over nothing, wins out:

2. “Lick it up, baby. Lick it up.
Eli, you made my day! Mean girls couldn’t touch Heathers. Here’s a clip with another of my favorite lines… because I wasn’t able to easily find the party scene above:

3. “Fasten your seat belts. It’s gonna be a bumpy night.”
One of Bette Davis’ most famous screen lines, as Margo Channing in All About Eve. (If it weren’t for “What a dump!” from Beyond the Forest, I’d say it was her most famous.) Guessed correctly by Melanie and Charlotte! (Can you believe that Paul has never seen this movie?) Here is the clip:

4. “We plunged into the cornucopia quivering with desire and the ecstasy of unbridled avarice.”
Yes, Eli! A Christmas Story! My family has quoted this movie over and over for nearly 20 years; and we refer to the opening of presents as, “are you ready to start the unbridled avarice?” Although I was really attempted to use the line, “FRA-GEE-LAY… it must be Italian!” something said in our house every time a package arrives. Here’s the arrival of The Lamp…

5. “After all… tomorrow is another day.”
Ariail guessed correctly, it’s the last line of Gone With the Wind. The last 2 1/2 minutes of the movie are here:

6. “All I do is dream of you the whole night through; with the dawn I still go on, dreaming of you. You’re every thought, you’re everything, you’re every song I ever sing; summer, winter, autumn and spring. And were there more than twenty four hours a day; they’d be spent in sweet content dreaming away; when skies are grey, when skies are blue; morning, noon and night time too; all I do the whole day through is dream of you.”
This song is done twice in the movie. Once by Debbie Reynolds and the Coconut Grove Girls and then again dreamily by Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. I couldn’t find the Kelly version of it from the movie, so here is another of my favorite scenes:

7. “Remember, George, no man is a failure who has friends.”
The angel, Clarence, in It’s a Wonderful Life. LibraryGhost got it. The end of the movie is here. Just try and watch it and not get a little teary.

8. “I’ll never let anybody put me in a cage!” (Another hint: “Holly, you’re drunk.“)
I used to fancy that I was named after Holly Golightly (one could say ‘we’re both poor slobs’), although Tiffany’s really isn’t my ideal place. Melanie & Charlotte guessed Breakfast at Tiffany’s correctly!

9. “Nasty smelly things, motorcars!
Eli, you rock! Grandpa says this to his son Caractacus Potts and his grandchildren, Jeremy & Jemima, as they drive away for the very first time in their newly repaired motorcar, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. You can see the theme song here. But for the link below, I’m posting Hushabye Mountain, which is one of the songs I sing to the kids before bed each night.

10. “Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.”
The letter left for Mr. Vernon by The Breakfast Club. Guessed by Shrimpfriedrice. I really wanted to leave a different line, (“That man is a brownie hound” along with something from Ally Sheedy… “I’m not a nymphomaniac, I’m a complusive liar” are the lines that stand out in my head from the movie) but thought it would be too hard to guess. Here’s the trailer:

11. “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
Maybe the most romantic moment in any movie. Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. Guessed by LibraryGhost. Here it is:

12. “Lightning. Fire. The power of God or something.
Eli again — Raiders of the Lost Ark! I have this movie on the brain right now, as the 4th is due out and Marian is back… perhaps with Indy’s child? I like the trailer because it has another great line, “I dunno… I’m making this up as I go along.” The most quoted lines from this movie in our family are from the character Sallah “I am missing you already,” and “water? you want water? I will bring you some” which my Dad likes to say in a big John Rhys-Davies booming voice. Here’s the trailer:

13. “But they showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head. Page after page of it as if he were just taking dictation. And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.
LibraryGhost got this one, too. Spoken by Salieri, the fantastic fan and villain in Amadeus, the movie based on the Peter Shaffer play (Salieri is one the best written roles for men, in my opinion). Here’s the scene:

14. “The defendant is not guilty – but somebody in this courtroom is. Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system – that’s no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality! Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review, without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision and restore this man to his family. In the name of GOD, do your duty.”
The words of Atticus Fitch as played by Gregory Peck in the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Yeah, Melanie! Also the story and movie which inspired the name for my cat (Scout). Although the courtroom scene where everyone stands is the most powerful moment (in my eyes), here is Atticus in his closing statements:

15. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
JAWS 1975. (Thanks, shrimpfriedrice!) The line is a little over 2 minutes into this original movie trailer:


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We rejoice our future: a closet big enough for a clothes hanger.

One of the reasons I cleared the kids out of the house for the weekend was the messiness of sawing through a huge section of lathe right into our bedroom. Our bedroom closet is the largest in the house in terms of width, but not deep enough to hang a standard clothing hanger. With the difficulty of the room in terms of size and wall use, we came up with the plan to have the closet open from the bathroom side. So, I emptied the closet last week (our clothes now hang in the front room on a rack Paul fashioned out of leftover wood) and Paul sawed into the closet from the back. Here is the closet with framing, with the back just started to be sawed out:
This next picture shows the finished opening from the bathroom. Notice the IMPRESSIVE header holding the load! The sunlight makes it hard to see the beams, but it is pretty cool. We gain a few more inches this way and made the opening much wider, giving just a little more storage. The plywood is temporary — just to keep the debris level down in the rest of the house until it’s drywalled. (Hopefully, end of this week, start of next week??) If anyone knows a good drywaller… we’d love the number! We started with three good potentials and are now down to one who hasn’t returned our phone calls in several days.


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Maybe evil is more concentrated than I thought?

Back in October, laloca posted about Donald Rumsfeld’s involvement in the FDA approval of the neurotoxin aspartame, a popular sweetener marketed as “Nutrasweet”. In 1981, Rumsfeld was CEO of Searle Laboratories and called in favors to get the drug approved by then newly appointed FDA Commissioner, Arthur Hull Hayes. In her post, laloca does some investigative research into the toxicity studies on aspartame and finds it difficult to find abstracts on the works which report harmful effects. She also finds that there is a significant difference in the results of toxicity studies funded by the companies which produce the chemical versus the results of toxicity studies in parties not financially connected with the chemical’s commercial success. At the time, I joked in her comments section about a possible link to the Monsanto company, makers of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up.

Today, Oyster posted about the Rumsfeld-aspartame connection with some other information… including the sale of the Nutrasweet brand from Searle to Monsanto. (He writes that Monsanto then sold it to a private equity firm.) Turns out there is a connection, if only by the sale of product whose safety had not been verified. How interesting that whenever lack of ethnics, paltry concern for human welfare, and corporate greed are playing out, members of the Bush Administration are never far behind?

Although I know of no direction connection of Bush cronies to the Monsanto Corporation, outside of the sale of neurotoxins as described above, Monsanto is pretty damn dirty all by themselves. Here is some information about Monsanto and their cash-cow, glyphosate, taken from a research paper I wrote during my MPH training for a course on Reproductive Epidemiology & Toxicology, 6 years ago… (I’m adding some bold font now)

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum, non-selective systemic herbicide used for control of annual and perennial plants including grasses, sedges, broad-leaved weeds, and woody plants. Glyphosate was first discovered by J.E. Franz of Monsanto Corp in 1971 and was released commercially in 1974. In the early 1980’s glyphosate (Roundup) became the first individual pesticide to have sales of over $1 billion world-wide (Cox, 2000). Glyphosate is sold under the trade names of Roundup, Accord, Vision, Rodeo, Gallup, Landmaster, Pondmaster, Ranger and Touchdown. Glyphosate is the seventh most commonly used pesticide in U.S. agriculture, the third most commonly used pesticide on industrial and commercial land, and the second most commonly used home and garden pesticide. Total estimated annual use according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is between 38 and 48 million pounds (Aspelin, 1997). Glyphosate use is currently (1998) growing at a rate of about 20 percent annually, primarily because of the recent introduction of crops which are genetically engineered to be tolerant of the herbicide (Bureau of National Affairs, 1998).

Given that glyphosate herbicides are marketed as benign, it is striking that laboratory studies have found adverse effects in all standard categories of laboratory toxicology testing. These include medium-term toxicity (salivary gland lesions), long-term toxicity (inflamed stomach linings), genetic damage (in human blood cells), effects on reproduction (reduced sperm counts in rats; increased frequency of abnormal sperm in rabbits), and carcinogenicity (increased frequency of liver tumors in male rats and thyroid cancer in female rats) (Cox, 2000). People are exposed to glyphosate through workplace exposure (for people who use glyphosate products on the job), eating of contaminated food, exposure caused by off target movement following application (drift), contact with contaminated soil, and drinking or bathing in contaminated water.


Tests done on glyphosate to meet registration requirements have been associated with fraudulent practices. Laboratory fraud first made headlines in 1983 when EPA publicly announced that a 1976 audit had discovered “serious deficiencies and improprieties” in studies conducted by Industrial Biotest Laboratories. Problems included “countless deaths of rats and mice” and “routine falsification of data” (Cox, 2000).

In 1991, the EPA alleged that Craven Laboratories, a company that performed studies for 262 pesticide companies including Monsanto, had falsified tests (Cox, 2000). “Tricks” employed by Craven Labs included “falsifying laboratory notebook entries” and “manually manipulating scientific equipment to produce false reports” (Cox, 2000). Employees at Craven Labs were indicted on felony counts and suffered jail time and steep fines as a result. Although the tests of glyphosate identified as fraudulent have been replaced, the situation casts doubt on the efficacy of the pesticide registration process and questions the motivations for the approval of glyphosate for public and private use.

In addition to connection with laboratory fraud, glyphosate has been indicated in claims of false advertising. Monsanto, the company who manufactures glyphosate, has had a history of settling court agreements over false advertising regarding glyphosate. Claims that glyphosate products are “safer than table salt,” safe for people, pets, and the environment, and degrade “soon after application” were challenged in both 1996 and 1998 because they were in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the national pesticide law (Cox, 2000).

It’s some bad stuff. Something to think about when we consider spraying herbicide in our yards this summer.


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