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Between 2006 and 2011 when I worked in downtown New Orleans, Mardi Gras was not a company holiday, which was unusual for the city, even moreso because my employer was headquartered in Baton Rouge. Nearly all my co-workers took a vacation day, but I used my local knowledge of secondary routes to sneak to and from the office, where I had a 14th floor view of the parades on St. Charles Avenue.

Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Marching Club, Krewe of Zulu, Rex, and more went right past, with all the pageantry of the beautifully decorated floats with people in costume, marching bands, and tourists and children eagerly catching beads, toys, and doubloons. Unlike the crowds, I had a chair, coffee, water, and most importantly, a rest room, while enjoying the festivities far from the bawdy French Quarter, and getting paid for it.

Here in Riyadh now, I know what it means...

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Hey, Charlie. At least you have some good memories, which become better over time! It's currently 36 degrees this morning here in Mobile AL, headed for a high of 44 with sleet falling downtown. We avoid downtown here in the Birthplace of Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday. The Government Offices (including the main branch of the Post Office!) are all closed today because it is so hard to get to work or to get back out. Administrative leave is granted. Even with the weather they expect well over 100k people in a 30 block area.

I remember the almost perfect weather in Riyadh during the winter. Hope you enjoyed it today. Keep up the good work. You are part of an important mission.

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