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The Terrible Power of Fresh Eyes

    When you get home from vacation, or, as in my case, from a research trip with vacational digressions, you suddenly see your normal, everyday, humdrum existence with the powerful instruments known as Fresh Eyes. It's almost scary. Fresh Eyes see so much. The haze of denial is blown away, the air suddenly desert-clear. Fresh Eyes see the blemishes and the scars that normally register only on the subconscious. Fresh Eyes don't blink.

    One thing I notice is that my home is essentially a shotgun shack. It has many of the superficial characteristics of an abandoned property. Did it really look this way just 15 days earlier? Could my eyes have been so tired, so bleary, as to have failed to notice? It needs to be painted, the porch needs need to be completely rebuilt, and the garage on the alley needs to be either restored or burned to the ground. There are ants in the sugar canister. The place crawls with cats, inciting bickerng and rebukes from the yardbirds. And the lawn -- the tragic lawn! -- has been reclaimed by the Weed Kingdom.

     My reconnaissance of the property left me nearly in tears. The crab grass has reached a state of efflorescence, its seedy stalks blowing haughtily in the breeze. It looks like a crab grass farm, as if this were my big summer crop, and I intend to cut it for hay. My wife, thinking perhaps her words would ease the pain, said, "The good news is, you can give up now."

    [In the spring I columnized about the use of corn gluten, which, we can now state with some confidence, is not exactly a miracle cure for crab grass.]

    What you have to do when the Fresh Eyes reveal problems is to use the momentum of your journey, those inertial forces in all your tissues, to start solving the problems lickety-split, with executive efficiency. You think: This won't do. We're gonna need a bigger boat. You get some contractors on the phone. You start hiring people, throwing money around. The Fresh Eyes tell you what you've known for years: It's time to staff up. Next blog: The secrets of staffing up, and the answer to the eternal question of whether you should have a personal chef.

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 24, 2005; 7:31 AM ET
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Next: My Personal Architect


I go away for 2 weeks and all H--l breaks loose on the Kaboodle. Boodlers meeting in bars, boodling madly. I am appalled but frankly not shocked.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 24, 2005 7:54 AM | Report abuse

It was as though the inmates had taken over the asylum

Posted by: waterboy | August 24, 2005 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Joel. We need discipline. Things are falling apart.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 8:32 AM | Report abuse

joel - that's what happens when we don't get enough kits - you created the snarling beast after all... i didn't MEAN to tinkle on that's kids tricycle...

Posted by: mo | August 24, 2005 8:55 AM | Report abuse

The person who posted as Achen fan (with a space between Achen and fan) in the previous 'boodle was not me. One of the Tom fans in there wasn't me either. If anyone says anything offensive under any of my handles, please know it is not me. I will be lurking for the next few days, hoping melvin/a (the interloper) gets bored of trying to destroy the 'boodle. Not much point commenting when someone keeps ripping off my handles.

Love ya, guys. Had a blast at the Porching Hour last night.

Posted by: The REAL Achenfan | August 24, 2005 9:10 AM | Report abuse

mo, you are my hero. There were pictures! The only thing missing in those pictures is me! Anyone wants to know what I look like, though, they can ask. That way you don't have to speculate at the next porching hour.

And jw, I too picture everyone as white...I hadn't thought of it before now, though.

And Achenfan, I'm definitely beginning to believe you. Sorry I doubted. I'm starting to get angry at the whole interloper issue.

Posted by: Sara | August 24, 2005 9:23 AM | Report abuse

As a bona fide attendee of Porching Hour, I am STILL smiling about it 14 hours later!

First, I feel quite proud that we all had the gumption to show up, despite the obvious weirdness of the situation. Second, I have warm fuzzy feelings knowing that many of my fellow 'boodlers are as charming, witty, relaxed, and amicable in person as they are online.

A brief summary: there was a lot of laughter; some, shall we say, *amusing* revelations; gossip and speculation about 'boodlers not in attendance - heh,heh; and not a high degree of sharing of personal identifying details (which is probably a good thing).

But the best way to find out what REALLY goes on is to show up at the next one...

Posted by: Cubedweller | August 24, 2005 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I always thought that the Free Katie t-shirts would be black with white lettering. I've never seen one before. All of my mental assumptions are being shot out of the window. I was wrong about what most of you looked like. Except bc. bc looked as a pictured him, though I still picture him with glasses despite the fact that he's told me he doesn't wear glasses.

Posted by: Sara | August 24, 2005 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Wow...having just returned from vacation to my 4 month old home, I unfortunately empathize completely. Looking forward to your pointers on how to staff up, for sure! Hehehe.

Posted by: Eric | August 24, 2005 9:30 AM | Report abuse

When I was home visiting my mom last week, I had the same feeling about the house. I had an overwhelming desire to tear up the entire yard and reseed. I don't know how well that would have worked out in the middle of a 2 month drought. The woods are slowly starting to take over. In a few years the house is going to look like one of those Incan temples overcome by jungle growth.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I do think it is remarkable that the kaboodle broke through into the third dimension yesterday. I have to think that it is a rare blog that achieves that level of audience participation.

On the other hand, the disorder here must make your crabgrass situation at home seem almost manageable in comparison.

The denizens of the A-blog are like "strong-willed" or "creative" children. (my daughter and husband are in both categories, let's just say I have sympathy for Mrs. A) They are more trouble than the "normal" kids but I wouldn't trade them! Because they make life more interesting, and the world needs them.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 24, 2005 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I too suffer from Fresh Eyes upon returning from vacation. While Fresh Eyes trained upon my home can lead me to believe it is a hovel, Fresh Eyes catching my reflection in the mirror are equally brutal in their assessment.

This leads to post-vacation resolutions -- or what I call "Back-to-School Syndrome." They are a reprise of the usual New Year's resolutions that I have never implemented on anything more than a casual basis during my entire resolution-making life. But somehow all seems possible at the start of a new school year, even 20 years after high-school graduation.

Posted by: Cubedweller | August 24, 2005 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I second mo! When the cat is away, the mice will play, or rather, when there's too little kit the kaboodle goes kinda nuts.

Posted by: sweetiefur | August 24, 2005 9:47 AM | Report abuse

My male friend is big into landscape management. He loves yard work. I don't get it because I don't enjoy yard work, but I'm not about to complain. If mowing my lawn brings him joy, he's welcome to it. I wouldn't want to stand in the way of his joy. If he loses interest, I'll take it over again. The only thing I really use my yard for is reading a book on a sunny afternoon--tanning and intellectual stimulation.

Posted by: Sara | August 24, 2005 9:52 AM | Report abuse

We've been building a garage for what seems like 4 years now. What it really looks like, since the foundation hasn't bee poured, is a big weed house. It didn't help to have a loose toilet in there. My husband found one at a recycling store and brought it home since the garage, should it ever be built, is going to have a bathroom. He finally took the toilet to his office to store it in the basement.


Posted by: mary ann | August 24, 2005 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Mo - Thanks for posting the photos. I'm not suprised to find that my fellow Boodlers are all good-looking people, even if they're mostly Caucasian.

kbertocci - Just sent my eldest daughter off to college too. She calls every day. Can't get her computer connected, needs her favorite teddy bear, bike doesn't work. Ah, the strain of breaking away.

Mr. Achenbach, Sir - I'm sorry, Master, things just got out of hand. I was good, honest. I tried to stay focused with the Kit. But, they, they wanted to talk about Cindy Sheehan, or tropical drinks, or other stuff. Honest

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 9:53 AM | Report abuse

make that "hasn't been poured".

Posted by: mary ann | August 24, 2005 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Another lurker is coming out of the wordwork. I've been reading you all for a few months now, thanks for helping pass time at my less than fascinating job! I think it's amazing that you met up - Sara, maybe we need to do a Minnesota version (although you'll have to head up to Minneapolis...I just did the drive down to Lanesboro last weekend, once a year is enough for me), show the DC folks how it's done?

Posted by: pipermkd | August 24, 2005 9:54 AM | Report abuse

pipermkd, you live in Minnesota? Where is Lanesboro?

Posted by: Sara | August 24, 2005 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I live just outside Minneapolis. Lanesboro is in southern MN...about an hour past Rochester. Gorgeous bike trails - my posterior is still sore from a 40 mile ride (after not riding a bike since we went last year!).

Hey - does your male friend have a brother in the cities? Send him to my house! Not only have I neglected to mow the lawn for about 2 weeks now, some scary thistles have taken root in the flower bed...they're now officially taller than I am - I'm going to start having nightmares soon.

Posted by: pipermkd | August 24, 2005 10:02 AM | Report abuse

so you guys are able to see the pics? great! i'm really sorry achenfan that i even for a second thought it was you! i was shocked when i saw that post - that interloper is a really mean person!
cubedweller - you better keep some of those admissions to yourself! lol!!! i had a total warm fuzzy as well, after i got over the weirdness i felt like i had known all you guys for forever!!!

joel - you aren't possibly referring to US as the crab grass taking over are you?

Posted by: mo | August 24, 2005 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Sorry pipermkd. His whole family is in Cali and he's the only weird landscape-loving one of them. He scolds me for my crabgrass, but what am I supposed to do? Nothing helps it!

Posted by: Sara | August 24, 2005 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I prefer to think that Joel was not, in fact, using this post as a metaphor for the blog. Crab grass indeed. Hmph!

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Because of the Great Midwestern Drought of 2005, large patches of grass in our back yard turned cardboard brown. I thought, considering the heat, that the grass had simply become dormant (what do I know about grass, I grew up on Southern Calif.). Instead, some strange succulent kind of viney junk has begun to spread its tenacles throughout the dead (yeh, now I get it) areas. I'm not big on using chemicals on lawns; I consider them (lawns) to be ornamental and thus less worthy of time and money than our garden. But now I'm looking for a time-efficient cure. I've heard of propane torches. This is very appealing on a number of levels. Has anyone used this method of weed eradication? Can Joel think of a more boring subject?

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Just kidding, Boss.

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of the Great Midwestern Drought of 2005. Two weekends ago I had to mow my lawn (oh, the humanity!) and I looked like I'd been rolling around in black sawdust by the time I was done. It wasn't grass I was mowing. It was little brown dust sticks. A crop of dust sticks. That's when I started complaining and threatening a lawn boy again.

Posted by: Sara | August 24, 2005 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Sara - I hear ya. I'm just waiting for the rolling dust storms. Soon we Midwesterners may have to pack all our belongings into our pickup trucks and migrate West.

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Soon to come: The Kaboodle World Tour 2005. Bring me back a T-shirt.
I think it's great that some boodlers got together, which is not actually unprecedented, as the Czar of the Style Invite told me once that some of the regular winners/losers of the Invite would meet up from time to time. It is interesting to put a face to some of the names we see here all the time. As for the imposter problem, with someone appropriating the handle of Achenfan/Tomfan/Dreamer, that's totally unfair, and if ATD wants me to delete any imposter posts I will do that. I have that power. (If there's any urgent issue on this blog, you could always call me at the Post.) That said, what I don't have if the time, as a rule, to police the blog, which is why it's been so great that it's been a civil space in an otherwise rancorous and often vulgar culture. Frankly the Kaboodle has to be in charge of itself. As for the squawking about an alleged shortage of Kits, I do what I can. I posted as often as I could on the road.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 24, 2005 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I'll take mowing the brown dust sticks over my springtime mowing nightmare. Think cottonwood trees. Lots of them. Fuzzies up my nose, and in other unmentionable areas. And I don't have a lawnboy to threaten, just a creepy neighbor that watches me mow, and occasionally giving me oh-so-helpful pointers.

Posted by: pipermkd | August 24, 2005 10:35 AM | Report abuse

so we are not crabgrass? whew! sanity has been restored to the boodle with the return of our fearless leader - don't worry joel - we know you have REAL work to do (hah!) so we are content with whatever kits we get... just so's you know that we need! we need!

Posted by: mo | August 24, 2005 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Duh. I've been sitting on the old boodle for hours now wondering where everyone was. That's what has come of the past 2 weeks - the idea that there was a new kit didn't enter my mind until a few minutes ago. Loved the pics. Hate the interloper. Love Achenfan. Re: today's kit - after 5 years of renovations on our previous home, and hating the lawn but not having the skills to improve it, it was something of a relief to move to Boston and find the perfect excuse to just rent an apartment in the city. No more contractors. No crabgrass for miles around. Of course, no porching either.

Posted by: bostonreader | August 24, 2005 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Joel - Thanks for all the attention today. Really, we're just giving you a hard time with all of the begging for kits. We know you have a real job to do. I hope we make you feel appreciated!

Posted by: bostonreader | August 24, 2005 10:39 AM | Report abuse

The gathering sounded like fun, and I hope to attend the next one. As for the attribution of all troubles to me, there's no truth to that and certainly no evidence. Sadly, our colleague is into j'accuse! I don't complain when others seize my handle, (including her), and she herself has multiple handles to begin with.

Some people need a bogeyman; makes 'em feel good--we saw some of that in the cleverly sourced and crafted put-downs in her post-gathering message. Having said what's really on her mind, she's had second thoughts in the daylight.

I may be a convenient punching bag for Ms. F., but I'm not a good one. It doesn't tickle me. Some people need to rally from an attacked mode. Again, it's sad--but it won't dampen my high spirits. I hope she stops funking and feels better because it's going to be a beautiful day.

Now, I must brief the press.

Posted by: melvin/A | August 24, 2005 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I, too, had a great time with everyone at the Porching Hour last night.

In keeping with the nature of the Kaboodle and the Blogosphere, I will now give bc's Instant Assessments of all of the attendees of the Porching Hour:

cubedweller - gentlemen, you missed your chance to marry this intelligent, graceful lady.

pj - thoughtful. Here's very nice guy who seems to be thinking a step ahead.

Tomfan/Achenfan/Dreamer - perceptive, mysterious, spiritual, and very smart. Resplendent in a velvet cape, too.

bc - a bit too glib, laughs a bit too loud, never met a maragrita he didn't like.

mo - charming, honest, personable and very real. Loves to laugh, dresses to kill.

jw - ladies, he's everything you thought he was, including 'taken'. Rain check line forms to the right.

TA - intelligent, articulate, 100,000 candlepower smile. I'd say "sweet" too, but I'm guessing she's heard that before.

omnigood/bad/goof - here's a guy with a mischevious twinkle in his eye. Also likes a good laugh.

If you want the real "proof in the pudding" as it were, I proposed that there be another Porching Hour in a month or so.

I have some fresh eyes on the Kaboodle this AM, too.


Posted by: bc | August 24, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse

(Yes, really.)
Thanks, Joel, for offering to delete the fake ATD posts, but it's OK -- for the most part the fakes are fairly easily identifiable as such, and other 'boodlers have helped me out in crying foul each time a fake appears.

Thanks also for recognizing that the crab grass that overwhelmed your blog while you were gone was not the SAO-15, and for providing as many Kits as you were able.

Posted by: Achen- and Tom fan and Dreamer | August 24, 2005 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I have 1.8 acres of lawn to mow. I used to pay for a service to spray for weeds, put down fertilizer, etc., but it wasn't cheap, and as other things came into the budget, that had to go.

These days, long as it's green, I'm OK with it. Well, except for the thistle and dandilions.


Posted by: bc | August 24, 2005 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Seeing as how you all abandoned the other kit about the time I posted there, I have taken the liberty of reposting here:

Achenfan, I knew that wasn't you saying those things. It was out of character, and furthermore, I don't really know which of us would have been pegged as socially inept. Because nobody was. I guess I think that is partially due to the fact that socially inept people don't generally venture out to meet a group of total strangers.

Some basic impressions and facts about the evening: Although we were primarily a white, educated, middle class bunch, there were some very distinct personalities represented, and large variance as far as careers. Everyone was good-natured and polite, and I can see myself enjoying future happy hours with this bunch.

As far as surprises, I didn't expect Omnigood to be male and expected jw to be older. I kept getting the goth thing confused between Dreamer and mo, but it is definitely mo who wears the black, so I was a little thrown off by my earlier expectations of Dreamer. However, once I discovered that Dreamer is also Tom fan, it all fit, as I had an expectation of Tom fan that pretty much fit the real person.

As an amendment to bc's post above,
bc: a bit too glib, laughs a bit too loud, never met a maragrita he didn't like.

This is right on, although I might have worded it that bc is a first rate bull----er. ;)

As far as me being sweet, that's not something I hear often, but i appreciate the compliment.

Posted by: TA | August 24, 2005 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I want to second bostonreader here, and I really meant to commend you for last week's output--Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday!! That is actually quite commendable considering all the driving and earthquake-researching and hamburger-eating you had to find time for as well. I hope you had fun with all of it.

We miss you in the kaboodle, as much as in the kit. I have given a lot of thought to just how many comments is each person's individual limit--when does the time come that there aren't enough hours in the day to read them all--some of us are very fast readers, but even so there is a limit! I haven't reached mine yet, but I've seen it on the horizon a few times.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 24, 2005 11:02 AM | Report abuse

TA, a first rate "bull----er"?

Oh, the dagger to my heart!

And, I'm flattered, too.


Posted by: bc | August 24, 2005 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Corn gluten works, but you've got to twist your mouth just the right way (same principle as using scissors on paper).

Posted by: bharshaw | August 24, 2005 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Well, it's good to see the world didn't explode with the venturing of the boodle to the third demension and all.

And thanks, mo for the pics - at least I don't feel too left out now...

Posted by: LP | August 24, 2005 11:17 AM | Report abuse

SCC entry: no comma after "And," at 11:04:44.


Posted by: bc | August 24, 2005 11:18 AM | Report abuse

The post above isn't me, obviously.
(Sorry, guys, for insulting your intelligence by even posting this clarification -- I know you all know me well enough to be able to tell which posts are mine and which ones aren't. Just keeping a record for any newbies out there, I guess.)

I wonder why this guy isn't bored yet? I wonder what he wants?

Posted by: The REAL Achen- and Tom fan and Dreamer | August 24, 2005 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Why he wants to be you, Achenfan. Serial envy stirkes again.

Looks like a wonderful time was had by all, and I missed it. My plan was to toast you all at a distance, but I had to go off and pick up supplies with returning to school son who went off the rails somewhere in High School and is waking up now at 25 to how much he has missed. Am I a proud mom? YES.

Which is why I know without question, that even in the crabgrass patches of life, there is a spark of real grass there.

Posted by: dr | August 24, 2005 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm liking this thread. Stories of renewal, reunion, and personal redemption. And there's a villan in our midst to add some drama. This is better than reading the paper. Thanks, Joel.

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 12:07 PM | Report abuse

just a thaught. the boodle is rather elitist. if they deem your comments unworthy, they just ignore you. but they will take time to respond to mean interloper kinds of posts. look how mean achen SPACE fan is but yet his comments are worthy of resonse.

Posted by: ept | August 24, 2005 12:07 PM | Report abuse


What's wrong with the crabgrass? (I assume it's a tougher grass then normal lawn grass, please correct me if I'm wrong.) Lawns are boring, require a lot of attention and are bad for the environment.
My little garden if full off different kinds of grasses (I have counted at least 5 kinds), clover and other weeds. I think it looks better than that fake carpet that my neighbour has. It costs me less, and when I cut it, it looks the same once you are more then 3 meters away.
I'm also sure that I have a lot more bugs crawling in it especially small crickets, that I often try to catch when I feel nostalgic about the 10 year old me.

Of course crab grass might be some poisenous plant that eats small children and my post might be totaly beside the point.

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't know the exact order of everyones arrival, just that I was 7th and cubedweller was 8th, but an interesting thing I noticed once we were all together was that we ended alternating boy girl boy girl...four guys and four gals.

Posted by: omnigood | August 24, 2005 12:17 PM | Report abuse

ept- your comments are rather short sighted. Sure sometimes it may appear as though 'boodlers are ignoring a comment. I've noticed times where the SAO-15 seem to have ignored comments from each other. Perhaps ignoring isn't the correct term here, it may really be that sometimes people simply aren't interested enough in a comment to comment on it (that sounds redundant somehow).

Posted by: TulsaFan | August 24, 2005 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Interloper Alert: The "CowTown" response to ept was from our villan.

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Cowtown, maybe ept's original comment to which the fony "you" replied was made by the villan aswel. It sounded quite aggressive.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2005 12:32 PM | Report abuse


My dad has varying amounts of interest in lawncare and the weeds come and go accordingly. One year when his attention was on other things besides the weeds, one of the grandkids was visiting, maybe it was Katie, age about 5 or 6, and she delighted him by exclaiming, "Grandpa! You don't have a yard--you have a MEADOW!"

Posted by: kbertocci | August 24, 2005 12:33 PM | Report abuse

oups, forgot to give my nick.

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Kbertocci, you made my day. Your niece (I think) hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2005 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I only comment when I have something interesting to say or to simply post a compliment. I for one am glad that not every post gets a response. Imagine that runaway boodle from last week that almost broke a thousand. Imagine almost 10,000. No thanks.

Posted by: omnigood | August 24, 2005 12:41 PM | Report abuse


Why report that bc "was trying to look down my shirt."?

This is a family blog.

Posted by: comehither | August 24, 2005 12:55 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci - That made me laugh.

I refer to one of my neighbor's yards as "amber waves of grain".

Back in the day zoysia grass was popular, and it was always kind of interesting when folks would burn their lawns in the fall or spring every couple of years to cut back the accumulated thatch.

These days people would get pretty excited about a burning lawn next door, not to mention the local constabulary.


Posted by: bc | August 24, 2005 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't have crabgrass, but every year my gardens develop some new and improved weed. The latest is a vine with heart-shaped leaves which tightly coils around the stems and stalks of flower and vegetable plants. Diffcult to pull because it strips all the leaves and blooms off the plants. You have to unwind the sucker, so tedious. It's fast too. I saw one starting at the base of a plant one morning on my way to work, thinking okay, I'll pull it this afternoon. By the time I got home, it had already climbed its way up to the top of the plant. But weeding isn't entirely boring. I just sit myself down in the midst of the garden with a cup of coffee, pull them out by hand and daydream the time away. Easy lately because of all the rain.

Posted by: Nani | August 24, 2005 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Our good friend, dr:

Why presume that "he" wants to be Achenfan?
Not sure of all the background on the paranoia about the "interloper," but isn't there at least a 50% chance that "she" wants to be Achenfan, if there is any truth to that?

Posted by: ept | August 24, 2005 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Nani - I think you've nailed it. I wonder if someone has written on the Zen of Weeding. It allows you to sit in the fresh air and ponder your own thoughts (or listen to your ipod) while engaging in a ceremonial cleansing ritual. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that you've accomplished something when you're done. It's much more satisfying than lawn mowing (frankly, I don't understand the fascination with lawn tractors) and better for the Earth. Maybe there's even a Weeding Mantra.

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Nani - that sounds like bindweed. If it is, whatever you do don't let it go to seed. Rumor has it, it can go from sprout to seed in less than 14 hours on a good day, 15 hours on a bad day. According to Adrian Higgins the seeds can be dormant for 80 years.

Posted by: mary ann | August 24, 2005 1:13 PM | Report abuse

ept: for a very long time, NO comments got a response from anyone. It was like shouting in an empty room. I think that the comments that get responses are the ones that create a forum for discussion. Like yours.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Weeding is grand for the soul when one is frustrated, angry, upset, what have you. Put a name/face to the weed(s)and give your best shot. Lawn mowing has its own zen as well.

Posted by: Chance | August 24, 2005 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Hani, whereabouts in the US do you live?
I have a remarcably similar weed appearing in my garden even though I live on the other side of the atlantic.
It might be an advance guard of an alien plant invasions. Soon we will bow to our new masters, the Vineplantpeople.

I normaly cut the vine where it starts to creep up a plant. Then a day or two later the rest of it is dead and then it's easy to take off. But of course it always comes back.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2005 1:16 PM | Report abuse

That's the second time today I forgot to add my nic. Mea culpa.

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 1:17 PM | Report abuse

weeding mantra, CowTown? ommmmmmmmmmmm. I really need it, and lots of other prayers. I slaved over my (small) front lawn last year--handweeding, proper weed suppressant, seed and fertilizer, all at the proper intervals and spreading rates. Lawn looked good until mid-June. Now its 2/3 hardy crabgrass and other weeds. I can't believe it. Someone mentioned zoysia. As a kid, I planted zoysia during a couple of summers. 10 cents a plug. Not it's probably $2. And
boy did I ache. But those lawns still look great except for the latefall brownout.

Posted by: comehither | August 24, 2005 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Washing dishes by hand has a soothing effect for me. I used to think my girlfriend (ex now) would start a fight just because there were dishes to do.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 24, 2005 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Embrace the crab grass. Feel its force. Become one with it and it won't bother you anymore.
You will save a packet on suppressants etc.
Of course your neighbours won't talk to you anymore because they will think you are a lazy f*ck. But then again sometimes that is an extra bonus.

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Comehither - That's the problem with lawns. They greedily absorb water, fertilizer, weed & feed, crouching, touching, caressing, coddling - and then they betray you. Hours of labor repaid with a giant Patch of Brown and Weeds. Perhaps the Japanese have the right idea with their pebble gardens.

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 1:30 PM | Report abuse


They already think I am weird because I do my all lawn; they all have the stereotypically undocumented lawn crews do theirs. And they dump lots of chemicals on their lawns. My kids have grown up undeformed, but for theirs there is probably a big risk, at least for the unborn.

I am too much of a gentlep**son for them to call me a lazy ****.

We don't use those words on this blog. This blog is for the most part not profane and not into any terms or concepts denoting sexuality of any kind. But I think some flirtin's going on. Reports from last night were rather shocking, but I have lead a protected life.

Posted by: comehither | August 24, 2005 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I live deep in the heart of Texas.

Posted by: Nani | August 24, 2005 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Weeding tip: Wear those yellow rubber gloves people wear to wash dishes. Don't bother with expensive gardening gloves. The rubber gloves give you a good grip on the weeds and they're cheap. But be careful not to yank on thorned plants wearing them.

BTW -- The ceiing on my front porch needs painting. 128 square feet of it. All I need is manpower; will supply paint and equipment. Will pay handsomely in pizza and beer. Don't all answer at once.

Posted by: WASP | August 24, 2005 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Nani. This proves that the dread Heart Shaped Vine has spread from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, and is probably laying siege to Ontario as we speak.

dr, you are warned.

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Point taken. I think the "trash" part of my nic took over from the Euro one.

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 1:40 PM | Report abuse

regarding cowtown's point about the vine spreading northwards from the gulf of mexico.
It raises an (interesting?) question
What would have changed for a weed to change it's geographical spread.
The vine is not new. So why now?
Would it be that there are more lawns now then 50 years ago? Does global warming have anything to do with it? Do people use less strong weedkillers?

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 1:45 PM | Report abuse

A weed is just a plant that is growing where you don't want it.

ept, I spoke using the masculine because I live in a house of males, and my sons have shown me the goofiness of the species resides in males of 10-25. If it was a pendantic, solemn post or from a raving lunatic, I would ascribe it to a female because that would be me at my worst. I can only use my own personal perceptions and biases to comment here, so for me this one verging on goofy, counts as he. I don't hink its a 50-50 chance of being female though. I think there are more females in the world than males. Does anyone have data on this?

Posted by: dr | August 24, 2005 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Dr. this article claims that there are more males then females. Except for the + 65 year olds. That might be because so many males died during WW2.

Posted by: eurotrash | August 24, 2005 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I read an article in Slate lately that claimed that Australia has 20.000 more women then men in their 30's.

I applied for a visa straight away.

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I like to work in the gardens with bare hands. There's something satisfying about getting your hands in that good old earth dirt. And besides, I can't really get a good grip with gloves. No blisters because my hands are calloused, but lots of scratches and sometimes I can't get all the dirt from under my fingernails, but I don't mind.

Posted by: Nani | August 24, 2005 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I am glad you're back. What happened to the Japan trip?

Posted by: jlessl | August 24, 2005 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Ossietrash: You haven't seen Belgian women. (Which is a stupid male thing to say, but the trash side of me is strong today. Tomorrow I'll be my normal gentleman self.)

Seriously: I will find out in february next year when I'll visit Oz for three weeks. (nothing to do with that article, I'm not that desperate)
I look forward to being eaten up by everything that crawls and swims.

Posted by: Eurotrash. | August 24, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Nani, do nettles grow in Texas?

I have some in my garden, and if you touch them with your bare hands they ache for half an hour.

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 2:04 PM | Report abuse


What part of Texas are ya'll from? My relatives are spread all over that great state and I have a sweet spot for the land of mesquite trees, cotton fields, and Shiner bock beer. My relatives call me a wierd "northerner" because I live up here in the DC area (as in "you women up North have some messed up ideals" since I didn't rush to bear children at 22-true quote).

Posted by: AJ | August 24, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I never thought that adults sounded so much like children. Maybe children just sound so much like adults. Today I learned that it isn't just ninth-graders that can go off onto tenuously related tangents.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2005 2:20 PM | Report abuse

DR... about your son returning to school: you have made my day. I have one of those sons in HS right now and I've always figured the waking up would happen at around age 25. I'm proud of you and your son!

Posted by: TBG | August 24, 2005 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Interloper: I will now refer to you as Terrorist. You are a mean, hateful, spiteful, destructive, deceptive person. Also a coward - as you do all of this knowing we have no real defense against you. I hope you will get a conscience and stop, but as we have learned about terrorists, their consciences died long ago so I don't have any misconceptions that this will happen.

Posted by: bostonreader | August 24, 2005 2:24 PM | Report abuse

For some of us, the weeding mantra is "Aaaachooooo!" Frequently on a sonic-boom level.

Posted by: pj | August 24, 2005 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I just read this in an editorial about Bush's holiday time.

" Most Americans, on the other hand, take fewer vacations than anyone else in the developed world (even the Japanese), averaging only 13 to 16 days off a year."

Is that true for you?
Comming from lazy europe I have 25 days a year of payed holiday which I don't find particularly much. That gives me a week in march, two during the summer holidays and one during the christmass period. With a couple of days left over for when I need to stay at home for small stuff like plumber comming, or having a sicky etc. (come to think of it, it actually seems to be a lot.)

What about you guys and galls? Do you take more than the average or are 3 weeks enough?

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 2:26 PM | Report abuse

think that may be overdoing it, Bostonreader. this is not a matter of national security. this is a not always orderly odd slice of life and opinion. not life or death. repeat, not life or death. finally, it is unclear what you are reacting to. I think we have been kinda tame today, with lots of welcome new participants.

Posted by: comehither | August 24, 2005 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I earn 30 days of leave a year, as does every serviceperson, and I can carry up to 60 days from year to year. Pretty generous by US standards. Many people still end up losing days every year because they can't find time to take days off, however. The good thing about leave days is they actually have dollar value--you can sell them back to the goverment for a day's pay if you're in a bind.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I fully expect to have my handle stolen now, fellow boodlers. Terrorists love to use the most cowardly modes of attack, and stealing handles to make spurious posts falls into that category. I wish you would blow yourself up in the effort - but unfortunately that's not possible in the blogosphere. Do you your darndest terrorist.

Posted by: bostonreader | August 24, 2005 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Yep - the 2.29.57 post was not me. As of now I'm gone until tomorrow.
The REAL bostonreader. Achenfan, I'm joining you.

Posted by: bostonreader | August 24, 2005 2:33 PM | Report abuse

jw, what branch do you serve in?

That's a good rule. If I can't take up my holidays I can only carry them over to the end of feb of the folowing year. I only had to do that once. I like my time off.

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 2:35 PM | Report abuse


Would you put your 2.31.17 post in the fake category as wel? while it sounds like you, I
thought you were nonviolent. It scares me.

Posted by: e | August 24, 2005 2:42 PM | Report abuse


I don't work for the government; this is how it is in the Real World: I just completed 10 years at the same place of employment and that entitles me to "3" weeks of paid vacation each year. In addition, I am allowed "3" sick days each year, which cannot be carried from year to year. My benefits include health insurance, for which I have the privilege of paying $80.00 per week, and a 401K, in which I am allowed to deposit the money I earn so that when I am too old to work I'll have savings, since I won't have a pension. I am grateful. I honestly am grateful for the fact that at this job I have never been turned down on a request for Leave Without Pay. I always took some unpaid days during the years when my daughter was in school, so that I could be off for spring break, for instance. Some jobs don't even allow that.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 24, 2005 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm in the Coast Guard. I should also add that for people who are operational, they can generally carry over as much leave as they want.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh my. This blog will implode shortly. Joel, please intervene. Or create a new Kit. We ain't to proud to beg.

Posted by: jlessl | August 24, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci: ouch. For all the personnel problems the military has, the leave system is luckily not one of them. Of course, there's always a trade-off...

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Kbertocci, that sucks.

I hope the doomsayers over here are wrong and we don't end up with a similar system. And the strange thing is that a lot of holidays don't have to impact productivity. Belgium scores about the same as the US in those stats. But I must admit our gdp per capita is lower because we have more people outside of the workforce due to pensions and unemployment.

It's strange that Europe and the US which have much more in common then many on both sides of the pond think have such different social systems.

Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 2:51 PM | Report abuse

it's the interloper - maybe that's his (its) intention to cause this place to implode - bostonreader, sao-15, et al, can we please ignore them and go on business as usual?

as for holidays - i'm a contractor for the gubment so i don't get the liberal leave that they get - depending on how long you have worked for the company, it's generally 2 weeks paid vacation with a spattering of holidays and sick leave. The longest vacation I've ever taken is 14 days straight.

and bc - you totally had me blushing - i thought i was the one laffing too loud! bc is definetly the charmer! warm, friendly, intelligent and charasmatic! just stop looking down my shirt! (and comehither - apparently you haven't been around for all the cleavage talk - perfectly acceptible in the boodle)

Posted by: mo | August 24, 2005 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I implore the blog not to implode. I am not an "imploster," just finally coming on board after much lurking.

Posted by: Chance | August 24, 2005 2:55 PM | Report abuse

in my two years in the military i always thought it was a joke that the "30 days" of leave included Sats & Suns and where I was some of the time, you definitely could not go anywhere. still, we had three squares a day.

Posted by: comehither | August 24, 2005 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting upset so I'm leaving too.

Posted by: Nani | August 24, 2005 2:58 PM | Report abuse

i'm knocking off for the day because of the tendency of some good people to use coarse talk (...shirt) and bizarre talk (...terrorist!!!!). They will be fine tomorrow and calm will prevail. It (usually) does.

Posted by: comehither | August 24, 2005 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Since the sun has proved Gallieo's theory by having already set over here when it's still mid afternoon where you guys are at, I am going to call it a day.

Thanks to all who answered my questions and the lesson I learned is that if ever I want to work in the US, I should get any gouvernement job other then gardenening since I would be pulling out crab grass the whole time.


Posted by: Eurotrash | August 24, 2005 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I am NOT an interloper. I've posted before, just rarely. I read the blog often though and was concerned. My post was not meant to be negative or sinister. I truly want the blog to get back to "normal" so-to-speak. Sorry that my intent was not clear. Hope this helps.

Posted by: jlessl | August 24, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

mo, now you're making me blush.


Posted by: bc | August 24, 2005 3:07 PM | Report abuse

bc - thanks for the compliments - you made my day!

bostonreader - sigh -- sorry you have been the latest victim of identity theft. Guess the less creative among us are at it again.

kbertocci - I find that the higher up I go on food chain, the less vacation I get! My employers seem to think that high salaries are more valued by employees than vacation. I finally took matters into my own hands about 18 mos ago. I demanded a four-day per week schedule (standard 8 hour days) or I would walk. My employer "threatened" a 20 percent cut in pay. I accepted the counteroffer on the spot, much to my boss' chagrin, and I couldn't be happier with my 3-day weekends.

Posted by: Cubedweller | August 24, 2005 3:07 PM | Report abuse

jlessl - i wasn't saying that YOU were the interloper - i was commenting that you said the blog looked like it was going to implode and that it's the interloper making it look like that... it's sad that we can't have this nice forum for discussion without someone else coming in and mucking about... hopefully that will end soon...

Posted by: mo | August 24, 2005 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Cubedweller, that's a novel solution!

I feel bad for all the new people who need to defend themselves and declare that they aren't interlopers. I guess just don't be jerks and everything will come out ok in the end. And for the SAO-15, I think we should be a little slower to pull the trigger when we see an unfamiliar name.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Oh. Okay, thanks. I enjoy the "regulars" comments and banter. Just not one to join in very often (intimidated, maybe).

P.S. Enjoyed the pix of the PH.

Posted by: jlessl | August 24, 2005 3:15 PM | Report abuse

As a new entry into corporate america (after 6 years at a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-take-as-much-vacation-as-you-want ad agency), I'm definitely suffering from the adjustment pangs that come with too-little vacation. I currently get 3 weeks/year - and am squeezing every second out of them. Maybe I'll move over to Belgium. Very tempting - I met some very attractive Belgians when I was last in Belize...very tempting.

Posted by: pipermkd | August 24, 2005 3:16 PM | Report abuse

(altho Im "gone" for the day)...


I believe you. What the blog is, is normal (sorry to sound like B. Clinton). It only varies by cast of characters and topic, with constant turnover. Friends will return, newcomers will arrive, and some of us will take a break or bail. We should not ignore it, tho, when a "terrorist" label us slapped on casually. This is just a blog, not the White House situation room. To call some bloggers talking about food and crabgrass and real estate "terrorist" is so Bush (pun intended), but we should not ignore the person's unhappiness. Gday.

Posted by: comehither | August 24, 2005 3:17 PM | Report abuse

mo, we could ignore them, but they seem to be posing as us. And sometimes their comments aren't sinister so we're never sure whether the interloper or the regular is posting until the regular says that it wasn't's all very confusing. This is why I've lowered my "stopping by" rate. I'm tired of it.

Posted by: Sara | August 24, 2005 3:23 PM | Report abuse


What does SAO-15 mean and was it meant to be an elite?

Posted by: Ms. Smith | August 24, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

comehither, the "terrorist" label wasn't slapped on the people talking about food, crabgrass and real estate. It was slapped on whoever is stealing identities and posting rude comments in hopes of creating chaos in the blog. It wasn't aimed at newcomers or regulars, just this one person who is posting under our names.

Posted by: Sara | August 24, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

mary ann,
I think I have bind weed to--it is taking over my yard. I haven't paid much attention to it besides when it starts climbing my tomato plants or herbs. It looks kind of pretty coiled around my chain link fence and bug smoker thing. Is this a bad idea? I assume it will just die this winter...

Posted by: TA | August 24, 2005 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Smith,

SAO-15 stands for Select Audience of 15. This is where Tom fan is always helpful because she can go back and find the exact day this came up. Joel said that ideally this blog would be read by 15 people between the ages of 18 and 35 with disposable income. At that time there were about 15 to 20 readers, so it made sense. Now there are many more, so the SAO-15 has retained its name but now comprises more than 15 members.

It wasn't meant to be elite.

Posted by: Sara | August 24, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Aaaarrr! I just did the thing where you hit post just as you catch a mistake.

"bind weed, too--"

Posted by: TA | August 24, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Smith: SAO-15 goes back to Joel saying that idealy, the blog would have a select audience of 15 people with large disposable incomes who were all within a certain age bracket (think the ratings demographic for "The West Wing"). It's tongue-in-cheek elitist, and usually just refers to the people who are considered "regulars". None of which probably fit into the correct age or income brackets. If you post here, and you're not a jerk, then you're automatically one of the SAO-15.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanx Sara and jw. I'm "not a jerk" and noted with glee earlier this week that "RM Nixon" commented, "I am not a crook."

You probably have a much wider audience than the regulars. Many popular blogs (not under a portal like the WP) claim they have hundreds or thousands of times the number of visitors than actual commenters, and the software can count visitors exactly.

Posted by: Ms. Smith | August 24, 2005 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I was just outside and saw an armored truck owned by the company Loomis, Fargo and Co. Does Linda Loomis have a story about this? I can't help seeing that name now and just assuming that she is somehow involved.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 3:41 PM | Report abuse

jw, enjoy the game tonight, Dude.

I'm going to make sure that I'm not looking southeast between 7:05 and 10:30 PM, just in case.

Go Nats!


Posted by: bc | August 24, 2005 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks bc! All systems are go...Gene said to look for the guy who looks like his charactature, which I thought was pretty funny, since that's what I was planning on doing.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 3:51 PM | Report abuse

yes, jw, have a great time at the game! I hope your mojo is stronger than GW's.

Forgot to mention for the benefit of Linda Loomis and non-attendees that she was a topic of discussion last evening. But, she probably already knew that...

Posted by: TA | August 24, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse

tbg, thank you for the kind words. None of it was me, I waited it out, but that is all I did. It comes straight and only from him. Paitence is everything with all kids, good, bad, old young.

I have an upcoming vacation and like many small businesses, when I go away no one covers me. Vacation just means that I suffer more when I get back, and I am never quite sure if vacations are helpful or painful things.

But I have often thought about doing just what cubdweller does. its my dream.

Posted by: dr | August 24, 2005 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I realize that as a long time lurker I am probably jumping into the middle of someone elses business, but I had to ask as a reader of Gene Weingarten; JW, are you the reader who is going to the Nats game with Gene to see whose mojo is stronger, i.e. to see if your winning streak or his losing streak will prevail? If so I will have to make sure to watch that game tonight. If I'm way off please accept my apology for butting in.

Posted by: jcl | August 24, 2005 3:59 PM | Report abuse

ok, no need to answer now. I see while I was writting that post someone answered my question. Even used the word "mojo" too.

Posted by: jcl | August 24, 2005 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Yep, that's me. But I don't think the game's on tv unless you have satellite. Don't even get me started on that one.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

jcl - you are right on the money and we (the boodle) are thrilled about jw's noteriety! jw - i'm sure your mojo will win out!! I'm with ya!!!

go yankees! um... i mean NATS!

Posted by: mo | August 24, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks jw. Yeah, I can't watch the game on tv (I live in Boston anyway) but several internet sites(like the New York Times) give play by plays, which aren't all that interesting unless you are at work.

Posted by: jcl | August 24, 2005 4:12 PM | Report abuse

jw - Catch one for me!

Posted by: CowTown | August 24, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Oooh.. i was hoping I wasn't too late to wish jw luck. Although I'm a yanks fan, i will say GO NATS along with mo.

Posted by: LP | August 24, 2005 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Will do. He says we have good seats, so I'm excited. I usually sit WAY up in the 500 section. I'm a little nervous though!

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 4:30 PM | Report abuse

....and don't forget the foam fingers!

Posted by: LP | August 24, 2005 4:33 PM | Report abuse

ahhhh jw - have a couple of margaritas and you'll be fine...

Posted by: mo | August 24, 2005 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Enjoy the evening, jw! It looks like it will be a lovely evening to watch a game. I'll will be rooting for your record. Let us know how the scene with Gene goes.

Posted by: pj | August 24, 2005 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Wow! A "efflorescene" sighting. I feel like that guy who spotted a supposedly extinct woodpecker and had trouble convincing people that it existed.

Posted by: pg53 | August 24, 2005 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I miss Joan of Aarrrrgh! Funniest darn handle we've ever seen. Where is she?

Posted by: Ms. Smith | August 24, 2005 9:24 PM | Report abuse

...and the winner is...

jw's mojo, 5-3.

Sweet, dude.


Posted by: bc | August 24, 2005 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Yep. Game went well. But I promised I wouldn't scoop Gene, so you'll have to wait for the column.

Posted by: jw | August 24, 2005 10:40 PM | Report abuse

"Bloggership nearly misses loggherheads while dearly missing Achenbach" or something like that could be a headline kicker. Joel's "Kanoodlers" can't be topped, which is not to fawn at his feet, but to give the man props when deserved. This is not to omit the bone-thrown-by-the-primate-into-the-sky-to-Richard Wagner kind of moment that was the physical Congress of virtual identities, described as the Porching Hour, because, after all, it is delightful to view smiling eyes thanks to mo's digital photog savvy, but I cherish anonymity and, in that spirit, will continue to think of the SAO-15 as a well-educated middle class caucasian hydra, composed of essentially decent, well-meaning, and intelligent people.

Joel's blog items were better than normal while on the road - I wouldn't call it travel literature, as though it took an assignment like this for Achenbach to find his calling; rather, maybe there is something about hotels, airports, rental cars, and the outdoors, that help to mine creativity.

Some good advice about the blog:

Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere

Posted by: peter | August 24, 2005 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Way to go, jw! And a column - is there going to be a pic or caricature of you too? And thanks for posting so soon - I almost feel like I'm boodling in real time again.

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 24, 2005 11:12 PM | Report abuse

And thanks again to all the reports about the BPH, in case you don't see my comment on the previous boodle.

I think ignoring the interloper(s) is the best tactic, but it is annoying.

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 24, 2005 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Well, its a new day (almost), and I'm a bit calmer.

First, let me apologize for my intemperate behavior yesterday. I like to think of myself as calm person, but yesterday just became too much. I recognize that my "terrorist" remark, in particular, was way over the top, and does a gross injustice to the real threats our society is facing.

Part of my frustration was the difficulty in sustaining a conversation when so many random and disconnected comments were coming in. I attributed these to our interloper, but looking back it is clear that at least a good part of this was just a consequence of our growing participation. I need to remember that this is not an exclusive club, and others are as free to inject their thoughts and topics as the (relative) veterans. Growing pains...

Another part of my frustration was the ease with which people's handles were being appropriated, so we could no longer be confident of with whom we were boodling. This was even more confusing when some of those comments were nice and interesting and even funny; indeed, I'm fairly sure I gave and accepted compliments from our interlopers wearing false colors more than once. I feel pretty foolish about this now, but the chameleon-like quality of their contributions has been totally confusing.

Finally, I have to acknowledge that my own handle had been misappropriated more than once over recent weeks. If I'm honest, some of those "contributions" were quite interesting, and even generated a stream of very positive comments from others. I should have raised the alarm earlier, but it is hard when the comments are being favorably received, and I am being credited with wit and wisdom that is not mine. I'm just human.

Overall, the mistake I made was to assume a degree of intimacy in our exchanges in a medium that still lacks the safeguards we expect in other contexts. Anonymity encourages candor, but the price we pay is lack of accountability. So the medium might really be the message after all.

Maybe there is some way to safeguard our handles via some kind of registration system? But unless and until something like that happens, you will understand if I become a less frequent visitor to these parts.

Now to sleep...

Posted by: bostonreader | August 25, 2005 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations, jw--

How could the outcome have ever been in doubt when you had the collective spiritual power of the SAO-15(including the anonymous millions of lurkers) behind you 110%!?

Of course, Joel will say the Nats' victory was just a coincidence. (!)

Posted by: kbertocci | August 25, 2005 6:37 AM | Report abuse

As a tease, I will say that some interesting things happened at the game that would tend to show that there was more than coincidence at work. But that is all you're going to get out of me.

I will say that Gene was really great and funny, not in a comedian sort of way but in a really genuine, friendly way. I certainly didn't have any reason to be nervous beforehand. And any residual nerves we gone after a pair of tasty brews. I had a lot of fun.

Posted by: jw | August 25, 2005 7:59 AM | Report abuse

jw - I should have mentioned earlier that I won a few $$ on the game.

I didn't want to jinx you or add any pressure by bringing it up the other night.

Oh, and Ms. Smith - I love your apple pies.


Posted by: bc | August 25, 2005 8:25 AM | Report abuse


WHEN will we get to read Gene's column? Do we have to wait three weeks for it to go through the WaPo Sunday Magazine assembly line?

This, by the way, is an item in my "mysteries of life" file: the Washington Post is a daily newspaper. The current news articles can be typed up at 10 p.m. and be on your driveway at 5 a.m. Why does the magazine need a three week deadline? Joel, can you explain this?

Posted by: kbertocci | August 25, 2005 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the "bostonreader" above is the real bostonreader. (Please correct me if I'm wrong though, real bostonreader.)

I hope you are OK. The world is not out to get you. Seems to me you are your own worst enemy. Sorry if that offends you, but I have a feeling it's something you've heard before.

Woo hoo!

That "green grass" comment you made yesterday was just beautiful. I wanted to say so at the time but was just lurking. Will probably continue to lurk for a while, but I will indeed be here.

Love you all! Peace out.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 25, 2005 8:35 AM | Report abuse

bc, I wouldn't have expected anything less from you!

Column should be out two Sundays after Labor Day. Or one Sunday. It has to go through the 3 weeks, and he probably will turn it in next week. My guess is the 17th.

The 3 week thing was explained once by Gene or Joel, I think it has to do with the fact that it takes more time to print the magazine. I don't think they run it off the Post's newspaper presses.

Posted by: jw | August 25, 2005 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I meant "real grass" dr, not "green grass." (But I'm sure you knew what I meant.)

Posted by: Achenfan | August 25, 2005 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Joel, corn gluten to kill crabgrass??? I mean come on, anything not highly toxic isn't going to touch that stuff. I recommend elemental arsenic ih high doses.

Posted by: LB | August 25, 2005 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Way to go jw!! Can't wait to read Gene's column. So glad you had a great time too.

Busy day at work, then off on vacation. If I don't post again until after Labor Day, hope you all end your summers on a high note. Think of that one thing you wanted to do this summer and just do it. Then toast yourself at your own Porching Hour.

Posted by: Cubedweller | August 25, 2005 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Haha - I maybe should have said "drink a toast to yourself." My advice to "toast yourself" should not be taken literally.

Posted by: Cubedweller | August 25, 2005 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Achenfan. Of course, the lengthy 1.13.18am posting was not me - I had been asleep for hours. I'll basically be absent again today as it's no fun when someone's stealing your name.

Posted by: the REAL bostonreader | August 25, 2005 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Oh my gosh. I thought it was you, bostonreader. Stupid convincing interlopers.

And Cubedweller - Haha! "Toast yourself." I'm gonna find a way to use that on someone being subtly mean sometime and see the confusion that pops up. 'Wait...did she mean...?'

Posted by: Sara | August 25, 2005 9:13 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: omnigood | August 25, 2005 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I took it to mean so many taosts to yourself you become...well...toasted.

Posted by: omnigoof | August 25, 2005 9:18 AM | Report abuse

what happened to that last post. First it posts before the original it was supposed to correct, and then it stripped my little punctuation thingy:

taosts => toasts.

Posted by: omnigood | August 25, 2005 9:19 AM | Report abuse

space-time corruption alert.

Posted by: omni-uhoh | August 25, 2005 9:20 AM | Report abuse

While I could only lurk a little yesterday, it seemed, sadly, like a day worth missing for the most part. I was inspired by the crabgrass hints, however.

Even if b'reader has already been spoofed today, we should hope that she'll get back to being herself.

I share the thought with (REAL) Achenfan re the so-called interloper. My casual analysis suggests there are several, they are not identifiably male or female, and most of their posts, as I would ID them, seem more benign than hurtful. More playful, though obviously bothersome to some people.

Briefing up a sturm today. Have fun.

Posted by: REAL melvin/a | August 25, 2005 9:25 AM | Report abuse

There is only one interloper, most likely male, but who knows -- it's not really important. He has given himself away on many occasions, obviously without realizing it. Not surprisingly, he doesn't always tell the truth -- which is good for us, because it makes it all the more difficult for the interloper to keep his story straight.

And I hope he is OK. He is spending a lot of time and energy on something he seems to hate. Kind of like going to the grocery store with $100 and spending it all on the foods you detest instead of the ones you enjoy. Better to spend time, money, and energy on things you love, in my experience. But that's just me.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 25, 2005 9:33 AM | Report abuse

lurkers joining in the fray: yay! glad I'm not the only one!

interloper: boo. go back to high school.

Posted by: sweetiefur | August 25, 2005 9:49 AM | Report abuse


Sturming is such a drang.

Now I'll never get "Stormy Weather" out of my head.


Posted by: bc | August 25, 2005 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Gotta love bc.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 25, 2005 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I know I do, Achenfan.


Posted by: bc | August 25, 2005 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Nuns (brothers?) must have caned you real hard, Achenfan.

Posted by: Ms. Smith | August 25, 2005 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I've been lurking for a looooooooooooong time and I think it's about time I made some comments:
1) There are many people who read the kit and kaboodle, most just don't post
2) It's really annoying to take someone else's handler but I guess the best thing to do is ignore it and not waste space trying to change someone who is obviously amusing him/herself. I think ignoring it will lead to the demise of the behavior. Achenfan and bostonreader, just point out that it wasn't you and keep on posting. Don't let the interloper get the better of you by retreating.
3) I guessed most of the SAO-15 would be white and I think it would be interesting to discuss why others also believed this. I for one am as black as can be but I also enjoy this boodle.
4)I was at the game last night - good going jw! The Nats lost to the Reds the night before, I wonder if they would have won if you attended the game.
Alright I'll stop now. That was long for a first post!

Posted by: omodudu | August 25, 2005 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I don't think I'll be eating my hat just yet.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 25, 2005 10:27 AM | Report abuse


We would love to ignore people stealing our handles, but it's impossible to know whether we're talking to who we think we're talking to anymore. This is the reason we can't ignore it. If I'm talking to Achenfan, I would like the REAL Achenfan to answer, not an imitation who will never measure up. The same goes for bostonreader or mo or jw or bc or TA or cubedweller or anyone else. So ignoring the interloper is virtually (no pun intended) impossible.

Posted by: Sara | August 25, 2005 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Did un-aksed for racial description of people early yesterday offend you, if not surprise you???!?? Makes me wonder.
Agree about interlopper

Posted by: Ms. Smith | August 25, 2005 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Melvin/a: I mentioned the race thing. Don't know why anyone would be offended. Especially since I was pretty much right in thinking most were white.

On a random tangent, I have a hard time using race as a classification of people in general. Do you have any idea how many different ethnicities are encompassed in "black" or "white"? I don't have much in common with someone from Turkey, but we check the same box on the census.

Posted by: jw | August 25, 2005 10:35 AM | Report abuse

In the old days, the census workers would look at the person and mark down his "race" according to his subjective judgment. Nowadays, we are, by definition, any race/ethnicity that we say we are. On a written multiple choice form, I always mark "mixed race" if it is a choice. On the phone, if someone asks me, or on the internet for that matter, I will sometimes say, "I pass for white." This, to me, is not a joke, although I think it is funny. I knew some white supremicists in Oklahoma and I saw the fallacy of their position at a young age: they are defending something that doesn't exist.

Now the paradox is: race does not exist, but racism does.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 25, 2005 10:48 AM | Report abuse

...or not. I can't remember ever filling out a census form. When was the last one?

Posted by: jw | August 25, 2005 10:48 AM | Report abuse

kbertocci: exactly! A friend of mine was born in Argentina, moved to the U.S., and her parents are Italian and Polish, but Argentine citizens. Saying she's "white" doesn't exactly capture that.

Posted by: jw | August 25, 2005 10:57 AM | Report abuse

kbertocci, have you ever been to the Holocaust Mermorial in DC? They had an exibit on eugenics, including skin-tone and eye-color gauges that were used to classify people's ethnic purity. Creepy stuff. Of course, they conveniently glazed over the US's own eugenics/involuntary sterilization program.

Posted by: jw | August 25, 2005 11:00 AM | Report abuse


You didn't fill out your form?!! Oh, boy you are in trouble. You better turn yourself in to the nearest Authority.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 25, 2005 11:02 AM | Report abuse

very true kbertocci - i'm hispanic and i don't consider myself "white" - but there are many different shades of hispanics, so it would seem the whole "black and white" thing is not even an issue - i mean, how do you classify yourself if you are mixed? (as I am - hispanic/white) or if you are mixed black/white?

Posted by: mo | August 25, 2005 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, the posts crossed in cyberspace--I was being flippant while you were discussing the Holocaust.

I honestly don't think I could go to that museum. I am literally haunted by the atrocities of WWII, just from seeing movies and reading books, and personal experience with Jewish culture. I think about it a lot.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 25, 2005 11:06 AM | Report abuse

It's a little scary, and I haven't even been into the main part (they only let so many people in a day, and it's tough to get a ticket).

Posted by: jw | August 25, 2005 11:08 AM | Report abuse

My internal spell-check is definitely off today. Sorry. I'm smarter than I type--promise.

Posted by: jw | August 25, 2005 11:09 AM | Report abuse

(new kit!)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2005 11:22 AM | Report abuse

kbertocci - i'm obsessed with the holocaust - not like i want to be a nazi obsessed - it's a "i can't believe something so horrible happened" obsessed - i'm also obsessed with the jewish religion/culture - i was probably jewish in a previous life... i've been to the holocaust museum and i was SOBBING by the time i left!!! it's very very overwhelming!

Posted by: mo | August 25, 2005 11:56 AM | Report abuse

To all AchenAddicts (and yes even the interloper):

Sorry I was partly responisible for getting the "comments function" for the "Messages in the Clouds" kit/kaboodle closed (and apperently the previous bddle as well). I had this great idea to have a conversation with my three selves while waiting for friends to arrive for going out and by the time my dial-up connected I forgot what it was (I was so bored waiting). So I posted a couple of ridiculous posts in an attempt to call out the lurker/interloper (just for fun/I was bored remember). As you can see by the time stamp this 'it' is hardcore (less than two minutes from my first post to respond). I think the game was going in my favor (I just know I'm a target now).


Joel san, safe trip


Blame it on JimBeam (and the afore mentioned boredom)


interloper, sorry to call you an 'it', but you know that's just the 'bad' in me, not the 'good' or the 'goof'.


PS I hope you all find this message.


Posted by: omnibad | August 26, 2005 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Just on the off chance that someone will read this - I managed to time my vacation to coincide with Joel's Japan adventure. So I will be even more absent than usual.

Behave yourselves! I'll catch up and post long after everyone's gone in a couple weeks.

Posted by: mostlylurking | August 27, 2005 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Talk about coincidence--I was googling some info on Joel yesterday, and found an interview in which he talks about "style" and what his writing style is. And then he posted about the best defense against the interloper being a distinctive "voice". I don't really know if I have one (unless a propensity for comma splices counts) but I'll try. I do have to point out that the interloper hasn't tried to be me. Maybe because I'm too cool for school.

It's sad that I hunted for a place to make this comment. But I'm not the only one!

Posted by: jw | August 27, 2005 8:11 AM | Report abuse

jw, you DO have a distinct voice -- there is no way the interloper could mimic you, which is probably why he hasn't tried to. He hasn't tried to mimic bc, either. I'm not sure whether that's because you 'boodle boys are so unique, or because the interloper mainly picks on girls -- maybe a bit of both. On the rare occasion that the interloper steals a man's handle, it's usually a man who doesn't live in the local area (with the exception of omni, whom the interloper, like many of us, originally believed to be a girl). Omni also has a unique voice, so I always knew that "omnigasm" wasn't him. Same goes for CowTown -- only CowTown could have written that Cow San story about Joel's adventures in Tokyo.

I'm going to continue to call the interloper a "he." It's possible he's not a he, but at this point I don't really care which gender he is, so "he" will do.

And re. "sad that I hunted for a place to make this comment," it's not as sad as the fact that I instantly noticed that there were more comments in this old 'boodle than there used to be and simply had to go in and read them!

No need to apologize. Your humor is always good clean fun, and you have never tried to steal another person's handle. There is no problem with having multiple personalities. Stealing other people's handles is another matter -- that was when the interloper crossed the line. No matter how funny a comment under someone else's handle may be, the fact that the interloper stole that handle in order to make that comment is NOT funny. It's unethical, pure and simple.

You know, I haven't even read the closed 'boodles yet! I must go and read them, and then I may come back and share some more thoughts.

Peace to all.

Posted by: Achenfan | August 27, 2005 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for deleting the fake "Dreamer" comment about the porn sites -- greatly appreciated.

Sorry I thought you were a fake TA! I conducted an Acheninvestigation of yesterday's comments and determined that it was indeed you, so I do apologize. I guess I thought it wasn't you because you complimented the interloper on his humor, which is something he tends to do (I've noticed that he sometimes posts messages and then responds to them himself under different handles. Sometimes they're innocuous, sometimes not -- that's how he tries to fool us. For example, "Ms. Smith" sometimes asks where "Joan of Aaarrrgh" is, because apparently Ms. Smith thinks Joan is incredibly brilliant.)

Also, because you responded to "comehither"'s message about potty mouths (comehither is another handle used by the interloper), I had predicted that you'd be the next target of identity theft. I guess it was a case of seeing what I wanted to see at that point!

I must say I'm extremely relieved it WAS you, because for a moment there I thought the interloper knew my name and had been watching me at Oyamel, which kind of freaked me out. There were in fact several lone men at the bar that night looking our way (one cute one, as mo said), but I guess that's not really so unusual. I must not let my imagination get too carried away.

From now on (if we are in fact fortunate enough to have the opportunity to 'boodle in the future), I will try not to let the interloper make me so crazy. The last thing we want is to start turning on each other.

You guys are all so great. Have a wonderful weekend.

Posted by: Dreamer | August 27, 2005 10:42 AM | Report abuse


Tips for spotting the interloper:

1. The interloper seems to have used the following aliases: melvin/a, melvin/A, gorbydoll, gorbiedoll, GorbyDoll, goombah, bananabanabodana, Intelligent Designer, sweetiefur, ept, omnigasm, Eurotrash, eurotrash, e, ossietrash, Chance, comehither, Ms. Smith, Joan of Aaarrgh (sp?), L.O., speakingofdeath, AnswerWoman, omodudu, cardiacarrest, PO'd, achendentist, Observer, latentobserver, Felladio Fellini, sundra, Sundra, Neutered, and possibly Susan. But this is not an exhaustive list.

2. If a new 'boodler shows up and immediately starts talking in an overfamiliar way about the 'boodle, the porching hour, or the interloper, it is probably the interloper himself (even if he claims to be a long-time lurker). New people will generally talk about the Kit, not the day-to-day administration of the Kaboodle.

3. The interloper seems to have the following issues with the 'boodle: not every poster's comment gets a response, the 'boodle is elitist, the 'boodlers spend a lot of time talking about trivia, the 'boodlers are boring, the 'boodlers spend their work-time 'boodling, the 'boodlers have potty mouths, the 'boodlers avoid certain topics, the 'boodlers don't like new 'boodlers, the 'boodlers revere Joel, the 'boodlers' handles are insecure, the 'boodlers make certain assumption about other 'boodlers in addressing them, and some 'boodlers have multiple identities. Many of the interloper's posts will contain one or more of these themes.

4. The interloper is capable of writing well but will often use poor grammar and spelling to make it look like the post is coming from someone else. Sometimes he will write relatively "nice" comments.

Identikit photo:


As they say on Metro, don't be scared, be prepared.

Tom fan
Acting Assistant Director, FBBI

Posted by: Tom fan | August 27, 2005 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Tom fan, you are too funny!

Posted by: jw | August 27, 2005 1:05 PM | Report abuse

This is my last post to the kaboodle. (Dramatic music in background; mute your speakers if you have a low tolerance for this sort of thing.)

The meta-boodle just isn't fun for me and I didn't want to quit without saying goodbye. I have had a wonderful time with you guys. But as they say, all good things...

I trust that Joel is in no doubt of the sincerity of my admiration for him, and I hope that you all feel the love I'm sending out to you now.

If anybody uses the kbertocci handle in the future, it won't be I--you will know right away that there is an impostor in your midst.

Yours in search of "meaning and joy and the salve of humor"--

Peace to all--

Posted by: Karen Bertocci | August 27, 2005 2:13 PM | Report abuse

By Karen, just know you will be missed.

Posted by: omnigood | August 27, 2005 3:21 PM | Report abuse

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