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.