One Big Winner can Supercharge Your Returns

Here’s one for all who worship at the altar of VTSAX

When you’re investing your hard earned cheddar would you rather have higher returns or lower?  I aim for higher and am very interested in any way to boost my returns in order to spend the extra proceeds on wine, women, and song. Continue reading “One Big Winner can Supercharge Your Returns”

Mardi Gras Wrap Up and More Shame and Degradation

Day 3:  Meet the new puppies!

If you travel to the unique and fabulous city of New Orleans, Louisiana for the Mardi Gras you might have more on your agenda than puppies.  Fortunately we’ve been there enough time that we have time to relax and take the edge off between big outings.

Continue reading “Mardi Gras Wrap Up and More Shame and Degradation”

Travel: Mardi Gras in NOLA. Day 2 – Real Food and Dog Bites

This is the day I remembered to eat

After the day 1 Mardi Gras debacle of dining on nothing but chips we woke up at the hotel pretty hungry, naturally.  It was fairly late and we had really ripped it up the night before and we had to check out of there by around 11:00. Continue reading “Travel: Mardi Gras in NOLA. Day 2 – Real Food and Dog Bites”

Travel: Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Muses Parade and Day 1

Y’all ever been to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana?  I’ve been there and worked it behind a hotel bar but our last one was 15 long years ago.

So, we said “why not this year?” and bought some airplane tickets to go and reminisce and visit our old and dear friends.  The big clincher on going this particular week was not having to pay for lodging as our pals happened to have an extra bed in their houses to build a little economy into the vacation.  Otherwise we would have probably just gone for a “less premium” long weekend another time of year and rented an AirBnB.  If you’re ever thinking of doing that and want any advice on neighborhoods for hotels/lodging just let me know and I can point you towards what will be best for your interests as not all the ‘hoods are created equal.  With all that out of the way, here is the rundown of a five day trip.

Thursday, February 28:  Travel and Muses Parade


We left the house around 5:00 AM in about 10 fahrenheit degree temperatures and parked at the airport.  Travel was uneventful and we arrived in the early afternoon and got a taxi to our hotel.  I booked the Maison Dupuy just the day before for logistical reasons as it was in the French Quarter right across from Fahy’s Irish Pub on Toulouse and Burgundy.  It was only $129 last minute and I knew it was a decent hotel from staying there previously.  The logistical stuff came from otherwise needing to stow our luggage as Tequila Mick had offered his guest quarters but we would have needed to bring our stuff to his office or somebody else’s office until we could get it back there late night.  That also would have meant taking two different taxi rides and it was good to get in and lie down for 20 minutes and get our heads together for the revelry.  We checked in and Mrs. Smidlap enjoyed a 20 minute nap while I changed into some shorts and headed straight to Fahy’s for a couple of large white Russians.  Have you heard I drink a lot of wine?  Well I hate shitty bar wine so the mighty white Russian is a staple in the French Quarter drinking rotation.  I met a young couple of about 50 years old from Yorkshire, England and chatted with them while taking off the travel edge.

We had our plans and timing for the evening by then so we went chugged on over to Matassa’s Market about 8 blocks from our home for the night to buy some wine for our parade watching.  At this point if we were really thinking clearly I would have picked up some late night food and dropped it back at the hotel room, but I figured I could always get a po-boy sandwich after the parade and I knew a few places you can get food all night long.  Mark this down, though:  if you’re a late night eater like me you should secure some decent food while clear-headed and it’s early enough that the good sandwich places are open.  We were still a little early to meet our pals for the parade so we brought our two bottles of vino into my favorite hotel bar in the Dauphine Orleans hotel.  They renovated the bar, May Bailey’s and it took a couple of years so we were glad to see it back in action and my favorite seat available.  We sat for a couple more white Russians although Mrs. Smidlap might have indulged in some wine which is slightly better than bar wine.

Do not serve this knucklehead!  The wig cost 8 bucks but I would have gladly paid 10.

We got out of May Bailey’s and walked the 12-15 blocks in the rain to somebody’s law office where we were meeting our friends.  We didn’t really know the lawyer with the office but everybody else did.  They had a nice set-up there with some food and booze laid out so we had a drink at the office and headed over to the parade bleachers that the lawyer with the office scored for the group.  You can buy those seats and they’re pretty popular but I would have never purchased them and would have chosen to stand on the parade route.  I doubt Aubrey paid for them as there are many comped things like this that go around NOLA if you know a few people.  We sat in the rain and watched the Muses parade and ran out of wine and switched to the beer and vodka some of the other lawyers had wisely brought along.  The Muses parade is famous for throwing decorated high heeled shoes from their floats.  You have a whole parade route with liquored up fools and flying high heels.  What could go wrong?  The bleachers got slippery in the rain and I fell and spilled red wine all over my shirt and shorts but that’s really OK.  A good time was had by all and we headed back to the office for some dumb reason.  There was still some food there at this point that Mrs. Smidlap enjoyed while I stupidly held out for a better late night option.  Then we and our two friends wisely decided to walk back to the French Quarter for one last round.  We stopped at an old dumpy watering hole called Johnny White’s hole in the wall on St. Peter’s street and Tequila Mick got us some shots of Irish Whiskey and a round of beers before we parted ways.

At this point we were only about 5 blocks from the hotel and it was time to call it a night.  We walked right past some shitty pizza joint on Bourbon Streetbut I eschewed that one too.  We only needed to go one more block out of the way to Conti Street to get Killer Po-Boys they sell out of the most excellent rock’n’roll bar called the Erin Rose.  Instead we went back to the room and Mrs. Smidlap tried to call Verti Marte for a food delivery but the line was busy.  Only a dummy like me wouldn’t realize how busy they would be on Mardi Gras weekend so I wandered around looking for the Erin Rose but in a bit of a haze I couldn’t remember what street the place was on.  Also available around 3 blocks from the hotel were the grimy burgers or eggs at the Deja Vu bar/diner.  I completely blanked on this being an option so instead I found the Compaq Store and bought 2 bags of Zapp’s chips and some peanuts from their limited selection.  I was too wiped out to continue the search for decent food so dinner my first night in NOLA this year consisted of some Zapp’s chips.  Those are delicious chips and I used to sit and drink with Ron Zapp, who was the founder of the company.  No matter how good are they’re more of a supplement and somewhat substandard for your first night in a city full of great food.  I really cheated myself with poor judgement on day 1.

big-ass shoe with Patricia Clarkson at the helm

Let me reiterate my takeaway lesson from the day.  If you have the opportunity for decent food early, at least stock a cold sandwich in the room before you head out for the night!  How about you Smidlappers?  Have you ever done something so short-sighted on vacation?

erin rose
This is how close i was to 2 places to eat from the hotel….and I had chips for dinner!

p.s.  We could have made the day much more economical.  You are lawfully allowed to just buy your adult beverages and carry them around so long as you’re drinking out of plastic cups.  We didn’t need the bar stop and hotel stop but we like supporting our friends who work/own these establishments.  Also of note:  when I booked our flights on Southwest Airlines (my preferred airline because they’re nice people), the next day they sent an offer of about 50,000 points AND a companion pass if you opened a credit card.  The fee was 69 bucks when you opened the thing and you had to use it by December this year.  I didn’t go for it because I think this trip would have been our only plane trip for the year but it might interest some of you who travel by plane more frequently.  It’s basically 69 bucks for 2 flights the way I see it.  Also, if you’re not a NOLA regular like we are you would likely want to do a lot more tourist type activities like seeing musicians near Jackson Square and stuff like that.  

Allow me to make this late edit.  I wrote up details of our trip just because it was fun and how we chose to spend our hard-earned vacation funds.  The point to take away is that you certainly experience time in New Orleans in a more wholesome and sober manner.  You could also spend a lot more or a lot less in 5 days in the City that Care Forgot.  The common bond among all vacation travel is that having your financial house in order can allow you the freedom to enjoy your time as you choose, without going into debt or chaining yourself to your day job for longer than necessary.  I also wanted to point out that even drunks and degenerates can enjoy the fruits of financial independence!  Sure, you can judge how we choose to spend our social time with great old friends tearing up the town, but we wouldn’t judge anyone who prefers a week or two in a national park or somewhere else with clean air and no debauchery.  Here’s to all of us having our own unique good time.  Thanks for reading.

Bidet Sales and Mardi Gras Revelry

Let’s see a show of hands of the number of you who thought this teal butt washer would sell so quickly.

If you remember correctly I found this sweet bidet in the woods when I was doing a crap job on an archaeological survey crew.  Some fool must have done a remodeling job and just dumped the old fixtures in the woods in a very classy move. Continue reading “Bidet Sales and Mardi Gras Revelry”

Be Your Own Arbiter – DIY Opinions

Arbiter: a person whose views or actions have great influence over trends in social behavior.

Do you know what I value most in this life?  I value independent thought.  It’s very rare that you’ll see me honestly urge you to any action like how you ought to save and invest your money or what you ought to be eating or drinking or the best way to maintain your health.  Those are all common personal finance topics and rightfully so.  That’s probably how you made it to this website even though I’m a Proud FIRE Fringe Player.  I’ve never been much of a joiner of groups and would not want too much identity tied up in this whole #FIRE movement.  I’ve always preferred to be more of an independent observer of the cultural trends and offer up some of my own experiences and how they might relate to other things you might read.  I also spend a great deal of time reading other peoples’ blogs on the same range of subjects and some of it I disagree with and some of it I strongly disagree with.  You know what, though?  I would never be so arrogant as to try to be the arbiter of what anyone else ought to read or value!  I find shit offensive every day and it’s not likely the same shit that others find offensive.  I just move on because that’s what a tolerant adult does.  You wouldn’t even know what in the hell I find abhorrent unless it came up in face to face conversation.  Maybe your asking yourself “what the hell does this have to do with anything, Smidlap?”

Last week I encountered a situation where a blog I read regularly, Freedom is Groovy, put out a post that had some folks’ panties all bunched up.  I read it and didn’t agree with it all but I respect and value the writer because they were his own original thoughts.  Imagine that?”  There were parts of the article where people could have taken offense or had their delicate sensibilities bruised.  You know what else?  The author welcomed opposing points of view to respectfully debate or dispute his somewhat outrageous examples.  You know what happened instead?  The wannabe head cheerleader of the personal finance (that Our Next Life person) decided she was the arbiter of taste and all that is offensive and declared in broad strokes the article was absolutely offensive.  It also looked like she was keeping a little dossier of people who did and didn’t renounce it or who did or didn’t share it in case further pubic outrage became necessary.  Jesus H. Christ, this shit sounds like McCarthyism all over again but with a bizarre twist to sensor blogs found offensive or insensitive or whatever the fuck!  It reminds me of the real head cheerleaders in those Mean Girl kind of movies who get to decide who the other cheerleaders get to be friends with.  Most of the time I can just let crap slide by in life and just ignore it but I can’t stand anyone trying to tell anyone else what to think or feel.  I’m not just here to bitch and complain, though.  I’ll offer some solutions:

  • You could stop reading the offender’s material.  Stop reading my material if you think this is a terrible travesty.  I’ll survive.
  • Leave a comment of the offending blog refuting the material within.  The author won’t resort straight the name calling and escalating every little thing he disagrees with straight to hate-crime status of racist or sexist and neither will I.
  • Fill out a Hurt Feelings Report.
  • Untitled
  • Just ignore it an go on with your life.  This one is like a miracle cure.
  • Silently disagree.  I know you’re fighting for the imaginary victims of this thought crime.  You could just instead choose to go back to your echo chamber of group think.

Do you know I don’t affiliate with any political party the same way I don’t affiliate with this community?  I don’t want the labels.  Do any of you think I just exist in my lily white straight man’s world without a clue regarding the struggles and concerns of people different from me?  I would like to think we have a healthy cross section of genuine friends and sometimes we even talk about issues like race, gender, and sexual orientation but mostly we just get together and behave like adults who respect one another.  Have you ever talked to a person of another race about race?  I have.  It wasn’t for the reason of checking a little box and having one of every category represented on our list, either.  Although we would love to score that elusive one-armed Samoan lesbian for a complete intersectional friend set.  (That’s a joke in poor taste).

You remember that rotten racist, Donald Sterling?  He used to own the Los Angeles Clippers pro basketball team and he was recorded saying some vile racist things and forced to sell the team.  That’s what most people remember about Mr. Sterling, who truly is a rotter.  You know what most people forget?  He basically was guilty of denying housing to black people in his properties around Los Angeles, yet people are more outraged about the words.  The recorded words sure were vile and hard to hear but the real harm was in the actions with those apartment buildings.  Have you ever seen the Bad News Bears?  It’s only the greatest sports movie of all time and funny as hell.  I’m talking about the real version with Walter Matthau from the 1970’s.  Do you find that in poor taste or how about Blazing Saddles?  Would you have these movies banned nowadays?  The bad taste arbiters would have them banned for sure even though they’re tremendous satire!  You know why legendary comedians like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld refuse to play college campuses these days?  The kids are too goddamned sensitive and think everything ought to be banned or at least censored.  All I can hope is that we’re all more adult than the dimwits on campus and think for ourselves.  That noggin’ on top of your shoulders is a tremendous gift.  Remember to use it regularly.

p.s.  I’m not seeking consensus or even agreement with this.  I just had to let off some steam.  And remember, none of this constitutes journalism.  They’re just blogs.

I’ll leave you with a video in truly poor taste.  It’s the Captain Cameltoe video.

Good Eats for Cheap #7 – Party Food

Last Saturday around 11:00 AM Mrs. Smidlap let me know we were having a party at 5:00.

There was no thought of “what the !$@#%$#^$?”  It was just time to get started on putting together something presentable for some people we don’t see very often.  One lives in Toronto and the other in Woodstock, NY and they were coming over with a few of their friends we had never met before. Continue reading “Good Eats for Cheap #7 – Party Food”

Why I Love Our Crappy Kitchen

There’s no need to bury the lead on this one.  I love it because it’s paid in full!

The floors are some yellowish-greenish beaten up linoleum from who knows what era.  Parts of them are even cracked.  The cabinets are old and dated and the counter tops are cheap-ass laminate.  Here’s the thing though:  everything functions. Continue reading “Why I Love Our Crappy Kitchen”