Sunday, February 21, 2010

I have a theory

I have a theory that for every possible disaster there is a frustrated mid level bureaucrat somewhere secretly hoping that his (or her) doomsday scenario will happen so they can pull that old memo out of the bottom drawer of the desk and say "See I told you this would happen".

Since the number of frustrated mid level bureaucrats is effectively infinite and many may harbor more that one scenario, it is a virtual certainly that after every disaster someone will come forward claiming to have been a voice in the wilderness.

Maximum Mary Schiavo, former Inspector General of DOT where in spite of her success she seemed determined to provoke controversy.

Or Linda Trippwho ratted Bill Clinton.

Then there's Russ Tice,

who was one of the sources used by the New York Times in reporting on the NSA wiretapping controversy. He had earlier been known for reporting suspicions that a DIA colleague of his might be a Chinese spy. A serial whistle blower.


Elia Kazan, a former member of the communist party who testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee and "named names".

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Newt, the historian misses a bet.

I have read and enjoyed the Gingrich/Forstchen collaborations on the Civil War.

I think they present a plausible alternative end game and an interesting take on the character of the major figures. At least that's my perspective from a lot of reading on the Civil War and from my family tradition, grounded in Rappahannock County Virginia.

My Father graduated from Rappahannock High School in "Little" Washington, Virginia, just prior to enlisting in the Army Air Corps. He was a firm believer that if Jefferson Davis had followed the advise of his Secretary of Treasury, Judah Benjamin the Confederacy might have prevailed.

That evaluation not withstanding my father climbed into a B-17 and bombed Germany, to his later chagrin.
Planes of the 486 Bomb Group
( my Dad may have been in one of these planes)

However I am not impressed with the Gingrich/Forstchen selection of Pearl Harbor for their World War II collaboration. The story rambles around without much purpose and with little conclusion.

It seems odd to me, I think they probably intend(ed) to write a conclusion but either haven't yet or decided not to. In addition every historian I have read has unequivocally concluded that the United States would defeat at the Empire of Japan in an extended war.

The Japanese were well aware of the industrial potential of the United States and knew they could not survive a war a long war.

The United States was also the major supplier of oil to Japan. When the United States embargoed oil shipments to Japan some have stated that war was inevitable. That may be, but only because Japan was unwilling to back down. Others have gone further to state that the United States forced Japan in to a war. That premise seems to be based on Japanese oil reserves and not on diplomatic analysis.

A few have gone so far as to state that the United States provoked the war. These "historians" often invoke racism in their analysis. That has always puzzled me. The stated reason for the oil embargo was the Japanese invasion and outrages in Manchurian and China. The demands the United States made on Japan were all related to their conduct in China. I have never understood how the United States placing economic sanctions on Japan for killing Chinese can be seen as racist.

In my opinion the Japanese rationally assessed the United States Naval building program in 1930's and decided that unless a military strike was made soon the United States would have predominate power and military action would be useless. They refused to make the necessary political concessions, likely because that would have caused severe political disruption in Japan, possibly a coup, a mutiny or even a civil war.

After Roosevelt's election the United States built ups its military, partly in response to world events and partly as a jobs program
USS Essex CV-9

In 1938 Congress authorized the Essex, lead ship of what would be the 24 ship Essex class of Aircraft Carriers. Eight additional ships were authorized on September 9 1940. These ships alone would match the Japaneses Aircraft Carrier Fleet. Combined with the existing ships and the Hornet also then under construction the Japanese would have been significantly outnumbered by the middle of 1943. The follow on Midway Class was already being designed.

Add to that, the construction of the North Carolina Class of (2) Battleships was complete in 1940. The South Dakota class (4) was under construction and due for commissioning by mid 1942. The Iowa Class had been ordered and the keels already laid. The even more massive Montana Class was being designed.
North Carolina Class Battle Ship

This does not even include the literally hundreds of other ships on order or under construction in 1941. For example there were 21 Gleaves Class destroyers completed and commissioned between 1938 and the attack on Pearl Harbor, dozens more of the remaining 41 ships of the class were under construction. Work had already started on almost 2 dozen of the follow up Fletcher Class. Ultimately 175 Fletchers were built.
Fletcher Class Destroyer

Japan could not hope to match this pace of building. And most of the Japanese leaders were aware of it. The best they could hope for, short of backing down, was to strike a blow that would make the United States reconsider or temper it's opposition to Japanese policies in China.

Unfortunately that strike didn't cow the United States and prompted a national anger that lead to the total defeat of Japan. That defeat never required more than about a third of the US war effort.

I think there is a much more interesting scenario they could have investigated.

In 1940 Germany stood undefeated and arrogant at the edge of the English Channel. There were plans for an invasion. Men and machines were being gathered.

At the time (late August 1940) the RAF was near the breaking point. There were sufficient aircraft being built but pilots were being lost before they could become effective. There was serious discussion that the RAF would need to be pulled north out of the reach of the bombers.

Consider this;

The first RAF raid on Berlin took place on the night of 25 August 1940. It is widely believed that caused the Luftwaffe to switch from bombing airfields and military installations to bombing cities. After all Goering had said in 1939 "No enemy bomber can reach the Ruhr. If one reaches the Ruhr, my name is not Goering. You may call me Meyer."

In a speech delivered on September 4
Hitler promised retribution. Hitler threatened, "...When the British Air Force drops two or three or four thousand kilograms of bombs, then we will in one night drop 150-, 230-, 300- or 400,000 kilograms. When they declare that they will increase their attacks on our cities, then we will raze their cities to the ground. We will stop the handiwork of those night air pirates, so help us God!"

The first Luftwaffe raid on London was not until September 7 1940, making the premise more than plausible.

Suppose the raid on Berlin had not happened and the RAF had pulled back. The Germans may have begun to feel they had beaten the RAF, especially if the British fed misinformation to them through the XX double agent system of dis-information.

Suppose as a result of the 3 July 1940 Battle of Mers-el-Kébir, the egotistical French Navy decided to throw in with the Kreigsmarine?

When Eisenhower tried to get the French to switch sides a couple of years later French Admirals negotiated for personal position, rather than join the liberation of France, resulting in loss of a lot of French sailors and ships but few Admirals. They might have been persuaded by a deft handling and the offer of assistance to get their battered ships and egos seaworthy. With the French on board the excellent Italian Navy could not resist helping support the invasion. The Japanese might even be persuaded to help some, in exchange for British possessions in Asia.

Given that state of affairs then Hitler may have seen this as an opportunity to eliminate a threat in his rear prior to attacking his good friend Joe Stalin.

Developing the scenario further by postponing the invasion until the spring of 1941 to allow the French ships to be repaired, the Luftwaffe to bring on new aircraft with reliable drop tanks and for the further preparation of troops, ships and landing craft. We have a scenario which might be plausible.

We look back at the successful amphibious landings later in the war and see how poorly organized such an attempt have would been. But in 1940 no one had ever mounted a large scale amphibious operation. The famous Higgins boat had only recently been shown to the Marine Corps and the final version with a full width bow ramp was yet to be developed. The doctrine of amphibious warfare had not been developed and its dangers were not understood. During the attack on Wake Island in December 1941, the initial Japanese landings were fought off by a relatively small garrison of Marines. Up to the disastrous Dieppe Raid in August 1942 it was believed that surprise could allow an assault to succeed. The May 1941 Battle of Crete had not yet exposed the weaknesses of airborne assault. The war had not really started in earnest.

One thing I have seen written is that some in Germany believed that the Royal Navy may have decided not to put forth a maximum effort to oppose the invasion, preferring to take the King and Government to safety beyond reach of the Germans, probably to Canada. This is of course absurd, but the Germans may have convinced themselves.

Of course the Royal Navy would have steamed into the middle of the invasion fleet flying Nelson's message to the fleet before Trafalgar.
"England Expects That Every Man Will Do his Duty"
Nelson's famous statement that,"No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy", would be on the mind of every captain as well as the memory of the English ships who sailed out to confront the Spanish Armada, the last time anyone dared try to invade England.

The invasion would no doubt have been a disastrous military failure but the political calculus of the time would have changed enormously. England would be weakened enormously, possibly enough that Churchill would be put out of office and peace negotiated. Another possible outcome might be that Stalin would take the drubbing as a cue to attack Hitler while he was recovering from the loss. Japanese reaction might be to attack the United States sooner or more directly. Roosevelt may have been compelled to enter the war. Maybe India would leave the British Empire.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Moderation and Caution at the Polls

During all of the Who Dat and Carnival celebrations there was an election. To hear many people you would think it was some kind of massive reform vote. But I think the truth is much different. Very few new comers were elected. The vote was largely a cautious vote for safety and competence. One fact which I haven't seen anywhere (but I've been out of town a lot) , no incumbent was defeated. In the one race with two incumbents, both made it to a run off. In most other races well known politicians won easily.

State Senator -- 5th Senatorial District
91 of 91 Precincts Reporting
Karen Carter Peterson (D)13,50978.34%
Irma Muse Dixon (D)3,73421.66%

Karen Carter Peterson has been a rising star on the local political scene for a while. She was considered to be a strong candidate for Mayor, but chose not to run. She was mentioned as a challenger to Joseph Cao, but chose the State Senate.

Judge -- Civil District Court, Division J
366 of 366 Precincts Reporting
Paula Brown (D)48,01060.55%
Stephen Chesnut (R)14,83718.71%
Morris Reed (D)16,44220.74%

Paula Brown was a former temporary judge who won easy election in a minor race.

Judge -- Juvenile Court, Section E
366 of 366 Precincts Reporting
Richard Exnicios (D)20,06526.07%
Tracey Flemings-Davillier (D)38,78650.39%
Marie Williams (D)18,12123.54%

Don't know much about Tracey Flemings-Davillier, another minor race.

366 of 366 Precincts Reporting
Marlin N. Gusman (D - I) 69,289 82.89%
Pat M. Peyton (D) 14,301 17.11%

Marlin Gusman ran an impressive race against a minor challenger. Easy incumbent victory

Clerk -- Criminal District Court
366 of 366 Precincts Reporting
Arthur A. Morrell (D - I) 63,821 81.99%
Harold E. Weiser (N) 14,020 18.01%

Another Incumbent victory against a minor challenger.

366 of 366 Precincts Reporting
Andrew Gressett (R) 5,269 6.30%
Janis Lemle (D) 19,750 23.61%
Claude Mauberret (D - I) 20,919 25.01%
Erroll G. Williams (D - I) 37,697 45.07%

In a hotly contested race for the new combined Assessor, two incumbents edged out a full fledged reformer/new comer. This election more that any other illustrates the moderate mood of the electorate.

366 of 366 Precincts Reporting
Dwight McKenna (D) 32,435 39.59%
Frank Minyard (D - I) 49,483 60.41%

Another impressive win for incumbency, the long time heavily criticized 80 year old white Minyard against the well connected black McKenna. Neither exactly a reformer or an outsider.

Mayor -- City of New Orleans
366 of 366 Precincts Reporting
Jonah Bascle (N) 160 0.18%
"Manny" Chevrolet-Bruno (O) 139 0.16%
Robert "Rob" Couhig (R) 4,874 5.48%
John Georges (D) 8,189 9.21%
Troy Henry (D) 12,275 13.80%
"Jerry" Jacobs (N) 106 0.12%
Thomas A. Lambert (R) 239 0.27%
Mitchell "Mitch" Landrieu (D) 58,276 65.52%
James Perry (D) 2,702 3.04%
Nadine Ramsey (D) 1,894 2.13%
Norbert P. Rome (N) 84 0.09%

Mitch's win is stunning. I was sure that there would be a divisive run off. No one I know of predicted the margin. In retrospect it seems voters were retreating to safety and familiarity. Mitch had run twice before, the community had a largely positive view of his sister and father. I think it would be a mistake to view this as an endorsement for reform, that was simply not a part of Mitch's campaign. He ran as the safe "not Nagin". Mitch's legacy could well be a "good" but it's hard to see a radical reformer in his history or his personality.

Councilmember(s) at Large
366 of 366 Precincts Reporting
Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson (D - I) 38,904 26.57%
"Arnie" D. Fielkow (D -I) 51,310 35.05%
William "Poppa" Gant (N) 1,370 0.94%
Nolan Marshall (D) 13,411 9.16%
Gregory "Chef" Sonnier (R) 3,014 2.06%
"Lance" W. von Uhde III (R) 1,031 0.70%
Cynthia Willard-Lewis (D) 37,362 25.52%

The two incumbents won easily, the only serious challenger was the other incumbent Cynthia Willard-Lewis.

Councilmember -- District A
89 of 89 Precincts Reporting
John "Jay" Batt (R) 9,046 39.32%
Virginia Blanque (R) 3,324 14.45%
Susan G. Guidry (D) 10,173 44.22%
"Fred" Robertson (N) 461 2.00%

District A's incumbent reformer elected not to run and endorsed Susan Guidry. The former incumbent Jay Batt decided to run again. Guidry is a new face running as a reformer against a polarizing former incumbent but was unable to close the deal. Again familiarity blunted reform.

Councilmember -- District B
81 of 81 Precincts Reporting
Stacy Head (D - I) 10,132 66.86%
Corey Watson (D) 5,021 33.14%

Possibly the most interesting race where the reform and incumbent streams merged in the landslide re-election of a controversial reformer over a new face. The association of the new face with the old guard may well have affected his appeal.

Councilmember -- District C
76 of 76 Precincts Reporting
"Tom" Arnold (R) 5,217 31.82%
Kristin Gisleson Palmer (D) 10,508 64.10%
Nathaniel Jones (N) 668 4.07%

I know very little about this race. It seems the only clear instance of the rejection of an incumbent (Tom Arnold) for a new comer (Kristin Palmer) with little government experience. She was endorsed by the incumbent James Carter. Her opponents "eccentricities" didn't hurt either.

Councilmember -- District D
63 of 63 Precincts Reporting
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell (D -I) 11,612 76.53%
Denise Holden (D) 3,562 23.47%

Another clear win for the Incumbent Party.

Councilmember -- District E
57 of 57 Precincts Reporting
Austin Badon (D) 5,078 38.85%
Jerrelda Drummer-Sanders (D) 805 6.16%
Jon Johnson (D) 3,912 29.93%
Leonard Lucas, Jr. (D) 434 3.32%
Cyndi Nguyen (D) 1,776 13.59%
Alicia Plummer (D) 1,065 8.15%

With no incumbent this race resulted in a run off between politicians looking to move up. An incumbent State Rep and a former legislator, score tie for the Incumbent Party.

The remaining ballot matters generally reflect a distrust of City Government to deliver services. All of them passed overwhelmingly. Crime prevention districts generally reflect a view that the NOPD cannot be trusted to deliver services to generally affluent areas. The idea that the services provided by these districts enhance the service in certain areas is highly suspect. The NOPD could be expected to redeploy its resources out of area covered by these special assessments. These districts do guarantee a minimum level of service.

Lake Terrace Crime Prevention Dist. -- Parcel Fee - CC - 8 Yrs.
2 of 2 Precincts Reporting
Yes 365 86.70%
No 56 13.30%

Spring Lake Subdiv. Imp. Dist. -- $200 Annual Fee - CC - 8 Yrs.
1 of 1 Precincts Reporting
Yes 100 73.53%
No 36 26.47%

Garden District Security District -- 19 Mills - CC - 8 Yrs.
12 of 12 Precincts Reporting
Yes 1,136 90.30%
No 122 9.70%

Touro Bouligny Security District -- 16 2/10 Mills - CC - 8 Yrs.
10 of 10 Precincts Reporting
Yes 617 81.29%
No 142 18.71%

Those expecting some kind of massive reform are likely mistaken. Interpreting this election, however relieved we were to be rid of Rey Ray Nagin, as an endorsement of reform is probably going to disappoint the reformers. None of the candidates ran on a strong reform platform. There was remarkable unanimity on a number of small reforms. Mostly they simply promised to do a better job than the current bunch.

Nothing in the results suggests to me that many of the officials elected are willing to make the kinds of structural reforms needed to prevent the recurrence of a Nagin like mayor. This is somewhat similar to the pronouncements following Obama's election that the American People had changed their stripes and now were born again New Deal Progressive Democrats. What was really at work was much simpler and more mundane. George W Bush was the most unpopular President in recent memory. Nagin is even more unpopular than George W. Bush was.

There seems to me a common flailing in the progressive culture. There is a wide spread belief that if we could only elect the smartest, most eloquent Philosopher King things will fall into place. In fact as the framers of the Constitution demonstrated, the underlying structure matters far more to successful government than the people operating it. Any defect in structure will be exploited for the benefit of special interests or personal gain. The vesting of so much power in the person of the Mayor is a severe defect in the New Orleans City government.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

For the Record

As of the end of the 2009-2010 season, 14 NFL teams have never won a Super Bowl.

The teams that have been to the Super Bowl (in years shown) and lost each time:
  • Buffalo Bills (0-4) consecutively 1991-1994
  • Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) 1982, 1989
  • Tennessee Titans (0-1) 2000
  • San Diego Chargers (0-1) 1995
  • Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) 1981, 2005
  • Minnesota Vikings (0-4) 1970, 1974, 1975, 1977
  • Carolina Panthers (0-1) 2004
  • Atlanta Falcons (0-1) 1999
  • Seattle Seahawks (0-1) 2006
  • Arizona Cardinals (0-1) 2009
Teams that have never played in a Super Bowl :
  • The Cleveland Browns
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Houston Texans
  • Detroit Lions
The Saints are the only team in the NFC South that has won a Super Bowl except for Tampa Bay.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A random act of competance!

The TP reported on February 12 that the city had replaced some IT contractors and renegotiated some contracts.
The new contracts represent a huge cost savings. Combined, the three deals will cost no more than $4.3 million this year, while Ciber and VisionIT averaged a combined $23 million a year since mid-2007. That's a savings of 81 percent.
This is a significant accomplishment.

The report was lost in the hysteria of the Saints win and carnival. It deserves wider coverage and support.

If other city departments (notably the Sanitation Department) would take similar action, the cities budget problems might be manageable.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Superbowl - Da Game

Siting in the Stadium waiting for the game to begin, surrounded by thousands of Saints fans was a strange feeling. I had been in this same stadium several times before and the vibe was very different. I had never been there with anything vested in the outcome. I had never been surrounded by my people before, outside the comfort of the Dome or long ago Tulane Stadium.

As we waited for the game to begin drinking a $10 beer, we tentatively introduced ourselves to the people around us. Exchanging stories of our Saints history, how we came to be there and why we came. Nobody paid much attention.

The pregame festivities and ceremony came and went, no one paid much attention, except when the Saints came on the field. Everyone seemed to be waiting for our time. Waiting for the game to begin.

The sign says it all. The Colts jumped to an early lead but the fans didn't panic or fall into the familiar fatalistic premonition. They held a quiet confidence. Continuing to cheer for the Saints. The Colts fans seemed very quiet, even when they held the lead.

As the first half progressed the Saints fought back, gaining on the Colts. The fans confidence was building as the Saints scored and began to catch the Colts on the scoreboard. There was a feeling that the Saints were coming back. Halftime came with the Saints trailing and no one seemed worried.

The opening of the second half convinced every Saints fan that we would win. The onside kick followed by a drive to take the lead was Saints all out, go for broke football. All we had to do was Finish Strong. That phrase was common in the ranks of the faithful.

Even falling behind again and finishing the third quarter one point behind had little effect on the spirits of the faithful.

The Saints were marching. Everyone in Black and Gold was behind the Saints in the third quarter. It didn't matter what the Colts did. But there was still work to do. The fans were confidently behind the Saints. the Legend of Peyton was not intimidating anyone. We had our own Peyton.

Our faith was rewarded in the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Saints frustrated the Colts and retook the lead. The officials even cooperated on a two point conversion.

We were going to win the Super Bowl, it was unreal. We knew the commentators were telling the country that Peyton the Great was going to come back and work his magic. It didn't matter We Knew Better. We knew that Drew could match anything he could do.

Greg Williams turned the defense loose, Tracy Porter took it to the house. We won the Super Bowl. There was no way the Colts could come back in 3:12. We hugged and cried for the entire remaining three minutes.

The Saints won the Superbowl.

We were in shock. We were stunned. We were in rapture. We were Super Bowl Champions.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Superbowl - Game Day

Super Bowl Game Day started out calm enough. We went down for our Continental Breakfast, still debating where to park and when to leave for the Stadium.

One unexpected appearance was De Pope, Lionel "De Pope" Alphonso, NFL Hall of Fame number one Saints fan. We rode down the elevator to breakfast with him. He barely fit into the elevator with his mitre.Our breakfast was occupied with questions of costume and parking and tail gating.

I have never been a big jersey wearer. I've never owned one, not even now. For the playoff games I wore a black dress shirt I had never worn before. That seemed to have reasonably good effect so I was determined to wear it again to the Super Bowl. I was not so superstitious as to forgo washing it nor wear the exact socks pants or underwear on every occasion. In fact if that was required I probably couldn't remember which socks and underwear I had worn.
We departed the hotel around 1:30 PM on advice of the stadium employee I had spoken to earlier in the week. She held a low opinion of the NFL parking management which apparently ad snarled traffic pretty badly the week before for the pro bowl. Apparently the NFL decided that they knew how to manage parking better than the stadium teams that manages 20 or so games a year. Having attended several games there before I was very skeptical of their ability.We decided to prepare for limited tailgating by stopping at the Publix up the street and getting disposable a Styrofoam cooler, some ice, wine, beer cokes, sandwiches, snacks and two bottles of Prosecco for the later celebration. She has become enamored with Prosecco recently fortunately Publix has a good wine department as several varieties of Prosecco.

Given the distance She would need to walk and missing the tailgating, we decided to park in the Stadium lot. Taking the Florida Turnpike to the Stadium exit we were able to drive right into lot 13 and park in the second row. It was a nearly perfect parking space. There were no cars between us and the exit and only a few feet to walk to cross the street to the stadium.

One thing I noted in an earlier post was that the stadium parking lot had been designed with Tailgating in mind. I found this proof on the Stadium web site.

Notice that ample paved area outside the parking spaces for tailgating. At the Orange Bowl and Dolphin home games charcoal grills are permitted in that areas and are abundant. I have never observed a problem.

In our parking lot across the road things were less structured but there was still plenty of room. It was surely far enough away from the stadium to preclude any possibility of mischief.

There was a steady stream of cars parking in the lot and a trickle of fans heading to the stadium and the NFL pre-game thingy. Since it was more that 4 hours to kick off we decided see who was coming into the lot.

I started a walkabout. Almost immediately I found a bunch of Who Dats starting a charcoal fire intending to warm a pork shoulder. A little further on I found a bunch of Colts cooking some brats. No one seemed concerned about the tailgate police, although rumors of them were circulating.

I can say without any fear of contradiction Saints fans are way more fun than Colts fans. The best most Colts fans can do is wear a jersey with the name "Manning" on it and the wrong number. Everyone knows Archie wore number 8.

Seriously there were Saints fans in Black kilts with gold fluer-de-lis. Saints fans with black umbrellas with gold sequins and ostrich plumes. There were creole ladies of a certain age in Brees jersey's dancing to the Ying Yang Twins Halftime. The Saints were having fun and the Colts were serious.Working the parking lot I met several people who had driven from Louisiana including one couple truck bedding. They were winners of the stealth third round of the ticket lottery.

All the while were were enjoying the stream of fans heading to the stadium.

A couple hours before kickoff we headed to the NFL Game Day Fan Plaza. It was already winding down, but there didn't seem to be much there. We headed to the stadium, our seats were all the way at the top.

We had selected our seats hoping we would be surrounded by Saint's fans. We were not disappointed. We were surrounded by black and gold, mostly black. It appeared to me that Saints fans outnumbered Colts fans approximately two to one.

The game was about to begin.

The Saints are in the SUPER BOWL

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Superbowl - Tickets and Stuff

Saturday was sort of a free day, I had only one thing to accomplish, pick up the tickets. I also wanted to check out the Stubhub venue and decide which of the two parking options we would take advantage of.

We slept in and barely made it to our "Free Continental Breakfast". The breakfast turned out to be fairly decent. There was hot Oatmeal and Cream o' Wheat, dry cereal, fruit, pastries and toast or toasted bagels. I drank 4 glasses of OJ in an attempt to ward off the chest cold that I was sure to get. One thing that the Cuban and Central American influx has helped in Miami is the coffee. You can actually get decent coffee most places. You can also tell you're not in the south anymore because there are no grits for breakfast.

We fired up the GPS and headed off to find Calder Racetrack and pickup our tickets.
I knew about Gulfstream Park, I didn't know about Calder Racetrack I didn't think two horse track would be in such close proximity. I had no idea it was so close to Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park Pro Player Stadium, Dolpins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, LandShark Stadium, Sun Life Stadium. We found the track with no problem, finding Stubhub was a little more difficult. There were only a few small signs, we had to ask directions. Stubhub was set up in a back parking lot adjacent to the stables. I imagine it's the parking lot for the horsemen, jockeys trainers and the like.

I was surprised by the size of the setup. It looked like they were expecting thousands of people. There was a very large tent with a bar, buffet line and big screen TVs. There was an even larger outdoor area being set up with tables and chairs. They had a few games set up things like a football passing accuracy thing. The ticket operation was pretty efficient, it took only a few minutes to pick up the tickets and sign a receipt. In the tent they were serving soft drinks, chips, nachos and grilled hot dogs. We ate some.

The Stubhub Parking arrangements for the game were a little complex. You parked at the Calder Race Track, took a tram to the edge of the track property and walked half a mile to the stadium. Something thousands of fans do for every Dolphins game. We were not so sure, She has a bum ankle and knee, so a lot of walking could hamper her enthusiasm.

Since we were out we decided o check out Fort Lauderdale. Heading to Las Olas we wanted to see if we could find quiet place for a mid-afternoon drink.

By the time we got there traffic was horrible, and at the beach parking was impossible.


The Boulevard was very crowded but there didn't seem to be many Who Dats or Colts fans. We decide to pass on Fort Lauderdale. Our alternate plan was a Tiki Tour of the Hollywood board walk.

The tour began at our hotel, out back on the beach O'Malleys is a beach front bar complete with local and other sports memorabilia.

We ordered a drink and a half dozen oysters on the half shell. The drinks were good the oysters weren't. We pushed off.

Next stop Nick's.

Nicks has been a fixture of Hollywood Beach and of our trips there. We usually order a half dozen oysters on the half shell and a Peroni beer.
They have very good raw oysters, and pretty good bar food. In fact Nick's is where we discovered that somehow Peroni and raw oysters were made for each other. At our usual seats at the front raw bar we had a playful conversation with 3 couples dressed in Colts Colors.

Next stop the Walkabout Beach Resort.

One of several small older beachfront motels, the Walkabout Beach Resort is typical and has the obligatory Beach Front Tiki Bar, it is one of two authentic Seminole Indian Tiki Huts on Hollywood Beach. Funny I always thought that the Tiki was a Polynesian thing, of course thatched structures using local materials are common all over the world, even in northern Europe. During peak periods there is live music, usually of the Harry Chapin kind.

Next stop was probably the other authentic Seminole Indian Tiki Hut, the Ripide Ocean Front Beach Hotel
The Riptide is similar to the Walkabout, gems from Hollywood's earliest days, right down to the music at the Tiki Bar.

By the time we finished our drinks the sun was going down, the wind was coming up and the temperature dropping fast. It was getting cool and we weren't dressed for it. We started back, only stopping a Nick's for a quick drink.

We got back and decided to rest and head out a little later for dinner, possibly The Original Taverna Opa or Gerogio's Grille or Billie's Stone Crabs all within a block or two of our hotel. After a short nap we decided to eat in, hamburgers from O'Malley's.

Game Day tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Superbowl - Travel Day

Friday morning, we were finally off. Our flight left around 11:00 AM so we had time to get ready, eat breakfast park the car and check out bags at a leisurely pace.

We booked out flights using frequent flier credit on Airtran. That meant we had to fly through Atlanta. Not a big problem as frequent Airtran Fliers with Corporate and Elite status we know many of the people at the station in New Orleans and have a very good understanding of the system. Our tickets were Business Class so we we anticipating a couple of Bloody Marys and a nice relaxing flight.

The New Orleans Airport was full of Saints Fans and Who Dat's. Everyone was happy. We helped our favorite bartender open her bar on Concourse C and started with the Bloody Marys. There was a charter flight of Who Dats loading at the front of the concourse, and down at the far end a fairly loud crowd of American passengers was cheering. Someone was playing a trumpet. Just a normal day in the Who Dat nation. Unfortunately there was no brass band.

When our plane arrived we were shocked to see the it was Airtran's Colts 1,

several of the planes in the Airtran fleet are painted in different team colors. As far as I know there is no Saints1. That caused a little grumbling. It was an gaff on the part of the Airtran Traffic Department not to schedule that plane primarily on flights to Indianapolis during Superbowl week. The pilot, a fellow who called himself Luke Skywalker apologized, saying he didn't get to pick the plane and that the hyper drive was broken.

Our flight was uneventful and we arrived in Atlanta more or less on time, about two Bloody Marys each. In the Atlanta Airport C Concourse there was a lot of Black and Gold, much more than Colt Blue I think. I don't think they could all be going to Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
I stopped in to say hello to my bartender at the Miller Victory Lane on Concourse C, but he was not there yet.

The flight to Fort Lauderdale was delayed a little, apparently the plane was coming out of snow country and a lot of Colts fans got on with us. There was no fight and not much ribbing or boisterous behavior at all.

In Fort Lauderdale our bag was one of the first ones out. The Fort Lauderdale Airport has a good idea I wish the New Orleans Airport would steal . When the baggage conveyors, much like the ones in New Orleans, start there is an array of decorative lights that flash alerting passengers that the bags are coming out. More exciting is that when the belts start, there is tropical island music. There is no harsh buzzer or kalxon. How about we start them with the bugle call used at the start of the Second Line and play the Second Line for a while? Welcome to New Orleans.

The car rental shuttles were more crowded than I have ever seen them, even more than Christmas or New Years peak days. Our rental car was ready and we quickly resolved a small glitch with our American Express Rewards Certificate with no angst. Everything so far was going according to plan.

It only takes about 15 minutes to get to our hotel from the airport. When we got there, much to my surprise we checked in without any problems. They had our package ready and there were very few people around the lobby. Valet parking only cost $18/day and the valets were very quick and helpful. They even showed her how to open the trunk.

Typical Room at The Ramada Hollywood Beach Resort

Our room was better than expected. We had rented a Queen Superior Studio. What we got was a one bedroom suite with a king bed. While the rooms were somewhat oddly laid out and constructed, dated and worn, it there was clean, comfortable and well set up with a full kitchen. The WiFi worked well.

We headed out to South Beach almost immediately after dropping out bags off. It was after 5 and She wanted to take A1A down to see what had changed. The Drive down A1A through Hallendale, Sunny Isles and past the Trump mega Towers is interesting. Over the last few years we have watched as the Motels built in the 50 and 60s were replaced by the Mega Opulent Condo Towers. After you get to Miami Beach through Bal Harbour, past the newly restored and expanded Fountainbleau and the Eden Roc, its longtime competitor.


As we approached South Beach on Collins Ave, we slowed to a crawl. Only a couple of blocks from Ocean Drive the traffic is heavy on a "normal" Friday evening. Add in thousands of Who Dats and a Free NFL Concert on the beach and it's amazing anything was moving.

Eventually we arrived a Smith and Wollinsky, in a relatively quiet part of Miami Beach, right at the the entrance to the cruise ship harbor

The reception was nice, lots of hor d'oeuvres including very good small cheeseburgers made with some of the best ground meat I've ever had. There was of course an open bar. We met several other Who Dat's, including a father and son. It was a very nice.

It seems that had taken my advise and had brought most of the tickets to the reception, but for some reason they didn't bring ours. They did confirm that they had our tickets and I could pick them up tomorrow, so everything worked out OK.

Our original plan had been to go to Ocean Drive or possibility Lincoln Road to have dinner after the reception, but we ate too much. We were also both somewhat under the weather (She was getting over a chest cold but She had just given it to me so I was getting worse). We headed back to our Hotel and crashed as soon as we got there.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Suberbowl - Anxiety

After all of the pieces were in place I began to get anxious about whether it would come together or not. I have never bought such expensive tickets in my life I had never bought tickets from a third party, depending on someone to deliver the tickets the day before an event I was traveling hundreds of miles and spending hundreds of dollars to attend. I was staying in a hotel that I was familiar with and had stayed away from. I was pretty sure something would screw up.

At this point all I could do was pack and hope for the best.
Things began to look up almost immediately. My email box began to fill up with confirmations. Travelocity confirmed the Hotel with a confirmation number. I had elected to prepay and use Travelocity to prevent any confusion at check-in.
The best new something was two parties. Stubhub called to ask if we were planning on attending their Friday night party in South Beach. It seems they were giving a party (with an open bar) for all purchasers at Smith and Wollensky at the tip end of Miami Beach, very close to Joe's Stone Crabs.

They also invited us to "the Stub Hub Experience" prior to and after the game at Calder Race Track adjacent to the Stadium, site of the Stubhub parking. I had not noticed any of this on their website.

Stubhub seemed a little confused. They called to confirm whether I was going to the party before I got the email invitation to the party. When I asked if perhaps they could bring the tickets to the party, the only response was "That sounds like a good idea".

Stubhub called again to ask if I would talk to local media, I told them I would be happy to, but perhaps they should wait until after I had my tickets.

Stubhub called again to see if we wanted out Parking Pass shipped. I told them I planned to pick up or tickets Saturday, like I had told the previous person who called. I wanted them in my hand to be sure nothing would screw up.

Every one who called from Stubhub was young, personable helpful and uninformed about anything except the specific reason they called.

I got an email reminder for the car rental. I got a confirmation for Click and Park for the Stadium parking pass.Still there were still unresolved issues. I could not get through to Click and Park to confirm when they would ship my pass. Finally I got them on the phone and got an email message Wednesday that it shipped for overnight delivery. The Pass was delivered Thursday afternoon just before I had to leave for my last appointment before picking her up at the airport and going home to pack.

I was still nervous about the hotel and the tickets but we were on our way.