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Frenzied Interactivity

[My column in the Sunday magazine.]

In the news media there is much talk of "interactivity," of breaking down the wall between journalistic producers and consumers. No longer will the news be proprietary to a professional elite that attempts, in an Olympian voice, to speak down to the unwashed masses. Instead, everyone will be an equal, fully respected partner in the news process, including nitwits, fanatics, the extremely daft and the recently straitjacketed.

I'm all in favor of this, as I have a blog, with many excellent commenters, some of whom comment on the comments of other commenters and manage to develop, over time, a kind of cult following of their own, such that the readers of the blog tend to forget all about the writer to whom the blog technically, in an old-fashioned sense, "belongs." Which is fine! Into the future we go! My feelings aren't hurt. We all know who's actually getting paid around here. Paid. Paid. Not to rub it in. Paid.

Interactivity is an evolving process. In the future, reporters will have to have, for at least one hour a day, a reader seated at their elbow to offer helpful suggestions. Occasionally, the reader will be allowed to climb onto the reporter's lap to take charge of the keyboard. You'll start seeing interesting double bylines, such as:

By John Noble Wilford

and Some Guy Named Bob

A leading component of the age of interactivity is Technorati. It shows who's blogging about what, who's linking to whom. It's a vanity machine for bloggers. You can Technorati yourself in the same way that you can Google yourself. You can ponder the fact that no one has mentioned you in 39 days. Then you can think of something outrageous to write that will incite interactive comment. Shoot low, and watch them link.

Another innovation: Some online newspapers allow you to click on a reporter's byline and send an e-mail instantly, before you lose the impetus to call the reporter a glob of bat poop.

Soon, articles published online will typically have their own little comment area. You will be able to read the story and immediately opine, as well as read the opinions of the other opiners. Eventually we'll take this to yet another level, and allow comments between paragraphs. Because readers shouldn't be treated like second-class citizens. All hierarchies must be shattered. In theory there is no reason why comments couldn't be permitted inside individual sentences, like this:

"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke [a total fascist -- Skippy] signaled Thursday that he will support [as always, Skippy, you're a complete twit -- Onan the Barbarian] another quarter-point hike in the [off-topic, but does anyone know a good way to clean that disgusting fuzzy dust off the refrigerator coils? -- Bert in Brookeville] prime lending rate."

The ultimate destination of this phenomenon is the complete transformation of any text into discrete "bytes" of information, divorced from their original source, to be used democratically in whatever fashion the downstream manipulator wishes. The concept of "copyright" will become extinct. So will "the meaning" of a piece of writing. If you wish, you can reconfigure Moby Dick to become the story of an aging sea captain who is obsessed with a great white hamster.

A long-standing example of interactivity is the "e-mail campaign," in which ideological organizations urge their followers to bombard news organizations with e-mails that in some rare instances are not graphically obscene. Savvy partisans can take a snippet from a story, deftly remove all context and nuance so that it appears to be equating, say, SpongeBob SquarePants with Joseph Goebbels. Then they can mass-circulate it with instructions to send the writer an e-mail stating that, in preparation for his or her richly deserved and hopefully imminent death, Hell is adding a lower circle -- like, so far below the 9th it's more like the 4,872th.

[This just in from Ronnie in Chattanooga: "Don't get hamster joke. Explain."]

All of this is an improvement on the old days, when journalists typically interacted only with their bosses and their sources, while pausing occasionally to read a handwritten letter from a reader who was upset that her morning paper had arrived wet.

Writing was often solitary work back then. The writer was guided not by the audience so much as by an inner voice, what might be called, at the risk of sounding pretentious, a literary or journalistic conscience. Thanks to interactivity, that conscience can now be outsourced.

It's never been easier to know precisely what people want to hear, and to tell them just that, which is one reason American discourse remains divided into two camps of people who reinforce each other's beliefs while hating the other side.

Don't you think?

E-mail: achenbachj@washpost.com.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 1, 2006; 8:18 AM ET
 
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Comments

You're not the only one getting paid for this, Joel. Many of us boodle from work when the boss isn't looking.

Posted by: martooni | July 1, 2006 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I want to hear that "Dr. Goldfoot and The Biikini Machine" has gone back into production on DVD.

Um, what were you saying Joel?

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 1, 2006 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm a big fan of interactivity too, but I think we're losing something in the rush to build this Tower of Babel. Clarity and focus come to mind. Reader comments can improve the clarity of a piece (if they know what they're talking about), but on the other hand they can just as easily muddy the waters with misinformation and misunderstanding.

Another thing that comes to mind is anticipation. It seems to me that the growth of blogs and other forums is driven not just by the "need to be heard", but by the need to be heard *now*. We're becoming addicted to instant gratification -- microwaves, cell phones, ketchup bottles you can squeeze -- and have somehow forgotten how much more meaningful a delayed reward can be.

I'm thinking of the first time I had a letter to the editor published in my local paper. It had to be typed and signed with a return address and phone number and physically *mailed* in. Because space was limited, they only picked the best for publication (well, you *hope* they're picking the best), so you really had to think about what you wanted to say and make sure you said it well. Then you had to sit on your hands and be *patient*. Instead of seeing your words instantly appear on a web page, you had to go buy a paper and actually open it up to see whether your letter made the cut. Most letters didn't make it, but I remember the satisfaction (and justification?) I felt when my first one got through. I still have the clipping of that first letter because it actually meant something to me.

Posted by: martooni | July 1, 2006 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Error... I think Joel's hamster mention may have been a hint that we should start another boodle-serial. You already have the perfect name for the swashbuckling captain and our shop steward is an expert on all things nautical.

All we need to do is replace "hamster" with "groundhog". How do you feel about giving up a leg?

Posted by: martooni | July 1, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Glad you provided your e-mail address, Joel.

I tried to post something wholly relevant and on-topic with the Kit--only to have my post held twice by Hal the Schemer, so I forwarded the content to you.

My comment was about how reader feeback, or interactivity, or brouhaha from retired military officers about an important recent international headline caused our paper's new ombudsman to write his take on the issue, siding with readers.

Apparently, the old adage is true: the wheels that squeak the loudest get the most grease. In this city where the military has such a huge presence and social and financial power, I strongly disagree with the ombudsman's and managing editor's rethinking of the issue. They caved.

Posted by: Loomis | July 1, 2006 9:42 AM | Report abuse

>How do you feel about giving up a leg?

martooni, as long as it's a groundhog leg, I'm good. For anything else there's PhotoShop.

Recent intelligence indicates the head of Groundhog Insurgency may have succumbed to natural causes due to his underground on-the-run lifestyle, and has been replaced by a direct descendant.

Signals were fuzzy, but it's thought the small female was heard to say:

"I'm the new #2."

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 1, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Off-topic...

Does anyone know why a cat purrs?

Thank you.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 1, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Great column Joel!

I really enjoy the ability to read peoples comments on issues, up here the Globe & Mail online does have a comment section after articles, I find it both interesting to read the comments and also to see which articles people to choose to comment on most.

The Editorial/Opinions sections has always been my favorite section in papers.

That said some of the eloquence I remember from reading the letters to the editor has been lost and replaced with instant reactions and nastiness. The civil discourse that has appeared in this boodle on issues is a rarity.

Posted by: dmd | July 1, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

How & Why cats purr

http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/catspurr.html

Posted by: dmd | July 1, 2006 10:39 AM | Report abuse

No fair, dmd;

The answer even starts off saying "no one knows for sure!" *L*

I think purring is a telepathic command mechanism designed to drive media interactivity.

I mean, doesn't JA have cats?


:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 1, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Not sure about cats driving media interactivty, due to allergies I am a dog person. It would seem from the comments I read (mostly elsewhere than here)alcohol is the driving force between interactivity, that or keyboard rage :)

Posted by: dmd | July 1, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, I don't know why the Schemer's bots blocked your on-topic missives. The mystery of the bot filter continues, and when I get into my emails on Monday I can post what you wrote (sadly there are limits to interactivity on the weekend -- one limit being that I don't read my work email on saturdays and sundays). And I'll try to get the Schemer to look anew at the bot's bad behavior. Thanks.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 1, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Fortunately, I'm not the kind of guy who would post comments about journalistic material. I have class, you know.

Posted by: kindathinker | July 1, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm still waiting for the answer about cleaning the refrigerator coils.

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2006 11:34 AM | Report abuse

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the Canada Day note TBG, I see you survived the gaggle of 12 year olds, you are very brave. Any tips we will have a similar event at the end of the summer.

Posted by: dmd | July 1, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse

dmd... it only really works if you have a basement. (Little G waited for the carpet to dry before inviting her friends for the sleepover.)

One fun adventure note: Big brother and his friend went out and bought diet cola and Mentosâ„¢ and they shot cola fountains off in the street late last night. The gaggle of girls loved it. (They found cheap no-name diet cola for 25 cents per 2-litre bottle)

In case you're wondering what I'm talking about:

http://www.eepybird.com/

==

We've spent a couple of Canada Days in your wonderful country. It looks so funny to see patriotism reflected in just red and white. Lots of fun both times (once in Guelph and once in Kingston).

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

funny kit joel. you could change achenblog to achenwiki for a few days and see what happens.

tbg: that video is hilarious. any ideas on what kind of chemical reaction is happening between the diet coke and mentos? i mean, does it not work with regular coke or something?

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 1, 2006 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Good writing, Joel. I've always loved to read the newspaper. My father read the paper when we were children, and we developed the habit from him. He still reads the paper everyday, and would feel lost without it. I read the front page, but love the editorial and opinion page the most. I used to read the letters to the editors, but now most folks get to comment on the computer, so the writing is getting to be a lost art.
Now that people can comment instantly about all kinds of subjects, you're right, Joel, they do get nasty and ugly. And we are divided into two camps, but I believe that reflects how it is out here in the streets, if I may use that word. I also believe that because of the technology, journalism has taken a kinda lazy turn, in that it is so easy to just sit and not get out, and see and do. Just sit at the computer or the wire, whatever it is called, and one doesn't have to pound the beat. Get up close and personal. But, hey, I'm just an old person moving into a new era that is totally foreign to me. Find out what the neighbor thinks or if he thinks at all. Now when a big story breaks, the media just adds tidbits to it each day, but the same old story being told, and it drawn out for weeks. And the consumer doesn't get all the details, just those the media want to tell us. There's always someone in this world planning something and manipulating something, there is always that backroom thing, but now days we don't hear it, and if we do, we don't recognize it. It feels like the media has lost that "in your face" attitude, and has sort of coward down. I don't understand a lot of things, and I suspect this might just be one of them.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 1, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

on-topic:

(1) People, he is making fun of us.

(2) We deserve it!

(3) This is a very funny column, and hits home like the new year's resolution story. Ouch (laughing)!

off-topic:

Sign of the times--I have a dinner party to go to tonight and as a hostess gift I want to give a framed photo. I burned the digital photo on a cd and headed to the CVS down the street. There are two self-service photo printers there, as well as a one-hour photo lab. One of the printers was occupied so I stepped up to the second one. That one allows you to edit the photos to suit and then pick them up in an hour. An HOUR! I'm not waiting an hour to get a photo printed!! As soon as I had that thought, I literally laughed out loud at myself, remembering that not long ago I would have had to wait 10 days for an 8x10 print to be mailed from the regional lab. Anyway, I waited 5 more minutes until the other customer was finished with the Kodak printer, and did my prints "instantly."

Posted by: kbertocci | July 1, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

TBG I love that video. I know what you mean about the red and white, I get the same feeling with your flags (much more prominant in daily life than here).

We are looking forward to the City's fireworks tonight - fingers crossed the thunder storms will hold off, they have been appearing randomly out of nowhere for days, fortunately where I live has missed most of the worst.

Posted by: dmd | July 1, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

kb, you're right - Joel is making fun of us, but he does it so nicely! Hardly snarky at all.

I caught the last half of Bill Moyers' new series Faith and Reason last night. Very good - he was talking with Salman Rushdie. So nice to hear a calm, thoughtful discussion about serious issues, and plenty of light-hearted moments too. It ended with Rushdie reading from The Satanic Verses - very funny. I've never read any of his books, but must do so soon. You can watch the interview and/or read the transcript here:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/watch_rushdie.html

Hope everyone has a great weekend and holiday! We're still having the unprecedented wonderful weather here - it may be a sign of the apocalypse, or something - but my plan is to enjoy every minute of it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 1, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Yeah.. the boss is making fun of us. But like any good boss, he knows we make fun of him behind his back all the time. (heh, heh.. just kidding, Boss!)

Remember the time Loomis made that great face that looked just like Joel? And way back when Eurotrash could perfectly imitate the way Joel walks? And the time RD Padouk stood that funny way that Joel stands, jutting his chest out, when he's yelling at us?

That was a hoot!

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

TBG, thanks so much for the Mentos video. My kids have watched it twice already, and want to try it in our back yard. Maybe on Tuesday, instead of driving to an overcrowded field to watch fireworks, we'll create our own.

Posted by: a bea c | July 1, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't know whether to be flattered or appalled at this column/Kit. Appalled always makes for better blogging, so I'm leaning that way.

Still, I think I'll go with Burnt Umbrage.

Thanks for the almost-mention of my blogsite, though.

bc

Posted by: bc | July 1, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't find "Frenzied Interactivity" funny. I find it sad. I have read through some of the comments from this and earlier blogs and find the thoughtful (even those sometimes off-topic thoughtful pieces) buried under so many irrelevant rantings of what I can only guess are posters who want some attention. I even found an advertisement from someplace overseas in the comments section of one of the recent blogs. I would like to have away to skip the worthless material and get to the substance. Perhaps the dross will disappear when our society finally discovers a way to pass and verify identity over the internet. I remain a hopeful blog reader and an occasional comment browser.

Posted by: AdultReader | July 1, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I should have added that I've seen the Mentos/diet soda fountains before, they're pretty cool.

bc

Posted by: bc | July 1, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

adultreader: skim!

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 1, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

My first letter to the newspaper was not to the editor, but to a columnist who wrote about TV commercials. It was a very funny column. He made fun of everything. I was about 12 years old and I'd been in a TV commercial. The guys who recruited me at the local mall said I'd be paid three to five weeks after the commercial stopped running. Three months later, I had nothing. So, wrote a letter asking the reporter to write about it. Instead of writing his own column, he published my letter. Less than a week later, I got my check.

Years after moving to the US, my hometown newspaper launched its online version. I started reading the guy's column again. The guy had expanded to other topics. Sometimes his column was funny. But it didn't sound right. The language didn't flow. I can't explain it. I still read it. Then one day, I recognized what I read in his column. It was one of those funny stories that circulate in emails. He had translated it from English to Spanish. I went back and read other columns from the past few Thursdays. Sure enough, they were all translated emails he must have received. Email was still very uncommon in Colombia, so he figured he was safe.

I wrote a letter and attached the original email in English. I copied the editor, and my dad. Just by chance, one of the newspaper owners had an appointment with my dad that day. My dad showed her the letter. The guy lost his job. That was not my intention.

I'm not sure what this says about interactivity.

Posted by: a bea c | July 1, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Joel is making sport of us as much as he is commenting about the absurdity of a universe where anybody with a dial-up computer can take part in a worldwide dialog previous dominated by professional journalists. You know, the people who know not to write run-on sentences.

What will save civilization is that as more people start to talk, there will be less people around to listen. Eventually everyone will be talking and nobody will be listening. There will be nothing but a background hum of intellectual white noise. I expect this will occur sometime in late October. At this point I expect a renewed desire for reliable and acountable information. You know, the stuff you get from professional journalists.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 1, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

haven't read the Kit or Kaboodle yet. just wanted to say I am all Mac mini all the the way (old HP PC is completely unplugged)...

I have no idea what I'm doing...have no clue what to do...took me about 20 minutes to figure out what the heck was meant by 'Apple Menu'...can somebody help me???

An important question for me to Error Flynn (who I'm voting for in '08) or Pixel (or anyone else with Mac experience): How is it I'm able to log on without having installed any ISP software???

About that 'can somebody help me???': where can I get help on figuring out why my keyboard is a freakish pain? So many keys don't do what I'm used to...none of the function keys work at all...cntl and and have no effect (or an unexpected effect)...

sorry I know that's a tall order...

anyhoo, I'm reading 'Beat to Quarters' and am engrossed in another page turner (thanks 'Mudge, and any others, for bringing this great series to my attention).

a-a-a-and: HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!!


Posted by: omni | July 1, 2006 9:26 PM | Report abuse

a bea c,
Glad your trip to DC went ok! It sounds like the columnist got what he deserved, even if that's not what you intended. I think what it says about interactivity is that you can't get away with calling someone else's work (even a joke with no specific author) your own for long in this world. And that's probably a good thing, but it does make writing a column even harder.

Where do those jokes and stories come from, anyway? I rarely open them, never forward them to anyone else. Am I missing something (besides a sense of humor, ha ha)?

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 1, 2006 9:35 PM | Report abuse

omni,
Congratulations! I can't help you - it's been too long since I've used a Mac, sad to say - I took all the Mac books to Half Price Books awhile ago. I think the internet connection is magic.

I am a computer professional, but mainly for Unix systems. My home stuff was set up by my kid, so I am clueless. I'm terrified that something will stop working, and I won't be able to get him on the phone (he's 1000 miles away now). He's coming for a visit in about a week - I must try to get him to explain some of the basics!

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 1, 2006 9:44 PM | Report abuse

>How is it I'm able to log on without having installed any ISP software???

Just BE with it my friend... actually i's probably a default gateway thing and you lucked out. I told you about the keyboard mappings though. I cheesed out and got their keyboard, which is still very mushy but has the right keycaps so you can figure out what's what.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 1, 2006 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Worked. On. Boat. All. Day. Grueling. Then. Tonight. Crab feast. Daughter's hous. Grandkids. Fireworks. Mosquitoes. Exhausted. Collapsing. G'night.

P.S. Joyeaux Canuckistan Day to all Haute Mainers.

P.S. #2: As shop steward, official burnt umbrage on behalf of unpaid boodlers will have to wait until Monday morning, at which time the grievance committee will hold a special emergency session. scottynuke, bring the donuts. This might be a long one. First item of business: we've received an official complaint from Some Guy Named Bob.

Morpheus beckons.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 1, 2006 10:54 PM | Report abuse

omni's plea for help without reading the kit is sooo on topic. ;)

omni: googling "mac and pc keyboard equivalents" gets a lot of results, such as:

http://word.mvps.org/mac/Differences.html

i'd browse a few of these types of pages to find a decent reference list or chart.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 1, 2006 11:20 PM | Report abuse

omni...

First off... the Apple menu is found in that little apple in the top left corner. Ta da!

What functions like a Windows Control key on a Mac is really the Command key -- the one next to the spacebar that looks like an interstate cloverleaf. If you don't have an Apple keyboard I can't imagine how this works. Yes, there's a Control key, but it works more like "right click" than anything else.

Am I making any sense? When I come back from the beach next week I'll help you get set up.

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2006 11:27 PM | Report abuse

As part of Canada day, I spent a little time getting beaten up by lumberjacks in "little Canadia" on KoL.

In real life: Hmm, enjoying the subarctic cold of air conditioning, practicing moose calls at unsuspecting drunks, and mushing with dogs.

The Smithsonian Folklife festival in DC is featuring Alberta, Canuckistan. From what I read, I wonder if there is anybody left in Alberta, they all seem to have come down to DC to say hello.

If they've survived the heat, I doubt they'll make the same mistake twice.

Comme le dit un vieil adage:
Rien n'est si beau que son pays;
Et de le chanter, c'est l'usage;
Le mien je chante à mes amis
L'étranger voit avec un oeil d'envie
Du Saint-Laurent le majestueux cours;
À son aspect le Canadien s'écrie:
Ô Canada! mon pays! mes amours!

(This is not the OTHER O Canada which is the offical anthem!)

( As the old proverb says:
Nothing is more beautiful than one's own country;
And to sing it is the tradition;
And mine I sing to my friends
The stranger looks with an envious eye
Of the St. Lawrence the majestic course;
At its aspect the Canadian sings:
O Canada! my country! my love! )


Posted by: Wilbrod | July 2, 2006 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod- oh is that why the golf courses are empty?? I thought it was just the long weekend. Wow I can't say I've heard that saying in a long time, but then I haven't spoken french since grade school.

On a football note: poor Brazil to be outdone by the French yet again. They just couldn't seem to organize an offence. It's too bad, I really wanted Germany to be the ones to beat them.

Posted by: Kerric | July 2, 2006 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Perhaps Joel is making fun or game of us, but most folks think they have something important to say, even if their neighbor is not of the same opinion. And I believe because of the technology, we at some point, believe ourselves to be God's gift to journalism, including me. There are so many subjects to talk about, and so many comments to be made, and I guess people just want to have some impact on these issues. I think it is to keep from feeling alone in the world. We want that closeness that we sometimes pretend we'd rather not have.
I do hope everyone is enjoying their weekend, and looking forward to the Fourth. I'm on my way to Sunday school and church. Get some rest, folks. I have prayed for each and everyone, and love you dearly. Please know that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2006 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I have never seen that verse before it is wonderful,what is the source?

Rain held off for the fireworks last night, symphony, warm humid night and fireworks doesn't get much better, hope the 4th is just as nice for everyone.

Posted by: dmd | July 2, 2006 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I think I may have just discovered the secret of marital bliss: Earplugs.

I grudgingly (shop safety? bah!) bought some for working in the shop and they actually make running the router (which sounds like a million steel ball bearings rattling around a nuclear-powered mixer set to puree) much more pleasant to deal with.

The wonderful side effect was discovered when I re-entered the house late last night covered head-to-toe in sawdust and was (from what witnesses tell me) read the Riot Act for tracking in all that mess. I had inadvertently left the earplugs in and didn't hear (or feel) a thing when the verbal missiles hit. It was like I was impervious to criticism and complaint -- they bounced off me like bullets on Superman. I did see her lips moving, and I figured I was in trouble, but since I wasn't weakened by her initial volley I was able to open the fridge, grab an N.A. beer, give her a quizzacle (is that a word?) look and proceed to the bathroom confidently and unmolested.

All I want to know is whether anyone can point me to a manufacturer of "invisible" earplugs. I think I want to start wearing the things to bed and to work now, but the bright yellow ear pieces are a dead giveaway.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

martooni, I used to use some foam earplugs for working in a printing room, they go way in your ear canal and a little magic marker might make them close to skin color.

Sounds like you might want to invest in an air compressor so you can blow that stuff off before you come in. There are other ways to punish husbands besides just yelling at them you know. :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2006 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Error... hmmm... an air compressor? That *is* on my list of "power tools to buy that will seriously tick off the missus", since it will then allow me to buy all sorts of air-powered accessories (a pneumatic nailer/brad gun immediately comes to mind). While we're on the subject, can you think of an alternative domestic (as in spouse-acceptable) use for a drill press? Or a planer-joiner? I almost had her sold on the "biscuit cutter", but she saw (pardon the pun) through my ruse.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

>That *is* on my list of "power tools to buy that will seriously tick off the missus"

There ya go... I think that's what they call a win-win solution.

> (as in spouse-acceptable) use for a drill press?
Earring repair? Custom curtain mounting brackets?

And "biscuit cutter", that's good!

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

You know reading the above comments about marital bliss, I'm thinking about the Sunday school lesson, which was about marital bliss. How marriage is a holy institution sanction by God, and is supposedly a great comfort to man. It was a lively discussion. And those doing the most talking were the married folks. I enjoyed it much. I think marriage is definitely one of those comforts that God has provided for man, but like so many of those comforts, man always seems to find a way to muck them up. Sometimes I believe people are unhappy in their marriages, so they don't have a lot of good comments to make about marriage. And young people take notice of these bad marriages, and are more than likely turned off about marriage. I'm not married, but I do believe in marriage, because I truly believe it is the foundation of a nation, and because with the right person, it's a good life.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Where is everybody? It is sooooooooo hot here. I want to go out, but can't, too hot.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, it's a beautiful day here and if I hadn't been watching the Formula One race at Indy I'd be out too, as I'm about to do since it's over.

Have a great day.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, it's very hot here as well. Mid-90s and my air conditioning doesn't work. I'm drinking cold beverages and trying to think cool thoughts. It's working moderately well.

Posted by: pj | July 2, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Reading the paper. Cooking chili. Staking my tomatoes (including Mr. Stripey!). It turns out that green grape tomatoes still are pretty tasty, even though green. I wonder how they would be, battered and deep-fried? Pulling poke weed and a small invasive mulberry tree. Washing dishes. Preparing cherry crisp. Spreading tarps and a screen house to dry after camping in the rain last week, then folding them up again.

This all sounds pretty active, except I didn' t get out of bed until after 11:00. Breakfast was at noon. The ScienceKids have been watching TV. ScienceKid #1 is taking a nap right now, rather than practicing baritone horn. The ScienceSpouse is in Napville now, too. ScienceKid #2 is playing with a friend.

How can I afford all this laziness and inactivity? I'm on leave this week. Vacation at home is looking like a good idea.

Frenzied interactivity? Not hardly. Maybe I'll have a beer. Yes, I think I will. Then I'll do some more dishes, make some corn bread and set up the bread machine for bagels.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 2, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Redoing Moby Dick. People have been re-editing movies (mostly Star Wars, it seems) for a while, so I guess it's literature's turn. Didn't someone actually publish an edition of an off-copyright James Joyce novel with the spelling and other weirdnesses cleaned up, as should have been done by a good editor back when it was first published?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 2, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I think the Fairfax County thunderstorm warning is, like, a blinding case of the obvious. A smart person would stay off the computer.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 2, 2006 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Worked. On. Boat. Again. Today. 95. Degrees. What's. worse. Than. Grueling? Home. Now. Long. Cold. Shower. Long. Tall. Drink. Couple. Tylonol. May. Feel. Human. Again. In. An. Hour. Or. So.

Can't. Wait. For. Monday. To. Go. Back. To. Work. So. I. Can. Get. Some. Rest.

Isn't Boating. Fun. Question. Mark.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2006 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Ana Menendez wrote about email abuse in today's Miami Herald:

============
Within weeks of beginning this Miami Herald column, I had been called a ''%$@,'' a ''#@!)&'' and a stupid ''$%&@,'' ``($ #$)!''

My first reaction was that I had spent far too much time in academia, where insults tend to be more deft and syllable-rich. But the truth is, I was also crushed. I am, like most writers, a tender creature if not when it comes to others, then certainly when it comes to the far more important subject of myself.

I had traveled the world and broken bread with the Taliban. But, frankly, I was unprepared for the perfect stranger who wrote: "You are too stupid to be an editorial writer."

With time, however, I came to appreciate hate mail for what it is: a nascent art form just waiting for its own school of criticism, marking not only its maturity but its eventual ossification and decline.

Having sifted through a year's worth of creative output, I now feel as qualified as any other over-educated hack to comment on the dominant trends and common misconceptions in what we'll call "Micro-Literature of The Deranged."
==========
The entire article is here:

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/columnists/14950086.htm


Posted by: kbertocci | July 2, 2006 8:02 PM | Report abuse

OK, boodle, those of you who are out there this evening and/or still in town or otherwise compurter-accessible, we have here a potential once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Now I know how you kids are when you get all excited, so here's the rules: before I announce the golden opportunity, I think all the ladies should have first shot out it, because otherwise I suspect some of the boys will get rowdy and jump to the front of the line, start shoving, etc. (bs, scottynuke, SoC, EF, etc., you know who you are!). So here's the rules: ladies have the first crack at this tonight and up until 10 a.m. tomorrow morning. After that, the boys may jump in as well.

Here it is: Today I finished painting my bottom (battleship gray, if you must know).

That's it. Feel free to comment. Yes, Curmudgeon has painted his bottom. All 33 feet of it. (It's also 12 feet wide.) Make of it what you will. Go nuts. You don't get a straight line offered up like this every day, ya know.

(If you want further details, this was only a prime coat. We have to put on a second coat on Tuesday. And then after that we put on two coats of the final color, which will be blue. So yes, even better, Curmudgeon will soon be painting his gray bottom blue. Eat your heart out, Empress of the Style Invitational--bet you wish you had this set-up for a column. Well, nanny nanny boo boo.)

So: who's first? Achanfan? Cassandra? Nani? Loomis? Pixel?

------------

FYI, Sci-Fi channel is running old Twilight Zone episodes. And at 9 EST Garrison Keillor and the gang are on a PBS special (promoting the PHC movie, no doubt). I shall fight to stay awake that long. Wish me luck.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2006 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Tomorrow morning, I am off for vacation. I will be visiting with my family, staying in a house that has no internet connection (or computer, for that matter). My choice is basically this: I can watch for every opportunity to go on line and check in with my Achenbuddies--go to the library, pay by the minute at some internet cafe or at the airport, check in from friends' houses, etc. Or, more sensibly, I can just go away for two weeks and catch up with y'all when I get back. Hmmm. I do have some good vacation books, including Anne Tyler's latest (Digging to America) and Gina Barreca's memoir, Babes in Boyland, about her experience in newly co-educational Dartmouth College--Gina is only one year older than I am so we have the same cultural references, and she is what my in-laws would call "a pissa"--very brash and witty. My dad told me today he has "a whole pile" of stuff he's been saving up for me to read, too. So I won't be bored, but I WILL miss you, Achenbach and Company.

Happy Fourth of July to All!

Posted by: kbertocci | July 2, 2006 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - If anyone is worthy of having his bottom painted a historically significant color, it is you.

Tomorrow I am acting division chief. I have ultimate power. If only there was someone around to lord it over...

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 2, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm all for letting the ladies have a crack at your painted bottom.

I went to a pool party today, and I'm still trying to get over the woman who wanted to meet The Monster. Funny what they call pool toys these days.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

At night, he wears the bathrobe of Elton John
But today he had to put his street clothes on.
To trundle down to the damp Maryland shore
To lay color on his butt both aft and fore.

Bu it was not his own buns that bore the color of his labors.
By the sweat of his brow, this is work that he savors!
To make seaworthy his mighty vessel, his boat.
To whose bottom he applied 33 feet of a gray primer coat.

And 12 feet wide--oh, how the sailor both complains and gloats!
With his dream to soon get his spanking ship afloat.
Tuesday, her bum to turn blue to mirror the watery, aqua seas.
Bent over her all weekend, it's his lady love, the boat, who pleases.


Posted by: Loomis | July 2, 2006 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, why do you paint the bottom? Sorry. I don't know a thing about boats. I'm painting the bottom of my kitchen wall this week (portion under the wood molding) and I've selected "Celery Ice" green. Anything has to be better than the hideous wallpaper the previous owners had.

When is the Folklife Festival, anyway? It seems half the times I go to DC they're putting up stuff for it, and the other half they're taking stuff down. But I never get to see the festival.

Had a fun soccer-watching weekend. Ate blueberry everything after picking about 20lbs. Took the kids to the pool. Enjoyed my parents' visit.

Good night!

Posted by: a bea c | July 2, 2006 9:55 PM | Report abuse

And don't it make your gray bottom blue? - Crystal Gayle

(Sorry - that's all I got. Thanks for the opening, though).

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 2, 2006 10:13 PM | Report abuse

abc, one paints one's bottom to prevent things growing upon it (barnacles, primarily, and algae-like slime). One likes to have one's bottom as smooth as...er...a baby's butt.

Very nice, Loomis. But two more lines an you'd have had a sonnet. No one's ever composed a sonnet (nor even a reg'lar pome) to my shapely stern before.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2006 10:14 PM | Report abuse

>But two more lines an you'd have had a sonnet.

Yeah, but she's raised the bar pretty high Mudge.

Well done Linda!

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2006 10:19 PM | Report abuse

kb,
the worst thing about being away from the boodle is catching up. We'll try to be pithy - and with a lot of folks gone at the same time, it might not be too bad. Have a great time.

I'm hopeful that I'll make a dent in my library books while I'm off work for a few days. I'm reading A Thousand Days in Tuscany, while the weather is dry and sunny, what I imagine Tuscany is like. I've got Nabokov, Amy Tan, Michael Chabon, Alexander McCall Smith, Laurie King on tap.

"Celery Ice" sounds so cool, a bea c!

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 2, 2006 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, EF, she has indeed. Most high, most high.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2006 10:23 PM | Report abuse

a bea c-- it's now. the peak stuff is between 10 AM and 4:30 PM (I know, prime sunstroke time), although there are concerty stuff after 5 pm.

However after the 4th of July, they take a break and the next festival will be this Saturday and continue until around July 11.

That may account for some confusion.

The crowds for the Captiol 4th of July are MASSIVE, and they need time to clean up after the 4th of July and nurse the grass back to semi-life. This week, people are back to work anyway after the 4th.
It makes sense to take a few days off right after the 4th.

Dmd, i got the verses off wiki... I don't memorize French-canadian songs for a hobby.

(La Blonde, Frere Jacques, Clair de Lune are my total repetoirie, although I plan to memorize O Canada now)

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 2, 2006 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, give Loomis the name of your boat, where you sail her, and she may be able to find that heroic couplet to fully deliver the premature sonnet.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 2, 2006 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Mudge,
I've been curled up with Ron Suskind most of the day.

You get what you get.

I too have had bun issues this weekend:

This weekend hubby bought me two brand-new swimsuits.
The old one so worn, my breasts quite revealed, a hoot!

The fabric of new black maillot, when wet, is loose in the back,
Revealing small firm buns, both fabric and elastic slack.
The fit in the front is a whole 'nother matter...
The bra, the lift, my womanly figure it does flatter.

The new aqua one with hibiscus--I've yet to test.
But after the Fourth, I'll know which is better--or best.
It has a plunging backline with criss-cross straps.
For crawl and various strokes, what's a good fit for laps?

Posted by: Loomis | July 3, 2006 12:01 AM | Report abuse

It's back to work for me today, vacation is over. I did a day trip at the beach. Perfect! How I miss all the pretty girls sporting their swimwear. I haven't seen a girl in over 16 years, so I just imagine them as all being beautiful, and why not? They all are! Women were obviously created for the comfort of man and not the other way around. Loomis, you kick-started my imagination early today.

I went to a barnyard wedding on Saturday. It was more or less a mockery of the sacrament. The groom wore a pair of shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.I have to admit, however, that it was one of the funnest weddings I've ever been to. I like going to places where I don't have to worry about manners.

Speaking of marriages, I know that Sarah is our newly wed boodler and has posted pictures of herself. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I get a sense from the comments on the boodle that hers is worth many times more. If any of you literary types wish to give me a short description of a picture or 2 that Sarah posted, not to embarrass her, but I would sure appreciate it. thanks in advance!

On topic: I feel more of a consumer of the boodle than a contributer, but I understand that that's OK.

Posted by: Pat | July 3, 2006 5:23 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Here comes the one that doesn't get it. What is a bottom, Mudge? I mean what bottom are you talking about? A boat, your bottom? What? Is this hard work? I feel tired asking.

It's going to be 97 degrees here today, and that means 100 or more with the humidity. I have to get started early, my asthma will not tolerate that kind of environment. My tomatoes are still looking good, I tied them up. Big green tomatoes. I am so tempted to pull them off now, and eat them. I love fried green tomatoes!

KB, enjoy your trip, and catch up on the reading. We'll miss you, but perhaps you can check in at some point.

Lindaloo, I hope that eye is better. And RD, you probably shouldn't be at the computer during a thunderstorm, you think?

Where are you, Nani. Mudge needs you real bad.

I'm off and running. Have to get medicines and pay a few bills before it get intolerable. I've prayed for you all, and certainly hope that you enjoy your Fourth with family and friends. And know that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

a bea c, error flynn, dmd, wilbrod, all, have a good Fourth. You, too, Joel, and anybody I left out.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 3, 2006 7:39 AM | Report abuse

The Folk Festival sounds like fun -- too bad D.C. is a 7 hour drive from here or I'd be there.

Speaking of Folk music (and barnyard weddings), a friend of mine was telling me about meeting his daughter's new boyfriend. Apparently the new beau is every father's nightmare incarnate -- tatooed, pierced, cocky attitude. I joked about how my Dad used to clean his shotgun in the living room whenever my sister was bringing a guy home, and then I realized "hey... I have a little girl who's going to be bringing guys home in about 12 years, but I'm a hippie -- no guns in my house -- how the heck am I supposed to intimidate her suitors?" Then it dawned on me. I'll play folk music at them.

Posted by: martooni | July 3, 2006 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Pat - Sarah has a glowing complexion that my mom used to refer to as "milk and peaches." Her soft brown hair complements her blue eyes. She has an exuberant smile. For her wedding she wore an uncluttered white dress that does justice to her athletic figure.

In other words, she is a beauty.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 3, 2006 8:09 AM | Report abuse

How's the Suskind book, Loomis? I'm dying to get to it myself.

You taxpayers out there will be pleased to know there are only 17 people running your federal government here in D.C. Today. I suspect some of the smaller agency are *completely* deserted, and maybe only two or three each at State Dept. and Defense, and maybe a guy over at the mint guarding the money. Suggestion to Democrats: you wanna take over the gummint? Today's the day. The Republicans are all at Rehobeth Beach and the Outer Banks.

Personally, I am so happy to be at work today I can't see straight. I don't think I could do a third day in a row working on the boat like that.

Holy cow! A rush job just came in! What, are these people crazy? On July 3rd?

OK, gotta go deal with this. Wouldn't want taxpayers to think they weren't getting their money's worth. Back in 20.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 3, 2006 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I spent most of the day Saturday at the grand re-opening of the National American Art and Portrait Gallery (or whatever they call the old Patent Office Building now). The place is huge. We toured it for five hours, including an hour on the patio drinking cocktails and listening to salsa music.

The art is definitely second tier, but the portraits are fascinating. I do have a hard time seeing Mort Drucker on the walls of a museum. Too many Alfred E Neuman memories from my misspent youth.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2006 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, Things are kind of quiet around here too. It is government by pager. If something really important happens, I predict a cacophony of beeps around the region.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 3, 2006 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget, gang--Joel's gonna be on the radio at 2:30 today.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 3, 2006 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, we were a no-guns family, too. My dad would invite the "boyfriend" for a cook-out. Then he'd sharpen his knives as he waited for the grill to be ready. He'd spend the half hour or so interviewing the young man, alone, as my mom, my sister, and I were in the kitchen getting the side dishes ready. It got the message across.

Mudge, thanks for holding down the fort.

About painting your bottom, is there any paint with an additive such as Microban? I guess it would be "Barnacle-Ban".

Posted by: a bea c | July 3, 2006 9:49 AM | Report abuse

And how do we get on the list to sit on Joel's lap? It must be like getting a parking space at the WaPo garage; if I'm not on the list by now, I never have a shot.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 3, 2006 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Sigh.

It's MUCH easier if the coils are in the rear at the back. Just pull out the fridge and vacuum well.

If they are hidden in the bottom, like mine, it's a royal pain. Unless one owns an air compressor and can blow off the coils with mighty blasts of 120 p.s.i. air. Elsewise, one must gain access and through small openings insert the vacuum and do one's best. It won't be really thorough unless the fridge is unplugged and tilted over on its back. All the food will have to be removed, or at least anything spillable, and afterwards the fridge must be righted, the food re-stowed, and the fridge left alone for at least 8 hours or it will explode if you start it right back up. So they say.

Posted by: Jumper | July 3, 2006 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Here's your last stanza for the sonnet:

When the boat's fit for duty, he'll be at her helm,
The anticipation, the adventure--it does overwhelm!
The eternal lure of this classic menage is no mystery:
A menage a trois--the old man, his lady ship, and the beckoning sea!

How is Suskind? Let me reserve comment for awhile. I will say that I had started Matthew Pearl's (any relation to Danny?) "The Poe Shadow" and it was so slow and plodding that by page 64, I said, "I'm returning this" under Costco's libral return policy. Luckily, I got Suskind at another booksellers for 50 percent off this past weekend--a "holiday" sale.

"The One Percent Doctrine" picks up in Chapter 2 with a real whoosh. I believe the PBS program "The Dark Side" was much modeled on it.

Big surprise for me early on--Bush 41 and 43 are, according to the author, not particularly close.

Many small grammar errors are consistent irritants. That is a surprise, too. Don't big book houses have editors who are grammarians? But the plot/structure does hurtle one along, as I mentioned.

Posted by: Loomis | July 3, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

SCC: libral ..liberal
Sheesh!

Posted by: Loomis | July 3, 2006 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, you missed your calling. No doubt about it.

I've read a few articles complaining about the general absence and decline of editing among book publishers, too, LL, over the years, and I don't understand it, either. It used to be the publishers' bread-and-butter work, back in the day of the late great Maxwell Perkins at Scribner's, and such. Editors then had power, rewrote manuscripts, worked with authors, made suggestions, etc.--earned their keep, in other words.

(P.S. Did you ever read "Editor to Author: Letters of Maxwell Perkins"--it's excellent.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 3, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Don't know about you guys, but as far as interactivity on the blahgosphere is concerned, I'm laughing my a-- off.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 3, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

That's too bad, Mudge, considering how much time and effort you invested in painting it.

Posted by: martooni | July 3, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I think Suskind was originally going to write about Federal agencies on Mondays before a Tuesday holiday when he came up with the "One Percent Doctrine" idea.

And 'Mudge, don't bother with another coat -- what better color for an umpire's bottom than grey?

I'm really not sure if "lynn" is a brilliant parody or just another blogspam bot. In any case, Hal or somebody, please nuke that posting. Thank you.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 3, 2006 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Gittin' out the zapper as we speak. MY KIND OF INTERACTIVITY!!!

Posted by: Achenbach | July 3, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

scotty,

Joel should've known that on the net interactivity = porn.

martooni, Ba-dum-dum!

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 3, 2006 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Remember, RADIO AT 2:30....You won't want to miss it. It'll be boffo! A new standard in interactivity. I actually think they DO allow people to call in, though it's never happened when I was on the air.

Kbertocci is gone, but if she does happen to check in from the computer at the library: Have a great vacation and don't worry, WE WON'T SAY ANYTHING IMPORTANT OR CLEVER.

I should write a kit, but first must deal with Sydney and the column.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 3, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Miss it? I wouldn't dream of it.

BTW, I got'cher Interactivity *right here* [gesturing meaningfully].

bc

Posted by: bc | July 3, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Loomis -- just finished Suskind last nite. My, my, my . . . none of it surprising. Still gives me a chill, though. I then read the Jane Mayer piece on David Addington in the New Yorker. Dandy bedtime reading.

I have mostly stopped reading so "book-a-week" phenomenon about this Administration. I'm too prone to gloom and doom.

Next on my list ( I did put down 'Captured by Aliens' to read Suskind) is 'Pocohontas, Powhatan, Opechanchanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown, by Helen Rountree, professor emerita from Old Dominion U.

Wilbrod, Saturday's mail brought me a copy of 'Our Marvelous Native Tongue" by Claiborne; thanks for your providing the link. Will probably take up your suggestion on Churchill's book as well.

I am a fan of good architecture, and so every once in a while I indulge in expensive, glossy photo books on topics like '100 More of the Best Houses'.

Yikes . . . some of these houses have wonderful design, elegant and as environmentally sound as possible. Others are paeans to ego and limitless finances.

Most of the houses are awe-inspiring with very clean, modern design.

The text was written by the architects of each house. Thus, I have found delicious technical phrases. To wit: "All of the full height glazed facades parallel with the slope open full to allow air to pass through the building, making the most of anabatic and katabatic winds."

I would like to be able to work the words "anabatic" and "katabatic" into my daily vocabulary, impressing everyone with my knowledge of winds.

But I think I'd just sound windy.

The house that opens to catch the anabatic and katabatic winds is in Andalucia, Spain, and is brethtaking beutiful in design. Modern interpretations of the age-old Spanish interior courtyard are very appealing.

My dream is to build a sustainable house (straw-bale type) with full water catchment systems and "off-the-grid" energy capabilities, somewhere back in the West.

Modest in size, maybe 1200 to 1500 SF (if that). Of course, the surroundings would have georgeous xerophilic gardens, plus as many home-grown crops as the environment could handle.

And I would make sure that my house could harness the use of both the anabatic and katabatic winds.

I drive over to Virginia Beach on Wednesday to meet TBG and her family. Very much looking forward to my first BHP!

I may arrive in need of medical attention though -- my car does not have A/C. It's getting a bit unbearable.

I decided yesterday to finally give up on my faithful old Escort, beat up as it is -- will start looking for a new car this week.

Have my eye on a Ford Focus -- it gets umpteen miles of gas to the gallon, and is rated as one of the three most environmentally sound cars (outside the hybrid family) available today.

I drove one down to SC for the vacation. A very nice, relatively inexpensive car.

Anyway, am rambling even beyond the standards of the boodle.

The winds are calling me . . .

Posted by: nelson | July 3, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

WE WON'T SAY ANYTHING IMPORTANT OR CLEVER -
Hey, hey, I'm taking umbrage here!

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 3, 2006 11:49 AM | Report abuse

'Morning everyone. Liked the story, JA, didn't have time to go back through the 90 comments already. But I have to agree that our descent into technological hell is paved with e-mail campaigns and technorati tags.

Another fate-worse-than-death: I am taking my husband's aunt's granddaughters (ages 12 and 14) to the mall this afternoon. Tyson's. I will likely lose a few hundred brain cells and a few hundred dollars in the process. Any suggestions from parents of kids that age? I am liking my own daughter's toddlerhood much better.

Posted by: PLS | July 3, 2006 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I realize most of my above post has absolutely nothing to do with any of the previous comments.

Felt a sudden urge to share my architectural and vehicular dreams.

How does someone out of the DC area pick up the 2:30 radio broadcast? Someone posted about Web streaming last week -- from the Post website?

Posted by: nelson | July 3, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I bet a lot of people at NASA are working today. I don't know, maybe it's time to rethink the whole thing.

Patchy morning fog here today - good day to catch up on housecleaning, then more puttering in the garden.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 3, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Another crack in the shuttle external tank foam... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 3, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

The following is an IMPORTANT post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/wtwpradio/listen.html#

Thank you for your attention.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 3, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

nelson says:
I realize most of my above post has absolutely nothing to do with any of the previous comments.

That's what makes this such an interesting place! You never know what you'll come across. I have never heard of the various "atic" winds, but it doesn't surprise me that a house in Spain, with its Arabic influence, would take full advantage.

I'm hoping to get a "new to me" car soon - maybe one made in this century! I'll probably get a Toyota or Honda - I've had such good experience with Toyotas (but I always buy them used).

Ok, I really have to clean the house so I'll be free to listen to Joel live on the air.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 3, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

UNIMPORTANT post... sorta:

Fisher's got a link to an MSNBC version of the naturalization quiz... I scored a 90... *L*

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2006/07/sorry_you_cant_be_a_us_citizen.html

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 3, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

NEW KIT!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 3, 2006 12:08 PM | Report abuse

FORZA AZZURRI!!!!!!

Sorry, had to get that out....

Posted by: Nico | July 5, 2006 11:11 AM | Report abuse

My only concern with this piece, is you are putting Chattanooga in good light. This should never be done. I repeat, never.

Posted by: db | July 7, 2006 7:21 AM | Report abuse

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