Friday, May 31, 2019

The Swamp - Local Edition

I live in a parish with a population of about 23,000. About 20% of that population lives below the poverty level. There is only one road in or out of the parish. The route in has a 2 lane tunnel under the Gulf Intercoastal Water Way. The way out has a 2 lane lift bridge. Somehow, the Louisiana Dept of Transportation and Development (DOTD) decided we needed a high rise bridge to eliminate traffic delays when marine traffic caused the bridge to lift and to eliminate maintenance costs on the leaky tunnel.

They went through an extensive process to evaluate options and gather public input. We were told that budgets were tight, therefore, the DOTD was going to offer this project as a Public Private Partnership (P3) and that the private entity would recover their investment by charging tolls to cross the new bridge. But don't worry, tolls will be as low as possible for the minimum amount of time.

They pre qualified 3 bidders and sent out the RFP. Then, 2 of the potential bidders declined to bid leaving them with only a single bidder. The DOTD has determined that this single bid is viable and will proceed with that consortium of contractors.

There was a public meeting this week to introduce the toll amounts. We were told that tolls for residents would be $0.45 each way and that tolls would remain in effect for 30 years. Tolls would be increased by $0.01 per year plus being adjusted by the CPI. When the politicos heard the resistance from the public, they countered with the veiled threat that if we didn't want the bridge, there were plenty of other places that could use the money.

P3 contracts have a mixed history of success. Many P3 deals cost the public more than repaying a bond. Several examples can be found with a quick Google search. This the first one that Louisiana has done so I don't have much optimism about its success. I have had 40 years as a project manager in the oil industry, If I went to my management with only a single bid and 2 bidders who declined, I would be told in no uncertain terms to do it over.

 Unfortunately, it's too late to stop this piece of crap. BOHICA.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

TBT - Russia

I've been watching the new HBO show "Chernobyl" and it brought back some memories.

Back in 1990, the Russians had opened a bidding round on offshore leases off Sakhalin Island. I was working for Mobil Oil at the time and the company decided they needed to put in a proposal. They formed the proposal team in early July with the proposal due in September.

We scrambled and had the proposal done on time and Mobil decided we all needed to go to Sakhalin Island and meet with the heads of the government departments for our respective disciplines. Back then, there was no easy way to get to Russia.

Our route was to fly to Frankfurt and then connect to a Lufthansa flight to Moscow. After a night in Moscow, Mobil had arranged a special charter to take us from Moscow to Yusno-Sakhalinsk. We were told that the plane they had charted was the same aircraft they used to ferry their astronauts. The purser on the flight showed us a card that certified that he had served with the helicopter crews that dumped concrete on the reactor at Chernobyl, hence the memory jog.

We had to stop in Khabarovsk for fuel. As we taxied to the refueling point, we passed a long row of Tu-154s that were obviously being used for spare parts. When we got off the plane, we noticed that the tires were almost bald, and this was on one of their most important aircraft.

It was our first indication that the Russian military back before the fall of the USSR was not as strong as we were led to believe.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Book Review - First Wave: The D Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War 2

This is the latest book by Alex Kershaw. I usually like this author as he focuses his book on either a single individual or military engagement and he covers it in detail. However, in this book he has opted to try to cover a wide range of actions and participants. The result is that you have a series of short anecdotes with very little information about how they fit into the bigger picture. At times, it reads like the script from "The Longest Day".

I suspect that he wanted to cash in on the 75th anniversary of D Day and the result is not up to is usual product.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


President Trump is going to fly immigrants to other parts of the country to ease the overcrowding at the borders. And we have cries of anguish from the libs that they cannot handle the extra burden in their neighborhood. Liberals: Do as they say, not as they do.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Jalapeno Poppers

My wife came up with this as we wanted to bring a snack dish to the Mother's Day crawfish boil. It makes about 100 poppers.

Cut about 50 jalapeno peppers in half the long way leaving the stem on one side. Take out the seeds.

Fry up about 1 lb of chorizo and one pack of Jimmy Dean sausage draining off the oil.

Chop up about 1/2 onion, 2 garlic cloves, chives and 1/2 cup cilantro very finely.

Mix veg, herbs, sausage, 2 lbs of low fat cream cheese and 4 cups shredded cheese.

Cut 2 lbs of bacon in half.

Stuff the peppers with the sausage mixture and wrap it with the bacon. Bake at 375 F for 15 to 20 minutes. It's best to bake them on a rack so that the bacon fat drains away.Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Side Hustle Fail

It seems that Uber drivers are calling for a strike today in advance of Uber's 90 billion dollar IPO. Huh. I alway thought Uber was something you did for extra money in your spare time but from reading some of the stories in the media you would think that it was a full time job. Indeed, some drivers said they purchased new automobiles in order to drive for Uber. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

Uber drivers started their gig voluntarily and there is no one keeping them chained behind the wheel. If they are not happy, they are free to turn off the app.

In looking at the app this morning, I found 7 cars available near me in the burbs of NOLa.

If you followed the Uber story, when they first open in a city, there is usually push back from the taxi companies. After a period of time, some sort of accommodation is reached and taxis and Uber co-exist. Now, you see the taxi unions sensing a large group of potential members and they are pushing to organize the Uber drivers. Like most things, follow the money.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Head Count

In what had to be the most people beheaded in a single month, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executed 60 people. This brings their year to date total to 105.

For the first time, we see a charge of treason for one but for 37 of those beheaded, all in one day, were for charges of terrorism. The Sun in the UK claims that some of those executed were for minor offenses that we in the US would consider simple freedom of speech and right to assemble. However, it's good to remember that in some countries, it is illegal to speak negatively about the royal family or participate in a protest. At least one of those beheaded was for a minor offense (texting about an anti government protest) that was committed when he was a minor and they held him in jail until he was old enough to execute. Eleven of the 37 were alleged to have been spying for Iran. Five of the 37 were gay. The headless body of one of those executed was crucified and his head displayed on a pike.

This story seems to have been kept on the down low by the media except in Europe. And this is supposed to be a "moderate" Islamic state.