Friday, August 31, 2012

Isaac Story

As we were driving to a restaurant last night, my mother-in-law expressed a desire for gumbo. I informed her that one cannot get a decent gumbo in Alabama - they just don't know how to make it and I know this from living there for several months for construction projects. She, however, is of stubborn Sicilian ancestry and ordered gumbo anyway. As she was eating it, I looked over to see her adding ketchup to her bowl of gumbo. "What are you doing", I asked. "Trying to make it taste better.", she said. Well, it was an "I told you so" moment and even though it gave her great pain to say it, she agreed that I was right about the gumbo in Alabama.

Later we were going to watch the RNC Convention. I told grandson that it would be on any network and to tune in the one with the best reception. Mom-in-law said, "Are you sure about that?"

"I'm as sure about that as I am about not eating gumbo in Alabama."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Isaac Summary

We lost power at about 7:00 PM Tuesday night. Things started getting wild abut midnight but had backed off by 6:00 AM. I made a little walkabout around the 'hood and found lots of small tree branches and other minor damage. Everyones roof looked good. In order to make coffee, we went to mother-in-law's house a few blocks over to boil water on her gas stove and pour it over coffee grounds. Then we sat on the back patio and watched the wind blow.

By 3:00 PM Wednesday, the parish ordered a mandatory evacuation of everyone south of the new, partially complete levee and flood gate as Barataria Bay was threatening to overtop the back levee. Our son and grandchildren are in that zone so they left to go to the Redneck Riviera. We followed them as it was clear that it would be several days before power was restored. (bucket trucks can't work in winds over 30 mph and Isaac was so huge and moving so slow that it was going to be Friday before crews could get to work.)

It was interesting to learn that it was not until the evening on Wednesday that Isaac finally got to a point that put it due west of NOLa. But the storm had tropical storm force winds extending out 160 miles from the center.

The drive west was interesting. Traffic was light but driving in tropical storm force winds is an experience that you should try to avoid, if possible. You know it's blowing when brown pelicans are sheltering in the lee of the concrete barricade on the bridge to Slidell. There was a constant stream of bucket trucks and 18 wheelers carrying portable lighting heading west. aircraft controller niece informed me that the weather station at Alvin Callender JRB is placed close to the tree line and therefore tends to give false readings. So my wind speeds on earlier posts may be off on the low side. Bear that in mind if you are trying to land your C-130 there.

We are now in the Redneck Riviera waiting for Entergy to do their thing. My ace in the hole is that my neighbor works for them. I hope he pulls some strings to get his house back on line.

I see that 2016 is playing at the theater near here. That will be on the agenda.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Isaac minus 7 hours

Wind is picking up and becoming more constant. It's raining but not heavily. Callender Field reports winds from the NNE at 22 mph.

Isaac minus 11 hours

NHC just upgraded Isaac to a Cat 1 with 75 mph winds (1 mph over the lower limit). Most of the models now show it tracking west of the Mississippi River. The centerline of  the track may be about 50 miles from the casa. Weather here is now overcast with light rain. Even though I'm supposed to be in tropical storm force winds, they are still intermittent. Looking at the satellite, the storm is lopsided. It seems to be sucking in dry air on the west side.

Here's a comparison of Isaac and a real hurricane.

Issac minus 16 hours

Tuesday morning. Isaac is still a tropical storm. Track is a skosh more to the west but the cone of uncertainty is still big. No real gain in intensitylast night. Weather here is breezy but clear. Partly cloudy. Humidity feels low. According to the NOAA graphics, I should be feeling tropical storm force winds but the wind is intermittent. Neighborhood is quiet. Guy next door works for Entergy and had to go to Jackson, Miss. to stage for repairs. Everyone else is staying inside even though the weather is really nice. Local TV is nothing but hurricane coverage. They even dropped prime time programming last night to cover it, but how many times can you interview people who are boarding up windows? Most of what they do is fill air time with BS man on the street interviews. I'd be happier if they would spend some time describing the pros and cons of the various hurricane models. Instead, I had to miss Chef Ramsey's shows.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Going to "shelter in place" for Isaac. Still predicted to be a Category 1. Back yard is picked up but don't see a need to put up plywood. Track centerline seems to be trending west. I'll blog events as best I can.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Passing Gas

ExxonMobil recently completed an LNG import facility in west Louisiana. The project name was Golden Pass and cost about $1 billion and took three years to construct. The plan was take LNG, warm it up to gasify it and put it into the nation's pipeline network.

But now Golden Pass has applied to become a export facility and build a $10 billion LNG facility on the same site. The plant will liquify and export some 15.6 million tons of LNG per year. That's about 2 billion cubic feet per day. Why would they do this before they have even reached the break even point from their first project, you ask?

The answer is that the US now has an abundance of natural and the oil companies see us becoming an exporter instead of an importer. But, but, but, I though we had an energy crisis? Where did this natural gas come from you may wonder?

In a word - hydraulic fracturing. This technology has unlocked vast reserves of natural gas and has caused the long term planners to re-think their markets. Plus, they can get more dollars for their gas in the overseas market. Here's the story.

Now, ask Obama why he'd rather shut down coal plants instead of using this natural gas to generate electric power.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What I'm Wearing

Dinner in the French Quarter tonight. Galatoires. This is what I'm wearing.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Eid Mubarak

If you can see a crescent moon tonight, then Ramadan will have ended. If you can't see it, you've got to wait one more day. (It's kinda like Groundhog Day)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oil Companies and Taxes

Every quarter we read about the record profits made by oil companies, but rarely do you hear about the taxes they pay. The chart below is a summary of taxes paid and profits by ExxonMobil.

Source: The Hayride

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hunting Elephants

MATHEMATICIANS hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left. Experienced mathematicians will attempt to prove the existence of at least one unique elephant before proceeding to step 1 as a subordinate exercise. Professors of mathematics will prove the existence of at least one unique elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as an exercise for their graduate students.

COMPUTER SCIENTISTS hunt elephants by exercising Algorithm A:

1. Go to Africa

2. Start at the Cape of Good Hope.

3. Work northward in an orderly manner, traversing the continent alternately east and west.

4. During each traverse pass:

a) catch each animal seen

b) Compare each animal caught to a known elephant

c) Stop when a match is detected.

Experienced COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS modify Algorithm A by placing a known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate. Assembly language programmers prefer to execute Algorithm on their hands and knees.
ENGINEERS hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching gray animals at random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any previously observed elephant.
ECONOMISTS don't hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they will hunt themselves.
STATISTICIANS hunt the 1st animal they see N times, and call it an elephant.
CONSULTANTS don't hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do. Operations Research Consultants can also measure the correlation of hat size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only identify the elephants.
POLITICIANS don't hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you catch with the people who voted for them.
LAWYERS don't hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing about who owns the droppings. Software lawyers will claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and feel of one dropping.
VICE PRESIDENTS of engineering, research, and development try hard to hunt elephants, but their staffs are designed to prevent it. When the vice president does get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure that all possible elephants are completely pre-hunted before the vice president gets to see them. If the vice president does see a non-prehunted elephant, the staff will :

1. compliment the vice president's keen eyesight,

2. enlarge itself to prevent any recurrence.

SENIOR MANAGERS set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.
QUALITY ASSURANCE INSPECTORS ignore the elephants and look for mistakes the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.
SALESPEOPLE don't hunt elephants but spend their time selling elephants they haven't caught, for delivery two days before the season opens. Software salespeople ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant. Hardware salespeople catch rabbits, paint them gray, and sell them as "Desktop Elephants"

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Engineer Humor

One morning 3 Engineers and 3 Geologists were in a ticket line at the train station.The 3 Geologists each bought a ticket and watched as the 3 Engineers bought just one ticket among them.
"How are the 3 of you going to travel on one 1 ticket?" asked one of the Geologists.
"Watch and learn" answered one of the Engineers.
When the 6 travelers boarded the train, the 3 Geologists sat down, but the 3 Engineers crammed into a bathroom together and closed the door.
Shortly after the train departed, the conductor came around to collect tickets. He knocked on the bathroom door and said, "tickets please." the door opened just a crack and a single arm emerged with a ticket in hand. The Conductor took it and moved on.
The Geologists saw this happen and agreed it was quite a clever idea. Indeed, so clever that they decided to do the same thing on the return trip and save some money.
That evening after the game when they got to the train station, they bought a single ticket for the return trip while to their astonishment the 3 Engineers didn't buy even 1 ticket.
"How are you going to travel without a ticket?" asked one of the perplexed Geologists.
"Watch and learn", answered one of the Engineers.
When they boarded the train the 3 Geologists crammed themselves into a bathroom and the 3 Engineers crammed themselves into the other bathroom across from it.
Shortly after the train began to move, one of the Engineers left their bathroom and walked quietly over to the Geologist's bathroom. He knocked on the door and said "ticket please".

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book Review - Creole Belle

Fans of Dave Robicheaux will be pleased to learn that he is alive and well in James Lee Burke’s latest novel in the series. I was disappointed after his last novel, Feast Day of Fools, which featured Hackberry Holland, but he is back in top form when writing about Louisiana.

I love his descriptions of Louisiana and would carry his books when travelling overseas because they reminded me of home. He is a master of the similie and a philosopher of life and the human condition. I enjoyed his writing and the action so much that I lost track of the overall plot. I realized after finishing that he never did develop a good reason for all the mayhem and murder he committed in the novel.

The story starts with Dave having a morphine dream about a young singer coming to his hospital room (he was shot in the last installment) and asking him for help. Somehow, her problems are related to evil industrialists who may have had a hand in the Macondo blowout. It gets serious when her younger sister is found encased in a block of ice that drifted to shore. In the meantime, Clete Purcell, Dave's friend and escapee from the cardiac ward, has found out he has a daughter who also may be a contract killer. Throw in a Louisiana beauty queen and a Nazi war criminal and the story takes off like a duck busting from cover on a cool fall morning.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Deadly Medicine

We had visitors in town this week so we played tour guide and took them around to see the sights. This included a visit to the World War II Museum. The museum had a special exhibit on loan from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC titled "Deadly Medicine". It traced the use of science and eugenics by the Germans to identify racial types and people with special needs and who had various diseases in order to segregate them from society, and eventually kill them. This is the description from the brochure.
From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to “cleanse” German society of people viewed as biological threats to the nation’s “health.” Enlisting the help of physicians and medically trained geneticists, psychiatrists and anthropologists, the Nazis developed racial health policies that started with the mass sterilization of “hereditarily diseased” persons and ended with the near annihilation of European Jewry. Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race traces this history from the early 20th-century international eugenics movement to the Nazi regime’s “science of race.”
This was all done under the auspices of medical science to eliminate "worthless life". Medical panels signed off on the actions to give it the cloak of respectability. While I was walking through the exhibit I couldn't help but think about the use of medical panels in Obamacare.

"A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members ......."  Pope John Paul II

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Head Count

KSA added only two more heads in July bringing the tearly total to 45. No doubt the start of Ramadan had some effect on their activity.