Move date

I am moving to Iowa on May 14.

This weeks some design specialists are in the park. They are going to help us replace all of our wayside exhibits, plus design some new ones. I was looking forward to this, but it is pretty tedious. I’ll be doing the same thing in Iowa. The weather (wind, really) might keep us from going out to Ship Island, and of course that’s what I’m most interested in.

Yoga tonight. I was a little stiffer than usual.

A Sunday

The usual slow Sunday at work. I was by myself today, but I kept myself occupied. I did some research and copied some photos from our files. They survived the hurricane. I never looked at them this thoroughly. There was some good stuff in there.

I’m still working on the background check paperwork. It will go in the mail tomorrow.

Tonight for dinner I had black beans and rice, fried plantains, and a mango.

Good and bad reviews of Iowa

Yoga tonight. I felt pretty good. I hope I can find a good yoga school in Iowa.

A couple of former volunteers visited us at work today. They’re from Illinois. When I said I was moving to Iowa, one of them went into this diatribe about how awful the weather was: steamy hot in the summer, bitter cold in the winter, wind blowing all the time. He went on and on. Then he started telling me all these good things about Iowa, the riverfront in Davenport, the rolling hills, a funky college town that starts with a G, dozens of little colleges, some really good Amish baloney, and so forth.

I work with several Midwesterners, so I guess Iowa won’t be too shocking.

What I will and won’t miss about Mississippi

I will miss:

  • Working on a beach on an island in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Cajun butcher
  • Friendliness
  • Politeness
  • Good catfish and crawfish
  • The scenic beachfront (already gone)
  • The artistic heritage
  • A few good people
  • The way French Louisianans cook
  • The Sound-off page in the Sun Herald
  • Downtown Ocean Springs
  • The pretty good pizza at the Mellow Mushroom
  • Amazing Fort Massachusetts, my own little kingdom
  • My perfectly liveable apartment
  • 90 miles from New Orleans, for whatever that is worth
  • The feeling that you’re not just a rat in a cage full of rats

I won’t miss:

  • Neo-confederates and their flag
  • Living in a “deep-red” state
  • Hurricanes
  • Insincerity
  • Circumspectness
  • Living in the state that ranks 49th and 50th (or in some cases 1st or 2nd) in just about everything. It is worst in highway safety, lowest in per capita income, has the highest rates of STDs. It has at once the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and infant mortality, but it’s nearly impossible to get an abortion. Ah, the “culture of life.”
  • Writing to redneck elected officials (Senators Lott and Cochrane I mean you) who you don’t give a shit about your point of view.
  • The way French Louisianans dress
  • The state pastime of “letting loose crap fall out of the back of your pickup onto the roadway”
  • The absolutely filthy roads
  • “Southern Gardening with Norman Winter”
  • The amazingly slack service at the Mellow Mushroom
  • People who have apparently never seen a picture of the 8,000 year old Pyramids of Giza commenting on how amazing a feat of engineering is Fort Massachusetts (built 1859-1867)
  • The increasingly dangerous traffic at the entrance to my apartment complex
  • Other drivers who wave you on even though you have the right of way. This is more annoying than it might seem at first
  • The total lack of ambition of the local youths
  • Single Southern women

I’m sure there’s more of each.

The new McCarthyism

Even though I’m transferring from one national park to another, I have to have a new background check done. The government has gone background check crazy since 9/11. So I’m filling out all this damned paperwork. One is a release to have an investigator ask my doctor if I’m mentally deranged. This is freaking ridiculous. I’m going to avoid signing that one if at all possible. I don’t think they have a right to ask my doctor anything.

If terrorists are running around this country with impunity it’s because our government wasn’t using the considerable tools it already had to find them. One guy was listed in the LA phonebook despite being an illegal immigrant on a terrorist watchlist. I doubt the failure to delve into his mental health was the problem.

I was very strongly libertarian in my college days and I am leaning that way again lately.


I went to Florida to assist with a prescribed burn that finally got approved. The park is trying to restore longleaf pine habitat. The fire burned really hot; there was so much extra fuel from the hurricanes and subsequent beetle infestations. For a while I was with the ignition specialists clearing fuel from around trees along the trail. That was backbreaking work. They’d light the fire and I went along ahead and tried to clear ahead of them. I didn’t eat enough ahead of time and got really wiped out. Later we mopped up (slow, steady work) and I felt a lot better. We worked until nine. I am sore.

God save us sinners from the righteous

Today at work I checked “smashing ass” off my to-do list.

One of our volunteers came back to the office from the front desk. Some visitor had come in and told her that God was punishing all of the sinners in Biloxi. Biloxi had a lot of sinners because of the casinos, according to this man. Nevermind that the gamblers are mostly Midwestern retirees like this noodle.

Americans are just as sinful as they’ve always been, but more of them go to church now.

They’re all so beautiful I’m gonna puke

Another slow but beautiful and biting gnat-filled Sunday. The weather’s been great. I took my bike out on my days off.

I am watching the Academy Awards. I like Jon Stewart. His sarcasm is just sailing over everyone’s heads. I saw him in college when he was still doing campus-circuit stand up. I remember he offended all of my Catholic friends.

They just aired a bunch of dirty campaign ads for Best Actress! I love it!

Nice day off

I rode my bike into town today, stopped by the office, and then got some lunch. I think I put a good 15 miles or so. The weather’s been beautiful.

Tonight was a going away dinner at El Saltillo for my friend, who’s transferring to Vicksburg. I only have a couple of friend that I actually hang out with around here, and he’s one of them. My other friend wants to leave to and so do I.

I have a lead on a job in Iowa and am waiting to see how it plays out.

Gnasty gnats and other irritants

The swarms of biting insects made unpleasant an otherwise beautiful day. It was slow at work as usual. Sometimes I feel like a social worker for park visitors. I listen to their hurricane stories. I’m also noticing more of these Route-66 types: people who are traveling through the area and want to work for a little while in return for a place to stay. We’re definitely not running that kind of operation at work. I think its funny that some guy can come unannounced and from out of town and expects have a hammer or something put in his hand for a few hours so he can have a place to stay for the night. One guy today was clearly waiting for me to take pity on him.

I’ll say it to you here, man, because I can’t speak the blunt truth to you in uniform: There are 65,000 families here who have lost their homes. I am not sorry that you didn’t plan your trip more carefully, and that the only door you knocked on at 3:00 in the afternoon didn’t have any work for you. Get out there and pound the pavement if you want a job.