Deep Thoughts

This morning I had to drive across South Louisiana to Jennings to attend a memorial service for a law school classmate of mine. I headed West on I-10, by  myself and alone with my thoughts. Taking the Interstate across Acadianna is is a long, boring drive.  Usually I have someone with me to talk to and pass the time, but not today.  When I am driving alone, it usually makes me start thinking.  I am, and always have been, a deep thinker.  In fact, I even chose a profession where people pay me for, in large part, just sitting around thinking about things.  It tends to expand your mind. It may even help fight off dementia, or so I have heard.

So as I crossed the Mississippi River on I-10 I began an odyssey of thought.  I think one of the problems with the modern world is that there are no philosophers left and people don’t share philosophy enough. So, I am going to share with you some deep questions that troubled me on my trip.  So here goes.

1.  Who is Horace Wilkinson and why is the new Mississippi River bridge named after him?

2.  Why do they still call it the “new Bridge” when it is almost as old as I am?

3.  If the built another bridge across the river near baton rouge, what are we going to call the “old bridge’?

4. What are those enormous round white things on the north side of the bridge that look like giant bosoms?

5.  Why do old ladies insist on driving 60 mph in the left hand lane?

6.  Where are my cigarettes?

7.   Is “Gross Tete” Cajun French for “big boobs”?

8.  How much concrete did it take to build the Atchafalaya basin bridge?

9.  How serious are they about that 60 mph speed limit?

10.  How come nobody else out here can drive as good as me?

11.  Why do you always have to go to the bathroom when you hit the basin bridge?

12.  How did some of these people get a drivers license?

13.  Who is Carrol Fulmer and where did he get all those trucks?

14.  What happened to my cigarettes?

15. What is in all those trucks on the interstate?

16.  Why do I always pass the Acadianna Welcome Center  before I realize it was there?

17.  You think DOTD could at least put a Port-A-Pot out here, wouldn’t you?

18.  Does anybody know where ‘the bridge’ in Breaux Bridge is?

19.  I have 3 packs of cigarettes in this truck, why can’t I find at least one of them?

20.  Why does my truck ride better at 83 mph that it does at 77 mph?

21.  Why do the call it Whiskey Bay if it just has water in it?

22.  Should I check to make sure?

23.   Why is gas cheaper in Lafayette than it is in Baton Rouge?

24. Why does Louisiana have such crappy roads?

25.  Now that I found my cigarettes, what in the h*ll happened to my lighter?

26.  Who would actually buy a car that color?

27.  Where else but around Lafayette, Louisiana can you see 10 different billboards advertising separate places that sell boudin and cracklings?

28.  How can something as good as cracklings be so bad for you?

29.  Is there any way to make low-fat cracklings?

30.  Why would you name a restaurant The Rice Palace?

31.  How good can the free lunch buffet at the Crazy Horse Cabaret actually be?

32.  Whys is Jennings so far from Lafayette?

33.  Do they really need an exit for East Crowley?

34.  What happened to my #@&* cigarettes?

35.  Since there is a 2 mile and an 1 mile sign, do we really need to know that it is 1/2 mile to the Duson exit?

36.  Why are the surface roads west of Lafayette so much straighter than they are around Denham Springs?

37.  Why is there a town in Jefferson Davis Parish named after Raymond Brooks?

38.  Are we the only state that has a county or parish named after both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis?

39.  Who is Cecilia Henderson and why does she get her own sign on the interstate?

40.  Why are people so upset about Tony the Tiger living in a cage by that truck stop?

41.  Would they be happier if they made Tony a ‘free range’ tiger?

42. What idiot designed the traffic flow coming across the New Bridge into Baton Rouge?

Yes my friends, many, many questions, but few answers.  But sometimes it is just important to ask the questions.




Unrest in the Streets-Ferguson MO Style

For the past several days I, like many of you, have been watching with increasing concern the events in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. On Saturday, August 9, an young African American man named Michael Brown and a friend were stopped by the police in Ferguson for walking in the street. Michael Brown was unarmed. Within a few minutes, a shooting occurred and Michael Brown was dead.  On Sunday morning, St. Louis County Police Chief Joe Belmar holds a news conference in which he says Brown physically assaulted the officer, and during a struggle between the two, Brown reached for the officer’s gun. One shot was fired in the car followed by other gunshots outside of the car.

Now I don’t know what happened between the stop and the shooting and no one else really does at this point. One reason we don’t is that the police in Ferguson are being uncharacteristically tight lipped about details, including even the name of the officer involved. But, taking what they say at face value, Michael Brown was unarmed and several shots were fired, both inside the police car and outside. Anytime an unarmed person is shot by the police, it raises many concerns in the community.  In this case, it also raises the question of why, when the officer obtained or regained control of his weapon, he felt justified in shooting an unarmed man. It also raises the question of why he felt the need to fire multiple shots at an unarmed teenager. Obviously the officer had control of his weapon, or he could not have fired it multiple times.  These are legitimate questions that are not being answered.

Later Sunday, a candlelight vigil for Brown is held and eventually turns violent. Looting ensues and more than a dozen business are damaged or burned down. Thirty people are arrested. On Monday morning, several hundred people protest at the Ferguson Police Department, demanding answers. Seven People are arrested. That evening, a prayer vigil is held by the local NAACP chapter.  A couple of hours later, several people began congregating on the street. The police respond by dispersing the crowd with tear gas.  And, that is apparently when all Hell started to break loose.

For four consecutive nights, there has been mayhem and clashes between protester and police.  The tension is obviously thick. I want to say upfront, there is no excuse for looting and violence.  And it appears that there have been some less than civil conduct directed toward the police by a few protesters. But the big story here seems to be the heavy handed, military level response by local police directed against the protesters.  Apparently there is a long history of enmity between the local citizenry and the Ferguson PD.  Watching their response to the current protests, it is easy to see why.

While the police are expected to keep the peace and protect the lives and property of those they serve, they also answer to the communities they serve.  They are not, or are not supposed to be a military style force. They are not an occupying army. But, the response of law enforcement in Ferguson seems to be a large part of the problem.

There has been an unsettling trend in this country for the past 10-12 years regarding the militarization of local police.  The government seems to have a lot to do with it.  For several years, Washington, in the name of homeland security,  has furnished surplus military equipment to local law enforcement.  And, what local police chief or sheriff is going to turn down really cool, totally free toys. It makes fiscal sense for departments strapped by thin budgets.  But it has led to a situation where local law enforcement agencies, big and small, have acquired military hardware and weapons that are far beyond the scope of what most of us consider law enforcement.  Some of them have been turned into small armies. As a Popular Mechanics article said in 2009,

“Soldiers and police are supposed to be different. … Police look inward. They’re supposed to protect their fellow citizens from criminals, and to maintain order with a minimum of force.

It’s the difference between Audie Murphy and Andy Griffith. But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences. And those who suffer the consequences are innocent civilians. “

A good deal of this has been driven by the idea of whatever “war” local police have been deployed in. The War on Terrorism, the War on Drugs, The War on Gang Violence, The War on Whatever. The problem with that is when you bring war to suburban America, there are a lot of law abiding, innocent people who live in the war zone.  But, to paraphrase a line from the Vietnam War, apparently sometimes you have to destroy a neighborhood to save it. So, now in a Mid-America suburb of St. Louis, it starts with this.

There are a lot of disturbing things in that picture.  It was the first clash between Ferguson PD and the protesters on Monday evening.  First, it appears that the protestors who were causing trouble were just a handful.  There were a lot more cops than out of control protesters, which would indicate that a normal show of force would have been sufficient. But, they decided to confront the citizenry they work for with an armored vehicle, tear gas and heavily armed officers in camouflage tactical gear. Another disturbing thing is the fact that the officer on the roof is actually pointing his weapon a crowd of unarmed people.  Walter Olson of the Cato Institute said it this way:

“Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of , the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (“‘This my property!’ he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.”) Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone”?

Not surprisingly, the citizens of Ferguson have not taken lightly police tactics where they are being treated as the “enemy”.

While there may be a time and a place for special tactics, it might not be when people think they are exercising their First amendment Rights. When asked about that, the police chief denied that they were using military tactics. It was just officers dressed for and using SWAT tactics.  Most people in Ferguson responded by saying “You could have fooled me”.  Which brings up another issue: the over utilization of SWAT units. Make no mistake about it, the people in the streets in Ferguson are, with a very few exceptions, unarmed.  So why do you need SWAT for crowd control? SWAT units were originally formed for specific purposes, to adequately confront situations beyond the capability of regular police operations.  Those situations generally fell into several distinct categories: confronting heavily armed criminals; performing hostage rescue and counter-terrorism; high risk arrests; and entering armored or barricaded buildings. None of that in Ferguson, but hey, if you have all this whiz bang equipment, you need to use it at some point, right?

And it just gets worse.  The Ferguson and St. Louis County Police Departments have not done themselves any favors in how they have dealt with the situation. They have not backed off. If anything they have escalated.  This thing started with the shooting of an unarmed man. And the overwhelming visual image that has emerged is that of  a large number of heavily armed police, with sniper rifles and sub-machine guns,  confronting unarmed people who are walking around with their hand in the air, chanting “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”

The images coming out of Ferguson are not something that promotes racial harmony or engenders public confidence. They have tear gassed crowds, including children. There are plenty of photos and videos of officers training weapons on unarmed civilians.

Even the military could not get away with that in Iraq or Afghanistan.
They have fired rubber bullets into crowds, injuring several people.
It didn’t seem like it could get any worse. Then came Wednesday night.

People all over America were horrified to see crowds being tear gassed and and bombed in scenes that looked like something from Gaza. The police were using a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD),that emit harmful, pain inducing tones and sometimes cause permanent hearing damage; the same equipment that was used in the Iraq war. Then they started arresting journalist who were trying to cover the story. They actually fired tear gas at a news crew while it was filming. Then, after the crew fled, the officers moved to their video equipment and pointed it toward the ground. So, they used tear gas to keep a TV crew from filming.

As if that was not bad enough, they also arrested two reporters, one each from the Washington Post and the Huffington Post. It is still no clear what, exactly, their crime was. They were in a McDonald’s in Ferguson. Not in the middle of a riot. Not a closed McDonalds or a looted a McDonalds, but one that was open for business and in which they had just bought food. Apparently, the police decided that they needed to empty the restaurant for “security reasons”. The reporters were complying, albeit not quick enough for the cops. But what actually prompted the arrests was when one of them pulled out a camera and started video taping the encounter. Can’t have that now can we? And, in addition to tear gassing the TV crew and arresting print reporters, the Ferguson PD was also calling the local stations and telling them they needed to pull their mobile units out. So much for the First Amendment and transparency.

That got a response. The coverage, which was not very friendly to the Ferguson PD to begin with, quickly turned vicious. Here is a word of wisdom. You should never get into a war of words with people who buy ink by the barrel and own the TV channels. So endeth the lesson.

By that point it had become clear that what was going on in Ferguson was not about keeping the peace or public safety. It was about us vs. them and about intimidation in an attempt to force people to bend to the will of the powers that be. Fortunately by Thursday, cooler heads started to prevail. While everyone was bracing to see what Thursday night would bring the Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, stepped in. He basically relieved the local police from dealing with the protests. He turned that responsibility over to the Missouri Highway Patrol and a seemingly capable commander in the person of Capt. Ronald Johnson. The situation seemed to decelerate almost immediately.

As I am writing this it is about 9:00 p.m. Thursday night. Things seem different. News reports seem to indicate that the streets are still full of protestors, but things are peaceful and non-violent. No rocks, no bottles. No tear gas and rubber bullets. Perhaps part of the reason is that when the Missouri Highway Patrol moved in, in force, they came in ordinary police cruisers, wearing regular police uniforms and carrying their usual police sidearms; not in armored vehicles, dressed in tactical gear and pointing weapons more suited for the battlefield than the neighborhood. Maybe they also came with the attitude that they were there to protect and serve the public, not to subjugate it. What a difference a day makes.

The World’s Funniest Man Dies.. From Depression

Today, like most of you, I was shocked when I learned of the death of Robin Williams at the age of 63. If you are as old as me, you remember him as Mork from “Mork and Mindy”. If you my children’s age, he is Genie in Disney’s “Aladdin”. You may also remember him as Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, Vladimir Ivanov (“Moscow on the Hudson”), Adrian Cronauer, Peter Banning/Peter Pan, Alan Parrish (“Jumanji”), Professor Philip Brainard, and Theodore Roosevelt, to name only a few. You can make a very good argument that he was the funniest man alive. Oh, and along the way, he played some great dramatic roles, even winning an Oscar for his role as Sean Maguire in “Good Will Hunting”.

I was shocked at the loss of a theatrical legend. I was even more shocked when investigators, news reports and even his own publicist said his death was a “probable suicide”.

Like most of you, those two words were like a punch in the gut. Probable suicide. You immediately think of the pain involved for his wife and children. And the depth of the pain that could lead a man known and loved around the world, and worth an estimated $60 million dollars, to take his own life. The expressions of condolences went viral on Facebook within just a couple of hours. As always, a big question was “why”? We all know that Robin had struggled with serious cocaine addiction years ago and more recently alcoholism. But, he had been through rehab for both of those. But, it turns out that most of his life Robin Williams had struggled with major depression. Then more questions came. How can a guy who is that outgoing and funny be depressed? What does a guy with all that money and fame have to be depressed about? The answers to those questions may surprise you.

I feel the need to share something very personal in this blog. If you think that depression is just whining, unmanly or, Heaven forbid, un-Christian, I would advise you to stop reading now. I have a confession to make. I am a 52 year old man. I have a wonderful wife who loves me, 3 great children, a nice home, a successful career, great friends and family, to name just a few of the good things in my life. And, like Robin Williams, I too have had a personal struggle with depression.

I have always been an outgoing, gregarious, happy person. But, for reasons I still don’t understand, several years ago, I began to realize that a deep and foreboding sense of melancholy had invaded my life. I was always in a low mood. I always felt tired and fatigued, but could not sleep normally. I either could not sleep, would wake up and not be able to go back to sleep and sometimes all I wanted to do was sleep. For no apparent reason, I felt hopeless, helpless, and experienced a general sense of worthlessness. I found it difficult to concentrate or remember things. I did not feel like eating, even when I was hungry. My usual hobbies, activities and social activities did not appeal to me anymore, since they did not bring me the joy and fulfillment they once did. I withdrew from almost any social situations, since being around people who were having a good time made me feel even worse. And, the hardest part was the fact that I could not figure out what I had to be depressed about, which made things even worse.

I could not admit to anyone how I felt. I could not really even admit it to myself most of the time. I did not want to confide in anyone, mainly because I was afraid of what they would say about me or think about me. I thought I was hiding it from everybody, but it turns out I wasn’t. One of the things that made me decide I had to get help was the day my wife told me, “I don’t know what is wrong with you, but I am praying for you that you can figure it out and fix it.” I found out later that other people close to me had noticed the same thing.

Fortunately for me, I was able to confide in my personal physician and get some help. Even in the sanctity of my doctor’s office, I felt uncomfortable discussing what was going on with me. To my surprise, his first response was not shock or condemnation. He simply said, “I’m surprised it took you this long to realize all this.” Turns out I am in the prime demographic for depression. More on that later. But, suffice it it to say, I got help before it was too late. Once I did, it did not take long until the tremendous weight I felt was gone and I was back to my old self. The funny thing is, it wasn’t until I started feeling better that I even realized how bad I had felt for so long.

So, what is depression? For one thing, it is not just sadness. Sadness is to depression what a common cold is to pneumonia. Not even in the same class. The most common cause of depression is an imbalance in brain chemistry. Basically, some people get to a point where the chemicals in your brain get out of balance and the chemicals that keep things like mood in balance get too low. It can be a definite mood killer. While there may be a genetic component to all this, it appears that high levels of stress can cause this imbalance. Not surprisingly, people in high stress jobs suffer a high rate of depression. The good news is if you catch it in the early stages, it can be treated by some common, safe and inexpensive medications. The most common one these is Zoloft. It may be a shock, but in 2010, there were over 30 million prescriptions for Zoloft written in the United States.

For another thing, depression is quite common. It affects of 300 million people worldwide. In the United States, somewhere between 12 to 18 per cent of the population will suffer from it during there lives. That is about 46 million people. It generally starts between the ages of 30-40 or 50-60 year of age. It affects women at a greater rate than men, although no one really knows why.

It has been around a long time. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates first identified it as “melancholia” around 3oo B.C. The modern word depression comes from the Latin verb “deprimere”, which means ‘to press down’. That is a pretty good description of it, since it feels like a heavy weight pressing you to the ground. Since Aristotle, it has been associated with people of learning and intellectual brilliance, a hazard of contemplation and creativity. Like lawyers, doctors, ministers and actors/performers. Even comedians.

It may surprise you to know that many famous people suffered from depression during their lives. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, John Adams, Buzz Aldrin, Woody Allen, Jon Bonjovi, Terry Bradshaw, John Denver, Barbara Bush, Princess Diana, Isaac Newton, Alan Ladd and Dolly Parton, to name just a very few. English writer Samuel Johnson used the term “the black dog” in the 1780s to describe his own depression, and it was subsequently popularized by Sir Winston Churchill.

One of the reasons people often resist getting help for their depression is the stigma they thing attaches to it. But make no mistake, depression is a medical condition, just like diabetes or hypertension. I have had people that I have urged to get help with depression tell me that they are a Christian and Christians should not suffer from depression. In short, that is hogwash. Even Jesus said those who are whole are not the ones who need a physician. Christians suffer from depression just like they suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis or anemia. And, would it surprise you to find out that pastors are one of the groups with the highest rates of depression?

Another fact is that people who have abusive or addictive personalities suffer from higher rates of depression. It used to be thought that these behaviors were the cause of most depression. However, in recent years we have begun to understand that it is the other way around. Often times drug abuse, alcoholism, sex addiction and the like are actually the result of people with depression trying to ‘self medicate’ and get some relief from the ‘black dog’ that rules their life.

So it seems with Robin Williams. It is very likely that his previous drug and alcohol problems were a self prescribed attempt to deal with his underlying depression. It certainly seems so with a lot of people. Thankfully, it wasn’t for me, but I know, as the old saying goes, “there but for the grace of God go I”. In retrospect, it seems that Robin had all of the warning signs of major depressive disorder. He was definitely a man of brilliance and creativity. He was also a person on whom many people depended for their well being and livelihood. Sometimes that is a heavy burden to bear when you are depressed. One of my favorite statements about depression is one that I think is very true. Depression is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign that we have been strong for far too long.

Robin Williams was special. People loved him and his work. They thought he was funny. But I am sure he felt a constant need to always surpass his great body of work. To stay on top. To stay funny. Too stay relevant.He continually felt the pressure to be perfect. Unfortunately, this man who had made us all laugh, who brought us so much joy, wasn’t just sad in the end. He suffered from a malignant sadness that was so great he was unable to keep dealing with it. And that is a tragedy.

But it does not have to be like that. I am living proof that you can recover from depression. Here are some things that can help. If you think you might be suffering from depression, take a look at the symptoms. If you have them, you need to get help.
Talk to your doctor, your spouse, your pastor or a close friend. They can reassure you and help you seek treatment. I can assure you those closest to you already know something is wrong. They just don’t know what. The worst thing you can do is nothing. And, if you suspect someone you care about is suffering from depression but won’t admit it, there are some things you can do too.

Depression hurts. It can even kill. But it doesn’t have to.

“If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?”

Mr. Harrison Goes to Washington

As some of you know, last week Jo Ann and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. for a day or so. Actually, we were on our way to Wild Wonderful West Virginia for a family get together and birthday party for my brother-in-law Don and his twin brother Dave. We were flying into Washington and, ever being the dedicated servant to my constituents, I thought it would give me one good day to straighten out some of the mess up there. I mean who could pass up the chance to impart a little country wisdom and ‘school’ Hussein Obama, Crazy Harry Reid, Pretty Boy Boehner and the rest. I promised that I would have a real heart to heart talk with all of them that they would not soon forget.

Unfortunately my fellow Americans, I was nefariously thwarted in my the powers that be and was unable to carry out my mission. I should have known no one up here in Washington was interested in hearing what those of us outside the Beltway think. After all, we are just those people in those fly-over states, right?

Apparently since the NSA has been intercepting and/or monitoring my emails, cellphone calls, internet activities and possibly even my brain waves, the opposition was forewarned that I was on a mission and had prepared accordingly. I guess maybe I should feel honored in some way that I was seen as such a threat to good order and discipline, but I didn’t think that at the time.

On Wednesday morning, Jo Ann and I got up and caught the Metro train into downtown Washington. We emerged from underground in the Federal Triangle, not far from the White House. We promptly headed down Pennsylvania Avenue. I was hoping to catch the President right after he’d had his breakfast. I am usually in a jovial mood after a good breakfast, but then again, Michelle is probably feeding him the same stuff she is serving in school cafeterias, so this was not certain. But, I had work to do and needed to get started early.

We walked on over the White House Visitors Center, where we got our first indication of how are day was going to go. Not only was it closed, it was barricaded shut and had chain link security fences around it.

Not very hospitable if you ask me. Apparently, The Government had word that I was coming and was making sure I did not get anywhere close to POTUS on this day. A slight set back for sure, but I was not ready to give up yet.

We tried to get closer to the White House itself. After all, what could it hurt to just knock on the door and ask if the President was home and had a minute to chat? Boy was I wrong. It seems that the White House Police and the Secret Service were on the lookout for me. There were police officers and vehicles everywhere. I think I spotted a flyer with my picture on it, but I’m not sure. I only got a glimpse from a distance. It could have been George Clooney, who probably WAS on the guest list. I tried to explain to the fellow at the gate who I was, but that did not get me very far. We were invited to leave the immediate area of the White House and not come back. My claim that I was a taxpaying American citizen seemed to impress him even less that when I told him who I was.

I continued to try to find a way in, but once they knew I was close, the Secret Service threw up a perimeter to keep me at a distance. This is about as close as I could get.

Note the police car blocking the intersection. I was not close enough to actually see the snipers on the roof with those rifles with big scopes, but I am pretty sure they could see me.

Figuring this wasn’t working out quite like I planned, we headed down to the Mall to regroup and modify our plan. We stopped for water and sustenance between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial. As I was feeding the bird a few crackers, I noticed the “Do Not Feed the Wildlife” signs. I was confused by this and stopped a passing Park Service ranger and asked. He explained that they want the birds and squirrels to provide for themselves and do not want them to become dependent on hand outs. The irony of this, while I was sitting a few blocks from the Treasury Department, that hands out entitlement checks to almost half the country on the first of every month, was not lost on me. This is one of the things we needed to talk about.

While we were in the park in the Mall, I got excited because I though I spotted the President taking a stroll.

But, when I ran after him, it turned out to just be a mounted police officer on a horse. Damn it. At this point I also noticed that there were also a lot of stealthy looking helicopters buzzing around, which led me to the conclusion that it may be time to move along.

Since the Executive Branch part of my plan did not work out, I figured it was time to head up to Capitol Hill and try to parlay with my elected representatives.  What could it hurt. Congressmen and Senators always seem to be happy to see home folks.  I mean, I actually voted for some of them and at least two of them are spending a lot of money these days trying to get me to vote for them again.  It seemed perfect.   But, even the best laid plans of mice and men seem to sometimes go awry.

We rode the Metro up to Capitol Hill. Not only was this the fastest way to get there, but it was also underground, which helped with the helicopter thing and possibly impede the collection of my electronic data.  We got to the Capitol, but it seems that no one was around. Really?  I am beginning to see a pattern.  Here I am outside.

Lights on, nobody is home!

You can see that the place is pretty well empty; the only ones around seemed to be the Capitol Police.   We spotted a pretty swanky looking place across the street behind the Capitol called the “Capitol Hill Club”.  There seemed to be a lot of well dressed people going inside who looked like they needed a drink.  I figured there might be some people in there I needed to talk to. Boy was that a bad idea.  Not only was I not a member, but when you show up there wearing seersucker shorts, a golf shirt and loafers, there is apparently some rule that gets you thrown out. And I don’t mean asked rudely to leave, I mean physically thrown out the door. Oh well. I have been thrown out of a lot better places than that.

We continued our walk around the Capitol and spotted the Russell Senate Office Building.  It was huge, but seemingly deserted.  We walked around trying to find a way to get inside.  But, when we finally found the gates, not only were they closed, but they were chained shut!

Seems no one wanted to get a lecture from Robbie today. I encountered the Capitol Police. They did not seemed to be impressed when I told them who I was.  Long story, but let’s just say I was counseled and released without formal charges and let it go at that.

I thought about taking my grievances across the street to this place.

After all, I am a member here. But, this is the one place in Washington were people seem to know what they are doing, even if it is only by a slim 5-4 majority.  But let’s face it, even here it is probably impossible to find a Judge on a Wednesday afternoon.

At that point we decided we had tried our best and were hungry, so we decided to retire across the Potomac for the day and regroup.  All in all, I will admit that it did not go quite like I planned. But we tried.  And, being a good public servant, I did come up with some ideas to improve things in Watson that I would like to share.

Washington is, by any definition, a world class city. I would like to see Watson in the same light. It would improve things and bring in all those tourist dollars. So here are some suggestions based on my trip to D.C.:

1.  We need public transportation. I would propose that we take out that stupid grass median on Hwy 16 and replace it with Metro train system.  We could start at the old train station in Denham Springs and run up Hwy 16 to the ballpark in Watson. We could make a yellow line that runs down Hwy 1019 from Amite Church Road up to Walgreens and blue line that runs out Springfield Road to the Fore Road and reconnects to the main line at the ballpark.  World class cities need good public transportation.

2.  We need an HOV lane to improve commuting.  It could run south in the morning and north in the afternoon. Since we are already using the median for the Metro, I am not sure yet where we would put it.  Maybe we would have to elevate the Metro tracks.  I will have to get back to you on the details.

3.  We need more ambulances.  We usually have only one or two ambulances on Hwy 16 each day.  A world class city needs good emergency medical services.  A case in point is Washington. No matter where you go or what time of day it is, there is always at least one ambulance, with lights and siren, headed somewhere.  It is almost comforting knowing they are there.

4.   We need more police agencies.  Right now we only have the Sheriff’s office and they do a great job.  But Washington has plenty of cops and so many police agencies it is hard to keep up.  They have the D.C. Police, Capitol Police, White House Police, Park Service Police, Treasury Department Police, Supreme Court Police, The Smithsonian Police, National Zoo Police, United State Postal Service Police, Government Printing Office Police, Homeland Security Police and the FBI Uniformed Police. The latter guards the FBI Building, which seems strange since you would think a building of armed FBI agents could guard there own building, but what do I know.  The point is, world class cities have many, many police agencies.

5.  We need to build some monuments and museums.   This is what seems to bring in the tourist dollars, especially foreign tourist dollars.  I know we have never had a president from Watson, but that should not stop us.  We could build a memorial to Mr. Earl Allen, who was from Watson and was the President of the Police Jury forever.  We could build a monument to the Big Fight after the 1975 Live Oak High/Louisiana Training Institute football game, both of which we won by the way.  As far as museums are concerned, there is a lot of natural history around here.  For a start, I am sure my friends Berlin and Bobby Jo would be willing to loan us the $500 Damn It Dog dog turd to get things rolling.  World class cities have monuments and museums. On a side note, I think we should charge some type of admission.  Most of these things in Washington are free. On the one hand, it is good as a taxpayer not to have to pay for things that you have already paid for. But what about all those foreigners? Maybe it should cost them $5 to ride to the top of the Washington Monument.  I mean, even at Disney World, you have to show a valid Florida ID to get the Florida resident discount.  Makes sense to me.

6.  We need more well dressed men walking around wearing  black or navy suits with white shirts and red ties.  This seems to be the uniform of the day in Washington. And, after all, it is a world class city.

7.  We need to do more running.  Everywhere you go in Washington, no matter what time of day, there are lots of people running.  Even in the heat of the day.  I am not sure what they are running to or from, but they definitely love running. I am not sure what this has to do with being a world class city, but we need more people running. And I don’t mean just a small group Wednesday nights either!

8.  We need to build more large public buildings with ample parking right next to them and then build concrete and steel barricades that makes parking closer that a half mile from the door impossible.  I am not exactly sure why this is a good idea, but it seems to be all the rage in Washington.

Those are just some ideas. I am sure I will think of others as time goes by.  I will keep you posted!

We also need more good looking women and Smokey the Bear life likes!