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Error Flynn: Plan For Error

By Error Flynn

We Americans are an optimistic lot; we plan for success, say "failure is not an option", and want an employee with a can-do attitude so the plans of their superiors are not messed up by inconvenient "facts on the ground". But my handle here and the majority of my professional life is concerned with Error, and for good reason.

Let me explain.

First, it's true that error can be good. The glue on Post-It notes does not actually stick permanently like you usually expect from glue. It fails. But it turns out there's a use for that behavior, so I can happily stick Post-It notes to my monitor and not incur the wrath of my employers. My handle was the result of typing "Error Flynn" instead of "Errol Flynn", one of my childhood heroes, and the intrepid Bayou Self pointed out that not only was it an error but it had a sort of rolled off the tongue. That I typed "error" shouldn't be a surprise because as a software developer I type it quite often. In this case it worked out. There are many cases in art and music where a "mistake" might turn out better than what's planned.

But the consequences of error in our life are not to be ignored. I rode a motorcycle more than my car for about 12 years, in New Jersey, Manhattan and Boston rush hour traffic. One little slip and you're done. One pothole, one bit of gravel, one daydream can be a life changing affair in the worst way. The Secretary of the Treasury recently gave a speech where he suggested that the new graduates and entrepreneurs shouldn't be too worried about failing because success doesn't always come on the first try. He's right of course, but if you're going to sink your life savings and parent's retirement into the project you may not get a second chance.

Professionally there are times when I'm asked to quote a price for a task, and there's sticker shock. They say "I know a college kid who could do that for a tenth that price" or "my neighbor can do that for half the cost". Possibly true, in terms of the most minimal issue of accomplishing the basic task. But in many programs foreseeing, minimizing, eliminating, testing and accounting for possible errors can be 80-90% of the effort. This is the difference between an amateur and a professional. If the application is medical, or in the transportation industry, which approach would you prefer?

Many of the decisions our government leaders make may be played out over decades, and it's hard to say at any given time whether they were right or in error. But the implementation of those initiatives happens in steps, many small tasks and requirements feeding the whole. Often one small mistake can make a huge difference in the overall effort and intention, even reversing it.

So while it's well and good to be optimistic, to pray that Providence is on your side, that the Lord will provide, that they're a person of good intentions and grand ideas, the next time we choose a leader please: Plan For Error.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 18, 2006; 7:30 AM ET
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So is this the official declaration of EF's candidacy, or just the Exploratory Error Committee?


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 8:04 AM | Report abuse

This was a delightful and though-provoking essay EF. It covers so much ground, from Bob Ross ("There are no mistakes in art, just happy accidents") to contingency planning and the value of experience. Fantastic job.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 18, 2006 8:10 AM | Report abuse

SCC: though = thought. The irony in this just kills me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 18, 2006 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, thanks for asking.

Wow, a kit of my own. I'm truly honored. Due to the demands of the GWOG (Good War on Groundhogs) and the campaign I've been mostly unable to boodle, but I have been reading all the guest kits and skimming a bit.

In case anyone is interested in the GWOG (no doubt anticipating a recipe competition) I have to say it's not going well. Maximum Leader has not expired in his sleep, just moved to an unexpected border. There are at least twice as many of them as previously known. The good news is they can be harried and forced to other areas with less opportunity to inflict damage, the bad news is as soon as we physically left the area for a day they were mostly right back in place. We are bringing new resources to bear, but I canna say no more as I'm sure they're reading this even now. (There has been an unexplained rash of NY Times and WaPo papers left in the area, I'll leave it at that.)

As to the campaign, I read someone had a concern in terms of voting instructions. I was in fact about to make a major campaign announcement today and still will; alas it is not the one I had prepared.

Great strides have been made in the last week. My old friend and longtime supporter Miles O'Kelpstalk had agreed to be Chairman of The Error Party, headquartered in San Francisco to allow us late responses in the 24 hr news cycle. Websites had been built, position papers posted, t-shirt and bumper sticker contracts negotiated and late last night the donation page went up!

But I misunderestimated the lengths The Enemies Of The People would go to stop our historic campaign, and no more than 5 hours after the donation page went up power was cut to the whole neighborhood and beyond. I have no concern for my own safety and comfort, but the neighbors' fiber battery backups and generators do not last forever and with the heat into the high 90's I feared for the well-being of my elderly neighbors and effect on commerce in the region. Furthermore I realized the impending danger - if they hit Error Party HQ just three hours later an entire historic district would be shut down, inconviencing or even endangering commuters and business in the heart of San Francisco. A decision had to be made for the good of all.

Thus it is with a heavy heart I must send the campaign underground, and rely on Plan B. Rather than openly campaigning we will develop our own voting machines with a new paradigm: "Do Nothing to Vote Now". If the machine is properly equipped all you'll have to do to vote for Error is push the button and the choice will be made for you. Further, even if not using our actual machines many will find their local machines will still show "Error" when voting, so take heart.

What's left is to prepare for a time when we can return from exile. I've never thought a governor's position was suitable for learning how to run a country; only running a country can teach you how to run a country. So I'm opting for campaigning someplace smaller, possibly a nice island in the Carribean with lots of vintage autos still in service, not too far from DisneyWorld and the relatives living on the nice golf courses.

So, au revoir mes amis, and bonne chance. I'm off to learn how to speak Spanish and roll cigars.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 18, 2006 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Excellent kit, EF. I have no doubt that the underground campaign will take off here in the south.

Posted by: jack | July 18, 2006 8:17 AM | Report abuse


Ah, the old non-declaration declaration... Gotcha. ;-)

As for Planning for Error in my cubicle, let's just say that redundant redundancy is not an oxymoron. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 8:23 AM | Report abuse


But you'll be at the Aug 2 BPH, won't you?

I mean, What's good about basking in the tropical sun without a good tinfoil hat?

Posted by: TBG | July 18, 2006 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Error, we will watch your Carribean career with great interest and certainly support your ambitions!

Posted by: slyness | July 18, 2006 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Well done, Error.

You'll look good in the fatigues and the beard, rollin' yourself fatties.

Cigars, I mean.


Posted by: bc | July 18, 2006 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Great kit. To really succeed you have to know how to fail. I've had a lot of practise so I know that I will succeed, but I also have a pretty good idea its not going to be today.

Posted by: dr | July 18, 2006 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Error, I will state again their is an opening for a weather forcasting Groundhog in Wiarton, Ontario. Rest assured it would be well cared for, pampered and honoured when its the end comes.

Posted by: dmd | July 18, 2006 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Error, I think you just launched a new Management Paradigm. I must contemplate this ("Planning for Error - Serendipidous Leadership for the 21st Century"; "How to be a 'Decider'"; "FUBAR in the New Millenium").
This has possibilities. Come back soon so we can measure your progress.

Posted by: CowTown | July 18, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

yeah, a real SNAFU:SOP...

Posted by: omni | July 18, 2006 9:48 AM | Report abuse

So, where the heck has Bayou Self gotten to, anyway?

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 18, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse


Perhaps he's gone back to where he can see that familiar sunrise through sleepy eyes...


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Very nicely done EF. I remember in an earlier life I had as a computer programmer (in the era of punched cards and paper tape, false floors and HUGE machines -- yeah, the ancient days of whippy-skippy new technology) I substituted for a student programmer when he graduated in finishing up some graphics programming that he developed. It was for the Dept. of Human Genetics at, ironically enough, the same university from which I had graduated some 10 years earlier.

The Human Genetics crew wanted to be able to represent different genetic histories (and, indeed, mysteries) in a graphic form -- typically they look like grape clusters. The thing is that after all the time it took him to set up the system (and I think it was a year or so), he could never get it to work. I was in need of a job for the summer before I went to law school, so I pitched right in. Now, this was in the late 70s, so I got to see a printout (don't remember the programming language, but I figured it out). But first, I interviewed the people in the department who knew the science (something my predecessor did not do, which is why his system ultimately didn't work) to discover and determine (1) what they wanted; (2) why they wanted it; (3) what their database looked like; (4) why it they set up their database the way they did; (5) whether they were going to change things anytime soon; and more.

Then I went line-by-line through the program. He had made so many assumptions because he didn't know (nor obviously care to know) the application which was going to sit on the system, that OF COURSE it didn't work. I broomed his assumptions, and fashioned the remaining assumptions to accommodate and be accommodated by the people in the department who were going to be using the system. And, yes, fellow boodlers, I got that sucker working in no time. (Flowers, applause, huzzahs, etc.)

But, truly, errors are the way we learn, if indeed we learn from them.

BTW, Mudge, what's the week, minute and second count now? I have to synchronize my watch.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | July 18, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse

When/where is the BPH?

Posted by: PLS | July 18, 2006 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Nice kit EF. For every success there are 10,000 failures. Not sure who said that, not sure anyone did, but sounds good anyway, in my opinion.

The guest kits have all been excellent but am surprised JA hasn't picked a Loomis kit yet. 'Yet' perhaps being the key word.

Posted by: farfrombeltway | July 18, 2006 10:24 AM | Report abuse

hey - firsttimer - i guess the fact that there are a bunch of virgos here means we are gonna have a gang of birthdays in sept...

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Mudge and I are, um, bringing up the rear of August. Are you in Sept?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | July 18, 2006 10:30 AM | Report abuse

yep - sept 2 (mark it on your calendars!)


Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I hear the rumblings of a Boodler Birthday Bash in here somewhere...


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

One of Error's errors was mentioning me, for now I must visit the Boodle when I really don't have the time to do it justice.

I hope y'all are doing okay.

One of my errors was thinking that a job where I received raises and bonuses along with a perfect job review would yield job security. Instead, in cutbacks, I was found to be a tall blade of grass, as I like to describe it. (I was a copy editor for a magazine, with times where I was crazily busy and times where I had time to burn -- often here.)

Anyway, I've been offered a job as a high school journalism teacher and my future is now wending its way through the school bureaucracy. (Why it should be "wending" is beyond me. Who uses that word anymore?) I'm not too comfortable dealing with school bureaucracies. They have jargon and lingo that they use, specifically to keep out mopes like myself. And I fear that someone is going to leap out of a cubicle at any moment, declaring that I lack such and such a piece of paper, thus scotching the deal. (Shoot, "wending" sounds better than "scotching.")

So I'm on the beach, as they say. I'm waiting for the phone to ring. I'm waiting to hear the words I so long to hear: "C'mon in to the school administration building and fill out more forms."

Posted by: Bayou Self | July 18, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Well done Error!

As an example of planning for error, one of the first things you do in a good martial arts class is learn how to fall down without hurting yourself. An invaluable skill.

Error, I must confess when I read your post about "the campaign going underground" it crossed my mind that you had defected to the other side in the GWOG.

Glad to see you're still with us. Now, about that detour on the path to power, I have a perfect landing site for you in the Bay of Groundhogs.

RD, I like the sound of "though-provoking". That's right up there with Error Flynn as a serendipidous mistake. Usage: "I happened to read Ann Coulter's last article and it was definitely though-provoking"

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Bayou, welcome back. Keep in mind that school bureaucracy works to your advantage at the other end of a job/career. "We have this tall blade of grass, but we need Congress to reconvene so that we can start proceedings to think about buying a lawnmower".

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse


Stick with it, chin up, all that sort of thing. They know what they've got in your case, I'm sure.

Given the Boodle's ongoing hatred of Mr. Paperclip and other Microsoft "helpers," I would assume everyone else here shares my deep sense of foreboding upon reading this in a NYT article:

"At Microsoft, researchers are working on the idea of "predestination." They envision a software program that guesses where you are traveling based on previous trips, and then offers information that might be useful based on where the software thinks you are going."

*running screaming into the night*


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Bayou Self congratulations, I am sure you will be a great addition to the school, but more importantly to the students.

Error forgot to say I liked the kit. If it was not for errors my life would be a failure, but I excel at errors - therefore I am a success at some level. How's that for logic, keep in mind I just passed a University Philosphy of Logic course. Walking in the room and gazing around I suspected the course may not be right for me but I stuck it out, and passed although it may have been assited by the fact that the professor had an error in the final exam and may have marked a little easier.

Posted by: dmd | July 18, 2006 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Bayou Self - Glad to hear you've landed on your feet. And I think "wending" is a perfectly fine word. I'm going to try to use it today in normal conversation.

Posted by: CowTown | July 18, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse

hey 'snuke - i think of microsoft as job security!!!! (i am a systems admin)

so, great job Gates! keep 'em coming!

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Error -- methinks that the loss of power in the neighborhood that brought down the campaign website was an . . . error.

I could be overly optimistic in thinking that the powers-that-be do not yet have complete control over the power grid.

Errors can lead to wonderful discoveries. Put the wrong chemical in a petri dish, leave the bread out to mold. The happy accident theory of success.

Bayou Self, so sorry that you got cut. Hopefully the wending will be ending soon, and you can settle in for a good, long haul with an error-ridden high school bureaucracy. :-)

I know, bad puns, all.

Posted by: nelson | July 18, 2006 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I challenge that Microsoft software to predetermine where I am going, I usually don't even know.

Posted by: dmd | July 18, 2006 11:00 AM | Report abuse

scottynuke -- yikes to Microsofts "predestination." (Are they all Presbyterians?).

This could be the doings of the Great War on Terror. Anyone who has ever traveled to a country with "terrorist links" could be arrested on the predestined idea that they would be returning to same, with evil intentions.

Preventive warfare, you know. :-)

Posted by: nelson | July 18, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Good to hear from you, Bayou Self! I'm glad that you have meaningful employment coming in the near future. Being without income when you need it is stomach-churning, at the very least. Hope the teaching gig is a positive experience for you.

Posted by: slyness | July 18, 2006 11:06 AM | Report abuse

error - you sure that power outage wasn't a groundhog insurrection?

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Ironic, since I was watching Gattaca on TV a few days ago. Nobody with any sort of genetic/health error from natural birth is employable in the best fields. They're In-Valid, while genetically selected specimens are Valids.

Naturally one In-Valid who lusted to go to space in spite of an hereditary heart condition wasn't gonna be kept down by the system. Good tale.

Yup, creativity starts with Error. But why speak Spanish? I understand Canada has plenty of corrupt politicans that the voters are disgusted with, and a socialist system in need of a little libertarian thinking.

Surely there's an opening for a carpetbagger from the southern side of the border?

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I have high hopes for Bayou Self, too. He should enjoy himself, only then can he teach effectively.

My HS Journalism teacher looked like he was going to drink himself to death if he had one MORE rotten day at work. I think he was a refugee from Barney Miller.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I will add Wilbrod that to the best of my knowledge their is no requirement for our Prime Minister to be born in Canada.

Error come on up, we are not socialist, just more liberal that the American system.

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

Wilbrod, I didn't know Abe Vigoda taught...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Apparently this was Plan for Error Day across the WP board.

Cohen: The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake.

Also, Will breaks ranks with The Weekly Standard over beating the war drums on Iran and takes them to task for past errors.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

If you could call it teaching to assign work, edit, and mutter under his breath nonstop.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

You should take the leap of faith and wend your way on over to the nearest Apple store...worked for me...

Posted by: omni | July 18, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Been in meetings and solving timesheet issues all *&%$# morning. I'm tellin' ya, this work thing is just one royal interference on my precious boodling time. Here it is quarter after 11 and I'm just now checking in, and haven't even had my *&^#@%$ coffee yet. (So you're durn tootin': don't cross me for at least another hour!!!)

OK, settle down, settle down. Old business. Scotty wrote: "Mudge, any comment on the guy buying a Chesapeake Bay island and fencing it off, ending the "tradition" of public access to the island?

scotty, seems like it's his island. He bought it, he owns it. Too bad, so sad. (I've always wanted to own my own island, but I'm a couple mil short. But you can see where my sympathies lie.)

Next item: welcome back, Bayou. Missed ya. Hope you get the job. Been exactly in your shoes once or twice (not that that helps any). But been there, done that, didn't like it.

ftlurker: Aug. 24, so it's now 37 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes (as I type this; probably be less by the time I hit "Submit").

Aug. 2 BPH is at the estimable McCormick & Schmick's, 1652 16th Street, starting about 5 p.m., or whenever bc gets there first. Attendees tend to dribble in over the next two hours or more, and we seldom take attendence. For you newbies, when you come in the door, go right, walk about two-thirds the way down the bar. We're usually at the last table on the left. We're easy to recognize: everyone else in the place is dressed like aq K Street lobbyist (because they are) and Republican. We're the ones wearing aluminum foil hats, Charlize Theron ribbons, bermuda short, knee socks, fishing vest (that's ScienceTim), etc.--actual people clothes of all kinds, in other words.

OK, guess I should go wash out this sludge in the bottom of my coffee cup...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Bayou, read 'Teacher Man' by Frank McCourt. You can help these young people know they can make mistakes, and that they will survive, and even thrive.

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."(Sir Winston Churchill) You know Churchhill has a whole bunch of quotations that apply aptly for you, Bayou Self.

S'nuke, we will not go screaming into the night. "We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job. "(Sir Winston Churchill, Radio speech, 1941)

I will hope that this predestination thing is only as good as the google adds.

Posted by: dr | July 18, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Mudge - regarding the aluminum foil hats, Charlize Theron ribbons, bermuda short, knee socks, and fishing vest. Is it essential that attendees wear all of these at the same time? Or can we pick and choose as we see fit?

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 18, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

> Professionally there are times when I'm asked to quote a price for a task, and there's sticker shock. They say "I know a college kid who could do that for a tenth that price" or "my neighbor can do that for half the cost."


I'll bet it feels really good that they asked you first. I used to get reactions like that all the time when I operated a used computer store.

My neighbor says he'll take down this tree for $350. His back fence at risk. Should I let him do it? links to,%20Sheboygan,%20WI%202006-07-18%2010.09.46.jpg

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | July 18, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I agree, 'Mudge, I tend to think the "squatters" are just miffed to have lost a party spot.


We shall fight them on the PCs, we shall fight them in the PDAs, we will fight them in the cell phones and in the GPS. We will fight them in the CPUs. We shall never surrender!


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Reply to Padouk: Yes (the dress code is strictly enforced).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

whoa, for about 23 minutes the Kit went missing from the top of the Boodle and the name and comments windows and preview and submit buttons were missing after my 11:22 post. Did anyone else have that experience? I thought that I had REALLY killed the boodle that time.

Posted by: omni | July 18, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Mudge -- Does the tinfoil hat look like the TinMan's headgear?

Just wondering how to wear the hat in case I'm somehow mistaken for a lobbyist.

Posted by: nelson | July 18, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

It's just going through a phase, omni. We are great babysitters, but it just misses the boss.

Posted by: dr | July 18, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Microsoft's future answer to my travels would be "going in circles".

Enten: There's this fellow in town called Tree Man. He lived in a tree along one of the main thorofares through town until he bought himself a utility building and now lives on the side of the street just over the tracks from our house. He'll do anything in the way of tree work for a song, as long as it doesn't interfere with Mr. Squirrel and his extended family. Great guy until you mention aliens or religion, then he goes off. Watched him drop a tree in the midst of a thunderstorm one time, and dance a jig when it dropped precisely where he wanted it to. Wheeeee

Posted by: jack | July 18, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Entenpfuhl, it turns out no less than four (count 'em, FOUR) of our boodlin' brethern and sistern are lawyers, so I'm not sure any of us should be advising you about potentially litigious matters such as tree removal. But I'm a gutsy kinda guy, so I say, sure, 350 bucks is a reasonable price, especially if it keeps you out of the evil clutches of the likes of ivansmom, distantlurker, SonofCarl, etc., all of whom charge $350 an hour just to boodle, never mind the legal advice.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 12:04 PM | Report abuse

> Watched him drop a tree in the midst of a thunderstorm one time, and dance a jig when it dropped precisely where he wanted it to.


Should I look in the YP under Druids then?

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | July 18, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

(BTW, as shop steward, I've got them all on retainer to the Amalgamated and Fraternal/Sisternal Brotherhood/Sisterhood of Confederated Achenblog Boodle Workers of North America and Other Parts of the Globe Including Honk Kong and Siam, a/k/a AFSBSCABWNAOPGIHKS.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Honk if you love Honk Kong. Or Hong Kong, don't matter to me one way or the other.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Enten, I think that one is definitely do-able. Tree removal also recently came up in the 'boodle during the most recent plague to hit the DC area in the form of a flood (Groundhog leader: "let my people go").

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, "predestination" sounds like Amazon --- you look at "Happy Kitty Bunny Pony" once and the stupid site thinks you would like to look at 50 more just like it. Geez!

Posted by: nellie | July 18, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Padouk asks:
Mudge - regarding the aluminum foil hats, Charlize Theron ribbons, bermuda short, knee socks, and fishing vest. Is it essential that attendees wear all of these at the same time? Or can we pick and choose as we see fit?

Given the heat across the nation, why don't you all just wear your Speedos? (Yesterday, your noontime temp was hotter than here!) Pool party?

Posted by: Loomis | July 18, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self,
If you should get the job teaching high school journalism, your Boodling could be both insightful and comical.

This post really belonged under Stampede's Kit last Friday about the importance of books and reading, but since I was otherwise engaged with having my eye lasered, I didn't and couldn't post it. It's from a WaPo online chat last Thursday about literacy in American schools. I found the challenge, mentioned in the one reply from the discussion's guest, between the skill levels of decoding and comprehension--let alone critical thinking, to be both alarming and thought-provoking.

Don't mean to scare you; my intent is only to acquaint you with some of the challenges in what quite possibly may be your next job. I do hope you get the job teaching high school journalism in Houston, for your sake and the sake of the Boodle.

Jeremy Ayers: I would make two comments in reply to your comments.

When it comes to adolescent literacy -- reading and writing in grades 4 to 12 -- we seem to have no reading wars. Researchers agree on the principles and strategies needed to help students master advanced literacy skills. I note the publication, Reading Next, as an example of defining the research for adolescent literacy.

Most older students struggle with comprehension, not decoding. Meaning, most older students can read the words on the page, but they cannot understand it, identify the main idea, or connect ideas in the passage to other ideas in other passages. Some struggle to decode, but most struggle to comprehend.

I would face a similar situation if I were to read a dense medial brief or a manual on hydraulics. The key to addressing literacy in the upper grades is to tackle comprehension.

Posted by: Loomis | July 18, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I must be crazy, cause I'm going for a walk. 93º feels 107º!!! hope i don't melt...

Posted by: omni | July 18, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse


Too late. He's gone. Poor omni. I fear we may never see his ponytailed, sun-blistered, fried, dessicated, dehydrated, parboiled, solar-burnt, charred old self again.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of errors first paragraph in Weingarten's chat today.

Posted by: dmd | July 18, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

*faxing omni a large opaque umbrella*


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the kind words, folks.

I have just received an e-mail from the school district. I'm in at Joel Achenbach High School.

But first I have to take an important letter involving my acceptance into an alternative certification program to an HR guy. And I have to contact the certfication people to apply for my probationary certificate. And I have to sign eligibility documents from them. And I have to give that HR fellow a copy of my certification application confirmation documents. Then I am required, and I believe this is part of the federal No Child Left Behind program, to stand on one leg and hop down the main hallway of the school while banging loudly against every fifth locker. And, since I'll be in charge of the yearbook, I am also required to submit an affadavit pledging that the principal and all school administrators will be displayed in the yearbook with only the most flattering of pictures. There's probably more. Maybe brain scans and stuff.

Sidelight: This high school has more than one journalism teacher, which I think is pretty neat. They have three, with the others running the school paper and a literary mag.

Posted by: Bayou Self | July 18, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse


You're now part of a troika!!! Things are looking up! *applause*


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 1:13 PM | Report abuse

If I were to wear a speedo it would make humiliate the men and terrify the women. I mean, so much pale white skin in one place....

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 18, 2006 1:20 PM | Report abuse

So, I returned from vacation in Iran, and after several months, revisited this blogue, and found a drivel still runs through it.

All the ole cornhuskers were there except the one with the curt accent.

I so missed you all.

Posted by: omnigasm | July 18, 2006 1:20 PM | Report abuse

That most definitely was not a good idea. Been back ten minutes and STILL SWEATING. But I did see dozens of people out the looking cool as cucumbers. Don't know how they do it.

Posted by: omni | July 18, 2006 1:21 PM | Report abuse

they do it, Omni, by wearing Speedo's under their dresses and kilts.

Posted by: Carambalady | July 18, 2006 1:24 PM | Report abuse

If the weather the day of the BPH is anything like today I may just show in a thong and nothing else. Well, except for sandals on my feet of course...

I just realized I'm starting to smell ripe...good thing my cubicle is all the way back in a corner and I no longer share an office...whew...

Posted by: omni | July 18, 2006 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I de-lurked a lurker...welcome to the boodle Carambalady.

Posted by: omni | July 18, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

oooh, Carmen Electra is back on the market...anyone think I have a shot?

Posted by: omni | July 18, 2006 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Bayou, congrats.

I still can't get over the fact that a high school has three journalism teachers.

We're going to end up as a class project, aren't we?

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Finally! My memoirs of my early days in the newspaper business in the 15th through 19th centuries may finally get the attention and respect they deserve. Have at it, Bayou!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, is there room for an infrequent poster at the BPH? It's only a few blocks from my office. And alas, I'll probably be dressed like a Republican lobbyist, though I am neither Republican nor a lobbyist.

Posted by: PLS | July 18, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

'mudge - you forgot - omni shaved his head! (and his eyebrows - how they growin back omni?)

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 1:39 PM | Report abuse

So it's supposed to be 98 here today. I've noticed a significant difference between heat in the South and heat in the Southwest. I can go out in Southern heat, sweat, do what I need to do, go in where it's cool, and be fine. In the Southwest, I go out, can't do what I need to do because it's so blisteringly hot, and develop a thirst that needs a river to quench it, in about ten minutes. Is the difference acclamation? I never, ever get that thirsty at home.

Posted by: slyness | July 18, 2006 1:41 PM | Report abuse

PLS, I believe that attendance at a BPH is attendant upon

(a) knowing about it;
(b) having a sense of humor;
(c) the ability to furnish names and contact information for at least three references who can attest that your sense of humor is, in fact, recognized as such by other living humans. Letters of reference not necessary in advance, we can get them later if the situation calls for it. However, penmanship will be considered.


(d) a niggardly attitude towards the purchase of late-afternoon victuals. (Translation not available).

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 18, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

My HS Journalism teacher refused to have an astrology column in the local newspaper. I think at least 10 students must have suggested it every week (we had to brainstorm 5 writing ideas every week).

He never even bothered to explain why. Just mutter mutter at his desk about those teens and his need for his next bottle.

I never felt we learned much about INVESTIGATIVE journalism. But then, teenagers are too hormonally overwhelmed to be nosy baggages in people's business.

So good luck!

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

With all those high-powered lawyers and lobbyists at that place, I want to know if everybody has to sign a form stating they will not sue the bar for any offense, insult, or mishap incurred by other patrons on the premises, criminal offenses excepted.

I'm kind of nervous about the idea of being sued for ignoring a Washington Blowhard (tm).

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh fudge. No BPH for me then. I can only think of two people who find me remotely amusing...and both have horrible penmanship. ;)

Posted by: GyppedOne | July 18, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of a skit on the television show Mr. Show in which eccentric Billionaire "Grass Valley" Greg who built his fortune from inventing the delete key shows us the interworkings of his company. The employees are yelling things like "I ^*(&ed up!" only to be praised by Greg. Funny stuff.

Posted by: Geist | July 18, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

ok - more panama pics (i'm doing them in groups cuz there are a lot of pics and cuz i want to seperate the different stages of my trip - these are of the part of the trip where we went to Bocas del Toro on the carribean side of panama)

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

The only glimmer of personality that teacher showed was when he assigned us to write a story for our final exam based on notes and leads, involving an incident when a certain Journalism teacher had had enough and went on a homicidal rampage.

This was WAY before Columbine, BTW. Now such an assignment would probably get his home searched by the FBI.

My memory may be distorted a bit, but not by that much.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse

GyppedOne, please to note that I did not specify the criteria by which penmanship is to be evaluated. There's still hope! Find just one more reference, and you're in...

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 18, 2006 2:19 PM | Report abuse

the glacier ice is melting quickly along the southern side of my warehouse building today. No doubt, there are significant climate changes happening this decade.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 18, 2006 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Slyness: It's not the heat, it's the humidity! Dry air will suck the moisture from your skin and lungs in about ten minutes flat.

SciTim: Whoo hoo! The search is on!!

Next question, can I get from Aberdeen to DC before 7? That may be the bigger hurdle...

Posted by: GyppedOne | July 18, 2006 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Goodness gracious, so many queries about the rules of engagement at the BPH> Where to begin?

PLS: We can get you in on a waiver, as long as you don't work for Jack Abramoff, and if you follow the rules and preconditions set forth by ScienceTim, above.

GyppedOne: Tim's correct; one more reference and you'll get a waiver, also. Failing that, I believe I can invoke rule 37(b) subsection 127.9 (SonofCarl, please check me on this): Lack of presence of a sense of humor can be waived in such circumstances that the person lacking thereof nevertheless and heretofor finds that OTHER members of the BPH are terribly amusing in more than compensatory fashion, suchwith and, in recto summus con carne, that the hilarity of the boodle which may (or may not) ensue is thereto appreciably compensated by the presence of an appreciative audience.

Which, of course, I'd be perfectly happy to do in your case. Just this one time, anyway.

Wilbrod, be assured no one has to sign anything absolving the boodlers of liability, under the legal doctrine of in mensa res tutti gemutlicheit, as ennunciated by the learned jurist the Hon. Mollie Fleeberhoffen writing for the majority in Hooters v. Big Beaver Corridor Development Authority (ref. Weingarten's chat, July 18, 2006, inst. and stat.). I can't make it much clearer than that, dude.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

mo, great pictures.

Wilbrod, re: your teacher, true, but that's also an assignment you don't want to do "too well" as a student either!

This is from a Haute Maine Supreme Court case decided this year:

"The appellant was a university student taking courses toward her goal of being admitted to the School of Social Work and becoming a social worker. As a result of a missing footnote to her term paper, professor B speculated that the case study attached as an appendix might be a personal confession to having sexually abused children (a "cry for help"). In fact the case study had been taken from a textbook listed in the bibliography attached to the term paper. B also suspected the term paper itself to be plagiarized. She wrote a letter to the appellant raising the issue of plagiarism, but did not mention to the appellant her concerns about suspected child abuse or request an explanation regarding the appendix. B later took her concerns to R, the Director of the School of Social Work, who, without seeking an explanation from the appellant, sent a "suspected ill‑treatment" report to the Child Protection Services ("CPS"). Consequently, unbeknownst to the appellant, the suggestion that she was a suspected child sex abuser was discussed amongst three university professors, communicated to the RCMP, and disclosed to a minimum of ten social workers in several communities, many of whom knew the appellant through her summer employment and one of whom was her boyfriend's sister."

A jury found the University's treatment of the appellant to be negligent and further found that as a result of this negligence her chosen career prospects had been destroyed; it awarded $839,400 in damages, including $430,000 in non‑pecuniary damages.

It's like a lost Three's Company episode: Chrissy finds a letter in Jack's bedroom that she thinks is a confession to a crime. Hilarity ensues.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"It's not the heat it's the humility" - Yogi Berra

Posted by: Boodle Killer | July 18, 2006 2:42 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl: Holy Cow.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 18, 2006 2:43 PM | Report abuse

SoC, that went to the Federal Supreme Court?

Posted by: dmd | July 18, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Such an assortment of riches today. . . lovely kit, Error. For weather considerations alone I agree that you should base your underground campaign in Canada. Similar language and customs, and now that the Treasury has colorized our bills the money even looks similar.

Congratulations, Bayou Self. Make sure they get a videotape of the hopping, or you'll have to fill out forms in triplicate to swear you did it.

Several years ago the Powers that Be where I work decided we needed our own database to keep track of the minutiae (and I mean that) which pass through our institution. The first programmer they hired (a) couldn't speak English, only programmerese; (b) didn't understand what we did; (c) only reported to the Powers that Be, who didn't know what any of us do, specifically, on a daily basis; and (d) didn't ask. Result: it didn't work. The subsequently hired programmer (a) spoke programmerese, computerese and English; (b) knew enough to ask occasionally, but not on a regular basis, and not the right people; and (c) still reported to the Powers that Be, who by this time have a dim idea of what we do. Second Guy left JUST before finishing the program; they put it online without him. It didn't work. Third hire cannot program, so can only tinker around the edges, explain that he doesn't know what the problems are, and try to jerry-rig solutions. He also would rather tell us what the system (if it worked) can do than ask what we need. I would LOVE to have an errors analysis person tackle this -- but she'd just report to the Powers That Be.

I've often been told that Virgos are picky and obsessive (and that's the nice version). Not that I'm suggesting that says anything about the Boodle. In fact, I think it's great that we're comfortable enough here to admit to what, in astrological terms, appears to be a stigma. Or so I'm told. Not to be picky about it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 18, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

On the subject of astrology, I would like to offer the following, carefully considered and cogently-reasoned, comment: Aaaaaaaaggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ugh. Ack. Gurgle.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 18, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Well, I know my almost-2-year old thinks I'm hysterical. Surely her opinion counts for more than most!

Plus, I'm a Virgo.

Posted by: PLS | July 18, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse

bc's rules for BPH success:

1. Eat (a remarakble selection of food for under $2.00)
2. Drink (alcoholic beverages suggested but not required)
3. Be Mary (do NOT ask what Mudge has goin' on under that Government Drone uniform.)


Posted by: bc | July 18, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

My son also finds me consistently amusing. Particularly when I'm being picky or obsessive. I'm afraid that's a condition, or hazard, of parenting, and not to be taken as absolution.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 18, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

A Virgo AND your two-year-old thinks you're a laff riot? Well, sheeeee[Bushian expletive], why dincha say so in the first place? So come ahead, then!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 3:04 PM | Report abuse


that will teach me to try to read the blog in one corner of the screen with just one eye... while working, I thought you were telling us not to ask Mudge about his groin.

Even if you didn't say that, I STILL will not ask Mudge about his groin.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 18, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Why do you think I'm all the time so darned perky?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Mudge's groin is perky? Then I'll be there for sure.

Gotta go get some work done.

Posted by: PLS | July 18, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Gypped: You could take the 3:08 MARC train to Union Station--gets in at 4:50. Catch the Metro Red Line to Dupont Circle (north exit) and it's about a 3 block walk over to M&S. Would get you there by 5:30. If you have to drive, it should take about an hour from Aberdeen into DC, assuming no tunnel problems. (I would come west around the DC Beltway and go south on Connecticut Avenue). Then, though, it might take another hour to find a place to park!

Posted by: ebtnut | July 18, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse


Sorry, ebtnut, it's the Farragut North station (south exit) that puts you three blocks from M & S.


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Mudge asks, "Why do you think I'm all the time so darned perky?"

I'm assuming it's because of the ladies' undergarments you favor, Mary. Er, Mudge.

I have no such issues, being Mr. Commando and all.


Posted by: bc | July 18, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

ebnut, M&S offers a valet parking service.

Just pull up at the front doors, and they will park the car for you. No need to look for parking, they have it all well in hand.



Posted by: bc | July 18, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

SCC: ebtnut.

Sorry, typing in a hurry.

Now, off to work on old Brit cars.


Posted by: bc | July 18, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

or the circulator bus from Union Station goes right by the place. DARN RIGHT BY IT. BAM. There you are. And you make Al Gore feel really good about cutting CO2 emissions all at the same time.

Circulator buses run on combustable Republican Talking Points. They are the dilithium crystals of K Street.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 18, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes a guy just likes to feel....special.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

bc, do these "valets" actually bring your car back? You can get much better cars with a little red jacket than you can with a couple thousand dollars.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 18, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Just want to say thanks - y'all are pretty much my antidote to reading the front pages and worrying about my family and friends in various parts of Israel.

Posted by: axe | July 18, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

We're good that way, axe. We need the antidote ourselves, every day.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

dmd, yes, that's a SCC decision. The full text is here:

On astrology, I heard once that even if a person was so inclined to believe in astrology, the zodiac dates are outdated and out of whack with when the sun is actually in Virgo etc. Anyone else heard this?

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the stars, they're always a-changin'.

As the earth spins around the sun, the sun's also going for a walk, towing the system with it, and all the other stars in the galaxy walk around a bit as well.

And folks, the news in the skies is just old news from 4.5 years to zillions of years ago.

I expect any day that astronomers will report they finally saw stars from the previous universe, pre Big Bang.;).

"The mill of the Gods grinds slowly but exceedingly fine."-- this was a quote in a book that studied the precession of the equinox. Our earth wobbles like a top, just slowly. Right now Polaris is the pole star, but it won't always be.

Maybe instead of an astrology column, how about an astronomy/ comparative calendar column?

"Today: day of the Surprised Lemur in the month of the wrinked Prune in the year of the Laughing Dog in the Century of the Fruitbat...."

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks SoC, didn't have time to read more than the the start but very interesting. I'd forgotten how much I used to enjoy reading those judgements.

Posted by: dmd | July 18, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Now that would be an astrology column I would read. For all you Chixulbubs, beware of jaguars in the afternoon. Texalhiucans, today would be a good day to stay away from the ball court.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

>didn't have time to read more than the the start but very interesting. I'd forgotten how much I used to enjoy reading those judgements.

Story of my life, dmd. Now I'm back to work!

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Actually that was the Discworld (tm)-type of Calendar, although Pratchett's never actually mentioned the names of the months and days. (Should have been year of the Dancing Dog, my bad).

Mayan calendars are similar (7 Jaugar etc.).

Chinese Horoscope: Rabbits should rest and keep low profile when angry dogs are about.
Dogs, today would be a bad day to open a fortune cookie. Just don't.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Snuke: Sorry, I was reading Mudge's earlier note and he said 1652 16th Street, which is further uptown. 1652 "K" Street, folks. Don't know if I will make it or not. Planning to be off that week and maybe out of town again.

Posted by: ebtnut | July 18, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

'Salright, ebtnut, hope you can make it.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks ebt! (and Snuke for the correction) That's a wonderful idea! Assuming those aren't the days I'm off to Washington state, I'll be there.

I live in Ellicott City, work in Aberdeen, but I can still take the MARC from somewhere around EC (Halethorpe, Dorsey, etc.). I never realized how many trains go south in the afternoon/evening. I was balking at driving that much in one day, yo-yoing across MD. I put more than my share of CO2 in the atmosphere with my commute as it is.

Posted by: GyppedOne | July 18, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

sorry to bring up astrology - i don't hold much stake in it b/c it's too vague - tho i spose i do have some "typical" virgo traits - picky, ocd...

if you guys haven't seen russell peters - he's hilarious!

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Day of the Surprised Lemur in the Century of the Fruitbat -- now you're talkin'. I think I'll propose that nomenclature at home. Both Lemurs and Fruit Bats (to give it the more respectful spelling) are popular at our house (I call the boy a fruit bat, but he prefers fruit wolf).

Sorry I'll miss the BPH, but we outlanders will be thinking of you. I miss DC in August, sure I do.

Planning for error -- today our entire computer system has been down once and mine personally went nuts again, just for fun. Of course, all our research resources and documents are now online or in computer files for easy access. When they work.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 18, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry but I have to take a whole bunch of umbrage with respect to 'Mudge's 12:04. I'm sorry but the only way you will get me to return your call for only $350 an hour is if I bill in increments of five hours at a time. The NERVE!!!

Posted by: distant lurker | July 18, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Heyyy, Jack! Are you and family going to be around August 12/13? TBG and family will be in Charlotte and we're planning a Carolina BPH. Would love to see you also. I'm thinking Harper's at SouthPark.

Posted by: Slyness | July 18, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

distant lurker, I'm with you.

Unfortunately, I've been informed that Curmudgeon, acting as an officer of AFSBSCABWNAOPGIHKS, obtained earlier today an ex parte order from the Floyd's Knob Superior Court sealing the remaining umbrage.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but I double crossed him with a timely nunc pro tunc Chocolate Thunder slam dunk filed with Court of the Exchequer in French Lick who rescinded Floyd and his alleged Knobs and, in absentio, granted mandamus magnifico, topped with a delicious marachino cherry.

Oh yeah, they also ordered that Erik guy from a couple weeks ago to be burned at the stake.


Posted by: distant lurker | July 18, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute. Can't we import some umbrage from Canada? Surely a U.S. court doesn't have jurisdiction over the supply of Canadian umbrage. SonofCarl?

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 18, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I understand the elderly often rent buses to go up and get Canadian umbrage, which is much less expensive, but equally effective . . . .

Posted by: distant lurker | July 18, 2006 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, guys, relax! That's only the retainer, and for purposes of our AFSBSCABWNAOPGIHKS tax return stuff. You know you'll get rest in cash under the table, like always. I'm just gonna funnel it through Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, and the Fugawi Indian Nation, like I always do.

Note to the rest of the boodle: you wonder where your union dues are going? Now you know. At least gimme SOME credit: I got two Canuckistani lawyers because of the favorable exchange rate. Unfortunately, I picked that Hoosier to translate. No good deed goes unpunished.


Off-topic, offline and seriously, distantlurker, but did you ever hear of a case called Sales V. Indiana? I got an attaboy award here some months ago because of some work I did that cited it. (I'm not exactly sure what the going street value of a gummit attaboy is, but I don't think it would get me the foam of a Carbucks latte mucho fluffitado.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

ivansmom, that's what I thought too. However, umbrage was added to the amended NAFTA text as a Distinctive Product of the United States and therefore Floyd's Knob has jurisdiction (text of the amended agreement below):

Annex 313: Distinctive Products

1. Canada and Mexico shall recognize Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey, which is a straight Bourbon Whiskey authorized to be produced only in the State of Tennessee, (i) and umbrage, which is an agitated state of mind, authorized to be produced only in the District of Columbia (/i) as distinctive products of the United States. Accordingly, Canada and Mexico shall not permit the sale of any product as Bourbon Whiskey or Tennessee Whiskey, (i) or umbrage (/i) unless it has been manufactured in the United States in accordance with the laws and regulations of the United States governing the manufacture of Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey (i) and umbrage (/i).

NAFTA text:

Fortunately, I see that distant lurker already has it handled. I look forward to relaxing tonight with some Tennessee Whiskey and some umbrage.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Gotta lotta umbrage out here in the Midwest ("Hey, tro me sum umbrage, der hey.") FedEx OK?

Posted by: CowTown | July 18, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

You can't use Canadian Umbrage, it's all metric.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 18, 2006 5:40 PM | Report abuse

SoC, did you notify the shop steward about the new retainer policy for our representation of AFSBSCABWNAOPGIHKS? Especially the part about the Fed Ex package full of clean $100 bills? I jes' askin' (Hoosier vernacular).

Posted by: distant lurker | July 18, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the quick cite, SonofCarl. I need some of that whisky now. [Good thing I work for the gummint, otherwise there'd be someone here this close to 5 wondering what I'm giggling at in here.]

Mudge, I'm sure you just "forgot" the separate retainer for any personal criminal liability you may incur involving your handling of union dues as Shop Steward.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 18, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Wherefore is meter poetic measurable in feet/
And yard measurable made up of whole feet/

Yet whole feet can never make up a meter measurable?

This logic just does not measure.

Posted by: wilbrod | July 18, 2006 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Awright! My favorite French-Canadian dish! Loper Erique a feu de le umbrage! With some haricot verts d'Jean D'Arc? And a flambe for dessert, perhaps crepes Limbaugh?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I know this "poem" didn't scan. I was writing it in metric. So there.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

speaking of fees, et al - i was just watching the on cspan - The Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations held an oversight hearing to examine the accuracy and reliability of cost projections for the Global War on Terrorism.

the DOD was getting hammered! they had a gross lack of future spending estimates...

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 5:55 PM | Report abuse

sorry - that was totally off-topic but i found it interesting (esp since one of my bosses was testifying)

and also off-topic - any ruminations on who is the suspected closeted baseball player that gene was referring to? please don't let it be jeter!

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

DM, there is a conversion kit, but I have to admit that it's not really worthwhile.

Too funny, everyone.

Email discussion with other AFSBSCABWNAOPGIHKS counsel re: umbrage 0.6

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 18, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"...and reliability of cost projections for the Global War on Terrorism."

Jeez, the mind just boggles and boggles. None of us could have made up anything as remotely Monty Pythonesque as that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse


Jeter was my first thought, but I am not sure why.

Posted by: OK | July 18, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of conversions, etc. AND off topic, but I spotted a gas station with somewhat discounted cost per gallon so I pulled in and started pumping. The pumps had little stickers that said that the gas was 10% Ethanol.

Didn't know what to make of it, but the car is doing quite fine. Any thoughts from the achencrowd on this?

I am assuming that it is a bit cheaper and better for the "world," so to speak. Definitely better for our economy.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 18, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

ok - i can see how you'd say jeter - my first thought as well cuz he said everyone just loves the guy - and well, everyone (esp moi) just loves jeter...

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

youtube's Bush/Blair "Endless Love" duet:

Posted by: Loomis | July 18, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

DM- 10% Ethanol is perfectly safe for all cars that can take gasoline. Better for the environment.

Posted by: dmd | July 18, 2006 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Mo, you have a crush on Derek Jeter, eh?

You can always consolate yourself with the thought that dressing up as a woman on SNL (which he did) means little.

Although it was hilarious when Antonio Banderas stripped to a cute dress on SNL and announced he really was a woman and he was sick of the pretense. It even made headlines in Indian newspapers.

Anyway. If half of MLB baseball revealed themselves to be gay, would it really make that much difference? Racism continues even though minorities make a great splash in athletics.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 6:16 PM | Report abuse

mo, if you have a subscription to NYT online, there was a good article by either Friedman or Krugman yesterday on costs projection statements, or statements in general past 2001 era vs today re terrorism, Iraq, Middle East.

Posted by: dmd | July 18, 2006 6:16 PM | Report abuse

DM, the manual on my new Toyota says 10% ethanol is fine...I expect most vehicles are okay with it these days...

Wasn't the original problem that ethanol dissolved fuel lines and thus created safety issues? But that's been years ago, ten or more.

Posted by: Slyness | July 18, 2006 6:16 PM | Report abuse

The upside of such an announcement would be that butt-slapping might fall out of favor. I never liked that one.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 18, 2006 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Not sure about Ethanol, but biodiesel will clean the engines so you need to change filters more often, some rubber cannot tolerate higher mixtures of ethanol/biodiesel, anything under 20% should be fine.

Posted by: dmd | July 18, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I have some personal insight into what happens when governments figure out costs, but its sounds so stupid I am not even going to relate it here. I still consider it to stupid to have actually happened, but I've seen it in action on more than one occasion.

Suffice it to say, sometimes they forget overheads.

Posted by: dr | July 18, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I am lucky to have stayed in my chair, I am laughing so hard. I'm cryaing for laughing and I don't care if the whole building thinks I am nuts. It is SO worth it.

Posted by: dr | July 18, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Error, I really love the kit. I suspected you had written something, and you did a real nice job. Real human subject, and food for thought.

bayou self, glad you got the job. Those kids are getting a lot with you. I believe you will love it.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 18, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Just make sure your car can still walk a straight line after an ethanol fillup. Or is it wait a hour per gallon pumped before driving?

I'm so foncused...


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 18, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

yeah, i love me some derek jeter - the guy CAN'T be gay - he just CAN'T! he dated mariah carey fur crissakes!

dr - i'm also been privy to gubmint spending - if i ran my finances like that - well, i wouldn't have any finances!

Posted by: mo | July 18, 2006 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Slyness: We're in town that weekend, as far as I know, but school will be WFO at that point, what with band, non-instructinal duties at athletic events, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I'll check the calendar and get back to you.

Enten: The YP under lunatics.

Mudge: You weren't the guy Zappa was talking to when he said "Geez, I hope these aren't YOUR underpants..."

Posted by: jack | July 18, 2006 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Cassandra. You have single-handedly restored my faith in people of faith.

That's a pretty major accomplishment.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 18, 2006 8:03 PM | Report abuse

the bush-blair song is really funny, but how about bush and merkel here:

those of you working in the gummint, please clarify, but wouldn't this type of thing get you written up for something like ... uh ... sexual harrassment?

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 18, 2006 8:43 PM | Report abuse

L.A. lurker writes:
those of you working in the gummint, please clarify, but wouldn't this type of thing get you written up for something like ... uh ... sexual harrassment?

Happened more frequently than I would like to relate at Brooks AFB, when the Lt. Col. Richard D. came in to rub the shoulders of the Mexican secretary on staff. I personally couldn't stand the man, but of course, he got promoted up to the Pentagon. It was a hugely dysfunctional work environment.

At a staff meeting that ended his tenure at the base, when it came time to say the good-byes to him, he wanted to walk the line of employees to shake their hands. When he came to me, he quickly stepped in and gave me the full body hug from him, much to my surprise and amazement--and to the amazement of just about everyone else in our group. I didn't want his advances, didn't invite them, and secretly despised him more than words will allow.

Of course, I had made complaints of sexual harassment about my sub-contractor boss--inappropriate language. The person, tall Asian, who was a civilian employee never followed through--no subsequent meetings or action were take--and he followed the Lt. Col. to a position within the Pentagon. The sexually inappropriate Peter Principle.

Posted by: Loomis | July 18, 2006 9:12 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, re your 5:34. Sorry, not familiar. Federal or State court? Not a litigator so don't have to read advance sheets and keep up with the latest and greatest. At home, so don't have access to database that could help me. Will try to lookup tomorrow. Your citation to the Weingarten "case" alone is worthy of a Carbucks latte mucho fluffitado.

Posted by: distant lurker | July 18, 2006 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Under the circumstances, at least the German press (Das Bild online) puts a positive spin on Bush's oafish behavior:

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel spricht gerade mit Italiens Ministerpräsident Romano Prodi - da kommt George W. Bush in den Saal ...

*German Chancellor Angela Merkel is speaking with the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi--along comes George W. Bush into the auditorium*

... Merkel unterhält sich mit ihrem Tischnachbar, bemerkt nicht, wie Bush sich von hinten nähert...

*Merkel converses with her guest (table neighbor) and doesn't notice how Bush has approached from behind*

... plötzlich legt der US-Präsident beide Hände auf Merkels Schultern, . . .

*suddenly the U.S. President lays both hands on Merkel's shoulders*

... beginnt seine texanische Ein-Sekunden-Massage ...

*begins his one-second Texas (???) massage*

... die Kanzlerin zuckt erschrocken zusammen, reißt die Hände hoch, weiß nicht, wer sie da von hinten gepackt hat...

*the Chancellor, both startled and jerking, throws her hands into the air, doesn't know who has seized her from behind*

... und mit Unschuldsmiene steuert der Präsident nach dem Scherz auf seinen Platz am Konferenztisch zu. Merkel nimmt die überraschende Liebesattacke mit Humor, lächelt

*and the President, with an air of innocence after the joke, steers his way to his seat at the conference table. Merkel takes the unexpected "attack of love" with humor, smiles*

*I myself would have told Bush, "Pack dich!" (Be Off! Scram!)*

Posted by: Loomis | July 18, 2006 10:04 PM | Report abuse

EF, well done. Maybe you should send it to GeneW, who was not amused when the WaPo software went on the fritz. I liked that you mentioned Bayou Self, and I'm glad it lured him out of seclusion - and with good news! Just think, BS, you can use Joel's (and Gene's) articles as examples! How subversive is that?

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 18, 2006 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Michael Abramowitz has an interesting article ( about how some Conservatives and Neocons are angry at Bush's foreign policy (awwwww, poor babies), and which contains this little jewel of understantment:

"It has not helped the neoconservative case, perhaps, that the occupation of Iraq has not gone as smoothly as some had predicted."

*cue echo chamber effect*

"has not gone as smoothly as some had predicted"

"has not gone as smoothly as some had predicted"

"has not gone as smoothly as some had predicted"

"has not gone as smoothly as some had predicted"

"has not gone as smoothly as some had predicted"

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 18, 2006 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Error Flyn, your kit was wonderful. I'm popping in awfully late to the discussion, but I did want to say how much I enjoyed Old Stuff and Plan for Error. I've only just realized that I haven't scheduled error in my daily life, though I do at work. Very strange, especially for me who travels a lot for my job. Is there a formula?

Also dmd and dr, thanks for the welcome on Friday.

I see Wilbrod posting; you know about dogs, don't you? Me too. And horses.

I was out of town at a wedding in eastern Ontario this weekend; lovely service and fun reception, but glad to be back home out of the 100 degree weather.

Cassandra, do you really walk every day when it is so hot? You have my admiration.

A la prochaine

Posted by: Stampede | July 18, 2006 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Compared to gasoline, ethanol gasohol burns in an environmentally more friendly fashion but is less fuel efficient so you must burn more of it. Though less expensive, it doesn't push you so far. They refine petroleum to till, fertilize, and harvest it. Do we come out ahead at the end of the game? If we are grain farmers, we surely do.

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | July 18, 2006 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Frat-boy Bush from Maureen Dowd's column in tomorrow's NYT:

"In many regards, the Bush I knew did not seem to be built for what lay ahead," wrote Frank Bruni, [Loomis Chaffee grad and] the Times writer who covered W.'s ascent, in his book "Ambling Into History." "The Bush I knew was part scamp and part bumbler, a timeless fraternity boy and heedless cutup, a weekday gym rat and weekend napster, an adult with an inner child that often brimmed to the surface or burst through."

The open-microphone incident at the G-8 lunch in St. Petersburg on Monday illustrated once more that W. never made any effort to adapt. The president has enshrined his immaturity and insularity, turning every environment he inhabits -- no matter how decorous or serious -- into a comfortable frat house.

No matter what the trappings or the ceremonies require of the leader of the free world, he brings the same DKE diction, bearing and cadences, the same insouciance and smart-alecky attitude, the same simplistic approach -- swearing, swaggering, talking to Tony Blair with his mouth full of buttered roll, and giving a startled Angela Merkel an impromptu shoulder rub. He can make even a global summit meeting seem like a kegger.

More on Bruni's book:

Posted by: Loomis | July 18, 2006 11:37 PM | Report abuse

For those of you wondering how yellojkt's cross-country trip is going, he blogged tonight:

Whew, I was getting a little concerned that we hadn't heard from him since St Louis!

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 19, 2006 12:47 AM | Report abuse

SCC - yellojkt posted in the morning, duh - I didn't see it till just now.


Posted by: mostlylurking | July 19, 2006 12:50 AM | Report abuse

f, Error works for me, especially when it comes to sexual harassment around the office. I mean, I've been forgiven for so many "spacial" judgement errors, that if not for my unfortunate condition, that I would have been sent up the harassment creek long ago. It also helps out that I'm kinda dorky.

As far as my sexual harassment training goes, I believe there are some obvious infringements, but as I understand it, anything can be construed as an offense, including the manner of how one looks at another. The person who feels that they are being harassed must express to their harasser, either directly or indirectly, the manner in which the offense has occurred and a ddesire that the behavior discontinue.

I take this to mean that every sexual harasser gets at least 1 freeby.

And if you are concerned about "incidental contact", don't stand by the elevator buttons.

Posted by: Pat | July 19, 2006 7:05 AM | Report abuse

L.A. lurker, working in a testosterone-enhanced environment as I do, I have some knowledge of sexual harrassment. One dramatic case I recall was a fire captain who had issues with racism, sexism, etc. and who was politically incorrect on all possible occasions. The woman who was the driver on his truck finally got fed up and filled a grievance. He got a month's suspension and was transferred to a much less desirable station and retired as soon as he could.

In 1989, we had our first firefighter pregnancy. The deputy chief who supervised her shift wanted to put her out on unpaid leave for the duration. He had to call Seattle to find out that wasn't allowed under the Pregnancy Act of 1978. She came on light duty and was an effective employee for many months.

Sometimes, though, there is a fine line between the camraderie of fire station life and harrassment, and the difference is in the eye of the beholder. I made the mistake of doing a shift at a fire station and sleeping in the dorm in a t-shirt and shorts. One of the firefighters developed a crush on me and started visiting me and my family. He was married, so was I. He got me to take a ride with him on his motorcycle and made a pass at me like you wouldn't believe. It was hilarious; I laughed for days. Later it dawned on me that I could have gotten him fired for that, even though it occurred off-duty. If there had been a recurrence, I would have had to say something. But I wasn't offended, and it makes a good story when his name comes up.

I could go on, but that's enough. Maybe I should write the book.

Posted by: slyness | July 19, 2006 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Someone nudge Hal for the new Kit...


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 19, 2006 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I spoke too soon... NEW KIT! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 19, 2006 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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