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Rainy Day People

The forecast today calls for fungus, with scattered mildew. There may be sustained periods of mold, and isolated outbreaks of flesh-eating bacteria. The National Weather Service has declared a Severe Mushroom Watch for the entire Mid-Atlantic region. Experts have lichened the situation to living in a rain forest.

As always when we have a weather event like this, it's not the rain, per se, that's the problem. It's the large amount of water coming from the sky. It's the H2O, in liquid form, that literally falls from dark clouds, all the way to the ground, moistening surfaces and pooling in a manner that is closely related to puddling. Scientists warn that low-lying areas, ditches, deep holes, and floodplains may be particularly prone to flooding.

The worst storms are so saturated with moisture that they carry copious quantities of H3O, which can't evaporate even in bright sunshine. The molecular structure of H30 gives the substance the characteristic of sogginess that is three orders of magnitude more liquefied than water that is merely wet.

Oddly enough, few people understand the hydrological cycle (precipitation, evaporation, vitrification, ionization) or grasp the fundamental principles of the Law of Conservation of Dampness. They don't realize that when you mop up a wet space with a towel you are merely transferring the liquid water from one object to another, and that the only way to have a net decrease in H2O and H3O in the home is to get out the hair dryer and start blasting everything in sight. That turns the liquid water into a plasma, which can return to the sky by riding lightning bolts back up into the clouds.

Even then, there's zero net change in the amount of water in the system, but the whole point of dampness mitigation is to try to transfer the water from your own basement into the basement of your neighbors and of people you've never met, far away. The corollary is that, when you hear that someone has a flooded basement, you should be thrilled that that's just more water that you personally don't have to worry will fall from the sky onto your home. All of this is basic science and logic, but our schools don't teach this anymore because its not "hydrologically correct."

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 27, 2006; 9:01 AM ET
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Science is a wonderful thing in the hands and typing fingers of an expert.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 27, 2006 9:43 AM | Report abuse

It's so nice to be able to help people understand these concepts.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 27, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

H3O would explain our Dane's propensity for drinking from fresh, muddy puddles rather than from their water bucket.

Posted by: jack | June 27, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse


be thankful, if it were snowing in DC metroplex you would've had 84 inches of snow over the weekend, with more on the way...

Posted by: farfrombeltway | June 27, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

The problem with the hydrological cycle is that it's so darned unpredictable. We go weeks with no moisture, other than what we laboriously fill in the watering can and pour over the Mr. Stripys so they won't die, then ten inches fall in 48 hours.

We need to come up with a better system. Suggestions, anyone?

Posted by: slyness | June 27, 2006 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Regarding your previous post about whether the rain chant at Woodstock was effective, Joel, take this under advisement: if you rememberber ANYTHING about Woodstock, you weren't there.

(I actually knew one person who *really* went to Woodstock--and about ten who didn't, but claim to.)

BTW, as shop steward, I'd normally be prepared to request Hal the Schemer to institute use of subscripts and superscripts, so you science types don't have to write H20, H30 and E=MC2, etc., but if we hoi polloi can't have our italics, you hot-shots can just Fording-well wait for your subscripts, buddy.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

And don't think it hasn't escaped our attention that YOU got to use italics in the third line of the second graf.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Has, darnit, HAS escaped, etc. Sheesh. I hope there's another pot of coffee.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 10:15 AM | Report abuse

joel said lichened... hehehe

Posted by: mo | June 27, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I really liked that one, too, mo.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

In an effort to get this offtrack, I was in Key West in late 1980 B.W.C. (Before Weather Channel) when a storm came seemingly out of nowhere and deluged the area. Water flowed in the streets, and we were reduced to wading through waist-high waters, wearing plastic garbage bags, to reach the watering holes that carried strong spirits.

Within hours, entrepreneurs printed t-shirts commemorating the occasion: I Survived 18 Inches.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 27, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"the whole point of dampness mitigation is to try to transfer the water from your own basement into the basement of your neighbors and of people you've never met, far away. "

Exactly. We don't ask for pinpoint accuracy -- in fact, we'd rather you not have it -- but if you want to transfer that water into Oklahoma and points west we'll gladly accept it. Jsut ease it onto the ground somewhere. Surely such fine hydrologists and sciencey types can use some alchemy to make the switch. [Speaking of which, has anyone seen the animated show Full Metal Alchemist? Very peculiar.]

I'm glad to see that the excessive moisture hasn't slowed you DC-area Boodlers down. I got pretty worried yesterday when my WaPo online disappeared. Called a good friend there just to check on her welfare, but she was in her office, with power, working. Her building was leaking, though. I remember how hard it was to shut the whole place down (snowstorms excepted) the years I lived there. We NEVER had a flood then.

Gosh, we've never had a flood since I moved here. Or in California when I lived there. Or even Boston. Perhaps I'm some sort of anti-flood charm? Like flood insurance, but not necessarily cheaper.

Cassandra, I'm so pleased for you with yesterday's good news.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 27, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

JA, your missing a 'be' in the penultimate sentence: should BE thrilled...

Posted by: omni subbing for Tom fan. | June 27, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I keep making the mistake of letting the lower temperatures fool me into thinking that it's actually cooler outside. The precipitous rise in humidity (not just the actual wet stuff falling from the sky) makes for real stickiness.

Can't wait 'till it's 20 degrees warmer AND humid as honda.

Posted by: silvertongue | June 27, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

76° at 93% feels like 82°.

Posted by: omni | June 27, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I don't just have a flooded basement. About 9:30 Sunday night, the Fairfax County sewer system backed up into our house. It started seeping through the floor underneath the toilet in our (finished) basement, then up the shower drain, then out the toilet bowl. For three hours, the sewer system flooded our basement with brown water with floaties in it (SERIOUSLY!) When someone from the County finally came out at 2 a.m. Monday morning, it was determined that the County's drain pipe was simply too small to accommodate the rain runoff, and because our house is the lowest in the neighborhood and the wastewater needed somewhere to go, it was up through our plumbing. When all was said and done, we had up to six inches of standing wastewater in the basement, the entire thing (den, bathroom, laundry room, utility area) was completely saturated in what was literally crap.

We got most of our personal property (including the big screen TV, computers, all of my clothes, shoes, etc.) up and out of harm's way in time.

We had gotten a hold of a carpet treatment company that night and they sucked out most of the water and ripped out our carpet (finishing up at 5 a.m. Monday morning). The carpet is still in large black bags on our front yard. Once the basement dries out (it re-flooded some last night with more wastewater), it will be treated and then the clean-up can really begin. Drywall will have to be knocked out, linoleum and tile and baseboards ripped up...what a mess!!

Posted by: PLS | June 27, 2006 10:34 AM | Report abuse

silvertongue, as you well know, when we Warshingtonians say, "It's a jungle out there," we aren't referring to the politics. The fact is, we live and/or work in a swamp.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

oh man PLS! i'm so sorry! i saw an episode of the "dirtiest jobs" about that exact same thing (waste/raw sewage backing up into someone's basement and the cleanup involved) - i have a pretty strong stomach but i literally blew chunks on that episode - so i (i) feel (/i) for ya babe!

and if you doubt our (DCs) swamp status, just take a walk around roosevelt island (when the flooding stops) - excellent swamp flora etc

Posted by: mo | June 27, 2006 10:48 AM | Report abuse

84 inches of snow???

Must... find... skis... *drooling*

What? It's almost July, you say??

farfrombeltway, you're CRUEL to tease me so!!!


It was plenty swampy on 270 this morning, too...
*wondering how Don is and when he'll return*

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Omni.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 27, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

In everyone's life, a little rain must fall. Unless you get under a strong system that really dumps on you.

Just passing through ...

Posted by: Bayou Self | June 27, 2006 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Your welcome JA. Glad to be of help while Tom fan is away in Oz.

Posted by: omni | June 27, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

pls, that is the full monty of 'flooding'. On the good side (and there is one) because its sewage backup, someone's insurance should cover the repairs.

Posted by: dr | June 27, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

PLS, you have my complete and utter sympathy. Yuck.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Hey, look everybody, Bayou Self is back!! Hey, whatcha been up to, Bayou??

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

YO Bayou Self, what up?

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I love it when Joel brings out the Achenscience, and H3O goes back a few years IIRC.

I know about 2H20, which is the classical Hogan's Heroes-type heavy water with the hydrogen isotope deuterium, and naturally occurring but a very small fraction of regular water (1 in several thousand molecules, IIRC). Heavy water nuclear reactors help refine urainum into plutonium, for A-bomb (fission reaction) production.

I also am familiar with 3H20, which has the hydrogen isotope tritium, which is used as a chemical marker because of its radioactive properties and it's natural chemical rarity (rarer than 2H20 by a good bit, IIRC). Tritium is used in making H-bombs (fusion reaction) as well.

H30 is a effingheavy water used in making F-bombs these days.


Posted by: bc | June 27, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

PLS, good luck with the clean up, not a nice situation.

Between your description of your basement and Mo's reaction to the show on sewage, think we've graphically covered the sewage issue today :)

Posted by: dmd | June 27, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Would be looking for snorkel equipment, you know, if I had any. Moss is starting to grow on my north side, and my curly hair is even more so. The sun actually was out for a nanosecond this morning before the skies opened up again. Man, when Mother Nature has a mood swing, she really let's us know, eh?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 27, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke & Nani thanks for the kind words - most appreciated.

Posted by: dmd | June 27, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if JA remembers there's a Gordon Lightfoot song that shares a title with this Kit...

*hoping REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL hard that JA has no immediate need to reference another often-Boodle-mentioned GL song when Kitting about DC weather*


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

That big high pressure system that was siting on top of Texas for such a long time? Well, folks, it moved west, which is giving the Seattlites record-warmth. It also created the roller-coaster effect in the jet stream. It dives toward the Lone Star state, only to dip and rise almost vertically toward the northeast. We, in the midst of a vicious drought, have yet again made the big sacrifice, and thrust our tropical moisture up toward y'all. And this is the thanks we get?

Our Japanese maple in the yard that came with the house is now dead--dead, dead, dead. I pray for storms to even partially fill our two rain barrels. The crape myrtles are not putting out their fuchsia blooms as they have in the past--they look scrawny, sickly, underfed by that H2O stuff. The lawn is so dry that clumps of it in the hand look like shredded wheat. Even water no longer has the power to quench thirst. The edges of my lips are so dry from licking them, that I'm afraid that one day quite soon, I'll be able to peel them off my face completely.

And you get a few measley storm are are COMPLAINING?

Posted by: Loomis | June 27, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Gadzooks, PLS.

I've been there, it's awful. I might have a small pump and a dehumidifer if you need it. Let me know on here.

Now I won't be able to get the smell of bleach out of my head for awhile.


Posted by: bc | June 27, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Just for emphasis and a SCC:

And you get a few measley storms and are COMPLAINING?

Posted by: Loomis | June 27, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I suppose I could have added that people should refrain from running their dehumidifiers and then dumping the result down the drain, because you might be sending it to PLS' basement.


Posted by: bc | June 27, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Is it time to pull out the flippers and 'bund?

Posted by: Loomis | June 27, 2006 11:31 AM | Report abuse

BS! LTNS! Stick around, woncha??



Actually, "heavy water" is useful in the nuclear arena in the sense that it slows down neutrons enough to sustain a chain reaction in essentially unenriched uranium. Canadian nuclear power plants (as well as a couple in India) are heavy-water designs. A fraction of U-238 in any nuclear fuel will always become Pu-239 by asborbing a neutron.

I hate it when I have to be serious.


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I reaaly like the lip line Loomis.

forecast for today for Yellowknife, 62°27′N 114°21′W MST, High of 30°C. The jet stream is carrying the heat way high.

This could be Global Warming Wednesday.

Posted by: dr | June 27, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Tuesday, make it Tuesday.

Posted by: dr | June 27, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

kindathinker: I was in Key West for that rain, too! I went to work that day; it wasn't raining in the morning. My mother was visiting from the mainland. When I rode my bike home that afternoon it had been raining for some hours already, and at the corner of Truman and Eisenhower Streets, I was pedaling with both feet under water. Meanwhile, Mom was at my little apartment watching the water rise towards the doorsill--that apartment wasn't far from Solares Hill, the highest point on the island (16 ft above sea level)--but it was on the ground floor and had no porch. I had a tin roof, and the rain was pounding down--we could barely hear each other talk. The water stopped just short of being high enough to flood my domicile. Next day people were canoeing down Duval Street...

But my favorite rain story is always the Winnie the Pooh one where he is stranded by the rising water and eventually is rescued by Christopher Robin in a floating umbrella...

Posted by: kbertocci | June 27, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

How true Scottynuke, Candu reactors do incorporate heavy water, I also believe its possible the India reactors might be Candu technology?

I toured one of our plants just before it open quite an amazing facility.

Posted by: dmd | June 27, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

yeah, snuke - that gordon lightfoot has a thing for large water events doesn't he?

and for some dark humour - the ads read:

Basement Black Mold
Prevent Mold Growth
"Must See" Air Purifiers...

Posted by: mo | June 27, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

bc -

Thanks for your offer, but we already have so many dehumidifiers and fans running right now that we're tripping the circuit breaker!


Meanwhile, the other wrinkle in this is that my in-laws were here the entire time (they leave in a few hours) and on Saturday, my husband's uncle, aunt & aunt's two granddaughters (ages 12 and 15) are arriving for five nights. And my husband is insisting that they still stay at the house even though they've already offered to get a hotel room! Plus our toddler is already upset about this flooding situation (her play area was in the den in the basement) - four houseguests for five nights on top of that and I may go completely postal!!

Posted by: PLS | June 27, 2006 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Cool, kbertocci. My other memory of that rain was sitting on the porch of the B&B, watching a local stoner pushing his bicycle up the street in three feet of water.

He was F-bombing up a storm (perhaps he caused it?). Had been to check on his boat, and it was sunk. He cursed and fulminated to everyone around about the situation, and then provided the topper:

"And now they tell me that effing REAGAN won the election!"

Posted by: kindathinker | June 27, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

PLS - i kinda think that's insensitive of your husband - personally, given the choice of befiled visiting conditions vs clean hotel room - no matter how lovely and well kept your house is i'm sure - i'd pick hotel hotel hotel. clearly, they have also made that choice. tell hubbie to stop trying to be macho and give his guests the option to choose for themselves - it's not a reflection on you guys!

Posted by: mo | June 27, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

scc - befiled = befouled

Posted by: mo | June 27, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

As long as we're discussing miserable situations, anyone else care to decry the fact that the Senate is actually considering an anti-flag-burning amendment?

And today's gem from Dana Milbank really says it all:
"I think it's important to focus on the basic fact that the text of the First Amendment, the text of the Constitution, the text of the Bill of Rights is not involved," Specter argued. The Judiciary Committee chairman did not explain how he could add 17 words to the Constitution without altering its text.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

We were living on Kelly Air Force Base when it flooded in San Antonio in the late 40s. My sister and I wanted to sit on the concrete stoop, (it had 6 steps and the water was up to no. 3) and watch the water rise, but Dad said there might be snakes. He couldn't go to his civil service job that day because of the flooding and Mother was happy he was home on what would've been a regular work day. Me too. Daddy home during the day??!! This was celebration time! Mother made a big pot of vegetable soup and cornbread cakes. And that was the day I learned what it means to be content.

Posted by: Nani | June 27, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Loomis, I may have to get the bunker ready. All hands, all hands: please keep flippers and cummerbunds on standby. The dress code for today is aquamarine. Repeat, aquamarine. That is all.

BTW, those of you in the DC region--if you look at the Doppler, there's a honking big line of green just to the west of us approaching the Shenandoah that'll be on top of us in a couple of hours.

I'm not a nukuleer scientist like scottynuke, but I though the chemical formula for delerium was R2D2. (Isn't 2H20 the chemical formula for Hoo-Hoos?) And Matthew McConaughey was in U-238 with Jon Bon Jovi.

But I might be wrong.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Good luck with the cleanup, PLS. What a mess!

The roofers are coming today to give an estimate on the leak that just developed in my roof. We're not getting it like DC, but it's still pretty torrential here. Tornado Warning yesterday--had to take refuge in my windowless, troglodyte office in the museum basement.

Posted by: Dooley | June 27, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

um, mudge, also note that the wind is 9mph out of the south...I expect some more precipitation real soon.

Posted by: omni | June 27, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

*fervently hoping 'Mudge doesn't mistakenly toss an H2SO4 in there somewhere*


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 12:24 PM | Report abuse

by real soon I mean to say that just south of DC there are splotches appearing here and there all over and moving north...precip in, oh say, about 15 minutes...but I could be wrong

Posted by: omni | June 27, 2006 12:24 PM | Report abuse

As long as scottynuke is momentarily being serious, I will follow.

Flood insurance, including sewer backup, is NOT necessarily part of a standard all-risks home policy. I note, of course, that "standard" is kind of a useless word here as we have many different jurisdictions. The take-home lesson is check your policy.

dr, Alberta policies often have an additional rider that must be purchased to have sewer backup. Home policies are not standard, unlike the standard auto policy, so check your policy. AMA includes it, many others do not.

Seriousness ends. Thank you for your attention.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 27, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Ode To a Wet Dry/Vac

I am the daunter of Earth and Water,
And am dependant upon the Sky;
I suck up at scores of the homes and floors;
I alleviate, but I cannot dry.

Posted by: dr | June 27, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Scotty - of course, you're right (and atomics *are* your wheelhouse) but I was after the A-bomb/H-bomb/F-bomb chain reaction.

Mudge, I think that movie was U-2 with Francis Gary Powers. Or not.


Posted by: bc | June 27, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse soon I was wrong...I went out for a walk and it was already the time I got back it had stopped...but I do see a deluge of rain coming down a couple miles to the east...

Posted by: omni | June 27, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I, too, saw the "Dirty Jobs" episode involving Mrs. Foster's sewage-flooded basement and would not wish that on anyone. (That episode is legendary, the standard by which all other dirty jobs are measured.)

How awful to live it in your own basement! For goodness sakes, keep the houseguests in the hotel and away from the moldy mildewy mess infesting your basement. Send the toddler over too--that stuff is nasty and best not inhaled by anyone, least of all little ones.

Posted by: Boodleaire | June 27, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

And PLS, I'm glad to hear your desiccation process is going well, I'm sure the whole experience is less than sublime.


Posted by: bc | June 27, 2006 1:10 PM | Report abuse

We too are holding on for dear life. Making hourly sacrifices to Sukmo, the god of sump pumps, and Electra, the patron saint of transmission lines.

Moved into our house five years, two drainage projects and one major foundation repair ago. When we moved in, all the drainage from the backyard ran to a single four-cubic-foot dry well at the side of the house. General opinion is that our house site should really not have been built on: "It's called Springfield for a reason, ya know."

PLS, if you need food or water, let us know. The pump we're keeping for ourselves :) And tell your husband to lighten up. If ever there was a time to stay in a hotel...(ideally above the first floor).

Posted by: fizz | June 27, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse

PLS, prepare for a refurbishing similar to what happened to the White House during the Truman Administration. Roughly the same thing happened to a neighbor of mine--sewage on a perfectly nice day. The City picked up the tab.

We had a mini-deluge yesterday, just enough to test the just-finished new bed for the Jaboticaba fruit tree and (what else?) seven young coonties (native Florida cycads. They're cute).

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 27, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if a portion of those Buffett $billions will be used to rebuild New Orleans or at least provide housing for those left homeless by Katrina. The thing I like so much about Bonno is that not only does he contribute money himself and acquire pledges from the government, he actually follows up to see that the money is being spent on medicines, food, educational tools and training and not used to line the wallets of the administrators. I've seen those pitiful scenes of starving and sick children in Ethiopia and elsewhere for years and years and heard of millions of dollars being granted for years and years, yet nothing seems to have changed. Where is all that money going?

Posted by: Nani | June 27, 2006 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I've had changes in the work situation where I just can't get by on a regular basis. They had layoffs where I work and, despite years of pay raises and bonuses -- and glowing job reviews -- I was a tall blade of grass and I got cut. I'm now looking for work and that's a job in itself. I have an interview this afternoon for a corporate writing position. But I really have my eyes on a couple of high school openings in the area for journalism teachers.

Posted by: Bayou Self | June 27, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Nani, In one of the articles it stated that Buffet was giving 1.5 B a year, and that he would hold Bill and Melinda (?) Gates responsible for it, perhaps on a daily basis. There is also a condition that the 1.5 B be spent in a single year.

Posted by: dmd | June 27, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self, I sorry to hear about your current situation, both my husband and I have been through layoffs/downsizing. I wish you good luck, for us it always turned out for the best, I hope the same will happen for you.

Posted by: dmd | June 27, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Nani, I believe I've seen it said before that the Gates' check up on how the funds from the Foundation are spent. The better foundations in the country do hold those they fund responsible and will check back. The Gates Foundation primarily funds health and development in Africa, but they also fund technology in under-privileged school districts in the US. I bet they help Katrina-ravaged areas in that way.

Buffett also is giving billions to some other foundations, one in his wife's name, a couple of others that his kids run I believe. I'm not sure what their funding focuses (foci?) are.

Posted by: TulsaFan | June 27, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

dr, your poem may be the first ode to the humble wet-dry vac! For minor flooding, it's like the arrival of the cavalry to save the day.

Bayou, good luck with the interviews. re: tall blade of grass - my botanical inspiration that I apply at work has always been ground covers like ivy, spreading roots widely and near impossible to get rid of once established.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 27, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Ya, know there's nothin' quite like an extended bout of stormy weather to make a feller whip out his gitarr and sing his own self some stormy weather blues. And I think I've got just setch a tune, that goes

a little somethin'

like this:

I'll never let you see
The way my rec room is drowning me
I've got my sump pump and it knows how to suck
Out all the water and yuck
I'll do my pumping in the drain

If I wait for cloudy skies
You won't know the rain from the tears in my eyes
I'll never know what just how much my insurance adjuster lies
So though the heartaches remain
I'll do my pumping in the drain

Raindrops falling from heaven
Will never wash away my misery
But since the Doppler radar on my TV
Shows more stormy weather over DC
I'll hide these tears I hope you'll never see

Someday when my pumping's all done
I'm gonna wear a 'bund and walk in the sun
I may be a fool but till then, darling, you'll never see me complain
I'll do my pumping in the drain
I'll do my pumping in the drain
I'll do my pumping in the drain
I'll do my pumping in the drain

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I was going to "do" Stormy Weather but decided not to insult the late great Billie Holiday; besides that song is just too sad.

Bayou Self, I've really wondered about you these past weeks. That corporate writing position sounds more lucrative, but the high school journalism teaching spot will feed your soul. Lordy, we've missed you. Don't go away anymore, okay? Tonight, the Rosary's for you.

Posted by: Nani | June 27, 2006 2:43 PM | Report abuse


Man, that sucks. How can I help?

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The gov just issued us a weather alert saying there's a system over Williamsburg moving north (i.e., coming here) that looks to drop about 3-5 inches on us at the rate of 1-2 inches per hour, starting pretty soon. Flash flood watches, tornado warnings, alarums offstage, etc.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday, the air conditioner in my part of the office conked out and spent the day pumping warm moist air into the office. At 4 pm, it was 79 degrees and 83% relative humidity in the building. That equates to a dew point of 73 degrees, which in technical terms is very soggy.

Only trust weather reports that measure humidity in dew point. Relative humidity is complete bullpucks, because it is, duh, relative. Dew point is real deal.

For comparitive purposes, there are only about 100 hours a year in Baltimore when it is more humid outside than it was at my desk yesterday.

Having visited Vietnam last summer, I laughed at the humidity. Nothing is more humid than an unairconditioned museum in Hanoi during July.

All three levels of my townhouse are above grade. Last night I checked that the backyard wasn't flooded to make sure the floor would stay dry. I found an earthworm under my couch. I think he had come in to get out of the damp.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 27, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

>I think he had come in to get out of the damp.

heh heh heh, I wish my problem was earthworms. For the first time in years Daddy Groundhog dug up a whole new pile by his nice sheltered in-garage entrance, which I stumbled over getting to my car last night. So when I returned at 12:30am I had to shovel a pile of stones and dirt back in and sweep the place up.

After chasing him out of the truck drivetrain twice, I'm afraid this means war.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Nani, we're planting sunflowers. Thanks ivansmom for thinking about me.

bayou self, glad you're back, and so sorry about the job. I hope you find a new job real soon. I'm sending up a prayer for you.

pls, I don't envy you that job. Hope you get through it quickly.

We've had so much rain here my tomatoes plants are really sagging. There's nowhere for the water to go, we've had so much. And it's still raining. On the Weather Channel they're showing pictures of places in NC where the water has taken over completely. Not good. Water is just standing in the road here. I don't think I'm going out any more today.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 27, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

You forgot to mention that it's important to be on the lookout for unicorn stampedes caused by the floodwaters driving them out of low-lying leprachaun glens. You think a flash flood is dangerous--just wait 'til you see what a unicorn stampede does to your car.

Posted by: jw | June 27, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I think we're going to flood again tonight. I'm gonna cry, I swear! (said in my best desperate Southern woman voice).

Posted by: PLS | June 27, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I think that fungus is gettin' to jw!

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 3:40 PM | Report abuse

PLS, REALLY I'm hoping you don't get the backup again. The offer of the dehumidifier stands.

Steady, ma'am. I remember being told somewhere that Southern women always smile because that way no one can tell how they're really feeling. Might have been in a Faulkner novel.


Posted by: bc | June 27, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

*hoping 'Mudge's bus doesn't take River Road on its route*


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 3:42 PM | Report abuse


I think this rain mighta been in a Faulkner novel, too!

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

EF, we need to handle this in such a way as to maximize the political benefits of the impending War on Groundhogs. Handled correctly, you might pull in some of the neocons.

Error Flynn, not about to be pushed around by Daddy Groundhog.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 27, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

You know, maybe I should clean my gutters. This is just now occurring to me, roughly 20 inches into the Great Deluge.

Meanwhile, Achenblog is HUGE in Buffalo:

Posted by: Achenbach | June 27, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

From Buffalo:

>the hundreds of readers who leave comments on his blog

Little does he know that we're actually all creations of 16 year old Mitzi Fleeberhofen of Falls Church.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 27, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

>Error Flynn, not about to be pushed around by Daddy Groundhog.

I'm all about compassion towards the environment and critters, but I think you have to draw the line somewhere. Nowhere does it say I have to give up the garage. He's gotten a free ride too long, and now he's taking advantage.

In short, I'm advocating a muscular policy against The GroundHog Nation.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The NYU kids are hip to Joel now! Does that mean this place will become like the Daily Show in a few years?

Posted by: TulsaFan | June 27, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Not a Faulkner novel, scotty; it's Somerset Maugham's short story "Rain" (introducing Sadie Thompson).

Joel, OF COURSE you're huge in Buffalo, Buffalo is a very discerning town. Everyone knows that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 4:02 PM | Report abuse

That's pretty cool Joel. Being huge in Buffalo is all the rage these days.

At first I was kinda hurt that he didn't provide an Achenlink but then I thought, "Do we really need a big discussion about Beef on Weck today?"

Posted by: TBG | June 27, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

>the hundreds of readers who leave comments on his blog

Don't forget the "very attractive women" here.

Posted by: TBG | June 27, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse

We have a new catchphrase, of course...

"Achenblog: Boffo in Buffalo"


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Joel could give Jon Stewart a run for his money NOW!

Posted by: Nani | June 27, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

EF, is this the first formal announcement on foreign policy of your campaign?

Some foreign correspondent I am.

Nice JA. It official. Achenblog has been studied.

Posted by: dr | June 27, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Hi, guys. Been immersed (that's today's watchword, right?) in learning PowerPoint all day. Yeah, I know, but we use it all the time in presentations because they can be plugged into the TV broadcast so folks at home can see what we're talking about. Only raining heavily here at the moment (as opposed the deluge about an hour ago). I'm going to swim home soon. The wife has a bottle of Asti in the 'fridge.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 27, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Since the Buffalo piece is actually about NYU, here's a tune (to Only You):

NYU thinks the Achenblog's all right
NYU has finally seen the light
NYU (and Hugh) alone
Can find fun in our doo-doo
And join like zebras herding up with all us gnus

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 27, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Remember, EF, we have to fight the Groundhog Nation THERE before they make us fight them HERE. Anyway, I'm certain it will be a quick and easy battle, that all the other yard rodents and fauna will hail you as their liberator and, best of all, the cost of the war will be born be oil revenues. You might even make a profit at it.

Er...have you considerd tapping their phones and e-mails? Monitoring their bank accounts? Screw the warrants, dude; they're only groundhogs, after all.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I think you've got your next assignment: "Achenblog: Boffo in Buffalo"

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 4:28 PM | Report abuse

>EF, is this the first formal announcement on foreign policy of your campaign?

Well, the first inter-species foreign policy announcement.

For my solutions to the MidEast problems, see "Good Stuff":

I am somewhat heartened by recent events there, but I still want casinos back in Cuba.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 4:28 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl, Now you've done it; now I've got to stop by the music store and pick up a Platters CD. And it's also raining torrents here in my N. Fla. abode.

Posted by: Nani | June 27, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

>Remember, EF, we have to fight the Groundhog Nation THERE before they make us fight them HERE.

Mudge, they're HERE already, make no mistake. I have video of the meetings. Our analysis section is still working on decoding the movements, but I hope to have it posted soon.

From all indications they have cleverly avoided leaving any electonic fingerprints, relying on old-fashioned couriers and the underground barter system.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I just read that review from the Buffalo News and realized that they put links to every other blog mentioned in the article, but not Achenblog -- and it's the featured blog!

Go figure.

Posted by: martooni | June 27, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self: Just have a moment to drop in to say: Hang tough. I was in your shoes not too long ago. The oppressive ape people who fired me waited until I'd completed a very complicated and difficult project before "reorganizing" me. They will go straight to hell. I found my current job after several months of networking, searching, and praying. I'm in a much, much better place. You will be too.

Posted by: CowTown | June 27, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

So the Buffaloians pegged Joel's writing as "snarky and sarcastic"? Apparently they wouldn't recognize science if it hit them in the snowblower.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 27, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

PLS, contact the folks who handle risk management/general liability claims for the water/sewer utility. They should come through on cleaning up. It shouldn't be your insurance policy.

The deluge ended at lunchtime here, and now the sun's out and it's a lovely June day. We had 2 inches in 24 hours, which we needed badly. Of course, I had to go out to a meeting in the middle of the worst deluge and got my lower extremities soaked.

BayouSelf, welcome home! Good luck on the job hunt. Never fun, hope it's over quickly.

Posted by: Slyness | June 27, 2006 4:43 PM | Report abuse

The kit today reminded me of this:

What is Dihydrogen Monoxide?

"Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the unstable radical Hydroxide, the components of which are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol."

Enjoy. ;-)

Posted by: martooni | June 27, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Posting all that chemical information...martooni, y'all with us, or with the Groundhogs?


Posted by: SonofCarl | June 27, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

>Posting all that chemical information...martooni, y'all with us, or with the Groundhogs?

Indeed. If I end up with a mushroom cloud over the garage martooni is going to owe me one heckuva set of working shutters.

After all, there IS a real possibility they're leaching off my neighbor's open WiFi connection, and I found recent copies of The Post and NYT in the pile they left.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Got on my flippers and 'bund, ready to swim for the bus. Glub glub.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I'll support the War on Groundhogs, but only if the favor is returned and yinz help out in my War on Chipmunks. I had to build a chipmunk-proof mini-greenhouse box thingie last week to protect our seedlings from the greedy little effers who snuck into our enclosed back porch and ate'em all up.

It must have been a very long day (or I'm finally cracking) because I'm sitting here laughing at an image that just came to mind of a chipmunk with a couple firecrackers strapped to his belly demanding that I turn over the baby sunflower plants.

Posted by: martooni | June 27, 2006 5:27 PM | Report abuse

>a chipmunk with a couple firecrackers strapped to his belly demanding that I turn over the baby sunflower plants.

At which point you just gotta say:

"Make my day."

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

hey - NYU was already in the house as i AM an nyu alum (ok, so i'm not exactly a kid)

i'm just sayin...

Posted by: mo | June 27, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Years ago our basement flooded because of a failed sump pump. This was a noisome mess, but did allow us to get a tidy insurance payment for the junk we had stored down there. As the insurance company would doubtless get cranky if this happened again, I installed a state-of-the-art sump pump with marine battery backup. So far it is holding its own. However, if the water table continues to rise there may be nowhere for the sump pump to pump the sump to.

I just live for phrases like that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 27, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Error, by way of update, I'm informed by our sources in the Groundhog expatriate community that they ALREADY have a concoction that includes carbonated water, caramel colour, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate, aspartame, and other ingredients (including flavors).

Further update. Our loyal expatriate sources indicate that the Groundhogs are mere days away from obtaining the f-bomb.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 27, 2006 6:08 PM | Report abuse

SonOfCarl, this is worse than I thought.

I'm going to have to call in my redneck neighbor.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Here's to hoping Mudge made it home with the SCUBA gear. Too bad he didn't have the sailboat at work today.

Is it still raining in the Metro DC area?

Posted by: Slyness | June 27, 2006 6:56 PM | Report abuse

RD, phrases like that make me giggle.

Posted by: Slyness | June 27, 2006 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, maybe it's better without the final "to," as in how much sump could a sump pump pump if a sump pump could pump sump?

But that would just be silly.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 27, 2006 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but how many times can you say it fast without stumbling?

Posted by: dr | June 27, 2006 7:08 PM | Report abuse

PLS, try to view this as an opportunity to get the basement/gameroom you've always wanted. Remodeling can be a powerful antidote, like shoe-shopping.

My worry is that the ground is so saturated that the ~100 year old oak tree that looms over our house will lose its footing and, well, kill us in our sleep. Not only is the ground saturated, so is the white-oak bark. There's a precedent for this- its sister tree fell some years back, but had a more life-affirming trajectory. I'm no physicist (or whatever sort of pocket-protector-wearing dude/ette would make that calculation) but it doesn't look good from where I'm sleepin', if you know what I mean.

Basement full of sh*t vs. death while sleeping. It's clearly a toss up.


Posted by: Pixel | June 27, 2006 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, dr, I guess I'm stumped.

Pixel, I agree with the "remodeling opportunity". Our place had a back-up flood about 10 years ago (5 years before we bought it) and it's one of the few places we saw when we were looking for a house that didn't have the time trip to 1965 by journeying to the basement.

Re: your tree. It doesn't have to be que sera sera if you don't want it to be. The tree will fall on the path of least resistance, and some heavy duty stakes and rope anchored on the side opposite might deflect its path enough to avoid striking your house if you think the danger is imminent. Ultimately, however, the tree might have to go, as they all eventually must. I once participated in removing a tree from a boy scout camp building that had been built around (literally) the tree about 20 years prior. Very Lothlorien. Also, very un-fire code and impractical over the long term.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 27, 2006 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I've given up on the "Dribble" variations for my Achenhandle, it's just not me!

'mudge, have you taken your Southern scouting trip yet? I just got off of the phone with my folks (in Savannah), and told them that I knew a couple of dinner companions that I'd be willing to recommend sight unseen!

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Goodbye Mid-Atlantic Region.
Hello Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 27, 2006 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, thanks for the dihydrogen monoxide data. That stuff is SCARY. Especially in solution. The soluble stuff.

Anyway, I cleaned my gutters, roughly 20 inches of rain too late. It was a messy bidness. It involved scooping mulchified leafy debris from aforesaid gutters with bare hands and flinging it into the yard. Also much roof action, and ladders on the roof, and it raises the big question: Why do heights seem higher when you're up high than when you are down low and just looking up? Heights seem higher when on high than when appraised from below. Fact of nature.

You're thinking: Because on the ground, you're head is already 5 or 6 or, in the case of Shaq, 7 feet off the ground, so you have to delete that distance from the perceived height. And I'm saying, no, when you're on the roof, it always seems like you're WAY high above the ground, like 50 feet up, 100 feet, in bird country. And I have a theory about this that I might expound in a subsequent kit.

("He's always saying he's going to write about stuff later and then he never does...What's with that??")

Posted by: Achenbach | June 27, 2006 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Big J: This subject has already been dealt with extensively in the literature, but it essentially boils down to: You are old, and (even though you should have come to peace with this fact LOOOOONG ago) you're gonna die. For some strange reason, this inevitable fact creates a dissonance within you, and spoils your enjoyment of the superb view!

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

It's an evolutionary thing. We are all descended from creatures who were afraid of heights. That's why they climbed down from the trees and tried to make a go of it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 27, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Joel, just to be clear:

I meant that you, in particular, will die if you keep going on the roof. The rest of us enjoy it just fine, and often have drunken bacchanalia there!

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 9:04 PM | Report abuse

JA, mebbe it's that infantile reflex associated with heights... Yanno, babies won't crawl over clear plexiglass 'cuz they recognize heights innately...

Or something...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 27, 2006 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Bob, I think it involves the concept of standard deviations. And how we register as "pronounced" anything that is 3 standard deviations from the norm. This is why any 7-foot-tall person appears to be 8 feet tall. I interviewed Wilt Chamberlain, you know. He definitely seemed to be 8 feet tall.

OK, signing off...

Posted by: Achenbach | June 27, 2006 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Joel, time for new gutters, the kind that are covered so leaves and debris don't get in them. We paid for that project last December. It was my husband's gift to himself. The ones we had installed are guaranteed, so if they do clog, the company comes and unclogs them. No having to get on the roof!

Posted by: Slyness | June 27, 2006 9:05 PM | Report abuse

I cleaned my gutters last August. I remember it well. I learned three important lessons.

First, rooftops in summer are really hot.

Second, a thorough understanding of friction and the conservation of momentum based upon years of academic study is no match for the irrational panic that percolates up from the subconscious when you find yourself in a prone position with your head stuck out over the edge of a two story roof.

Third, rooftops are really scratchy too.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 27, 2006 9:09 PM | Report abuse

"He's always saying he's going to write about stuff later..."

I noted this many months ago. I refrained from doing a statistical analysis (what are the odds that a prediction will be followed by, well, followup?); it wouldn't have been pretty. You're welcome.

Of course what you do write is just as good as(better than!)what you said you were going to write. So we remain grateful for all of it.

As I said in the bear boodle, fear of heights is not an irrational fear. People do suffer injury and worse from falling off roofs. Be careful!

Posted by: kbertocci | June 27, 2006 9:16 PM | Report abuse

JA is, of course, completely correct, and I'm waiting breathlessly for the learned and amusing explication on the subject. It's another variation on the theme of the human tendency to misjudge magnitudes of ANYTHING with which we're not familiar in our day-to-day existence. Why are more people (generally) afraid of snakes & spiders than of cars & influenza? Why would most folks estimate that people who are racially different from them are potentially dangerous, when the vast majority of crimes are committed within racially/ethnically homogenous groups?

I will concede that spiders (other than daddy longlegs-types with essentially no central body) more than one inch in legspan (is that one word?) ARE evil, and should be carefully segregated, if not eradicated.

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 9:20 PM | Report abuse

SoC, I should post pictures of the tree. We worship the tree. We venerate the tree. We had an electrician come over after the Sister fell and install cathedral up-lighting. There is no stake, chain or anchor that will keep the tree from going where it wants to go. It is a god among trees.

It does, however, have a huge limb (a tree in itself) suspended over our roof. I figure that limb will deflect the main trunk enough to possibly save us. We'll need some remodeling, but we'd live to pick the paint colors. Did I mention that I'm not so good with math?

Seriously, though, it would be a crime to cut down the tree, or at least a sin. It's worthy of veneration. That, and it would cost about $10k or more to have it removed.

Posted by: Pixel | June 27, 2006 9:22 PM | Report abuse

OH, I forgot to mention this:

Pixel, the tree is gonna fall, probably right about where you fear it's gonna fall. The White House lost a big one today. You can accept that fact philosophically (don't sleep in the room[s] where it's going to land in windy/rainy weather, and suck up the repair costs), or take preventive measures. But if you've noticed it, then weather & tree age ARE already preparing it.

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self,
Glad you stopped by - sorry to hear about the job. Hope you find a better one soon.

Pixel, I understand about the tree, but you should get an arborist to check it out and make sure that it's not going to fall on your house. Not that they can predict that 100%, but they should be able to give you an idea. We wanted to get our big maple thinned, before it actually comes into the house, but the tree guys kept getting swarmed by bees and they couldn't figure out where the nest was. So they are going to come back when the bees are sleeping.

Hope the rain goes somewhere where it's needed. Flooding is no fun. We've got to get that weather control machine working.

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 27, 2006 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I'm feeling philosophical! A note on the inevitability of these things:

New Orleans will continue to flood, worse & worse, until the Corps of Engineers loses its war with the river gods and the Mississippi eventually becomes the Atchafalaya. There is no question that (some dark & stormy night) this will happen, it's all about the timing.

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 9:40 PM | Report abuse

With great sadness I am about to take down a 50 ft Austrian pine. It's nearly dead and I've been told it was beyond hope by the experts, and I still let it hang on another year but the top (itself tree size) cleaved off last year during a big snowstorm and landed on the patio just missing the house.

I hate to do it, but there's a 50/50 chance it'll land on the house or the cars.

Sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Glub. All-time record-setting delays due to the weather tonight. The buses all got blocked somewhere along K Street. The first woman in line at our stop came out at 4:40, and by 7 there were about 35 people there waiting for two different route buses. Two or three buses came by, but they were full. She and the first 15 or so people finally got picked up about 7. When the logjam broke, no less than four buses arrived at once, at 7:08 p.m. Got home at 8.

The weather report a minute ago said we set an all-time record for June (which isn't even over) at 13-plus inches. Normal for June is about 3.6 inches.

Fortunately, my cummerbund is the inflatable, Coast Guard-approved Type VII all-weather model (in Black Watch tartan) with safety whistle, shark repellant, EPIRB, GPS, 5-disc CD changer, first aid kit, and rations to sustain two persons for 48 hours, plus one of those metal-looking astronaut thermal blankets that can be folded into a tinfoil hat. I hear there is an upgraded version available that makes Chai tea lattes, but I don't want to burden myself with the extra weight.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 27, 2006 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Pixel... my parents' neighbor lost some huge beautiful trees when a tornado came through Fairfax several years ago. He got an arborist to calculate their worth and actually got some sort of insurance compensation for them.

We have a tree we always like to point to and tell my son, "Yeah.. that's the one that's gonna come down in a storm some night." It's got a limb that points right toward his room window--you know, the one he sleeps under.

Did I mention that I'm a terrible mother?

Posted by: TBG | June 27, 2006 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Terry Pratchett pointed out in a recent book (don't have it in front of me) that one of his characters was not, in fact, afraid of heights. She could walk past a tall tree or mountain with no fear whatsoever. What she was afraid of (she discovered upon flying for the first time) was depths.

Posted by: Dooley | June 27, 2006 10:18 PM | Report abuse

For those that offered support, thanks.

The corporate writer job isn't exactly a corporate writer job, or so I learned from the interview. It is a mysterious job. They never exactly say what it is I'd write. They never exactly say what it is I'd do. They speak in corporate code. But I think the upshot is that the corporation is spending a great deal of time -- and I'm not making this up -- monitoring blogs to see if they are mentioned and to then dive in and promote the biz while dealing with attackers.

But I'm not entirely sure. And there I was, through most of the interview, even as they talked about blogs, being afraid to say that I'd love to hang out all day long at blogs.

When I asked what blogs the monitored, they said they monitored -- wait for it and turn the lights low -- all the blogs.

Posted by: Bayou Self | June 27, 2006 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Paradigm shift, I love it!

"Fear of depths"

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 11:04 PM | Report abuse


Wow! THAT is an impressive monitoring job. Make sure that you get paid by the "blog-monitored" rate, rather than the "blog-actually-responded-to" rate!

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Bayou, sounds like you had a date with the devil.

Hang in there, and good luck with the schools.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 27, 2006 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, remind me: How much was our rain deficit a week ago?

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 11:09 PM | Report abuse


does this mean if you get the job we should attack the company so you can hang out the boodle more?

just curious

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 27, 2006 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Bayou... how did you keep from busting out laughing?

I say pursue that teaching job. The students in your area would be lucky to have you.

Either (or any) way.. good luck to you!

Posted by: TBG | June 27, 2006 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self -
Just tell us the name to drop so you can get paid to boodle!

And who was this in Tom Schroder's chat yesterday?
Boodleville, Md.: To edit the likes of Weingarten, Achenbach, Steuver, et al., must be the editorial equivalent of living Hell on Earth. Gene, in particular, loves to refer to you as Tom the Butcher. Surely you must have a similar fond nickname for him?

Who gives you the most trouble? The least?

Tom Shroder: Unfortunately, the truth is they are all great friends as well as writers I happen to edit, as funny in person as you might guess and a joy to work with. Of course, Weingarten--who I've known for 20 years and pretty much owe my career to -- can be a total pain in the butt. And I do have a nickname for him but it is unprintable.

Tom Fan? bc? Mudge? Boodleville, indeed!

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 27, 2006 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Man, that company [fill in blank] is an evil wastefield of awful intent. I sure wish that someone could justify their very existence!

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 11:43 PM | Report abuse

LA, too funny.

And you know what's funny, ABC's hot new line up for the fall! Oh forget it. ABC, I quit.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 27, 2006 11:46 PM | Report abuse

It's way past her bedtime, but I hope that Nani knows (or finds out) that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have embarked upon what may well turn out to be the most significant private philanthropic undertaking in the history of charity. Or, it may be farting in the wind. Either way, I am (and have been for several years now) proud of the boy(s).

Posted by: Bob S. | June 27, 2006 11:48 PM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different, and a present for Nani. Sometimes when grown sons come back home they introduce you to the most delightful young ladies, who do the most interesting work. Meet ss, natural horsesmanship trainer.

We now return to the regularly scheduled boodling.

It was 33C at 6:30 p.m. today. I have no idea how hot it was mid afternoon. The heat combined with a fierce wind, sucked up every drop of moisture we had, and is taking it somewhere else. The drops of rain falling on you may very well start in my back yard.

Posted by: dr | June 28, 2006 12:22 AM | Report abuse

"how much sump could a sump pump pump if a sump pump could pump sump?"

I can't even get through the thing once, without tripping over my words.

Posted by: dr | June 28, 2006 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Yesterday was good. So many children, and we did story time, and talked about the alphbets. Going on a field trip today to eat Chinese. That should be fun. I'm doing what I enjoy. Bayou self, that job sounds mysterious. PSL, hope the basement is looking better. With my bad ears, one will not find me on anything with height. The rain has stopped here, and today should be day of drying out. I suspect that means hot. A good day to everyone, and know that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Going for the walk. It took me so looooooooong to get back yesterday after missing two days of walking. It was like the muscles crunched up tighter. I'm determined to walk. Now if I could just get that diet together.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 28, 2006 6:29 AM | Report abuse

mostlylurking, yes, Boodleville was me.

Bob, I have no idea what the rain deficit was.

I am loathe to mention it, but Newsweek has a piece on the emergence of *gulps, grits teeth* Hugh Hewitt as a rising star (!??????) of the wingnut talkshow circuit. But you don't all have to rush out and read it--it's about how he merges his talk radio with the Internet. Big whup. He's still a --- oh, that's right, no name-calling. (And I wasn't even considering anything worse than "jerk." Ah well. The sacrifices one must make in the name of civility.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 28, 2006 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for subbing for me, omni!
I just got back from Sydney and am attempting to catch up with the 'boodle.

[I tried to come up with a more substantial comment than this, but I think I might be a little bit over-tired.]

[And I can't *believe* I was away for Tom's chat. InconCEIVable!]

Posted by: Tom fan | June 28, 2006 7:37 AM | Report abuse


Hugh dat?


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 28, 2006 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, methinks Hugh Hewitt is an emerging star not just because of the radio/Web synergy, but because he's very good at what he does, has a lot of energy, knows what he thinks, etc., even if you don't agree with him. I think he dials the rhetoric way too high (see his stuff lately on the NYTimes and whether the Times is getting our soldiers killed), but I would not be surprised if he's the next Limbaugh. In both cases, they spend a lot of time saying you can't trust the mainstream media.

So, today I am a road warrior again, and you folks are on your own. I'll try to check in tonight. There's a kind of yellowish-white light outside this morning that, if I didn't know better, I'd think was sunshine. Seriously it has sunshine-like qualities. It is coming from a very bright object in the sky. You should check it out.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 28, 2006 7:45 AM | Report abuse

On HH, someone should dig up the transcript of HH and Geneva Overholser talking to Wolf Blitzer a couple of days ago on CNN.

Here's the other side of the story -- why reporters sometimes should publish secrets:

Posted by: Achenbach | June 28, 2006 7:55 AM | Report abuse

I don't have time to read about HH in Newsweek because I'm busy with my National Geographic--PANDAS on the cover, plus a great story about the ramifications of walking upright (turns out we had to give up a lot of cool things for this posture, not the least of which was the opposable big toe--although SOME of us didn't lose the ability to pick up stuff with our toes...) and of course, Joel's contribution--the closing line alone was worth the price of the magazine to me. Amazing photos, as usual.

Posted by: kbertocci | June 28, 2006 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Crikey, there's sun in my eye! Somebody call a priest-- it's a miracle!

The prostration and homage to the Tree has paid off for another night. Technically, there's nothing wrong with it. We have an arborist check it every two years for disease and structural integrity. It stands very straight, but the land it grows on is sloped. When the ground becomes saturated like this, the root system could give way. That's what happened to the other one, but it was much more slanted.

Anyhoo, just dropped Mr. Pixel at the airport and got to put the top down on my car for the first time in many days. I'm thinking about riding my bike, though I've heard the W&OD has suffered quite a bit of damage and I don't have a mountain bike. Anyone been on the trail near Four Mile Run recently?

Posted by: Pixel | June 28, 2006 8:33 AM | Report abuse


Given that "Run" equals "creek" around DC, I'd avoid any such areas for, oh, the next month.


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 28, 2006 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I go away a few days then discovers the boodle got busy with my fording favorite fording word and poop, another effing favorite effing subject of mine. Oh well.
One Newtonian mechanics challenged plumber installed a shower and toilet in the basement of my house for a previous owner. The appliances are much lower than the maximum level of the septic tank but there is a check valve so there is no problem right ? Wrong of course. Mechanical things break down. At least when your own septic tanks overflows you know it is your own sh1t. Eh, I recognized that one ! It's the pork chop-Mudge's onion-clafoutis dinner from Saturday !

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | June 28, 2006 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Tulsafan, dmd and Bob S., thanks for the boost of my faith in mankind and how the Buffet monies will be monitored to ensure it goes where needed.

dr., I love presents! Specially horsey presents. That photo of the horse cooling off in the water was the best. Growing up for as long as I can remember every birthday and Christmas, my folks would give me horse trinkets and geegaws.

TBG, glad I made you smile with my hippie reminiscence yesterday.

Cassandra, good luck with the dieting. I have the opposite problem, it's hard for me to gain weight. I need to add 20 pounds (to feel stronger) and it's a real struggle.

Bayou Self, here's hoping you get that teaching position, not just for your benefit but for the students as well. Journalism would be an elective class, no? Those were my favorite classes in school. We'd groan when the bell rang that class was over.

Good morning all.

Posted by: Nani | June 28, 2006 8:53 AM | Report abuse

The super-cat has been very moody the last few days. While he is nominally an indoor cat (he was fully de-clawed by the previous owner), we occasionally let him out in the front yard under supervision. He hasn't had his "me-out" for a while now, for obvious reasons. Hopefully, friend wife will give him a bit of fresh air today before the forecasted T-storms re-emerge.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 28, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Hi! I missed the boodle for a few days because I went on vacation, yes, camping. My wife and I used to love going camping, but that was before I lost my vision and before we had kids. She has been bugging me to get a pop-up tent for a few years now, but I've been resisting based on time, money, rain, heat, humidity..., and my biggest point, she would have to do most of the work.
We compromised this year and both settled for a trailor, tent, found a campground with electricity and cable hookup somewhere in Pennsylvania and reserved a plot for a week. We left on Friday, in rush hour traffic,2 hours after we planned on getting there. These are the highlights:
It poured down rain. We stopped in Maryland to eat dinner and met some guys from Philli who "taulked da accent". I asked them where to go to get the best cheesesteaks. the answer was amazingly simple, "Genos or Pats".
It poured down rain. The kids began making a list of what they forgot. TV, rope, duct tape, ipod... I was happy they forgot the TV, after all, we were going camping for heaven's sake!
It poured down rain. The boys needed to pee. Nothing open at midnight where we were, not even a gas station. I started to miss Fairfax already, but I remembered there was something I didn't forget, the empty milk jug. the boys were relieved, the girls giggled, I laughed, my wife was disgusted but too exhausted to complain.
It poured down rain. I prayed and thanked Godfor giving me a wunderful driver for a wife. We pulled in our gravel lot around 1:00 am. All six of us slept in the minivan and waited for the sun to rise.
It poured down rain. The sun never came out, but it got light enough for us to walk to the lodge and register. The gravel lot wasn't optimal for a tent site, but it made do despite the conditions.
It poured down rain. My wife had trouble backing the trailor into the lot. After 15 minutes, a guy named Jeff jumped into the driver's seat. thanks, Jeff!
The rain turned to drizzle. that was our break to pitch the tent. Guess what? Tent stakes don't go into gravel lots. My wife' spirit was almost broken, and I was almost out of humor. I kept telling the kids this was going to be our best vacation yet even though I didn't believe it myself.
The drizzle stopped and all of a sudden, a swarm of campers from the other lots came to help us pitch the tent. It was great. We got to meet a lot of people, shake hands, meet the other kids... Tent went up, spirit and humor completely restored.
It poured down rain. the campers all scurried back into their pop-ups. The family mananged to get the air-matresses blown up. My 3 year old caught a frog in a mud puddle. the family took a long nap.
Back to drizzle. I attempted to teach my son how to start a fire in the rain. I burned my finger lighting a match. I didn't even drop the f-bomb this time. I couldn't even blame it on my blindness. I was just plain stupid. The other campers began to realize this fact, took pity and gave me a small block of firestarter. Now my son knows how to start a fire in the rain.
The rain stopped. One thing all the campers had in common, - kids and a bottle of liquor on the picnic table. That night was great! We ate, drank, laughed and told jokes and stories about our experiences, family, kids, just like here on the bootle. Funny thing, nobody asked me what I did for a living. Around midnight, my girls dragged me off to the tent and played uno.
It drizzled the next morning, but it didn't keep my daughter and I from going fishing. Like I say, the fish don't mind the rain, they are already wet. Wow! Bass! Big ones! We just kept reeling them in. My daughter caught more than me.
Breakfast, bacon, eggs, coffee. It was great! I forgot it was raining. The kids rode bikes and we swam in the pull, met more wholesome people. Maybe in a day or so, the sun would come out.
It poured down rain. All our pop-up friends packed up and left. The kids ate a bag of chips for dinner. The nearest place to buy liquor or beer was over a hundred miles away. that night, I dreamt about snakes. In the morning we walked to the lodge and heard the news about the mud slide on the beltway, closures in DC, record rainfall amounts, flooding all over... My wife's spirit broken, My humor all used up, we had a fight about pop-up tents and just packed up and hit the road.
It poured down rain. The whole family rejoiced when we saw our house. Home, sweet home! We were gone about 75 hours. I doubt we'll ever go camping again.
then I get back to the boodle and read about camping, the f-word and rain. Sheesh! PSL, I feel for you, however, your post reaffirms my optimisticly pessimistic attitude towards suffering, - I've never seen a day so bad that it couldn't have gotten worse! Have a nice day, you all, I'm still officially on vacation!

Posted by: Pat | June 28, 2006 9:06 AM | Report abuse

SD, that would be funny if it weren't true.

Your comment on recognition of intestinal scuplture made me laugh and reminded me of an old Cheech and Chong bit.

Speaking of Limbaugh, (and apologies if someone already posted this item where) he was detained due to possession of unprescribed Viagra:

I also note the Senate rejection of a proposed Ammendment to the Constitution:

These items make me wonder -

Could the Right's will be flagging?


Posted by: bc | June 28, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

SCC - you know where.


Posted by: bc | June 28, 2006 9:14 AM | Report abuse

My favorite "f-word" euphemism is "frack". It immediately brands you as a Battlestar Galactica geek, but only to other BSGs. It's like a dog whistle.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 28, 2006 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Pat, welcome back--thanks for sharing. You were missed.

That camping trip sounds like the kind where you "look back and laugh" after some undetermined amount of time. Really you did have fun, right? And your kids probably loved it, even if they complained some.

Posted by: kbertocci | June 28, 2006 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Pat, welcome home to dryness!

This is the trip the kids will laugh about the rest of their lives.

I enjoy camping, but not at the beach in the summer, or in the rain.

Posted by: slyness | June 28, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

ebtnut, "friend wife". That's the sweetest thing I've ever heard. And the Asti cooling in the fridge (from yesterday) sounded so inviting.

Posted by: Nani | June 28, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Pat! You had a normal camping experience! Getting rainsoaked is part of the initiation into camping, and you passed with flying colors. Go again in August, and you'll enjoy yourselves immensely. I promise.

Posted by: CowTown | June 28, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

bc: Consider that Right Wingers, whose party controls the government, can't even pass their favorite constitutional amendment. I'd say their will is flagging. It could also be that the rest of the Republican party has finally had a belly full of them.

Posted by: CowTown | June 28, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Nani: Thanks for the nice comment. We didn't get to the Asti yet; probably will now save it for Friday evening. Since I'm out of town all next week (will miss you guys!), she's been getting things in the washer so I'll look semi-presentable. So I'll take her someplace nice for dinner, then come home and drink fizzy wine and collapse.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 28, 2006 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Update on the Great Basement Disaster of '06:

The company that handles claims for Fairfax County says it will take 14-30 days for them to determine whether or not it is their responsibility (even though the county pumping station supervisor who was at our house at 2 a.m. Monday morning said it was their responsibility). So we're not waiting around on them to start the cleanup. We've taken lots of pictures for posterity's sake, now it's time to get this crap out! :-)

Did you know that Home Depot sells a spray that will kill everything from TB to e. coli to herpes?

Posted by: PLS | June 28, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt, I have actually used the term "frack", knowing it's origins from the classic BSG. Not a shocker that I have that level of dorkitude, is it?

I was always amused by the job description of "solicitor" on that show. On planet Earth a "solicitor" is a lawyer - in the former Colonies of Man, it's a prostitute.


Posted by: bc | June 28, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse

CowTown, do we need to proscribe an elephant-level dosage of Viagra for the GOP?

Looks like they may need it.


Posted by: bc | June 28, 2006 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Having compassionate thoughts for all boodlers who are either drowning, living with sewage-filled basements, or dying of thirst in San Antonio.

We we're supposed to get a serious deluge yesterday, but thankfully, we only got about 2 inches.

In a nod to Glabal Warming Wednesday, I'll submit the Virginia Tidewater area anomalies.

We had a Zone 9 winter (we're Zone 7) -- I had annuals in pots survive. They're giving me second year blooms.

Coming into June, the area was in a pretty bad drought. We'd had virtually no rain all spring. Although the weather was lovely -- mild and low humidity (the skies were the crystalline blue of the West) it was creepy. My black oak, a swamp-living tree that someone planted in sandy-clay (it's about 20 years old and was really georgeous -- don't know how it survives) dropped about a third of its branches over the winter and spring.

I finally started watering it -- it's my privacy (and hence, sanity) screen for 6 months of the year.

So, comes June. 3" is the normal rainfall for June. We are at 10", with more forecast.

It ain't what my fellow Warshingtonians have endured (thanks, Mudge, for the correct phonetic spelling) -- but it's still bizarre.

Farmers can't grow crops in weather like this. Yes, we're now just below the "average" rainfall for the year, but the crops have already died or are stunted due to months of drought.

Even after 10" of rain in 2 weeks, my garden is nearly dry about 6 or 7' down (some of my plants have root systems this deep -- and I count 3 " of mulch as part of the covering). I moved a stunted aster yesterday and was stunned to see that it's root ball was just a wee bit moist.

Toles has a great cartoon today -- he must be on to Global Warming Wednesday.

Posted by: nelson | June 28, 2006 10:32 AM | Report abuse

bc, only if Cowtown's name is on the Big Bottle--for privacy's sake.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 28, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

PLS, I did know about that stuff.
I keep a bottle of it in my shower.

Good idea on taking pictures. For example, you could use them to illustrate an invoice sent to Fairfax County.


Posted by: bc | June 28, 2006 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes:
I think he dials the rhetoric way too high (see his stuff lately on the NYTimes and whether the Times is getting our soldiers killed)...

NYT getting our soldiers killed? I don't think so.

Web Posted: 06/28/2006 12:00 AM CDT
Sig Christenson
Express-News Military Writer

Pfc. Devon Gibbons got to be known as the "miracle boy" after two months in Brooke Army Medical Center's ICU burn unit.

He somehow hung on despite losing both legs and his right arm and suffering third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body -- something no one at BAMC really had expected.

But the miracles stopped, 10 weeks after he was hurt in a roadside bombing in Iraq. His heart, racing at 125 beats per minute since arriving here April 14, has stopped, hospital officials said late Monday.

He'll be buried Saturday near his home in Port Orchard, Wash. ...

His parents were with Gibbons, 19, when the end came at 3:30 p.m. Friday. It had been a typical week, one filled with highs and lows on the hospital's fourth-floor burn ward, where 449 soldiers have been treated since March 2003.

While recovery was considered a long shot, Gibbons had made tremendous progress since a 600-pound bomb struck his Bradley armored personnel carrier April 11 in the Sunni Triangle, killing three others.

Gibbons had returned to consciousness in time for Father's Day, when the family's story was detailed in the San Antonio Express-News.

He sat up in his bed for the first time last Wednesday. The day before, his dad stood in the room in full scrubs when a reporter dropped by for a visit.

"We've had an exciting day," he said.

Posted by: Loomis | June 28, 2006 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Flag burning . . . sigh. What to say about this silliness?

Right after 9/11 Radio Shack (or some company) came out with a TV remote all decked out as the flag. I still have the cutout from the ad on my fridge. This was such a statement about American culture -- the symbolism was more than pregnant.

Support the Troops! Click from QVC to Fox News with a flag bedecked remote! No need to bestir one's self from the Lazy-Boy!

My brother brought an Old Glory beach towel to our vacation last week. He wore swim trunks with Old Glory emblazoned down each side. He didn't get the irony when I teasingly mentioned flag desecration. He thinks the flag-burning amendment is ridiculous.

But more to the point. We towel our dirty bodies off with the flag; we proudly wear it across our chests, sleep under it, probably wear it as underwear.

How are all of these things "patriotic" while burning the flag is portrayed as beyond despicable, the act of truly fiendish commies?

I'm more disgusted with Dems like Harry Reid, who said it was a really silly idea, but that he would vote for it anyway. Ah, nothing like principle.

Wanted: Leadership.

Posted by: nelson | June 28, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Global Warming Wednesday. I type too fast!

Posted by: nelson | June 28, 2006 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I'll bet they wouldn't mind if we burned the French or UN flags.

That would just be free speech.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 28, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I want an constitutional amendment to make it illegal to wave the american flag in front of charging bulls.

Said offense would be fineable and jailable up to 1 night in jail.

And for the said charging bulls (of any species) to be arrested for assault, battery, and acting inappropriately bovine on town sidewalks.


Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Carol Junge Loomis from Fortune magazine e-mailed me yesterday with her reply to my question of where her husband fits on the family tree, which was nice of her. Her husband actually hails from Miami. She wrote:

"My husband, John Loomis, also grew up in Miami. He was the son of Horace Eugene Loomis. I think that Horace's parents came from Michigan. Horace's mother was named Lummus, which as you almost certainly know is one of the related names of people from Lomax, England. So my husband's mother was Elizabeth Lummus Loomis, which was a mouthful."

Posted by: Loomis | June 28, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Stop bullheaded producers of bovine manure from trampling our American flag!

Vote Honest Error in '08.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

SCC. Should be:

Vote For Honest Error, not the Other Thing.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations on the sunshine. Don't be alarmed. It is a natural phenomenon. Too much exposure causes burning, though, and watch out for the reflections from all that standing water.

Pat, can it be true? Are you Fatherof4? I read the Mommy Blog sometimes and you (if so) are my favorite poster. I began noting the similarities in tone between those posts and yours (Pat's) on the Boodle, taking into account of course that for the Boodle one can be normal and thoughtful while on the Mommy Blog there is apparently permanent hysteria and umbrage. You (if indeed you are he) handle that so well, providing much-needed perspective. You're also a brave man. I could never post on the Mommy Blog; they'd eat me alive.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 28, 2006 10:59 AM | Report abuse



you really have to have a really big pair to spout what they are dishing in the white house these days.

uparmor? no. not really.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 28, 2006 11:00 AM | Report abuse

bc, in Haute Maine lawyers are Barristers and Solicitors. There's actually a triple usage of "solicitor": that, "soliciting for the purpose..."[criminal code offence}; and door to door sales. I always make a point of saying "Hmpph!" when I see the door sign "No solicitors".

Pat, hopefully you get out again. A rainy camping trip can occasionally be nice if you're in one spot and can listen to the rain on your tent/trailer, but not so nice if the rain comes in to join you. Especially if you get your sleeping bag soaked and you're still in the middle of nowhere [but I have to admit I'd rather re-do that story than live through PLS' current situation].

Still supposed to be clear and sunny for my backpacking this weekend. *looking for wood to knock*

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

>Vote For Honest Error, not the Other Thing.

Thanks Wilbrod! By the way, Lou Dobbs is echoing some of our educational campaign positions on CNN along with a few other good ideas:

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 28, 2006 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Pls, I wouldn't worry about the risk management reaction. They'll come through because their job depends on it, but it may take a while. I imagine they're having a fun week. Do what you gotta do in the meantime, though!

You're right, Nelson, this insane weather is no fun for the farmers. Hope the rest of the summer is pleasantly and appropriately moist.

Posted by: slyness | June 28, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I've looked at "On Balance" once in a while, and I must say I don't see why there's such a feud. It's like people assume that people who make different choices are somehow devaluing their choices. Maybe it comes with the insecurity of being a parent and having to do their best by their kids.

But goodness me, what KIND of example do some of those people set for their kids? They should think about that sometimes, if they can get out of the sleep-deprivation treadmill for a moment.

Today's special on daycare: I think if feasible, no child under 1 year old should be in daycare. Or 18 months for that matter. The immune systems are just too weak, no matter how clean and wellkept the daycare establishment is.

However, life ain't always feasible. So I say to myself, "Sho' keep yo' trap shut."

It's still better than the boarding schools that Dickens and Charlotte Bronte wrote about. Or Romanian orphanages.

Where do those SATMs get their information from, anyway?

I'd love to post what Terry Pratchett wrote on the Mommy Blog.

(Agnes the "maiden" witch thinks this:)

"She was not, herself, hugely in favour of motherhood in general. Obviously it was necessary, but it wasn't exactly difficult. Even cats managed it. But women acted as if they'd been given a medal that entitled them to boss people around. It was as if, just because they'd got the label which said 'mother', everyone else got a tiny part of the label that said 'child'..."

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Soc coincidence that prostitution, salesman and lawyers are all linked here in Canada? :)

Posted by: dmd | June 28, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod -- what happens if one waves the American flag in front of a charging elephant? Will it stop and salute? Or accuse the flag-waver of stealing its idea?

How about a charging donkey (I know, I know -- an oxymoron). The donkey might stop and debate itself on how best to handle the situation.

Posted by: nelson | June 28, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse


In Canada, what is the difference between a dead deer in the middle of the road and a dead lawyer in the middle of the road?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 28, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

DM we stop for the deer!

Posted by: dmd | June 28, 2006 11:27 AM | Report abuse


Very kind of C.J. to reply. Good thing your tree branches differently, else we might be referring to you as LindaLummLoo...


As for flag-burning, it drives me right up a tree that supposedly intelligent people attempt to say flag-burning "isn't speech." A flag is a symbol, as many of those lummoxes said on the floor of the Senate. Manipulating a symbol conveys meaning and is therefore speech, whether it's a written word, a collection of sounds, ASL or applying flame to cloth. And of course EF is quite right in noting that other symbols are somehow different.

*returning soapbox to shelf*

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 28, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

yes, skid marks in front of the deer.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 28, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

>coincidence...all linked here in Canada.

Don't knock it 'til you've seen the year-end get-togethers with all three groups.

DM, the joke is: how do you tell if the dead person on the road was a lawyer? A. No skid marks in front of the lawyer.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

SoC, I was at a Ti-cat game on the weekend, I am sure the crowd there was not far off those year end gatherings.

Posted by: dmd | June 28, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, the Lummuses from Lomax? Do they eat green eggs and ham?

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

SofC, I lie in the road corrected.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 28, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

All kinds of things I could comment on the the Dobbs article (which I mostly agreed with) but this caught my eye:

"Workers without so much as a high-school diploma earn on average $18,734 a year, according to the Census Bureau, about $9,000 less than their counterparts who have graduated high school."

The average high school graduate makes $27,000 a year!?! What are they doing?

My first job after finishing my PhD (a technical position in a museum) started at $22,000. Mrs. D just quit her teaching job--with a BA, a masters, 9 years experience, and tons of certification bonuses, she was making something like $32,000. And we could have been making 27K right out of high school? We've been robbed!

Posted by: Dooley | June 28, 2006 11:45 AM | Report abuse

slyness -- I like the idea of a "pleasant and appropriately moist" summer.

Looks like we're about to get more rain.

At least it's not like last summer, where the temp went into the high 90's in late May and stayed there, with several leaps into the 100's, until mid-September.

Even my yarrow, a heat and drought hardy cultivar if ever there was one, nearly died. Had to cut it all way back.

One other odd garden note: The japanese beetles have disappeared! When I got back from vacation they had eaten my climbing 'New Dawn' to shreds. I put out the sugar water as Wilbrod suggested.

No beetles in the water or on the rose. I have new buds opening without assault. The morning glory leaves are surviving.

I know this is all too good to be true. But it's weird. There were hundreds of them on the rose last Sunday -- but as I recall, most of them were dead. I thought this was a bit odd.

Last year they ate heartily well into July, even after mating season.

I'm replacing the now diluted sugar water though -- I know they'll be back.

One more creepy note about insects and global warming -- there was a story on one of the cable channels last week about a road in Idaho that had become extremely hazardous . . . millions (billions?) of crickets had appeared out of nowhere -- there were so many dead ones crushed by tires on the road it was as slick as oil.

The video feed was out of a horror flick. The road and surrounding environs absolutely covered with crickets -- brown, creeping landscape.


Posted by: nelson | June 28, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Bill Gates only had one year of college, and there are a lot of successful businessmen with only a HS degree-- so I always am suspicious of those statistics, thinking the average is likely skewed by successful salesmen, businessmen, and people with specialized training (chefs, etc.).
And, of course, minimum wage in places such as NYC where people who work at Home depot take home 50K a year, and 50K won't get you an apt in NYC.

Mind you, I see some jobs for technical writers that take a HS degree and 10 years of experience that might pay within that range, in this area.

Science ain't the way to be rich unless you're into chemistry and selling your soul to the drug companies ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

It's still better than the boarding schools that Dickens and Charlotte Bronte wrote about.

Get out the hearts and flowers and weeping violins:

1947. Ursuline Academy Boarding School for Girls. Nighttime. The "little girls" dorm. 25 beds in a row filled with girls ages 5-6. I can't breathe. I have a terrible hacking cough and can't seem to get enough air in my lungs. It feels as though I'm drowning. Reverend Mother Dorothy comes storming out of her cubicle headed straight for my bed, her face contorted in anger; a frightening sight in her never before seen nightgown. This Angel of Divine Mercy leans over, just inches from my face and I notice for the first time the hair on her upper lip, and hisses "If you cough just one more time I'm going to knock your block off!" I had no idea what my "block" was, but didn't want it knocked off, so I turned over, buried my face in my pillow and prayed my Hey Marys with a vengeance. Good old Mary didn't let me down.

Posted by: Nani | June 28, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"Hey Marys"?

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, no. 1 g-girl thought it was "Hey" Mary when I first taught her the Hail Mary.

Posted by: Nani | June 28, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Ah, so not um, variant theology at that school, eh?

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

PLS -- 2 cents alert. Before putting in new carpet and dry wall, consider having a plumber put in a back-flow preventer. The plumber will probably have to jack hammer some floor and cut out a section of drain pipe, but the BF preventer will elimintae future waste overflows.

Posted by: untethered | June 28, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, you are very wise! I figured that it was only a matter of time before I got discovered. I just knew that there were more parents out there that enjoyed humor, and I'm willing to bet that there are a few others that post to both blogs under different names. Here's a memmorable story that came from the camping trip:
Right after we set up camp, my son wanted to go fishing with a new found friend. I set up the fishing pole and sent him along.
He came back a half hour later. No fish, just bites he claimed, probably mosquitos. When I got the pole back, it was severely tangled. I don't know how he did it, but the line was wrapped around the bail and it had even gotten inside the mechanics of the reel. What a mess, it took me 20 minutes to fix it up.
Next morning, I'm teaching teenage daughter how to fix a rig, worm the hook, and cast with a spinning reel. Daughter does great job. We begin hauling in fish without crossing lines. That lake they have up there is fisherman's heaven. It's like it's impossible not to catch fish.
Then my son comes up to us riding on his bicycle. Once again, my chance to be a real Dad and teach my kid the pasttime I used to love so much. So I try to sho him how to flip the bail, hold the line with 1 finger and make a soft cast out in the water. But he would have none of that. He grabbed the pole out of my hand, and said "I know! I know", like I had just insulted his ability to do such a simple task.
So he winds up like he's gonna hit a homer. . I heard the swish of the pole as he casted out and I waited to hear the weight and worm plunge into the water. What I heard instead was my daughter laughing so hard she had trouble reeling in the next fish she had on her line. The weight had hit him in the back of the head and worm guts were spattered in his hair. I laughed good and hard... that was until I had to untangle the line, which was exactly the way it was when he gave it to me the day before. the kid needs serious training!

Posted by: Pat | June 28, 2006 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I want a back-flow preventer installed on my TV for all those political speeches.

Thanks for the jargon, untethered!
(And PLS-- sooooo sorry for your basement.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

*removing back-flow valve from boodle*

There, that should open things up.

Interesting update from Ruth Marcus on the Duke matter in today's WP.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Back-flow preventer, a true story:

Several years ago, we had a firefighter back flow aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), the stuff that is used to put aircraft fires, into the water system at the airport. Old truck, not paying attention to what he was doing, etc, etc.

AFFF is basically industrial-strength bubble bath. Not good to have in the water supply, but not going to seriously harm anyone in diluted quantities.

The Utilities folks went nuts and we had political uproar for several days. As things calmed down, a friend at the airport fire station took a call from the public. It's okay to use the toilet, she told the caller, then was convulsed when she heard him yell to others, "It's okay to drink the water out of the toilet!"

Yes, all fire apparatus now have backflow prevention devices on them.

Posted by: slyness | June 28, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

mo's got some sort of network problems, but asked that I post this in her stead:


bc pinch hittin' for mo

Posted by: bc for mo | June 28, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Aye, cute.

I wonder if one day it'll be proven that China has zillions of those pandas and they have just been yanking the chain of the world over them being endangered? ;). They did a recent feces study and found that an area had 77 pandas instead of the 23 thought. That's a massive undercount.

(Maybe they were too busy going "ooo-cute! And GET UP THE TREE! to do proper panda-identification?)

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the pandas haven't installed back flow preventers.

The recent feces study in PLS' basement indicated that 13,425 people lived there.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I believe the pandas did install a back flow preventer, but it recently broke.

Posted by: omni | June 28, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes. Poor PLS. And she can't even charge rent ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Changing topics from feces studies...

Done Dawkins' book (and also Haldeman's - bc, that was a fun read). Wilbrod, recommendations for a book on human evolution?

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

>They did a recent feces study and found that an area had 77 pandas instead of the 23 thought. That's a massive undercount.

I think the trick is to genetically-engineer a really cute critter and plant them somewhere. Then you find them and get to study them for 10 years. What a a gig...

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 28, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Gawsh-- the last thing I read was a book on language evolution called "The Unfolding of Language" by Guy Diestcher (sp?).

A good read but you have to dig linguistics to like it, very detailed analysis of grammar changes. It is not a "flowery" read and might be a sleeping pill for some (but it kept me engrossed).

I learned a few things about English I didn't know. The man's speciality is in semitic languages and he explains the origins behind the "4 letter consonantal roots" in Hebrew, arabic, etc.

As I surmised, it arose from condensation of more complex words, and then analogy such as we say "wake, woke, wakened-" and by analogy we started saying bake, boke, bakened ;)...

Or shat after "sit, sat..."

That book absolutely does not mention any sign language at all, but the principles are perfectly valid and active in ASL as well.

For a lovely, simply lovely read of cultural evolution-- Jared Diamond's "Gun, germs, and Steel" (probably covered that one).

And for general evolution, try "The Beak of the Finch".

The descriptions of flooding will only hit too close to home right now ;). has some recomendations.

I read "from Lucy to Language" , I recognize the cover, but unfortunately I can't remember what was in it-- probably not a good sign as to its merits.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for that, Error.

I'm going to discover a wild caniod that happens to resemble a cross between a golden retriever and a fox, with opposable thumbs, retractable claws, a prehensile tail and a cute facial mask.

This animal will seem to exist almost exclusively on moss, ivy, mice and rats.

Wait a minute, pandas have opposable thumbs (really wrist bones).

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I have an article somewhere in my library published (I think) in the Bulletin of the Philosophical Society of Washington, around 1885 or so. The paper's author was none other than Alexander Graham Bell.

Apparently, there was a debate at that time as to whether or not ASL (or it precursor) was really a symbolic language, or just imitating actions and gesturing. It seems that a prominent idea then was that deaf people were incapable of the cognitive processes necessary to understand language, and that they therefore could not learn to speak or understand English.

Bell, in the paper, concluded (with numerous examples) that sign language was, in fact, a language, and that deaf people should have no significant difficulty in learning English or any other language (through lip reading).

Incidentally, it was taken as a given that sign language was not desirable. Bell was impressed that the deaf community had essentially invented their own language, but felt that signing shouldn't be taught because it would make assimilation into society harder.

Posted by: Dooley | June 28, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Ah, found the reference.

Bell, A. G., 1884. Fallacies concerning the deaf, and the influence of such fallicies in preventing the amelioration of their condition. Bulletin of the Philosophical Society of Washington, Volume 6, p. 48-77, with discussion on 77-86.

Posted by: Dooley | June 28, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the English langwitch, I know we're not s'posed to endorse products, but I'm a big fan of the tapes and CDs put out by the Learning Company. At the moment, I'm on my second pass through "William Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies" taught by the great Prof. Peter Saccio, and "History of the English Language" taught by Prof. Seth Lehrer. Both are on special sale at the moment at

(I got the pair of them as a father's day gift a few weeks ago.) The best part of the Lehrer tape is his discussion of the "Great Vowel Shift" in the English language between Chaucer's time and Shakespeare's, and the inclusion of Norman, Saxon, Dutch, Scandanavian/Viking and French words into what became English. (Why we often have two words for the same thing, fox and vixen, beef and cow, cat and feline, lamb and sheep, etc.)

Saccio is great, too, and his best section is on the death of Falstaff in Henry V. Wow.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 28, 2006 3:20 PM | Report abuse

A slow day in the Boodle, so having a little extra time, I posted a new blog item over at the 10thcircle:

Glad you liked that Haldeman book SoC (it was "Forever War" wasn't it?). Interesting coincidence with Joel's F-bomb item, isnt' it?


Posted by: bc | June 28, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, aren't some of the English variants more specific descriptions? Cow is technically, of course, the female, but in any case the animal, while beef is (unless you're using rancher slang) the product. Lamb is baby for sheep. Vixen is a female fox (again, leaving slang aside, though I suppose that "fox" meaning attractive applies to both sexes, never mind).

I find it interesting that you can often tell the Saxon words because they are shorter and simpler. Good thing they weren't Welsh.

Sorry to be persnickety -- I'm trying to wrangle a bunch of words into making a sensible paragraph and it has me cranky.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 28, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Remarkable, because Pei in 1920's said that sign systems had enough distinct movements to support a language, but never said more than that.

It was not until the 1950's when William Stokoe (now dead) PROVED ASL was a language.

I am not surprised Bell was aware of ASL-- he was fluent in it and by accounts "a wicked signer".

The problem with the oralist approach is that by removing sign, it actually robbed deaf people of normal language learning. Not what Bell intended, I believe, since as the son of a speech teacher and a deaf woman, he was certainly of the belief that deaf people were able to learn to speak and master language fully.

Oralists claimed that sign would impede the ability to speak, by removing motivation to speak.

The fact is, if gesture was so much more easier and attractive over speech, we'd still be gesturing, not flapping our gums. It is impossible for a child not to perceive the advantages of speech.

In fact, I'm more concerned about the social skill deficits in people who have been deprived of the key part of social life-- normal two-way conversation, in any form.

I know too many HoH and late deafened people who show dysfunctional communicative strategies and body language issues. It's not their signing skill because I have taught hearing people to sign and they have different aspects to their "accents".

I've heard from many hard of hearing people that when they learned sign at Gallaudet it seemed to make them much better at speaking, probably because they were able to develop more normal conversational strategies and better "read" of the other person.

I have a friend who grew up HoH and she has different social dysfunctions than I do (I'm definitely dysfunctional, trust me, or I wouldn't live in a cupboard).

She has great speech, so she comes off as rude not disabled when she ignores people, spaces out, being inept in breaking the ice, lack of appropriate body language, overbluffing.

It's a worse handicap than if she had been allowed to learn sign and to interact with other signers, while receiving minimal speech therapy to keep her speech skills up as a child.

After all as a hearing friend told me when I yelled FORD OFF at a vendor in another country (he did).

That my intent, inflection, and body language was very clear. Alas, the actual pronuncation was more FUH UH.


Posted by: wilbrod | June 28, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

If people are doing doctorate work on examining scat...

*wait for it*

They're writing feces theses???


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 28, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Some of the distinctions you are making, ivansmom, have crept into the language over time, but originally were pretty much synonomous, reflecting two different inputs. What's the difference beween laying "side of beef" and "side of cow"? None. "Deer" and "venison" are another example. IIRC, the main difference was, we tend to use the French/Norman variants when describing the food (beef from boef, venison, etc.) but keep the Anglo-Saxon/pre-Norman version for the animal itself.

(Maybe it was lamb versus veal, not lamb versus sheep; I forget. But something like that. Anyway, Lehrer is terrific.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 28, 2006 3:46 PM | Report abuse


-n used to be the plural ending in anglo-saxon.

We still have it in "brethern and sistern; child (formerly akin to Kinder in german) and Childern"

Vixen is from a regional dialect where foxes were still voxen.

(Cf. German Volk vs English "Folk")

In shakespeare's time, London dialect won the struggle to be THE model of English.

In Chaucer's time there were many dialect words in wide use-- for instance "egg" vs "een".

Not until the inroads of TV did British English begin to lose a lot of entrenched rural dialects that had persisted since the Norman Conquest ;).

Beef, veal, mutton are from the French words-- the nobles got the animals served up on the table and let their overseers and stewards actually talk about the live animals on the hoof to the peasants ;). So they developed a dual language... "Oui, Sieur, boeuf on le table today."

And then to the farmer. "Slaughter yon steer now, His Lawdship be wanting some BEEF on tonight."

"But it's my milk cow, not a steer."

"Aaach, he don't know a cow from a bull anyhow."

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I would recommend Steven Pinker to anyone interested in language:

The Language Instinct : How the Mind Creates Language

Words and Rules : The Ingredients of Language

Posted by: omni | June 28, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge. That is truly interesting. I wonder about use of the French variants for food, given the traditional admiration of French culinary skills as opposed to British (unfair, no doubt, but real). One thing I love about English is the way we got to pick and choose in developing the language, and still do to some extent.

Now if you could only help me with this pesky paragraph. . . really, it is not the words themselves so much as what I'm trying to make them say. Some days I wish I were Humpty Dumpty and could just pay them off.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 28, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "laying"??? Jeez. Make that "saying." Don't know where my mind is.

Well, actually, I do, but let's not go there.

Off-line, bc and I are having an e-mail exchange on the merits of the Outer Banks. Makes me wish I was there.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 28, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

And then there are the three verbs for the same action: rise, mount, ascend.

In keeping with the f-bomb boodle, I have been led to understand that many four-letter words in English are of Anglo-Saxon origin. Similar simple words for the same functions are not considered obscene in other languages. Again, the impact of Norman French.

Posted by: slyness | June 28, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

My bible remains to this day:

"Our Marvelous Native Tongue" the life and times of the English language, by Robert Claiborne.
Every page teaches you new vocabulary in colorful form.
Kind of like Mudge's sea shanties, and he also discusses burgeoning dialects, American, Indian, Australian, and creole English.

You'll learn never to say "sorry me pushim wife-belong you" in a creole-English speaking country. Out of print probably, but worth hunting for.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Alright, Mr. Smarty Pants Curmudgeon,

What's the answer to this question?

How did a British colonial official first realize that languages spoken from Britain to India were deeply related?

And want exactly does Seth of Stanford say about Chaucer--more or less?

Posted by: Loomis | June 28, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Error: >I think the trick is to genetically-engineer a really cute critter and plant them somewhere. Then you find them and get to study them for 10 years. What a a gig...

My wife and I are currently 8 months into this exact project. Turns out its unpaid work, but satisfying nonetheless.

Wilbrod, thanks again for recommendations. I'll also be trying to track down the Aubrey novels recently discussed.

bc, your blog item was truly inspired.

Mudge, legal history has a lot of that too. The expression "null and void" is an example of trying to express the same thing for both the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Voxen. Now that's a great word. How could we (culturally, en masse) have given up such a great word? I vote to bring it back. Errol, could you consider expanding your Great Hedgehog Operation to include voxen?

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 28, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Here's a simple quote from Claiborne

"The truth is that if borrowing foreign words could destroy a language, English would be dead (borrowed from Old Norse), deceased (from French), defunct (from Latin) and kaput (from German). When it comes to borrowing, English excels (from French) and eclipses (from Greek) any other tongue, past or present. (1983, p. 4)"

He forgot "croaked" which is probably from Dutch.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

In William Manchester's 3-vol. biography of Churchill ("The Last Lion") he does about three pages on Churchill's use of language and the great speeches (people forget or don't know that Churchill once won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his History of the English-Speaking People). Manchester's insight was that Churchill's speeches always picked relatively simple words that had Latin origins, often of only one syllable ("I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat"), which is how they got their great power. This Churchill did consciously--it wasn't just some inate rhetorical skill, but something he worked at.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 28, 2006 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Ah, congs SoC. Although you're stuck for 18 years and a lot of expenses.

While the idea Dooley had was to get PAID to investigate the lifeform. ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

O.K., I admit to, in the last several days, picking up in the discount-books stacks of my local bookseller, the book, "The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten" by Jeffrey Kacirk (he, of Marin County). Oh, the sounds of these lost nuggets!

I like this one:
Bush has gone to the bumwhush!

Ruin, obscurity, annihilation. When anything has made a noise for some time, and it is then quashed, it is said to have "gone to the bumwhush." This is often the way with people of great popularity; they have their day and then go to the bumwhush.

Spuddle is good, too: To go about a trifling business as if it were a matter of grave importance. To assume airs of importance without occasion.

Posted by: Loomis | June 28, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the only latin-based word in that sentence is "offer" (possibly via French).

Everything else is pretty much pure Anglo-Saxon.

But "language purification" can be carried too far as in "nottobethoughtuponable" as a "native" replacement for "inconceivable!"

The Princess Bride just wouldn't have been the same without that line.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Spuddle is great. I'm going to be talking about penguins spuddling henceforth.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, my guess would be on the lines of the plot of Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King.

But it could be anything.

For a Lummus will go wherever she can see
From Lomax A to Lomax Z
From Rajastan's desert to the cold North Sea
Spreading Indo languages wherever she may be

Sorry. Got carried away by the Dr. Seuss thing again. Won't happen again. Sorry.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I like spuddle. "Skadoot" is a good one too. Mixture of skeedaddle and scoot. And "perzackly", mixture of precisely and exactly.

Posted by: Nani | June 28, 2006 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I interrupt this boodle to report that I just received an email in which a colleague used the word "ouroboros." (Believe it or not, this was actually work related.)

Thanks to the Achenblog, I was able to offer a rapid (if not particularly witty) rejoinder. Next I'll have to start working in spuddle (no time to actually read the boodle today to see what other gems lie within).

Posted by: silvertongue | June 28, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Most recent conversation with my husband:

Me: So, they're going to rip up the linoleum in my closet, right?

Him: Why would they do that?

Me: Because the sewer water came through the wall and underneath the linoleum in there.

Him: But there's just concrete underneath it. They'll treat it. I'm sure it will be fine.

Me: But won't there be left over particulate matter?

Him: You mean poop?

Me: Yes, that's what I mean. Won't it be trapped underneath the lineoleum.

Him: It will be treated. No poop is going to escape from under the floor and jump on your clothes.

Me: But! Poop! In my closet! Needs to be gone! (I'm getting slightly hysterical now).

Him: Your clothes are not going to have migratory poop on them.

Me: Just talk to them about it, OK?

Posted by: PLS | June 28, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Englishmen once had a classical education, consisting of Greek, Lation, and how to build a nation.

One of them happened to browse through Sanskrit, and once he knew the script, it was plain to see that many words echoed those from Greece.

Also, Sanskrit had enough cases to pack up Latin and Greek in, and enough declinsions for grammaricans to have fun.

Penta was Pancha in sanskrit, which does have more panache than the Latinly Quint or the English five.
Mother was mata in sanskrit, showing it to be a mother to all other tongues, and father was pitir, making the connection even better.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Pita, or pitar (sorry).

Did that answer Loomis' question, though?

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I think in Bell's time they didn't have a good idea of the importance of teaching language at a young age. I think the idea was that if a person was of normal intelligence, they could learn a language at any age.

Alas that that's not true, as I struggle to learn Spanish for my Peruvian work (of course, it's not like I'm all that fluent in English, either).

I suspect that Bell was an oralist, at least to a degree (and I guess those views persist to a large degree even today). Where he differed from many of his contemporaries was in realizing that deafness does not correlate with intelligence.

Posted by: Dooley | June 28, 2006 4:26 PM | Report abuse


Two words that will keep you out of the ocean forever: sea lice.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 28, 2006 4:27 PM | Report abuse

>Ah, congs SoC. Although you're stuck for 18 years and a lot of expenses.

>While the idea Dooley had was to get PAID to investigate the lifeform. ;).

I like the sound of that! But isn't it illegal in most states?

Posted by: Dooley | June 28, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse

PLS, now you know why I smelled bleach when you described your situation. I applied GALLONS of it when faced with my own.

Silvertongue, thanks for making my day.

yellojkt... you're a rascal.


Posted by: bc | June 28, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

The language is also called devanagari (related to the words for divine + graf, graph to write)-- the writing of the gods.

The Sanskrit verb "to give" is Dadti, datte, dadau, dade...

This has a clear relation to Latin: Dare, do, datum, data, donatum, and Greek Didomi, (dithdwmi), Dido...)

In other words, it was blindingly obvious if you had the classical education.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Two words that will keep you out of the ocean...or crowded bars:

Great White

Posted by: Martin Brody | June 28, 2006 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Hm-m-m. I like spuddle. Works very well in some current news stories. "Consider all this spuddle over the NYT story on financial transactions." I also like a term from down under (relating to the F-bomb kit)-- "That guy's a f**kwit." Demonstrably more descriptive than simply "idiot".

Posted by: ebtnut | June 28, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I read yellojkt's link and had the usual hypochondriac reaction: "sense of malaise", wait a minute, (i) I (/i) have a sense of malaise! Somehow these sea lice are travelling inland thousands of miles!

I note this very sensible advice however:

"Women should consider two-piece instead of one-piece bathing suits, to reduce the surface area of swimwear that could trap larvae. It is possible that smooth, tight weave bathing suits may trap fewer larvae than suits with an open-weave fabric."

Ladies, think of your health. This concludes my public service announcement.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Spuddle. Wow. I have SO many appropriate uses for that right now. Thanks, Loomis! The voxen and I will spuddle along now. . .

PLS, INSIST on the linoleum removal. Even if "treatment" was in fact effective (which I have difficulty believing), you'll never look at your closet the same way again. Peace of mind is an important factor in quality of life (and marriage, remind your husband). Rip it up yourself if you must; it isn't hard and you can get nifty self-stick tiles from any giant home repair store as replacements, if you must.

Hope your relatives enjoy their stay in a hotel room.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 28, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Anything that is classified to reveal illegal activity is wrong and deserves to be exposed. However, it should be known that there is a cost anytime classified information is revealed. The system will respond. Polygraphs may become more frequent. A two hour structured interview may become eight. Informal working relationships between agencies may breakdown due to previously-ignored security technicalities. The time needed to bring in badly needed new personnel will increase. All of this makes it much more difficult for people who have clearances to get anything done. While the hysterical claims that recently uncovered programs will kill people are overblown, there is still a serious cost.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 28, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom -

Unfortunately, I lost the Battle of Where the Relatives Will Stay yesterday. Words like "selfish" were thrown in my general direction, and I caved. My only hope is that they will come and see how bad it is - and dash out the door for the nearest hotel.

I'm trying to keep my sense of humor about it - others in this area have lost far more and are in much worse situations. Plus, I have a happy hour to attend in an hour!

Posted by: PLS | June 28, 2006 4:48 PM | Report abuse

One begs to differ, my dear Wilbrod. "Have" from habeo, habere!!! (Habeus corpus!!! Never mind what your Frog-tainted dictionary says; it's wrong. You heard it here first.) Toil from tudiculare (but yes, then through French), sweat from sudare (earlier from Greek, and then filtered through Old English), "I" from ego (which also comes from the Greek ego, admittedly, then through the German ich and old English ic, to just "I"--I don't know this for a fact, but I'd guess the Dutch had a role in sanding off the final "ch" sound so ich or aych became just aye and then I, since the Dutch influence tended to smooth out a lot of harder Germanic sounds).

Loomis, no doubt you refer to the noted jurist and philographer Sir William Jones? But I don't know the specific anecdote about how he made the discovery; just know he went to India and translated a lot of stuff, and thereby made the connection between Sanskrit and Latin/Greek, Persian, etc. But let me take a wild guess here: is he, by any remote chance, related to the Loomis clan? Just swinging blindly on that one, mind you.

Can't immediately recall or paraphrase Lehrer on Chaucer (I'm not a big Chaucer fan anyway, so probably drowsed through portions of it. Hated all the Chaucer stuff in college. The Bard's my guy. But being an Oxfordian, you'd hate what Saccio says about you folks.)

Another excellent study of English language history is the one by Robert McNeil, former half of McNeil-Lehrer (Jim Lehrer, that is), which was also a PBS special series that was quite good. I've read Pei, but he just puts me to sleep.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 28, 2006 4:48 PM | Report abuse

You might want to ask your dear hubby to get his sense of smell tested, as well ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

RD: That's all well and good, but the current administration has taken paranoia to new levels. Even classifying materials that had been declassified and in the public domain for YEARS!! I'd like to think that responsible journalists have some degree of knowledge about what is demonstrably dangerous versus stuff that some flunky in the Justice Department justs whacks a "Secret" stamp on because it's easier than thinking.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 28, 2006 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and PLS, by all means get the tile up. My last note for the day. Home to a cable-less TV. Time for Blockbuster, I guess. We hate Comcast.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 28, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I agree ebnut. My point is about the impact leaks have on the system, not about the impact of the leaked information itself. Even if the information leaked is not harmful, the system still responds in the manner I described. This makes it much harder to accomplish legitimate goals. A responsible journalist needs to keep this hidden cost in mind.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 28, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

ebtnut not ebnut. Sorry

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 28, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Padouk, ya gotta read Froomkin's column today on exactly how "secret" Swift is. Seems they have their own Web site (, are a mjaor sponsor of a banking trade show, and oh, yeah, they publish their own magazine, fer' cryin' out loud. Nothing like keeping a low profile.

I have one major conundrum about the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld mind-set: if they think al Qaeda is so freakin' dumb that they didn't know about Swift, how come we've been fighting those supposed retards for three years and still haven't whupped them?

I'm certain Padouk knows this more than about 99% of the rest of us: the absolute dumbest thing you can do is "misunderestimate" your enemy, and assume he doesn't know something.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 28, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - Although I have no knowledge of this program, I agree that it was probably not harmful in and of itself. I don't know if I am not communicating my point well. Even if it doesn't hurt anything to touch Daddy's tools, none of the kids like being grounded.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 28, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Salud, PLS. Have a drink or two and all will be rosy.

Between PLS's leak and Padouk's leaks, I'm getting topic whiplash. Uncanny how the same word can mean such very different things in context, eh? Oh no, now I've strayed into the "langage" section of the Boodle, from "secrets" and "Plumbing/rain/sewage".

Everything is connected.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 28, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Heard on the news (radio? NPR?...don't remember the source) that al Qaeda operatives have known for some time that w've been looking at their electronic financial data transactions and wire transfers. As a result, for some time now, they (terrorists) have been using human couriers to physically transport cash. This all taking place long before the NYT broke the story.

Which seems like a big GOP flapdoodle over nothing, if the above info is true.

Posted by: Loomis | June 28, 2006 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Actually the Latin habeo seems to be a borrowing from the Germanic.

"Chariot, cart, carriage, carry, car, carrier" are all from a latin word carrus which is actually a borrowing from CELTIC for wagon.

You gotta watch out for those sneaky ones.

I'll give you the other ones, but not "I" or blood.
"I" am from Ich/Ik* related to Ego but both hail from Indo-european, with an extrapolated form hego

Likewise, Thou is equalivent to Latin tu but NOT derived from latin Tu.

"We" comes from a different plural than than "Noster" of Latin.

This is because IE had two different plurals for the concept.

When you think about it, "We" means 3 things in english.

We= you and me; we= you and he/they, not you; We= us all.

Blood hearkens to the blood-thirsty germanics. Latin is "sanguinus" and french "sang."

BTW, not many Latin-based words ever get spelled with a double oo in English. The Romans wrote with long and short vowels, not double vowels.

(So foot, hood, food, etc... NOT latin. Zoo is from Greek, not Latin. oocyte, ditto-- Latin is ova)

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

In the end after checking, Churchill's "I have nothing to OFFER but blood, TOIL, sweat, and tears".

Only "offer" is direct from the Latin. "toil" is from the french, ultimately from Latin Tula (web).

He finishes that speech with:

and I say, "come then, let us go forward together with our united strength."

(united is the only Latin based word here).

Mudge, don't go telling us that suds are the same as sweat!!!

(Beer IS from latin for drink--Bibere.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, no Sir William Jones on the family tree. The Loomises have this quirk of religious zeal--have missionaries who trotted the globe--Hawaiian Islands, Africa, Japan, India.

Did find another Loomis descendant the other day, besides Confucious Loomis, who dealt with Confucius--translated him:

Ezra Loomis Pound:

Beginning in 1913 with the notebooks of the Orientalist Ernest Fenollosa, he pursued a lifelong study of ancient Chinese texts, and translated among others the writings of Confucius. Pound's translations based on Fenollosa's notes, collected in CATHAY (1915), are considered among the most beautiful of his writings.

Posted by: Loomis | June 28, 2006 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, "Flapdoodle over nothing"= more undermining of American's rights not to be searched without a warrant in quest of terrorists.

"Ah well, never mind then." If they appeal to the IRS-hating voters as their base, doubt their base'll take having their bank accounts open to government scrutiny without cause none too kindly.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

We need a satirical political music group called "They Might be Terrorists".

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Still gotta dispute ya, Wilbrod. I think think you're waaaay overtinking this. First, I never claimed "blood" in the first place. And "carry" wasn't even under discussion. I also don't think very many celtic OR German words crept into Latin, since the vast majority of Latin words were in use well before the Romans got into Germania, and most certainly not in England. Yes, a few might, very late in the Roman period. And the German you refer to is generally regarded as "High German," which would have also post-dated most of the Roman period, I would suspect.

But in any event, the ultimate question is, how much of any of this did Churchill know? My point--and I think Manchester's point--is that Churchill studied Latin, and would have thought the words he picked came from Latin. The fact that any one might have some damn root way further back is immaterial. Churchill--and any other schoolboy of the period--would have thought the words were Latinate, would have been familiar with them as Latinate, and used them as such.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 28, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Bibere probably also gives us the word "imbibe," I suspect.

Posted by: Loomis | June 28, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

And woe - the oldest word around, unchanged in millenia from Indo-European.

Posted by: Slyness | June 28, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of sea lice, I've finally uploaded some video from the diving we did in Fiji last fall.

I ventured out onto the bike trail this afternoon and must publicly commend Arlington County for its prompt cleanup of the W&OD trail along Four Mile Run. In short, the path had been totally cleared-- trees removed, silt scraped, zero obstacles. Rode my 20 miles without having to get off my bike once. It was like the rains never happened, except that it smelled rather like PLS's basement down by the Potomac at Gravely Point. (Sorry PLS! Yuck!)

Posted by: Pixel | June 28, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Pound was a Loomis, LindaLoo? Don't know if I'd claim him, if I were you. He's rather notorious, if we are discussing the noted poet and Communist sympathizer.

Posted by: Slyness | June 28, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I think Mudge's first point on Churchill is the key; he spent a lot of time on his speeches with a view to their presentation. In that regard, I suspect that he sought short, functional words regardless of origin. His bias, due to his background, would have been latinate.

A favorite quotation of Churchill. After receiving a Minute issued by a civil servant, objecting to the ending of a sentence with a preposition and the use of a dangling participle in official documents, Churchill red pencilled in the margin: "This is the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put."

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Churchill excelled in English and history, not Latin.

This is the guy who wrote "Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples", right?

Review: " Churchill makes the reader understand how the societies of the English-speaking peoples, their institutions and their language have evolved over a course of almost two thousand years."

This sounds like a guy who could quote from Beowulf.

However, his writing and oratorial style has been supposedly modelled after Cicero. That doesn't mean he went out of his way to use Latinate words, just that he knew good stuff when he heard it. His French was atrocious as well.

"During some delicate negotions at Casablanca, the stubborn Charles de Gaulle denounced an Allied plan to fuse him and his rival, French general Henri Giraud. Churchill, glaring at the Gaulle, delivered this concoction: "Si vous m'obstaclerez, je vous liquiderai!" (If you obstacle me, I will liquidate you!) A bewildered de Gaulle backed off. "

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Well, I just used Wilbrod's link to amazon to buy "Our Marvelous Native Tongue." I adore languages and the evolution of English through the centuries is always a topic that gets my blood pressure up.

Loomis, I actually remember reading somewhere about how it was that a British officer figured out the shared history of the Indo-Europen languages -- but I can't remember where -- or what it was that clued him in. Word similarities of some kind (duh).

Padouk -- Ron Suskind has a new book out about Cheney's influence in the White House, and how al Qaeda is adapting to our techniques (like monitoring financial transactions). I just ordered it today too.

al Qaeda figured out a number of years ago that we were monitoring their finanical transactions. We caught a number of people this way.

I've read articles on how they've turned to the old Arab system of moving money by messenger (hawsa, I believe). They are literally moving cash by hand. I've read about their being squeezed because of our crackdown on finances. This wasn't really a secret.

Saw Suskind on Hardball.

The reason the Times and others reported the story is that once again, the administration is not using the courts to obtain information. They could easily get subpeonas for the info they were seeking -- but they decided to do this outside the normal legal process.

Suskind's greater point was that we are not adapting to al Qaeda's newer modes of operation. The monitoring of financial transactions had actually reached the point of diminishing returns. And it was no secret to terrorist financiers.

I'll have to read the book to see what he has to say about other ways we aren't adapting. He posed it as a hunter/hunted struggle. The hunted always adapts to the ways of the hunter. He thinks that the hunter hasn't caught on to this.

In my own humble opinion the potential for abuse of programs of surveillance and financial monitoring done without court review, subpeonas, etc. is great.

In anyone's hands. No oversight at all. No one really knows how many transactions have been reviewed. Ditto with the warrantless wiretaps and such. There isn't any check on power.

The huge, outsized howl about this (comparisons to the Rosenburgs!)seems geared to cranking up the base. But it's so over the top, it's a bit scary.

Just my two cents worth.

Posted by: nelson | June 28, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, you are correct on imbibe.

Yes, Churchill wanted raw words that would grip his hearers, not persiflage.

The purported quote also comes in a "bloody nonsense" form, instead of "pedantry".

Here's a nice quote that has only a few Latin words.

I notice the use of kinetic verbs, quite a few "b" words.

Note the change from plain English to more latin/french words as he describes the New Dark Age. "Sinister... protracted...perverted Science." VERY GOOD. Especially with the p's and hissed esses. The parallelism helps.

'Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, the whole world, including the Unites States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, "This was their finest hour."

Posted by: wilbrod | June 28, 2006 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, funny. I heard that quote as follows:

"Si vous me double-crosserez, je vous liquidaterai"

>Churchill excelled in English and history, not Latin.

Excel in latin - maybe not, but the typical Edwardian "grounding" in latin would probably seem scholarly now. Also, you can't excel in English and history without Romans, Normans and Popish plots.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 5:51 PM | Report abuse

y'all are making me feel illiterate! Geez! I've spent waaay to much time reading natural science and such.

My German is decent after a couple of days of conversing with native speakers. I can read and write it with the use of a dictionary.

But I ain't never spent time readin' 'bout Churchill and his Latin.

I've only skimmed the very surface on history of English. I did read Chaucer in Middle English -- my knowledge of German helped me out quite a bit here.

But I forget what the Miller's Tale was!!


Posted by: nelson | June 28, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse


Is this current biology project the very first Achenkiddie? Achenbabe?

Ah yes Achenbabe.

Posted by: dr | June 28, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

A quick note on financial transactions. I've seen a bit of info on hawsa as well, and it isn't even hand carrying but rather like the Templar (listening, Loomis?) system of guarantees. Not a current adaptation. I recall Bergen's book on OBL on this subject.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Nelson--re-read the Miller's tale again. It's worth it-- especially in modernized spelling. Very dirty and funny, including "riding out the new flood" in a bathtub due to a trick.

I wish I had some knowledge of German, but I'm having enough problems remembering

"Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens" and "Auf wiedersehen"

I learned much more snappy sayings when i took Latin.

"Ad aspera ad astra!"
"Sic semper tyrannis!"
"de arma ad toga"
"hic jacit"
"Veni, vidi, vinci"

Ah well.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Dr, such language! And after Achen- was proposed as an alternative to less genteel words, too!

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Whilst in Australia I learned that a baby echidna is called a puggle.
Who'da thunk?

Posted by: Achenfan | June 28, 2006 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I have just discovered that both of my beloved tomato plants, including the celebrated Mr Stripey, are suffering from water wilt.

I am horrified beyond belief. Perhaps they will still recover.

What an ironic end if not.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 28, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks dr, this is indeed first and prime, following on the language discussion.

nelson, there is an abridged version of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples that is very manageable (somehow condensing it to about 300-400 pages).

"beer" is apparently from bibere, but I was thinking after that that "brew" must be from the same source as "ich brauche"(sp?). My Oxford says its from Old English "breowan", of germanic origin.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan, Mr. Puggles would be a great name for a pug or English bulldog.

Puggle would be a good handle too.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 6:13 PM | Report abuse

SoC, The mystery is unrevealed of why you're practicing your Dr. Seuss, then.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

SCC: revealed. Although since you don't have the kid yet, I guess "unrevealed" is correct.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, oh, we're 8 months into the experiment with the live subject (ethics board be damned), not just the preparation stage.

Not quite at Dr. Seuss stage yet though. I'm looking forward to singing 18th century German drinking songs in the future as well.

Incidentally, I thought "Achenbabe" was funny after the last boodle as well.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 28, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

This one has a picture. Mudge, could this be what happened to your plants?

The horror. Done in by H20.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 28, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

That evil substance...Monohydrogen dioxide.


Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Remember again our motto:

"Nimbulae Inexplicabilae Sunt"

Clouds are hard to explain.

May I add to that:

Nimbulae inimicae sunt

Clouds are the Enemy...

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 28, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

slyness, Ezra Pound wasn't a comm symp; he was a fascist symp (was in Italy during WWII, was a big fan of Moussolini).

Padouk, I think you may be right about the water wilt. I just checked Mr. Stripey--his top is nearly gone, but the bottom most two branches look pretty good, so he may be recovering.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 28, 2006 7:11 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a very important point so I want to try explaining it again.

Anytime a security leak occurs, the system reacts. It doesn't matter if the leak is important or trivial. The security bureaucracy will take whatever steps are deemed necessary to prevent more leaks from happening. Polygraphs may become more frequent. A two hour structured interview may become eight. Informal working relationships between agencies may breakdown due to previously-ignored security technicalities. The time needed to bring in badly needed new personnel will increase. All of this makes it much more difficult for people who have clearances to get anything done.

Responsible journalism mandates an appreciation of this.

Now I must go grieve for my tomatoes.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 28, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

By the way, how is it possible that an ongoing discussion of language (English specifically) has gone on this long without some mention of Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue"?

Omni, I'm currently reading Steve Pinker's "Words and Rules". It's a little technical for some folks' tastes, but I'm enjoying it. Both "How the Mind Works" and "The Language Instinct" were very good, I thought.

SofCarl, which Dawkins did you read? At any rate, if you've only read one, the others are probably worth perusing. As is nearly all of Stephen J. Gould and: "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea" and "At the Water's Edge" by Carl Zimmer; "Life: An Unauthorized Biography" by Richard Fortey" ... oh gosh, that'll do for a start!

Posted by: Bob S. | June 28, 2006 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, How about Achenpuggle? We need to vote.

Posted by: dr | June 28, 2006 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I meant to mention:

While these aren't really about evolution specifically, they're good reads from a careful observer and beautiful thinker: "The Lives of a Snail" and "The Medusa and the Snail" by Lewis Thomas.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 28, 2006 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm an idiot! It's "The Lives of a CELL"!

Posted by: Bob S. | June 28, 2006 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the correction, Mudge, I knew Pound was an extremist but didn't remember which way. Was it his translation of the Aeneid that was so good, or was it Homer? I can't remember. It's been 30 years...

Bob S., I loved Lives of a Cell. Lewis Thomas was a great thinker and explainer. His thought on language being advanced by 3 year olds just fascinated me.

I also greatly enjoyed Eats Shoots & Leaves. Wonderful take on the correct uses of grammar.

Oooh, I can tell it's time for an Amazon order!

Posted by: Slyness | June 28, 2006 7:48 PM | Report abuse

RD, I can understand the implications of leaks, but it would seem what is missing is any attention being directed to why there was leaks - wrong doing.

If you don't have a government acting illegally or just barely legally there isn't such a necessity to leak anything. Although it being government there will always be disguntled person who want to cause problems.

If only such an effort was made to eliminate the questional behaviour not increase security to further hide it.

Posted by: dmd | June 28, 2006 8:11 PM | Report abuse

dmd, you're not seriously suggesting that attention isn't being paid to the substance of the leaked information, are you? I understand that various folks are trying to spin & play games, and that you find that annoying. But PLEASE don't tell me that you think that leaked information is being given less than its due weight.

None of that takes away from RD's straightforward observation that everything has an opportunity cost. Strictly economics.

Posted by: Bob S. | June 28, 2006 8:23 PM | Report abuse

No Bob, I am saying that the solution to the leak(s) or general government wrong doing is often to internally tighten security to prevent more leaks. This would apply to other situations as well.

I agree with RD that the leaks cause a change in the way government/government officials work, it doesn't help anyone.

My point is what should be corrected in this particular case would be to prevent the actions i.e. monitoring financial instituations/transactions, or to ensure they were within the legal boundaries.

My belief is that a democracy must always work within legal boundaries/framework and that includes all government, military etc. When those instituations rise about their legal framework you are acting as a non democratic government would. It is one of the features of democracy the ideal of being able to trust ones government, and a difficulty especially in dealing with terrorists or others who believe they may act without boundaries.

Hope I explained it better.

Posted by: dmd | June 28, 2006 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., or RD for that matter, don't take offense at my comments I am simply a hopeless idealist! Practical aspects are not my strong suit.

Posted by: dmd | June 28, 2006 9:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you there, brother/sister. I get so PISSED off with essentially all attacks on the free press because: I'm no longer a young man, and I've VERY seldom seen a government official complain about a leak regarding something that was perfectly legitimate. (The "Veronica Flume" affair might be the only recent exception, but that was its own little game, wasn't it?))

Posted by: Bob S. | June 28, 2006 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I think the South Park guys read Joel's F-bomb article. They're doing a whole show on sh*t, complete with a counter as to how many times it's been said, and the history of the word.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 28, 2006 9:43 PM | Report abuse

>. Errol, could you consider expanding your Great Hedgehog Operation to include voxen?

Ivansmom, there are ongoing operations about which I cannot speak at the moment, involving the protection of our homeland (specifically the garage and our transportation system) so I regret I cannot confirm nor deny the applicability to operations on other sub-human lifeforms. But stay tuned. Be assured good ole American sweat and the best of technoilogy is being brought to bear onthe problem, and we expect at least a 2nd level operative in captivity, or dead, very soon.

Re, SWIFT, I knew about it in 1995 when I was contacted in a proposition to bring SWIFT access into small villages in South America. By a military officer. For a major US bank. Really. All perfectly legit, I assume you. Really.

No, really.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 28, 2006 9:58 PM | Report abuse

SCC- alphabets

I'm really starting out right at the center if my spelling is any indication of how things are going there. My hands are all over the keyboard. We had a nice time at the chinese buffet. I am tired, but so happy that God has allowed me to do the things that I do.

I find it interesting that the present administration cries foul when someone does something that it considers not right, but when the current administration goes all outside the boundaries of leagality, mums the word. Do we feel safer when our democratic institutions no longer practice democracy? I believe that only God has that kind of power, and man is so far from it, that he doesn't even know he's not in the room.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 28, 2006 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Error,is that assume you, or assure you? :)

Look out for chipmunks I have been told they are a big source of leaks, they take full advantage of being cute. Ground Hogs know how to manipulate the chipmunks to their advantage.

Posted by: dmd | June 28, 2006 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Error, that South Park episode's a couple of years old.

Pre-dates JA's effing Outlook piece, anyway.


Posted by: bc | June 28, 2006 10:14 PM | Report abuse

The author of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" (Lynne Truss) has a new(ish) book out called
"Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bl**dy Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door."
[Or did somebody already mention that while I was boodle-skimming? I can just see it in the F-Bomb Boodle . . .]

[I've always been astounded by the expression "Talk to the hand, 'cause the face ain't listening" -- it's right up there with "Whatever" and "Nil interest" as an utterly Achenrude thing for one human being to say to another.]

Posted by: Tom fan | June 28, 2006 10:31 PM | Report abuse

bc, thanks I shoulda figured. Still, it's not past the Comedy Central programmers to put it on because they saw the f-bomb piece. Somebody was doing that with Laugh-In episodes during the run-up to the war, can't remember the channel.

Re. the whole leaking thing, I'm of two minds. One it's sort of on the leaker and I can't blame the govt in pursuing and stopping leaks about secret programs. In this case, frankly I read the story and said well OK, that sounds like the way it should be handled. I mean hello, it's no secret that banks are required to submit information on any transaction over $10k (or is $2k now?) so this is not limited to SWIFT. It's the domestic transactions that worry me more. I don't want a landscaper put in jail because he went somewhere with $10k in his pocket. I don't want my money confiscated if I feel like walkiing around with a grand and get a traffic ticket.

I have sympathy with they guys trying to pull a microbe out of a haystack. I'm not going to mention any of the obvious ways bad guys can pass messages on the Internet, but they are many many many.

On the other hand, I've assumed that all my communications may be monitored since I got my own phone at 16. First becasue I found that Mom would listen at the bathroom wall with a glass to her ear, second because several of my close personal friends were indeed wiretapped. The corollary to that is that anyone who says anything incriminating over a phone is a complete idiot. They do exist, but they're probably not the ones to worry about.

I think the pieces abut extrordinary rendition, people being lifted off the streets on the basis of an anonymous tip or something needs to be known by the public because that's what I expected from the worst of Soviet Russia and Communist China, and if we've become them we've lost all moral high ground whatsoever, and our Constitution means nothing.

I think Americans should know that.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 28, 2006 10:38 PM | Report abuse

I, on the other hand (as it were!), have always enjoyed the refreshing honesty of "talk to the hand..." It's an amazingly direct admission of one's unwillingness to listen to another point of view. Saves a lot of time, actually.

Posted by: Bob S. | June 28, 2006 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. When I read the word "Achenbabe" I think of Sara. Is that wrong of me?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 28, 2006 11:18 PM | Report abuse

OK, I know that my (lack of) humor has gone WAY too far, but I'll go ahaead & post this anyway:

yjkt - It's a kindness, I think. Old married broads like Sara appreciate a little appreciation, every now & then!

Posted by: Bob S. | June 29, 2006 12:04 AM | Report abuse

this is for mo and others who like pandas (if you didn't catch the story this winter) -

panda kindergarten:


more footage:

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 29, 2006 3:39 AM | Report abuse

and one more:

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 29, 2006 3:40 AM | Report abuse

Good, good, morning, friends. Can't sleep, this cold is kicking me bad. I think I picked up this germ from my granddaughter. She always leaves something. I've been coughing and just can't sleep. Have a lot to do today. We're doing the sunflower seeds today. I believe the kids will love this. I know I'm looking forward to playing in the dirt. Loomis, are you really moving to North Carolina? If you answered, I missed it. PLS, sounds like you're still dealing with the waste issue. I would love to know what you folks are planning for the fourth of July? I bet most of you have big, big, plans. I have big plans also. Hugging my bed. Have a good day. God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

I used to believe that the Fourth of July was an insult to African-Americans because of the way we entered this country. I didn't see how we could in all honesty really celebrate this birthday with a straight face knowing that the celebration was about freedom. Even in this I felt left out. I wondered if anyone else ever gave that any consideration or am I just the odd ball here?

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 29, 2006 5:28 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, you make a good point. However I view 4th of July as a celebration of the Promise of Freedom, an ongoing process that continues to this day. 4 July marks a significant milestone in this process. (If I didn't believe that the establishment of America is a good thing I wouldn't be here.)

Plus, sometimes you just need to take a deep breath, relax, put your brain in neutral and through another hot-dog on the fire.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 29, 2006 7:46 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Throw. Through another hot dog sounds painful

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 29, 2006 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, for decades the good people of Tallahassee have taken time out of their lives to celebrate the arrival of spring with the April 1st Springtime Tallahassee event. This signature event should define Tallahassee; instead it defined all that is wrong with America; racism, genocide, and the denial of either one's existence. For more than a decade local human rights activists and people of goodwill have called upon the City of Tallahassee, Leon County and the organizers of Springtime Tallahassee to enter the dialogue of cooperation to find a way to remove the repugnant genocider Andrew Jackson from being the figurehead of the celebration. For more than a decade the City, County and organizers have ignored these people of goodwill.

There is no question what Andrew Jackson did. As an army general he lead two of the most notorious slaughters of Indian people. He supervised as a General and then as President the forced marches of 125,000 Indian people, of which more than half were killed, starved or drowned, to Oklahoma Indian territory. His death march of the Tsalagi (Cherokee people) defied a ruling from the United States Supreme Court (Worcester v Georgia). Andrew Jackson's death marches and massacres of Indigenous people were inspiring to a young Adolf Hitler who utilized Jackson's treatment of Indigenous peoples as a blueprint for NAZI Germany's treatment of the Jewish people. This is the man the City of Tallahassee, Leon County, the sponsors and the organizers of Springtime Tallahassee are venerating as a hero.

Posted by: Nani | June 29, 2006 7:58 AM | Report abuse

>take a deep breath, relax, put your brain in neutral and through another hot-dog on the fire.

You should collect a few of your posts into "Backyard Zen by RD Padouk". It'll fly off the virtual shelves.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 29, 2006 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Appears to be a new kit. See you all there.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 29, 2006 9:39 AM | Report abuse

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