Report from Louisiana: Quick Roundup

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Since I was on the road last week doing book events and unable to post, this week I’m bringing you a roundup of all things Louisiana; while I may not often love Shreveport (it’s in decline), I do LOVE Louisiana and this has been both a good and bad week to be in the Bayou State.

The Bad

Ransomware Attack: the state’s DMV was crippled early in the month by a ransomware attack. No one likes to go to the DMV, but for the last two weeks nobody has been able to go to the DMV!  From The Advocate:

Two weeks ago, a ransomware attack – triggered by what officials suspect was an employee opening a sketchy link – hit several state servers including at the Office of Motor Vehicles. The state quickly shut down network traffic to prevent the spread, and have subsequently brought most of the state’s offices back online. Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state did not pay a ransom or lose data, and he said the effects could have lasted weeks or months under a worst-case scenario. Ransomware attacks typically lock users out of their computers until they pay a ransom, and the attackers threaten to delete the data if they aren’t paid.

Edwards activated the state’s cybersecurity response team after the attack. He also declared a state of emergency, allowing OMV and other agencies to forgive fines and fees for people unable to take care of business because the computers were down.

As of close of business Friday, only DMV offices were still closed. 

I can’t even begin to imagine the lines and wait time after such an event. 

The BP Oil Spill (2010):  Nine years after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, new lawsuits are hitting the courts.  This will never end.

Recession: There is talk of a coming recession in the state, but some officials refuse to believe it. There is a sort of wait and see attitude. Much of our revenue is of course tied to the oil industry and as prices drop, tensions rise.

The Good

LSU: Oh, baby! What a beautiful season!   Championship bound!

The Saints: Not always pretty but not too shabby.  It’s certainly been worse.

Christmas: I love Christmas in Louisiana!  The bonfires on the levee on Christmas Eve, the community parades and concerts, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival, it’s all fabulous, as it is all across the country. Every community has its own traditions and celebrations – take part in those. Explore something new.

Christmas was really hard for me after my mother died a few years ago; I’m still overcome at the most unexpected moments with sentiment and tears. I think I’m all past that, and then I walk past the candied fruit in the grocery store and am weeping. You never see it coming.

It helped a lot though when we decided to develop some new traditions. When you have a very small family, Christmas can be lonely.  Our friends adopted us into their traditions and families, and it has helped. As you celebrate this year, take a moment to check on those who may be struggling.

Coming Soon:  76 days until Mardi Gras.  And we are starting to see live crawfish available in local places!  Few things are more celebrated than crawfish season.

Here ends the short roundup. I’m off to a Christmas concert!

Pat Becker blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation (LSU Press). Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

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