Sunday, May 15, 2005



jbv's Competitive Edge 

Friday, May 06, 2005

Till 1 June...

We have to take a brief hiatus for some end-of-the-semester activities and a little time on the road. We'll be back on the first of June.

Keep up with Louisiana politics in our absence with the members of our Blog Roll, down the page a little bit in the right sidebar. Don't enjoy them too much, we expect you back and should have a lot to talk about by 1 June.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Just desserts...

From T-P:

Say what you will about our professional sports teams, but when it comes to the grand game of gourmandism, New Orleans is definitely at the top of the league -- as demonstrated by two major honors bagged this week at the James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony, the Oscars of the food world.

At the annual gathering of the Beard Foundation in New York, Galatoire's was named outstanding restaurant of the year, while Willie Mae's Scotch House was declared an American classic.

Galatoire's, the Bourbon Street bistro noted for table-hopping and power-lunching as well as its classic Creole cuisine, was honored with the S. Pellegrino Outstanding Restaurant Award, bestowed upon "the restaurant in the U.S. that serves as a national standard bearer of consistency of quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service." Winners must have been in operation for at least 10 years.

Willie Mae's Scotch House, beloved for its fried chicken and homey atmosphere, was one of four winning restaurants in the category of Southern Wines & Spirits of New York America's Classics, an award to "locally owned and operated restaurants renowned for their timeless appeal and quality food." Co-winners were Yuca's in Los Angeles; El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley, Ariz.; and Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe in Boston.

Initially speechless and teary-eyed, Willie Mae Seaton, 88, composed herself to thank a cheering audience: "It's just such a good feeling. I just can't explain it," said Seaton, chef and owner of the St. Ann Street establishment. "I do my best to try to serve the people."

For Galatoire's, chosen from among five nominees, the top honor made for a wonderful birthday present, said David Gooch, one of the restaurants owners. Galatoire's marked its centennial this year.

Nominees in the coveted best-chef category, which is awarded regionally, included New Orleanians John Besh of August and Greg Sonnier of Gabrielle. Past winners have included Emeril Lagasse, Susan Spicer, Frank Brigtsen and the late Jamie Shannon.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

They've tried nearly everything...

Rob Nelson of T-P reports that it is not only Orleans Parish that has a problem with school performance.

They've tried nearly everything.

From luring students to school with video-game systems to improve attendance to boosting salaries to attract certified teachers, Jefferson Parish's worst-performing public schools are experimenting with aggressive, creative ways to dig themselves out of the district's academic basement.

But while long on imagination and perseverance, such schools could soon find themselves short on time as Superintendent Diane Roussel jumps on board an emerging statewide trend to overhaul failing schools before they slip deeper into mandated reforms.

Despite an unsuccessful March proposal to reconfigure a long-struggling Gretna elementary school, Roussel has said that dramatic changes might be in store as soon as 2006-07 for troubled schools that fail to make a turnaround.

"Why let us become a failing school system," Roussel said, lamenting children mired in consistently subpar classrooms. "Why not try other things?"

Under federal and state mandates, school systems could eventually be forced to transform failing schools into charter schools, overhaul the faculty or submit to a state takeover -- sanctions Roussel hopes to avoid or implement herself by taking preemptive action.

Under the state accountability system, four West Bank schools seem likely targets for reconfiguration: Bonella St. Ville Elementary in Harvey, L.W. Ruppel Elementary in Marrero, Stella Worley Middle in Westwego and Frederick Douglass Elementary in Gretna.

They are the only Jefferson schools that have reached the second or third level of "school improvement," forcing them to offer one-on-one private tutoring or allow students to transfer, an option only 89 of 2,000 eligible students took this year.
If the schools' test scores, attendance and dropout rates continue to falter, they will face state orders to restructure or, worse yet, to submit to "alternative governance" in the form of a charter school or state takeover.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Take My President, Please...

Dana Stevens reports in Slate Magazine that "The first lady's speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner was so funny I forgot to laugh."

The only thing duller than watching the White House Correspondents Association Dinner on C-Span is actually attending it—take it from someone who's done both in one weekend. This year's event combined the stodgy bonhomie of a Masonic lodge meeting with the dinky pageantry of a junior-high pep rally. (It's hard to get loose at a party at which two versions of the Marine hymn are played before dinner.)

The big take-away meme from the event seems to be that Laura Bush stole the show with her unexpected takeover of her husband's speech, which turned into a roast written by conservative gag-writer Landon Parvin. One of the New York tabloids has a banner headline today proclaiming her "the First Lady ... of laughs!"

Laura Bush's delivery of Parvin's script was effectively sassy; she seemed to be enjoying her zingers about her husband's low-energy style ("I said to him the other day, 'George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you're going to have to stay up later' ") and the crowd roared in appreciative delight (though let's face it, this particular crowd knew which side their bread was buttered on. Plus, as we saw during the Republican National Convention, Laura Bush could get a standing ovation for coming to the podium and belching).

Laura's image of Bush, fresh from Andover and Yale, beginning his ranching career by trying to milk a male horse made for a gratifyingly naughty giggle at an event whose sexiest moment up to then was when Alan Greenspan walked by chatting up Goldie Hawn.

But however charming her drawl, it was hard not to squirm at Laura's blithe assertion that "George's answer to any problem at the ranch is to cut it down with a chainsaw. Which I think is why he and Cheney and Rumsfeld get along so well." That comparison of the president's ranching style to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—one of her speech's better lines—was kind of cute, until you carried the analogy to its logical conclusion: The way Bush runs a ranch is similar to the way he conducts the business of state. The way Bush runs a ranch is clueless, absolutist, and wantonly destructive. Ergo ...

You've been a great crowd, ladies and gentlemen. The first lady will be here all week.

Dana Stevens is Slate's television critic. Write her at


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Monday, May 02, 2005

(More) How to Avoid Blog Burnout...

Copyright 2005 Priya Shah. This concludes the article that ran yesterday with tips 1-3.

4. Get a life

Blogs are a poor substitute for family and friends. We bloggers tend to take our loved ones for granted because we work from home (and anywhere else we can). Its important to schedule our day to make time for family, especially when there are children around.

5. Get "un-wired"

In order to keep the ideas coming you need to do things that nurture your mind and body. Shut down your PC and get away from it for a while.

Go for a movie, take a walk in the park, workout in the gym. Get out of the house and get some fresh air. You'll be amazed at how easy (and fun) it can be it to get your creative juices flowing again.

6. Give yourself a break

If you missed blogging about something important because you had something else equally pressing to attend to, don't beat yourself up over it. Stick to a realistic blogging schedule.

Nothing is so important that it can't wait a day or two. Sometimes procrastination is not a bad thing at all. If it helps, write a bunch of posts at a time, so you can take a break and attend to other matters when you need to.

7. Quality, not quantity

Blog frequently, but not too often. Most bloggers will agree that two or three posts a week is a pretty good frequency. I usually manage to make that grade, but never push myself more than I have to.

The key is to make your posts count. Don't post about anything and everything in your field just because you have to.

Posts that are original, meaty and full of opinion are more likely to get read and linked to than posts that are just a few words with a link to the news source.

So if you're beginning to forget what your family looks like, if you think blogging is taking over your life, and your sanity, step back a bit and get things in perspective. Stop letting your blogs rule your life.

As for me, when it's a choice between the blog and the beach, the latter wins hands down.

Priya Shah is the CEO of eBrand360 and publishes an internet marketing newsletter. Her areas of specialization include search engine optimization and business blogging. Subscribe to her free eCourse on Blogging for Marketers


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, May 01, 2005

How to Avoid Blog Burnout...

Copyright 2005 Priya Shah. I am a serious fan of Priya's. She's not a top-level Internet marketing guru, but I think she has decided she will "keep it real," and without making outrageous claims you can't make it in that field. Today's topic, BTW, hits close to home.

Blogging is a time consuming process. It involves the process of gathering, reading, digesting and compiling information into a nice, meaty post that gives your reader an insight into the unique way you see and understand issues.

Most serious business bloggers have at least two or three blogs that they write simultaneously. I have ten, but don't update all regularly.

Bloggers are also extremely passionate about what they do. Their blogs are a labor of love and they often tend to lose track of time, reading, writing and updating their blogs.

But there's only so much time in the day and only so much abuse a body can take. So how do you avoid becoming a burned-out business blogger?

Here are a few tips to help keep you and your blog(s) fuelled up and running for the long haul.

1. Get your priorities right
Is starting a new blog really going to help your business (or personal) objectives? If not, then don't. Simple as that. Save your energy for the tasks that help you achieve your objectives.

2. Discard the chaff
Do you have blogs that are not "hot" anymore? If you have a blog that's not getting much traffic or is about a topic that no one wants to read about anymore, give it a quiet burial.

3. Grow up
Are you continuing to blog (whether it serves your purpose or not) out of some misplaced emotional attachment to your blog? Then you probably need a 12-step program.

Lots of blogs are abandoned everyday because they stopped serving their purpose, or more often, because the bloggers just grew up and moved to greener pastures. Find more appropriate ways to spend your time or promote your business.


jbv's Competitive Edge