Monday, August 31, 2009

In Defense of Snake Gods

Here is the text of only my second post on

Drambala had the goods on Meffert long before the local news media. They waited for confirmation, which might not have come without Drambala's lead.

Ellis and Naef showed up at Rising Tide with a posse and were looking for Drambala, yet if you read his post he's passing on rumors and asking for confirmation. Naef or Ellis could have replied directly to him and if the answer is credible he would have posted a clarification or retraction as he has done before. Instead they chose to resort to intimidation and threats.

Is asking about a public employee wife's the politically related business activities Libel?

The first post was an on an article about the late Ashley Morris. I normally refuse to post comments there because of their abysmal comment handling policy which allows disgusting comments.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Graphic by Mark Folse

On the Fourth Anniversary of the Federal Flood New Orleans is still suffering from the unfulfilled commitments by our nation's leaders to put right the damage the government caused by defectively designed levees.

Congress authorized levees 16 feet high. The Federal Government built levees 14 feet high that wouldn't hold back 12 feet of water.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Independance Day - Sun, Sand and Watermelon.

I'd been thinking of getting away for a few days. One day I got an email from a condominium in Delray Beach offering discounted rentals for a beach front condo in Delray Beach. The email said I had contacted them before about renting and they were emailing me to let me know about their summer specials. The email had a genuine feel to it with a sort of Craig's List sort of under designed look.

I emailed them. I looked at some flights.

Turns out Southwest was having a sale. Incredibly to me the dates we wanted we available.

The Fourth of July was coming up and since the Fourth was on a Saturday our office would be closed on Friday. By leaving the afternoon of Thursday July 2nd, I could get a nonstop flight to Fort Lauderdale, about 30 miles south of Delray Beach. We decided to return the afternoon of Monday July 6th, beating the weekend traffic, the holiday crowds and taking only one and a half days for work for a extra long weekend.

We found The City of Delray Beach has a massive, free Fourth of July celebration. There is a street fair and a 9;00 pm a Fireworks Concert. The fireworks display lasts 30-45 minutes and is set to music broadcast over a local radio station.

The view from our Bedroom

The only problem at this point was I didn't actually have a place to stay. The Condo hadn't emailed back., so I called. The onsite manager is a very nice person named Sharon. She was very accommodating and in short order I had faxed her all of the rental information and had a confirmation.

We were on our way. We packed our suitcase, made a grocery list and bought a pineapple.

Our trip over was great, our rental car was ready when we arrived. We made it up I-95 quickly. We stopped a Publix on the way to get some food for our stay.

Arriving at our condo we found the keys in the mailbox by the door, parked our car in the designated carport and hauled everything up to our room.

Atlantic Avenue Delray Beach Florida

She wanted to go look around and go out to dinner. We headed for the main drag of Delray Beach a mile or so away. Atlantic Avenue runs perpendicular to the shore. One end is at the beach and the other significant terminus is the Tri Rail station. Near the Beach are a lot of shops and restaurants. There is lots of free parking behind the buildings. We picked out a restaurant and had a very nice Italian dinner.

The Pool - Our unit is third from the left on the top floor.

The Condo was an older building, probably built in the early 70's on a large site with a large deck and pool area. Everything was beautifully maintained and very laid back. There were dozens of deck chairs.
The Beach, the beach chairs weren't out in the offseason.

The beach was spectacular. The sand was soft, the water so clear you could count you toes in chest deep water.

The actual apartments were fairly small but had spectacular views. The bedrooms and living room all had floor to ceiling glass doors opening on to a full width balcony. It wasn't a token balcony either, there was room for a a dining table and chairs plus lounge chairs. Since the building faced east, there was almost no direct sun on our balcony.

We stayed in almost the whole time, dividing our time between the beach, the pool and the balcony. We ate all of our meals on the balcony. We only left to go to the grocery store.

The best thing about the trip was the people. There are fewer than 40 units in the building and many are occupied by full time residents. Many of the other owners spend a lot of time there. Everyone mostly knows everyone and we were welcomed as a guests, not just renter scum. They held a Fourth of July party and everyone was invited. a couple of the owners grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, there was coleslaw, potato salad and of course watermelon.

It was great. We are definitely planning on going back.

Hallucination of Independance

This weekend I was at Rising Tide. A great time was had by all. During our Friday Night reception I was talking to Dr. A about our recent trip to Delray Beach. I told her all about the trip and the post I had done on it. Unfortunately I hallucinated the post part. I never did it. I intended to and in my delusion came to beleive I had.

Here is is now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Avenue Pubbing

Rising Tide 4 kicks off this evening at 7:00 with a party at Avenue Pub on St. Charles Avenue.

If you can't register on line come on by and register in person, we'll be upstairs. They have 31 beers on tap, unfortunately I don't know if they have Schlitz.

The beer that made Milwaukee famous has lubricated Rising Tide this year. Unfortunately their local distributor Crescent Crown Distributing hasn't gotten the word and sent a truck to reward us for our loyalty.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shrimp and Grits Schlitz

I recently discovered that the Rouse's store on Carrollton carries Schlitz, the beer that made Milwakee famous. That's the only place I've seen it in years, so obviously I had to buy some. That Rouse's is the only local store I know of with a "beer room", a walk-in cooler with automatic doors so you can diver you grocery cart in and load it up. I found out I actually like Schlitz.

So when Dangerblond announced it was time for another Geek dinner I knew I had to share my discovery. She graciously agreed to host the thing at Chez Dangerblond.

These irregular gatherings of our motley krewe of local Internet gadflys are a lot of fun. Everyone brings something to eat or drink. The host has enough left over food and beer for a month or more.

For my part (in addition to the Schlitz) I brought my own version of the Low Country classic, Shrimp & Grits.
Lil Dizzie's has a similar dish they call Shrimp Grilliads. It seems to be all the rage with restaurants and cooking shows lately. I frequently make it at home, its fairly quick and very good. But I've never made in such a large quantity. I also never use a recipe, so it comes out different every time. Scaling it up was an adventure.

I discovered that some seafood store sell 5 lb. packages of cleaned shrimp.

I decided to go with that.

Here's what I ended up with;


  • 5 lb if shelled shrimp.
  • 2 sticks of butter.
  • 1 head of celery.
  • 3 lb of diced onions.
  • 2 heads of garlic diced.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Celery Seed
  • McCormick's Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
  • 4 quarts of water.
  • 1 quart of Jim Dandy Quick Grits.
  • 8 cups of shredded cheese.
  • 2 Chicken bullion cubes
  • 1 teaspoon of diced poblano pepper
  • Salt to taste - remember bullion cubes have a lot of a lot in them.
  • Pepper to taste.
  • 2 tablespoons of minced dried onion.
  • Celery seed
  • 2 tbs of diced Poblano peppers.
Cook the bring the water to a boil add seasoning (except for poblano peppers) and grits. Cook grits according to the directions. When grits are cooked add pepper and chees mix well.

While water is coming to a boil, melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat and add seasoning for shrimp. When you add grits to water add shrimp to butter and saute until cooked, adding the second stick of butter at the end.

Server in two large chaffing dishes. For the Geek Dinner I used a disposable serving set with a double bottom pan, wire stand and gel heater.

Everyone seemed to like them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Buick? A Buick? You Gotta be Kidding Me!

All I could think of when GM announced its first new model since leaving bankruptcy was Jim Mora, former Saints Head Coach's beer commercial. Just imagine Jim saying the title.

The New Government Motors just released it first new car and it a Buick LaCrosse?.

I'm puzzled by that. Buick was positioned by Alfred P. Sloan architect of General Motor's success as the Doctor's Car, back when appearances mattered and local doctors couldn't be seen as making too much money by driving the more upscale Cadillac. A quaint notion in itself.

The GM version of a Lexus (itself an imitation of a Mercedes) is a surprising place to start new models, given the current auto market, and the commitments made by the government and the management in the bailout.

Alfred P. Sloan invented the the ladder of success where each of the division had a market segment and while even then they shared platforms each division operated largely independently.

From one source;

There also were fundamental differences in the cars. Chevrolet and Pontiac shared the same-size chassis, but the Chevrolet had a four-cylinder engine and the Pontiac a more powerful six cylinders. The Oldsmobile and Buick shared the same larger-size chassis, but the Oldsmobile was marketed as a sportier car whereas the Buick was more refined in its ride with more luxurious amenities.

The Cadillac was the most expensive, had the largest chassis and all the features one might want, including "Body by Fisher," an elegant carriage maker in older days.

Overtime each division had a model customer.

  • Chevrolet the working man's car.
  • Pontiac was positioned for the up and coming young adult, the original Yuppy Brand.
  • Oldsmobile for solid family men in middle management.
  • Buick was the Doctors' or executives car, luxury without flouting it.
  • Cadillac was the grand luxury car for those who had arrived.
  • Saturn was added as a way to battle imports and the perception of poor quality.

The old GM chose to kill Oldsmobile some time ago. It was clear that most people couldn't tell the difference between an Oldsmobile and a Buick, leading to the classic Oldsmobuick Queen Family Truckster.

They sold Saturn off to Roger Penske, best known as a race driver but he also owns a large truck leasing and logistics business, a massive auto dealer network and he already imports Smartcars. He will likely make a massive amount of money on the first post modern car company. He has the credibility to pull it off, offering a whole new crop of automakers access to the American market without developing a distribution network here since Penske already has one.

What puzzles me about this whole thing is that GM decided to keep Buick, a button down stale brand when it could have kept Pontiac. Pontiac could have become a GM version of BMW, with a range of sport luxury models bridging the range between the mass market Chevy's and the up market Cadillac. Pontiac has a reputation for sport and performance going back to the first Lemans GTO's. GM had long held Pontiac back from producing a two seat high performance automobile which might compete with Chevrolet's Corvette. Pontiac also has a legacy of graceful styling and a well established styling trademark in the split grill.

The 1965-66 Pontiac Lemans and GTO models were perhaps one of the most beautiful cars ever designed in America.

It's hard to see how a Buick LaCrosse would find any better acceptance that the same car badged as a Pontiac Bonneville or Grand Prix.

The one asset Buick Has was its tie in with Tiger Woods.

I wonder how many Buicks he sells. I personally don't care that a golfer pitches cars to a bunch of middle aged duffers and wanna be duffers. I drive a Volvo.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Going Green For Green

I attended an Architect's convention last week and one of the sessions was on Solar Energy. Unlike most sessions of this type it actually provided practical, usable information. Like all similar information this should be taken with a grain of salt and tested against actual information on your particular situation.

The first and most astounding part is that the government will pay 80% of the cost of a solar installation, with a few caveats. The 80% is a combination of a 50% Louisiana Tax Credit and a 30% Federal Tax Credit. I am not a tax expert please check this out for yourself.

Louisiana Solar Tax credit is a 50% refundable tax credit it is limited to $25,000 per system but the number of systems is unlimited and you can apply for it every year. Since it's a Refundable Tax Credit you get a check for the difference between the tax you owe and the credit. I understand any check you get is taxable on your Federal Income Tax.

Federal Solar Tax Credit is a 30% one time tax credit for qualifying solar system. The Credit is not refundable but may be carried forward for up to 3 years.

Do the math.

Solar Water Heating. According to the information I got a passive solar water heater capable of supplying the average New Orleans home costs about $5,000 installed and would essentially eliminate the cost of heating water, except for occasional very cold very cloudy days. According to standard energy rating a typical gas water heater costs around $300/year to operate. With an 80% tax credit the out of pocket cost is $1,000. That would pay back in less than 5 years.

Photovoltaic Power Systems. It was estimated that a photo voltaic system would generate 1 watt per square foot and cost about $ 8.50 per square foot. Based on a $25,000 limit per system, a 3,000 KW system would fit under the limit (remember there is no limit to the number of systems). In our area system there are approximately 150 hours a month the system would operate at near peak efficiency, generating 450 KWh (KiloWatt hours) /per month. Louisiana also has a net metering law, meaning that if you have a grid tie in any electricity you generate in excess of you needs runs the meter backwards. That's an oversimplification but is more or less accurate. A 3,000 watt system will cost in the neighborhood of $25,000 and max out the system credit. With an 80% tax credit the out of pocket cost is $5,000.

The estimate is that such a system will pay itself off in 5 years or less, although that might be optimistic. If I understand it correctly Entergy New Orleans charges residential customers $0.06 /KWh, plus a fuel adjustment charge which is running around $0.045/KWh. That amounts to a total cost of $0.105/KWh. 450 KWhs equal a savings of $47.25/month or $567.00 per year. That amounts to about a nine year payback.

Check it out. You can pull out your own Entergy bill and see how much power you actually use, subtract 450 KWh from it and see what it would be.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Clunker Craziness

The government at it again, rewarding past irresponsible behavior. The Cash for Clunkers program is only available to people who irresponsibly purchased gas guzzling, imported oil drinking land yachts. We're paying up to $4,500 each to bail out several hundred thousand of these idiots.

I think the government should pay every person who owns a new car that gets more that 30 mpg combined a bonus, but that makes too much sense. I might even get a check.

Much like the Road Home Program generally benefited people who didn't have insurance.

We own 3 cars;

A 1993 Civic Honda del Sol - 31 mpg combined.

A 1994 Volvo 940 Turbo - 19 mpg combined.

A 2002 Volvo S80 - 19 mpg combined.

None of them qualify for the Cash for Clunkers program. They all get too many miles to the gallon. The Honda is easy to understand, it's tiny. But neither of the Volvos could be mistaken for an economy or compact car, in fact the S80 is too big for New Orleans.


Hispanics, at least in my experience don't see themselves as a single group.

I think you'll find that Hispanics as a group were largely invented by pollsters and politicians. That unlike blacks(aka African Americans), there isn't a single predominate Hispanic voter profile.

A New York Puerto Rican is not that much like a Texas Mexicano or a Miami Cubano. There are people with Hispanic sur-names who have been in New Orleans for hundreds of years.

"Hispanics" tend to see themselves as Puerto Rican or Cuban (who don't like each other much) or Mexican or Honduran or whatever first.

There are also sharp class divisions within most nationalities.

South Americans are clearly divided and some view themselves more as Europeans, especially the upper class South Americans.

The Brazilians don't even speak Spanish.

Puerto Ricans have been U. S. Citizens since 1917.

Richie Valens didn't speak Spanish.

I expect that Associate Justice Sotomayor will be an important asset to the court. I don't expect any radical shift in decisions, unless Obama is reelected.

I also guarantee that in some park in Miami there are Cubaons playing dominoes who are saying we should have been first.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Ain't that Sumthin' - A Little Late and a Dollar Bill Short

Anthony Jones

Anthony Jones was fired for among other things, taking a trip paid for by a city vendor.
In addition to findings that he took a trip on the dime of a city vendor, hid the spiraling cost of the city's much maligned crime-camera program and lied about his academic credentials, former New Orleans technology chief Anthony Jones was fired for allegedly fabricating a purchase order to buy nearly $120,000 in equipment from computer giant Dell Inc., city records show.
In most places any one of those would get you canned.

Why isn't the mayor held to the same standard? Hasn't he admitted pretty much the same things?$ Bill Jefferson

$ Bill Jefferson was also convicted on 11 of 16 counts against him. Interesting that one of the counts he was acquitted on was the famous cold cash. Seems the jury thought it wasn't illegal to promise to bribe a foreign official if you never actually did. Interesting moral position.

Cliff Says it well, as usual.

In some of the comments on the stories there is the usual racist comments. I'm ashamed to have that sewer associated with a city I love.

There were also few people defending Jefferson for the"good he has done". Based on my observation any good he has done is purely accidental or because he couldn't figure out how to steal the money.

The most disappointing thing to me is that much of his theft was at the expense of people who depended on Jefferson to help them. He stole money intended to help the community.

His excuse is sending his children to Harvard was expensive. Somehow Jefferson got a Harvard education without the help of a prominent, successful, well paid father.