Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Frenzy

Wonderful house guests in town, and Zurich Classic PGA tournament plus Weekend 1 of Jazzfest are going on this weekend, so there's little blog time. But, be prepared and forewarned -- a food porn post is coming that will knock your socks off!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bouncing Baby Obama

So the Young President released a copy of the long form (or whatever it's called that he couldn't get his hands on for 2 1/2 years) certificate attesting to his birth in Hawaii in 1961 to Stanley Dunham Obama, Caucasion, and Barack Hussein Obama, African.  The birther/birthers-are-idiots melee has escalated to dramatic heights today while the Young President scoffs at the "silliness" of the whole issue.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published an online "breaking news" piece on today's momentous event, and the comments are all over the place.  Referring to another comment challenging the massive gaps in what we know about BHO, one comment reads:

What rest of the records? Harvard says he went to law school there. Articles in the New York Times contemporaneous with him being in law school indicate that he was the first black editor in chief of the Law Review. Just what trash is the dirty tricks department of the RNC cooking up now? There seems to be no real dirt on this guy. Oh yeah, I forgot. His minister used to say controversial things! (I've been in many a church when controversial things have been said.) If you must, criticize that Obama has had two years to turn a cratering economy into a problem free one, just quit making up dirt on the guy.

We had information overload about Bill Clinton, even down to the facts that he donated his used underwear to charity and wrote it off on his income taxes, and was a chubby kid in the Hot Springs High band.

So, the commenter's accusation that someone is "making up dirt " on the Young President brings my nagging question about the guy to the surface: where are Obama's childhood friends?  Where are his college chums?  Did he and Michelle have any attendants in their wedding?  No one really seems to know anything about him. 

If nothing else, that's just sad.  Was he one of those unpleasant, or know-it-all, kids (my money's on the latter) whose mother (excuse me, his grandmother) had to tie a pork chop around his neck to get even the dog to play with him? 

I just don't know what to think about him, as a person, or how to find out enough information to make a decision. 

I do know, however, that "African" is not a "race;" it's a descriptive that identifies the continent from which someone hails, as in, "Ernie Els is an African."  I guess the folks in the Hawaiian Health Department in the early 60s foresaw the furor to come in trying to decide what to call someone with skin darker than a Polynesian, and just punted.

Then again, maybe IMAO has it all figured out.  This Birth Certificate was published over there:

And Panetta's going to the Pentagon?!?!

My head hurts.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lemonade Day 2011: Entrepreneurship Training or Cookie Cutter Thinking?

I've been seeing cryptic, mass-produced signs around town announcing "Lemonade Day," but I didn't really know what that meant and had little incentive to investigate.  Today I received an email from Citizens For 1 Greater New Orleans, and it seems that New Orleans will emulate Houston and hold its first "Lemonade Day" on May 7th.  It's an exercise in organized entrepreneurship for children.  Here's the website banner:

The "How it Works" page says:

Lemonade Day is Saturday, May 7, 2011. In March and April kids all over South Louisiana will learn how to start, own and operate their own business – a lemonade stand. Each kid who registers will receive a bright yellow backpack -inside is everything you need to prepare for Lemonade Day. Get a backpack, make a plan and get started making some money! Here’s how:
1. Pair Up: You must have a “caring adult” with you when you register - that could be a parent, grandparent, older sibling, teacher, scout leader or other responsible adult. You must have an adult say that it is OK for you to do Lemonade Day and operate a lemonade stand.
2. Register
Sign Up at (After completing the online registration, you will receive an email instructing you to print out the reply and bring it with you to any Pick-Up Location to verify registration. Don’t forget this part!)
The children will pick up a "backpack" at a participating sponsor's place of business (Raising Cane's Chicken, among others, in southeast Louisiana -- and that's some mighty fine chicken and sauce and lemonade, I'm here to tell you!).  Each backpack will contain business plan materials, including an Entrepreneur Workbook and Caring Adult Guide.  There are also online "games"  the kids can play that teach them basic econ, logistics, marketing, and management.  The kids are even give pre-produced "posters."  This short video describes the program in a nutshell:

This sounds like something I would have done with my children had the program been around when they were little.  Whose children didn't have at least one lemonade (or Kool-Ade) card-table-set-up-at-the-curb-stand, mixing up concoctions that were always, "interesting?"  And I'm certainly a fan of encouraging entrepreneurship, but, I must be getting geezerish and cranky and . . . jaded. 

The big thing that stuck out for me in that video?  How very involved the "caring adults" were.  They seemed to be turning the operation into an organized-little-league-baseball operation instead of a Hey!-let's-do-a lemonade-stand-after-the-sandlot-baseball-game operation.

If done properly, this could indeed be a wonderful family opportunity that teaches kids something while they're having fun.  But, I have my doubts that most of the "caring adults" will be willing to kick back and let the kids do it (picture "perfect" Science Fair projects or Soapbox Derbies).  Or let them have much fun. 

I see competition among the "caring adults," not among the budding entrepreneurs -- and not necessarily healthy competition.

And, I wish they'd waited to do the project until the kids were out of school and bored.

I hope I'm wrong, though, and I wish all of Lemonade Day's participants a wonderful experience in commerce -- and lots of fun!

What do you think?  Am I onto something, or just growling at someone to get off my lawn?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Home Depot Turns Its Back on Our Military, Without Warning

A friend, both literal and virtual via Facebook, who is married to a retired Army veteran and is a recently-retired Army vet herself, announced her own personal vendetta against Home Depot over the weekend on Facebook.  You don't really want to mess with Cissy.

It seems that, without warning, Home Depot will offer its military discount to all military and vets only on the four big patriotic holidays instead of year-round.  It has adopted this policy even though its website still heralds its "year-long military discount."  You should go to the link and read the comments -- Home Depot will lose a ton of business over this change in policy, and probably should.  It's one wonderful thing to honor those who serve, and their families, with a small discount; but it's just downright tacky to announce to the world that you offer such an honor when, in fact, you don't, and then to embarass military shoppers at the checkout counter.

Lowe's, on the other hand, still proudly offers a year-round discount.  I verified this yesterday when Pepper and I purposefully went to Lowe's instead of Home Depot to do a good-sized bit of garden-ish shopping.  Nice people, nice perquisite for this family's 35 years of service.

When we start building our retirement place in Arkansas, you can bet that we'll hightail it away from Home Depot as fast as we can, directly to Lowe's.  And, I imagine we won't be alone.

Are you listening, "Big Orange Box!"  And thanks, "Big Blue!"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter at Moogie's Mansion

This is what a spontaneous Easter Egg hunt looks like when Pepper gets bored.
The egg was hard-boiled, but not dyed.

Once he got accustomed to the way the egg felt in his mouth, Bouie began to like the game --
"My egg," he said, kinda all muffledy-like because he had an egg in his mouth.  Until he dropped it on the bricks.  Then they went to the kitchen, peeled the egg, and shared it.  Yep, they ate the egg.  Both of them.

Easter is such a joyous occasion, filled with promise and hope.  And the certainty of God's love.

Happy Easter, from Bouie Cottontail.
(You have no idea how long it took to get this picture!)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fool Them Once . . .

Judging by the enraptured expressions at the Young President's latest campaign tour speeches, this should be the new logo employed by the *CREEP folk --

Has no one told him that the election's not for another 18 months and we're already tired of the rhetoric?!?!  Would it make any difference?

(* with apologies to Nixon's Committee to RE-Elect the President.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Helpful Department of Transportation, Part II, . . .

. . . along with their compadres at the TSA. 

We'll have new international regs about baggage and stuff come August.

Dang!  I'm glad I'm not flying anytime soon.  It's just no fun anymore.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

From the Inbox

From a friend on the Northshore.  Yep.  This is the way it would probably go --

The year is 2016 and the United States has just elected the first woman, a Louisiana State University graduate, as President of the United States: Susan Boudreaux.

A few days after the election the president-elect calls her father and says, 'So, Dad, I assume you will be coming to my inauguration?'

'I don't think so. It's a 30 hour drive, your mother isn't as young as she used to be, and my arthritis is acting up again.'

'Don't worry about it Dad, I'll send Air Force One to pick you up and take you home. And a limousine will pick you up at your door.'

'I don't know. Everybody will be so fancy. What would your mother wear?'

'Oh Dad,' replies Susan, 'I'll make sure she has a wonderful gown custom-made by the best designer in New York.

'Honey,' Dad complains, 'you know I can't eat those rich foods you and your friends like to eat.'

The President-to-be responds, 'Don't worry Dad. The entire affair is going to be handled by the best caterer in New York. I'll ensure your meals are salt free Dad, I really want you to come.'

So Dad reluctantly agrees and on January 20, 2017, Susan Boudreaux is being sworn in as President of the United States.

In the front row sits the new president's Dad and Mom. Dad, noticing the senator sitting next to him, leans over and whispers, 'You see that woman over there with her hand on the Bible, becoming President of the United States?'

The Senator whispers back, 'Yes I do.'

Dad says proudly, 'Her brother played football at LSU.'

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Don't *Heart* the USPS Bureaucrats

Younger Daughter received the cute wedding ring/wedding cake stamps last week that I had ordered online so she could mail her elegant wedding invitations (that require extra postage, of course).  I did a Little Rock road trip over the weekend to go to a few parties -- lingerie shower and welcome-home-to-The-Son -- so we spent Friday evening stamping and stuffing all those envelopes.  We couldn't deposit them in a mailbox, though, because the return address labels weren't ready (somehow, we neglected to have return address labels printed on the envelopes, and the sweet young friend who addressed all those envelopes didn't have the strength to do returns).

Guess what happened on Sunday?

Yep.  Postal rates went up for "oddly-shaped first class items." 

Yep -- 3 cents per.

Who knew that a square is an "odd" shape that makes things heavier?

The USPS doesn't make cute wedding-ish 3 cent stamps.

Younger daughter wants this to be over with, so she couldn't wait out having custom stamps made from one of those neat websites out there, and I didn't want to argue with her about it.  "I want them out of my house," she said through teeth that I could hear clenching up over the phone.  (That small voice in my head whispered, "Choose your battles," and I chose to heed the voice.)

At least she didn't go all "postal" in the Post Office substation when she got the bad news after going in to check whether the rate increase we heard about on the Sunday news briefs would apply in this circumstance.  I think she might have gotten a little teary-eyed, though, because the kindly Post Office clerk told her she could probably give it a shot and maybe they'd let the invitations slip through since it's so close to the rate change.  But, she didn't want to take the chance of having all those invitations being returned for insufficient postage, and a line was developing behind her. 

A kind lady in line behind her expressed sympathy for this latest pothole in the road to wedded bliss and asked how many extra stamps she would need.  When Younger Daughter sweetly, yet tersely, replied, "Two hundred sixty," the kind lady's face kinda drained of color and she repeated her sympathies.  She did not, however, offer to help re-stamp all those invitations.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

We're From the Department of Transportation and We're Here to Keep You Safe

So, the AP reports that Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's solution to drowsy air traffic controllers is adding an extra hour between shifts and -- get this -- "[m]ore managers . . . on duty during the early morning hours and at night to remind controllers that nodding off is unacceptable."

Yeah. That should do the trick.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday Speculation

Man, Little Rock got spanked by the Thursday night/early Friday morning storms. Trees down, trees down on houses.

The weather seems to have it in for people these days.

I blame it on the EPA. And the White House.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Leaner Future?

Oh no!

The UPS guy told me yesterday that he's been re-assigned to a different route!  What will Bouie do for treats?

It might not be so bad after all, though -- the UPS guy said he'll train the new guy and make sure the newbie learns how and where to distribute treats.

Bouie will be so relieved, but I suspect he'll miss his friend, too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Complexity of Canines

Dogs are pretty complex critters.

I've mentioned here before that our Bouie is a real sweetheart, even though he tries to be a big, bad yard dog.  But, lately I've noted a remarkably kind, even thoughtful, side of his nature. 

Stick with me, as this might seem a little "odd," but remember that, even though we might think of Bouie (and treat him!) as a child, he is, after all, really a dog -- a boy-dog with boy-dog's habits.  So, by now I guess you've probably surmised that I'll be discussing his urination habits.  Yep.  But not like I did last summer when I related how he was systematically "watering" our foliage to death.

You might also remember that our 16 year-old Rosie is now blind, and that she walks in clockwise circles due to a series of strokes.  The combination of those two disabilities was a bit problematic when she finally lost all her vision.  You see, after she does her "piddle" business Bouie, being the boy-dog he is, has to check it out and "mark" it with a little of his own.  Sometimes, not being able to see where she was going, and believing herself to be walking away from her business, Rosie would clockwise-circle her way right into the big middle of Bouie doing his "marking."  That led to some canine sputtering on Rosie's part, and the need for a number of unplanned baths.

But lately, I've noticed that Bouie has altered his "marking" procedure.  Of course, he still must sniff and check out what Rosie has left behind, but now he does something unusual when she is circling nearby -- instead of directly "marking" what Rosie left, he moves over to a bush or a plant and does his "marking" there where Rosie is safe from a "downpour."  If he gets there after she has circled out of the danger zone, he'll go ahead and "mark" the actual stuff, but not if she's still in the bullseye.

No, I'm not making this up.

Maybe he has changed his actions because I've admonished him time and again to be careful of Rosie and not to "mark" her.  But, I choose to believe that he has made a conscious decision not to "inconvenience" his older, frail sister.  He's always been careful not to bounce into her or let her run into him while she's circling, but this is something else, something -- considerate, and loving.

Of course, he still noses her off the couch sometimes while he's sniffing her, but that's just boy-clumsiness.

He also doesn't wake me before sunrise to go outside when Pepper is away.  He's figured out that I'm not a morning person and will not take him for a pre-dawn walk just because he wants to play, like Pepper will, so he sleeps in, too.  (Actually, I kinda think that he does that "wake up, Dad, and play!" routine to make Pepper feel good about their relationship.  Plus, I kinda think that even Bouie likes to sleep in from time to time!)  We have an interesting family dynamic around here.

Yep, dogs are pretty complex critters.  And I thank God for giving them to us as companions.

Monday, April 11, 2011

To Duck and Cover, or Not To Duck and Cover?

I was just listening to a radio news update.  The announcer related that a film is being shot in one of the older neighborhoods here in New Orleans, and that the shoot will use lots of pyrotechnics and explosions.  So, he advised, "If you think you hear gunfire, it's probably just the film crew.  Probably."


What a sad, frightening commentary on the state of "urban" civilization today.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Of Big Brother and Postage Stamps

So, I just ordered stamps for wedding invitations online from the USPS website.  I've been procrastinating a bit because I just dread the idea of dealing with government-related websites, but it's better than standing in the interminably slow lines at the actual Post Office substation.

This is the first time I've ordered stamps online -- it's just so easy to buy them at the ATM, but Younger Daughter wanted "specialized" wedding ring and cake stamps, so I suckered in and went to the website.

It's not the easiest site to navigate, in all honesty.  But, I finally found Items 574240 and 574140, entered the quantity, and expected the shipping or payment screen to pop up.  But, no!  A "sign in or register" screen popped up.  With no option to order simply as "guest" without registering.

I hate websites like that.  I mean, who wants to register at five hundred thirty-seven thousand websites and keep up with five-hundred thirty-seven thousand passwords and usernames?!?!

So, being the wonderful mother I am, I registered so my baby could get her cute stamps, using the password "USPS3sucks," and not allowing it to remember my credit card info or send me exciting emails about new products and services from my postal service.  Then, I clicked "continue" expecting the shipping or payment screen to pop up.  But, no!  A "you must acknowledge our privacy policy" screen popped up.  A rather pushy "you must acknowledge our privacy policy" screen.  This is what it said (italics mine):

"The information you supply will be used to provide you online registration capability for Internet-based services, and to provide those services. Please be aware that this service is voluntary, but that requested information is required to provide the service. Collection of information for this service is authorized by 39 U.S.C. 401, 403, and 404. We do not disclose your personal information to anyone, except in accordance with the Privacy Act.

Authorized disclosures include limited circumstances such as the following:
(a) in a legal proceeding in which the USPS is a party or has an interest, or pursuant to federal court order;
(b) to a congressional office at your request;
(c) to an independent certified public accountant during an official audit of USPS finances;
(d) to an authorized credit bureau or other government agency for purposes of identity verification;
(e) to a Postal Service contractor, such as a technology or service provider, if the disclosure is necessary to fulfill an agency function;
(f) to a payee or financial institution for billing payment; and
(g) to a government law enforcement agency pursuant to a federal warrant.

For information about additional protections we provide you, please visit our privacy policy via the link below."
And the referenced link is kinda hard to locate, too.

So, in essence, it's purely optional ("voluntary") for you to provide the information requested by the website, but you won't get your stamps unless you do.  And they won't share any of your info unless one of Uncle Sam's other nieces or nephews asks for it.  Or unless the USPS really screws up and lands in litigation.

Holy.  Crap.

Now they really know where to find me! 

I'm thinking I should have stood in line at the substation. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Young President's Latest WTF Moment

As Professor Jacobson noted over at Legal Insurrection, the Young President's "We Saved the Day" budget-deal speech in the waning hours of last night was "strangely detached from reality." 

Watching it again in the light of day merely reaffirms that initial reaction.  The Young Prez just kinda bounced around, focused oddly off into space (because the teleprompter was slightly offset from the camera), and spun the cuts wrangled by the Repubs while wearing that smug-O expression and spinning yarns about a sob-letter from some mother in Colorado, with the Washington Monument glowing in the background (as the original namesake was spinning in his grave, I imagine).

I think one sentence in particular from the speech elicits the appropriate response (emphasis mine):

"We protected the investments [?] we need to Win The Future."

WTF, indeed.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Moogie's Epiphany (or, "The Care and Feeding of Bachelorettes")

This time last week, I was herding and feeding a gaggle of Bachelorettes -- 14 on Friday evening.  We had a nice, big house in the outskirts of Hot Springs that Elder Daughter found online.  It had a charming garden and yard, and the weather was perfect for sitting and visiting.  And pulling telephone April Fools pranks on the significant others left behind, but that's another story.  Let's just say that the left-behinders were perfectly willing -- after some mighty-fine displays of acting, thank you very much -- to believe that their bachelorettes had been incarcerated in Garland County.  I'm not quite sure about the significance of that willingness.  Perhaps I don't want to know.

Saturday was our Girls' Outing to Oaklawn Park, Arkansas' thoroughbred horse track.  Once again the weather was perfect, albeit a bit on the warm side until the sun dipped a bit so that the outdoor grandstands were shaded.  Younger Daughter bride-to-be was not very happy at being "coerced" into wearing the "I'm the Bride" veil and tiara in public.  At least she wasn't very happy about it until strangers started buying drinks for her, and then it was pretty cool.  She wound up giving the tiara to a cute little girl who had been stealing shy glimpses of that tiara all afternoon.  Younger Daughter can be a really soft touch.

(The little girl was about 5, and was there with her grandmother; there were toddlers and strollers everywhere.  I'm still not sure I like that they changed the rules and now let little ones into the trackPlus, it used to be kind of a rite of passage when you turned 16 and could go to the track.  Of course, you still couldn't bet until you turned 18, but you could get in!)

Fortunately for the Designated Driver (that would be Moogie), we decided to order pizza and stay in Saturday night, too.  Finding a pizza place that delivered to the location of the charming house and garden proved to be a bit of a challenge, but we had pizza by 9:30, and had devoured all but 2 slices of 3 large pizzas by 9:45 or so.  Then we played some goofy board games and turned in by midnight.  Most of us weren't as young as we used to be, apparently, at heart or otherwise.

I kind of dreaded the early pack-and-depart on Sunday morning, but we had to get the Texan Bachelorette to the airport in Little Rock by 10:30, so up we rose.  And I begrudgingly prepared to do it all myself, because, of course, I had known several of these young women since they were sloppy, self-centered teenage girls and I knew how they operated.

And that's when it happened.

The 6 remaining Bachelorettes pitched in like a shark frenzy, and we had everything packed, cleaned up, and trash-sacked in a flash. 

They have really grown up.  They pitched in to help me like they would do for their friends.  And so, I discovered that it's a wondrous thing indeed to have the friendship of one's own adult daughters.

Such a delightful epiphany.  A great way to end a lovely weekend.  Here are a few pics.

Bachelorette Parties are not complete without a "little" chocolate.

It's good for the Designated Driver to be able to cash a small ticket on a horse that bore her maiden name in the only race she bet.  There's "Clayton's Luck" heading down the stretch -- I bet him across the board and he placed!

It's good when the Bride-to-Be can cash a nice ticket -- and when her friend can cash a $10-to-Win ticket on a horse that went off at 30-1 odds!  $323.00 is a goodly chunk of change for a starving social worker.

It's good when the pedicure that the Designated Driver treated herself to after changing a tire lasts nicely and looks good next to ice cream.  And beer.

It's good to be with such a delightful group of cute, smart young women on a beautiful Saturday in the Spring.

And, it's good to have daughters. 

Very good.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

From Wednesday's Inbox -- Gas Coupon!

In yesterday's email: The day may come sooner than we think.

I didn't realize it, but these coupons are good for one gallon of gas at most retailers. I’ve seen them
around, but until recently never took advantage of them. I never realized their actual worth.

You probably have one or two just lying around somewhere, now is the time to use them before
they lose their value, and it's too late!!



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mystery of Life -- Highway Construction Edition

This trip's on-the-road-with-construction observation about the "One Lane/Slow Down" Flag guys (obviously I've spent quite a lot of time in "Park" lately, observing highway construction Flag guys) --

The Flag guys work in pairs, but only one of them gets "control" of the ice chest, whether it be for distribution purposes or sitting purposes.  It usually seems to be the older of the two.

Do you suppose this is a "mentor/apprentice" thing, or is it a Union Seniority thing?

Mercy, I hope it's the former.

Monday, April 4, 2011

One More Happy-Tired Post-lette

Heading south tomorrow after a bachelorette weekend with a wonderful group of young women in an ideal setting, great food/beverages, fun-and-games, and thoroughbred racing. Of the equine variety.

My primary function, in addition to being mother of the bride-to-be, was as executive chef and designated driver.

Once again, I'm really tired.

But, it's a happy tired.