Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Continuing Census Education

I just saw this at Michelle Malkin's blog. It makes the Census waste detailed in my little post a few days ago look thrifty.

As an added bonus, this anonymous Census Corps emailer also enlightens us about even more Census Bureau titles and jobs -- Census Enumerator and Census Quality Controller. Plus, we get a vivid description of our government at work, teaching the masses in the heretofore unknown bastion of higher education, Census University!

By Michelle Malkin • March 30, 2010 04:10 PM

If even half of what this anonymous reader who e-mailed about his experience as a Census worker is true, imagine the squandering of tax dollars taking place on a mass scale. Crikey.

Hi, Michelle:

I would first like to apologize for stealing your tax dollars, but if it wasn’t me, it would be someone else. I am an underemployed 20-something Tea Partier, and after reading about how much government waste was going to the 2010 census, I figured that I might as well “git me some of dat Obama money” until I find something more solid.

…I’m currently in my second tour of “temporary employment” with the Bureau….I’m not participating in or approving of what the census data I collect could likely be used for, but all I am is data entry at the moment.

Last summer I participated in the ‘address canvassing’ (AC) project. What this entailed was walking around a neighborhood, literally door to door, with a little hand held computer. My job was not to enter addresses so that these people could receive their form, but to make sure that the addresses that the first wave of people put into the system and appeared on the computer was actually there. 99% were. Sure there were a few missing that you did have to manually enter, but out of the thousands of address that I checked, we’re talking 20 or less that had to be manually entered. I didn’t have to knock on any doors or ask any questions, unless someone came out and was angry that I was walking around the neighborhood looking at pretty address numbers on door frames. If they were mad, I gave them a little sheet that explained the confidentiality of the census. But mostly, it was me getting paid $15.25/hour plus mileage to take my dog for a walk and pushing a few buttons.

In an average suburban neighborhood where the houses are somewhat close to each other, it was no problem to do about 35-40 addresses per hour once you learned how to quickly enter data into the computer. The census said that I should be doing about 12-15 per hour. My direct bosses told me that I should NOT be doing 35-40 because it was making them and other people look bad. So instead of walking at a snails pace, I just did my 35-40/hour and doubled my time when I submitted my hours. Again, sorry for the tax dollar grab, but I was told not to be so darned efficient or else I’d be cut!

To recap: A first wave of people spent god knows how many hours finding the addresses on every street in America. I’m in the second wave, making sure they did their jobs. Then there were people (Quality Control), who were the third wave, making sure I did my job! I was not fortunate enough to get a QC position.

Let me get into another area. Training. To do the above job, I could have been trained in a single morning learning computer functions and mapping, maybe a little bit of recap after a lunch break. No way it should have gone longer than 5 or 6 hours, being generous. Turn on the computer, find your area that you were assigned, learn how to enter the different kinds of dwellings, and how to use a stylus. But no. We were subjected to a 5 day, 40 hour training period that made me want to tear my hair out. Because what I, a college educated non-moron, could have learned in 5 hours, 80% of my class of trainees were aggravatingly slow and confused by the process. Old people, high school dropouts, flat-out idiots. The census takes all comers. Oh and the stupid questions they ask! Thinking back gives me nightmares. I’m really not turning my nose up at these people, but it just saddened me to see good people struggling with such a menial task.

So much time was wasted on the first day, for the rest of the days, I just sat in the back reading the paper, books, staring at the ceiling. At the end of the training, you are given a written test. You have one hour to complete the exam and only need to get 60%. I flew through it in 15 minutes, missed one question, and was a full-fledged graduate of Census university. For $15.25/hour, plus my mileage at 50 cents per mile to a facility which was round trip about 80 miles. So training alone wasted about 35 hours and 320 miles. That’s about $700 right there. Thanks, taxpayers!

Now to my second wave, which is something called Group Quarters Enumeration. This is something I could have learned to do over breakfast. We got a 3 day training. This one is going to places considered group quarters, i.e. nursing homes, soup kitchens, churches where priests live, and the like. Not apartment buildings or anything like that. And of course homeless, people, let’s not forget that.

This one is about to start. My first assignment is a [redacted] in which I have just learned there are no inhabitants who live there full-time or the majority of the time. After talking this over with my boss and feeling cheated that I’m losing hours since there’s nobody to distribute census forms to, I have been told to drive to this [place] (25 minutes from my house), confirm in person, and drive back. Credit me with half an hour there, half an hour back, and half an hour confirming, and I’m getting an 1.5 hours plus the mileage. What a wonderful use of funds!

Why didn't I think about doing this?!?!

Obama Understands the Tea Party Movement! Sort Of . . . .

Last year, On April 15th, then-Young President Obama's spokesman stated that the president was "unaware" of any tea parties, much less a whole political movement. What a difference a year of Tea Parties, Town Hall meetings, and throngs surrounding the Capitol makes.

This just in from the AP:
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says he believes the Tea Party is built around a "core group" of people who question whether he is a U.S. citizen and believe he is a socialist.

But beyond that, Obama tells NBC he recognizes the movement involves "folks who have legitimate concerns" about the national debt and whether the government is taking on too many difficult issues simultaneously.

In an interview broadcast Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show, Obama said he feels "there's still going to be a group at their core that question my legitimacy." But he said he didn't want to paint Tea Party activists "in broad brushes" and he hopes to win over members who have "mainstream, legitimate concerns."

Do you suppose he's really going to turn on the massive "suck up to the Tea Partiers" machine? Time will tell.

As to his change of heart in acknowledging us, I have these thoughts --

While intriguing, the birther thing doesn't really hold water for me without a whole lot of conspiracy theory.

But, as to the whole socialism issue, I have just one question: Mr. President, will you please waddle and quack for us?

Hail to the Duck!

I don't think he's winning me over any time soon on that issue.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wanted at the White House: Southern Mothers

The accounts of the Obama-Netanyahu Close Encounter are downright embarrassing.

I can just hear my mother's voice, scolding the Young President for his wretchedly poor display of how NOT to host a world leader at the White House. Leaving a guest unattended while the host goes to have a meal with the family?!?! I think not. I would've been grounded for weeks had I treated a guest in that fashion.

Maybe that's the solution to the Obama bad-manners department -- we need a corps of strong Southern Mothers to move into the White House to "shake a knot" onto the Young President's head and to teach him some rudimentary etiquette. I envision many hours of chores assigned as punishment along with the admonition, "Now, you just go and think about what you did!"

And I can just hear the motherly counter-arguments: "I don't care if you thought that making him stew for awhile would 'soften him up' for negotiations. You will not treat a guest that way under this roof!"

I hope Mr. Netanyahu was at least offered some cheese straws and iced tea.

Nah -- I don't think Michelle has that recipe.

Friday, March 26, 2010

M.A.S.H. Redux?

I have such confidence in the military acumen of our Young President that the open conflict between North and South Korea initiated today by the sinking of a South Korean vessel with more than 100 aboard by a North Korean torpedo doesn't concern me a bit. Nope, not a whit.

Israel will help us out if we need allies when the fan is struck with a massive pile of Nork weaponry. They're still our best buddies.

April Fool a week early! I'm terrified.

Does anyone else smell another sternly-worded letter coming forth?

Dear God -- please help us all.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And . . . He's Off!

So, the not-so-young-anymore president is back on the campaign trail -- his very, very favorite place to be -- to campaign for the healthcare reform bill which he has already signed into law.

What am I missing here? It's already through Congress (for the most part) and well on its way to litigation (thank you, Louisiana, et al!). What does he really hope to accomplish with this latest road trip?

I get this visual of him talking and talking and talking about the same ol' mischaracterizations with his eyes closed and his fingers in his ears. He can't hear us, but if he keeps talking long enough, we'll finally give in and accept his version of the song, wrong lyrics and all.

Also -- not that I'm really complaining -- but today he's in Iowa. Last week he was in Ohio. He's been in Pennsylvania and New York and Michigan and Colorado.

Does he ever go anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line to speak to the adoring throngs?

Like I said -- not that I'm down here in New Orleans, complaining . . . .

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Census is Blowing in the Wind -- UPDATED!

And it just keeps getting better. . . .

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports today that there are more Census shenanigans afoot in northwest Arkansas. It seems that several folks in Springdale, Arkansas, have received personalized, bar-coded Census forms that list Fayetteville as their town of residence. Trust me -- there is little love lost between Fayetteville and Springdale, so the Springdale mayor is all over it making sure that Springdale won't come up short.

Nonetheless, several folks were perplexed by the Census foul-up and contacted the Census Bureau to get some answers. Carl Henson, a Census office manager, said, "he does not know how many questionnaires were listed under 'Fayetteville' addresses, and . . . doesn’t know how Fayetteville made it onto the Springdale forms. 'It would be very unprofessional for me to speculate on that.'”

So, it looks like we now have federal employees whose "profession" is "Census Expert."

Bar-codes being bar-codes, and Springdale's mayor aside, there is little likelihood that Fayetteville will be glomming onto a bunch of Springdale's "federal funding" because the zip code will be the ultimate arbiter. But, there is something else that troubles me a little bit more -- at least one lady in Springdale received two incorrectly addressed sets of forms and she sent them both in, appending a note to the second form notifying the Census Professionals that she received 2 forms, filled out 2 forms, and mailed in 2 forms. She said the whole experience left her "less than confident in the process."

You gotta love understatement!

And there's more!

The above photos depict the source of my "less than confidence" in the Census process.

Down here in post-Katrina New Orleans, we have experienced what has come to be known as "diaspora" -- lots of our population remains scattered to the winds after The Thing in 2005, and lots are living in less than upscale (think: deplorably inhuman) conditions, some without official "mailing addresses." So, to try to get the very best nose-count of folks living in our fair metropolitan area, the Census Professionals hired oodles of folks to stump around the area not only to verify addresses, but also to do a little one-on-one face-time with everyone who would answer the knock at the door to explain how very important the Census numbers are. I expect that many of the Face-Time Census Professionals are bi-lingual.

Perhaps a good idea, probably poor execution.

The Face-Time Census Professionals' marching orders included instructions to leave the Census forms hooked on the doorknob in a nicely labeled plastic sack (think: personalized car wash trash bag) if no one answered the door. There are some problems with that process, to-wit:

No one can get access to our doorknobs without our fore-knowledge because we leave the wrought iron gates locked to keep dogs in and undesirables out. Accordingly, our neighborhood Face-Time Census Professionals left our car wash trash bags hooked onto the gates for both street numbers assigned to our house (we're zoned for an apartment in one part of the house that we now use as guest quarters).

Note that the Face-Time Census Professionals hooked the all-important Census car wash trash bags on the inside of the fence where Bouie probably would've had a shred-fest field day if he had gotten to the bags before I did!

Now think about the Face-Time Census Professionals leaving the bags on our gates shortly before a whopper of a cold front moved through the state. And think about them attempting the same for several neighbors whose doorknobs aren't quite as long as the posts on our gates.

You guessed it -- I can't tell you how many personalized car wash trash bags I saw blowing down the streets of Uptown New Orleans. It looked kind of like a kite-flying festival. A very expensive, taxpayer-funded kite festival.

So, let's review -- the Census Professionals' office:

(1) sent out paid canvassers and used satellite GPS to verify addresses all last year;

(2) mailed first-class-postage letters to all of us letting us know our Census forms were on the way to generate excitement and anticipation (cue Carly Simon);

(3) mailed first-class-postage forms to most of the country, sometimes twice, addressed to the wrong city, and containing yet more postage-paid return envelopes (cue The Box Tops to open with "The Letter");

(4) ordered and purchased a substantial number of personalized car wash trash bags;

(5) sent out paid Face-Time Census Professionals in southeast Louisiana to tutor about and/or leave the forms, many of which weren't adequately secured to withstand weather conditions, thus leaving many postage-paid envelopes blowing in the wind (cue Peter, Paul, and Mary); and

(6) will send out more face-time Census Professionals to try to locate folks whose bar-coded forms aren't returned in some April-ish time-frame (cue Dr. John to belt out "Right Place, Wrong Time").
(7) See below.

Whew. Once again, I assert that you can't make this stuff up.

Or pay for it.

Cha-ching!!! Warm up the currency printing presses.
UPDATE: I need to add a #7 up there. Today's mail brought 2 thoughtful postcards (one for the house, one for the apartment) letting us know that the Census Professionals have yet to receive our Census forms. There's another little gazillion dollar expenditure to add to the tally.
I'm still debating whether to check the box on the "race" question as "Other," and fill in "Human." We'll get 'em postmarked by April 1st somehow, I reckon. Kinda like we get that 1040 Extension postmarked by April 15th. April promises to be a busy month for the Postal Service.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Re-visiting Federal Government on a Somber Day

This morning, I did a fairly dispirited review of my regular blog-stalking. It looks like most of us are pretty down in the dumps over the fol-de-rol in Washington. So, as I told blog-buddy Buck, today I need to have a full-blown worry-wallowing pity-party.

Hence, I'm doing my first-ever re-post. Maybe it'll give someone in a postition to do something about it an idea about how to fix some of this broken stuff. It might have been a little premature in December, but I'd say that it's pretty dang ripe right about now.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Moogie's Fun and Revolutionary Plan for Public Service Reform in D.C.

In a moment of blinding clarity, I have stumbled upon what could be the salvation of our nation and our Republic.

We have to chunk out our system of federal elections and start over from scratch.

The states may continue to do whatever they please for intra-state elections pursuant to the Tenth Amendment, and that'll get the Feds off their backs for a whole lot of stuff, primarily because the Feds will have been forced to acknowledge and abide by the Tenth Amendment. If folks don't like what policies their state is enacting in connection with a particular issue, like, say, same-sex marriage, then they are free either to try to effect change in their state through legislation or move to another state whose laws more closely reflect their beliefs. Hello, Republic! A confederation of independent states who are free to follow the will of their citizens, not the sometime-well-intentioned-but-often-cuckoo citizens of Soviet Socialist Massachusetts or Pelosi-world.

You may not be aware of the fact that I was -- fairly recently -- a strong opponent of term limits. I believed institutional memory to be a very important component of orderly government -- we shouldn't have to re-invent the wheel time after time after time simply because no one was in Congress or the Governor's mansion who could remember what happened the last time someone came up with the same bone-headed idea, or how badly its implementation failed. Today, I simply don't care. There are too many bone-headed ideas floating around this ol' world to prevent their redundancy, so opposing term limits is no longer on my radar.

The notion of needing to devise some reasonable facsimile of term limits brought me to the election of our Republics' representatives in D.C. -- so, let's just get all Constitutional about it and return to the Founding Fathers' notion of true "public servants" in which people are called to serve their fellow citizens for a brief amount of time, not to make a career of meddling in the lives of every citizen.

We can retain the Constitutional requirements for eligibility to serve (e.g., age, natural-born citizenship, residency) -- they're pretty sensible. But as for the actual "election" -- there will be no further federal elections.

We're going to have a National Public Service Lottery.

Every eligible U.S. voter (eligibility to be determined by each state) will be required to purchase two lottery tickets: one each in the POTUS/VPOTUS Scratch-off in which only two tickets have all the magic numbers (indexed to population or voter registration; details and cost to be worked out later), but the Presidential Powerball Number on one ticket wins the White House and the runner-up moves into One Observatory Circle at the U.S. Naval Observatory as VPOTUS, both for the Constitutional term of four years. No one may win the POTUS/VPOTUS Scratch-off more than two terms in a row.

Additionally, the eligible voters of each state and territory will be required to purchase similar lottery tickets for Senator (lotteries to be staggered to accommodate rotating 6-year terms) and Representative: one winner per slot per state.

Of course, we'd have to do away with the Electoral College and replace it with a Commission of Electoral Inspection to determine the qualifications and eligibility of winners. The Commission could be composed of 3 members (to have a tie-breaker), appointed, one apiece, by the President, The Senate, and the House of Representatives. Vacancies occurring in Congressional office could be filled by vote of the vacant office's State Senate; presidential succession would be in effect until the following lottery.

Would there be a chance for cheating or corruption? Of course. Is there now?!?! (Hello, ACORN.) Would some mind-numbingly unqualified folks win the Public Service Lottery? Um, duh -- but what's the difference between that and the current system?

Could the loss of institutional memory be regretted, especially in the House of Representatives? Most probably. But, tinkering with the details could find a reasonable compromise to extend and rotate terms in the House, so let's not throw this idea out without trying it.

It's fun! It's a revenue generator! It's a regular fruit-basket turnover in D.C.!! It's Moogie's Revolutionary Plan for Public Service Reform in D.C.!

I've given you the bones -- now, hammer out the details.
Posted by Moogie P at 10:03 AM 2 comments
Labels: Congress, Constitution, Constitutional Convention, D.C., Elections, Lottery, Tenth Amendment, Young President

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gullible, Thy Name is Consumer

I'm too depressed by all the "we know what's best for you and we're going to fix it so that we make most of the decisions in your life" load of compost-heap barkey-malarkey going on in Washington today to do a political post, so I'm doing a "this politically correct load of compost-heap barkey-malarkey is ridiculous" post.

This ad appeared in a local newspaper circular earlier this week. It's just a little more proof of how the supermarkets are all jumping on the Whole Foods-ish "organic" bandwagon more and more these days.

I typically don't go to the nearby Winn-Dixie because its parking lot is nearly impossible to navigate and life is too short to sacrifice one's blood pressure to too-small parking lots/places, but I suppose that's kind of beside the point. Nonetheless, I will birdwalk if I so choose, because I can. For the time being. Until Congress decides that staying on topic will reduce the budget deficit because less time on the computer will result in less energy consumption and more green jobs.

Okay, I admit that I'm a little focused on all the "we know what's best for you and we're going to fix it so that we make most of the decisions in your life" load of compost-heap barkey-malarkey going on in Washington.

Back to the "organic" (translation: more expensive") fad.

I'm sure there are benefits to eating foods that are locally grown using fewer chemicals and preservatives that don't have to be transported over long distances, but logic suggests that those benefits apply to fresh foodstuffs, not the products in cans and boxes that have been processed, at times, beyond recognition.

So, I'm not getting sucked in by the whole "our organic foods are healthier for you than other canned and processed foods, and once you accept that premise you won't worry about paying more for them after this week's special is over" marketing strategy. Processed foods are processed foods -- and they all have lots of salt and loss of nutrients. And even I acknowledge that sometimes, we simply must rely on processed foods to get a meal on the t.v. tray.

But, I mean, seriously -- Organic Macaroni and Cheese?!?! I don't care how the wheat is grown that goes into the pasta -- powdered cheese is powdered cheese.

Geez. How gullible can we get?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Parliamentary Shenanigans 101

This could be a busy blog day -- so much to remember, so little time!

I saw this at Moonbattery and had to re-post it, if only so I can remember it in days to come. Almost as educational as Schoolhouse Rock!

A Diversion on this First Day of Spring

I received this in an email today. #3 is my favorite -- I live with a guy who subscribes to that philosophy!

Things that I found helpful by living this long:

1. The purpose of fighting is to win.

2. The sword is more important than the shield, and skill is more important than either.... The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.

3. Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.

4. If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

5. I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

6. When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.

7. A reporter did a human-interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him 'Why do you carry a 45?' The Ranger responded, 'Because they don't make a 46.'

8. The old sheriff was attending an awards dinner when a lady commented on his wearing his sidearm. 'Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you expecting trouble?' 'No Ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought my shotgun.'

9. Beware the man who only carries one gun. HE PROBABLY KNOWS HOW TO USE IT!!!

But wait, there's more!

I was once asked by a lady visiting if I had a gun in the house. I said I did. She said "Well I certainly hope it isn't loaded!" To which I said, "Of course it's loaded, it can't work without bullets!" She then asked, "Are you really
that afraid of someone evil coming into your house?" My reply was, “No not at all. I'm not really afraid of the house catching fire either, but I have fire extinguishers around, and they are all loaded too."

Since Congress seems to be ignoring all the rest of them, especially the Ninth and Tenth, I thought I'd remind us that, so far, we still seem to have the Second Amendment.

Hang in there, mes amis, it ain't over 'til it's over. And Happy First Day of Spring!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Midday TEA in New Oleans

My lunchtime activity at the Federal Building in New Orleans. We had a small, but effective, group of 30 or 40. Not a bad turnout for a gorgeous Friday in New Orleans when the NCAA tournament is in town. We definitely got tenfold more honks and thumbs-up than sneers and put-downs from a certain element, the likes of which I shall not stoop to its depths to criticize. (How's that for a delicate Southern putdown?)

Just a little reminder -- the TEA Party movement is out here.

The 10th Amendment still exists.

We remember.

We shall not surrender.

Our Republic lives.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction

You can't make this stuff up.

I'm not one to find humor in the misfortune of others, but sometimes it just slaps you upside the head and begs to be shared with the world at large.

I got a phone call this morning from a long-lost friend, whom we shall refer to as "Law School Buddy" ("LSB"). We haven't seen him in years, but I recently re-connected with him via Facebook. I was really happy to have found him because he was in our wedding nearly 32 years ago and it's just good to know that he's alive and doing well. It turns out to have been a happy-making experience for him, too, as you shall see.

It seems that his son, LSB Jr., is down here with some classmates in New Orleans during college spring break doing good works with Habitat for Humanity. And, it seems that Junior and his buddies went to the Quarter last night for a little R &R as a reward for all their hard work.

After "boys will be boys" and all that jazz, it seems that one of Junior's comrades -- let's call him Dumb Ass -- became seriously over-served. He was so over-served (and engaging in some of the less than genteel behavior that often accompanies over-servement) that one of New Orleans' Finest, a mounted patrolman, sternly suggested that DA return to his hotel to sleep it off. DA took offense to that suggestion and, in an effort to make the officer aware of his dissatisfaction with said officer's suggestion, he also took a drunken, college-boy roundhouse swing at said cop.

See where we're heading?

So, LSB called me to get a little help locating a New Orleans jailhouse lawyer, giving me just the barest outline of the facts and Junior's cell phone number. After I talked to Junior the first time (and ascertained that he was in the clear and in one piece) it was hard to keep a straight face. Herewith is a little paraphrasing of that conversation:

Moogie: "So, what are the charges filed against DA?"

Junior: "Public intoxication, resisting arrest, and cruelty to animals."

Moogie:"Cruelty to animals? You mean he punched the horse, too?!?!"

Junior:"No, ma'am. He missed the cop and hit the horse instead."

Moogie:"Mmphhh . . . !"

It's hard to imagine, but we've lived in New Orleans for over a decade now and have yet to need the assistance of a criminal lawyer. Neither of us is licensed in Louisiana, so Pepper made some calls and I sent an email to a local attorney friend to get his recommendation. Here's the email:

"A friend's son is down here on spring break and one of his buddies got really messed up last night. (There's a surprise!) He swung at a cop and hit the horse instead. I know -- stop laughing. Anyway, he's charged with public intox, resisting arrest, and cruelty to animals. I know -- stop laughing. When our friend called, he said the kid had hit a cop -- I'm not sure which is worse.

Can you recommend a good criminal lawyer?"

When he called me with some names, our attorney friend agreed -- he's not sure whether hitting the cop or his horse would be worse. It was kind of hard to understand him when he said it because he was laughing so hard.

LSB stifled a chuckle, too, when I filled him in on the details later in the day.

The kid's in trouble, for sure, and I do hate to find humor in the misfortune of others, but . . . .

Like I said -- you can't make this stuff up!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reid's Omission

It just hit me like a bolt from the blue.

Even in his zeal to round up votes in both chambers of Congress, we haven't heard yet from Harry Reid how grateful he is that his wife and daughter had adequate health insurance after their scary rear-end car accident last week.

Why do you suppose that is?

Does he wish to distract the voting public from focusing on the notion that:
(a) denizens of Congress and their dependents have pretty spiffy health options, or
(b) the healthcare proposals are penal and wholly unconstitutional, or
(c) Congressional procedural shenanigans are sneaky and wicked, or
(d) Reid may have put a vehicular hit on his own family to generate sympathy for either himself or the healthcare debate?

Just some ruminations in cyberspace, you know?

Whichever, he's an ignoble SOB and I'm happy that his family will make a full recovery.

Send bail money.

Happy Everybody's Irish Day!

This is just too cute -- I stole it from Blog-buddy Buck. It reminds me a bit of how the bachelorette partiers approached the Irish Channel Parade last Saturday. Such glee and childlike abandon!

But no kegs. Kegs are too much responsibility. And waaay too heavy.

Happy wearin' o' the green!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wonder in Pelosiland

Do you seem to notice a recurring theme in editorial cartoons lately?
Damn that rabbit hole!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Of Cabbages, Brides, and Bachelorettes

Visits from family always seem to turn into sleepless, gluttonous, every-moment-filled affairs. Even so, I must admit that I had a ball this weekend, although I currently feel about 50 creaky years older than my chronological age.

Yesterday afternoon, after I prepared brunch and the last carload headed north, I actually curled up on the couch under a blanket with 2/3 of the dogs and watched a movie I've already seen because I didn't have the energy to search for a new one. Then we ate yummy leftover "Moogielettas" (my beefless spin on the iconic New Orleans Muffaletta) and leftover-from-brunch fruit salad for dinner while watching "The Pacific," the other-side-of-the-world version of "Band of Brothers."

Today I'm tackling the laundry generated by six twenty-something houseguests.

It was fun. After an afternoon in the Quarter, I did a shrimp boil dinner party on Friday night with the Bachelorettes and quite a number of the groom-to-be's lady relatives, including both grandmothers, 2 aunts, and 2 cousins! I skipped the evening adventure in the Quarter that prominently featured "Huge Ass Beers" and other gallivanting.

That chapter ended via cab ride at roughly 3:30 Saturday morning, with both daughters awakening us to complain about the other -- and it seems that their Daddy had texted the 29-year-old Bride-to-be at 3:00 or so to inform her that she was out entirely too late. I think he may be getting pre-wedding Daddy-nutsies. When The Son got married 12 years ago -- literally on the day before the wedding -- Pepper impulsively bought a bright red Mazda Miata convertible for the then-15 year old Younger Daughter. I'm almost afraid to think about what will join the household when Elder Daughter approaches the aisle.

Saturday was the Irish Channel St. Patty's Day parade. Quite a few male members of SIL#1-to-be's very Irish family march in that parade, decked out in tuxedoes and distributing flowers, garters and other Gaelic treasures (such as lacy green underwear!) in exchange for kisses from the recipients. They "prepare" for the march for several hours in advance in various taverns and a last-minute Mass. Such a hoot -- and we did acquire quite a bit of groceries! Who knew Moogie could be so adept at catching cabbages, carrots, and potatoes!

Don't you love the cabbage-bedecked wrought iron fence on Magazine Street? I snapped that shot while picking up Elder Daughter after her post-parade visit to the the fire station, a gathering place for her future extended family (several of them are firefighters). Have you ever tried to locate a cute young blonde wearing a green tee shirt on Magazine Street after a St. Patrick's Day parade? Picture it!

Saturday night was pretty much a recovery period for the bachelorettes, except for "That One," a funny, multi-talented young woman -- one of the single-lady Bridesmaids.

See, there was a huge convention in town -- 35,000+ orthopedic surgeons and all those folks who would like to teach them and sell them things. One of that number met That One during the Friday night Huge Ass Beers Quarter adventure and pursued her all Saturday via text messages, entreating her to join him for dinner. What could I do -- she's legal and has her own money!

Unfortunately, she had very little luck with the cab companies, so -- after checking out the destination and a little more info -- I offered to drive her downtown, on the condition that I meet the young man.

Fortunately, everything turned out to be legit and she arrived back at Moogie's Mansion before midnight via taxi, but that encounter became a story that stands all on its own. Suffice it to say that this Girls' Trip to New Orleans has now been nicknamed "The Trip Where 'That One' Went Out With A Guido From Jersey Shore!"

I don't have much time to recover. The Son and a friend -- Pepper's first aide de camp! -- are heading this way on Saturday after a bird hunt with Pepper and Bouie.

But they won't generate quite as much laundry. Will they?

Ehhh-- who cares!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Budgets and Weekend Stuff

There is a Bachelorette Party at Moogie's Mansion this weekend! Elder Daughter (next month's Bride-to-be) and 6 of her Ladies in Waiting (including Younger Daughter, June 2011's Bride-to-be) are in New Orleans to go to the Irish Channel St. Patty's Day parade and gallivant around in general while Moogie cooks, polices up empty adult beverage containers, and watches on in amazement (and just a hint of fatigue!).

Hence, this post will be short and sweet. It's inspired by Cokie and Steven Roberts' recent column about the budgetary crisis.

Dontcha just love his expression? Heh.

Now -- back to the kitchen.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

With the Spring Thaw, the TEA Partiers Emerge, Stronger Than Ever

I guess some folks in Congress have just blocked out the memory of the healthcare Town Halls of last summer. Here's a gentle reminder:


You tell 'em, St. Louis!

H/T to Moonbattery

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Honduras is Back on the "A" List

Madame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (presumably at the sneaky behest of the Young President) is taking steps to recognize the Honduran government as legitimate, and to restore its monetary aid from the United States.

A few months back, the Administration adopted a position (as Moogie noted) that strongly denounced as a "coup" the actions of the Honduran Supreme Court, its Attorney General, and its military in peacefully deposing then-President Zelaya -- a position that just coincidentally rolled in lock-step with that of former BFFs Chavez, Ortega, and those Krazy Castro Boyz. Of course, that was back when the Latin Connection was still wooing the Young President and blowing in his ear.

The romance must be cooling off quickly. I guess that leaves poor ol' Hillary to put on the Emily Litella face for the rest of the world: "Oops. Never mind."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You Get a Line, I'll Get A Pole . . . .

Oh my. If he thinks some folks cling to their guns and their religion too much, just wait 'til the weekend fish-fry folks get around to expressing their opinions.

Oh, the carnage.

This recreational fishing ban thing is a joke, right?

UPDATE: The teams appear to be lining up on the great fishing debate. I'd love to see my brother-in-law's face right about when the fishin' ban is anounced. H/T to Shay.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Socialism 101

I received this email today, and the simplicity of its application just screamed to be shared. And, I couldn't resist adding a photo of "Old Main" on the campus of my old Alma Mater, the University of Arkansas:

As the late Adrian Rogers said, "you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan". All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on)

And, remember, there is a mid-term election in 2010!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Public Education Success Story in New Orleans -- Wright in My Neighborhood!

Finally! I finally remembered to post pictures of the Sophie B. Wright Charter School marching band!

These pictures were taken on Super Bowl Sunday during the King Arthur parade.

It's difficult to describe how proud I am of these young people and their adult sponsors. If you check out the above link to a recent Times-Picayune article about the school's journey, you might come to appreciate the obstacles thrown into the school's path since 2001. You might also come to understand how Katrina's devastation and aftermath might have been the genesis of the good things going on in education in New Orleans: when the slate is wiped clean, there are no more "lines" inside of which the system must color.

After Katrina, and liberated by the designation of her school as a "charter" affiliated with one of our universities, Wright's no-nonsense Principal chose traditional values and discipline as the foundation for her re-molded school. She rounded up a phenomenal faculty and staff, and recruited not only highly-performing students, but also parents whom she knew to be both interested and committed to raising and educating good citizens who will become contributing members of society. Not a bad equation.

When we first moved to this neighborhood in 1999, Sophie Wright was a mess -- what you envision as a typical inner-city junior high with slovenly-attired, foul-mouthed students that walked to school or jumped off the bus early, leaving littering and looting in their wake. I choose to forget how many times the cars were vandalized, or how many plants were ripped out by the roots, or how many things "disappeared" from our wrought-iron-fenced-and-gated yard, or what unpleasantly foul words I heard wafting loudly through the air as school opened or closed. Many was the day I tried to get through by phone to the office to report wandering students or a fight among them taking place at our corner. Rarely was the phone answered.

That doesn't happen anymore, or at least it doesn't happen where the neighborhood is made keenly aware of it.

We sensed the beginnings of change in the fall of 2006 or spring of 2007. Still a little gun-shy (pardon the pun) about the neighborhood's darling children, we kept a close eye on them as they traveled to and from school. One afternoon, a young girl -- probably no older than 12 or 13 -- was being cruelly taunted by a small group of young men as they headed home on foot. She took all she could take and picked up a brick, eyeing them as targets. Pepper happened to be puttering in the yard and yelled at the young men to leave her alone and to clean up their language -- they all took off, lickety-split, and he thought maybe, once again, he should try to report the incident, not expecting to have much success as past experience suggested. He called the office and someone answered the phone, even though school had been dismissed for the day! He deemed it a refreshing experience as he gave a description of the events and kids involved, but thought that would probably be the end of it.

Not so.

Ten minutes or so later, a man wearing the uniform of Sophie Wright's faculty and staff appeared at the gate with a clipboard and the young people in tow. He politely introduced himself and showed appropriate identification as a member of the Sophie Wright team and asked Pepper to recount what he had observed. Flabbergasted, Pepper re-told his tale, identifying the players along the way. Then, you could have knocked him over with a feather when the Wright faculty member exacted an apology from the kids to one another and to Pepper, and he promised that their parents would be informed and the students disciplined. To be honest, we were a little fearful of retribution, but nothing ever happened, and those students minded their manners thereafter when passing through the neighborhood. At least they did in front of our house!

Since that time, the appearance of the campus has been brightened and beautified by groups of students, staff, and parents working together. The academic performance of the school as a whole has measurably improved. Activity is going on at the school all the time, keeping its students engaged in creative, wholesome pursuits. And I'm no longer secretly afraid of the neighborhood students.

To me, the marching band is the public face of Sophie Wright's success. We listen each year as the band starts from scratch, practicing in the schoolyard, sometimes wondering if they will ever all play the same notes at the same time. But, they work -- they work hard, putting in long hours -- and they succeed in coming together. Their band director and chaperones work hard, too, and should share in the glow of success, knowing that they have probably changed these children's lives forever, for the better.

This year, the band began practicing for the parades by circling the block while playing or dancing. Part of their training is learning to concentrate through the din of cheering parade-watchers. Pepper and I tried to help them out by standing outside and clapping as they pass, or honking a car horn in rhythm to the beat. They did as instructed and concentrated on their performances -- for the most part. We spied quite a number of surreptitious peeks in our direction, accompanied by shy, satisfied grins. But, who can fault them?

The last few years during Carnival, entrepreneurial booster groups (including non-band students) have opened the school during weekend parades, selling really good (donated) food prepared in the cafeteria, secure parking spots in the schoolyard, and use of clean restrooms. That's teaching by example, I'd say.

The proceeds go, among other places, to the purchase of those dazzling uniforms and instruments you see pictured above, and to outfitting the spirit groups for the Warriors. I've even kicked in a few donations myself.

Sophie Wright was everywhere this Carnival season, showing off their hard work and doing their beaming mentors proud. We were proud of them, too.

Sophie Wright is a win-win for its students, the neighborhood, and the future of public education. We wish them continued success as their program builds and their school's successes multiply.

Now, if we could only do something about that awful bus backing-upping beeping!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Cat's Out of the Bag!

This is absolutely erudite, profound, and downright funny. I wondered what Victoria Jackson had been up to since her Saturday Night Live days!

I also wonder how many black helicopters and guys in dark glasses with squiggly things coming out of their ears are monitoring her movements these days.

Friday, March 5, 2010

No Saturday Rest for the Moogie

Remember Sophie Wright Middle School Academy a half-block down the street? The School whose marching band I've bragged on and encouraged?

They've turned on me.

Tomorrow, Sophie Wright will host the Louisiana Drumline Mini-Camp, a "workshop for experienced drummers ages 8 - 18, " including sessions on drums and other percussion instruments.

Legions of eight year old drummers! Hooray.

Even if they forget and leave their drumsticks at home, it won't matter -- a new pair of drumsticks is included in the registration fee.

The hours? 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m..

So much for a peaceful Saturday morning sleep-in. And so much for a morning without bleeping beeping bus backing upping.

*Sigh* What I go through to support the arts.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tired Brain Syndrome

I don't recall when or where I found this, but I saved it to post on a day when my brain was tired and I didn't want to get into anything lengthy. So, here it is today.

I listened to most of the Young President's latest "last" statement on the healthcare issue today. It made my brain tired.

I don't know whether I could make it through this maze today. Maybe it's because my blonde-ish comes out of a bottle, and the original color was nowhere near blonde, at least once I attained double digits in age. Most likely it's because my brain is tired.

I did give birth to one blonde. Okay -- strawberry blonde.

Maybe a cocktail would hlep. Help. Maybe.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Jefferson Family Implosion Continues on the Fast Track

Remember "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, my former Congressman who stashed $90,000 in cash in his freezer? The one who is now awaiting sentencing for his public corruption conviction?

Remember his brother, Mose Jefferson? The one now awaiting sentencing for bribing a public official? The one scheduled for another trial in March for mail fraud, looting charities set up to access public funds to assist the impoverished, and a number of other naughtinesses?

Meet their sister, Betty Jefferson, 4th District Assessor for Orleans Parish, the lady in regal purple pictured above. Last Wednesday, she and her daughter, Angela Coleman, pleaded guilty to the federal raps of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and tax evasion.

The fun part? Ms. Jefferson and her offspring (obviously, the tainted nut doesn't fall far from the poison tree) will be testifying against good ol' Mose and his gal-pal, Renee Gill-Pratt, former state legislator and City Council member, in that March trial.

Yet another sister, Brenda Foster, pleaded guilty in 2008 in the upcoming foray into federal court, and agreed then to testify against Mose and Renee.

What a charming southern family. Wouldn't you just love to invite them all over for sweet tea and a spirited game of Backgammon? After you locked up all the family silver and heirlooms?

One Times-Picayune columnist, Stephanie Grace, echoed my feelings in her Sunday op-ed piece entitled, "Predatory Jeffersons": this family is nothing more than a band of amoral brigands aiming to "spread the wealth" from the public and the poor by channeling it to themselves. Her two closing paragraphs nail it:

In short, legal documents in this case paint a picture of a family willing to betray anyone and everyone around them, from their closest friends to their poorest constituents, for their own gain.

Whatever else Bill and Mose Jefferson did, that will be the final word on
the family's political legacy.

The scary part? Dollar Bill has five daughters, all Ivy League educated, and at least one of whom has already dabbled in politics.

Run for the hills and hide your assets!

Monday, March 1, 2010

More Mardi Gras Merriment

Amazing, huh?

The "Burning Opera House" weighed 35 pounds, but the designer had it perfectly balanced so he barely noticed it at all. Note the "fire hose" -- the gilded, sequined and slightly suggestive fire hose. We were on the edge of St. Ann's, after all (as the intolerant, God-hates-you protesters with bullhorns noted. They apparently haven't met the loving God of the New Testament, preferring the spiteful and wrathful Old Testament God-- kind of like them. Didn't they hear that Jesus died to wipe away the sins of His children? But I digress . . . .)!

The zebra/giraffe wasn't quite so lucky in the weight department -- he had to stop and set down the menagerie every now and then because it was so heavy!

Unlike Moogie (see previous post), the lady in turquoise tights apparently hadn't lost her asp.

Sorry. I couldn't resist.

I don't know which is more fun in the Quarter -- Halloween or Mardi Gras Day!

A Honey of a Mardi Gras

What a fabulous day, that day before Ash Wednesday where it's just Tuesday in the rest of the country! I'll bet most other places even have more bills to pay because they get mail delivery on Mardi Gras!

We actually thought about logistics this year, and the ability to move through the city without getting trapped in an enormous Mardi Gras Indian gathering under an Interstate overpass or stopped by a police line closing streets for truck parades or walking groups, so we parked roughly halfway between Krewe of Eggs/Parc St. Charles balcony and the Whiddons' house in the Quarter. Unfortunately, we didn't plan on getting delayed on Prytania so Pete Fountain's Half Fast Walking Club could cross on its way to St. Charles, and we were almost a little late for our first stop. But, we soldiered on and made it in plenty of time -- even scored a 50th Year Commemorative Half Fast Doubloon later in the day! Kismet!

Krewe of Eggs was delightful, as usual, at Li'l Dizzy's at the Whitney, with this year's theme of "Gone With the Hen." There were the standard rubber-fried-egg food fight and movie-chicken-and-wind themed door prizes and favors. My favorite was the squawking rooster and hen -- now added to the Krewe of Eggs Mardi Gras Shrine in the powder room -- and the folding fans for "Hot, Flashy Chicks." The joint was "buzzing" with swarms of bees -- "The Bee Team." There were, among others, Worker BEEs, BUMblebee, Queen Bee, O-BEE-GYN, BEEwitched, BEEdeviled, BEEdazzled, BEE Hive, BarBEE, and, naturally, starring Moogie as the fabulous Queen of De-Nial, BEEopatra. That's me up there between BEE Hive and BarBEE, but I seem to have lost my "asp" in the picture. You know how it is with Moogie -- she goes to the casino and loses her asp; she goes to Mardi Gras and loses her asp . . . !

After the "Corr-egg-nation" of Royal Rooster XX and revelation of The Pretender to the Perch, the Krewe headed to the Balcony. It was blooming COLD!!! I dressed in layers upon layers and still shivered myself sore on the balcony trying to capture a picture of our friend, Lisa, riding in the Mr. Big Stuff float in Zulu. And Zulu ran really late -- later than its "traditional" fashionably late a la Zulu -- due to a breakdown, so I had plenty of time to shiver. I now think I understand why one doesn't see many bees during the winter!

We skipped Rex this year -- the atmosphere on the Balcony was just a little off-putting for some reason, so we headed early to the Quarter to ooh and ahhh over the creativity and downright brazenness of many a body. We didn't make it in time to see the St. Ann's costume contest, but we did manage to catch a number of the costumes later as the contestants strolled around Bourbon and Dumaine. Bobbie once again outdid herself in the hospitality department, and we just enjoyed the company and revelry all afternoon.

The truck parades were just making the turn onto St. Charles when we hit Napoleon on the way home, so we did have to do a little time in traffic (and roll over thousands of beads!). The first pic shows the condition of the street as we passed. It never fails to amaze me how much trash is generated during Carnival, and how very quickly it gets cleaned up by the Prison crews who pile out of their buses and attack the parade route with rakes and construction-grade trash bags. A few hours after the parades clear, the only remaining trace of the revelry and excess is the beads that never made it to outstretched hands hanging from the trees that line the Avenues. And they'll stay there as a promise of next Carnival season, barring any big gusts of winds (please, please bar the big gusts of wind for another year!) during the summer and fall.

I can't wait for St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's parades in a few weeks! They throw groceries!