Friday, February 27, 2009

Project Truck Update: Can you pick the door?

Now that Mardi Gras is over with, I can get back to working on the truck. Had to fill in the patch panel that I welded into place last time. It was a tedious process of laying some bondo, letting it dry, sanding it down, bondo, sand, bondo, sand... Eventually I got it built up enough.

Here are the two "good" doors. Can you guess which one went under salt water in Katrina and which one was fresh?

Also played around with some "filling" primer. Not too impressed. Doesn't do much more than regular primer and looks like it takes a little longer to dry.

Tested out a little painting, too. Got some red and white rustoleum. I'd like to get a topcoat on that will be a good water and oxygen barrier, that way I can park it on the street. I like the red and white two-tone idea for the color.

Carpocalypse Now!

From Jalopnik:

Laid off Germans, frustrated with increasing unemployment, stagnant wages, and rapidly rising rents have taken to the street to vent their frustration on the elite. This map shows an explosion of burned cars all over Berlin. Looks like even the Germans are getting testy. We'll see when that starts to translate over here.

More Carpocalypse coverage from Jalopnik here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Estimating and Procrastinating

"Keystone Corps" Estimating. The Corps doubles their estimate for the cost to gate 'the funnel.' For all the Times-Pic goes on about the estimate, this one might not be their fault. Honestly, this is an incredibly difficult task right now. I've been involved in writing some detailed estimates for big projects and you either have to be so conservative you'll scare the client or you have to try to explain legitimate cost overruns. Commodity fluctuations since Y2K have made it very hard on estimators. For example steel prices shot way up, affecting piping prices. Industrial pipe (SMLS and ERW) reached the highest price they've ever been, but have slowly been declining since August. I wouldn't be surprised if the Corps estimate didn't take into account steel price changes. By the time they actually get the budget corrected, I wouldn't be surprised if steel prices have dropped enough (thanks to the Financialapocalypse) to keep things in line.

FEMA's Toxic Bureaucracy. CBS alleges Bush-era appointees are intentionally delaying reconstruction projects to ensure personal job security in their $100,000+ benefits government jobs. Who is this Doug Whitmer character and why is he still running the show? Cao and Louisiana's only useful Senator are calling for an investigation. I'll say two things: if they go for a full investigation of FEMA contracts, they're going to turn up some VERY interesting things with some VERY interesting connections. Not necessarily ones you might initially guess. Second, this article makes a some anecdotal stories I've heard within the local engineering community over the past 2 years make a lot more sense... I'll just leave it at that.

...Let the investigating begin!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cleaning up the Post-Mardi Gras Mess Part 2 of 2

The bigger part of the mess we now have to clean up is our most intractable opponent: crime.

In case you're living under a rock, there were multiple shootings yesterday. At least 5 by my count.

My twitter feed was clogged today with people who went back to work and were asked by coworkers, sometimes on the other side of the world, "so, you get shot yesterday?" The entire world read about the shootings. We're keeping "the brand out there" all across the globe. Well, I picked up today's Picayune and look:

The only mention of the shootings is a very brief note at the bottom to refer to the Metro section. I understand it was a busy news day, but come on. You're not the only source of news in the world. People are going to find out about it. It was one of the top stories on WWL. Here's Warren Riley's comments on a WDSU video. WDSU could have also done a better job holding the Chief's feet to the fire. Here's a Stormfront puff piece about Warren Riley leading the shutdown of Bourbon Street. Great job, "journalists."

When news organizations downplay the shootings to avoid "hurting the recovery" the only person that benefits is our idiot police chief. The Times-Picayune really outdid themselves today by completely burying the abduction and rape outside Gibson Hall at Tulane. I can't find any mention of the incident in the dead tree edition.

Warren Riley continues to tear Pennington's "model police force" to shreds, but the good news is that NOPD quickly apprehended two suspects (one of which was actually wearing an ankle-bracelet monitoring device!). There are still good cops working hard out there and I salute their valiant efforts. I hope, for the sake of those police, that Warren Riley is removed before he recreates one particular piece of the pre-Pennington force: Antoinette Frank (a cop that murders other cops). The bad news is that someone had the audacity to try something like this. There's always a fair amount of crime around Mardi Gras, but it's rarely close to the parade routes. There's usually too many police/criminals don't feel the need (not sure which) to shoot at the parade routes. The St. Charles Ave. shooting sets a horrible precedent, though. Parade crowds are packed so tightly that even the worst gunman in the world can't help but hitting someone. That's part of the reason concealed carry is specifically prohibited along parade routes. There are so many people that a shooting is almost 100% guaranteed to result in innocent casualties.

We're extremely fortunate that nobody was killed in this incident, but that was purely luck. Next time we might not be so fortunate. Be sure to read how parents were throwing their children over fences to keep them out of the chaos in the first article.

So, now what? We're a poor city with a history of injustice, but there are plenty of places in the world that fit that description that don't have NEARLY the problem with crime, specifically murder, we do. I'm going to propose that our criminals have a very low respect for human life and specifically are very low on Kohlberg's stages of moral development. The best outcome now is to make an example of the suspects, should they be convicted. Charging them with 7 counts of first degree murder is a good start, but we need to try them in a timely manner. The alleged shooters need a competent defense and the DA's office needs to do their job within the rule of law. Justice must be served swiftly.

NOTE- Some edits. See comments.

UPDATE- Make that 6 shootings on Mardi Gras.

Cleaning up the Post-Mardi Gras Mess Part 1 of 2

Poop Scooper
Originally uploaded by Noladishu
Yesterday, there was much fun to be had, but today is the day we clean up, get our ashes, and straighten things up. And boy do we have some big messes to clean up.

The bulldozers have been mobilized to clean up the Quarter.

Yesterday was President Obama's speech to Congress about the Global Financial Crisis. All in all, the reviews seem to be positive. I've only skimmed it so far.

You also can't mention Obama's speech without going over Governor Jindal's speech. This speech pretty much marked the end of Governor Jindal's term as Governor of Louisiana and the beginning of his primary campaign for the Republican nomination in 2012. Forget about him putting the interests of the state before the interests of his political future. Just out of curiosity, did Governor Jindal have his usual mile-a-minute speaking speed? Here's one parody of Jindal already up.

While I confess I haven't finished either speech, I've been reading a lot leading up to the speeches.

At first, Jindal wanted to turn down an extra $25/month for the unemployed (paid for 100% with federal money) claiming it was "welfare." Keep in mind, Louisiana's unemployment system is one of the most bare-bones in the country. The payments tend to be half as large as, say New York's, because Louisiana always wanted to have the lowest possible tax burden for businesses.

If low tax burdens spawned businesses, it would be Louisiana, not California, that has the world's 10th largest economy. Imagine were we'd be on this list if it weren't for all the oil in our backyard. But, don't tell that to Jindal. He adores Bush's economic record and thinks that tax cuts to the wealthy are the best stimulus possible for the economy. Look at what the Bush tax cuts did!

Democrats are seizing on Jindal's hypocrisy of only objecting to a small portion of the stimulus (and only objecting to those portions that would most please the Base). They're calling Louisiana, not unjustifiably, a "Poverty Stricken State" that can't afford to give the ambitious Governor the luxury of turning down millions of dollars. It's also ironic he's objecting to the arts money when our biggest cultural event (Mardi Gras, with it's Billion dollar+ economic impact) is going on.

If Congress got serious about forcing the governors to "take it or leave it," things would get very interesting.

UPDATE- Oyster rounds up the brutal critiques of the Governor's speech last night. One of the headlines was "Jindal's Speech: Panned, Seared." Ouch.

UPDATE 2- Oh no, Kenneth the Page responds:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Everywhere else, it's just Tuesday

Went downtown today. Saw St. Anne and some of the other walking groups. Tons of great costumes. I'll share a few of my favorites:

Sidney Torres was one of the most popular targets of ridicule.

A-Rod gets his juicing in.

Shark eating a tourist


Madoff the Grinch

Google Street View. The nerdiest costume of the day.

...Or maybe not. Battlestar Galactica pilots and a Cylon walking down Royal.

Ghostbusters with Stay Puff Marshmallow Man

Archbishop Hughes was also an extremely popular costume inspiration.

Casket Bike. Very cool contraption.

...And here's us. Rest of the set here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

For my out of town friends that miss Mardi Gras...

Click play, hold your hands above your head and yell, "Throw Me Something, Mister."

If anyone around you looks unsettled, just tell them it's Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

The Bands of Mardi Gras

Slidell High School

Rabouin High School. Soon to be closed. Their last Mardi Gras.

Fountainbleau H.S. (Nothshore) Band


The young ladies of St. Mary's.

And the steam calliope towed by an old (1950's vintage) International Harvester.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Red Light Camera, Meet Red Light Camera

Seen at Muses last night...

Muses ran a float pillorying the Red Light Cameras (and Nagin's monkey business with the crime cameras).

Here's the float passing a real red light camera. Wonder if they got a ticket for running a red light?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Links to peruse while waiting on Parades...

How to ensure a constant supply of bacon on hand.

3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Debtor's Prison. Wonder when someone will try to institute that in this country... Dubai, while you're at it, could you take care of this guy for us?

The Sean Tevis Bill could pose a big threat to future internet-based fundraising. More on Sean Tevis at Wikipedia.

Run a university that looses $200 million on mortgage backed securities and "running it like a business?" Need cash? Sue the alumni! Tulane sues Newcomb alumni, claiming copyright infringement for newly-registered trademark. Can we say, "Patent Troll?"

A bright side to the Financialapocalypse? Lawyers laid off in record numbers. Related: More "FDIC Friday" seized banks. Some more related: Laundering drug money? Yet more related: Tale from the Bush Recession. Very wise business advice: Never deal with someone you wouldn't work with over just a handshake.

Hipster movers. A checklist.

Court to kill exclusion rule? Despite Justice Scalia’s claims, police misconduct is rampant.

As bad as Louisiana's legislature is, at least they haven't pulled this. Yet. What qualifications does one need to be a member of the Tennessee House Republican Caucus? The ability to fall off a log and then claim it’s the fault of the log because real American logs don’t spin when a fat man stands on them?

The Broadmoor urban farmers featured in this week's The Gambit cover story. Great read.

For great local blog reads, check out some of the latest posts at The American Zombie and Oyster's profiling of how Jindal is pushing Creationism on Louisiana public schools and the economic effects. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Also, don't forget about Nagin's missing emails. Is this yet another time when Nagin = Our Bush?

And for one last link, the winner of the "honesty in advertising" award: "CAUTION THIS VEHICLE IS FULL OF POLITICAL PROMISES"


Cao may be one of few to break Republican ranks on stimulus "Steve Scalise doesn't know kung fu. I know kung fu. He can't whip me." Hmmm...

In one particularly vivid demonstration, Joseph Cao, the new Republican congressman from New Orleans, told reporters he was "leaning yes." Then, as Politico reported, "the party's chief deputy whip . . . stood near Cao during the entire vote" -- until, in the final minutes, he voted no. This was, I suspect, bad for Cao, whose district is overwhelmingly Democratic, but good -- in the short term, anyway -- for his party.

I guess Kevin McCarthy must know jujitsu...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"...the big question is not just why is David Vitter in office, but why is he not in jail?"

Oyster goes over Vitter's possible primary challenger. Could Louisiana send a pornstar to the Senate?

Key quote:

"I might be a porn star but I haven't done anything illegal. And I guess the big question is not just why is David Vitter in office, but why is he not in jail?"

Indeed. Why isn't he in jail?

Matt McBride's latest letter regarding the Corps

Yet again, permanent pump stations delayed

Dear New Orleanians,

Just about three weeks ago, at the January 22nd Permanent Pump Stations Industry Day presentation, the Corps told contractors and the public that they would be awarding the design-build contract for the lakefront permanent pump stations in the first quarter of 2010. One can see it on page 26 of the slides shown at that presentation:

It was also on a list of future contracts, issued less than two weeks ago on January 30th (see bottom of page 6):

Now, on a contracts page that is updated more frequently than the PDF version above, the date of contract issuance has been quietly moved back yet another quarter, to the second quarter of 2010. Scroll down to the very bottom of the main Corps hurricane protection contracts page to see the date for contract PCCP-01:

Or click here for a direct link to the permanent pump station contract page:

Both pages - revised on February 5, 2009 - have the second quarter of 2010 as the contract issuance date.

This is how the Corps subtly moves the goalposts without making a stir. And before long, projects are pushed back so far it seems like they will never be built. Will they ever explain this latest delay? I doubt it.

Matt McBride

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Krewe du Vieux 2009

Uncle Sam meets Fannie Mae
Krewe du Vieux is in the bag. Had a lot of fun. KDV and Krewe D'Etat are my favorites because of the bitingly satirical floats. KDV rolls past very fast, though. I guess mules are more reliable than tractors.

Voodoo Economics.

Sidney Torres gets KDV'd

Run on the Sperm Bank

Shave the Wetlands

Saw a few friends there. Here's Ray handing tons of cool stickers to Candice.

Maitri the loan shark has some cool beads.

Lots and lots of brass bands. Very cool

The crowd was mostly adults and it's a good thing. Imagine a little kid asking, "Daddy, why is there a giant penis walking down the street?"

The late, great Ashley Morris.

Rest of the Set here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

OMG The British R Coming!

CIA warns Barack Obama that British terrorists are the biggest threat to the US

Related: US Threats Force British to Conceal Torture Evidence.

(Photo Credit)

Project Truck Update: Clean driver's door

Clean driver's door
Originally uploaded by Noladishu
Looks fantastic after the phosphoric acid and sanding. Few burrs that need to be taken care of, but I"m pleased with the results

Clusterf*ck to the Poorhouse

Don't miss about halfway through when Vitter complains about spending money to reduce the spreading of sexually transmitted disease.

Apparently Vitter has inspected all the hookers and pronounced them disease free. Thanks for saving the taxpayers millions, Senator Vitter!

UPDATE- Vitter once again demonstrates he's a boob:

Blames the entire global depression on ACORN. Congratulations, Louisiana.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Quarter Century

I'm a quarter century old today. Celebrating by going to Herbsaint tonight with Candice.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Can't Sleep. Clowns will eat me.

Up real early this morning (partly because of this), so I'll post a few links.

Wonkette reports on Draft Stormy movement. "VITTER MUST BE DESTROYED!" Related: David Vitter is a jackass (Iced Coffee and a Bagel).

The Politics of Health Reform. Fascinating to get an outside perspective. A sample from the BBC:

Map of New Orleans political donations. Fascinating to click through for a while. I find it especially interesting that a lot of the old St. Charles Ave./Pickwickian-types mainly donated to Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani. Now there's money well spent!

Stimulus Battle in Perspective: Of course, the last time we saw a vote like this one was probably the 1993 vote on Clinton's first budget -- every single Republican in the chamber voted against it, hoping to prove, once and for all, that they were right about economics and Democrats were wrong. If memory serves, that budget was the first step towards the longest economic expansion on record, the creation of 22 million jobs, and the total elimination of the federal budget deficit. Related: For Republicans, there wasn't much downside to voting no.

More extensions to housing aid in Louisiana? Those overly generous subsidies to landlords is part of what's keeping market rates up. You remove those payments, the market will fall (it already has fallen from it's post-Katrina highs). Probably won't return to pre-Katrina rents, but that's unreasonable to expect.

Gulfport Mayor indicted for Katrina fraud.

Taibbi + Blago. Need I say more?

Roger Clemens has always been batshit insane. Deadspin clarifies the level of insanity: "Then Donahue would rub the hottest possible liniment on his testicles. “He’d start snorting like a bull,” the trainer said. “That’s when he was ready to pitch.” "

State Farm completely pulling out of property insurance in Florida.

Here's a few companies that have never had mass layoffs. I can thing of a few to add to the list, too (Honda, for one).

When it comes to Israel, to revive or dump the two-state solution?

Bill Gates talks about education, especially high school, and what constitutes a successful school. Two most interesting points: a kid is better off with a good teacher in a "bad" school than he is with a bad teacher in a "good" school. Also, in extremely poor areas, the schools with the longest schooldays tend to do the best.

Sad to see Cerasoli go. Oyster rounds up the reacts. One little tidbit: “People were telling me he [Nagin] was saying they would regret getting the office up and running 10 years from now.

Old media, don't piss off new media. Remember that the "Symbiotic relationship between new and old media" isn't a one way street... Also, McCain-endorser's Pedo son gets out of jail early with barely a peep from local media.

So, after closing Our Lady of Good Cousel, et. al.*, the Nazi Pope decides to embrace a Holocaust-denier and a cleric who said Katrina was God's punishment for being too kind to the gays.

Want to see Scott Cowen foam at the mouth? Mention the letters AAUP and stand back.

And for your amusement:

The Thing, remade with G.I. Joe's.

*BTW- Great comic 2 weeks ago Greg. Can't link to your comic, though, because the archives are down.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Project Truck Update: Polishing a Turd Edition, Part 2

Picked up where I left off yesterday.

Left to cure
Here's what the door looks like after I left it to cure overnight.

Before I could get down to painting, though, I had to secure a little metal patch in the corner.

Tack Weld

Ground down
Took out my welder and tack welded the patch in and ground down the slag and excess weld.

Primed the door and put it away with it's friend.

Next weekend, I'll clean up the doors a little more and see about installing hardware into the doors.

Mini-Baja and Mini-Formula SAE being built

A Mini-Baja car and a Mini-Formula-One car being built by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign SAE chapter.

But they're doing it all wrong! It's supposed to be assembled the night before you hit the road on a binge of caffeine and junk food!

Project Truck Update: Polishing a Turd Edition, Part 1

Looks like there was a close encounter with a post.

So, I've decided to concentrate on getting the truck streetworthy and part of that will be replacing the doors. I have a good passenger door, but the question has been, 'what to do with the driver's door?'

I'm going to try to clean the driver's door up as much as possible, then use a phosphoric acid-based spray to convert the rust, then pain on top of that. Given how rusty the door is, I'm not expecting it to be perfect, but if I can get the doors on while I look for a better replacement, that will do for now.

Start of work.

As rusty as the door looks, it's actually structurally solid, thanks to the incredible thickness of the sheet metal used. The rust is really just cosmetic. Started sanding it with some 60-grit sandpaper. If I had a full-sized sandblaster, this would take 5 minutes.

After some sanding. Fresh Metal starting to show through.
Lots of rust came off. Looks a lot better.

Katrina Mud

This door went underwater in Chalmette in Katrina. There's still a residue of Katrina muck inside.

I then used some "Rust Neutralizer" on the door. It's a mix of phosphoric acid and other stuff. The phosphoric acid reacts like this:

Fe2O3 + 2 H3PO4 -> 2 FePO4 + 3 H2O

The rust (iron oxide) is converted to Iron Phosphate. The spray I used actually does a few other things on the side, like convert the red rust (Fe2O3) to black rust (Fe3O4, aka- millscale) and draw water out of the metal.

After two coats of phosphoric acid.

We'll see how it works. I've left it to cure overnight. I'll paint on top of it to protect it and see what happens.

Also on rust chronicles.