Louisiana perishes; I mean parishes

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Louisiana parish mapThe August 20, 2019 comic strip Pearls Before Swine has a Louisiana joke. Pig is explaining to Goat about studying the state’s administrative map for a class. Pig worries about what happens to a couple counties if the Mississippi River floods.

Goat: Parishes
Pig: That poor county
Goat: Never mind

Yes, Louisiana has parishes as its primary substate division, whereas most US states have counties. This is as a result of the state’s heavily Roman Catholic influenced past when it was controlled by France or Spain.

Laissez les bon temps rouler! And that’s in part why there’s Mardi Gras. Let the good times roll on Fat Tuesday, before becoming solemn for Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday.

When my daughter was learning the states, she always appreciated that Louisiana was shaped like an L.

LA Louisiana. The traditional abbreviation is La. The capital is Baton Rouge; the largest city is New Orleans.


I don’t think I’ve told this work story. In 1995, I was working for the New York Small Business Development Center. Per a contract with the Small Business Administration, we were providing business library reference for ALL the SBDCs in the country between 1992 and 1998.

Part of my job was to interact with all the statewide programs. My new boss did not seem to understand this. When she decided to go to the national (ASBDC) conference in New Orleans, she decided to bring her favored librarian, but not me. She said she couldn’t afford to have three of the seven librarians out of the office for three or four days.

Meanwhile, my girlfriend had achieved some significant designation through an insurance certification entity. She received a trip for two to Honolulu for the same time frame. She invited me, but I declined. If my boss wasn’t going to let me go to Nawlins when it was work-related, she surely wouldn’t allow me to go to Hawaii. Even asking my boss if I could go to the islands, I felt would undercut my argument that I should be going to Louisiana.

At nearly the last moment, my boss decided to allow me to go to the conference after all. This was not a function of the strength of my argument. It was her realization that she and the other librarian couldn’t possibly carry all the material she wanted to bring. In other words, I got the chance to actually do my job because I could schlep stuff.

It has been the only time I’ve been to Louisiana. I ended up having les bon temps, even though it WASN’T Mardi Gras.

There are a LOT of songs about the state and its largest city. Here are only a couple.
Goin’ Back To New Orleans – the late, great Dr. John
Louisiana 1927 – Randy Newman

L is for Louisiana for ABC Wednesday

May miscellany: going postal

Those Amazon balloon packing pods do not weigh much.

Sometimes you just have to note some miscellaneous stuff. This is a picture that the Daughter took one school day on her phone in mid-May. She was waiting for the bus about 7:30 a.m. a block from our house. It was a particularly stormy morning, but it ended up being a rather nice day.
I was mailing a couple packages at the post office. One contained two large pictures in frames containing glass. So the box was very large, roughly 18″ (.46m) by 14″ (.36m) by 8″ (.2m). I ws told that I could spend $13 for six-day delivery or a couple dollars more for 2-day delivery.

But then the postal worker measured the package, then put it on the scales. Because it only weighed about 2 kg (4.5 lb), this meant its mass was less than a box of that size “should” go for. Those Amazon balloon packing pods – a level of them below the pictures and two levels above to keep the items safe – do not add much. So the priority shipping would have meant an $11 SURCHARGE (wha?), and I stayed with the ground option.
Our library recently answered its 60,00th inquiry in May, news of which was posted on the internal NY SBDC listserv. We got a lot of kudos, which is nice, because we’re a couple steps away from the client most of the time. The prospective entrepreneur comes into one of our two dozen centers across the state and speak to one of our business advisors. The advisor speaks to us, or otherwise contacts us.

My favorite advisor response, unsurprisingly, was a musical one, one of my very favorite Neil Young songs, Long May You Run, which among other things, namechecks the Beach Boys.
And speaking of music, someone took a photo of our church choir on May 21. It was the day one of our past (and hopefully future) choir members had her twin daughters baptized.

Coffin doors and sales tax on bagels

“Guests would open a compartment on the ‘room’ side of the door and hang the clothes they wanted washed.”

On the 25th of April, the family stopped at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. It was worthwhile trip, highlighted by seeing several quilts, one signed by over 100 country music artists.

We traveled on to Syracuse and stayed overnight. We had a lovely time at the Onondaga Lake Park on a beautiful Sunday, though I would have felt better had I remembered my sunglasses. Unfortunately, the Salt Museum wasn’t open yet for the season.

Then I was dropped off at the “newly restored” Marriott Syracuse Downtown, originally opened in 1924 as the Hotel Syracuse. It’s true that it had a lot of old structure style, such as elevator design, though I must say they operated much faster to the 10th floor than the elevators on the previous night traveled only a couple levels.

The Daughter was jealous of my view, and my room was only on the third floor. She was particularly fascinated by the coffin doors on many of the rooms. “The doors are unusually thick because they contain an interior space for guests to hang clothes they wished to have washed or dry-cleaned in the hotel’s laundry overnight.

“Guests would open a compartment on the ‘room’ side of the door and hang the clothes they wanted washed. Without disturbing the guests, hotel employees would come around at night and remove the clothes through a compartment on the side of the door facing the hallway.”

I was in Syracuse for the agency annual conference, about the only time during the year I actually see the people for whom our library provides reference services. There were several workshops, almost all of them informative.

The librarians also conducted a session. One talked about business apps, another talked about programmatic issues. I talked about sales tax. Boring, you say? Maybe, but sales tax in New York is weird.

For instance, is a bagel taxable? “Food that is prepared and arranged on a plate or platter by the seller, and that is ready to be eaten is taxable. It doesn’t matter whether the food is sold to be eaten at the store or another place, or whether it’s served hot or cold.” (Times Union, April 28, 2011.) So if a plain, unadorned bagel had been put in a bag, it would NOT be subject to sales tax.

Biggest change I’ve seen in my job

Because everyone has access to the Internet, the questions are more specific.

PrintScott needs to know:

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your job?

My job, which I started on October 19, 1992, has changed radically.

In case you did not know, I am a business librarian for the New York Small Business Development Center, “library information specialist,” by title. The SBDC program, which exists in every state in the US, offers free and confidential business advisement.

People come to the NY SBDC and have questions of the counselors. Continue reading “Biggest change I’ve seen in my job”


Next year we’ll be away at least 11 days, and I’m actually looking forward to it. And dreading the return.

in the golden siummertime.vacation_season_1_eJaquandor asked his readers: “How do you allocate your vacation time?

“What I mean is this: suppose you get, say, three weeks of vacation time a year. Do you take three entire weeks off? Or do you scatter the days off throughout the year by taking a three-day weekend here, a four-day weekend there, and so on?”

Here’s the truth: vacation is difficult for me.

When I worked at FantaCo (1980-1988), I always felt that if I left for too long Continue reading “V-A-C-A-TION”