Tuesday, February 28, 2012

THIS Mama Grizzly is ANGRY!!!

I am spitting mad today!  Furious!

I've spent the past three days on the phone with insurance companies, adjusters and car companies.  As you may remember, my 20 year old son was involved in an accident Friday evening.  He had the right of way, was about to head over the Shreveport/Barksdale bridge, and some guy coming the other way decides to "beat the light" and turns left on a yellow, in front of my son's car, and causes my son to T-bone him.  Three kind souls stopped to give statements - one of them he (Stupid Driver - not John) nearly hit and another had to swerve to avoid hitting him.

I took yesterday off to get the claims process rolling.  I got the police report today and was thrilled to see the StupidDriver had insurance.


He told the cops he did.  He even gave them a card saying his coverage was good until June 2012.  So my agent calls his company today to make a claim and lo and behold, StupidDriver hasn't had insurance since December.  It's not clear if he canceled his policy or if they dropped him.

Andy wrote recently about how easy it is to find out things with simple Google searches.  I've long known this to be true.   As it turns out, StupidDriver apparently doesn't have such a great driving record and was involved in an accident on the way home from a strip club in December.  He broke his arm in three places.  Or so he says.

I've only just begun to search.

At any rate, apparently it's quite simple to get yourself some insurance, get your handy-dandy insurance card showing you have coverage for six months or so, and then cancel it.  And voila!  You don't have to pay that monthly premium and can drive your piece of shit car around town, running lights, and bashing into innocent young drivers thereby leaving them without transportation to their college classes!  And StupidDriver gets off free and clear.  No worries for him.  He doesn't even have to find some other insurance company to scam until June.  He's still got a card that says he has insurance!  He drove away in his bashed and battered Lincoln while my kid's car was towed.

On a related note, how in the hell can ObamaCare pretend to demand that every soul in America purchase health insurance (and enforce that) when we can't even guarantee that some scumbag in Louisiana has the barest minimum of car insurance?

Meanwhile, I have to rely on my "uninsured motorist" coverage to settle on my kid's car and my own rates will likely go up because of it, all for an accident that was absolutely not his fault and was totally the fault of some con-artist scumbag.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

That Dreaded Phone Call

Mr. SIGIS and I had just finished a nice dinner at Texas Roadhouse last night and had stopped into our favorite watering hole on BAFB for a nightcap before heading home.  Not long into my first Sam Adams we received "the phone call."  That one all parents dread:

"Mom!  I've been in a wreck!"

It's my Teenager who really isn't a teenager anymore - he turned 20 last month. 

He's fine.

The car - not so much.

We quickly gathered our belongings and dash out to the car and I'm on the cell phone with him asking all the standard questions:  Are you hurt?  Is anyone else hurt?  Was anyone with you?  Are the police on their way?  You know.

He's in a panic, of course.  "I need you here NOW!  NOW!  Hurry!" 

Fortunately, Barksdale AFB is about five minutes from where he was.  We were there in four.  As we drive over the Red River bridge, I can see the sirens and flashers and hear the horn blaring.  I see John standing in the intersection, off to the side a bit, on his phone, "I need you NOW!"  I told him to calm down, I had him in my eyesight and we were going to park the car. 

Shortly after we got there the EMS and the police arrived.

Poor thing.  He was really shaken up, but physically okay.  Thank God.

He was following a friend over the bridge to another friend's house when someone made a left turn in front of him way too close for John to stop in time.  He slammed on the brakes and swerved but it was too close.  His driver airbag and the passenger airbag deployed and the driver's side window shattered.  The front end is not really crushed but definitely dented and bent.  The other car had a major crush on the passenger door.  Luckily nobody was hurt.

And me, all I could think about (after checking him over for injuries) was how in the world am I going to get this kid to school next week?  He drives about six miles across town to college every day.  True, this is not a huge problem, but you don't think clearly at times like this.

I'm so grateful for Mr. SIGIS who is retired law enforcement and knows how to keep a cool head about things and how to work a scene.  He dealt with the EMS and the police officers.  We got the car towed (I even gathered the presence of mind to get John's backpack out of it, because remember, I'm all focused on the school thing.)

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take a picture of his little Ford Contour to show you, but pictures for the blog weren't exactly at the top of my list at the time.

One other blessing, besides John's escape from injury, was that two very kind ladies witnessed the accident and stopped to tell the police what they saw.  One of them said the fellow nearly hit her when he turned (four lane street), and the other said she saw John's back tires lift off the ground when he made impact.  OMG.

So grateful for them stopping to check on him and to talk to police!

After all was sorted out Mr. SIGIS insisted we take John to get checked out because he was beginning to feel the aches and pains.  We spent a couple of hours at the ER, got x-rays done, and all is well.  They gave him a little scrip for some pain meds and sent him home to bed.

Of course, today is Saturday and you can't get an insurance agent, find out where the car is, or get anything moving on this, so I had to call a sub and take Monday off to get this worked out. 

Meanwhile, today is Mr. SIGIS's birthday!  He's older than me now for seven months.  So, pictured above, instead of John's wrecked car, is our friend Red who gave him some birthday pie at breakfast this morning (at George's Grill.)

I'm counting my blessings today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

City Commissioners Go a Little Bananas


The Commission shot down District 3 Commissioner, Michael Williams' ordinance to ban wearing sleepwear in public.The Commission voted 8 to 4 not to put the item on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting.

Commissioner Joyce Bowman wore her PJs to the meeting to show her disapproval of the ordinance and says there are more important problems to address.

"What the police and the sheriff needs to do is to go out and get those folks that were shooting up everything last night. That's what they need to do and leave folks alone when it comes to wearing what they want to wear," said Bowman.

"Wore her PJs to the meeting"? 


Monday, February 20, 2012

Is Governor Jindal the "Superman" Education Has Been Waiting For?

Last month Governor Bobby Jindal unveiled his plan for education reform in Louisiana.  Since then I've read nearly every thing I can get my hands on about the plan, both pro and con.  The discussion even motivated me to finally watch Waiting for Superman.  While I think all sides agree that something needs to be done, I still have more questions than answers about Jindal's plan. 

Full disclosure:  I'm a 16 year educator in the Louisiana public school system.  I've been at my current school since 2001 and by the Letter Grade Policy instituted by our state in 2010, my school is ranked "low performing."  I've addressed the topic of letter grades for schools on this blog before and won't rehash that one, but to be sure, it's a much more complicated equation than the current grading system allows for.

That said, let me just reiterate that I still have more questions than answers about the current state of public education.  Consider the Superman documentary, for example.  The kids highlighted in that film all had a concerned, dedicated parent pushing them and pushing to get them into a charter school.  What about kids that don't have that?  What about kids that don't have someone pulling for them like that? 

The film criticizes "the tracking system" and stresses the idea that every single kid go to college.  Is this truly realistic or just utopian and is one considered a "bad teacher" for suggesting that not all kids are in fact college material?  (I personally am not advocating one way or the other at this point so save your hate mail; I'm just posing questions here).

In Louisiana, one of the ideas Governor Jindal has put forth is to expand the voucher program that has been in place since 2003.

“First, our plan will expand the existing Scholarship Program statewide for low-income students at C, D and F schools."

Some educators have a problem with this citing a lack of slots in private schools as well as questions about the criteria for holding private and parochial schools accountable.  

And what of the students who don't meet the academic requirements to get into these schools in the first place?   As noted in Waiting for Superman, most states have large numbers of children reading below grade level and performing poorly in math, too.  Will private and parochial schools have to take those students anyway or will they just be stuck in those failing schools?

Governor Jindal is also advocating creation of more charter schools, getting tougher on school discipline, and finding ways around that tenure rule:

First, we’re going to empower districts to use compensation to keep good teachers by stopping forced pay increases to ineffective teachers, allowing them to pay effective teachers more, and by allowing them more flexibility in how they structure salaries. 

“Second we’re going to ban the practice of using seniority to make personnel decisions of any kind, including ending the practice of “last in, first out” in reductions in force, prioritizing effectiveness instead.  Performance-blind personnel decisions cost money and talent. 

Of course, there are still questions about how to best determine what an "effective" or "highly effective" teacher is.  

Some teachers are in schools where students have had strong parental support and expectations at home their entire lives.  They've had a history of good schools behind them and when they get into high school they are on or near grade level.  But what of the teacher in the school where many children struggle daily just to survive, have little or no parental support, and reach high school having not been on grade level since second or third grade?  Is that high school teacher going to be "ineffective" if he or she can't get that student on grade level in one school year?

The Louisiana legislature doesn't go into session until March so as of now there is no actual legislation to study.  Most seem to think that Governor Jindal will get some of his measures passed but not all.  He will surely come under fire from both sides.

As I said, more questions than answers at this point.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shreveport Does The Highland Parade in a Big Way!

And now Mardi Gras 2012 is in the books.  What a beautiful day in Shreveport-land for a parade!

Mr. SIGIS and I almost missed the Highland Parade today due to doggie issues (Steve's white German Shepard had some doggie day surgery Friday and we've been monitoring stitches and trying to keep her in out of the rain).

We were not cleared to go to the parade until about an hour before roll time.  The Teenager volunteered to dog sit and so it was a go for us.  We got to our usual spot about ten minutes before the parade kicked off.  Because of our late arrival we didn't have front line status so we missed out on the cute stuffed toys and trinkets but we did score plenty more cheap plastic beads made in China!

As I say each year, the Highland Parade is just hands down my favorite parade because you meet the coolest, nicest people.   Steve and this guy (pictured) were bartering over chocolate and banana moon pies thrown from the floats and struck a trade deal (which was not influenced in the least by the green plastic sword this fellow is holding in his hand):

And as has been our record each year, Steve scored a hot dog from the Krewe of Bar B Que.  And if that wasn't enough, he also caught a sausage, pepperjack cheese, tortilla wrap!  LUNCH!

One of the fun things about living in the same place your entire life is that sense of community.  My friend Kathy is in the BBQ krewe and she sees to it that we get a hot dog every year! We are both in our 50s now, but we went to elementary school together.  She has aged much  better than I have!  One year when I was with The Teenager (he wasn't a teenager then) at that parade, Kathy leaned over the side of her float and gave him a cool bamboo spear decorated with feathers in Mardi Gras colors.  He was thrilled!

Anyway, when the Highland Parade was done we headed to a local eatery, Marilynn's Place, that was holding an after party.  I took a few pictures but you can't tell by them what a success this party was.

It was totally standing room only.  For you non-locals, Marilynn's is in a converted service station and keeps that service station theme in a lot of ways.  The big bay doors were thrown open and the parking lot was roped off for tables and a stage for the band.  We ate crawfish, beignets, and andouille dogs.

There was face painting and clowns making balloon animals for the kids.

Owner Boz stood on the roof of the place and threw beads out to the crowd....

... and a hot air balloon lifted off from the golf course right behind the restaurant.  The balloon was, of course, Mardi Gras colors.  When it got above the restaurant they dropped a glitter bomb and then dropped trinkets of some kind - I have no idea what they dropped because they all missed the crowd and landed in the drainage ditch across the street.

It was funny because then everyone ran across the street and down into the ditch to pick up whatever it was!  Not me.  I sat at my table with my andouille dog and my Abita.

All in all it was a beautiful, perfect day in SIGIS-land.

I'm off tomorrow for President's Day and plan to catch up on some political blogging then.  Among other things.

On a side note, last night someone reminded Jerry Jeff Walker that this Tuesday is Fat Tuesday and he said, "That's allright, I'll still be fat on Tuesday."  I know what he means!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Heard Jerry Jeff Walker do "LA Freeway" Tonight!

Instead of getting rained on at a Mardi Gras parade tonight, Mr. SIGIS and I went to see Jerry Jeff Walker at Sam's Town Casino, and we had a great time!

I've got to say, JJW puts on a great show for a man approaching 70 years old! 

On top of that, he was sick as a dog and still performed at the top of his game tonight.  He told the audience when he came out that he'd been sick and hadn't left his bed in two weeks and you could tell it in his voice at times.  But that's the thing about JJW that I love - the more gravel in his voice, the more I love it.  He cracked a few times but it didn't bother anyone in the sold out crowd tonight.

His set list tonight included "L.A. Freeway", "Little Bird", "London Homesick Blues", "Navajo Rug", the "Trashy Women" song, the "Pickup Truck" song, "Mr. Bojangles", "Sangria Wine", and "Woman From Texas".

To be honest, what I really wanted to do was sweep all those lined up rows of chairs out of the way, push them to the walls, and let people dance and move.   Listening to Jerry Jeff Walker with everyone sitting in rows like automatons is just weird to me.  His music just cries out for you to be dancing, moving, interacting with him and his band, buying shots, and singing along. To the crowd's credit, eventually the robotic rows of observers got up and moved to the front, waving arms and beer bottles, cheering and talking to Mr. Walker.  His appreciation was clear in his grin and he was encouraged to come back for an extended encore, performing three more songs.

Early into the show he accepted some Mardi Gras beads from fans which was fun. 

I really wanted to hear him do "L.A. Freeway" and he did not disappoint, even getting up off his stool and jamming with the band toward the end of the song.  It's a crowd favorite and I could barely contain myself in my chair!  "Navajo Rug" is another favorite of ours and the crowd was waiting for that one too; there were lots of sing alongs with that one.  "Aye, aye, aye, Katie...."! 

What I did not hear that I wanted to?  "Jaded Lover" and "Coat From the Cold."  But heck, when you have as many great ones as Mr. Walker does, he can't get them all.  The show ran about an hour and a half, counting the encore. 

The crowd was appreciative and spanned the ages.  I loved the folks that gathered at the edge of the stage and had I been closer, I would have been there too! 

Great fun and oh so much better than getting rained on at the parade!

Here's "Navajo Rug" from YouTube; I love this song!  I can just see Katie carrying that rug through the smoke, out the door! 

Friday, February 17, 2012


A while back a blogging friend was having a bad day and posted a glaring picture of a mean looking cat and after venting concluded with the line "mean.ass.mean.hate."  The deep philosophical nature of that line has, for some reason, stuck with me and resurfaces in my brain on days like today.

I don't even want to get into it much because some of it is work related and I want to keep my job.  But trust me, today is a "mean.ass.mean.hate." kind of day even if it IS Friday.

I'm bad about bringing frustrations home with me.  I wish I could just leave them at the door. 

I'll open an IPA and work on that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Say YES, Tim!

Local Barksdale Airman Jamie Walden was on Fox News this morning discussing her invitation to Tim Tebow.  So far Mr. Tebow has not responded.

Jamie's video is here.

Most People Get Cards but I Got a CAR!

Best husband award of the year goes to Mr. SIGIS!  While many people get cards and flowers for Valentines day, I got a card and a CAR!  Well, a Jeep, actually.  A 2012 Wrangler in deep cherry red, rag top.  Since I'm driving a 1992 Crown Vic, this is really exciting! 


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The White House Spin Is Making Me Dizzy

This is why so many people hate politics and/or politicians.

The spin.  The doublespeak.  The lies.

Case in point.  Consider White House chief of staff Jack Lew this morning talking with George Stephanopoulos on the contraceptive issue that has been raging; it's really the same thing that grated during the Obamacare debate.  This morning Jack Lew said (emphasis mine),

You know, George, from the very beginning, the president had two important goals here. One is to guarantee that every woman has a right to all forms of preventive health care, including contraception, secondly, that we do it in a way that respects the legitimate religious differences and the religious liberties that are so important in our country. 

On Meet the Press this morning, Lew said:

We are now in a place where we can say with certainty that women are going to have the right to health care and we can say that religious institutions, including Catholic hospitals and universities, won't have to pay for or do the administrative work to provide benefits that they find objectionable.

First of all, when exactly did health care become a "right," and two, when did contraception become a "right"?  And when did I, as a woman, not have access to health care?  Sure, women at one time were denied the right to vote, but health care?  I don't remember that one.

And on the issue of contraceptives, women have managed their contraception choices for ages without the government guaranteeing their right to it.

It's all about the doublespeak.

Now all of a sudden Republicans are apparently denying women access to contraceptives because they don't want the government dictating every aspect of our daily lives.  Bullspit.

And now, the government is attempting to force insurance companies to provide it whether they want to or not.  As Rick Santorum pointed out on Meet the Press this morning:

No one's denying them access to birth control. This is, this is outrageous. I mean, the, the bottom line is that you have the federal government now saying we're going to give you a right and then saying, by the way, we're going to tell you how to exercise that right. We're going to control you, a religious, a church-affiliated group as to, you know, what you provide to your employee. And if you don't like it, tough, because our rights, our right to tell you what to do trumps your deeply held convictions about what your dollars should be spent for. And the idea that you can have the insurance company, and by the way, many and--of--a large number of Catholic social service providers are self-insured, and so the self-insured is the insurance company, they're going to be forced to still provide.

So all that compromise business about how the Catholics won't be forced to provide contraception is baloney.

It's all smoke and mirrors.

Lew went on with his spin cycle when he said on the subject of a Senate budget:

So it, it is a challenge in the United States Senate to pass legislation when there's not that willingness to work together. Congress didn't do a great job last year. It, it, it drove right to the edge of a cliff on occasion after occasion. I actually think it's unfair to blame the United States Senate for that. A lot of that was because of the extreme, you know, conservative approach taken by House Republicans.
Hunh?  It's the fault of conservatives that Harry Reid hasn't passed a budget in the Senate in over 1000 days?   When David Gregory pointed out that the Democrats control the Senate, Lew then blamed the tea party:

Yeah, but it--the positions that ended up tying the Congress in knots came out of the House. It came out of the tea party wing in the House.

So.  According to Jack Lew (on two different programs) today,  contraceptives are a natural born right and the conservative tea party wing is to blame because Harry Reid can't pass a budget.

I'm getting dizzy. 

No wonder people hate politicians.

Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus & Meoux Parade

It was a lovely afternoon for a parade!  An animal parade, that is.  A bit cool outside, but in the sun it was just right.  All the wind from yesterday has blown away and we were left today with clear blue skies.

Steve and I headed downtown to the riverfront to catch the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade.  The Barkus and Meoux Krewe began in 1999 and their mission is to develop, foster, and promote programs to benefit abused, neglected and homeless animals, as well as promote responsible pet ownership with public education about a voluntary spay/neuter program.

Steve and I like to get there early and walk around looking at the animals, the costumes, and the vendor booths.

The dog park booth was our first stop:

The Shreveport Dog Park Alliance is raising money to build Shreveport's first dog park.  I don't think my dogs are socialized enough to go to a dog park (they think they're the only dogs in the world) but we support the idea anyway.

We also visited The Canine Cabana booth; who wouldn't support a doggie spa and resort?!

We stopped to check on the hunt for little lost Cheeto who has been missing a few weeks now.  Cheeto disappeared from the Broadmoor area and was picked up by a lady in a blue SUV.  Cheeto has three legs and special needs but so far no one has come forward to return Cheeto.

There are flyers all over town so whoever has Cheeto must know that someone is trying to find this dog.  Sad.

UPDATED:  Cheeto has been found!  via Yogie and Friends:

For those of you who have been following the missing three-legged Yorkie, Cheeto, we are happy to report that HE HAS BEEN FOUND. He is pictured here in the arms of his estatic owner, Debbie Cowen. He has been missing since January 18th, so this is a true miracle for them. Thanks for all who were diligently watching and searching for Cheeto. Now Debbie can eat and sleep again. Lol! Welcome back Cheeto!
Good news!

The kids area was busy:

The crowd began to fill in with people taking seats on the terraced lawn facing the river:

And oh, the animals!  We saw a miniature horse:

or two...

A rabbit:

or three...

Resting dogs:

Dogs in tutus:

Humans dressed like dogs:

And dogs dressed like humans:

Dogs in floats:

Little dogs:

Big dogs:

People in costume:

Dogs in sunglasses:

Dogs in daisys:


And Bostons!

There were lots more.  I'll post The Times gallery link when it's up.

This is a great family event and I think the animals have more fun than the kids.  I've never seen so many happy dogs in one place.   In this parade there are more dog treats thrown than beads.  There are as many dogs watching the parade as there are IN the parade.  Good times for all.

Our next Mardi Gras event will be Sunday - the Krewe of Highland Parade!

AddedThe Times story.  And The Times photo gallery.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Take a Trip to the Centaur 2012 Parade

We have survived the 2012 Centaur parade; it was cold out there!  The temperature at parade time was about 37 but the wind was blowing and the sun was sinking and it felt colder.  You never know with the weather around here.  It was seventy degrees last week and freezing today. 

We always walk to the parade route from chez SIGIS.  It's not that far and is much easier than fighting the traffic after the parade. I have a friend that lives right on the route and so that's our base on parade day. 

She invites a crowd and everyone brings a potluck contribution.  This year a guy brought his deep fryer so our feast included fried cheese sticks, chicken tenders, and corndogs.  There was also boudin, burgers, jambalaya, steak on a stick, and plenty of sweets, chips and dips to go around.  I ate the best brownies I've ever had in my life.  After the parade the fixins' for s'mores come out and the kids are in hog heaven. 

We had three fire pits going:

...and I nearly caught myself on fire at least twice.

I love to people watch while sitting by the fire.  I saw people with wagons:

And people with tutus:

People eating:

And one group brought a couch and a basketball goal out there:

And there's a guy with a turkey on his head:

Some unfortunate soul got a ticket right before they closed the streets:

The house next door to where we were had this sign in their yard:

And in fact they did give away lots of coffee, cocoa and water.  Probably prayers, too!

There were plenty of bounce houses:

And I'm not sure what to make of this:

But lots of people just walked:

We ran into our good friend, Red.  I've known her for thirty years, at least:

But finally it was time for the parade.  And what magnificent animals to start it off!:

Look at those feet!:

Gorgeous animals.

They were followed by the Louisiana Tech Band:

Then the floats came.

People go crazy at parades.  It's all over cheap plastic beads from China and various other trinkets.  It's fun to reach up and snag some beads out of the air when a krewe member throws them to you.  Sometimes it's one string of beads, sometimes it's a tangled wad of beads.  Sometimes a krewe member will single you out, lean over the side and hand you something "special".  A guy on this float leaned over and handed me some beads in a plastic ziploc bag with a huge medallion on them and this guy standing next to me reached out and snagged it from my hand.

 I just looked incredulously at him, and said, "Dude!  Really?!?  He handed that to ME!"  He just laughed at me and lit a cigarette.  I thought about having a throw down right there in the middle of the road but didn't want to end up on the front page of the newspaper over some mardi gras beads.  I did step to the back of the crowd and just watched for a while, though.

This float was cool:

It's the year of the dragon:

These folks were fun to watch:

I loved the penguin float - their costumes were cool!:

Ahem.  The Democrat float?

Belly dancers!

The Mansfield High Marching Band:

The Seal Team Six float came by...:

...and it was a sobering moment:

The Saints float:

It was dark by the time the parade ended:

and by that time I was already back by the fire pit trying to thaw out!

We had a grand time despite the random jerk or two in the crowd and the cold!  Tomorrow is the Barkus and Meoux parade and then next week we'll forgo the Gemini parade in favor of  a Jerry Jeff Walker concert but we will catch the Highland Parade (and maybe catch a hot dog from the Krewe of Bar B Que!)

Laissez les bon temps rouler!