Payton the Shutterbug: Dangerous pix? Wednesday, Sep 30 2009 

Who wants to get "shot" by a 16 month old?  I wonder what granddaughter Payton Elizabeth found so captivating in the view finder.  Bless her little heart, at least she's rooting for the LSU Tigers.

Who wants to get "shot" by a 16 month old? I wonder what granddaughter Payton Elizabeth found so captivating in the view finder. Bless her little heart, at least she's rooting for the LSU Tigers.

Saints, Saints, Saints (Once, twice, thrice) Monday, Sep 28 2009 

I’m watching Monday night football, enjoying watching two other teams slop through a game (Dallas and Carolina), kinda gloating over “my team,” the 3-0 Saints, who haven’t missed a beat so far.   In fact, my black and gold boys are setting a standard this year.  I agree with Saints radio commentator and former QB Bobby Hebert, talking on NOLA’s WWL radio this past week when Hebert suggested this team looks like something special, maybe the dream that has eluded us longsuffering Saints fans for lo these many years.

Pierre Thomas's day-before bout with the stomach virus wasn't apparent as he galloped through the Bills defense for two 2nd half touchdowns. (Thanks, AP, for the great photo!)

Pierre Thomas's day-before bout with the stomach virus wasn't apparent as he galloped through the Bills defense for two 2nd half touchdowns. (Thanks, AP, for the great photo!)

Yesterday’s 27-7 gulping of the Bills showed two more dimensions of this team that we didn’t see in the first two games.  First, Buffalo shut down Drew Brees’ air attack, but we found out we really DO have a running game that can carry the offense (the rest of the NFL says “Yikes!”).  Second, the defense locked Buffalo down.  I mean, the Bills were dominated!

It’s way too soon to jump to conclusions, but for the time being, this sure is fun!

Some things I’m not skilled to understand . . . Saturday, Sep 26 2009 

A Jewish Psalm from the Old Testament proclaims God’s greatness: “He causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth.  He makes lighting for the rain and brings the wind from His storehouses”  (Psalms 135:7).

As I considered those words, the image of the Creole Baptist Church in Cameron Parish the morning after cameron_churchHurricane Rita made landful in 2005 came to mind.  I looked up the picture, one I blogged in 2005 and a picture I’ll keep as long as I live, one of the saddest pictures I’ve ever seen.  I posted it here for remembrance.

So what does a Psalm celebrating God’s awesome power over creation, including the fearsome elements, have to do with a church wrecked by a hurricane?  What hope endures if the world such a God created can wreak such woe and destruction?

I studied the picture this evening and I found a symbol.  As often as I’ve regarded those images, I never noticed.  But prominently presiding over the flood, firmly attached to the battered remains of the building, . . . the cross . . . a reminder: in an imperfect, fallen world where natural disasters are part of the natural order, or at times seeming disorder, I am far from hopeless.

Prejudice alive and well . . . in human nature Wednesday, Sep 23 2009 

I supervised a compressed video Louisiana history class this evening in the absence of a professor who had succumbed to the flu.  It was test night, so all I had to do was supervise the test.  The  class combines a cohort from campus–in the heart of Cajun Louisiana–and a group from  Central Louisiana, 60 or so miles farther north in the more Anglo Scotch-Irish Deep South part of our diverse Louisiana.

I spoke some Cajun French in the course of good-naturedly addressing the two sites, and right away I heard one of the Central Louisiana students complaining, “This is America.”

The ugly insinuation, of course, is that Americans should speak English.  And French-speaking Cajuns must not be American?

I reflected on that episode quite a bit this evening.  Although I am not Cajun, I married among those good people, and my kids are intertwined with them, and I consider all my Cajun relatives as American as that yo-yo that made the remark (Some of my wife’s kin made valiant sacrifices of service in WWII).  What was this  guy’s problem, anyway?

What the issue underscores, I’m afraid, is that prejudice “is.”  And prejudice is not just white vs. black (or vice verse): Prejudice is simply “You’re not like me, so I don’t like you.”

“Lord, help us get past all this foolishness!”

Remembering Rita on this day . . . Monday, Sep 21 2009 

I checked my 2005 journal and here’s what I wrote on this day four years ago:

“Here’s what I wrote in the last email posting as we watch Cat. 5 Rita roll through the Gulf of Mexico, as Aunt Becky and her gang are gearing up to evacuate:

We’ll sure be remembering y’all.  I hope Terry knows some snazzy county roads and highways so y’all can scoot on up the country.  That maneuver Mama and Daddy did coming over from Covington here via Natchez, MS, was a pretty smart move, actually–folks I knew who traveled due west on the main roads at about the same time that day before Katrina took as long or longer to get here as the folks’ detour, and the folks were spared the exasperation of the bumper-to-bumper traffic and the lines at the filling stations.

Sarah’s got folks down around Galveston–several cousins and an aunt and uncle in LaMarque (across the bridge from Galveston).  Her uncle in LaMarque is on nightly home-treatment dialysis and gets around very painstakingly–just another example of how cruel Mother Nature is, picking on the elderly and the vulnerable.   We have no idea what they’re going to do to take care of his special needs.

Welll, if preparation will save the day, sounds like you’ve got the West Columbia gang ready to roll.  We just hope blessing comes miraculously out of this ordeal.

“I wrote that post when Rita seemed bound further south.  What will we tell our grandchildren about these timesWhat else can I add?  Like I told Sarah a while ago, I’m relieved we’re not looking down the barrel at this thing over here (at the moment, anyway!), but I’m sick knowing that our loved ones over there are facing potential disaster.   These are soul-numbing days.”

Soul-numbing days.  Yes, such was 2005.

A consumer report: AT&T, DirectTV, and me Saturday, Sep 19 2009 

I’ve had an educational experience the past few days dealing with AT&T and DirectTV, one worth blogging. I would not want any of my friends to have to endure an unnerving ordeal like the one I’m about to narrate.dish

The idea of DirectTV seemed attractive last weekend when LSU football was televised on DirectTV, but I had to listen on radio because I have cable.  The LSU game this weekend (tonight, in fact) was scheduled the same: televised on DirectTV but not on cable.  Then when I looked at the Saints schedule early in the week and noticed a November game on the NFL Network (again, not carried on cable), I knew what I had to do.

So in the middle of last week, Sarah and I headed to the local AT&T retail outlet, figuring talking to a live person was preferable to navigating the confusing process on the Internet or even over the phone.  The sales rep seemed  pretty unsteady and not nearly as knowledgeable as I hoped he would be, but he was earnest.  I respected that.  We left after an hour of confusion but at last with an order and an appointment for the installation to take place on Friday:  perfect timing for the weekend’s games.

Friday morning came, the installer showed up, and “Uh-oh.”  The order our  salesman had written up couldn’t be installed in my situation b/c he had ordered a HD unit, but my TV is not HD.  THe installer told us the guy should have known that, but anyway, we’d have to cancel the order.

Cancel the order?  “That’s dumb.  Why not just amend the order and finish the installation?” I asked.

Because that’s the way DirectTV and/or AT&T do things, it turns out.  Makes no sense, but “Oh, well!”

The installer was very patient and helpful, but he couldn’t do much more than advise me who to call and what to say.  So I had to call the “friendly toll-free” service number, hang around on hold for 20 minutes or more, finally get to an AT&T rep who put me on hold, and subsequently dropped me in the process of transferring me to DirectTV.

I’m wondering about this time, “Why do I have to go through the  AT&T sales rep to deal with DirectTV?”

Anyway, I redialed the number and went through the aggravation of having to cancel the order that THEY had goofed up in the first place and then hearing the explanation that next, I would have to call DirectTV about my plan or whatever . . . I never really understood what was going on there.  But first, I had to endure the bundle pitch.  (A synonym for bundle, by the way, is swindle.  They offer you a bunch of upgrades with nickel and dime discounts so that in the end, your total monthly bill is 20% higher than it was before the bundle, but you’re paying discounted rates for all these marvelous bells and whistles that you don’t need!)

By the time she started telling me next to contact DirectTV about choosing my service and scheduling the installation, I had been on the phone for the better part of an hour.  I confess, my customary good nature was overwhelmed to the point that I become indignant and even contentious–just not my nature, but I was driven over the edge, and my cause was righteous!

I started demanding reasonable things, like “How much is my monthly bill going to be with this bundle?”  “Why can’t you correct this business that your representative goofed up in the first place?  Why can’t this order simply be amended rather than scratched and rescheduled?  Why can’t this business be finished in the next few minutes?”

I didn’t get  answers.   The poor service rep had to excuse herself from the call–after I continued to demand reasonable answers and explanations that were obviously beyond the sales script, she excused herself and transferred me to her supervisor.  I didn’t get much straighter answers from him, and I really felt like he was condescending in the tone with which he lectured me on how I should be delighted to be getting these marvelous services with so many discounts–as he continued to toss in a discount here, a rebate there, hoping obviously to appease me as he sensed I was on the verge of calling the whole deal off.

How did it end?  Well, I listened to the LSU game on the radio again tonight.  An installer is coming back next Tuesday morning, and I’ll wait for my next AT&T phone bill to decide if I need to call my State Public Service Commissioner rep about the swindle . . . oops, I mean, bundle.  (What does my phone service have to do with satellite TV anyway?)

This affair also caused me to recall the recent debacle of “AT&T webmail powered by Yahoo.”  It took me weeks to get my former bellsouth email accounts straightened out after that notorious “upgrade.”  Maybe AT&T is just into all of this over their heads–it sure seems like it to this consumer.

Alas, for  simpler days when Cingular and Bellsouth worked just fine1

Saints nostalgia: I remember Tulane Stadium! Wednesday, Sep 16 2009 

tulane702

Tulane Stadium, the original Sugar Bowl, built on a former sugar plantation from the 18th century: ergo, "Sugar Bowl"

As much of a New Orleans Saints fan as I have been for over forty years, I have only been to one game.  That happened in December 1968 when the Chicago Bears came to town.  Somehow a buddy of mine and me got tickets.  I don’t recall at all how it happened, but miracle of miracles, Mama and Daddy agreed to let me skip Sunday church to see a Saints game, unchaperoned, with my pal.  We were high school juniors at the time.

The day was quite an adventure.  My friend’s Dad drove us across the Causeway (from Covington) and deposited us somewhere near Carrollton at St. Charles Avenue.  We rode the street car the rest of the way to Tulane University, deborded, and walked through the campus to the old Sugar Bowl Stadium.

I really don’t recall the details of the game, except Dick Butkus played middle linebacker for the Bears and Danny Abramowicz

Saints receiver Danny Abramowicz--the Marques Colston of a former era.

Saints receiver Danny Abramowicz--the Marques Colston of a former era.

made some nifty catches of Billy Kilmer’s wobbly passes and the Saints lost (par for the course in those early days).  But it was a close game (Bears 24, Saints 20), and it was the only pro game I’ve seen in person.

I don’t recall at all how we got home, but his or my folks managed that, too.  It was simply an exhilarating day for a teen-aged kid who loved his Saints, win or lose.

And they’re still his team, win or lose, but with all that artillery they have this year, there better be a lot more winning than losing!

Instant replay and passive voice: A call for reform Saturday, Sep 12 2009 

Hey, ref, how about some active voice!

Hey, ref, how about some active voice!

Football referees plus open mikes doth not a recipe make for eloquence.

In fact, the official emerging from the replay hood with his hand at his waist to turn on the mike to announce the results to the crowd more often than not boobs awkwardly all over himself with unnecessary words and twisted explanations.

For example, I heard one guy in a college game today rule on an instant replay.  His soliloquy into the open mike sounded something like this:

“After further review, the call on the field is confirmed: Touchdown.”

Ugh!

Why not use active voice, ref?

“Video review confirms the call on the field: Touchdown.”

So much more direct, efficient.

Here’s to rhetorical reform among officials in the NCAA and the NFL!

Spoonfuls of Vindication: More evidence of Papa’s innocence Thursday, Sep 10 2009 

Last spring, I was maligned for teaching granddaughter Payton an innocent game called “Throw the Spoon Game.”  Those who maligned me accused me of teaching bad manners to my granddaughter.

I defended my honor then, and I continue now, as the video evidence provided here shows that young Payton, as she continues to grow and develop, understands what spoons are truly for!  The video was taken Wednesday morning when little Payton visited Honey’s and Papa’s kitchen for breakfast.

The Fried Oyster Motif: This time, Prejean’s Restaurant, Lafayette Tuesday, Sep 8 2009 

Saturday, I shared Sarah’s birthday blessing at The Chimes Restaurant in Baton Rouge.  But that wasn’t the end of the birthday blessings, because Zach and Autumn and Payton weren’t around for the birthday bash.  We had an excuse to prolong the celebration once they returned from their out-of-state sojourns, so Monday afternoon we wereOysters at Prejeans off to Prejean’s Restaurant in Lafayette to make up for lost family time.

I had fried oysters Saturday at The Chimes.  As I contemplated Prejean’s menu, I wondered “What else can I order?”  But wonder after wonder, the fried oysters kept popping up.  So what did I order?

The fried oyster dinner, of course.

The side-dishes for oyster platters do vary from place to place.  Acme Oyster House gives the French fries/steamed vegetable option; The Chimes offered red beans and rice; Prejean’s appropriately (as a Cajun joint) offered corn macque chou and rice dressing alongside the ample bed of oysters with French fries underneath.

Anyway, as much as I love, I’d better take a break from fried oysters for the heart health’s sake.  I remember the old New Orleans oyster ads that claimed “Eat fish, live longer; eat oysters, love longer.”  Don’t know if I buy all those aphrodisiac claims–but I do know that oysters taste mightily good.  And even though fried oysters tend to be strong in the bad cardiovascular stuff, life’s too short to be too narrow.  So what was my course Monday?

Order the fried oysters and resolve to run an extra 3 1/2 extra miles the next week!

And life goes on!

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