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Kids Who Shop Too Much

I finally figured out the comments feature. And here I was getting my feelings hurt. Of course, I TOLD Joel that I had a lot on my plate. First he made it seem like he was crowning me queen for a day, and when that didn't work he gave me this really pathetic, caged-bunny look. I'm such a sucker for that.

I could see some of you wondering who I am in Marc's comments. Well, I'm the one who actually edits Joel 's print column. Tom, of the dumb questions, is my boss, the Magazine's Editor. I deal with Joel every day, and let me tell you, I deserve a raise. Sometimes I check my voicemail and hear "Hi, this is Joel." Then I listen and delete and go to the next: "Hi, it's meeee..." But to be truthful this week I'm missing that little rat-a-tat-tat he does on my office window to signal he's at my door, and the way he slouches in the chair and gives me this goofy Hillbilly shrug and grin and then proceeds to drive me nuts. And I really miss the way he'll message or call me from his desk after I edit his column and say "You hate my column. All I'm asking is for you not to lose faith in me."  It doesn't matter whether the column was a disaster or brilliant.

But enough about Joel --it's not ALWAYS about him.  And let's take a break from terrorism and politics and move on to the truly mundane. Before I heard about the subway attack, I was going to blog about Yuki Noguchi's story this morning on cell phones designed for children as young as eight. Now, why in the world would a third-grader need a cell phone when her parents probably don't even let her bike around the block alone? When will the assault on parents ever end?

Just last night, I suggested to my daughter, Alex, that we do something together this weekend, no pesky baby sister, just the two of us. You know what she said? 'Let's go shopping at Limited Too.' She just turned seven. I admit I'm very into aesthetics and can really appreciate the beauty of some material objects. Still, I'm no shopaholic. I've got my priorities straight. And I don't even let my kids watch much television. (Beyond the commercials, somehow animated people telling each other to shut up strikes me as more corrupting than the cartoon animals of my childhood smashing each other to bits.)  But I need a time machine to remove my children from the grasp of this consumer culture. They say even toddlers can recognize brand names. Pretty soon they're going to find a way to advertise in utero. Babies will be born refusing to wear anything but cashmere booties from Baby Gap.

(Oh, by the way, Joel just called from a gorgeous national park, where he is hiking and eating lobster in charmingly rustic restaurants with his wife and girls, and obsessing about his blog. He wanted to know how many comments Marc got. "I want to make sure it's not more than I get," he said.)

-- Sydney Trent

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 7, 2005; 4:58 PM ET
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Cell phones for kids today, tiny SUVs tomorrow... And Sydney's right -- the same parents who would get cell phones to stay in touch with their kids are undoubtedly the same ones who wouldn't dream of letting them play down the street out of sight.

Posted by: grtc | July 7, 2005 5:15 PM | Report abuse

The Post also recently ran a story on parents capitulating to the lure of the DVD player for long car rides (variously defined as anywhere between 30 mins and many hours). I am proud to report that we recently took our 4 year-old on her first long road trip of 8 hours with no video entertainment whatsoever and she was fine for all but the last 30 mins on either end. Of course, we the parents suffered tremendously by listening to Elmo sing JohnJacobJingleheimerschmdt (Sp?) a dozen times, but that is the type of road-trip story of which family lore is made.

Posted by: Cubedweller | July 7, 2005 5:23 PM | Report abuse

My parents didn't allow me to watch TV during school nights up through H.S. So I ended up reading. A lot. My mom was an devotee of Jim Trelease and his Read-Aloud Handbook. She read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy to me when I was seven, and I pretty much read everything myself after that. I may not get all the cultural allusions to Friends episode plots, but is that really a bad thing?

Posted by: jw | July 7, 2005 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, reading did not improve my proof-reading abilities. God!

Posted by: jw | July 7, 2005 5:42 PM | Report abuse

cubedweller, when you are tired of listening to Elmo sing, you can always sing '100 bottles of beer on the wall'.

I'll bet that restaurant has a porch.

Posted by: dr | July 7, 2005 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Geez, kids today are DEFINITLY way too coddled. it's like a right of passage, having to defend your seat territory during long car trips. What are they going to be like as adults, always expecting the entertainment to be right in front of them? And cell phones? You know, I'm pushing thirty and I don't think I've gone a year yet without losing or breaking a phone.

Posted by: LP | July 7, 2005 5:44 PM | Report abuse

jw - Wow, your Mom rocks!

Posted by: Cubedweller | July 7, 2005 5:47 PM | Report abuse

When I was 13 my family took a vacation and drove from California to New Brunswick. Do you know how far that is?

We (4 kids + 2 parents in a sedan!)did it without DVDs, etc. Mom read great stories to us, we played the license plate game (boy, do I know license plates of the late 1970s!). Most remarkably, we actually TALKED to each other. Imagine that!

Posted by: Karen | July 7, 2005 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Aaahhh - the old license plates of the 1970's!! We are dating ourselves, Karen.

What a tremendous loss that so many are no longer readily identifiable with a particular state. Instead, they sport all different designs for different causes or organizations.

A gold star for the first person to correctly identify the state with my all-time favorite license plate slogan "Live Free Or Die."

Posted by: Cubedweller | July 7, 2005 6:31 PM | Report abuse

New Hampshire.

I like DC's "No Taxation Without Representation" slogan on their plates....

Posted by: Eric | July 7, 2005 6:50 PM | Report abuse

We have a winnah.

D.C.'s -- Yes - also a good one, of more recent vintage.

Posted by: Cubedweller | July 7, 2005 6:54 PM | Report abuse

just hoping you get more comments than joel.

Posted by: pete | July 7, 2005 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I just took a six day road trip with my parents last summer-- except I'm 22 and my brothers 19...You would think that since we're all legal adults that we would get along just fine. No no. NOOOO no. It was like all of digressed to that magical time where I was 12 and he was 9 and we used to sock each other over who had crossed the invisible line down the back seat, except that this time we were in full-on passive aggressive guilt-trip grown up mode, and that this time every pit stop involved all of us slinking off to various corners to "secretly" smoke a cigarette...four grown ups, four gas station corners. NO DVD PLAYER. I'm grateful that I learned to love reading as a kid rather than turning into intellectual goo in front of the TV, but I dont know whether it really has a long term effect on family togetherness....

Posted by: nomes | July 7, 2005 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Also, who are we kidding? The license game TOTALLY SUCKS. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Posted by: nomes | July 7, 2005 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't have kids, but Limited Too sounds like a cool store. I consider myself a shopaholic with priority during sale seasons.

I am afrom a small island so trips were probably an hour long the most.

Posted by: fdg31 | July 7, 2005 11:02 PM | Report abuse


Since you are Joel's editor, I know no better person to answer the following question. I submitted an article manuscript to be published in a small national periodical. My style is to modify verbs afterwards--i.e. "he ran quickly." In the article proof, the editor modified all verbs prior--i.e. "he quickly ran." I won't protest because I would prostitute to be published. As a non-grammarian too lazy to consult a style book, however, I must ask, is it better to modify a verb before or after?

Posted by: InvestiGator | July 7, 2005 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Agh, Limited Too. Both my daughters, 10 & 7, practically salivate at the name and they're not particularly shopaholic-y. I haven't set foot in it as the whole place looks too pink, though my wife might take them there for their birthdays.

Maybe I should send this one sentence at a time, just to up the comment count.

Posted by: rt | July 8, 2005 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Like this.

For that matter, I won't go into Victoria's Secret because they pump the whole place so full of perfume my eyes water. Just like in Spencer Gifts.

Wait a minute, what are we talking about?

Posted by: rt | July 8, 2005 1:03 AM | Report abuse

We didn't have television until after I learned to love books--I was about 8 when we got the tv and I watched it a lot but I also read a LOT of books.

In my adult life, I have never had television in my house. My daughter is 17, and she is a gifted artist who shops at thrift stores and wears something completely original every day. At school, the Limited-shoppers (Limited is an appropriate moniker for them)would sometimes say to her, "Why do you dress like that?" and her answer would be, "Why do you dress like THAT?"

Also, when she tells new acquaintances that she doesn't have television, she is amused that they often ask her, "What do you DO??!?" when in fact, there aren't enough hours in the day to contain all her activities and pursuits.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 8, 2005 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Hiking and eating lobster in a gorgeous national park? That bastard.

Posted by: Ryan | July 8, 2005 8:32 AM | Report abuse

"'s not always about him."

Yuh huh!!! Of course it is.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 8, 2005 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Joel is obsessing about his blog? Ha! And to think there was a time when he supposedly didn't even read the comments. I just knew he was protesting too much.
Sydney, I hope you told him it is no longer his blog.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 8, 2005 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The scenario of guest blogger as substitute teacher--in which the sub is harrassed, harried and otherwise hazed by the delinquents in the class--is now being edged out by the new paradigm where the guest blogger is the nanny you leave the kids with when you go on a trip, then you worry that the nanny will be incompetent but you also worry that the kids will love her and won't miss you because she's so wonderful.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 8, 2005 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I repeat: Joel, you are SO Wally Pipped. Enjoy the lobster and hiking.

Plus, Sydney is a hot name for a woman.

Posted by: jarmuschguy | July 8, 2005 9:20 AM | Report abuse

In 1953 my mother drove from east Texas to San Francisco in an unairconditioned car with my brother and me aged 7 and 5. She bought a stack of books and comics and kept them on the floor in the front of the car. Periodically she would haul out a fresh pair and hand them back. My brother would read aloud the ones with words I couldn't handle. We sang along with the radio and looked at the scenery. We thought it was great. We were on our way to Manila to join my dad. We hadn't seen him for over a year because he was stationed in what was then called Occupied Japan. He kept our memories alive by recording bedtime stories on records and mailing the books and records to us in the states. We'd follow along and look at the pictures and read the words with him. I've spent the last twenty one years trying to be as good a parent as mine were, and I think about those days a lot when I see the news from Iraq.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 8, 2005 9:28 AM | Report abuse

The name "Sydney Trent" is great, especially for a newpaper editor. Although I can't help imagining her wearing a Dagney Taggart-esque suit and throwing manuscripts at Joel as she screams through her door in the voice of Katherine Hepburn.

Posted by: jw | July 8, 2005 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I know it's only 9 am (where I am), but I really want lobster right now...too bad I'm allergic.

Posted by: Sara | July 8, 2005 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Sydney pulled her last blog entry, or am I imagining things?

Posted by: nomes | July 8, 2005 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Um, totally imagining things. My thousand apologies.

Posted by: nomes | July 8, 2005 10:04 AM | Report abuse

"Sydney Trent" as a guy's name would be the mild mannered alterego of a superhero- "Look, up on the screen! It's a pop-up! It's spam! No, it's BLOGGERMAN!"
As a woman's name it works more like Hildy Johnson in "His Girl Friday"- a little unexpected in her journalistic ambition and intensity, but still all woman.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 8, 2005 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Cubedweller et al--I just saw one of those New Hampshire plates last weekend, when I was visiting a family friend... who currently resides in a medium-security state prison. Someone's car in the parking lot had that plate on it. There's a little irony for you!

Nomes: waiting on the other 999 apologies now! That only counts as one of the 1000, surely.

My parents never had a TV growing up--they considered it a social experiment of sorts, they say. We all love reading, and I look back with nonstalgia on long car trips heckling my two siblings and singing Raffi and reading and playing license plate games, but I know that at the time I would have sold my soul (or at least my siblings' souls!) for a DVD player. Almost as good as the aeresol-spray baby Valium my parents wished for.

Oh, and my youngest sib is about to move out, and last year my folks bought a TV. Geez!

Posted by: toady | July 8, 2005 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I live in a small european country (Portugal) where almost 9 in 10 persons got a mobile phone.It became an addiction since the late 90´s and it changed some cultural habits.There´s a lot of pression for phaters because their kids pratically force them to buy cell phones.It´s sad to say this, but if you´re a kid and you don´t have a cell phone you´ll take the risk of getting marginalized by your classmates.
Mrs. Sidney, when i´ll have kids i will try to control the hours they´ll pass in front of the TV screen just as my phaters did whit me and my brother, but it´s becoming harder to fight against this consume culture.I hope i´ll be strong enough to say NO to my sons.Many of my friends have little kids and they just can´t say NO to them.
I wish Mr.Joel and his family excellente vacations.By the way, is he in Spain?I believe he would not regret if he decided to make a visit to my country.
Sorry for my bad english.It´s a shame,i know.I´ll have to improve.
Best wishes

Posted by: suprassis | July 8, 2005 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Lobster! Here in maine we've got lotsa lobstah, bub Sounds like dinenr to me....

Posted by: LP | July 8, 2005 10:34 AM | Report abuse

suprassis: Your English is fine, keep practicing to make it perfect!! Welcome to Achenblog, where you can learn the fine points (not to say the excruciatingly minute points) of grammar, punctuation and style. This is a group that can discuss a single hyphen all day.

[I'm sure I wouldn't get far if I had to express myself in Portuguese!]

Posted by: kbertocci | July 8, 2005 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments today and am equally concerned that there are people out there who want my husband and I to purchase a cell phone for our five year old. Then go shopping for only pink clothing at Limited Too. It certainly is increasingly difficult to maintain your originality today, as a parent and as a kid. Wanted to applaud Kbertocci for raising what sounds like a very cool daughter. I would have loved to have had the self confidence to be that original when I was in high school and I definitely want my daughter to have it. Chris and I are doing the best we can in a society fraught with distractions. Best to all you parents out there and kudos to whatever technology and Limited Too resistance we have! By the way, we have no DVD player in our car, but we do have a four story Disney CD that Teresa can read the book along with. I guess that makes it a tie: techonology 1, parent-originality 1...

Have a good friday all, thanks to Sydney for doing a great job thus far, and hope Joel is enjoying his lobster!

Posted by: Erica Snipes | July 8, 2005 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I might get myself a stalker by responding to some of these comments but I have to say I really like: a little unexpected in her journalistic ambition and intensity, but still all woman.

I'm counting on you guys to rack up those comments and make Joel worry that you don't love anymore. Really, it won't take as many as you think.

Posted by: sydney | July 8, 2005 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Joel Who? Oh, is she refering to the dorky guy at the top of the page? whatever, obviously he has no style........

(just kidding, but joel had the nerve to go on vacation without us. I mean really, couldn't he have brought his laptop? Doesnt the washpo do wifi? really.)

Posted by: LP | July 8, 2005 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Tell Joel that it is much more compelling to comment on your entries than his, and we may even join Hal in a coup d'etat of the blog. Just give us the signal, Sydney...

Posted by: Kane | July 8, 2005 11:02 AM | Report abuse

To me the back seat of our car on roadtrips was my Gitmo. My family is insane. Literally. Father, classic untreated bipolar. Mother, borderline sociopathic control freak. Brother passive aggressive control freak. Me, any combination of the three.

I was the only kid that I knew who was regularly pulled out of school to travel. We would take a 1000-2000 mile trip to see relatives once every two months. Regardless of season or obligation.

We had functioning sedans, and they were comfortable enough as far as cheap used cars go. My father believed in good engines and good tires. The rest was window dressing. Space was OK until my brother and I both passed 6'0" by our 12th birthdays. Then it was all out war. I was young but tough. He was old and manipulative.

My mother smoked incessantly. She refused to roll down her window if it was cold out. But would roll it all the way down other times, which just made the smoke recirculate to the back seat. If we rolled the windows down, then we were yelled at for messing up the air flow "pattern." Oh, and we didn't have air conditioning in most of the cars. Heat, there was lots of that.

Most of our trips started out either around 4 am or 3 pm. I dreaded the early trips, cause they were the most uncomfortable in the summer. But the late afternoon departures where my parents waited at the curb at school were enough to drive me to seriously try and get detention on those days.

We were informed ahead of time about where we would be stopping. No exceptions. Hold it. Don't drink or eat anything if you think you can't hold it.

I get car sick, so reading was never a possibility. I begged for medicine to beat the car sickness, but that only marginally worked. It was an inconvencience anyway, they said.

So, I stared. I stared out the window at the country passing by. I LOVED the license plate game. I played it by myself. That and studying the land. We mostly drove the same route every time, through New Mexico, West Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado. Some of the most varied and beautiful land in the world, any season. That's what kept me from cracking. Memorizing the land, studying distances, watching the weather.

Thank god for the invention of earphones. At least we all agreed that they were acceptable. Now if only we had not been the cheapest family ever, then I would have had enough batteries to last half the trip. Instead, I would just put on the earphones and hope that everyone thought I was listening to something.

There were moments where I would have killed for a DVD player. I don't think that is too much of an exaggeration.


Posted by: irregardless | July 8, 2005 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Cell phones for kids ... I am torn on this one. Not about the cell phones themselves, and I agree with jw about the huge value of reading. And about not succumbing to the travelling DVD player temptation (as a parent of 3).

But isn't this an old saw in new packaging itself? Seems like we are veering towards an anti-technology rant. That always reminds of the famous editorial cartoon of cave-parents observing their cave-children reading by the fire and bemoan "If this keeps up, we'll lose the oral tradition!"

Besides, it is rather ironic to bemoan our human addiction to new technologies on a blog site. No? Next thing you know, people will stop reading newspapers.

Posted by: Kane | July 8, 2005 11:06 AM | Report abuse

A lot of the comments above make me think of the book (and nice movie adaption) "About A Boy."

Posted by: Hornby | July 8, 2005 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of stalkers and the stalked: Where's Tom?

Posted by: Tom fan | July 8, 2005 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Irregardless is not a real word. Ha!

There was a ship's bell mounted on a post on the side porch of my house growing up. When I was out playing in the neighborhood and my mom wanted me to come home, she rang it. That was my cell phone growing up.

Posted by: jw | July 8, 2005 11:25 AM | Report abuse

My step-dad bought a portable DVD player several years ago for car trips and plane rides and whatnot. But it only had enough power for one movie before having to be recharged and we'd always forget the cigarette lighter charger, so he was always the one to watch it whenever either my mother or I were driving. I did get to bum it off him on my plane ride to Brazil though. Saved my sanity. That is a long flight.

Posted by: Sara | July 8, 2005 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the good comments, Kane--although I'm not going to purchase a cell phone for my five year old, I recall when I was younger and pagers were new and my younger cousins all had them. I remember asking my Aunt one Christmastime why they needed them. Well, my Aunt said, we live in the city and the kids go to a school that is big and they are busy with sports and friends. This is an easy way for me to get a message to them about anything, particularly when I want them to call and check in.

Oh, I said, being from the country and not as yet being too busy with lots of after school activities and a roaring social life. I guess there are ways that cell phones and pagers can be useful for our kids, but I still don't think mine should have one until she's at least of driving age, no matter who thinks she's not cool because she doesn't have a camera-video-flip-razor thin-cartwheeling pink phone...

Posted by: Erica Snipes | July 8, 2005 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Ha! jw, that is funny.

Posted by: Sara | July 8, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I was one of those kids who always got carsick-at least in my grandparents car, although that may have had more to do with the Texas heat and the cigarette smoke...

Anyway couldn't read in the car. My daughter (6) is generally very good in the car, and although we considered getting a DVD for long trips (10 hours) we ended up not. Now we have discovered the joy of books on tape. Our daughter loves to read, but we worry about the carsick thing. Books on tape are a great option. There are lots of great classic kids books available at the library, and we can listen all together or let her use the walkman (sometimes we do need to have an adult conversation!).

As for TV, I watched growing up, and we do let our daughter watch some (but limited, especially on school days) but she and I both are avid readers (as are most of the people in our family). I think that instilling a love of reading goes beyond turning off the TV, and has more to do with sharing books you love when kids are very young, and teaching them how to enjoy books for themselves.

Posted by: Hmm | July 8, 2005 11:38 AM | Report abuse

You know, it's funny how people are always so resistant to new technologies. AS an artist who happens to use a lot of digital equipment sometimes, I always have folks asking me how I feel about "digital" art, and whether it's 'worth' the same as more traditonal arts. My response is always, 'hey, if da vinci had had a digital camera, would he have refused to use it? Probably not.
Granted, you may say these are more like tools rather than entertainment devices, but things have a way of evolving - just look at all the camera phones that have documented the london attacks. Camera phones were originallt thought of an entertainment feature than a documentary device.

Posted by: LP | July 8, 2005 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Hmm, I used to get carsick too, as did my siblings. We eventually grew out of it, only to face a particularly unfortunate situation in our teens, when our parents rented a car so we could take a self-drive holiday in New Zealand. It was a station wagon whose interior had a distinct odor of vomit. The more we sprayed it with air freshener, the more smelly it became. Somehow we managed to hold onto our lunch, but we will always remember that vacation as the holiday from hell -- driving around in the rain in our "Vomit Van."

Posted by: Achenfan | July 8, 2005 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Vomit Van! That's funny.

If you don't have a sense of humor about those kind of trips it can really make you crack. It especially helps when it's shared humor. I know this through experience. Not the good kind.

Road trips: a fine line between fun family memory and child services cases.


Posted by: irregardless | July 8, 2005 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, "irregardless" (ha ha ha!). I enjoyed your story too. I guess we just have to remember that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger (if perhaps a little queasy).

Posted by: Achenfan | July 8, 2005 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Ahh, road trips.

My brothers and I would entertain ourselves in the back bench seat of Mom's '68 Plymouth Fury III sedan (white with blue interior, 318, A904 automatic) by fighting constantly. This started out as a free-for-all (think of an Andy Capp "fight ball": a snapshot revealing a cloud with various appendages (fists, feet, etc.) protruding from it), though it usually devolved into a one on one match, with one of us escaping to the deck under the rear window. I think we could fit onto that deck lying down until we were 6 or 7 years old.

I know that you're thinking:
Q.1. why weren't these kids wearing seatbelts? and Q.2. why didn't Mom pull the old Mopar over to the side of Connecticut Ave. and beat these boys into submission?

A.1. NOBODY wore seatbelts then. They were shoved into the gaps between the seatbacks and the bottom cushion. The only time I recall ever seeing one was when one of us pulled the lap belt out of the gap, adjusted the latching end buckle all the way to the far end of the belt, and began swinging it around as a weapon. Made a very satisfying "klunk" when it made contact with bone.

A. 2. I don't have the slightest clue.


Posted by: bc | July 8, 2005 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Ah, fighting with your sibs in the car. I remember my Dad would occasionally get a certain clenched-jaw look that let us know when we'd gone too far.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 8, 2005 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I have a 4-year-old, and refuse . . . REFUSE! to put a DVD player of any sort in my car (which is a Geo Metro, and it just seems wrong to mix a DVD player and a Geo Metro.)

I think it IS very different for kids today, because they have to be restrained in car seats or booster seats or seat belts (which we didn't EVER use when I was a child), but I still think that boredom is good for kids: teaches them how to solve problems, forces them to use their imaginations (and for parents to use theirs), and so on. I would rather have to help my son figure out something to do in the car than to have him vegging out in front of the tv. Lord!

And god forbid we TALK to each other! I think the "DVD in the car" was invented more for parents than for the kids actually watching the damn thing.

Posted by: Anne Olivia | July 8, 2005 3:33 PM | Report abuse

A possible compromise between mayhem and the insidious DVD--my three sons were captivated by books on tape during long car journeys. Now they're 20-somethings and still listen to (unabridged!) books on tape on cross country drives.

Posted by: Twinsmom | July 8, 2005 4:00 PM | Report abuse

This blog has made me laugh out loud numerous times - but especially the vomit van and the fight cloud! Thanks for adding to my joy today.
We moved from San Francisco to DC when I was 16. Parents, 4 kids, dog and cat, in a camper. The dog (Bobo - may he rest in peace), barked the entire first half of the journey. Somewhere around Little Rock, he lost his voice. He continued to bark the entire second half of the trip, but it was less unpleasant as you could barely hear him.
My husband is the son of 2 chain smokers. His memories of trips in the car while being suffocated led to him being the most passionate anti-smoker I have ever known. He will cross the street to avoid walking past someone with a lit cigarette!

Posted by: bostonreader | July 8, 2005 4:09 PM | Report abuse

OH - back to the technology point of this blog. I have not been around this blog long enough for anyone to miss me (and by the way I nominated myself for the 15 in the Tom Cruise string and nobody seconded - I am trying not to feel spurned) but I have in fact been out of commission for the past few days because our new Apple G5 is apparently burning up from the inside out and so I have not been able to get online. As soon as we turn it on, there is this acrid, burning electrical smell. Thankfully we paid the $$$ necessary to keep the thing under warranty - now we just have to schlep it to an Apple store where they will hopefully fix it. I am able to be here today finally catching up on a weeks worth of fun and humor thanks to a my houseguest letting me use her computer (a humble but functioning PC) for the day.

Posted by: bostonreader | July 8, 2005 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Consider yourself seconded, bostonreader. Welcome to TSA-15.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 8, 2005 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Dear Achenfan,
I am humbled and overjoyed to be accepted into this august assembly. Thank you.

Posted by: bostonreader | July 8, 2005 4:35 PM | Report abuse

bc: Hi. I'm bc, and I'm an Achenblogger.

TSA-15: Hi, bc!

bc: I've been an Achenblogger for a couple of months now, but I've turned my life over to the Higher Authority. No, not Snoop Dogg, or Tom, but Joel...


Posted by: bc | July 8, 2005 4:48 PM | Report abuse

you guys were so lucky! i'm an only child with a single parent so my road trips were with mom trying to keep her entertained. I was also a latch-key kid so i watched a LOT of tv growing up but i also read - i used to volunteer for the library and would check out 10 books a week (yes, i was the NERD in school) so i guess i'm not too opposed to the dvd in the car - though, i don't have children so... i did do the VA to CA roadtrip and back again and i entertained myself by burning a lot of cd's and sang my lungs out in the car cuz i'm the best car singer i know! i ahead, just ask me! :) i'll never do that drive again cuz the last time i almost lost my mind by kansas - i woulda killed for a dvd player had i not been the one driving!!!!

Posted by: maureen (mo) | July 8, 2005 5:08 PM | Report abuse

i meant "go ahead, just ask me"

and cell phones for children, hrmmmm - i just don't know - i was visiting a friend in denver who doesn't have a cell phone (she's an adult) and i was befuddled! how does one exist today without a cell phone? i was like - what if i get lost? (i had rented a car). She said stop at a gas station and ask for directions! What could she possibly be thinking - ask for directions! I was like, welcome to the 21st century - it's a nice place, you'll like it!

Posted by: maureen (mo) | July 8, 2005 5:12 PM | Report abuse


You say: "I'm the one who actually edits Joel 's print column. Tom, of the dumb questions, is my boss, the Magazine's Editor. I deal with Joel everyday, and let me tell you, I deserve a raise."

Believe me, an editor who writes "everyday" as one word in that sentence certainly does not deserve a raise.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 8, 2005 8:06 PM | Report abuse

no anonymous names please!

Posted by: the editor | July 9, 2005 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Have you ever heard the word typo?? But if this is your big concern of the moment, how lucky you are...

Posted by: sydney | July 9, 2005 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Two large pieces on the acoustic nerve tumours,
and other cancers found and concern about
cell or mobile phone for kids in the
Toronto Star this Sat/Sun
Linkname: - Is her cellphone safe?
size: 481 lines
and Linkname: - Kids at risk?
size: 622 lines
Sunday graphic
Linkname: Health risks graphic (.pdf)

The chief Medical Health Officer of the province
was quoted:
"It disturbs me that kids are the marketing target
for devices that are dressed up to look as
innocuous and friendly as possible, and yet may
have longer-term health implications attached to
them that we're not fully aware of," says Dr.
Sheela Basrur, Ontario's chief medical officer of
health and mother of a 14-year-old daughter whose
repeated requests for a cellphone have been
denied. "It falls on government and industry to
provide this information in a readily accessible,
easily understood fashion so you don't need a
post-doctorate degree in radiation physics to
realize that the jury is out."

An analysis of 252 published studies
worldwide on cellular radio frequencies out
of the University of Washington, obtained
by the Toronto Star, shows a clear
difference in results between independent
research and studies directly funded by

It's all over when the WashPost turns its powerful
cell-beam on the issue. It's going to be worse than the
tobacco health costs.

Posted by: notbrane-ded | July 10, 2005 10:26 PM | Report abuse

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