Friday, February 29, 2008

Leaping Lizards

What distinguishes an intercalary or leap year from a common year in the Gregorian calendar is a single day, February 29, which we call Leap Day. Today is that special day and it is certainly true that for the few who are born today, most will probably not see their 25th birthday. But save those tears. They can choose to celebrate either my birthday, February 28, or my Uncle Irvin's birthday, March 1, as their own each year, leaping their way from one to the other every other year that their true date of birth doesn't appear on the calendar. Leap Day has many traditions associated with it, some of which are fun and exciting, while others are downright scary. For example, four years ago Leap Day was on a Sunday and it was the occasion of our Boy Scouts Council's first annual interfaith Ten Commandments Hike, which Dr. Cedric Walker of Tulane University's Biomedical Engineering Department dubbed "The Leap of Faith" hike. Leap Day will not occur on a Sunday again until 2032, but when it does, on the 28th annual hike, I hope to be marching right there with all the others along St. Charles Avenue. Leap Day figures as a literary device in the book of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty" where the abducted pirate Frederic is informed that because he was born on February 29 he is "a little boy of five" and has not yet reached 21, the date when he would no longer be indentured and would be free to dispatch the pirates. Probably the most dubious tradition associated with Leap Day is the one that affords women the ability to pop the question when seeking a proposal of marriage. How this became a tradition remains to be seen, since it has only been since the Nineteenth Century that its practice became attributed. It is important to remind everyone that Leap Day is not Sadie Hawkins Day, as some misinformed parties would have us believe. Cartoonist Al Capp came up with the idea of Sadie Hawkins Day on November 15, 1937. Sadie was reputed to be the homeliest girl in all of fictional Dogpatch and her father Hekzebiah, worried about her prospects for marriage, instituted a barefoot race for the ladies to chase down the bachelors of the town as potential mates. Due to the popularity of the strip, Sadie Hawkins Day races sprang up across college campuses in the late 1930's with the losers usually having to attend a dance or some other event. In more recent years the date the idea first appeared in Capp's strip has since been determined to be Sadie Hawkins Day or November 15, but its popularity has faded and really has nothing to do with Leap Day. The only similarity between the two days is that a woman can take the initiative in asking a man to be married. So, in the meantime guys, be very careful today or else you may have to worry about the letters in L-E-A-P being respelled P-E-A-L as in peals of wedding bells.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

You say it's your birthday...

By New Orleans standards it is a cold day here but, by Cleveland standards, it is spring. This is the first birthday I have spent in my hometown in three years. In many ways things are the same as they were when I left on that Friday before the storm hit, foolishly thinking I was only going away for a weekend vacation trip. Sadly, though, much of what had been is gone and will probably never return. So what has been the upshot of the last three years? Well, for one, it has forced me to deal with my literary muse. I started writing much more after the Federal Flood of 2005, as some locals prefer to call it. My writing led to my working at the Cleveland Jewish News for over a year and a half, which, in turn, led to my present work at the Deep South Jewish Voice. And now, this penchant for writing has led me to pour myself into this vehicle...the Kosher Computing blog. Three years ago I enjoyed my last birthday in New Orleans at historic Antoine's Restaurant, the oldest dining establishment in the city. I was overjoyed at the fact that President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn had dropped by and that I had taken pictures of them alone and then with my mother. I was displeased, though, that the picture of the four of us taken by the Secret Service agent was blurry. Now, three years later, after Carter's recent book on Israel and Palestine titled "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid," showed him to be much less a friend of Israel than I had hoped, I am somewhat relieved that the image is blurred. For those of you who are interested, here's the link:
So, a lot has happened in three years, but I'm back now. For the most part my friends and family are both intact and there has been a lot of good that has come out of a very bad situation. It is always easy to see the bad following a disaster of the likes no city in our nation has endured. But items like greater cooperation between factions, a renewed sense of spirit, and less fractiousness are also evident. By the time my next birthday rolls around, I think there will be even more reasons to smile. New Orleans is definitely coming back and the people who love it will continue to make it "America's Most Interesting City."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Those violet eyes

Every year on the day before my own birthday I am reminded of another, that of Academy Award winning actress Elizabeth Taylor who was born on February 27, 1932, making her almost exactly one month younger than my mother. Rather than the Liz of today, who is oftentimes confined to a wheelchair, I reminisce about the Liz of yesteryear. Truly, the years have not been very kind to the supremely beautiful lady who first came to America from England as a youngster to film "National Velvet." Yet, when I think about her classic beauty -- her seemingly perfect skin, hair and makeup -- I am drawn to those piercing violet eyes. Yes, they are violet and they are most impressive. Violet eyes are a very rare occurrence in nature, but they do happen occasionally. How appropriate that Liz, by most accounts one of the best actresses in Hollywood during the 50s and 60s, should have a rare set of violet eyes to accentuate her ample talents. In all my life I have only met one person who had violet eyes, and hers were also quite compelling. I also find it interesting that the two biggest sex symbols of their time, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, both converted to Judaism in order to marry. Not that it means anything, but on the day before my birthday, it does give me pause. So, if anyone is seriously thinking about what I want for my birthday tomorrow, I'm thinking it should start with violet eyes, although green eyes might do in a pinch.
William F. Buckley (1925-2008): I was sad to read of the demise of a true political icon, the brilliant William F. Buckley of TV's "Firing Line," who died in Connecticut at age 82. Buckley was acknowledged as a great editor for "The National Review," which he founded in 1955, as well as a formidable debater, a novelist, a trans-oceanic sailor and a harpsochordist among his many talents. He was a true renaissance man and oftentimes the biggest voice for conservatism in this country. I was fortunate to hear Buckley speak once at a journalism seminar in 1981 at the University of Hartford. He was glib and spoke with eloquence. His well-chosen opening lines recalled a supposed meeting in a Louisiana men's room between arch segregationist Judge Leander Perez and eventual three-time Governor Earl Long. "'What do you think we're going to do now that the feds have themselves an a-tomic bomb?"' Buckley said. The crowd responded with peels of laughter. The fact he was using my home state to illustrate his point was not lost on me. Buckley will be missed by all well-read individuals who may have disagreed with his points, but admired the style and felicity of his expression.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cleveland, the epicenter of the political universe

It seems at first an odd choice that the final debate between the two Democratic candidates battling it out for their party's nomination should be Cleveland, my old stomping grounds. But on closer examination, Cleveland might just be the perfect choice to debate the future course of America from the Democrats' perspective. Cleveland is an old city which has stood the test of time through periods of great economic progress and financial distress. During the height of its attraction to the very upper crust, the so-called "Millionaires' Row" of Euclid Avenue sprang up with magnificent mansions, beautiful grounds and huge house staffs to support them. Fast forward to the 1970s and the dual images of the Cleveland River on fire and a very young Dennis Kucinich announcing that his city was going into default seem to jump out. Yet, in the 1990s a period of rebirth kicked off with several strategic plans taking foothold and the city once again began to show signs of definite progress. Today the Theatre District of Cleveland is second in size only to that of New York's fabled Broadway. The arts scene is also impressive with Severance Hall acknowledged as one of the country's most exciting of classical venues and the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Institute of Music as cultural jewels in the city's crown. The Cleveland Clinic and Univesity Hospital systems provide some of the greatest medical care in the world. The area where the Cleveland River flows downtown now plays hosts to hundreds of birds during spring and summer as they nest near the new NFL Stadium and the eye-catching Rock and Roll Hall of Fame complex. With the blessings of city planners, new developments are being presented to encourage young professionals and others to consider living in the downtown area. The city appears poised to begin to attract many of those young dreamers who previously fled the city in search of better jobs and lifestyles. While Cleveland clearly has its problems still, it has shown considerable progress in reinventing itself from a city whose wealth originally came from steel mills and manufacturing into a much healthier and safer place to raise families. So, Cleveland is the nexus of the political world tonight. NBC's Tim Russert, who is a graduate of John Carroll University (next to where I lived while until last April), will be one of the moderators and will be giving the national debate a little bit of local color, if only for a moment or two. Here's to you, Cleveland. Enjoy your moment in the spotlight and don't let anyone put you down. As I see it, there is no longer a "mistake by the lake."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Of hoaxes, scams and spam (Part 4)

Today's blog will be the last in this series on the evils associated with e-mails, but probably not my last word on it. Seemingly, the most innocuous problem, but one that still needs to be addressed is the e-mail hoax. Hoaxes have become much more prevalent in recent times, but they have existed for decades. A typical hoax arrives in an Inbox from someone you know. That is the main thing that distinguishes it from spam. The e-mail warns of a problem, wants you to forward a petition to stop something from happening or suggests that you will be rewarded financially by forwarding it to as many people in your contact list that you can. Let me state that e-mails are a method and a means to communicate. It is the same concept as sending a conventional letter, only quicker. However, in any case it is a best attempt method. You assume that if you hit the "Send" button, it will reach the desired target. In that way it is similar to a postal box on a street corner. Depositing a letter in the box will more than likely assure the addressee will receive it, but there is no guarantee of that. In the case of a phone call, the message is assured of being received when the person picks up the phone. Under no circumstances will sending or forwarding a single e-mail bring you untold wealth, prevent or enact legislation, get you a guy or gal, or change the world other than to clog mailboxes of your family and friends. Hoaxes have become so prevalent that several sites like and Hoaxbusters have sprung up to refute hoaxes and to validate the ones that are correct. Suffice it to say, please check out either of these sites before you forward an e-mail. It will prevent the proliferation of the spam, but will also indicate to you if you are the victim of a hoax from a well-meaning friend or family member or not. Sometimes, validated e-mails that contain an element of truth may be used to inspire yet another hoax. Until last week I had never received a legitimate Amber Alert about a missing child. Last week's message was confirmed by, but the missing girl was last seen over two years ago and the person who was suspected of abducting her committed suicide as authorities drew closer. I don't believe any case could have been colder. However, I would warmly welcome receiving that legitimate e-mail a hundred times over were there be any way to cut out the numerous fake "virus alerts" that I have received in the last year alone. Now the hoaxers are getting more devious. They will find a legitimate e-mail alert and use that as a basis for a new hoax. A good example of that is the "You've received an e-mail from a friend, etc." spam. This spyware was going around last year and warned everyone that it was a legitimate threat. So what did the hoaxers do? They simply changed the new e-mails to point to the site with the words "I checked it out on" to reinforce to everyone that the threat was real and off went another volley of hoaxes to family and friends. Be careful to check the threats out and make sure that what or says is exactly as it appears in your e-mail. If not, don't pass it on. Dispose of it immediately and don't clog up your family and friends' mail boxes. In any endeavor or undertaking education is key. It is my hope that you've learned a little something about the threats (real or not) from e-mails. Time for me to go and clean out my Inbox.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Of hoaxes, scams and spam (Part 3)

What has become the most troubling of trends in recent years is something called phishing. Phishing is an attempt to mine for personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account and routing numbers, passwords to online banking, and driver's license numbers as a way to steal your identity and then your personal resources. The way phishing typically works is through an initial e-mail that purports to come from your bank, your credit union or from, Paypal, or some other Internet entity. The e-mail looks genuine and purports to come from a trusted source. It may even have genuine links leading to a legitimate site. Once you click on the link, you will be whisked to their site and, oftentimes, will be at their prey. Please don't be taken in by these criminals. It is the same as someone randomly dialing you over the phone and asking you to give them your personal information or the keys to your financial kingdom. In some cases the culprits empty bank accounts so quickly and transfer the monies to overseas accounts that are untraceable. Why does a cleverly-designed phony e-mail merit any more attention than a quick deletion? Yet, thousands have been fooled and hundreds of new phishing attempts occur every day. Be concious that things may not be way they seem. Always type the URL (universal resource locator) of Internet sites you know in the browser's address bar. Don't click on links you don't know. Also, take the time out to forward the phony e-mails to your Internet service provider's fraud department. The sooner they can decipher from whom these messages are sent, the quicker the crooked parties will be thrown into prison and their victims will have a chance at getting restitution. The good news is that today's most updated browsers (internet Explorer 7.0 and Mozilla Firefox 2.0) will warn you of phishing attempts and prevent you from making a mistake you will regret for the rest of your lives. Also, check with the federal government's for more information. Remember: NO banking institution or Internet mainstay like PayPal, e-Bay, Amazon, etc. will ever request personal information via an e-mail. They will utilize secure socket layers (the browser begins with https:) to make certain that the information is encrypted and never sent through an unsecured location. Many doctors' offices and hospitals (pharmacies too) have to comply with H.I.P.P.A and have to provide encryption and security when sending private and personal information over the Internet. It goes without saying to be careful to never give out your full Social Security number to any party other than your bank, your broker, or a true and trusted government official and then only in person. We'll next tackle the problems with hoaxes and why we should all be cautious in forwarding e-mails to warn our neighbors of potential problems.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Of hoaxes, scams and spam (Part 2)

We've already covered how insidious the plague of mass e-mailings are. The majority of these are basically commercial in nature and are attempts to sell some product or service that we can all do well without. Some are salacious invitations to meet women from exotic locales and those can be especially troubling because they may be nothing more than financial lures to meet your money. I always caution men who receive invitations from women from the Philippines, Russia, Japan, etc. that they are probably not dealing with an exciting svelte beauty weighing 110 pounds, but more likely a hairy obese chain-smoking man who is writing anything he thinks someone on the other end wants to read. The words caveat emptor have never been more appropriate. I also have never wanted the massive doses of Viagra, Cialis or God knows whatever sexually-enhancing drugs that are pushed over the Internet through these kinds of e-mails, but I guess they must think I need them. I am sure that the amounts offered to me alone would be enough to keep the Titanic from sinking (rim shot please). Aside from Canadian drug outlets, video cameras, rental properties, airline specials, there are considerable products ad nauseum that are available and will be available in coming months via e-mail solicitations. Suffice it to say the delete key will be your best friend. So why am I so particularly upset at the influx of spam? It's not just the amount of time it takes for everyone to delete these egregious e-mails, although if one does the math, the amount of dollars lost per year per employee in dealing with them is in the billions of dollars. It is also the amount of time and dollars that must be spent to combat them on a local and global basis. These e-mails bog down networks and diminish bandwidth by the sheer volume passed through servers and the resource-hogging applications that must used to stop them from being passed to the end-user. Believe me, were there no filtering on mail servers, the amount of e-mail spam would be 90 times worse than what is happening at present. Much of the more salacious e-mails dealing with sexual content are screened easily, but others are more devious and are passed through because they appear to be innocent on first look. Beware of embedded links in e-mails. Many of these will take your browser to servers that will attempt to identify you and place a cookie on your computer that will continue to identify you to them. Some of these sites will also "mine" for addresses, names, and other personal data in order to assemble other valid e-mail addresses to send out future spam. It's a never-ending cycle. The best bet is to avoid browsing on sites like this and to delete these e-mails immediately when they enter your inbox. The worst of these kinds of e-mails are attempts to "phish." We will deal with this kind of attack in a future blog.

Of hoaxes, scams and spam (Part 1)

Today's topic (the first of a series) is one that is close to my heart and needs to be put into the blogosphere to be distributed across the cyber firmament ad infinitum. But therein lies the problem. Ever since the invention of e-mail, the problem of what to do with unsolicited junk e-mail, known as spam, has become ever more acute. The problem may not seem like much to you, but it costs Internet service providers like AOL and AT&T millions of dollars a year to block spammers. These costs are then passed on to the end users and, like the incoming tide at a beach, the waves of spam keep pounding the shore with no end in sight. Legislation has been passed to deal with this crisis on a national and international scale, but daily mass unsolicited e-mails continue to find their way into our respective inboxes with no end in sight. Mass e-mails sent by spammers can be extremely cost effective; millions of addresses sent out at a time for a few hundred dollars. Anyone who has sent out commercial bulk mail knows that a one to two percent return is considered a successful campaign. For these spammers who continue to operate outside the law, it is a risk they are willing to take for money. And they are getting even more brazen. I speak from experience. Recently, one of these particularly devious hackers cracked my Hotmail account and used my own e-mail to send spam to my entire contact list. I have since changed the password to that account and the illegal, unwarranted e-mails have ceased, but the damage had already been done. This hacker could have done even more damage had he taken over my account and sent e-mails to family and friends insisting that he was me. For that reason, I caution everyone against keeping personal information ESPECIALLY passwords in e-mails stored on web-based providers like G-Mail, Hotmail or Yahoo. Make your passwords a little tougher by changing letters to numbers, adding an uppercase letter or a special character like a $ or a #, and never use less than six characters. Never make your significant other's, spouse's, child's or pet's name your password without those kinds of alterations. A good example would be "charlie" for a password. By simply altering it to read "ChArL1e" you have created a stronger password. Since all passwords are case sensitive, it's a good idea to use several uppercase letters, but the most important ones are not at the beginning or the end of the word, but in the middle, where hackers have more trouble guessing where uppercase letters might appear. One might use the similar or backwards-looking integers 1, 3, 7, 9 and 0 (zero) for i, e, l, g and o. Instead of an S, one might use an $ or employ an # instead of an h. There are all sorts of tricks to be used, but the point is to up the ante so that the hackers don't get the better of you. In upcoming blogs I will address the problem being exacerbated by end users and why we should fight the temptation to pass on unsolicited e-mails from loved ones and friends.
Political pause for the cause: Was Wisconsin the beginning of the end for the Clinton campaign? I remember seeing her poll numbers up by hefty percentage points a little over a week ago. The Obama Express seems to be picking up unbelievable momentum and I have little doubt that Ohio and Texas, crucial battlegrounds for Clinton to win at this late stage of the campaign, may provide less than the overwhelming mandate she is looking for. Meanwhile, McCain keeps adding to his delegate count and an interesting suggestion was made to me yesterday that speculates he might add billionaire New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg as a potential running mate once his nomination is assured. That would certainly enhance McCain's domestic economic package, although the last time a Jewish V-P was proposed (Lieberman in 2000), it didn't have as much impact as I would have surmised.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Fine Arts Celebrated

Hot on the heels of the NBA's love fest with New Orleans came yesterday's star struck event for the fine arts, the 14th annual Tribute to the Classical Arts held at the Monteleone Hotel. With WWL TV's Angela Hill as Master of Ceremonies, the event featured an excellent luncheon and plenty of talented performances interspersed with awards presentations. Roger Dickerson, a New Orleans native who has excelled in both classical and jazz circles, was given the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award by his lifelong friend and admirer Ellis Marsalis. Only 15 hours previously Marsalis had been on stage playing a Steinway piano opposite Harry Connick, Jr. as part of the halftime festivities for the All Star Game at the New Orleans Arena. He thoroughly enjoyed that, he said, but giving an award to Dickerson held special favor in his eyes too and both he and his wife Delores were delighted to be at the fine arts event to single him out for his many years of playing, composing and teaching. The Outstanding Contribution Award went to Albinas and Manon Prizgintas for their work with the Trinity Church's series through the years that has presented both small and intimate pieces as well as grand and glorious works. Dennis Assaf, a Holy Cross High School graduate, was presented the award noting 30 years of contributions by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society by a Holy Cross teacher, Charles Digange, and one of his former classmates, Clancy Dubos, the editor and publisher of Gambit Magazine, which sponsors the Big Easy Entertainment Awards that presented yesterday's event. The saddest part of the day was when the 2008 Arts Education Award was presented by Dr. Anthony Decuir and New Orleans Opera Association director and fellow Loyola faculty member David Morelock to Ellen and Philip Frohnmayer. Philip has been battling peritoneal mesothelioma for some time now and was noticeably absent from the dais. Ellen graciously accepted the award on his behalf, but acknowledged this rare form of cancer is tough to beat. She vowed that Philip would do so and the hearts of everyone in the room hung heavy, but hopeful. Funds raised from yesterday's ceremonies went to further the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education, a 501 C-3 non-profit that funds programs and projects relating to the culture and economy of the city. The other two big awards shows that it draws funding from are the Big Easy Entertainment and Big Easy Theatre Awards as well as a wine tasting fundraiser each October called the Reds, Whites and Blues. Aside from the foundation, big winners yesterday were the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra's "Music of the Spheres" program named after Stephen Dankner's Symphony No. 8 as well as the "New Year's Eve with the New Orleans Opera" program that also merited attention for the best choral arts presentation of last year. Dance award recipients included the Delta Festival Ballet, the Tsunami Dance Company and the JPAS and The Ashe Cultural Arts Center for three different works. Two of those, "In the Land of Dreamy Dreams" by Delta Festival Ballet and "Portraits in a Forgotten City" centered on representations of post-Katrina life in New Orleans. One has to marvel at how robust and vibrant the cultural arts are in New Orleans and how fantastic nearly every program has rebounded since the storm that smashed nearly every existing cultural institution here. Thank God for the hard work and drive of the people honored at yesterday's event. But let's not forget to thank those who by their attendance at the Tribute to the Classical Arts yesterday furthered the local arts scene just a bit more.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Halftime of all halftimes

It was a defining moment. What started out with a jazzed-up introduction of players like nowhere else featuring the Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins and Trombone Shorty, climbed to the penultimate of heights with a halftime show to rival even those put on by the fabled NFL. The musical fireworks were shot off in volleys from the keyboards of Harry Connick, Jr., Dr. John (Mac Rabennack), Allen Toussaint, Art Neville, Ivan Neville, Ellis Marsalis, and Jonathan Baptiste, truly the best that New Orleans has to offer to the nation in thanks for the ongoing rebuilding efforts. The 2008 NBA All-Star Game is over with the East squad claiming bragging rights with a 134-128 win over the West, yet the musical notes still linger. I am glad to acknowledge the play of Cleveland's own Lebron James netted him the MVP award for the game. His 27 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds were bound to please my good friends in King James's Cleveland, where I stayed some 20 months just prior to and following Hurricane Katrina. But Chris Paul and David West of the New Orleans Hornets created local pride, too. Paul's 16 points, three rebounds, and the game's highest total assists for a player at 14 were not bad for his first time All Star appearance. The $90 million pumped into the local economy will be warmly welcomed as was the previous huge infusion of cash due to the All State Sugar Bowl and BCS Championship Series Bowl games. The USA Network just announced that its "Character of the Month" isn't a character at all; it's New Orleans. With such good will and the coffers filled, can there be any question that the Queen City of the South has finally arrived and is back to its previous glory? To that question all I have to do is offer a tour of the Ninth Ward, Gentilly or Lakeview areas. I need not do anything more than show the rows of houses still standing that have had little or no work done on them since the storm. I need to only show the empty lots that formerly held beautifully appointed homes laid waste by the bulldozers. I need to only point to the horrible condition of the roads across most of these areas or to point out the missing trees and foliage that formerly graced front yards and city streets. Yes, we are enjoying record success in the Big Easy. But please remember we have so much further still to go.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yartzheits and Hoops

There is a Jewish practice to honor loved ones who have passed on the aniversary of their deaths according to the Hebrew calendar called a yartzheit. By having the names of cherished family members who have passed called out during regular synagogue religious services and by reciting a special prayer called Kaddish on that date, the lives and deeds of the deceased are recalled and their memories are kept alive in the hearts of those who remain. The Kaddish, originally written in Aramaic, is a powerful prayer of praise to God that never mentions the dead, but binds the mourner to community and is, in effect, a prayer for the living. Later this morning I will be joining with a local family who tragically lost a beloved 27-year-old daughter five years ago. There will be services at their home. Next week my son and I will also recall the memory of my wife and his mother Sally who passed away 13 years ago. These private somber moments will have great meaning for us. But for most of the nation its thoughts will center on the loud, raucous NBA All-Star game that culminates a weekend of activities being held here in the Crescent City. Thousands of locals and visitors alike have been taking part in the "NBA All-Star Jam" being held at the Morial Convention Center for the past four days. The big showdown is tonight on TNT at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Feet, don't fail me now

Okay, so maybe I overreacted. Maybe it was the incredible pangs of pain that kept radiating from my foot that had me thinking the worst. Maybe it was my congitive reasoning that suggested that it was time for me to experience the indignity of a broken digit. Or maybe it was... ♪just my imagination, once again, running away with me♪...well, you know what I mean. For the record, I am not dealing with a broken toe. After an x-ray was taken on Wednesday and the results were finally given to me yesterday, it is apparent that I am suffering from a spur in or adjacent to my big toe. The spur could quite possibly have been exacerbated by the trauma of my toe hitting the sidewalk on Sunday. I'm not sure. However, once I took off my shoes and switched to sandals (and took massive doses of iburprofen) my foot started feeling oh-so-much better. Ahhhhhh... The good news for me medically will unfortunately mean that I will be committing many fashion sins in the next week or so as the swelling goes down and my normal gait returns. Sandals and socks: that's a fashion mis-statement if I've ever heard of one. I hope to avoid the fashion police over the course of the next several days. I guess the big question that needs to be resolved is what to do to deal with the spur. Is it something that I will have to deal with in the future or was it just a freak accident that could have been more manageable had I simply removed my shoes and donned my sandals days ago at the first sign of distress? In the meantime I am getting very proficient at downing four ipuprofen without water lickedy split. Its a technique I've rehearsed while watching reruns of "House."
On to politics: A new political poll awaits your vote at the right of this column. The last poll, which ran from January until earlier in the month yielded the following results: a three way plurality tie with Clinton, Edwards, and Obama (21% each). Because I could not change the poll without deleting it, Romney, Thompson and Edwards remained even after each had suspended their campaigns. I am fairly confident that the four candidates listed in the two major political parties races for nominations will remain, although Huckabee could bail if he runs out of money soon. I would invite you to cast your vote in our latest straw poll.
Hoop Dreams: In case you were on a different planet in the last few days or don't plan to watch the NBA All-Star game this weekend, you may not know that the NBA has landed in New Orleans for its annual show-off festival. It's such a big deal that the city fathers (and mothers) have decided to sweep the artists, tarot readers, and others away for the next several days from the area adjacent to Jackson Square, the site of tonight's "2008 Celebration of Contribution" NBA bash honoring volunteers who are contributing to the rebuilding effort here. Locally, there is much interest in Hornets Coach Byron Scott, who is leading an NBA All-Star team on his own home court in the upcoming game.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Today is the day dedicated to lovers the world over. It is the day on the calendar where a relationship could falter due to a lack of consideration on either of the parties involved or where one might be cemented for life. If one consideres its history, it is a rather strange holiday. Its basis goes back to the Roman holiday of Lupercalia, which celebrated the fertility of family, flocks, and fields. The Ides of February was reserved for young men to extract a billet with the name of an available young woman on it and pin it to their sleeves. The expression "to wear his heart on his sleeve" came out of this practice. But when the Church needed a figure about which to "Christianize" the holiday, it came up with a minor martyr named Valentine whose history would hardly be considered worthy of association with love. Marriage, yes. Love, no. In fact, Valentine, a man who unquestionably was chaste, was executed for performing marriages, not for promoting love. We have come to make Cupid, as the Romans called the son of Venus, or Eros, the son of Aphrodite as the Greeks knew him, a symbol for this holiday. That probably stems from the earlier practice of wanton sexual activities during the height of the winter season. So, at this time, what is it that really ramps up a relationship? Is it the chocolate that acts as an aphrodisiac? Is it the aromatic scents of the bouquets given to one's love? Or is it the other gifts -- jewelry or otherwise -- that engages our urge to merge? I know that the most intense of all senses associated with love is the sense of smell. Pheromones given off by the opposite sex have been shown to be among the most attractive of forces. (Of course for same sex couples the same must also be true.) I know for most men, the sense of sight must also be considered high on the scale. In case you question that statement, I have one word for you: pornography. Women are not wired the same way, it would seem. They are turned on by visual cues, but not to the same extent as men. For example, I have heard of very few men complaining their wives were up late at night surfing porn websites and not spending time with them. But I do not want to accuse men as being inconsiderate, boorish cads. I would like to point out that their fascination with being excited by visual cues makes for the sparks that light up a relationship. Whether it is imagining a blonde, buxomy bimbo or a demure, delicate distaff as their ideal mate, doesn't seem to matter. Whatever is behind it is what makes the sex drive of the male as strong and passionate a force as can be found in nature. I, for one, have my fantasies too. If there is one body part of a woman that turns me on, though, it is probably her brain. But some will say that is a cop out. So I will admit that as to external charms, I have always been turned on by eyes, the windows of the soul. I see myself melting in the deep, emerald pools of my soul mate's orbs. But this is Valentine's Day and fantasies, after all, are as close as a pair of contact lenses and a wig.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why I won't be dancing this Valentine's Day

OUCH! It didn't seem like such a major injury when I tripped on the sidewalk this past Sunday afternoon. There I was, leaving the dedication of the new Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center just off the Tulane University campus, when the front of my right foot caught the edge of a broken piece of sidewalk. Broken sidewalks, especially since Hurricane Katrina are somewhat commonplace in the city. It smarted, but my foot didn't throb immediately or feel particularly bad. On other occasions I had tripped in a similar manner with no lasting ill effects. So, I went home, rested, wrote my blog and offered myself up to Morpheus. When I awoke Monday morning, I noticed a dull pain in the general area of the top of the foot. It wasn't very pronounced, but as the day got longer, it became more of an issue. I began to limp noticeably as I favored the other foot. On Monday night I rested the foot and it seemed to lessen when I awoke on Tuesday. Yet, Tuesday the pain seemed to worsen as I stayed on my feet and in my shoes all day. That may have aggravated the condition. When I finally removed my shoe late last night, it was inflamed, swollen and I could perceive the point of pain as the joint on my toe. I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV. But it's my opinion that I have broken my big toe. Later this morning I will confirm my diagnosis with one rendered by a medical professional. In the meantime my toe throbs and pounds and won't let me sleep. Trust me, I don't sleep a lot to begin with, so missed sleep to me is a crisis of looming proportions. If I understand the treatment for a broken toe correctly, it is that there is nothing that can be done other than to confirm that it is broken, tape it, and wait for the upcoming six to eight weeks for the healing process to be finished. I can't wait to start downing ibuprofen and taping my big toe to its adjacent mate. The thought of removing the tape as it pulls on my skin or rips the tiny body hairs out of place seems unsettling, but perhaps won't be as unpleasant as I fear. If there is a good side to this malady, it may just be that I will start wittling away at my medical insurance deductible for the year. Forget the roses, the chocolate and the champagne. I'll be dealing with x-rays, tape, and Aleve. Those may be romantic words to a quick care center or a pharmacy, but ones I had hardly hoped would be whispered in my ear this Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Give Me Just a Little More Time

Every now and then a problem will pop up on a network and it will have no logical explanation. Programs that would normally be performing correctly will stop working or, worse, will create errors or bring the entire operating system down in a heartbeat. This happened to me this morning as I received a call from a friendly client. His legacy DOS program, which he runs from a server on his local area network (LAN) was quitting abruptly and giving him an error report or, worse, simply rebooting after two or three minutes. The problem had just started when he came in, so it wasn't chronic or anticipated. As I was inspecting his system, his administrator also began experiencing problems on her computer accessing the same legacy DOS software program. In her case she could log in, but couldn't supply a password. The server returned an error that "no passwords could be found." The red light started going off in my head. Two different problems associated with the same server. A prudent man could reason it didn't seem likely they were not related in some way. I went over to the nearby server in an adjacent room and examined the Event Log under Administrative Tools. I noticed several "red" errors in the log that had only begun a few hours before. They all related to the "W32Time" service or the Windows Time service that is a major feature of the Windows Server 2003 operating system. Then I looked at the clock in the lower right hand corner. The actual time was 11:18 a.m., but the clock showed 11:34. It was now 16 minutes ahead of all of the other computers on the LAN. Several protocols and services within Windows must run within a 15 minute period or else a Windows 2003 server will not communicate correctly with workstations in a workgroup or on a domain. That's something that is not widely known, but it was the root of all of the problems. All that had to be done was to reset the clock to the proper time, sync with a good Internet time server (part of the same Time/Date options), and the problem computers were functioning correctly again. Sometimes something as simple as the wrong time can have a plethora of problems associated with it. It's always a good idea to check that out on workstations too. A common mistake is to have your clock on the p.m. setting instead of the a.m. setting. Always make sure the time and date are correct because, as Tony Bennett once sang, "Time After Time" you'll find out that the Outsiders were correct: "Time Won't Let Me."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Computer Riding

Following the release of the movie "Urban Cowboy," riding a mechanical bull became a popular attraction at country and western clubs that sprang up across the nation like Gilley's. Recently, I began a new "sport" of riding computers while working on them to strip them of viruses and spyware. Many don't suspect it, but a computer case will support the weight of a man of woman many times its size due to the way it evenly disburses weight distribution. But I must admit it. It was necessity, the heralded mother of invention, that started my computer riding days. My chair, a lovely antique that was part of the bedroom suite I inherited from my maternal grandfather was in need of reglueing and I was afraid that it might lose all integrity were I to continue to use it. So, I plugged a computer in one day and straddled it like a knight in shining armor atop a fine Arab charger. It felt good and somehow it made me feel like I was in more control of directing the computer and putting it through its paces. It brought me back to my earlier days of riding English saddle. I could press the start button and slowly bring the computer from a slow walk into a post. Then, I could allow it to get up to speed cantoring and then running all out at a gallop. There is a certain thrill that I get as the computer whirrs beneath me and I know I am in total control, the master of all I survey. That is unless the vile viruses or spurious spyware conspire to make my ride a less than pleasurable experience. Then, it's a protracted workout of several hours finding ways to reign in their effects until the computer has a restored registry or a new operating system to get it on its way. In the meantime I guess I should keep this new sport to myself, lest people get the wrong idea that I only want to ride their computers, not fix them. But I do promise one thing to ease everyone's mind. I'll never take up computer jumping!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Up, Up, and Away

Bill, I love you so. I always will,
I look at you and see the passion eyes of May...

© "Wedding Bell Blues" by Laura Nyro
Yesterday it was Barack Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois, addressing massive crowds at Tulane University. Today it will be William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, campaigning at Dillard University on behalf of his wife Hillary. Yesterday there was a contested nomination for the Republicans. Today John McCain is the standard bearer of his party as Governor Mitt Romney made clear his intention to suspend his campaign. In a period of a little more than a week the field of candidates for the presidency has shrunk to two for each major party: Obama and Clinton for the Democrats and McCain and Huckabee for the Republicans. To be sure, Huckabee is not in any position to overtake McCain's huge lead and with Romney's exit, the conservatives will have to learn the hard lesson that sometimes one must bend like a mighty tree in the onslaught of overpowering winds or else snap. My feeling is that a McCain-Romney alliance, while unlikely, might be the best bet for the Republicans, but who knows? If McCain doesn't care about appeasing conservatives at this stage of the contest, he might just go the other way. What about a McCain-Lieberman ticket? On the other side of the aisle, the Clintons versus Obama looks like a knock-down, drag-out fight. A few months back, I thought Hillary was the heir apparent. To be frank, Obama has captured the imagination and determination of youth and women who were the Clintons' former strength. His presence and charisma are formidable. I can't see either a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket. So I suggest we keep our eyes peeled for a tough fought race there. Then again, it was my feeling only a few weeks back that Romney and Giuliani would have stayed in the Republican race and that Edwards would have mounted a significant alternative campaign for the Democrats. 2008 has proven to be the year of the unexpected. It is only February, yet much of what should have played out in the ensuing months has already been determined. The next six months will be interesting to say the least. Meanwhile, the 47 Republican delegates and 67 Democratic delegates from Louisiana will be determined tomorrow. It's nice to be wanted, I guess. But sometimes I feel like the Fifth Dimension's Marilyn McCoo. Maybe Bill will give us something to be hopeful for later today.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Trash Talk

For the first time since Hurricane Katrina, city officials reported that the size of trash collections has returned to pre-storm levels. Officially, the city will not release the gross tonnage figures, because, they say, it encourages revelers to "trash" the city. But this is very significant. More trash means more sales of disposable products, which directly relates to sales tax collections and is a barometer for economic progress. I must admit, I did not personally add to the refuse on the streets, but I am a local. I tend to use a trashcan.
Interestingly enough, the local owner of the trash collection service tabbed by the city to clean up the formerly disgusting and dirty French Quarter has become something of a local poster boy himself. Sidney D. Torres IV, 31, the owner of SDT Waste and Debris Services, has become such a local celebrity that he recently rode on a special float with the Krewe of Orpheus on Lundi Gras. Torres, rode with his young son on the float, each delighting in the unusual honor afforded them by the krewe. Torres is a hard worker, often rising each morning by 4:30 a.m. to ride along with his crews as they begin the arduous task of picking up the trash left over by revelers and residents from the night before. Torres has only been in the trash business since shortly after Katrina passed through the city. He reportedly found a need for trash pickup at local hotels he owned, but found the services priced beyond reason. So, he met that need by buying his own truck and dumpsters and providing his own service. The good-looking Torres with shoulder-length hair askew looks like a college kid one might hire as an intern. But don't let his youthful looks give you the impression that he's not an astute businessman. He has shot several likeable TV commercials with a jazz tinge to enhance his company's public persona. Along the way, he became a local star too. A former personal assistant to musician Lenny Kravitz, Torres hired the rocker who now calls New Orleans home for a gritty local TV spot touting the fact that the city is bouncing back and that SDT Waste and Debris Services is pitching in to help. Another recent popular spot showed a male Carnival reveler attempting to use a building on a side street for a urinal. With the sounds of the parade in the background and while his back is turned to the camera, an SDT truck with a pressure washer comes up behind him and douses him with a torrent of water and, one hopes, enlightenment. Torres is a dynamo, but if he doesn't watch out he may become a casualty of his own success and get elected to public office. Yeow!
Meanwhile, with the lack of a clear-cut winner on Super Tuesday, Louisiana has become a state in play. Saturday is the date for the Democratic and Republican primaries and the struggle to snatch delegates has the candidates going to the mattresses. Even Barack Obama was here this morning for a free speech at Tulane University. It's nice to be remembered during the campaign. I just hope they'll remember us after it's all over.
Inspirational thought of the day:
"Even in the grimmest times I have seen man's goodness as the flame that can never be extinguished." - Nelson Mandela, former jailed political activist for 27 years, 1993 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and president of South Africa (1994-1999), who is expected to celebrate his 90th birthday on July 18.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It's Over, Already

It is the middle of the night and the strains of the "Triumphal March from 'Aida'" have just finished playing. Almost immediately, a gay, flighty little mazurka titled "The Jolly Coppersmith" begins to play from the speaker of my television. Egad! I have fallen asleep in the bedroom while checking out the rerun of the meeting of the courts of Rex and Comus I had watched earlier in the night in my living room. It is a Mardi Gras staple that has increased in coverage from the 15 minute one-camera, black and white presentation I recall as a kid to the more than three and a half hour long multi-colored production broadcast over the local PBS station. I am still tired even after resting the entire day. This Carnival season is history and it seems a lifetime ago that the process began back in October with coronation balls and the research into the ball themes. This was the second earliest date that Carnival Day could be held and the season was compressed in a way that was exacerbating. For me it was a day of unwinding, not partying as one might expect. I enjoyed the spectacle of the day-long proceedings from the sanctity of my bed and the peacefulness of my living room. I did get out for a while, but it was only for a short time and I must admit it felt good to not worry about work or other pursuits. On the one hand, I am glad that it is finished, but like a jilted lover, I am overwrought that its conclusion, while necessary also smarts.
Now that the results of Super Tuesday are in, it would appear that some of what the pundits had been predicting came true, but that no nominations were decided and campaigning will still go on. No big winner for the Republicans, although McCain is certainly well on his way. The other big Republican story would seem to be Romney's sputtering campaign and Huckabee's resurgence. Wow! It's going to be a long winter for the G.O.P., especially for the uneasy conservative minions. Meanwhile, Demos Clinton and Obama are still picking up wins in different areas. The Barack Express is moving at breakneck speed, but the Hillary juggernaut is moving along too, picking up momentum in key metro areas. It is only February, folks. We've got a lot more to come.
Final days for the poll: The straw poll at bottom right won't allow me to change the names of those who dropped out (Edwards, Thompson, and Giuliani), but it will allow those of you who have already voted to change your vote. Only five days remain. Right now, though, Clinton, Edwards, and Obama are tied. That means that three votes for Edwards and one for Giuliani are essentially wasted. If anyone wishes to correct that, please do so. Or, if you'd like to vote for your preference before the poll ends, please do so.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Lundi Gras is an amazing day of community building. When the Rex organization was relatively young, it began a tradition of having the King of Carnival arrive at the banks of the Mississippi River by steamboat on the evening before Fat Tuesday to officially signal the beginning of the holiday. The tradition was held from 1874 until the entry of the United States into World War I. Starting in 1987 the School of Design, the parent organization for Rex, brought back the tradition by having Rex arrive by water transport at the foot of Canal Street. With the immense popularity of Zulu as a worthy competitor for the public's attentions in recent decades, it wasn't long before city officials and the Zulu organization campaigned with the Rex organization to make the new Lundi Gras a community event incorporating both groups. Zulu, formed in 1909 by the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, began as an outlet for prominent New Orleans blacks to ridicule the Rex organization. Their early king arrived on an oyster lugger wearing a crown made from a tin can and holding a banana stalk as a scepter. For many years the organization continued to provide an outlet for the disenfranchised members of black New Orleans, growing in popularity and acceptance. One of the biggest events for them was in 1949 when Louis Armstrong returned in a rare visit to his hometown to accept the crown as King of Zulu. Yet, the Zulu parade continued to be an impromptu affair without any specific parade route until city officials clamped down on them in the last three decades, forcing them to deal with respectablity. That respectability has grown in stature so that Zulu also now takes part in the Lundi Gras celebrations taking place in Kenner at their Rivertown area. The King and Queen of Argus, the major parade held on Mardi Gras in Metairie, greet the King and Queen of Zulu at midday. Then the Zulu royalty travels to the foot of Canal Street and meets with Rex, who accepts the mayoral proclamation giving him the rule of the city for the following day. Musical acts play throughout the afternoon with street dancing and carousing heavily encouraged. Later, pyrotechnics are used to signal the beginning of festivities. The parades on Monday night are among the best in all of Carnival. Zeus, the oldest parading group in Metairie handles very large crowds, while in New Orleans the traditional Krewe of Proteus makes its way early in the evening along the traditional uptown and downtown route. They prepare the way for the final superkrewe, the Krewe of Orpheus, formed 15 years ago by Harry Connick, Jr., his father, and Sonny Borey, the artistic director at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré. Their parade ends at the Ernest Morial Convention Center as the huge, colorful floats, many featuring fiber optic displays, arrive for the Orpheuscapade, a party featuring well-known bands and celebrity figures who perform into the wee hours of the night. That was where I was until late (or early) this morning. I awoke this morning with a kosher king cake (no baby inside this one) and a cup of coffee and chicory. I think I am ready.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Sunday

So, it turns out I did FOUR parades at Gallier Hall today including the rescheduled Krewe of Babylon. I started the day meeting the Queen and the Royal Court of the Krewe of Okeanos at the Queen's Breakfast at the Le Pavilion Hotel. Around 10:15 a.m., the ladies of the Royal Court, their mothers and other family members entered three large stretch limousines and headed uptown to the beginning of the parade route. Already at that point historic St. Charles Avenue was bristling with families camped out for a day of parading. We made the turn at the starting point and headed back along the route on St. Charles Avenue. Wow! Everyone was waving at us as we had two motorcycles escorting us downtown to historic Gallier Hall. It was hot outside today, so we kept the Royal Court inside until I was able to get them egress into the building. They kept cool inside the building while the parade approached the reviewing stand. As the parade was just about on top of us, I announced the maids and lovely queen as well as the king's wife and the captain's wife and president's wife of Okeanos. It was a great day to start. Following Okeanos, I was surprised when a representative of the Krewe of Babylon handed me the script for his parade and informed the officials on the reviewing stand that I was going to announce his parade as well. Following the very short Babylon parade came the 75th anniversary parade of the Krewe of Mid City, whose foil floats were celebrated with the theme "75 Years in Foil" and then came the 38-float extravaganza, the 61st annual Krewe of Thoth parade. My son David paraded on float #14 along with a cousin who flew in from Vanderbilt University and a Tulane roommate. They had a blast! My mom joined me on the stands at Gallier Hall, so it was truly a Smason family affair until after 5:30 p.m. this evening. The Superbowl had already started and was well into the first quarter when I left Gallier Hall. While others were lining up to gain entry into Gallier Hall for the celebrated Krewe of Bacchus parade, i was heading back uptown to watch the Superbowl featuring my hometown hero, Eli Manning of the New York Giants. Eli proved to be as exceptional an athlete as his brother Peyton was at last year's Superbowl when he won the national championship ring with his Indianapolis Colts. I watched Cooper, Peyton and Eli play football at Newman High School for many years while my son attended lower school and middle school. To see the incredible success Peyton and Eli have garnered for themselves in the NFL is truly wonderful and a testament to Olivia and Archie, their parents. While the New England Patriots were not able to enjoy a perfect season, they still bested the previous record set by the 1972 Miami Dolphins and have raised the bar very high for another team to repeat. They have nothing to be ashamed of other than they got beaten by a superior team on the field today. Congratulations to the New York Giants and our hometown hero Eli Manning! I say to heck with perfection. Just concentrate on execution.

Groundhog Day

In the movie "Groundhog Day" Bill Murray lives through seemingly endless permutations of the same day, February 2. My Groundhog Day here in New Orleans was, perhaps, the exact opposite of Murray's plight. It was over before I knew it. While it may be true that I was not able to vie for the hand of the comely Andie MacDowell, there were so many items on the agenda that I hardly had time to catch my breath. It started early enough with my usual Saturday morning activities preparing to attend religious services, but it was much more involved because I was sponsoring the Kiddush luncheon there in honor of my father's yartzhiet (anniversary of his passing). I was given an honor and asked to talk about my father following two other members of the synagogue whose father's death coincided on the same day on the Hebrew calendar, Shevat 28. After they had talked about his connection to the synagogue, I was asked to speak. I acknowledged that while my father didn't regularly attend services, he nonetheless felt that it was a proper duty for a man to belong to a synagogue and that he was a member of Beth Israel from the time he married my mother. "My father was a prominent figure, but he was a man of few words," I continued. "He would not deign to hold up these services, so I will conclude with what was his favorite expression: 'If I'm not there, start without me.'" It was a wonderful morning capped by the appearance of my son David there for a short, but meaningful period. Unfortunately, the services didn't end until noon and the luncheon that followed put me on a very late start that prevented me from watching the Krewe of Iris, the female parade organization I work with during the Carnival season. I did watch the Krewe of Tucks, who celebrated their 40th anniversary yesterday I remember when the "krewe" was nothing more than the result of inebriated Tulane students gathering at a nearby bar and parading with pickup trucks on busy Claiborne Avenue and other side streets near the university. Their king sat on a commode in the rear of a pickup truck and his "scepter" was a toilet plunger. They have certainly come a long way. The rest of the evening was spent preparing dinner and trying to relax prior to today's major slate of parades I will be announcing at Gallier Hall. I have three to do: Okeanos, Mid City and Thoth. The rescheduled Krewe of Babylon will be sandwiched in between the first and second slot and someone else will have that duty, apparently. Time to don the tux.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A New Month

Welcome to the second month of my entry into the blogosphere. Yes, for those of us who are just getting adjusted to the acceptance of such terms as "my bad" and "friends with benefits," the word blogosphere seems like one of those Dr. Seuss expressions my sister called "made up." After all, it is only about a decade old and may just take a bit more adjustment before it rolls trippingly off the tongue. My spellcheck program still highlights "blogosphere" as a misspelled word, but not to worry. It highlights "spellcheck," too.
According to the way that I set up the blog, one should be able to go back in the archives and read any of the previous 28 posts that were made in January. As is the case always, the last few blogs will be visible on the home page of Kosher Computing.
It is cold in New Orleans today. Not cold by Cleveland standards, but cold nevertheless. A 30 or 40 degree day in New Orleans with 97% humidity seems much colder than those of much lesser temperatures in my former haunt in Ohio. As the natives here like to say, "it's the humidity stupid." Well, whatever the reason, my feet are especially cold this morning. The weather system that blew through here yesterday was brief, but intense. The lightning and driving rain was over in just a little over an hour and a half, but it came at a crucial time for the mounting of the evening's parades. After talks with city officials before noon, all the New Orleans krewes decided to cancel; two of them, the Krewes of Muses and Babylon, opted to reschedule for tonight and Sunday afternoon, respectively. That means four uptown parades tonight along St. Charles Avenue (Hermes, d'Etat, Morpheus, and Muses), the return of the biggest tomorrow night, the Krewe of Endymion, along its traditional Mid City and downtown route, and five parades on Sunday (Okeanos, Babylon, Mid City, and Thoth to start) concluding with superkrewe Bacchus on Super Bowl Sunday night. Monday night is superkrewe Orpheus where I will be at the Convention Center and that leaves just one day more. For the rest of the country, it's Super Tuesday, but for us it's Mardi Gras. It is a hectic, whirlwind schedule for me, but I wouldn't have it any other way. L'eissez les bon temps rouler!