Saturday, December 31, 2011

Prayers for a New Year

A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time. So she went to check it out.

She went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site. She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.

"Pardon me, sir, I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN. What's your name?
"Morris Feinberg," he replied.
"Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?"
"For about 60 years."
"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"
"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims."
"I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop."
"I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults and to love their fellow man." "I pray that politicians tell us the truth and put the interests of the people ahead of their own interests."
"How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

"Like I'm talking to a f*#*#ing wall."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post Christmas Uses for Turkey

My wife called and asked me to pick up some andouille and oysters on the way home from work. The turkey carcass was simmered down last night to a rich stock. All that's needed is some roux and the holy trinity.

I suspect some turkey gumbo is in my future.

(Note to foodies: that's the Louisiana version of andouille, not the French, which is made from tripe)

When to Change Your Major

Lim of Engineering as GPA → 0 = Business

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blog Maintenance

I made a few updates to the blog list.

North added me to the Gun Bloggers Black List so they are both now listed.

I added Brigid's Home on the Range and through her links I discovered Engineering Johnson who is now on the list as well.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Festivus

X Factor Irony

Maybe its just me, but I found the music played when they introduced the three finalists to be ironic. "O Fortuna" is probably the most well known piece of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana". Its a latin poem that complains about the role luck plays in life. Ironic music, me thinkest, since the winner is selected by votes from the public. A translation from the latin is below.

O Fortune,
variableas the moon,
always dost thou wax and wane.

Detestable life,
first dost thou mistreat us,
and then whimsically,
thou heedest our desires.

As the sun melts the ice,
so dost thou dissolveboth poverty and power.

Monstrous and empty fate,
thou turning wheel art mean,
voiding good health at thy will.

Veiled in obscurity,
thou dost attack me also.

To thy cruel pleasureI bare my back.
Thou dost withdraw my health and virtue;
thou dost threaten my emotionand weakness with torture.
At this hour,therefore, let us pluck the strings without delay.
Let us mourn together, for fate crushes the brave.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Public Service Announcement

My wife and I are going downtown today to exchange some jewelry. The politicians and police are having problems with crime and are about to ask the National Guard to help out. I WILL be carrying today.

That is all. Go about your business.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Living in 2011


1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't even have the first 20 or 40 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

12. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no number 9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn’t a number 9 on this list.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review - Micro

This novel was developed from an incomplete manuscript found after Michael Crichton's death. Richard Preston was then selected to finish it. Preston has written books dealing with diseases and plagues in The Hot Zone and Demon in the Freezer. The only flaw in the novel is that you have to make a major suspension of disbelief early on. This is unusual for a Crichton book as he typically bases his stories on cutting edge, but real, technology.

The plot follows a group of graduate students that are hired by a research company to research medical discoveries developed from nature. The twist is that the company has found a way to shrink people in size and send them out to collect specimens that would not be visible to a person of normal size. Of course, the company also has an evil side and our valiant graduate students struggle to survive in the micro world and vanquish the bad guys.

While not my favorite Crichton novel (That is Eaters of the Dead), it is an interesting read and you will learn more about naturally occurring chemicals than you ever want to know.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Challenge

I married into a large Italian family. If you learn nothing else about Italians, you learn that they cook enough food to challenge the miracle of the loaves and fishes. As my wife likes to say, there is plenty of food and adding one more person will not make any difference. So, we have invited a couple of people we know, who would otherwise spend Christmas Day alone, to join our extended family for dinner.

So I'm issuing a challenge. My challenge is for you to find someone in your circle of acquaintances who will be alone Christmas Day and invite them to share Christmas dinner with you. It could be someone in the military or a student who can't afford to travel home. It could be a colleague who has no family in the area. It could be someone who is travelling and can't get home for the holidays. Think about who you know that may be alone and invite them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Counter Top Fail

My wife has been doing a kitchen remodel. We are making the island bigger. The challenge is to finish it in time for Christmas dinner. They were supposed to install the counter top yesterday - a slab that we had hand picked for color.

The language was not fit for children.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Green is the New Color of FAIL

Bluewater Wind, an offshore wind farm project off Delaware announced the other day that they are putting their plans on hold. They cited the following as the reason

In particular, two aspects of the project critical for success have actually gone backwards: the decisions of Congress to eliminate funding for the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program applicable to offshore wind, and the failure to extend the Federal Investment and Production Tax Credits for offshore wind which expire at the end of 2012 and which have rendered the Delaware project both unfinanceable and financially untenable for the present.

So, the project is not economical without government loan guarantees and tax credits.

In other news, we learn that the US Navy is buying jet fuel at $16/gal, four times the usual cost, in order to buy it from bio-fuel supplier Solazyme. Also involved with Solazyme is Dynamic Fuels, which is a joint venture between Tyson Foods and Syntroleum to turn chicken waste into fuel. This jet fuel is part of the Navy's program to develop the "Great Green Fleet", the Navy's plan to deploy a fleet fueled entirely by biofuels by 2016.

Who thinks this stuff up?

Wanna Job? Be an Engineer!

I know that unemployment is through the roof and that economic indicators are bad, but I receive at least one employment solicitation per week. The kicker is that they are all for engineers. In fact, my own employer is busily looking for engineers. I sit and listen to my colleague in the next cubical over talking to potential new hires every day!

I joined LinkedIn primarily to stay in touch with friends who may be assigned to far flung areas of the world. But a lot of recruiters have also joined it and mine it for leads. And since most of those recruiters focus on the technical specialty groups within LinkedIn, when they solicit you for employment, it is for a job that's in your area. And they are all busily searching for engineers and designers. It would appear that as hard as Obama has tried to kill the oil industry, it is alive and well - especially overseas. And especially so for engineers with experience who have shown ability to drive projects to completion.

If companies are competing for engineering talent, they will also be hungry for technicians and designers - jobs that don't require an engineering degree but for which you do need technical and math skills.

My advice to young folks heading to college is to take the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) route.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Colonoscopy Time

It was time for another colonoscopy so I spent 2 days this week in prep and procedure. It's one of the joys of getting up in years. But colon cancer is the third most prevalent cancer and it took a friend of mine - a Marine and Vietnam vet who probably didn't like the thought of probes being inserted into his nether regions. I know it's not pleasant to think about, but the procedure can be a life saver.

The worst part is the prep day. You have to go on a liquid diet and then drink a gallon of a foul tasting fluid which acts to completely (and I mean completely!) clean out your colon. You go in for the procedure the next day. You are under sedation during the whole thing and aren't even aware of it. The doctor will run a scope into your colon, and if he finds any polyps, he will remove them. Polyps can be potential cancer sites.

I happen to have a tendency to grow polyps so the doctor removed about a half dozen and told me to come back in three years. Usually, if you are polyp free, the return frequency is 10 years.

So if you haven't done it, have one done. If not for you, for your family.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review - Shockwave

This is the latest in John Sandford's Virgil Flowers series. Virgil is investigating the bombing of the offices of a big box store magnate. The trail leads to a small town where one of the newest stores is under construction and there is a series of bombings seemingly related to the store. The plot gets complicated when Virgil discovers some local political hanky panky and works a sting against the local politicos along with trying to find the bomber, who is now targeting Virgil.

While a good story, it is not one of the better Flowers novels. But reading Sandford is always good.

And speaking of John Sandford, I'm waiting to see how Mark Harmon does as Lucas Davenport in Certain Prey. Somehow I can't picture him in that role.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Head Count

The Executioner in Saudi Arabia removed the heads of 6 murderers in November. The year to date total for the Kingdom now stands at 58.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Red Dog at the Air Museum

Red Dog visited the Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum. While there he got to compare himself to a replica of Fat Man.

He was particularly interested in seeing the actual S3 Viking that his favorite president flew when he made the first ever carrier trap by a sitting president.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Traditions

We have headed over to the Red Neck Riviera for Thanksgiving. Usually my wife cooks for the whole clan and they gather at our house. This week we are enjoying the coast. Yesterday we had a family visit to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola. Its one of the best aircraft museums in the world, in my opinion. They had historical aircraft relating to Naval Aviation, including some from recent history such as the actual plane GW flew when he landed on the carrier to announce Mission Accomplished and the F-14 that flew the very last combat patrol flown by that type. The museum is huge and there is something for everyone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crisis in the Gulf

Boudreaux suddenly quit drinking, started taking baths, quit chasing women, quit his poker games and stopped laying around. He started cutting the grass around the church, even painted it and was faithful to be first to attend on Sundays!

Father Thibodeaux asked him what about dis wonderful change that had done overtook

Boudreaux explained, ' I heard "Crisis in the Gulf" and if He's dat close, I wanna be good to go!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You Know You're Old When.....

A young engineer came into my office carrying something long and thin. "What's this and how does it work?", he asked.

That opened the opportunity for a teaching moment on the history and operation of the Slide Rule. He actually managed to get through 4 years of engineering school without learning what a slide rule was. The other grey hairs and silver backs gathered around and offered their personal experience with the care and feeding of their own slide rule.

If you were an engineering student, a slide rule was your constant companion. You had special stuff to lubricate it with and there were special adjustments to keep everything aligned and accurate. Everyone had their favorite material: Aluminum for durability and bamboo for dimensional stability. If Iran popped a nuke tomorrow and the EMP fried all the calculators in the city, you could still use a slide rule. It's sad to see them go the way of the buggy whip.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lesson From History

My wife and I went to see Sarah's Key at the movies yesterday. The plot is based on the round up of Jews in Paris on July 16 - 17, 1942 and their internment in a bicycle race track stadium named Vel d'Hiv before being shipped to temporary camps in France before being shipped to Auschwitz. The story of a young girl picked up in the round up is researched by an American journalist who happens to living in the same apartment. Without giving anything away, its a great movie and leaves you haunted about a historical event that is not widely known.

I spent a little time researching it. While the Germans were behind the roundup, the Vichy government performed the arrests and the transport so that the entire thing appeared to the work of the French government. One thing struck me while reading the summary in Wikipedia: The French Jews turned themselves in!

After 1847, the census did not include information about religion. When the Germans occupied France, they directed all Jews to register. Many did and these files were the source of the information for the roundup. If the French Jews had ignored the directive, the Germans would not have had the information to arrest them!

Keep this in mind the next time your government wants information about you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Head Count

The Sword Man was busy in Saudi Arabia last month. He removed the heads of some 20 folks. Mostly they were murderers with a rapist or two thrown in for good measure. A couple of them were women.

This brings the year to date total to 51, not including the poor sorcerer.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Born to be Black Gold Hunters

From NOLaDishu on the sidebar.

Those Norwegians make orange boiler suits fashionable.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Houston, Again

Another pre-dawn assault on Houston. Outbound trip was uneventful. On leaving Houston the TSA was going through their routine of asking everyone their name. Their FULL name! If you left out your middle name, they asked you what it was. After observing this happen to several of the people in front of me, I stepped smartly up to the podium, handed over my ID and boarding pass and announced my full name. The agent looks up and says, "I haven't asked that yet! How did you know I was going to ask that?!"

"Because you've asked every person in front of me the same question and you ask this question every time I travel though Houston." Duh!

Meanwhile, the TSA "chat down" program being run in Boston is being ridiculed by John Mica, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:

During a recent visit to Logan to observe the pilot, Mica said he watched about a dozen officers quiz passengers in the terminal. "I put my ear up and listened to some idiotic questions," he said of the questions that delved into where travelers were coming from, why they'd been there and where they were going.

"I talked to them about their training, which was minimal," he said of his conversations with security personnel. He went on to say that even though passengers selected for further screening were supposed to go through hi-tech scanners, on the day he visited the machines were out of service because there weren't enough trained personnel to run them.

Irony Free Zone

I guess the "Occupy" camp sites are irony free zones. It seems that the volunteer cooks at Occupy Wall Street are upset that a number of homeless people have been eating for free at their camp. To protest, they stopped cooking gourmet fare and served only brown rice and PB&J sandwiches for a couple of days.

From the NY Post:

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday -- because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.
So, it's OK for them to want rich people to share wealth but their stuff is for them only.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wild Game

The recent animal problems in Ohio reminded me that new Orleans once had a restaurant that served exotic wild game. Here is an excerpt from Gambit Magazine, Feb 5, 2008:

T. Pittari's was perhaps the most unusual restaurant that ever existed in the Big Easy. I know it's hard to believe, but there really used to be such a place at 4200 S. Claiborne Ave. The restaurant was established in 1895 by Anthony Pittari. When he died in 1938, his nephew Thomas Pittari acquired the restaurant and the family recipes.

The menu, which advertised French and Italian cuisine, was later expanded to include a special page where the 'wild" things were featured. It was subtitled 'large game." From here, if you were timid, you could order your basic, ordinary venison. For the adventurous, however, there were more difficult choices. Would you have bear steak, Western buffalo steak, or hippopotamus steak? Occasionally, a waiter would tell you that even more exotic creatures were the feature of the day: water buffalo, mountain sheep and whale. Appropriately, these meals were served with wild rice.

The restaurant closed in the early 1980s.

They say you can tell when you are at a zoo in Louisiana because the animal descriptions include recipes. Looks like a gourmet opportunity was lost here. Just Sayin'.

Root Canal - REDUX

I was in the dentist this morning to re-do a root canal that was originally done in 1976 in Japan. When I first went to my current dentist he was intrigued by the porcelain crown and recognized it as "Made in Japan". That crown finally gave up the ghost and he replaced it in 2003. The tooth had been giving me problems from time to time. Last July, I had a root-ectomy performed on one of the roots.

Today he found that the Japanese dentist had left paper points, usually used to dry the canal, in the root canal. These were the source of the infection that was causing an abscess. We're not sure if was intentional or not but they were removed, the root canal redone, and then refilled with current dental technology. The whole process got my dentist very excited. He took photos of the paper points and of the before and after x-rays. I suspect that my mouth may be a topic at a future dental conference.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Occupy This, A**hole!

I passed a smattering of Occupy New Orleans folks on my walk back to the office after lunch. A guy carrying a sign that said "Fight Back" with a bandana over his face told me that "They are coming for you next!"

I said, "Bring it on. I'm armed!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Aviation Communications

Old NFO posted a series of tower to plane communications. Here are a few I have:

Tower: "TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees."
TWA 2341: "Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"
Tower: "Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?

From an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long take off queue: "I'm bored!"
Ground Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!"
Unknown aircraft: "I said I was bored, not stupid!"

A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down. San Jose Tower Noted: "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off Higway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport."

Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency 124.7"
Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way, after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway."
Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern 702?"
Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern... we've already notified our caterers."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

Up at O Dark 30 to catch the red eye to Houston for a meeting. Twice this week and once last week. It sure cuts into my nap time. I was glad to find that the chunk of iron in my knee doesn't trigger the magnetometer at airport security. It also passes the strip search machines 2 out of 3 times. The last time, the agent told me he had to pat down my lower leg and I showed him the scar.

The TSA has lost none of its 'tude. A female agent in NOLa got testy with me as I walked up to her podium from the Elite Access lane. She yelled at me to wait on the carpet - something nobody ever does and that the people in the regular line were not doing. Of course, this set me up to tweak her a little bit more and I asked her if she had had her coffee yet. (It was 0545 hrs) She got so irritated even her fellow agent raised an eyebrow at her behavior. Hope today is better for you Officer Clayton. NOT!

TSA's new procedure for engaging travellers in conversation to determine if they are terrorists seems to consist of asking people their name - at least in Houston. Do they think that a determined terrorist is so stupid that he won't memorize his false identity? I had to restrain my self from answering "Jose Jimeniz, the astronaut", but these TSA kids are too young to know that gag. Question: Does working for the TSA give you a bad attitude or do they actively search for people with existing dysfunction?

And United is screwing up a perfectly good airline. All aspects of flying have gone downhill since United took over Continental.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Head Count

Well, I predicted that September might be a busy month for the swordsman in the KSA and it was. Nine criminals were beheaded making up for the slow month during Ramadan when none were put to the sword. Most of them were murderers, but one was convicted of sorcery. Yep, those enlightened Muslims still execute witches in the kingdom founded by the Saud family.

Total criminals executed to date in Saudi Arabia is 31, plus 1 sorcerer!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Grandfathers and Grandmothers

There was this loving grandfather who always made a special effort to spend time with his daughter's family on weekends. Every Saturday morning he would take his 7-year-old granddaughter out for a drive in the car for some quality time - just he and his granddaughter. One particular Saturday, however, he had a bad cold and really didn't feel like being up at all. He knew his granddaughter always looked forward to their drives and would be disappointed. Luckily, his wife came to the rescue and said that she would take their granddaughter for the drive.

When they returned, the little girl anxiously ran upstairs to see her grandfather, who was still in bed.

"Well, did you enjoy your ride with Grandma?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, Pop-Pop, it was really wonderful. But, we didn't see a single asshole, piece of crap, horse's ass, blind bastard, dipshit, or son of a bitch anywhere we went!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Head Count

Since the Holy Month of Ramadan was last month, executions were in abeyance in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries. I expect things to change next month.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Alligator Diesel

A researcher at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette is proposing that alligator fat is an ideal feed stock for conversion to biodiesel. Evidently, the high lipid content of alligator fat makes it a better candidate than other animal lards. The information on the paper and its abstract is below.

Potential of Alligator Fat as Source of Lipids for Biodiesel Production
Srividya Ayalasomayajula
Ramalingam Subramaniam
August Gallo
Stephen Dufreche
Mark Zappi
Rakesh Bajpai

Chemical Engineering Department and Chemistry Department
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Lafayette, Louisiana 70504
United States

Large amount of alligator fat (AF) is produced by alligator meat processing industry and disposed in landfills or discarded as waste. The AF can be used as a potential feedstock for biodiesel production due to its high lipid content. In this work, recovery of lipids from the AF tissue was studied by solvent extraction as well as by microwave rendering. Microwave rendering resulted in AF oil recovery of 61% by weight of the frozen AF tissue obtained from producers. The fatty acid profile of the lipid showed that palmitic acid (C16:0), palmitoleic acid (C16:1), and oleic acid (C18:1) were the dominant fatty acids accounting for 89–92% of all lipids by mass; 30% of the fatty acids were saturated and 70% were unsaturated. The biodiesel produced from AF oil was found to meet the ASTM specifications of biodiesel concerning kinematic viscosity, sulfur, free and total glycerin, flash point, cloud point, and acid number.

Currently, alligator fat is a waste byproduct from processing alligator skins. Approximately 15 million pounds (7,500 tons) is produced annually and disposed of in landfills. This amount of fat could produce 1.25 million gallons (29,762 Bbls) of biodiesel. This is about 1/50 (2%) of the amount of diesel fuel that is consumed in the State of Louisiana.

Me, I still prefer Alligator Sauce Piquant!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Battle of Trafalger - Updated to Today

"Order the signal, Hardy."
"Aye, aye sir."
"Hold on, that's not what I dictated to the signal officer. What's the meaning of this?"
"Sorry sir?"
"England expects every person to do his duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability. What gobbledygook is this?"
"Admiralty policy, I'm afraid, sir. We're an equal opportunities employer now. We had the devil's own job getting 'England' past the censors, lest it be considered racist."
"Gadzooks, Hardy. Hand me my pipe and tobacco."
"Sorry sir. All naval vessels have been designated smoke-free working environments."
"In that case, break open the rum ration. Let us splice the mainbrace to steel the men before battle."
"The rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. Its part of the Government's policy on binge drinking."
"Good heavens, Hardy. I suppose we'd better get on with it. Full speed ahead."
"I think you'll find that there's a 4 knot speed limit in this stretch of water."
"Damn it man! We are on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history. We must advance with all dispatch. Report from the crow's nest, please."
"That won't be possible, sir."
"Health and safety have closed the crow's nest, sir. No harness. And they said that rope ladder doesn't meet regulations. They won't let anyone up there until a proper scaffolding can be erected."
"Then get me the ship's carpenter without delay, Hardy."
"He's busy knocking up a wheelchair access to the fo'c'sle Admiral."
"Wheelchair access? I've never heard anything so absurd."
"Health and safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free environment for the differently abled."
"Differently abled? I've only one arm and one eye and I refuse even to hear mention of the word. I didn't rise to the rank of admiral by playing the disability card."
"Actually, sir, you did. The Royal Navy is under-represented in the areas of visual impairment and limb deficiency."
"Whatever next? Give me full sail. The salt spray beckons."
"A couple of problems there too, sir. Health and safety won't let the crew up the rigging without crash helmets. And they don't want anyone breathing in too much salt - haven't you seen the adverts?
"I've never heard such infamy. Break out the cannon and tell the men to stand by to engage the enemy."
"The men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral."
"What? This is mutiny."
"It's not that, sir. It's just that they're afraid of being charged with murder if they actually kill anyone. There's a couple of legal aid lawyers on board, watching everyone like hawks."
"Then how are we to sink the Frenchies and the Spanish?"
"Actually,sir, we're not."
"We're not?"
"No, sir. The Frenchies and the Spanish are our European partners now. According to the Common Fisheries Policy, we shouldn't even be in this stretch of water. We could get hit with a claim for compensation."
"But you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil."
"I wouldn't let the ship's diversity co-coordinator hear you saying that sir. You'll be up on disciplinary."
"You must consider every man an enemy who speaks ill of your King."
"Not any more, sir. We must be inclusive in this multicultural age. Now put on your Kevlar vest; it's the rules."
"Don't tell me - health and safety. Whatever happened to rum, sodomy and the lash?"
As I explained, sir, rum is off the menu. And there's a ban on corporal punishment."
"What about sodomy?"
"I believe it's to be encouraged, sir."
"In that case ...kiss me, Hardy."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Knee Report - One Fortnight

Two weeks was the magic day for meeting milestones. First, the physical therapist pulled the staples on the incision and replaced them with strips of adhesive tape. I was finally able to take an honest to God shower. The staples were a source of continuous aggravation. They pulled when I moved the knee. If you put pressure on the incision, they stabbed you and if you put an ice pack on the knee, they acted as a conduit for cold right to the skin which was worse than the pain the ice was supposed to relieve.

After a shower, I went to the doc for a follow up. He declared me good and released me from out patient therapy. I also got to remove the pressure stockings I had to wear to prevent blood clots. I don't know how women stand pantyhose as those damn things were a pain in the butt.

Finally, I was able to get behind the wheel and drive!

The knee is not yet fully flexible but its at 85% and I expect to get fully there in about one month. But, it's back to a normal life - and the office.

Friday, September 9, 2011

8 Days

One week plus a day since going under the saw. Took a short walk outside (with the walker). I am having to unlearn several months of bad habits from favoring the bad knee. I have to concentrate on the proper form of my stride without rocking or limping. The walker provides security and gives me confidence. Also climbed the stairs today so I can finally sleep in my own bed instead of the sofa. I find I need the pain pills less and less and extend the times between taking them.

My physical therapist is a gunny. We talk guns while he's putting me through my paces.

I get the staples out next week. I can't wait as they are a source of aggravation..

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

5 Days

Able to take short walks using baby steps without the walker - enough to get to the bathroom to pee. Swelling is going down. Doing exercises to increase flexibility. The routine of leg bending machine, ice pack, exercise, repeat ad infinitum is getting boring.

They tell me they will pull the staples next week. Then I will be able to take a real bath instead of a wipe down.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

72 Hour Report

About three days ago they put a mask over my face and told me to think of my favorite dream. When I woke up I had a partial knee replacement and my leg was strapped into a machine that slowly moved it back and forth. A few hours later they had me standing and even taking a few, very few, and painful steps. On day 2 they gave me a walker and told me to walk to the physical therapy room where I had to negotiate some stairs. They then gave me some pain pills and kicked me out of the hospital.

Now that I am home I am getting into the routine - knee machine two times a day for two hours each, pain pill every four hours, work on learning skills with the walker to move around the house, change dressing.....repeat as often as necessary.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Catching Air During Irene

I have a cousin in RI who runs a marine training school. He often moonlights rescuing boaters in Narragansett Bay. He spent Sunday on the water catching boats that got loose from their moorings. They bring them to a safe harbor and then collect a salvage fee from the insurance company. It is not work for the feint of heart.

Tail Count

The annual Nutria hunt has been tallied and the total added up to 338,512 Nutria tails turned in for the $5 bounty. This is down about 24% from last year but is still close to the programs goal of eliminating 400,000 Nutria per year from the Louisiana marshes.

If you do the math, that's about $1.7 million paid out.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Medical Anomoly

Evidently I'm a bit of a freak in the medical world. In my earthly residence of some 6 decades I have managed to avoid any serious medical procedures - no surgeries. Not even tonsils. It was a topic of some interest to the medicos as I went through the pre-op sign in for my bionic knee.

What can I say? Unless you had a bone poking through your skin or you were cut deep enough to see bone, you were treated by Mom (Well, she was a RN!) It's just they way it was back in the day.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bearing Repair - FAIL

So I got the injection in the knee. It wasn't the most comfortable of procedures but at least it was over quickly. It seemed to be working fine. I was just getting used to not anticipating pain at every step when, after about three weeks, everything went south. The knee starting hurting worse than ever and I was limping around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I visited the orthopod this week and scheduled a partial knee replacement for about 2 weeks from now. The procedure and recovery should provide great blog fodder.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cajun Funeral

Three friends from Church Point, Louisiana were asked, "When you in your casket, and your friends and church members are mourning over you, what would you like dem to say?"

Thibodeaux said: "I would like dem to say, I was a wonderful husband, a fine spiritual leader, and a great family man."

Fontenot commented: "I would like dem to say, I was a wonderful teacher, and servant of da church, who made a huge difference in people's lives."

Boudreaux said: "I'd like dem to say, 'Look, he's movin!'"


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Son of a Gun

One of my nieces is married to a Marine door gunner. She is expecting. At a recent family gathering she was asked about the baby's name. (They know it's a boy) The name they selected was "Dillon". Somebody asked how they arrived at that name. She said that they agreed that if it was a girl, she would pick the name and if a boy, he would.

"Is the baby named after someone in his family?"

"No. There is no one with that name in his family."

"Why did he pick Dillon?"

"I don't know. But that's the name of the company that makes his mini-gun!"

Green Lies and Taxes

By now you have probably heard about the agreement Obama made with the auto industry to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. It will be achieved by raising the CAFE 5% every year starting in 2017. While everyone accepts that this will increase the cost of a car, how much that increase will be is uncertain, but the media gives us the good news that the fuel cost savings will make u p for the increased cost of a new car.

Really? Let’s take a look at it and see if that statement passes the smell test.

Let’s say you drive 15,000 miles per year and let’s say that you drive a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon. Over the course of a year, you will burn 500 gallons of gasoline (15,000 miles divided by 30 miles per gallon). If we assume that gasoline costs $4.00 per gallon, you will spend $2,000 for gasoline.

Now, if you suddenly get a new car that gets twice the mileage (60 mpg) it stand to reason that you will burn half as much gasoline and spend half as much money. Therefore, you will spend $1,000 on gas and your savings for the year will be $1,000!

Do you really think that this savings will offset the additional cost of the car that will meet Obama’s CAFE standard? Anyone? Bueller?

If the additional cost of these high mileage cars is $5,000, you will either need to drive 75,000 miles in a year or the price of gasoline will need to increase to $20.00 per gallon. Does either of these things seem likely?

How much are you personally willing to pay to improve the environment because, believe me folks, the additional cost of these high mileage cars will passed on to the consumer and the difference will not be balanced by fuel savings.

There is a saying that if you put a frog in hot water, it will jump out. But if you put him in cold water and slowly raise the temperature, he will stay and boil to death. The government is treating you like a frog. It will slowly ramp up the cost of automobiles hoping you won’t notice the personal cost.

Let’s call this agreement what it is – It’s a tax on the American people. It’s as much of a tax as if the government increased your tax bracket but they do it with regulations instead of changing the tax code. And the frogs don’t notice.

Monday, August 8, 2011

RNC Phone Solicitation

I got a call last night from the RNC soliciting donations. I quickly informed the caller that I would not be donating this year. He then tried another sell and asked if I would donate at a more moderate level. That did it.

"I will not donate to the Republican Party because they totally failed to get government spending under control. The proof of that is in the current melt down of stocks. What makes you think I want to give money to the very guys that caused my 401k to lose 25% of its value?

IF I donate, it will be to the Tea Party. BUT DO NOT CALL ME AGAIN!"

And seriously, folks, a chipmunk could beat Obama at this point.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mexico Sues Alabama?

Mexico and 15 other Central and South American countries have sued the State of Alabama to block their new immigration law. Huh? since when can a foreign nation sue a US State?

This cannot be allowed to stand. If it does, before you know it you will every left wing country suing individual states.

Their complaint is that Alabama's immigration law will lead to racial profiling. The new law is strict and even provides for penalties for giving a ride to an illegal alien. But I've travelled enough to know that the Alabama law is no more onerous than the laws of many countries I have worked in.

I hope Alabama prevails. If they don't, I'd like see Alabama declare war on Mexico. After all, Alabama provided air support to Brigade 2506 at Playa Giron.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thought for the Day

Obama saying he going to focus on jobs is like the manager of a brothel saying he is going to promote abstinence.

Book Review - The Ranger

A veteran Army Ranger comes home to attend the funeral of his uncle, the sheriff of a down and out town in rural northern Mississippi. Not only does he find that his uncle died under mysterious circumstances, but there is trouble in town in the form of several meth labs and a failed real estate scheme. You can guess what happens from here.

While the plot is very familiar (at least to those of us old enough to remember Bufford Pusser) Ace Atkins story telling ability made it difficult for me to put this book down. I kept wanting to get to the next section to find out what was going to happen and he had enough surprises to keep the plot development exciting. Like his other books, Atkins descriptions of the territory bring it to life for the reader although the town, and county, are fictional. I hope that he will continue with the adventures of this character. It may be a while, though. I think he next book will be the newest in the Robert Parker series which he is ghost writing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Head Count

The Saudi Swordsman rid the earth of 9 murderers last month in a spurt of executions. The year to date total for the Kingdom is now 23.

Work could slow down for the swordsman next month as Ramadan started on Aug 1 and Islam likes to show that it is a merciful religion during this period.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Gator Wrangler

A local boy who wants to give the Swamp People some competition

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fear Mongering

My wife and I declined to watch Obama last night. We did not think he had anything new to offer. What we missed was his fear mongering.

My wife stopped to visit her 85 year old mother this morning and found the woman nearly in tears. She had watched Obama and was convinced that her Social Security was going to be cut off and that the country was headed into a depression worse than the Great Depression she lived through as a child. My wife was able to calm her down, but it was clear that one of Obama's objectives was to scare the elderly - and he was successful.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Boudreaux the Painter

There was a tradesman, a painter called Boudreaux, who was very interested in making a penny where he could, so he often would thin down paint to make it go a bit further.

As it happened, he got away with this for some time, but eventually the Church decided
to do a big restoration job on the painting of one of their biggest buildings. Boudreaux put in a bid, and because his price was so low, he got the job.

And so he set to erecting the scaffolding and setting up the planks, and buying the paint and, yes, I am sorry to say, thinning it down with turpentine.

Well, Boudreaux was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly completed
when suddenly there was a horrendous clap of thunder, and the sky opened, the
rain poured down,washing the thinned paint from all over the church and
knocking Boudreaux clear off the scaffold to land on the lawn among the gravestones, surrounded by telltale puddles of the thinned and useless paint.

Boudreaux was no fool. He knew this was a judgment from the Almighty, so he got on his knees and cried: "Oh, God! Forgive me! What should I do?"

And from the thunder, a mighty voice spoke...

(you're going to love this)

"Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Inappropriate T Shirts

From the Email Joke File......I cannot verify its accuracy!

U.S. Navy Directive 16134 ( Inappropriate T-Shirts )

The following directive was issued by the commanding officer of all naval installations in the Middle East . (It was obviously directed at the Marines.)

To: All Commands Subject: Inappropriate T-Shirts
Ref: ComMidEast For Inst 16134//24 K

All commanders promulgate upon receipt.
The following T-shirts are no longer to be worn on or off base by any military or civilian personnel serving in the Middle East :

1. 'Eat Pork or Die' [both English and Arabic versions]
2. 'Shrine Busters' [Various. Show burning minarets or bomb/artillery shells impacting Islamic shrines. Some with unit logos.]
3. 'Napalm, Sticks Like Crazy' [Both English and Arabic versions]
4. 'Goat - it isn't just for breakfast any more.' [Both English and Arabic versions]
5. 'The road to Paradise begins with me.' [Mostly Arabic versions, but some in English. Some show sniper scope cross-hairs.]
6. 'Guns don't kill people. I kill people.' [Both Arabic and English versions]
7. 'Pork. The other white meat.' [Arabic version]
8. 'Infidel' [English, Arabic and other coalition force languages.]

The above T-shirts are to be removed from Post Exchanges upon receipt of this directive. In addition, the following signs are to be removed upon receipt of this message:

1. 'Islamic Religious Services Will Be Held at the Firing Range at 0800 Daily.'
2. 'Do we really need 'smart bombs' to drop on these dumb bastards?'

All commands are instructed to implement sensitivity training upon receipt

Monday, July 18, 2011

Military Rules

US Army Rangers Rules
1. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
2. Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough.
3. Have a plan.
4. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won't work.
5. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
6. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a '4.'
7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.
8. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral & diagonal preferred.)
9. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
10. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
13. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating your intention to shoot.

Navy Seal's Rules:
1. Look very cool in sunglasses.
2. Kill every living thing within view.
3. Check hair in mirror.

Marine Corps Rules:
1. Walk in 50 miles wearing 75 pound rucksack while starving.
2. Locate individuals requiring killing.
3. Request permission via radio from 'Higher' to perform killing.
4. Curse bitterly when mission is aborted.
5. Walk out 50 miles wearing a 75 pound rucksack while starving.

US Army Rules:
1. Curse bitterly when receiving operational order.
2. Make sure there is extra ammo and extra coffee.
3. Curse bitterly.
4. Curse bitterly.
5. Do not listen to 2nd LTs; it can get you killed.
6. Curse bitterly.

US Air Force Rules:
1. Have a cocktail.
2. Adjust temperature on air-conditioner.
3. See what's on HBO.
4. Ask 'What is a gunfight?'
5. Request more funding from Congress with a 'killer' Power Point presentation.
6. Wine & dine ''key' Congressmen, invite DOD & defense industry executives.
7. Receive funding, set up new command and assemble assets.
8. Declare the assets 'strategic' and never deploy them operationally.
9. Hurry to make 13:45 tee-time.
10. Make sure the base is as far as possible from the conflict but close enough to have tax exemption.

US Navy Rules:
1. Go to Sea.
2. Drink Coffee.
3. Deploy Marines

Commute FAIL

It came a gully washer this morning. It was raining so hard the damn back up warning on my car was beeping at me. It was sensing the rain drops. The short story is that the streets were flooding so I turned around and came home to wait it out.

Rain metaphors, anyone?

Like a cow urinating on a flat rock....

So hard it would drown a frog......

Anyone else have any?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Points to Ponder

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word or Excel and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

22. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.

24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

25. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear get dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

28. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

29. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'll bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

30. My check engine light has been on for three months now and nothing has happened. I'm starting to think that my car is just an attention whore.

31. I don't understand the purpose of the line, "I don't need to drink to have fun." Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they've invented the lighter?

32. Sometimes I pretend not to remember details about people because having a good memory apparently equates to creepiness.

33. My GPS says "Estimated Arrival Time." I see "Time to Beat."

34. Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".

35. My keyboard needs a removable crumb tray like my toaster.

36. What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?

37. I wish it were appropriate to say to a complete stranger, "Excuse me, would you like me to show you how to discipline your child?"

38. I never understood why the Lions and Cowboys always get to play on Thanksgiving. Shouldn't the Patriots play the Redskins, and then steal their stadium afterwords?

39. Double-Stuffed Oreos should just be called Oreos, and regular Oreos should be called Diet Oreos.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Root Canal - FAIL

An old root canal got infected and I had to spend yesterday afternoon at the oral surgeon. He performed a root-ectomy to remove the troublesome appendage. The remaining 2 roots will hold the tooth in place.

The procedure involved cutting off the root at its base and then grinding it smooth. It was remarkably like a welders helper knocking off metal clips and then grinding them smooth, only with cleaner tools.

In two days I've been stabbed in the knee and hammered in the mouth.

The stitches are in and the pain pills are in my pocket. Me go bye bye for a while.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Right Main Bearing Repair

Well, I decided, after much procrastination, to go with the viscous fluid injection for the right knee. While the injection was not real pleasant, it was over in a few minutes and the knee feels better already.

I'll report back after the break in period for the new bearing and let you know how it is.


Saudi Arabia dispatched two more murderers, sans their heads, to Allah last month bringing the Kingdoms year to date total to 14.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Things that are Difficult to say when Drunk

1. Innovative
2. Preliminary
3. Proliferation
4. Cinnamon

1. Specificity
2. Anti-constitutionalistically
3. Passive-aggressive disorder
4. Transubstantiate

1. No thanks, I'm married.
2. Nope, no more booze for me!
3. Sorry, but you're not really my type.
4. No thanks, I'm not hungry.
5. I'm not interested in fighting you.
6. Thank you, but I won't make any attempt to dance. I have no coordination and I'd hate to look like a fool!
7. I must be going home now as I have to work in the morning.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy 4th!

Sunday evening was the wedding of one of my nieces. She married a Marine. (She is in Navy the so I guess there could be some jokes about the Marines being under the Navy - but there won't) As could be expected, the grooms fellow Marines were in full on celebration mode. I started to get a little perturbed until I realized that these guys had spent multiple tours in Iraq together. Then it didn't seem so important.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Grandma's Mac and Cheese

This is my wife's mac and cheese. The grandsons love it and won't eat any other kind.

The classic pasta shape for this recipe is elbow macaroni, but any small curvaceous pasta will work. Cook macaroni a little less than al dente as pasta will bake in oven. It's better to make the sauce first and then cook the pasta. For fun try pasta wheels or any other unusual shape.

T = tablespoon, tsp. = teaspoon

8 T of butter
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 small chopped onion
1/4 tsp celery seed
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. dry yellow mustard, dissolved in 1 tsp. water
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper and hot sauce or Tabasco to taste
6 T flour
3 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock
1/2 pound Swiss cheese, 1/2 pound Colby, 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese shredded (you can vary the cheese and use what ever have on hand i.e. gruyere, havarti, or any good quality cheese that will melt)

Do not add salt to this sauce there is usually enough salt from cheeses, stock and butter, taste sauce and salt if necessary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In microwave melt 2 T of butter when melted mix with breadcrumbs , stir and set aside to top dish before putting in oven, may need more melted butter. If so, use additional butter and not part the 6 T left from the original 8 T .

In heated saucepan place butter and melt add garlic, onions cook about 2 minutes and add mustard and water mixture, celery seed and cayenne pepper. Cook until light brown, about 1 minute, add milk and stock and cook until starts to thicken, add all cheese and cook on very low temperature. Whisk to keep from burning until cheese melts. Add hot sauce or Tabasco and salt if necessary. Remove from burner.

Cook pasta according to pkg directions, but because pasta will be baked drain a little before the pasta reaches the al dente stage.

Butter a casserole dish, mix the pasta into the sauce, it will look like there is too much sauce, but it will be perfect. Put it in the casserole and top with buttered panko . Bake 25/30 minutes.

Hope your family enjoys what the grandsons call Grandma's special baked macaroni!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stupid TSA

Is it just me or is it stupid that the TSA spends more time searching the diaper of a 95 year old woman in a wheelchair than checking the ID and boarding pass of a Nigerian national? They missed him the first time and he got on the plane. He was discovered on the plane but the crew decided he was not a threat and he flew to the destination unrestrained. They questioned him but let him go at LAX. But the real stupidity is that he tried the same trick 4 days later. Agents found 10 more boarding passes in his bag. And he's only charged with being a stowaway?!

Friends, many Nigerians are Muslims. To me, this was an obvious attempt to test the system for weakness. Clearly, the ability to print multiple boarding passes is a weakness in the system. This guy should be in Gitmo and the TSA agent who missed him the first time should be fired - with prejudice.

Remember the next time you are being subjected to the national Stanford Prison Experiment we call airline security screening that you do not need a high school diploma to be a TSA agent.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Spent the day doing a little catch up on home chores now that I am not commuting to Houston every week. Started to paint the sun room. Up and down a step ladder all day long. If you go up and down enough times you realize that you have climbed the equivalent of a 15 or 20 story building at the end of the day.

According to the Laws of Physics (Conservation of Energy), my net work after all that up and down is Zero - but my legs don't believe it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition

The Distiller's Edition is finished in sherry casks. It makes for an interesting change to the standard Dalwhinnie which was reviewed previously.

Color: amber
Nose: clean
Palate: smooth
Body: silky, light texture
Finish: warming, dry

It's a matter of personal preference as to whether you like whiskey aged in sherry casks. I'm happy with the original product and can take or leave the sherry cask version.

Rosie's Roast Beef Poor Boy

My wife's grandmother, a lady of Italian heritage, ran a corner grocery store in Algiers. She used to make roast beef poor boys and sell them to the longshoremen and the Navy base back in the post war years. Here's how she did it.
Get a top round roast. You may need to ask the butcher to get one because they won't be in the display case. Peel garlic cloves and slice parmagianno reggiano cheese into long sticks. Using a narrow but long bladed knife, stab holes into the roast. Stuff these holes with the garlic cloves and cheese. Tie it up with string, roll it in flour, season with salt and pepper and brown it on the stove. Stick in the oven, covered, and cook at 325 F until done.
Take it out but save the debris in the pan. Let it cool and slice it verrrrry thin. Take the debris and make a gravy. (The secret is to add Kitchen Bouquet to the gravy.) Take the sliced roast beef and heat it in the pan with the gravy.
Slice a loaf of french bread in half lengthwise. Dress the slices however you like with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, etc. Add the hot beef slices and chow down. Remember, with roast beef poor boys, the messier, the better.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fast Food Blues

I don't know about you, but I have noticed a disturbing trend in fast food restaurants. It seems that wherever I go, whether it is the sailor's chicken place, the clown's burger joint or the king's establishment, that I am served by surly employees with bad attitudes. These stores used to pride themselves on being where teenagers get their first job and they prided themselves on teaching responsibility and good attitudes to the next generation of workers. Sadly, Those days seem to be gone. Now you are met by someone seems to think that they are above working in such a place and are only doing it until they are discovered by the next reality TV show.
But happily, there is a bright shining alternative, and that is Raising Cane's.
The founder presented his concept for a chicken fingers restaurant as part of an assignment at LSU. His professor said it would never work and gave him a bad grade. He felt so strongly about the idea that he went to work and saved the money to finance his first store which he opened at the gates of LSU. The rest, as they say, is history. He now has 100 stores in 15 states.
He has some strict rules for employees. Some of them are:

- If you are not doing anything, you will clean. Grab a spray bottle and a rag and start cleaning tables. If it's already clean, clean it again!

- You will always have a smile on your face. Even if your dog died, you have to smile or not come to work.

- Each customer will be greeted at least 3 times - upon entering, upon being served and upon leaving.

If you have a Cane's near you, I urge you to visit and see the difference.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Green Conundrum

Green is not always Good!

We recently learned that the carbon footprint of electric cars is about the same as internal combustion engines because of the energy required to make, and then dispose of, the batteries in the electric car. And lets face it, the electricity used to charge the things is coming from a power station somewhere that's probably burning hydrocarbon fuel. Energy must be conserved - that's the Law. All you have done is move the emission site from multple sources to a single source.
And as I posted earlier, the project I am working on is going to be cancelled. There are several reasons, but one of the main ones is that it requires three times more energy than it produces. The plan was to turn agricultural waste into bio diesel. The short description is that you use heat to break down the waste into a CO and Hydrogen syngas. These are then are reacted in a catalyst bed to produce hydrocarbon molecules. But you have to compress the syngas in order to get it from the gasifier to the catalyst bed and that takes horsepower. A lot of horsepower. We discovered that the amount of diesel burned to generate electricity for the plant was going to be three times what the plant produced. Clearly an economic death spiral.
Don't forget that ethanol reduces gas mileage and increases ozone production. It also drives up the cost of staple foods as the land previously used for feeding humans is used instead to produce corn for ethanol.
And when you are forced to use CFL light bulbs, remember that they contain mercury. Breaking one in your home is not a good thing. And workers in the Chinese factory that make them are coming down with mercury poisoning.

So there's the Green Conundrum - Green does not always mean it's Good.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Report: Dirty South by Ace Atkins

Dirty South is the fourth novel in the Nick Travers series. Nick Travers is an ex Saint football player turned music history professor at Tulane. He fills in his spare time by doing investigatory favors for people a la Travis McGee. In this case, he is helping an old team mate and rap music producer track down money that was stolen from him and his newest teenage rap star, ALIAS. Dirty South is a reference to his style of rap music and the novel takes you on a tour of the seamy side of the music industry in New Orleans.

If you like the writing style of James Lee Burke, with his earthy descriptions of the south, you will like Ace Atkins. His depictions of New Orleans are colorfully vivid and geographically accurate. You can almost smell the funk of the French Quarter coming off the pages.

Ace Atkins has written a total of nine novels. Four are the Nick Travers series. He has also written four "historical faction" novels dealing with actual crimes from the 20's, 30's and 50's. His latest novel, The Ranger, is set is present day Mississippi.

It's only a matter of time before someone decides to buy the movie rights to some of his work.

And here's the lagniappe: Ace Atkins has been chosen by Robert Parker's Estate and publisher to continue writing the Spenser series.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Coyotes 3, Cats 0

I am not a cat person. I am polite to cats and will even give them a rub, if they belong to a relative. I even like those silly LOL Cats. But I am not a cat person. I am particularly not happy with the three cats that my neighbors let run loose who spend most of their time shedding icky cat hair on the furniture on my back patio.

And then one day I noticed that they weren't coming around anymore. And that the squirrel population seemed to have diminished as well.

And then I saw this on the evening news.

It looks like Wiley Coyote has found a source of easy meat!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ocean Engineering Again

The video on my post showing the underwater salvage was taken down so here is another showing the removal of a damaged deck.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reading the Signs

You don't need to be a Boy Scout or a trained tracker to recognize the signs:

1) Purchase Orders for new equipment have been put on hold
2) We've been told not to perform any more drawing approvals for equipment currently on order
3) Engineers assigned to this project have suddenly started work on other projects
4) The head office has gone radio silent
5) Key personnel who have recently left have not been replaced

Yep, I doubt that this project will continue much longer. Bad project economics and some poor decisions by management have conspired to kill it. I have my parachute packed and am ready to go.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ocean Engineering Stuff

This video shows the salvage of Taylor Energy's Mississippi Canyon 20 platform topsides. The platform was toppled by a mudslide. Mudslides are underwater avalanches and can be triggered by a hurricane. In this case, Hurricane Ivan was the culprit. You can see that the lower part of the structure is clean, indicating that it was embedded in the mud. Note how they had to build a special frame to transport the deck. This saved them the problem of having to turn the thing while it was on the hook.

The lift is being performed by Versabar using the custom designed lift barge, VB 10000. The weight of the lift is 3000 tons. The water depth is about 800 feet.

"Live Free or Die" - It's More Than a Motto

Bayou Renaissance Man has a link to an interesting study that ranks the 50 states with regard to the freedoms they give their residents. The state of my birth and my youth, New Hampshire, is first overall. It is interesting to note that only 4 of the Original 13 rank in the top half. Alaska, which you would think would be a haven for personal freedom and individuality ranks 44. Louisiana is 35th - not a great showing. New York, not surprisingly, is Tail End Charlie.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Saudi Arabia rid the Middle East of 4 murderers and 2 rapists in May. They doubled their year to date head count which is now up to 12.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Project Update - Phase 6

Phase 6 - Punishment of the Innocent

Management has pulled the project from the engineering firm who was doing the FEED (Front End Engineering Design) and we have all transitioned to a new firm who will do the execution or detailed design. Of course, there are many details that were not completed and those became carry over work to the new firm. I developed a list of some 300 items that need to be done. And there is always the issue of the learning curve. Yes, the old firm was slow but their engineers understood the background of the project that the new guys have to learn. And they have to learn it quickly. There is always a loss of efficiency when you make a move like this.

In addition, our internal client (another division within the company) that we are designing the plant for has decided to embed some of their people in the project team. It is never a good thing when the client decides you need more "supervision". Effects are already being felt with a number of random questions that require responses. This takes manpowwer away from the project but as they are paying the bills they have the right to ask.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Review - Buried Prey

This is the latest of John Sandford's "prey" series. It starts with the discovery of two bodies found in a construction site. Now flash back in time to Lucas Davenport's first case as a detective. Lucas is pulled from a uniform detail to help in the search for two missing young girls. This is a time before he became wealthy or married. The book is a great insight into the personality of the character and helps you to understand his actions in the previous books. Determined to make amends for his past mistakes, he pursues this serial killer with an intensity thats extreme even for Lucas.

This is one of my favorite books of this series. This one is hard to put down.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Nigerian Scam

My wife and I have a house that we rent. It was recently on the market through our agent, a reputable national real estate firm, who manages it for us. We went there the other day to do a little clean up work in the yard to enhance its curb appeal. Within 15 minutes we had two cars stop and inquire about the house. It turns out that they saw a Craig's List ad for the house and the rent asked was about half of the going rate. When you open the ad there was a long story by the "owners" about how they built the house and were now overseas. All you had to do was to send a money order for one months rent to Nigeria and they would send you the keys.

Folks, come on! Send money to Nigeria?

After talking to one woman, she called her husband to tell him it was a scam. When she called, he was on the other line with the scammers who were trying to convince him that the deal was real. He refused to believe her and still wanted to send the money!

It amazes me that people still believe these Nigerian scams.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Petrobras in the GOM, II

BOEMRE has finally issued a report on the Petrobras riser failure.

The investigation determined that a 6 ¾-inch diameter, 862-pound chain link in the tether chain had fractured and separated near its butt weld. Analysis of the fracture indicated that the chain link had a weld repair and the fracture initiated in the middle of the weld. Three links of the 24-link tether chain were found to have weld repairs. After the chain had been heat treated, the non-US based manufacturer had made weld repairs to the chain by grinding defects and filling the void with weld material. The chain was being built in accordance with Det Norske Veritas (DNV) Offshore Mooring Chain standard. Post heat treat weld repairs are disallowed per DNV’s Offshore Mooring Chain standard. The post heat treat weld repairs made the chain susceptible to hydrogen induced stress cracking due to the extreme hardness of the weld material and the residual stress within the weld.

This explanation seems to be consistent with my understanding of Petrobras' somewhat cavalier attitude regarding cost and schedule versus safety. Either through ignorance, or maybe even intentionally, they allowed a quick repair without studying the implications. Also note that the repair was kept secret from the DNV inspector. My guess is that Petrobras did not have an inspector at the shop and relied upon the DNV to perform inspections. Then the manufacturer, when faced with a financial loss, decided to do the repair without DNV approval.

Engineers know that the strength of steel is dependent upon things at the microscopic level. There have been more than one catastrophic failure because someone decided to strike a welding arc on a specialized steel.

BOEMRE's recommendations are below:

1)Operators should monitor and inspect critical mooring components 100% of the time during the manufacturing process.

2) Operators should ensure that the personnel and companies contracted to perform inspections and quality assurance of critical mooring components are qualified to do so.

3) Operators should treat the area above a buoyancy air can for a free-standing hybrid riser as potentially hazardous. No floating production facility or support vessel should be allowed to pass over a free-standing hybrid riser.

These recommendations seem a little light to me. I would call for an immediate investigation of all other chain on the project. It wouldn't be cheap but I shudder to think about the damage that a buoyancy can rocketing to the surface could do to a vessel. And these recommendations mean nothing unless the inspector, often a contractor whose pay is dependent upon staying in the good graces of his employer, is willing to dig in his heels and reject a very expensive piece of gear.

I also wonder how you are supposed to keep vessels from travelling over the top of the risers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TSA Adventures - Response to Email

I recently asked the TSA why I had to be frisked in a private room after testing positive for explosives on the first pat down. Here is their response.

Thank you for your recent e-mail concerning your request for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) publications.

We greatly appreciate your efforts to prepare travelers by making them aware of TSA security procedures and requirements. Unfortunately, TSA is not able to mass produce copies of our publications for wide distribution. Our publications are available, however, for printing from our website at Many brochures are in PDF format for high-quality reproduction and are available free for your use.

When there is a change in our screening policy, TSA publicizes these updates in local and national media, as well as on our website, to aid travelers. Additionally, our website offers a variety of information for travelers and consumers, such as a list of items prohibited in aircraft cabins, tips for people traveling with children, security laws, and links to other transportation websites.

TSA appreciates that you took the time to contact us and hopes this information is helpful.

Well, I didn't expect much more than a form letter anyway. I suspect that the real reason for the private room was that it was a full contact pat down and they didn't want to see a video of it posted on the internet.

Here is something to watch for if you opt out or have to have a pat down - Watch to see if the agent puts on new gloves. If he doesn't, the gloves could be tainted from anywhere before he gave you the pat down. If they then test positive, there is no way to be sure it came from you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Head Count

KSA doubled their year to date number by executing a rapist and 2 murderers. Total now at six.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

USMA Hears the News

A friend of mine's son is in his second year at West Point. He sent his dad an email describing what happened when the cadet corps heard the news about bin Laden.

I can barely articulate how crazy last night was. Emails were sent out at about 10:30 at night telling us to check out CNN. The second the anchor said that Osama had been killed, I swear the entire corps ran out into central area. There were at least fifty glow sticks being thrown around; two or three smoke grenades; and 2000+ bodies climbing on statues, each other, and MP cars. The entire mob ran to the superintendent’s house, but he had run to the cadet area to meet us. So we ran back to the area. Then we mobbed back to his house just in time to listen to his impromptu speech. Officers living two miles away were woken up by us celebrating. People were sporadically crying and singing the national anthem.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

More TSA Adventures, Continued

Here is a copy of the query I sent to the TSA concerning my recent pat down. I will post the response.

I typically "opt out" of the x-ray machine due to concerns about civil rights and radiation. As usual, I opted out and received the usual pat down. Upon checking the swab for explosives, the machine showed a positive indication. I was then taken to a private cubical for another, full contact pat down. I told the agent that while I was not refusing, I preferred that the pat down be done in a public area. He insisted that it be done in the private cubical because "it's the rules." I asked to see the rules and was refused. I relented and the subsequent test was negative.

I am concerned that we have a regulatory agent that uses "the rules" to justify his actions while a citizen is not allowed to see the applicable regulation.

Can you send me a copy of the regulations that the agent was citing?

Can you explain why the second pat down had to be done out of the view of the public?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

More TSA Adventures

I was leaving Houston last Thursday and opting out of the virtual strip search as usual. (Bear in mind that I know the pat down procedure and I know it includes a check for explosives at the end.) I told the agent to skip the explanation - I knew it by heart and I knew the drill - so he ran through the pat down while I kept up casual banter and told him I sometimes found the pat down faster than the x-ray. He swabbed his gloves and put the swab in the explosives detector. "It may not be faster today", he said. There on the screen, in big red letters was "EXPLOSIVES DETECTED".

Huh! "I've always wondered what happens if you get a positive reading", I commented.

He was joined by another agent and they asked me to enter their cubical for a private pat down.

"I prefer to have the pat down in public - right here."
"No sir, we must do it in here."
"It's the rules."
"Can you show me the rules and where it says that?"
"No sir."
"Are you ashamed of what you are doing?"
"No sir"
"Then lets do it here in public."
"Its the rules. Or I can call a policeman."

At this point I relented and we went into the cubical. The pat down was the same, except that he used his palms for a full contact pat down. I suspect that is why they go into the cubical. They don't want any more cell phone videos showing the TSA feeling up passengers.

This time the explosives test was negative and I was allowed to proceed. Of course, in the meantime they had pulled my boarding pass and called to have my bag pulled and all that had to be undone.

The last group of people who used adherence to "the rules" to justify their actions were defendants at the Nuremberg trials. Bear that in mind when dealing with the TSA.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Civil War History

On this day in 1862 there was a little trouble in New Orleans.

Admiral Farragut was moving up the river and was about to capture the city. He sent a mesage to the Mayor to remove any Confederate flags and replace them with Union flags. The Mayor declined the request. Then, without orders from Farragut, the captian of the USS Pocahontas sent some marines to remove Confederate flags on the US Mint and replace them with Union flags. He warned that he would fire upon anyone trying to remove them. (Note that this was before the official surrender of the city) As could have been expected, the marines were heckled and one William Bruce Mumford removed the Union flag under cannon fire.

A few days later, Gen Benjamin Butler heard about the incident and had Mumford arrested and tried for treason before a military tribunal. He wasfound guilty and sentenced to hang. Butler issued the following notice:

William B. Mumford, a citizen of New Orleans, having been convicted before a military commission of treason and an overt act thereof, tearing down the United States flag from a public building of the United States, after said flag was placed there by Commander Farragut, of the United States navy: It is ordered that he be executed according to sentence of said military commission on Saturday, June 7, inst., between the hours of 8 a.m. and 12 a.m. under the directions of the provost-marshal of the District of New Orleans, and for so doing this shall be his sufficient warrant.

On June 7, Mumford was taken to the courtyard of the US Mint and hanged.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Obama Needs Help

This was in the news today....

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement has asked major US producers to provide names of recently retired petroleum engineers who could help the agency improve offshore oil and gas operations, BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich disclosed.

The initiative is part of several funding alternatives being explored, he said during an Apr. 19 Center for Strategic and International Studies forum.

Bromwich said the engineers would be asked to come on board temporarily to bridge the gap until BOEMRE is able to hire more inspectors and analysts. Potential conflicts of interest would be avoided by having them not work on projects involving their former employers, he said.

While visiting several universities in October and November, Bromwich said there was a strong interest in jobs as BOEMRE inspectors. He visited petroleum engineering departments.

BOEMRE also received inquiries but several potential applicants lost interest when they saw the starting salaries, which are significantly lower than what companies in the industry offer, he said.

Consequently, BOEMRE has asked the US Office of Personnel Management to let the US Department of the Interior agency pay more than the normal GS-7 salary for federal employees with university undergraduate degrees, Bromwich said.

Meanwhile, BOEMRE will appeal to retired engineers who are interested in providing short-term government service without returning to their careers’ sometimes rigorous conditions of spending several days offshore, he said.

It appears that the government is having trouble finding people who want to work for them. A word of warning to any engineer who thinks BOEMRE may be a good career choice. You will never gain any experience and you will be seen by your peers as someone who only serves to block progress. If you want the enjoyment of creation and a challenge, do not go to work for BOEMRE. All you will do is push paper. You will never have any substantial authority over a project and you will have to wait for your boss to die before you get a promotion.

I have spent over 30 years gathering the experience I have. If BOEMRE wants to gain access to my brain, they will need to pay much much more than a measly GS-9 salary.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Phase 5: Search for the Guilty

Spent the day in a meeting back at the Home Office. The "Technology Group" wanted to have a review to discuss future improvements to the project. We don't even have a set of Approved for Construction drawinsg and they are looking for "improvements".

Friends, whenever a non-participant wants to help find "improvements", it really means he wants to try to fix blame somewhere. There were several times when I heard, "Where (or who) did that come from?", "I was not invited to the reviews." or "That's got to be changed or it won't work."

Yep. Starting into Phase 5!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The TSA at MSY

By now most of you should have heard about the incident where the TSA gave a pat down to a 6 year old girl. This happened at Louis Armstrong International on Tuesday, April 5. The following is the TSA's response from their blog:

Screening of 6 Year-Old at MSY

A video taken of one of our officers patting down a six year-old has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.

With that said, you may have read recently that our Administrator is looking into ways to move past the cookie cutter approach to screening. Recognizing that terrorists are willing to manipulate societal norms to evade detection, TSA has been actively assessing less invasive screening methods for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers, while still maintaining a high level of security.

Also, you may have heard in the video that someone references a drug test.TSA does not test for drugs. It's possible those individuals are referring to the explosive trace detection test that can detect the smallest traces of explosives.

Here are my thoughts as one that had to watch my 10 year old grandson endure the same in Boston.

New Orleans depends upon tourism. It is sad that the memory that family will take home from their visit to NOLa is that their daughter was selected for a TSA patdown. The city should raise Holy Hell that the TSA is affecting tourism to the city. But the Mayor is a Landrieu and a Dimmocrat so don't expect that to happen.

The TSA refuses to tell why she was selected for fear it may give away their advantage over terrorists. Sometimes I think they have a Magic 8 Ball to make their choices. But it probably was that the parents didn't want her subjected to the virtual strip search machine. Or it may have been random and the poor girl was just unlucky.

The TSA states that the pat down was done by approved procedure (as if there should ever be such a thing as an approved procedure for a pat down of a 6 year old).

But I think you have to ask why would any thinking adult think it was acceptable to pat down a 6 year old child? Why didn't the TSA agent call over a supervisor and seek alternatives - especially since the mother was asking for an alternative? The agent was simply "following orders" which is a phrase I think we heard during the Nuremberg Trials.


Gobsmacked: adjective, a British colloquial expression meaning flabbergasted, astounded, speechless or overawed.

We recently learned from some lab tests that the waste output of our "green" bio-diesel project will be 10 times the amount that we expected, or designed for. This means either a complete re-design or operating at a much lower capacity than planned. However, our technology experts said that they were not surprised because the lab data was in line with published information.

When we asked them why they didn't feel it important to inform the design team of this issue, they said, "It was too early to worry about it because we didn't have any hard data."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Da Project

Deeper into Phase 4: Total Confusion.

Yesterday, the German fabricator for the central piece of equipment, the gasifier, told us zur holle fahren and rejected our purchase order telling us that the shop was filled with other work. Now, we are talking about a half a million Euros, give or take. This fabricator was selected because they had already built one of these for another project and this was going to be a duplicate of that one. Easy Peezy. And they turn it down while the purchase order was being typed and we were writing the check for the down payment.

Next is Phase 4: Search for Guilty. Now, WHO exactly decided to use that German shop?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Head Count

Saudi Arabia beheaded another murderer in March bringing the year to date total to 3.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Aviation Disaster Averted

There were 13 minutes of drama over the skies of New Orleans Monday morning. United flight 497 took off destined for San Francisco. Within minutes, the pilot requested a return to the airport because of smoke in the aircraft. As he was making his turn he declared an emergency and requested the longest runway. Unfortunately, there were construction vehicles on it and as they tried to clear the vehicles, he lost all instruments. Now he needed the tower to direct him home and his favored runway was not available. He quickly adapted to the situation and headed for the shorter N-S runway. By now he was at 600 feet and must have rattled a few houses as he headed in from Lake Pontchartrain. He hit the deck so hard that he blew a tire and skidded off the runway. But everyone walked away! Follow this link for an audio and transcript.