Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Where are the young people?

The state is loosing its children by the thousands, according to this story.

Louisiana has 129,798 fewer residents under age of 18 than it did in 2000.

And the number of women ages 18 to 44 has fallen by 10 percent since 2000--that's a loss of 96, 145 young women. That means that state lost a lot of women who are in their child-bearing years--if they aren't here they can't have kids to make our state, populous right?


Experts say that some of this is due to the hurricanes, about 60,000 women left in the year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

To top it all off, the state is gaining residents 65 and over.


Maybe this explains why little old men always try to talk to me in grocery stores.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Highlight of the day

Just thought I'd share a little bit of my bliss with y'all.

Today, as I was driving down Bert Kouns I saw the light...yellow sign that bought a smile to my face.

Unleaded: 2.94

Yes! Gas prices are starting to decline. Or are they?

I just hope when I need to get gas later in the week prices haven't sky rocketed back to $3.09.

This weekend a bunch of us talked about gas prices and possible alternatives. (We crossed out riding bikes to work with summer heat right around the corner.)

What about you? Any changes to your driving habits?

As much as people (media) ask that question, I really don't find myself changing how much I drive.

I may change that if gas gets to $4 or more...

Monday, May 28, 2007

The final frontier: The conclusion

Well, it was hard, but I finally did it.

I finally mustered up enough courage (and money) to boldly step into the new millennium and catch up with all of my hip peers.

I finally bought an mp3 player. And not only did I do that, but I got a new system for my car and for my home. After nearly two years, I’ve finally welcomed back a lifelong friend that had been gone for far too long: my music!

As some of you may recall I’d pretty much gotten fed up and surrendered to the advanced technology that has practically eradicated “ancient” conventions such as the cassette player and the cd player. I fought change for as long as I could, but having radio as my only music option just wasn’t getting it.

And thanks to some of you guys and a few friends, I finally settled on the Apple iPod as my mp3 player of choice. But it would be another two or three weeks before I finally got the nerve to just go on and buy the darn thing.

When it comes to change y’all, I’m like an old woman. It’s just hard to let go, not only in terms of “antiquated” music devices, but of the cash that such upgrades tend to require.

But I’d done tons of research and saved my money for a long, long time and it was set aside for this moment. And in my mind, this major purchase was a major investment - one I hope to not have to make again for at LEAST the next five years. So I got up Saturday morning, prepped my mind for the task ahead and boldly marched into that Best Buy store.

I had one last moment of hesitation as I pondered over purchasing the new system and iPod adapter for my car. However, thanks to the patient, but friendly nudging of a sales associate named Chris B. (Yeah, I know that’s their JOB! I wasn’t a sucker.) I went ahead and executed my plan and automatically felt like someone put the Technicolor back in my life!
I’m giddy like a kid on Christmas morning who just unwrapped a new favorite toy.

Well, actually, I’m almost overwhelmed with all of these new options. Turns out I was wise to go for the 30-gig iPod because I had a little over 1,300 songs already and I still have plenty more CDs to put on there.

Shoot, that’s a lot of options to sift through too, so of course I still have some things to learn about creating playlists and such.

But hey, the way I see it, I’m finally here, walking around in the 21st century of music technology so I might as well enjoy the trip.

Any tips on accessories I might want to consider, creating or organizing playlists, listening to iPod music on car audio or home stereo? Or anything else?

Here's a pic of the kinda iPod I now own (It looks JUST like this, color and all.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

More Mudbug Madness

I hope you're not getting tired of this stuff. But how could you? This is a fun festival. You can read more weekend coverage in Sunday's paper, and you can check out these photos I took this evening.

The stars of the show.

Looking down from the Spring Street Bridge.

What Louisiana festival would be complete without some dancing?

Ah, the beeramid.

Another crowd shot.

And even a photographer needs her picture taken now and then.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Farewell to Mike the Tiger

I know it's been a week since LSU's live tiger mascot Mike V died, but I actually visited his habitat yesterday. Of course, he wasn't my personal pet, but seeing his empty place got me to thinking.

Yes, he was an animal, but his existence and passing were obviously big deals. I was in Nashville, Tenn., when news got out that he was dead, and I immediately got five text messages from other LSU Tiger fans. They were punctuated with :( emoticons and omgs.

The death definitely made me a little sad, but for more than one reason. Having a tiger is controversial, and I can see more than one aspect in the arguments.

Yes, Mike V was special to me. (I'm sure Mike the VI and however many others I see also will be special.) I graduated from LSU. Meeting near his cage was a sort of tradition for a lot of my friends before football games. I guess it was a little silly, because several thousand other excited football fans also met there. I even have friends who say they happened to be near the cage when his trainers were working with him and that they got close enough to touch him. (I never saw this myself, though.)

Anytime one of my friends from another college came to visit, I'd take them to see Mike. The kid I tutored at a Baton Rouge elementary school always asked me about Mike. The big cat was fascinating, so it's a little disheartening to know a bit of tradition is gone.

Then, I can actually kind of see why animal rights activists get upset. Yes, he was a tiger that is supposed to be able to stalk his prey. I'm not zoologist, but I thought his back legs looked bit scrawny for a cat his size. I know he didn't get to run much, even in his $3 million habitat built just a few years ago.

I admit I enjoyed hearing him roar when he was pulled around Tiger Stadium in his mobile cage, but I also wanted to know exactly what was making him holler. Popular legend says only the Mike the Tiger suit (with a person inside) could rile him up. But I can't help but wonder if it was just a quick poke that wasn't visible from the student section. In my mind I imagined Saturday night in Death Valley as slightly similar to being a Roman watching wild animal hunts--obviously minus the blood and guts. And Christians being eaten by lions. So those mental images are gloomy, too.

But according to LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe and others, this Mike and three previous tigers lived longer than most wild tigers. So who knows? In some ways this tiger led a charmed live. But could it have been better elsewhere?

I guess even some of the best things in life are disputable. How do you argue with yourself? I'm not sure how to win.

RIP Mike, 1990-2007.

(Thanks to Times photographer Jim Hudelson for the September 2000 file photo.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Soulless food

Call me soulless. Call me unrefined. You can even call me mindless.

But here's the reason I love getting food from places like Applebee's, which is believed to be the largest chain of casual-dining restaurants in the country:

Last night, after an unusually long work day, I found myself hungry and wanting to chow down in front of my TV at about 10:20 p.m. Well, that doesn't leave many options for anyone who lives in the Shreveport-Bossier area, does it?

So, I put in a to-go order from the Applebee's on Airline Drive and got to the restaurant within a few minutes. My food was already waiting on me. Since I eat from there so often, I didn't even bother to check the to-go bag.

Well, I got home and realized they totally got my order wrong. I'm on a bit of a health kick, so imagine my disdain when I opened up the container and saw some sort of breaded chicken, cheese and lettuce in a soft tortilla wrap. There was Thousand Island dressing on the side.

But I was too hungry to worry about all that. Within minutes, the container was empty and I was full.

That's the point: I have no idea what dish I ordered from Applebee's. I've never ordered it before. I probably won't order it again. But it was good and reasonably priced. And I didn't even ask for it.

That's a great restaurant, if you ask me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Leaving Flav and the girls alone

When the VH-1 reality series Flavor of Love appeared in 2005 I was very excited.

I love everything about Flava Flav and his dramatic, eccentric ways. I enjoyed seeing him on television because I thought he was funny. And I became a loyal watcher on Sunday nights.

Flavor of Love was to be a show where the former rapper could find a girlfriend. It was similar to The Bachelor, except without all the nice people and class. Flav's show was like him: out of control.

I loved it.

After he was jilted by the woman he chose, VH-1 aired another season of my newfound favorite show. I had doubts it would top the first season but I gave it a shot anyway. It was way better than I expected. So much better that I hosted Flavor of Love viewing parties at my apartment. One of my former editors even gave me a framed portrait of his face.

I mean, I'd never try to be on his show. I would NEVER degrade myself in that manner but I didn't mind watching others look foolish.

Since then two other shows have spawn from Flavor of Love: I Love New York, a bacherlorette-esque show that Tiffany Pollard was given after being ditched by Flav on two seasons of Flav's show, and The Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School, which stars comedian/actress Monique and takes girls from both seasons of the original reality show to make them compete for $50,000.

I became a loyal fan of the I Love New York show. I watched because I saw the pain on her face when she was humiliated by Flavor Flav twice when he decided to choose another girl over her. I watched her show because a big part of me wanted her to find a love of her own.

Then she was dumped again. This time by a man of her own choosing. And the world watched as she cried. Now the search continues to find her a mate. Viewers can even cast votes for who they think should be on the show.

I'm not watching. I'm tired.

But the Charm School program takes the cake. I've watched all the episodes thus far and I am not entertained. I'm ashamed.

I'm ashamed that I even thought this type of television programming was funny and I'm even more ashamed that these girls are exploiting themselves for such a small amount of money.

What brought me to this conclusion was watching this Monday's episode of Charm School. I'm done. I can not digest anymore foolishness. I've reached my breaking point.

Those shows will no longer have my eyes. I'm putting my picture of Flava Flav in the closet.

I'm so over it.

Are ya'll?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Proper attire

God bless Maggie Martin - our resident society guru. Since entering that wedding phase of life, I have frequently received invitations that say things like "dressy casual," and I never know what that means. Do I have to wear a dress, or can I get away with nice pants? Does my date need a tie?

Well, Maggie got the low down according to the Demoiselle Club and shared it on her blog, so I'm going to pass it on to you...

"Cocktail": Suit, coat and tie for men, calf/length party dresses for women.

"Dressy casual." Coat and tie for men, church quality, dressy dresses, sundresses, pantsuits for women — also known as "clubhouse" and "chic."

"Summer casual." Think J Crew. Seersucker pants, dresses, skirts, sundresses, Bermuda shorts with polo shirts tucked in, cropped pants, short skirts.

"Casual." Think Gap, Old Navy. T-shirts tucked into cute shorts or skirts, cropped pants, khakis, sundresses, flats.

Do you speak TV?

Y'all know by now that we talk about everything on here from the serious, heavy stuff, to the silly stuff. So, I'm going a little light today because I'm wondering what my TV heads out there are thinking about the latest season/series finales?

I watched "Girlfriends" and while I was happy about Joan finally getting engaged, it really felt like a much-needed series finale. I say “much-needed” because without the character of Toni Childs, this past season was just sad, more than anything. I mean, you can tell the actors and writers worked really hard to keep it going and I kept watching all season out of loyalty, but no doubt the show lost its flavor for real without the return of Toni.

I think I’m probably one of the few "Gilmore Girls" fans left out there. And I’m not even a 100 percent true fan because this whole season has been such a snore for me, that I hadn’t even gotten around to watching my DVR recordings of the show. I didn’t even make it to the finale. So I was glad to know it was a series finale, yet disappointed that the series had to go out like that.

Then, there’s the heartbreaking "Grey’s Anatomy" season finale. I’m a die-hard Grey’s Anatomy fan and all, but I was SO disappointed with this finale for a number of reasons. Well, that is until I read Shonda’s blog about it. (I’m referring to the show's creator Shonda Rhimes. Yes, in my head we’re on a first name basis.) After reading that I feel slightly more hopeful about the coming season. Otherwise, that season finale also felt more like a series finale.

OK, OK, for those of you who don’t watch any of these shows, you’re probably thinking I’ve finally lost my mind for good or you stopped reading this long time ago. But for those of you who do watch at least ONE of these shows, what did you think about the finales? What do you hope to see next season? What about any other season finales out there? What shows did you like or not and why?

I was farked today

Although violence is not something I take lightly, I admit I had to ask twice when a detective told me yesterday a man got cut during an argument about a honey bun. It just sounded too strange to be true, but that's what he told me the second time.

Then today, that article was linked on I have to admit, that part was slightly thrilling. I love to read the crazy posts on that site, and it was funny to see some of my own work end up there. Plus, it means a lot more people than usual will visit our Web site and read my article. Just fewer than 4,000 had clicked on my article by about 2 p.m., according to our online editor.

One interesting feature about fark is that you can post more than just your comments: you can put up pictures. You'll have to see for yourself.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Maybe I don't have to be too old to help out

I started writing this post Friday night in Bush Intercontinental Airport while I waited for my connecting flight to Shreveport from Nashville, Tenn. This tiny lap top with wireless and cell phone connection capabilities is pretty cool and coming in handy. By the way, it belongs to The Times and not me personally.

And this equipment is part of the reason I got sent to Nashville. I was there to speak on a panel with an editor from the Des Moines Register about online journalism efforts at an orientation program for summer interns participating in the Chips Quinn Scholars newspaper program. (I was a Chips Quinn scholar at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch during spring 2006.)

When program organizers asked me to participate, I have to say I was surprised. I've only been working as a professional journalist for a little more than a year. It seems like just yesterday I was listening to big time reporters talk to me to prepare me for an internship. Most of the speakers I heard had five or 10 years of experience.

In other words, I'm young, and I felt that way. I wasn't nervous about speaking in front of a crowd and having a lot of smart people come up with some pretty serious questions. I just wondered how much I would really have to offer.

But as these (mostly) recent or soon-to-be college grads asked me how I balance taking photos and shooting videos with writing articles for print or online, I did have responses. It made me realize my job is sort of like the situation the newspaper industry is in right now: We're all learning as we go.

Fewer people are reading the printed daily product many of our parents and grandparents love (or once loved) at breakfast time. But more seem to be reading and/or viewing it online. Now we're trying to give these Web readers what we hope they want, which is more than just shoveling print versions of stories onto sites.

Thinking about that as I described what I do was kind of exciting. Not to mention I hope it sort of eased some worries for these bright, summer interns. It's easy for anyone to be a little nervous as they embark on a new adventure. But they are asking the right questions, which is one thing that should always stay the same for any kind of journalist. I think they'll do fine, and if the rest of us keep doing what we should, so should our industry.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Owners of bad dogs to have their day - in court

Bad dogs usually have bad owners.

No, this is not true of all dog owners. But much like the parents of incorrigible kids, it's rare that the source of the trouble doesn't start with the supposed authority figure in the home.

Seeking to finally put some teeth - pun intended - into laws that seek to punish those owners, the Texas Senate today approved a bill that could send the owners of dogs that violently attack people to prison for up to 20 years.

It's about time.

I have little patience for those who would own a dog with the capacity to harm others. Several times a year I read stories of people, often young children and the elderly, whose lives meet gruesome ends because they were attacked by violent dogs. For example, the bill passed in the Texas Senate was called Lillian's Law in honor of Lillian Stiles.

Stiles, 76, was attacked and killed by a neighbor's dogs in the front yard of her Thorndale home (about 40 miles northeast of Austin) after getting off her riding lawn mower in November 2005. A Milam County jury acquitted dog owner Jose Hernandez last month of criminally negligent homicide in Stiles' death. Ugh.

Like those who own guns, people who choose to keep those sort of animals should be charged with the responsibility of making sure their dogs don't hurt others. And if those dogs somehow do hurt someone, they should be punished to the full extent of the law.

So, I'm glad to see Texas added a little more bite to its laws targeting the owners of vicious dogs. It was long overdue.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I guess even a reporter needs a break sometimes

I really shouldn't have been surprised, because I almost always see someone I recognize or know on a flight into Shreveport. But being a professional reporter now can make that a bit different from running into an old friend who is happy to see you.

Heading back here Tuesday morning from a short layover in Atlanta, I was walking toward the steps to my Delta Connection puddle jumper when I noticed Shreveport Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran ahead of me. As we got closer in line I said hello and asked where he was coming from (which happened to be an International Association of Fire Chiefs meeting, of which he is the 2nd vice president), and we made a some small talk.

When I boarded the plane, much to my surprise (and maybe his annoyance?) I had to ask him to let me into his row so I could sit in seat 5A -- the window seat directly beside his. He had to have been thinking, "Why does this reporter have to sit with me?" And it really was my spot. I wasn't being sneaky.

Maybe I over analyze, but I was thinking, "Dang, I should come up with some really good questions to ask him." ("Good" might reads "pesky" when it comes to questions in journalism lingo.) I didn't have any specific future article in mind, I just felt like it was my duty.

But honestly, I was exhausted. I had an incredibly fun weekend, which meant little sleep, and I was going from my touchdown at Shreveport Regional to the office with little precious time between.

And I had a little sympathy for him. Yes, he's a public official, but I'm not sure I would not want to sit beside myself in the wee hours if it was possible for me to have an out-of-body experience. So I more-or-less told him he wasn't going to have to worry about getting grilled by a sleepy journalist. (Grilled is probably not the best idiom to use when talking about a firefighter, is it? Certainly no disrespect intended.)

Fortunately, he was extremely gracious in answering my few questions, though I certainly wouldn't say he was chatty on this particular occasion. I think we both probably needed a short nap during the ride. And I don't think I passed out on his shoulder or anything.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sticks and stones...

Just like many local residents, I’ve been following the story about the shooting of 16-year-old Terrence Winn at a McDonald’s before day Sunday morning and I’m immediately struck with a mix of emotions.

There’s sadness that a teenager’s life was just snuffed out for no reason. I mean I don’t know the details, but from what’s been reported in the news so far, I just haven’t heard a justifiable reason for taking this kid’s life.

Then there’s the shock of finding out that it was actually three adults that have been arrested and charged for such a heinous crime.

But what’s also been slightly annoying me like a fly you just can't seem to swat are some of the comments people have made about this tragedy.

Sometimes, these kinds of stories truly bring the worst out in some people. And you truly have to charge it to ignorance, realize everyone has free speech and keep it moving.
One reader actually said he hopes “they keep killing each other” because “each one that dies is another animal that cannot harm any decent citizen any more and saves the taxpayer money to cage the beasts in jail.”

Amazing how that reader was able to come up with such a self-righteous declaration without so much as a name of the victim at the time the story was originally posted.

It’s interesting how quickly some of us dismiss, condemn or blame victims in situations like this as if it’s their fault, their problem, whoever “their” is.
However, I’ve come to realize that some people do that to calm their own fears and insecurities about the safety of their own lives and families.

Meanwhile, I can’t stop thinking about the mother who received the worst Mother’s Day gift anyone can give.
And my heart aches for the families and friends of this teenager. From all accounts I’ve heard so far, he was basically a good kid.
This isn’t by far the first time such a violent crime has been committed and it certainly won’t be the last.

So, as violent crimes like this one continue to occur, do we just continue to shrug our shoulders and say it’s “their” problem until it comes knocking on our door? Or what?

If you could be in charge, what would you do?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sex Talk with Sue

I was all prepared to write about the benefits of vacations (one of which I desperately need).

But as I sat down on the couch with my lap top and flipped through some channels I came across Talk Sex with Sue Johanson.

I've seen her on some other shows before but never really paid attention. But Sue caught my attention tonight.

Callers presented Sue with dilemmas that ranged from normal medical questions to off the wall questions pertaining to their experiences.

Numerous questions ran through my head as I watched a segment.

A majority of her callers were in their 40s and 50s. Is this because sexual health/education was different and lacking when they were in school? Or is it just a mark of their maturity and willingness to open up about their issues?
Why aren't there any 20-somethings calling (atleast that night)? Do we think we know it all?
How has this show lasted decades when it seems that it's topics are something society tries to sweep under the rug?
Does Sue's grandmotherly image make it easier for people to talk to her or make what she's talking about seem less taboo?
Why does Sue seem to know it all?

Sue isn't new to the scene, she started the Sunday Night Sex Show in Toronto in 1984 and has progressed to the Oxygen channel show. But I wonder how many people know about her.

Have you seen the show or heard about Sue and what do you think about it?

Or do you think I should have stuck to my vacation post? Ha!

Friday, May 11, 2007

What's in a name?

Here's one more database the federal government keeps: the most popular names parents give their babies.

Today the Social Security Administration released the most popular names for boys and girls in 2006. Jacob and Emily came out on top for each gender.

In Louisiana, it was Landon and Madison. The site will let you check out the top five names in each state. And you can even look at popular names all the way back to 1880. Kind of cool if you are thinking about naming a kid... or if you're just bored.

And here's an interesting article from the AP about the popularity of Katrina in the wake of the deadly storm of the same name.

When you know you're getting old...

You look at the grocery store ads and say to yourself: "Cool! Tuna steaks are on sale - sounds like Friday-night dinner."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

After all these years, OJ is still not guilty

Here we are, a dozen years later, and some people still want their chance to convict O.J. Simpson of murder.

I'm referring to a story from this past weekend when a Louisville, Ky. restaurateur refused to serve O.J. at his steakhouse because he is convinced the NFL Hall-of-Famer killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in 1994.

"I didn't want to serve him because of my convictions of what he's done to those families," Jeff Ruby told reporters. "The way he continues to torture the lives of those families ... with his behavior, attitude and conduct."

Simpson, who was in town for the Kentucky Derby and at the restaurant with a group of about 12, told Ruby he understood and gathered up his party to leave. Admittedly, it was a rare moment of sound judgment for O.J. Ruby said diners clapped after Simpson and his party left.

But, apparently, Ruby and those diners didn't get word that Simpson was found innocent of those slayings in 1995. All anyone seems to remember is he was found liable in the civil trial that followed - which is something totally different from being found guilty. A good lawyer could explain that to anyone. Or a bad one.

Now, Ruby does have the right to refuse anyone service at his restaurant. I'm not arguing that - at all. But I'm wondering what his reaction might have been had, say, Robert Blake stopped by for a porterhouse?

Don't get me wrong: Simpson is no martyr. I've got my own doubts about his innocence. I didn't think he was some sort of hero even before he was accused of those double murders. As a child, O.J. was some retired NFL player who did Hertz commercials and was in a few of those "Naked Gun" movies.

But I do know that a person's guilt must be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" to be convicted of a crime so serious. Anything less, and a verdict of "not guilty" is the only fair and responsible way to run our American judicial system. Only the people in the courtroom heard all the evidence in O.J.'s murder trial. What information does Ruby have about the case that leaves him so convinced of O.J.'s guilt, yet managed to escape the members of the jury?

I've got my theories about why people like Ruby get so worked up about Simpson and the criminal court verdict that allows him to torment others with his mere presence. So does Simpson's new lawyer, who said the incident in Louisville was an example of racism and he might sue Ruby.

I'm not sure a lawsuit will cure the, um, ailing Ruby, who also said seeing Simpson get so much attention "makes me sick to my stomach."

Well, it would help if people would let their anger go. The criminal justice system has already freed O.J. Now it's time for others like Ruby to do the same.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

To shack or not to shack, that's the question

Is cohabitation really a good economic decision?

My Daddy seems to think so and for some reason I thought he'd think otherwise.

"Shoot sometimes you have to live with someone you love in order to survive," he said in his northern Mississippi accent. "Heck, me and your mama lived together a while before we got married."


An ex-boyfriend of mine asked me to move in with him. I laughed in his face.

I've been wondering if living with significant others is a good thing since one of my best friends has been living with her fiancee since last year and has yet to set a date for her wedding. I suspect she's waiting to see if the man she says she loves is right for her.

"To me living together is like driving a car before you buy it," my Daddy said. "You want to know all the ins and outs of the vehicle before you get it."

So cliche. But I guess its true.

I read an article in this month's Ebony Magazine that asks if "shacking" is acceptable today than it was 30 years ago. They interviewed some field experts and several couples who live together.

The conclusion was that cohabitation is accepted, regardless of what parents or The Bible have to say about it.

But I wasn't so sure. I asked a couple of people what they thought. Here's what they had to say.

Donecia Pea, 27, Shreveport resident, Times reporter and fellow blogger said, "I don't agree with shacking in its most common sense: two folks co-habitating. I know that's completely antiquated because the way I see it, that's what most of the world is doing now. Living together seems to be practically regarded as a basic tenet of courtship nowadays.

However, besides the fact that it goes against my Christian principles, I just think it's stupid, spoils the fun and completely ruins the element of surprise and newness. If you DO do it and marriage is your goal, then it should only be for a limited amount of time. I'm talking MONTHS if that longbecause if it goes any longer - you're never gonna get married, ESPECIALLY if you have kids in the process.

Donecia also said that she doesn't see anything wrong with people occasionally spending the night with a significant other.

Janelle Rucker, 25, Shreveport resident, Times reporter and fellow blogger said, "As much as I talk about not wanting to live with a boyfriend it might be something I would consider if I had a contract that stipulated what would happen during a breakup and who would pay which bills."

The Ebony Magazine article also featured a couple who lived together but had a contract. It's where Janelle stole the idea.

Curtis Mills, 25, Shreveport resident and musician said, "Cohabitation is not a good idea. At first I was all for it but now I'm not. As a person who has dabbled in cohabitation (meaning he had spent many continuous nights with a former girlfriend) I think it rushes the relationship and spoils the excitement that should be saved for marriage."

My very best friend Crystal Ellis, 23, who lives in Nashville, said that she was pro-shacking depending on the situation. She said she thought if two people loved each other and were nearing marriage then it seem logical for them to live together if they wanted.

I've got tons of friends who live with their boyfriends/girlfriends. A friend of mine recently moved in with his girlfriend to save money, plus he's considering proposing to her soon (I can't put his name here because I don't want to ruin the fun for his future fiancee).

But he hasn't saved much money yet. He said he'll start next month...after they finish paying for furniture and other house stuff.

I guess...

What do ya'll think?

There's still time to have your bone marrow tested

If you missed the free bone marrow testing drive at Sam's Town the other day, you can still make it to one at Noel United Methodist Church in Highland. About 200 had been tested by 2:30 p.m.

The purpose of the drive is to see if you can help Ethan Powell, a 4-month-old from Shreveport who has leukemia. The testing normally costs $45. Read more about that in Mary Jimenez's story from the other day.

It's easy, and you just might help save a little boy's life. Granted you should be willing to actually donate the marrow (which is a surgical procedure) if you get tested and added to the national list. They'll contact you if you are ever a match for someone on a local waiting list.

Anyway, I finished the whole testing process in about 15 minutes. It's open until 7 p.m. Here's how you do it:

Fill out your donation papers (and watch a short video).

Swab the inside of your mouth with four Q-tip-like objects.

Put the swabs in their packet and envelope.

Seal it.

Drop it in the box. You'll be contacted if you're a match.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Want some Cocaine?

Ok, this is silly, but I was just wondering something.
When it comes to energy drinks, is it just me or can folks can come up with some pretty random, strange names?

I mean there’s Red Bull, SoBe, Full Throttle, energy drink-turned anthem Rockstar and please don’t remind me of that god-awful name Pimp Juice.

But what do you know about that Cocaine? No, seriously, that’s the name of one of the newest energy drinks out there. Not for long though.

Now, I’m not even into energy drinks and to me, this name tops ‘em all in craziness. I mean I can only imagine the ad campaign "Looking for a way to jumpstart your day? Try Cocaine."

The real stuff is even wackier. On their web site, one of their ads said “Have you tasted the new Cocaine?” against a backdrop scantily clad girls posing in Cocaine tanks and boy-shorts.


However, as I read the story, I couldn’t help but wonder if they’re on to something. I mean if I saw this in the store, would I be curious enough to pick it up, or even try it?

Would you? Better yet, have you?

Monday, May 07, 2007

A wedding, a jazz fest, a Cinco de Mayo and a realization

Adam and I headed to New Orleans for a weekend of celebrations. A celebration of love, another celebration of jazz and heritage and yet another of the Mexicans victory over the French.

Friday’s wedding and the reception that followed were nice. (Gave me a chance to figure out what I would or wouldn’t do at my wedding. A little premature since I don’t even have the groom yet.)

Jazz Fest was awesome. It was my first time and I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there were going to be a lot of people, but I was amazed at the amount of people in chairs, on blankets, standing and dancing in every available grassy area. But it was a lot of fun. A lot of good music. A lot of questionable activities going on…but all fun.

Later that night we headed out to try and find some Cinco de Mayo festivities to partake in. Unfortunately, we got a late start and didn’t get into much related to the holiday. Instead we went dancing and Adam did quite an entertaining dance number to a Michael Jackson hit.

Through all of this I was looking around the city trying to imagine it as it was about a year and a half ago after Hurricane Katrina. Many of the houses still stand vacant with a large “X” on or next to the door. FEMA trailers are still spread throughout the city, many next to homes tenants haven’t been able to repair and move back into.

I find, just like I can’t imagine what it must have been like during the hurricane’s aftermath, I also can’t imagine how they’re gong to get it back the way it was or how long it will take.

I used to go to New Orleans a lot when I was younger and the last time I was there was 3 years ago for a family reunion. This trip I could definitely feel a difference. I know it was always a tourist destination but along with the tourists there was a strong presence of the people that were from there and not only created the "New Orleans experience" but lived it.

Those people, true New Orleanians with all their Cajun culture and flair, were noticeably absent this trip.

I know they’re now spread across the U.S. but I hope a future visit can be a type of homecoming celebration after all the culture, eccentricities and natives return to New Orleans.

I know my feelings about this aren’t original and have probably been talked about excessively since the hurricane, but what do ya’ll think?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The sound (or look) of silence

Where did you go, Marshall Fannin?!

I heard you were upset or frustrated about something (I missed it, I've been busy).

I went to see what I had missed over the past week and a half or so, and you were gone. No past posts, no nothing. Just a blank page (not counting the background and all that jazz).

We may not be best buddies, but some of us over here at 222 Lake St. like to see what you have to say, even if we don't agree.

(For those of you who don't know, Marshall Fannin is a pretty well-read media blogger in these parts.)

Let us know something, Marshall. Are you OK? Are you coming back?

Drop us a line and let us know what's going on.

A taste of Jazz Fest

Sorry we didn't post yesterday. My excuse is that Janelle and I were on our way to New Orleans for a wedding then The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival today.

Janelle will give more thoughts tomorrow, but here are some photos to give a glimpse into the musical experience.

A little girl pumps her fist and sings "I can change" during John Legend's performance of the song of the same name.

Two men dance it up during John Mayer's performance Saturday afternoon. They were among at least dozens sitting within 10 feet of us who were showing off their moves.
I really don't know exactly what these two teens are doing but it looked like a funny picture. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Ode to the Internet

As I connected e-mailed an article and photos using a lap top a cell card in the Natchitoches Events Center this evening, I couldn't help but think about the wonders of the Internet. It has changed our lives and the way we reporters and photographers do journalism.

I think it's only appropriate to show you USA Today's list of 25 things that changed the Internet. This is part of the newspaper's 25th birthday celebration, culminating Sept. 15.

Happy birthday, USA Today. And to the Internet... wow.

(The photo is from the Associated Press: Richard Stengel, editor of Time, holds the magazine's Person of the Year edition in December. The magazine named anyone who used or created content on the World Wide Web as the 2006 winner.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Taking cars, homes, computers???

I don't know if those out in the blogosphere read this, but I don't think this is the best way to discipline sex offenders.

Isn't it enough that these people have to go to jail and then register for the rest of their life on the sex offender registry? Sex offenders are the only people who don't get a fair chance to start over should they be released from jail. They can't live within certain limits of schools (which is good) and are constantly labeled by the public as dangerous and sick. They have to live their lives with the stigma.

And I understand that children who are victimized also have to live with lifelong issues but I also think people ought to be able to serve time for their crime and be done. Other criminals don't have to worry about this.

I'm not saying that those who commit sex violations shouldn't be punished because they should. But I am saying that seizing a person's property such as homes and cars should not be passed into law.

An online reader posted this to the story: "While I will be the first to say someone who sexually abuses a child should be severely punished....this bill, as I see it goes way outta line. After all, many child molesters are married men with families of their own. Those families do not know (or condone) what daddy has done. Do THEY deserve to have their house, their cars, their computers taken away and their lives destroyed for what their dad or husband did? It is hard enough for them to have to find out what kind of a person he is, but why should they be kicked to the street because of it? You are not only punishing the offender but his whole extended family which had no part in what happened. This is wrong. Punishment needs to fit the crime and in my view this - is overkill and not right. Punish the offender.....not his family."

I agree with this.

Another commentor wrote this: "We do the almost the same thing to drug pushers and no one cries. It is time to drop the hammer on sex offenders. If a person is suspected of drug dealing but is found innocent the property remains theirs or they are compensated. The same could be done for suspected sex offenders. Forget the 17 not sleeping with the 18 and the parent getting accused of something by an upset child. That has always happened and unfortunately probably always will. No people we are talking about sex offenders. Your child or your spouse gets sexually assaulted you'll be singing a different song on this forum. The concerns can be worked out. The ACLU's opposition to this is enough for me to say good job legislators. Get serious and tough about sex offenders."

Tell me what ya'll think should be done. Anyone?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The final frontier: Help!

Ok, so I haven't fully joined the 21st century yet in terms of technology.
As hip as I like to think I still am, there's still one frontier I haven't reached – the land of the mp3 player.

Nope, the last music technology I got installed in my car was a JVC 12-disc changer in 2002 and it served me well… Well, up until a year or two ago.
It started with the speakers going in and out every time I made a left or right turn. Then, the sound just went completely out, which was weird because my radio plays just fine through those same speakers.

And, of course, when I took it back to the retail electronics store I purchased it from, warranty included, they looked at me like I was speaking Klingon.

Fortunately, I found an independent dealer who actually took time, about an hour and a half, trying to figure out the problem before he gave me the verdict: My beloved 12-disc changer was irreparable and had reached its expiration date.

Shortly after that, my home stereo with a 5-CD changer just suddenly quit working all together. I started to wonder if this was a conspiracy of sorts, but then again, I’d had it since my senior year in college, more than six years ago, so I guess I had to see it coming.

So, for a year, I’ve been trying to decide on whether or not to move on and get that mp3 player. That means I’ve endured a year with nothing but radio in my car.
That’s more than 300 CDs in my collection and about another 100 or so burned, mixed and borrowed CDs getting barely any play at all except in my computer. This is no way to live.

I’ve asked everyone I could think of for advice: Should I get another CD changer? Can I find one that lasts? What are my other options?
But I’ve finally accepted that perhaps it’s time to do what I gotta do: get an mp3 player.

And this is where y’all come in: I need help! In fact, I’m even working on a story about this later in the month to provide a guide for other lost souls out there like me.

So here’s what I need to know:
Where in the world should I start in my search for the right mp3 player? What do you have? What brands do you recommend, especially for a working class (read: POOR) girl like myself? (I am willing to pay the price for quality, though.) And WHERE do you recommend I buy this gadget in terms of support, because I really want a place that’s not going to look at me crazy when I bring it in for repair or troubleshooting.