Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Southern Mississippi Damage

Over the past eight months I have spent several weekends in Pass Christian and fell in love with a girl and the surrounding cities on my trips down there. So these cities hold a special place in my heart and so I've been looking for any photos of the damage to Pass Christian, Long Beach and Bay St. Louis and I'm starting to think I can't find any because there is nothing to see but sand. I have been in awe of the damage in photos posted on the SunHerald's website. It's just amazing to see casinos that should be on the water but are now across the highway, moved by the power of Katrina.

Getting Ready For The Long Haul

Roxi's aunt works on the Lafayette City Planning Commission and she told Roxi that all of the vacant apartments in the city have been rented and all of the houses, including those in the upscale River Ranch, have been sold.

In other hometown news, over 600 displaced children have enrolled in Lafayette schools and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has opened it's registration to any student displaced by the hurricane.

As far as rescue and transportation of New Orleans residents, concerned citizens of Lafayette towed their private boats to New Orleans to help search for stranded survivors while Lafayette city and parish bus drivers headed east to assist in moving stranded hospital patients out of the crippled city.

In addition, the under-used Cajundome is serving as a shelter and can hold up to 5,000 evacuees.

So it looks like we are really in it for the long haul. This isn't going to be over for a while, and it seems that for some, it's time to leave New Orleans for good and move west to higher ground.

Hurricane Damage from Space

NASA has some good coverage of Hurricane Katrina damage from the unique viewpoint of space. The above image shows a satellite photo of the New Orleans area before and after the flooding and really puts the scope of the disaster into a new perspective for me. They also have an interesting simulation of the storm surge and it's effect on the New Orleans area.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Devastation in South Louisiana: Leeville Bridge

Before Katrina

After Katrina

My brother's future father-in-law, Karl, works offshore in south Louisiana and he sent me these aerial photos taken today. Directly above is the Leeville Bridge as photographed before Katrina and again after Katrina. Fifteen miles to the south is the offshore oil entry point of Port Fourchon.

There is no doubt of the power of the storm or the tidal surge when looking at these pictures of such horrific damage.

UPDATE: After further searching, I found a picture of the Leeville Bridge as it looked prior to Katrina. I have added the "Before Katrina" picture to give a little perspective of not only the damage but how unprotected the Mississippi Delta is/was in the path of a hurricane.

I found the picture on a website entitled LA 1 Coalition: A Non-Profit Corporation Working to Improve a Critical U.S. Energy Corridor. LA Highway 1 serves as the only access to Port Fourchon, the entry point for approximately 18 percent of the United State's energy supply. Ironically, the mission of the LA 1 Coalition is to improve this sub-standard, low-lying two lane road so that it is less prone to tidal flooding. The website is a very interesting read in light of the current situation and includes several pictures of previous hurricane conditions as well as the proposed replacement freeway bridge. Implementation will most likely be further postponed as the priority will be to rebuild cities first, however Katrina has certainly proven that as long as the US energy policy is based on oil, LA Highway 1 is a vital supply artery and should be safeguarded as such.

Levee Breach Photo

Many people in the US had never heard of a levee before Sunday but since Hurricane Katrina made landfall most people know how vital they have been for many decades to keep New Orleans from flooding. As most people know by now, a major levee breach occurred this morning causing the flooding to get worse throughout the day. Here is an amazing picture of the inconceivable amount of water moving over this levee. More pictures and information can be found on StormTrack.

It's worse than I imagined...

As the rain started here in Nashville yesterday afternoon, it was finally subsiding in New Orleans and the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast. But it was also the world's first real glimpse of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. I watched news reports for two and a half hours last night trying to get updates on the smaller cities on the Mississippi coast.

Since January, I have visited the Gulfport/Biloxi area three times with Roxi at her grandparents vacation house in Pass Christian, MS. I haven't found any specific information about Pass Christian but what I did read about the neighboring towns of Long Beach and Bay St. Louis does not bode well.

And then late last night, the Lake Ponchartrain levee broke further flooding New Orleans. The doomsday scenarios aren't coming to pass but New Orleans will have a long and rocky reconstruction ahead.

Several people have been blogging about the damage from Baton Rouge, New Orleans and parts of Mississippi. They can be accessed at:

Based on what I read last night, the best thing for people to do who want to help is to give money to the Red Cross. People are urged not to travel to the affected areas because they will be turned away in an effort to maintain control of and manage what is a very large rescue and recovery effort.

So please, if you want to help, call 1-800-HELP-NOW or go to to donate money to the cause. Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama thank you.

UPDATE: Scanning through the news this morning, I have found a Town-by-town report of the Mississippi Gulf Coast that is amazing to read.

UPDATE: There is another blog that has been plugged on Electric Mist as having "the best, most up to date links and info on the hurricane aftermath." I hope this isn't true because one of the posts concerns a rumor of New Orleans being uninhabitable for some time. Take it with a grain of salt but there are good links to other info.

And there is a backup of the site at:

Monday, August 29, 2005

Hurricane Coverage

As a resident of south Louisiana for eighteen years, I feel compelled to write about the ludicrous coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

First of all Katrina is (was) a very powerful storm -- one of the strongest in recorded history. If such a storm were to hit New Orleans directly under certain circumstances it could be catastrophic for the city...

But once the eye of the hurricane started to turn east toward Gulfport and Biloxi, MS, I must say that I detected disappointment amongst the cables news anchors this morning. It's as if they were excited about wanton death and destruction and are disappointed that they won't be able to report for the next few weeks and months about the long process of rebuilding New Orleans. Forget the fact that Gulfport, Biloxi and probably Mobile, AL are being hit hardest by the hurricane. Once it was clear that New Orleans would be spared, it's as if the storm was over and that the Mississippi and Alabama coastal cities don't matter as much as an evacuated New Orleans. That's pretty stupid if you ask me.

I have ridden out two strong hurricanes while I was growing up in Lafayette, LA. My first was Danny in 1985 which was very weak by comparison to Katrina, but I was only eight years old, so it was both a scary and exciting experience. My second was Andrew in 1992 and that was much more comparable to Katrina in it's power and potency. We were out of school for a week while the cities in Southwest Louisiana were being cleaned up.

My point is that, hurricanes are just a fact of life to the Gulf Coast. We have seen them before and will survive them, but in the time of twenty-four hour cable news, they are treated as entertainment. Why do news men and women have to go stand in the wind and rain to tell us that it is windy and raining? Did they think that it wasn't going to be like what the text books say? I was flipping through some of the channels this morning and they were all saying the same stupid stuff about how windy it is and no one should be outside in this kind of weather. This coverage isn't doing any good for anyone who could actually use it. Affected areas are without power and would be lucky to pick up national weather radio broadcasts. Cable news hurricane coverage is just a pointless exercise hoping for the worst case to score some great ratings. Meanwhile, residents have to actually clean up the mess and rebuild after the news crews leave as soon as the sun comes out.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Aristocrats

I saw The Aristocrats this afternoon and it was funny but definitely more hype than substance. The Aristocrats is a movie about the type of jokes, actually one joke in particular, that comedians tell each other. This is not a joke that you would hear from a comedian in a night club. No, this is something that they share with each other as a way to see who can top everyone else.

The idea is that it is all about the joke teller. There are only two parts of the joke that are the same every time it is told: the short setup and the punchline. But everything in between those two short phrases is different depending on who's telling the joke and just how graphic and perverse they are trying to be.

The setup is simple: A man walks into a talent agent's office and says, "I have a family act you have to see. It stars me, my wife, my son and my daughter."

That's it! From there the comedian will launch into vile and unspeakable acts involving all sorts of disgusting and sometimes illegal activities. This ad-libbed section changes from person to person but it is always riddled with foul language.

Finally, the joke returns to the closing and punch lines. The agent asks, "What do you call this act?" The man says with a flourish, "The Aristocrats."

What's funny about this movie is that it is simply comedians discussing how they first found out about the joke and their versions of it. They are very diverse in the level of perversity but it is really mostly about shock value. You won't believe some of the things that you hear Bob Saget of "Full House" fame say.

But when you boil it down, it's really just about the shock factor. It's funny because it's basically a pissing contest between comedians to see who can be the one to cross way beyond the line of good taste. It is offensive but only if you let it be. It is gross but only if you take it seriously. This is probably why the MPAA refused to rate it. They took it too seriously but it's just a bunch of bad words. I thought I had heard it all in the third season finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," these comedians can be really nasty when they want to be.

But there's no substance to this documentary after you take away the comedians working "blue." It's funny but not really worth seeing in a theater other than to enjoy the reactions of the audience. It's pretty funny to hear a theater full of people laughing at things that would normally embarrass the hell of out of them in public.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

So if file sharing is killing the music business...

...why have the major record companies been paying marketing research firms to collect demographic data on shared files on peer-to-peer networks?

It turns out that while record companies have been suing such networks, they have also been collecting information on what people are actually listening to as a means to better market music to "the masses."

It seems that record companies have been quietly, even covertly, been using file sharing to actually see what people really want to hear as opposed to feeding them crap thorough radio stations riddled with payolla controversies.

Ironic, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Have the bozos in Hollywood learned a lesson?

Here is an interesting article from the New York Times containing what I thought I would never hear: Hollywood studio executives saying that maybe people aren't going to the movies anymore because the movies that have been coming out just aren't very good.

Of course they do try to blame everything else as well from high gas prices and the presence of cell phones in theaters to the home theater and video games, but I am cautiously optimistic that Hollywood might think twice about green-lighting another Deuce Bigelow movie or something like that.

I like the fact that they realize that a change in the business model is due. They mention keeping some time between the theatrical release of a movie and the subsequent DVD release, but I think that the reality is that there will probably be a time when quality movies are released straight to DVD to capitalize on the growing trend of people just wanting to watch a new movie in the comfort of their homes.

But until a change is made, we still have to put up with truly awful movies made with money that would be better spent on cancer research.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Birthday Visitors

My parents visited Nashville for the first time this weekend to help me celebrate my twenty-eighth birthday on Saturday. I had a wonderful time showing them the sites as well as giving them detailed tours of studios where I work. I also got to see some parts of Nashville that I had never seen before such as the Natchez Trace and the Stones River Battlefield.

It was great getting to see my parents and show them around the city that I have called home for a year now. Even more so, it really helped me realize what I have accomplished since I have moved here. Just over a year ago, I was an unemployed Quality Engineer working as a bartender in Austin, TX. I made the move to Nashville to study recording engineering and hoping to get a good internship. Not only have a achieved those goals, but I am already working at two distinctly different recording studios and getting paid for my time. I am working in the music business after only a year! Not only that, but in the middle of everything, I started dating the most amazing woman!

Year twenty-seven was a little scary and uncertain at times, but it sure looks like year twenty-eight is going to be a good one!

My Parents: Jack and Mary Raine Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Letterboxing is something I mentioned in passing on a previous post but I feel like going into a little more detail. Letterboxing is a pretty fun pastime that I first learned of five or six years ago. It started in England where tourists who traveled the countryside would hide little boxes on hiking trails. The boxes contained a little notepad and a homemade stamp. Clues to the location of the box were posted on the internet and interested future hikers would look for them. If a hiker found the letterbox, he or she would put his or her stamp in the notepad in the box and put the stamp from the box into his or her notebook. So basically hikers would collect stamps of boxes they had found and leave a stamp showing where they had been.

So this little scavenger hunt spread and now there are literally thousands of boxes all over the world. Roxi and I searched for a couple of boxes here in Tennessee when she visited back in May and successfully found one. After that we were hooked. Since then, we have not only looked for several more in Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, we have planted two of our own.
We planted one in Lafayette, LA on one my trips to visit Roxi and one near Van Buren, MO on the Float Trip last weekend. There are so many boxes, I really wasn't sure if anyone would ever look for ours, but lo and behold, this week, we got a message from someone who found the Ragin' Cajun box we planted in Lafayette! It was very exciting and has made us even more enthusiastic to find and plant more.

It is a wonderful little hobby that really gets you out to see some pretty neat sites. It is perfect for people who like to travel and gives an added incentive to explore their destinations. For more information on letterboxing go to Letterboxing North America or Atlas Quest: International Letterboxing. And in case you want to look for Wes&Roxi's letterboxes, they are the Ragin' Cajun box and the Float Trip box. Stay tuned to the websites though because more will be added soon!

Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bravo Network...We Hardly Knew Ye

The Bravo Network, the only TV station to ever air re-runs of the greatest TV series of my lifetime, Twin Peaks, has officially died. The network is still on the air, but it's really more like Tom Cruise's corpse at the end of Collateral that rides around on the LA subway and no one notices. Why are they dead to me? Battle of the Network Reality Stars. Thankfully, I didn't watch this horrid television program, but the mere fact that it exists is enough to make me never tune into Bravo again. Read a complete review of the show here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Float Trip 2005

This past weekend was the 9th Annual Float Trip in Van Buren, MO. It is a tradition that my friend Jeremey and his undergraduate friends started when they were attending the University of Missouri. I met Jeremey in 2000 while we were in grad school at Georgia Tech and he talked it up a lot. I wasn't sure if it could live up to the expectations, but when I made my first trip in 2002, I was totally hooked. Now four years later, I am a Float Trip expert.

This year, Roxi and I joined the other 34 campers/floaters for a very fun weekend at Big Spring Park. The air was hot, the water was cold and the coolers were full of beer!

Roxi and Wes - Float Trip 2005 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I am an Audio Engineer

I really didn't feel like I was a full fledged engineer until sometime in the past few days. Today, I finished a series of sessions that have taken place over the course of the last seven days and that have amounted to 38 hours of studio time at Azalea Studios. We did tracking for three different artists and I sat in the Engineer's chair for a majority of the first two sessions, but more importantly, all of today's session. And let me tell you, it felt great! I was in total control of the console and the tape machine, plus I handled all of the punch-ins to correct the mistakes made by the musicians during the tracking. It was exhilarating!

When I made the decision to pursue this avenue a little over two years ago, I didn't know if it could live up to my expectations, but I can say that as of today, it most certainly has! This is what I want to do for a long time. I am very excited about my future both with Azalea Studios and Universal Digital, but more importantly about the studio that I plan to start at some unspecified time in the near future. Wow! That's all I can really say. I think I might have truly found my calling!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Blog Feed

If the title of this post doesn't make sense to you, don't worry. It didn't make sense to me either until this afternoon. The lovely and talented Roxi informed me about this handy way of getting information delivered to you from websites that are frequently updated. For example, if you are like me and have a personalized Google homepage, you can customize it to get news feeds that are continuously updated. So the news is always current. Well, with a simple line of code, you could also get feeds from this blog! Ain't technology grand!?! So if you are interested in being up to the minute on the happenings in the world of Wes, here is my blog feed:


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cell phones at the gym

Have you ever been at the gym working out on or passed the cardio area and seen someone on a treadmill or elliptical talking on a cell phone? I am a member of a gym and when I go it never fails that someone is talking on a phone. Not just answering a quick call but is actually carrying on a full conversation for the duration of their workout. How annoying must it be for the person on the other end of that call to listen to the huffing and puffing between every word. But really though, I doubt that there is much huffing and puffing happening. If you are talking on a cell phone while you are running or biking, you aren't exercising hard enough. Seriously. Put down your phone for thirty minutes and join the rest of us in enjoying the workout. And please don't shout if you do have to answer the phone...I don't care about your conversation as much as you think I do.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

New Job Redux

For the past four months I have been dividing my time between working at Universal Digital in a pseudo-part-time capacity and doing an internship at Azalea Studios. Well, as of yesterday, I am no longer an intern at Azalea but rather a paid employee! It is very exciting and just proves that if you work hard and stick with something, you will be rewarded. As it is, the job with Universal Digital started out as an internship as well. So I'm now two-for-two! Hopefully this means that I have completed the toughest part of my transition into the music business: the unpaid internship. My next big challenge will be starting my own studio business. That is still one to two years away, but I feel that my hard work over the course of the last year has given me many of the skills to make that a reality as well!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Who should control the Internet?

Since late last year, I have been reading reports about the UN suggesting that they should be in charge of the Internet in as much as determining new domain names and other such matters. A few weeks ago, their official report was released and outlined several plans which would give various levels of control to a committee of the United Nations.

Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota has stepped up and denounced the UN's global control plan and for that I salute him.
"My probe of the U.N. as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations revealed management that was at best, incompetent, and at worst corrupt,"” said Coleman. "“The first priority for the United Nations must be fundamental reform of its management and operations rather than any expansion of its authority and responsibilities. The Internet has flourished under U.S. supervision, oversight, and private sector involvement. This growth did not happen because of increased government involvement, but rather, from the opening on the Internet to commerce and private sector innovation. Subjecting the Internet and its security to the politicized control of the UN bureaucracy would be a giant and foolhardy step backwards."

"Recently, I introduced UN reform legislation with the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations, Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), known as the Coleman-Lugar UN Reform Bill, to help put an end to a culture of corruption that was exposed by the Oil for Food scandal, peacekeeping sexual abuse scandals, and other instances of organizational failures at U.N.,"” Coleman said. "Putting the U.N. in charge of one of the world'’s most important technological wonders and economic engines is out of the question. This proposal would leave the United States with no more say over the future of the Internet than Cuba or China -- —countries that have little or no commitment to the free flow of information."”

The Internet is far too important to the American economy and free expression to be governed by a bloated bureaucracy. I hope our other legislators will join with Senator Coleman to protect our economic and social interests by maintaining the current system of control of the Internet. But I suppose we'll see what develops at the World Summit on the Information Society Tunisia in November.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Set Love Free!

I know not everyone is trying to fly to Dallas, but if you were and wanted to take advantage of the low fares on Southwest Airlines, you could only do so if you live in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Alabama, Mississippi or Kansas. Otherwise it is illegal! WTF? That can all change if you contact your Senators and Congressmen to support the repeal of the Wright Amendment.

Anxiety and Depression

I have suffered from anxiety and depression for years. There I said it.

I used to be terrified by my own thoughts and afraid that if any of my friends found out about what I had going on in my head, they would think that I was crazy and wouldn't like me anymore.

But I'm getting better now and I have several people to thank most recently the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I don't remember when I really started having such anxious feelings, but thinking back on it, I certainly had them by the time I was finishing elementary school and making the big transition to middle school. I know, the doubters would say, "Of course you were anxious about going to a new school." But it wasn't just that. It didn't really go away once I got used to the school. I always felt that I could and should do better than I was doing. Some people would love to have that problem. It fueled my success all the way through graduate school but there were costs that I had to pay.

It was never a bigger problem than when I went to college. Another big transition that I seemed to handle well at first, but during the second half of my freshman year, I was a complete insomniac. I wouldn't sleep at all at night. I finally went to the health center to talk to a doctor and she told me that I was probably depressed. I couldn't believe it. Actually, I didn't want to believe it! It made me so upset, mainly because I had been in denial for so long.

I started medication and counseling and kept at it for a while unbeknownst to most of my best friends, because like I said, it was so very embarrassing. In fact, most of them who read this would probably have never suspected. It got so much better for me for so long. I got off the medication and then stopped the counseling and thought that I had solved my problem.

There were times in graduate school and then during my first real job that I had some bad days, but I always kept a positive attitude. I guess I was sort of denying a relapse though. I had learned a lot in counseling but I guess some of that was starting to fade away with time. But around that time, I started writing songs again and let me tell you, it was better than any other therapy. It was so very cathartic. And so I was okay again.

But then I moved to Nashville into more uncertainty. I was doing very well with school but then as it was winding down earlier this year, everything came right back like it had never gone away. The anxiety and depression came back no matter how hard I tried not to admit it. And then, my brother sent me a package containing materials from the Midwest Center's Attacking Anxiety and Depression program. I was skeptical, as anyone who is depressed might be, but upon the urging of many loved ones, I started the program.

That was ten weeks ago and I have to say that I have never felt better emotionally or physically. This is not some scam or self-help mumbo jumbo. This is for real. It is a fifteen week course that made me feel so optimistic and cleared my head after my very first CD and lesson in the workbook. It is a true testament to cognitive therapy. It is simply amazing.

And even though I still have five weeks to go, I know for sure that there will now never be any going back. And I really wanted to share this with anyone reading this who has ever felt that they were hopeless, helpless, obsessed with guilt, thinking that there was no good in the world, can't stop crying or worse, can't even shed a tear. So I am adding a link for the center to this blog and urge anyone who thinks it might be of use to them to give it a try. I'm not getting any money for referrals, I just know now that everyone can relate to these problems in some way and that they can be changed if you want to. Take care and know that there are millions of people who feel the same way as you. You can get better.