Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav Sunday

We're at the Fish Camp watching the progress of Gustav. It looks like it might not make Cat 5 again and the track is still the same. This place is 25 feet above mean low water and was built to post Andrew Miami building codes. We opted to stay even though we are under a Hurricane Warning because of the risk of getting on the road with all the other idiots. Looks like the closest approach will be tomorrow at 0800 hours. Fingers are crossed and hope we have a home to return to.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hunkered Down in the Red Neck Riviera

I spent the third anniversary of Katrina packing up the family pictures, valuables and my guns in preparation for evacuation. I must have climbed the stairs 50 times as I hauled stuff up out of the reach of a potential flood. Gustav is aimed to send water onto the West Bank, flooding areas that stayed dry in Katrina and I hope the extra elevation of the second story will be some protection. Then we jumped into the car and headed to Alabama and hope that the storm keeps to the west of NOLa.

I fear this storm may be the final straw for some folks. The fear in the air is evident everywhere. I suspect some people will move away from the area even if they have no damage because living with the fear is just too draining.

Right now we are hunkered down with the son, daughter in law and the three grandsons and watching the news over the internet. We've done all we can do and now its a wait and see. And I'm wondering what Hanna will do.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gustav's Comin'

It seems I got back from vacation just in time to get ready for Gustav. I, and many other people from South Louisiana, will be heading out this weekend for another hurricane evacuation. The good news is that we have Bobby Jindal as our governor and he didn't need to think about calling for federal help like his predecessor, "Maw Maw" Blanco. And the federal boys learned their lesson so Homeland Security and FEMA are standing tall with the Gov and our incompetent Mayor during press conferences.

So far, there have been no references to Gustav as being God's punishment for the Southern Decadence Festival.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Paris

The Marie de Paris (That's city government y'all) has installed racks of bicycles all over the city. For a nominal fee, you can rent them with a credit card, pedal them to your destination and then put them back in a rack. I wonder how long such a scheme would last in the USA before all the bikes were stolen, busted up or painted over by taggers.

Today starts the anniversary of the liberation of Paris. Take a moment and thank Gen Dietrich von Choltitz for not putting Paris to torch as Hitler ordered.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Paris

I'm coming to you from Paris. I'm using up some of the frequent flier miles and hotel points I've earned in the past couple of years.

As you walk around Paris, you may find small signs indicating the remains of someone buried in the wall. They usually have a date between August 19 and August 25, 1944, and the epitaf, "Mort pour la France". These are the guys that were killed in the uprising just before the liberation of Paris. DeGaulle wanted to send the Germans, and the world, a message and these patriots paid the price.

The current street scam in paris seems to be the "lost ring" game. Some street kid "finds" a gold ring, and, as there is no owner close by, offers to sell it to you. It's happened to me twice. Once on the Champs d'Elysee and again today on the Quai d'Orsay. Its a stale gag, sorta like the "I know where you got dem shoes" on Bourbon Street.

An observation of the police shows that they patrol in threes. Two guys will interview the subject while a third stands back 20 feet or so on overwatch. It's very unobtrusive but if you know what is happening, it looks very effective. They won't be caught by surprise. I noticed the Army doing the same thing at the Eiffel Tower. Patrol by fire team with full automatic weapons.

More later.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Massachusetts Concealed Carry


The above picture should be proof that Massachusetts did, at one time, allow the carrying of concealed weapons. And its a good thing they did because where would we be now if Paul Revere wasn't allowed to carry this pistol.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Nuclear Troika

I have been so busy lately that I almost forgot that today was August 6.

I used to live in Hiroshima back in 1975 and 1976. My first job out of college was working for an offshore drilling contractor. They were having two drilling rigs (the “Ocean Ranger” and “Ocean Bounty”) built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Hiroshima, Japan. I was on the owner’s site team for the “Bounty”. I was single and had a small apartment just north of the center of the city. I passed the “Hiroshima Dome” and Peace Park every day on my way to work. I walked in the park during the memorial ceremonies on the 30th anniversary and saw the river filled with thousands of paper lanterns floating downstream. These lanterns represented the souls of the dead.

Hiroshima was a bustling city back then. It held many attractions for a single twenty-something. But at no time did I feel any animosity from the Japanese except for the occasional hard stare from one of the older residents of the city. In fact, I was often mistaken for one of the American players on the Hiroshima Carps, the local baseball team. (I guess we Americans all look alike) This was good for getting more than a few free drinks on a Saturday night.

About 20 years later I happened to be in Washington, DC at the same time that the Smithsonian had the controversial “Enola Gay” exhibit. I had time to kill before my flight, so I stashed my luggage and caught a taxi to see that famous aircraft.

Then, a few years ago, Col. Tibbets was doing a book signing at the D Day Museum in New Orleans. I was almost the last person in line but I finally got to spend a few seconds with him and his wife. He had been signing books for several hours and yet he was as gracious as if he had just started. You always think about what you should have said after the fact and this was no different. I should have thanked him for ending the war, thereby sparing the life of my future father-in-law who would return to the US, get married and produce my future wife.

So that’s my nuclear troika: Hiroshima – Enola Gay – Paul Tibbets

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Strange Waters

There are strange things in the deep ocean. You never know what you will find. A few years ago they found a missing German U Boat and solved a WW II mystery. The link below will take you to a clip of a fairly rare squid that was seen at Shell's Perdido prospect in the Gulf of Mexico.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ48W6xi5YA

Monday, August 4, 2008

Olympic Pollution

If you haven’t heard about the pollution in Beijing by now, you must have just come from a cave. The high levels of pollution in China are beginning to cause concern about the health, welfare and performance of the Olympic athletes. I haven’t heard this much concern about breathing since the Mexico City Olympics. It’s a lucky thing for China that they are still a totalitarian society because the leaders are able to institute draconian measures to cut air pollution. They have cut the numbers of cars allowed on the street in half and shut down industry in an attempt to clear the air. In short, they are willing to cripple their economy and cause untold disruption to business in order to present a pretty fa├žade to the world.

The pollution in China should strike home the point that soccer moms driving hybrid cars and T. Boone Pickens building windmills in Texas is not the solution to the world greenhouse gas problem (if you believe there is such a thing). About ¾ of the worlds population lives in China and India. And as you can see from the recent boom in automobile buying in China, they have money and they all want modern conveniences. Now, this is not a bad thing. The bad thing is that they are following in the tracks of the same old hydrocarbon paradigm that the west did.

The hybrid automakers should be selling their cars in China and India. They should be building houses with roofs made of solar cell. They should be erecting windmill farms as fast as they can. If the population of those countries were directed toward hybrids and alternative energy, their purchasing power would fuel demand for those products. With a high demand, the price will drop. It will also help the balance of payments.

So the next time some Green Party hack chastises you for driving an SUV, ask him why he isn’t proselytizing in Beijing or Bombay.

Friday, August 1, 2008

BOHICA

I think I mentioned the extra screening we received upon departing Boston. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was inherently wrong for a government pseudo-policeman to place his hands upon a minor child. So, I fired off an email to them via the TSA website. This is their response:


Thank you for your email message.

Every person, regardless of age, must undergo screening to proceed beyond the security checkpoint. Even babies must be individually screened. However, a passenger should not be asked to do anything that would separate the passenger from his or her child. Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are taught to explain what they are doing during the screening process. They should also ask permission when doing something that might cause concern.

Please keep in mind that a TSA is required to check the source of all alarms and to follow all screening requirements. While a passenger or guardian may decline to permit a search, a passenger will not be permitted to board an aircraft unless the screening is properly completed.

With that said, your complaint is regarding screening at Boston Logan International Airport. We have forwarded a copy of your email to the Customer Service Manager at that airport. The Customer Service Manager is responsible for ensuring that the screener workforce adheres to TSA principles for professional processing.

We monitor the number and nature of complaints we receive to track trends and spot areas of concern that may require special attention. This ongoing process will enable us to ensure prompt, corrective action whenever we determine that security-screening policies need modification or specific employees or screener teams are the subjects of repeated complaints.

Again, the TSA offers sincere apologies for the discomfort you experienced while traveling and encourage you to check the latest information at
www.tsa.gov.

We hope that this information is helpful.
TSA Contact Center


Basically, you are at the mercy of the TSA when you travel.