Friday, February 20, 2009

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

Mardi Gras Reflections

Sorry about the silence here on the blog for the past few days, but it's hard to type with my eyes rolled so far back in my head from watching the antics of our Congress and the new occupant of the White House.

In other news, a good friend invited us to do rural Louisiana Mardi Gras with him again this year and I really wanted to go because he's a local, but things didn't work out.

Unfortunately Fat Tuesday is next week and I have to be in Newport, TN working on my never ending forensic engineering project on Monday, and we already had an epic ten day swing planned through the South Georgia coast, the Florida Panhandle, and lower Alabama starting the following week so we had to decline the invitation.

With that trip already on the books for some time we just couldn't justify the time and expense of adding a separate trip to Alexandria, Louisiana and other points on the Bayou.

It's not like I haven't seen a half million drunks stagger down Bourbon Street before, but I hear that the festival of Lent leading up to Ash Wednesday is quite quaint and different in the smaller villages that it is in the Big Easy.

My first visit was Mardi Gras 1978 as a member of the Georgia Tech NROTC band. I didn't just GO to Carnival, I was IN Carnival as we marched and played in three or four of the major parades like Edymoin, Bacchus, and Proteus. What a great experience, and we stayed for free on a Navy ship which was berthed right on the river by Cafe Du Monde.

I've been back several times in the 1980's and again about 1996, but the whole thing has grown so much and gotten out of hand to the point that at my current age I don't enjoy walking around in streets filled with an inch of other peoples barf and urine yelling "show your tits" and scrambling around for bead necklaces and other worthless trinkets.

Call me a Curmudgeon I guess...

What I am gaining by missing Mardi Gras this year is the opportunity to be the guest Chef with my fellow GT alumni John Howton, owner of Blackwater Grill on our little Island, in the 2009 Chili Cookoff.

I've been cooking chili for the past week in small batches to further refine my recipe and get the ingredient list together to cook TWELVE GALLONS of Chili in three hours on a Saturday morning in a 12'x12' booth with no running water.

Did I mention there'd be a few hundred people stopping by to taste and judge the results of my efforts?

I spent fifty bucks on the Penderys website on giant containers of fancy Coumin and two kinds of chili powder to support my efforts.

After last nights efforts, I've got time to cook one more batch this weekend before delivering the final ingredient list for purchase.

I'll post the recipe and some photos of the event here on the blog for your enjoyment after the final results are in.

I really want to do well in the event because John's reputation is at stake, but in the end the event raises money for charity and it's supposed to be FUN, so I might have to put my slide rule and calculator away and just have fun and COOK...something I get better at every day.

Wish us luck...If you will...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nearly A Month After Taking Office

Still Full Of Shit...

Looking at this Wall Street Journal story...I think you'll agree:

President Barack Obama has turned fearmongering into an art form. He has repeatedly raised the specter of another Great Depression. First, he did so to win votes in the November election. He has done so again recently to sway congressional votes for his stimulus package.

In his remarks, every gloomy statistic on the economy becomes a harbinger of doom. As he tells it, today's economy is the worst since the Great Depression. Without his Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he says, the economy will fall back into that abyss and may never recover.


This fearmongering may be good politics, but it is bad history and bad economics. It is bad history because our current economic woes don't come close to those of the 1930s. At worst, a comparison to the 1981-82 recession might be appropriate.

Consider the job losses that Mr. Obama always cites. In the last year, the U.S. economy shed 3.4 million jobs. That's a grim statistic for sure, but represents just 2.2% of the labor force. From November 1981 to October 1982, 2.4 million jobs were lost -- fewer in number than today, but the labor force was smaller. So 1981-82 job losses totaled 2.2% of the labor force, the same as now.

Job losses in the Great Depression were of an entirely different magnitude. In 1930, the economy shed 4.8% of the labor force. In 1931, 6.5%. And then in 1932, another 7.1%. Jobs were being lost at double or triple the rate of 2008-09 or 1981-82.

Auto production last year declined by roughly 25%. That looks good compared to 1932, when production shriveled by 90%. The failure of a couple of dozen banks in 2008 just doesn't compare to over 10,000 bank failures in 1933, or even the 3,000-plus bank (Savings & Loan) failures in 1987-88. Stockholders can take some solace from the fact that the recent stock market debacle doesn't come close to the 90% devaluation of the early 1930s.

Mr. Obama's analogies to the Great Depression are not only historically inaccurate, they're also dangerous. Repeated warnings from the White House about a coming economic apocalypse aren't likely to raise consumer and investor expectations for the future. In fact, they have contributed to the continuing decline in consumer confidence that is restraining a spending pickup. Beyond that, fearmongering can trigger a political stampede to embrace a "recovery" package that delivers a lot less than it promises. A more cool-headed assessment of the economy's woes might produce better policies.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Scenes From My Kitchen Window

They're "Them" and We're "Us"

Damned Democrats.

Maybe more precisely I should say "Damned Liberals."

Even if I can avoid cursing every time I watch the news or read something political on the Internet I still can't help but issue epithets when I look out my kitchen window and see the remains of that tree trunk and branches littering my "Japanese Garden" area of my back lawn.

The "Japanese Garden" part is still a figment of my imagination but the area was nice and clean and clear last Monday--not without a good deal of effort on our part over the past 10 months and now it looks like a commercial pulp wood staging area.

The more I think about it the more pissed I get at my asshole neighbor--a regular pasty white business wimp bastard weaselly looking fellow--sort of looked like Colmes from "Hannity & Colmes."

You can almost always spot the liberal men and women in a crowd just by looking. I'm not saying always, but after the initial visual impression, just give me ten minutes of conversation and I can tell if you believe our country is great BECAUSE of government, or in SPITE of Government.

I can also tell if you've ever owned a gun and by looking at the car you drive I can probably tell if you're a mama's boy nanny state sniveler or a grown man willing to take care of your responsibilities.

I'm afraid that the idiot living behind me embodies all of the negative things that we've sunk to as a people and society today.

Cold, blank, lifeless eyes....wandering though life with the wife and the mortgage and the kid and the car payment--looking for shortcuts and ways to dodge the next man made inadequacy or "act of God."

Then going to the ballot box and voting himself a share of my paycheck to pay for his shortcomings and to fund his dreams and ideas.

"Here asshole...take all my money...I'll just get off my butt and go earn some more while you choke on "your fare share..."