Don't mention Ivan to me. My mother almost named me Ivan when the Soviet troops entered Romania close to my birthday. She settled on the second most popular Russian name, Andrei. The Ivans ruled us until I turned 18. I nearly got over it because I have a friend named Ivan and I named a character in a novel I wrote Ivan. When CNN said New Orleans was in "the cone of uncertainty," a target for Ivan, I called my friend Ivan and told him to cut it out. He wasn't home -- busy, I suppose, rampaging toward the city. What are hurricanes? In my opinion, they are friends gone bad who become bounty hunters. A hurricane is usually looking for one evildoer to collect the reward on, but because it's so big, it tramples everything else in its path. In this case, Ivan was looking for a guy named Sal who lives somewhere in "the cone of uncertainty." It didn't help that just as CNN sent millions of refugees streaming in terror out of Ivan's path, the Russian president, Putin, abolished democracy in Russia. In the name of fighting terrorism, he abolished direct elections for Russia's provincial governors and arrogated to himself the power to appoint them. A move like that is called a "political hurricane" and the move wasn't lost on Bush and Ashcroft who have, so far, contented themselves mostly with tropical storm-strength power grabs. I thought about these things while waiting for the huge storm to decide exactly what to do, like a giant undecided voter. In the end, Ivan spared New Orleans because of two local measures: 1) Our Lady of Prompt Succor, whose statue is turned toward danger every time the city is threatened, did her job, and 2) the equivalent Voodoo deity who backs up the Virgin in such emergencies was also activated by local priestess Sally Ann Glassman. Together, the female powers that protect this feminine city kept Ivan at bay. Now, if they can get to work on Putin and Bush, we'd all breathe easier. I hate it when the cone of uncertainty turns into the circle of fear.