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From "Stampede": Kiterature

[As you know, the blogger is out of town, and the boodle is taking over the kitting for a while. What follows is a guest kit by a reader in Calgary who usually lurks, but occasionally comments under the handle of Stampede.]


By Stampede

Number-one daughter and I have a summer project to clear some bookshelf space. We estimate that of the 600 linear feet of installed shelving, we are using 185% of it by having books in front of other books; books horizontal on top of (or below) others. Books piled willy-nilly on the top of the unit, or wedged uncomfortably between the bookcase and the wall against which it rests. It has become absurd, indeed frightening. Perhaps even dangerous. Custom-made hardwood shelves bow deeply in the middle and a stiff breeze causes the taller of the units to sway alarmingly. We're lucky the cat is still with us.

The first task is, of course, to catalogue the volumes we own with a view to sorting out which can be surrendered, and this has led to some startling insights into the varied, not to say incompatible, personalities and interests of the four otherwise reasonable and attached individuals that make up our family.

I was an English major at university years ago, with a minor in History and Philosophy. Number- one daughter who for her sins shares a certain cast of thought with her mother, is currently studying English at one of our fine establishments of higher learning. Thus, perusing the titles in our study you might find Stumpf hard up against Toni Morrison, or Keats jockeying for space with Yeats. All very suitable, you may think, though I doubt the poets would agree. What does Pope have to say to Ferlinghetti?

To the basement, where my husband the graduate mathematician and engineer stores his old textbooks. You'll gather he does not share the contemplative and poetic spirit that informs the examined lives of the distaff branch. Simple Vector Functions? Infinitary Combinatorics? Cardinal And Ordinal Arithmetics? The cardinal ordinance is clearly to send these off to the University book sale forthwith.

But no, here he comes to ensure we are not cavalier with his possessions. Removing them all from a box marked "To Go" he pivots neatly and plucks The Essential Plotinus from one of my designated shelves. "Hah! Essential to whom?" "Obviously not you, you are too ignorant to feel the want!" I reply, while deftly substituting Introduction to Riemannian Geometry for my old Middlemarch in the crate.

Meanwhile, number-two daughter, she of the big heart and social conscience, has barricaded herself in her bedroom the better to protect her library: childhood favourites Harold and the Purple Crayon or The Velveteen Rabbit as precious as today's passionately admired Shake Hands with the Devil.

Finally, we make some progress and have four or five large boxes of tomes ready to remove. Before we do, we sit down to sort through them one last time. A deep silence falls over the house while each of us browses. Soon we are calling out quotations to each other, quietly smiling over a cherished passage, challenging each other to trivia questions in our respective disciplines, and sharing memories of the first time we read a particular story or poem.

Tomorrow we go to Ikea for more book cases.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 14, 2006; 7:05 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: These Kids Today
Next: Rough Draft: Summer of '81


Good morning, friends. Had the walk, and getting ready for the center. Well if Joel was looking for someone and something to write about that reflects perhaps his taste, I declare the above written kit just might meet that category. I love books and left a bunch of them at the old address in rubbermaid boxes. I don't have anywhere to put them in this small apartment. People give me books all the time in my work with children and reading, and I never say no, because I want to read them too. I'm running late so must go. Please have a good day, as much as that is possible, and if it gets too bad, remember that God loves you so much more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Stampede, good kit.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 14, 2006 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Bravo, Stampede! *applause*

How could any self-respecting bookcase consider itself properly utilized if all the books are immediately accessible??

I'm just about at critical mass with my bookshelf. Probably explains why I do so much online reading these days.


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Excellent! My fiancee keep pressuring me to get rid of some of my babies, er, books. Who knows when you might need "Introduction to Biological Oceanography," "The American Practical Navigator," or "The Complete Hitchhikers' Guide"? I just can't let them go--what if their new owners don't love them as much as I do?

Posted by: jw | July 14, 2006 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Stampede that was great, I am great at throwing out old stuff, we regularly cart bags of used items to local charities, but books I cannot seem to give away, unless it is to pass along to someone I know will appreciate them. We are beginning our packing for the move and I am bracing for my husbands requests to give away some books.

Scottynuke,still laughing at your posts on the last kit - that is why there is no wallpaper in my house!

Posted by: dmd | July 14, 2006 8:06 AM | Report abuse

When my husband and I got married, he asked me, diplomatically, how many of the books would be staying. All of them! was my reply. But now, 11 years later, I realize I have to come to terms with the volume of reading material. I've gotten better about recycling magazines, for instance. But with books stacked on the floor, I know I must do something. One of the first tasks to tackle in retirement will be to get rid of some of them. It will be hard, but I am strong and I can do it.

At least, that's what I tell myself.

Posted by: slyness | July 14, 2006 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Excellent Stampede. I'd say that was Rough Draft worthy.

Posted by: omni | July 14, 2006 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Nice work Stampede, eh. Don't think JA will get fired over that kit but there's always "maybe".

Posted by: farfrombeltway | July 14, 2006 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Thank you all for your kind words.

You can imagine how overcome with delight I was when Joel emailed to say he wanted to post this. I cannot wait to read the guest kits from the real scribes among you when they come up.

I'm just boarding a plane to go East, so will be offline until Monday night, most likely.


Posted by: Stampede | July 14, 2006 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Have a good flight Stampede, not sure where you are going east but be forwarded unless you are going to the coast is hot and muggy here.

Posted by: dmd | July 14, 2006 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Ah books. I will never ever forget how I felt when I got my first books for Christmas. I kept telling myself, I owned books. A little chill goes up my spine and through my bank account every time I buy books to this day. With the the Sally Ann store down the street having used books, and very good prices, I don't even get that bank chill anymore. My quest to own books continues unabated and going ahead full steam.

Quest number 2 is for bookcases. One huge bookcase for the living room isn't even coping with the beginning of the great mass. If I ever get caught up, that room will be a library, not a simple living room.

To be able to read freely is, to me, the ultimate freedom and life is pretty good if you own books.

Posted by: dr | July 14, 2006 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Great Kit, Stampede!

Both of my grandparents (who lived with us before they passed) were librarians. My mother has her Master's in History & my father was an attorney and geneologist. At the worst (best?) point, I remember four rooms in the house with wall-to-wall bookshelves. When my mother finally whittled down the book collection after both of her parents and my father had passed away, she kept about 500 of 5000 titles - and she says she still hasn't opened most of them since.

Posted by: PLS | July 14, 2006 9:36 AM | Report abuse

SCC forwarned not forwarded, it is not is.

I would like to blame the heat for those errors but that would not be honest :)

Posted by: dmd | July 14, 2006 9:37 AM | Report abuse

checking to see if i can boodle...

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 9:38 AM | Report abuse

woooooohoooooooo! i'm back in business!

oh, and den of darkness is back up as well so here's the achenfaq

and what i submitted as a kit but he prolly won't use so i put it on my site...

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Wow, "Introduction to Riemannian Geometry" and "The Veleveteen Rabbit" in the same place. It's like my vision of heaven.

Posted by: RD Padauk | July 14, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Forgot to mention Stampede that your kit drew a smile with "The Velveteen Rabbit" I was just reading it to my younger daughter the other night.

Posted by: dmd | July 14, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Mayor Newsom announces $475,000
for graffiti abatement
Citywide anti-graffiti campaign launched
From the Mayor's Office of Communications

July 13, 2006
San Francisco - Mayor Newsom announced today that nearly half a million dollars has been newly earmarked to aid the city's efforts ton eradicate graffiti. The funding will foster a historic interagency collaboration between the Pubic Utilities Commission, Municipal Transportation Authority, and the Department of Public Works.

Currently, several city departments respond to graffiti removal and abatement. At the Mayor's behest, the City conducted a thorough analysis in order to streamline these inefficiencies. As a part of the Mayor's Cleaning Initiative for 2006, graffiti abatement will become centralized through DPW. The new streamlined system will help the City abate graffiti on public property more quickly, and will help improve city worker's efficiency and accountability. SFPUC and MTA have committed $475,000 to the new effort, while DPW will provide the abatement services.

"This partnership will foster a greater coordinated effort between the three agencies and will afford a more centralized and efficient response to ridding the city's public areas of unsightly graffiti and tagging," said Mayor Newsom. Graffiti is an unattractive blemish on our city that affects the quality of life, economic development, social fabric, and environmental health of San Francisco," continued the Mayor.

The level of graffiti vandalism has reached new levels in San Francisco. DPW alone received nearly 20,000 calls last year complaining about graffiti. Vandals travel from all over the Bay Area and even from around the world to leave their mark in the city. A 2001 Civil Grand Jury estimated that graffiti cost SF taxpayers in excess of $22 million annually. Today, that cost is estimated to be much higher.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2006 10:21 AM | Report abuse

of course I have yet to receive said email from Joel, like "I'm really excited about your guest kit and would like to use it!!" But I do realize (1) Joel doesn't want to get fired, or (2) Joel doesn't want to lose his blog, and/or (3) Joel does not wish to seek Hugh Hewitt retaliation while he is offshore.

Posted by: farfrombeltway | July 14, 2006 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Stampede: First, belated welcome to our Boodle Family. Second, congratulations on an excellent kit. My own library has diminished by three moves over 15 years. So, if you're trying to control your book collection, just move every five years or so.
But just wait until Tim finds out that you've relegated the math books to the basement.

Posted by: CowTown | July 14, 2006 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Splendid kit, Stampede. It is all so familiar. When we moved here over ten years ago we had 75 boxes of books. We optimistically designated one room as the library. Today we have floor-to-ceiling shelves in four rooms, covering most of the wall space, and smaller shelves in the rest. Ivansdad figured out a clever "second" shelf to double-shelve paperbacks, but they're still stacked up. The boy just relinquished a box of books, and we're going through ours too, but it is a losing battle. We recently bought three more shelves but they're already full.

One of my favorite Shirley Jackson quotes is when they were showing a house, trying to sell it. Someone walked through and remarked that the place would be much roomier if they took out the books. She replied that the bedrooms would have much more space if they took out the beds.

When the boy was an infant we said "Where's the ball?" and he pointed. We said "Where's the book?" and he glanced around, then looked at us as if we'd lost our minds. Not for the last time.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 14, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Nice work, Stampede. :-)

I was pulling a double major in English and Philosophy (with a Psych minor) before I realized how much debt I was racking up -- books being a major portion of it -- and decided to teach myself programming and get a job instead. I suppose the cost of books is proportional (or would that be correlative?) to the obscurity of the subject.

My personal collection is probably around 500 titles and runs the gamut from Popper to Keats to Tolkein to Buchowski and includes several shelves of reference manuals for dead programming languages (punch card readers were still popular when I was learning the ropes).

Anyway, I can only imagine what it would be like to whittle a collection down. The closest I came to that dilemma was when we moved into our house. Mrs. M. made it very clear that I could only bring two boxes of books. However, she never specified the size of the boxes. Needless to say, I tracked down two very large refrigerator boxes and filled each to the top. It took me and two moving helpers to lift them, but it was worth it.

Posted by: martooni | July 14, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

excellent stampede! and soooo true - cowtown, i tried that moving to pare down book collection method - doesn't work so well for me... they just multiply once i get to my new location - i'm in the market for more bookshelves as well cuz i have several towering piles of books that my cat just LOVES to knock over... in the middle of the nite... when i'm sleeping... *boom* (snort, drool - "huh? what happened?")

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and "Velveteen Rabbit"... I'd almost forgotten that one. Now I have an excuse to hit B&N tomorrow. Little Bean would love that one.

Posted by: martooni | July 14, 2006 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Splendid, martooni!

There's also the generational thing. After my father, the Civil War buff, died, my mother called the librarian at the local university. He culled quite a lot of good stuff from the collection. She cleaned out some but still moved a dozen boxes from her house to my house to the condo to the assisted living apartment. When she died, my brother and I divvied up what was left. Not many went away. I cherish her copies of the family geneology and my dad's copy (#138) of the county history, published in 1960.

Posted by: slyness | July 14, 2006 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I love Shirley Jackson's stories about her children in "Raising Demons" and "Life Among the Savages."

I am in the process of going through books before a move to a smaller place. In the meantime, I keep buying more books. It is a losing battle.

Posted by: OK | July 14, 2006 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Great kit, Stampede!

My wife and I were already overflowing with books, and then I discovered the twice yearly public library sale. $2 hardcover, $0.50 softcover.

Talk about enabling my addiction.

At least in the bookstore my, ahem, frugality, will have a chance in opposing purchases. It's a fair fight. Imagine the last time you went through the bookstore and what would have happened if $10 would have piled you up with books.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, there is a version of The Velveteen Rabbit with illustrations by I think the name is Donna Cooke - my girls have it, really beautiful.

Re cherished books, when my grandfather died everything got divided, one of the things I received was a book by Pushkin (in Russian) now I do not know Russian. My husband asked if I wanted to keep it, the answer was of course yes - it was Grandpa's.

Posted by: dmd | July 14, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Coming out of lurk mode to compliment Stampede on her wonderful kit!

I knew I had turned the budgetary corner when I was able to begin buying my books hardback. Hardback!

Hardback books and washing machines are the hallmarks of a civilized life.

Posted by: Bey | July 14, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Excellent kit, Stampede! My wife has been successful in getting me to shed hundreds of books, but only because of our limited living space. The urban townhouse imposes its own limits, and after we started to gather kids books wife finally convinced me to get the radioactive waste and nuclear weapons books out of the baby's (now two girls) room.

The number of books actually hasn't gone down, because the space taken by one of my academic tomes can be filled with at least half a dozen kids books. I must ensure that we still model appropriate behavior--i.e., overloaded bookshelves--for our little ones.

Posted by: silvertongue | July 14, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

BTW, welcome back, mo.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I enjoy giving books (even *gasp* hardcover books) as presents. What I find is that I'm so intrigued by the books I'm giving away, I usually buy a copy for myself. There is ultimately no space, inner or outer, large enough for the number of books I've got. When my parents died, I got to load up stuff to bring down here, and a lot of it comprised the books. They would, from time to time, donate books to their local library, but if I got home first, I took my share.

It is indeed true: "So many books, so little time"

Time to "Stampede" to the bookstore again this weekend.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | July 14, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Great kit Stampede -- and on a topic near and dear to most boodlers' hearts.

I have had to move over the years into incresingly smaller apartments. I now live in 550SF (and I think they counted the closets, tub and toilet bowl to get the 50SF) :-)

I used to always live in 2 bedroom affairs, one for me and one for my books. Even then, the books didn't stay put in their room -- they ended up in shelves in the hall, living room, bedroom, everywhere they could squeeze.

But I finally had to move into the one bedroom apartment -- and what a challenge that was!

The trick I resorted to in this apartment was to mount long 12" wide boards on the wall, held up with super-duty brackets. No room for bookcases.

I've probably shed 50% of my collection in the last five years -- a very hard thing to do. Gut wrenching.

Now, I have only 40 linear feet in the living room and 20 more in the bedroom.

But the books are crammed in Stampede style. Indeed, my heavy 2x12 boards are swaying. To sit on the sofa that is underneath the books is the risk getting knocked out by the stray book that can no longer defy gravity (I let guests sit there :-)).

For a while, I tried to be "practical" and use the library. But I could rarely find the books I actually wanted to read.

So I'm in the buying business again. Happily.

When I first moved in here I tried to organize the books alphabetically, by subject matter and then by title within subject matter. Naturally, books on anthropology and archaeology started the line dance.

But as new books arrive -- they get shoved into whatever space is available (all horizontal space on top of other books) -- so now I have a pretty eclectic set up.

I like to design homes in my mind (and on paper). There is always a proper library in every design -- complete with a table to play out reference books.

But for now, I'll live with my 185% use of what I actually have room for.

Stampede -- thanks again for a great kit.

Posted by: nelson | July 14, 2006 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, nelson, what is it with the library? They don't have the books I want to read, either. I remember a story about the local library saying they were stocking up on bestsellers, rather than biographies of George III. I'm the one for the biography of George III; I seldom read bestsellers.

All I have to say is, thank heavens for

Posted by: slyness | July 14, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

THANKS soc! i swear it was torture not being able to boodle! btw - do you want that frazetta figurine??

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Some of the furniture in my apartment, night stand, TV stand, are actually boxes filled with books. I few years back my piles were so precarious I was constantly, about once or twice a week, knocking them over. So I bought a few more bookshelves and filled them up completely. But I kept buying more books. I've got books on top of books on the book shelves, and also stacked two deep. They're starting to pile up on the floor in front of the bookshelves again. I'm even stacking them up in my cubicle shelves at work. Already up to 30. If I wasn't investing all the money I don't spend on books I could probably afford a one bedroom with den. Of course the den would be the library.

This past weekend I finished "Double Whammy". The week before I finished "Skin Tight". Loved them both. So I'm looking at the unread books I have piled up on the floor and I'm not feeling the mood. So it's off to Dupont. First stop Afterwards where I get "Imagined London" by Anna Quindlen (I have a thing for travel journals by women), and "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer (recommended by a sales clerk). Then I head over to books a million where I get another book for the Mac and six new Hiaasen Novels. I'm an addict when I find an author I like. I finished "Imagined London" in a few days (mostly on my 30 minute commute), and have just started "Strip Tease". Man, that Carl is a great writer.

OK, this is to long...

Posted by: omni | July 14, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Recipe for disaster in my household: two ardent, passionate book lovers/packrats combined with our community "book fair" twice each year, where, on the last day of a four-day run, you can buy all the books you want for one dollar per bag (they let you bring your own "bag" if you want, regardless of size). No doubt our house will one day be nothing but floor to ceiling stacks of books, with little walkways carved out for access to the fridge, bed and loo...

Posted by: Slats | July 14, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

nice job, stampede. my dad was an electrical engineer and became a teacher upon retirement. mom was a german major. i started as an engineering major and ended up as russian lit. my sister more sensibly stuck with civil engineering and is now gainfully employed. still in grad school, i fondly refer to my apt as a small branch of the university library.

i refreshed my browser and finally see the cartoon that everyone was talking about. cute little blog monster. what did the boodle decide to call him?

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 14, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, correction Donna Green, is the illustrator but the book is out of print. She has a website where it is available.

Posted by: dmd | July 14, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

mo, ha! Um, you know I would, but all these books are taking up the space that would be required to show it in its full glory. Yeah, that's it.

Segue back to the kit: interior design people seem to be immune to bibliophilia. How many times have you watched one of those design shows and the first thing they do is sweep away all the books and put a vase with sticks up instead. My wife and I always laugh when we're in show homes and the "kid's room" has like one toy and maybe one book so that they can make the room look bigger.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse


It Whose Name May Not Be Spoken...

JA was able to shoehorn it into a Kit, but it takes great stealth to get
past the Wirty Dird Filter...


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

be careful, be very, very careful...

Posted by: sugahpmulagolb | July 14, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Wow, mo, my handle is on the Achenfaq! I think it may refer to some kind of pagan ritual as well which I have not indulged in as of yet.

Posted by: widdershins | July 14, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

As a recent college graduate and future grad student, I have struggled to find a way to store all my books in my parents house. I have boxes of books I store in the basement. My father put more shelfs in my closet for book storage. Finally, he built me a large book case. Let's just say my room is packed. (My movie addiction doesn't help the space issue either)

Posted by: youngchemie | July 14, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

As a recent college graduate and future grad student, I have struggled to find a way to store all my books in my parents house. I have boxes of books I store in the basement. My father put more shelfs in my closet for book storage. Finally, he built me a large book case. Let's just say my room is packed. (My movie addiction doesn't help the space issue either)

Posted by: youngchemie | July 14, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Lovely kit, Stampede.

We've moved about 15 times in our married life, and books get pared down every time. And they bounce back.

What is bad is when you decide "I will never read this author again," and send the whole group to the second-hand book store. Five years later you have to buy ALL of that author's books, all over again, because yes, you WILL read them again. And right now!

Posted by: nellie | July 14, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Pat | July 14, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Apparently it is the "h" in the Beast Who Cannot Speak Its Name causing the problems. The other day a poster referred to it as a "blogalumpagus" and it went right through.

I still like Blogasaurus Rex, or Elvis for short.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 14, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I tried to post something meaningful, but for some reason, my voice software isn't telling me what I'm typing. Man, life just have to be easy if you can see. I'll try one more time.

Posted by: Pat | July 14, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse


Perhaps your software is set to Silly mode and can't read Meaningful?


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

No, I think it is me. Everytime I post the boodle turns to a quivering mass of jelly -- or worse. I shall return to lurking mode.

Posted by: nellie | July 14, 2006 12:57 PM | Report abuse

But I really liked the kit, and wanted to say so.

Posted by: nellie | July 14, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

The Google Ads are offering help to all of us.

Posted by: nellie | July 14, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I cut & pasted the b.l.o.g.a.l.u.m.p.h.a.g.u.s into notepad, cut out the periods, just to listen how my voice software would pronounce it. Very Funny. Unfortunately the guy that talks from inside my computer never laughs.
Now this is what I attempted to post earlier:

Great Stuff, Stampede. However, with great sorrow, I won't be able to participate much today. I own no books.

But, in the spirit of "Looking on the bright side of things", I'll mention a mystery at my house that you all might find amusing:

I told my kids, if they read the book, they can rent the movie despite the rating.

So my daughter read "the Shining".

Last winter during a huge snowstorm, much to my wife's protest, we rented the movie. It took about 5 hours to watch and lasted well past midnight.

For the last few years, every morning, after my shower and according to my wife's instructions, I relitiously close the shower curtain to "air it out". Apparently this prevents mildew.

I've noticed that every since my daughter saw the movie, the shower curtain remains open, despite my efforts.

What's going on here? I think it's a ghost!

Posted by: Pat | July 14, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

My wife likes to purchase Ikea shelving. But then again, she doesn't have to assemble the stuff. It is much less forgiving than the cinderblock and plywood constructions that I favored as a bachelor. We need a lot of shelves because my daughter keeps collecting books. She doesn't read them, she just collects them. It is as if they were fine bottles of vintage wine. You know, the kind people collect but never drink. This also makes no sense to me. Whenever I buy wine I always insist on drinking it. Which may have, on occasion, explained some of my difficulty assembling the shelves.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Elvis rocks.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Several summers ago I was trying to help my grandmother clean out her attic (She is a real pack rat who was born in the house she still lives in). After not so subtly trying to get her to throw things away all day, I finally found something that I thought was worth keeping. A 5 book collection of some of Dickens work that belonged to her father. They were out in the open entirely ignored for who knows how long (I guess the love of literature skipped a couple generations). She asked me if I wanted them and I eagerly jumped at the option (just what I needed - more books). I should have looked for a bookcase up there instead.

Posted by: youngchemie | July 14, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Several summers ago while trying to help my grandmother clean out her attic, I found a 5 book collection of Dickens work that belonged to her father and was left out in the open, ignored for years. I guess the love of literature skips a couple of generations. She asked me if I wanted them and I jumped at the chance because in my mind you could never have to many books. I took them home and set them on an already full shelf to wait for the day when I could afford to rebind them. Maybe I should have looked for a bookcase instead.

Posted by: youngchemie | July 14, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double posts. I keep getting error messages.

Posted by: youngchemie | July 14, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Padouk, Perhaps your daughter simply has good taste in interior decoration. Perhaps she reads the books secretly, at night, with a flashlight. Perhaps she's planning to read them slowly over the years, savoring them like that fine wine.
You don't want to make that comparison to her, by the way -- (a) as she's still too young to actually buy wine, you should probably avoid putting the idea in her head, and (b) fine wine costs much more than books, and requires a more sophisticated storage system.

You yourself could insist on some sort of wine-to-book ratio, however, with a bonus for extra shelf construction.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 14, 2006 2:05 PM | Report abuse

scottynuke could be right (he often is) about a software glitch, there, Pat. I know my Microdork "Word" program has a bug and often gets stuck in "Silly" mode for long stretches. The only way I can un-jam it is by calling some MS Help Desk guy in Pondicherry, India, who claims his name is Lyle. Lyle walks me through a procedure to disable the Auto-Pun feature, and then I have to un-click "Whimsy" in the Spellcheck function. It's a pain in the patoot.

Good kit, Stamps. Like many of you folks, I, too, and a chronic bookaholic. About once every leapyear, I make some sort of lame effort to cull the herd and reorganize them by general topic, but those good intentions break down because I always need one major shelf for those giant, oversize books that font fit in an ordinary shelf, and then I have a few shorter shelves that hold paperbacks (two deep)--so those two things tend to interfer with organization-by-subject. Then I have my research books, which I like to keep relatively close to the computer. In an extremely rare but intense fit of anal-retentiveness, I even once tried to organize my paperbacks by author (though, god forbid, not alphabetically--I have limits): all the Hornblowers together, all the Patrick O'Brians, all the Hemingways, the Michael Connellys, the Adam Halls, the Anthony Prices, etc.

That lasted about an hour.

Fortunately, I'm one of those peoples with that weird kind of memory that remembers where things are, even in apparent chaos. I use the time-honored "Stack of papers here, stack of papers there" filing system--but I can almost always remember what stack something is in, and approximately how far down. (This works quite well until someone whose name I won't mention but she wears a variation of the same wedding ring I do decides to "tidy up" my work space, and the piles get moved around, shuffled, straightened, adjusted, put "away" (god knows where), etc., and then I am truly lost.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Let's see if this works. These are some photos from my recent trip to Yoho National Park:

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

With appropriate copyright fees to 'Mudge:

I'm glitchy, dammit!


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse


'Zat you with the "I'm King of the World!!" pose in the last pic?


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

beautiful pics sonofcarl. reminds me of glacier national park, which i got to see for a few days last year.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 14, 2006 2:35 PM | Report abuse

ivansmom - wine-to-book ratio.

Shrewd. Very shrewd.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

SoC, great pics. Looks cool, unlike mine from Grand Canyon. Forgive my ignorance, but where is Yoho?

Posted by: slyness | July 14, 2006 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I don't understand. Our books are organized by category (fiction, mysteries, various types of history, poetry, politics, humor, science, epistomology, theater, etc) and type (paperback v. hardback), with some alphatbetization within categories, excepting the new stuff that gets put anywhere with room. LPs and CDs, same thing. Doesn't everyone do this?

RD, I think I'll start that wine-to-book ratio my own self.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 14, 2006 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Clearly I meant "alphaBATization", since our obsession for order is a little bats.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 14, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom - My daughter organizes her book collection too. There are books with cute dogs on the cover, books with cute bunnies on the cover, books with copyrighted animated characters on the cover, books that look kinda scary, boring books that her parents want her to read, and books that her brother used to like and hence must be cool if really weird. There are no books with cute boys on the cover yet, but I fear that day will soon arrive.

Which, naturally, leads us back to wine.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse


No wonder you're running out of space, if she's storing them cover side out...


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Soc what is the name of the falls in the picture, I remember visiting I think those falls on my first trip out west but do not recall the name. Beautiful shots.

Ivansmom are you available to organize my move?

RD I come from a family of readers, my moms favorite expression when we were bored was "go read a book", however, I was the least interested in reading, I loved looking at the picutres - National Geographic a favorite, over the years my interests grew and I began to read more and more.

Mom and Dad were great they knew that my just looking at the books was good, the interest was there and the rest would follow.

Have a great weekend everyone, off to visit Mom now.

Posted by: dmd | July 14, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

RD, you need to look for a book: "Happy Kitty Bunny Pony: A Mouthful of Saccharine Super Cute". It will provide the antidote to your daughter's collection (at least until the boys start showing up). We have this on our coffee table. People look at its whimsical animal cover askance, then they pick it up and their faith in us is restored. It is best read over a glass of wine. Or two.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 14, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

When my Mom wasn't doing household chores she was reading. For some reason I turned into a big time reader while older brother and younger sister didn't.

Just popped over to Cocktail Party Physics and Jen has blogged about Heinlein's "Number of The Beast". This got me to thinking of a re-read. Unfortunately it's in a box, and every time I've gone looking for a book in a box I couldn't find. What I do find, is that my apartment is incredibly dusty, which gives a headache. All for nothing. Maybe when I finish the current batch on my to read list (meaning the books I've recently bought, not the actual paper lists (must be three pages long)) I'll just buy another copy. Hope they don't make a movie out of it before then, because I hate movie covers on books. Which is why I haven't replaced my missing "Lord of the Rings" trilogy yet (last time I searched the boxes was for this). ACHOO...

Posted by: omni | July 14, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

SN, no, that's my hiking buddy. That one turned out so great I had to include it. Now that I've got Flickr going I might add some more.

Slyness, Yoho is in B.C., just west of Banff National Park. Your GC photos were good too, but the GC doesn't photograph well due to the size.

dmd, the falls is called Twin Falls. You would have had to hike in to see it; this one can't be seen from the highway. That photo is about 10k/6 mi from parking.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

If you don't where CPP is, and would like to check it out...

Posted by: omni | July 14, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse


I really REALLY kinda doubt you could make "Number of the Beast" for the big screen.

'Specially with all the copyright issues... Never mind the sex!


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

omni, last I saw, they still market Lord of the Rings with the cover art by Tolkien as an upscale version. Obviously, you are expected to pay for that upscalitude.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 14, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I know, that was part joke, part setup up for the segue to LotRs thing...

Posted by: omni | July 14, 2006 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Every book store I go to, and even searches on Amazon I only see the movie covers. What I'd really like is to get the four pack with the Hobbit and beat them up a little so they look like cherished copies that have been read many times. I don't want to look like someone who is only reading them because of the movie. I just feel so lame about that.

Posted by: omni | July 14, 2006 3:40 PM | Report abuse

omni, just go to a used bookstore and buy an old copy of "Lolita," "Tropic of Cancer," "Candy," "Nightshift Nurses in Leather," etc., tear off the cover and past that cover over top of your brand new LotRs. That way you can read LotR and "The Hobbit" on the bus, on the Metro, in the park, etc., without people thinking you're a Tolkien weenie. (It works even better if you wear a long raincoat.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

There's a 50th anniversary edition out now, but as noted by SciTim, there is a price for such upscalitude.

Recently re-read The Hobbit. Nice tight storyline. Peter Jackson, you can't stop now.

Just put another photo up.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

And speaking of books, Mudge, I've started Master and Commander.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

And Mr. History makes fun of me (Ms. Engineer) because I only insist that all my engineering books be in the same place, and all other books be grouped by author (serials in order) wherever they fit! His books are organized by topic alphabetically, then author alphabetically (unless of course it's a train book, and then it joins the pile next to/under the bed). He's crazy.

Needless to say, our books don't mix well. He has his shelves, and I have mine. Luckily, we still have room for more shelves and have only moved once (so we had room for more books).

Posted by: GyppedOne | July 14, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow. My post sounds like I just chugged a 2-liter of Mountain Dew and joined in mid-sentence...sorry about that, I hit submit instead of preview.

Guess I need to submit more often, then, huh? :)

ah well, back to lurking...

Posted by: GyppedOne | July 14, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

i forgot to say thanks for the achenfaq. i read it about 6 mos ago when i started lurking - even bookmarked it so i could look stuff up. i'm curious, though, any reason for not including an entry on "rovestorm"?

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 14, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The ScienceSpouse and I had been together for a while, pre-spousally, before we decided it was time to combine our libraries. Couldn't just do it, though: we went to a rubber-stamp store and bought stamps with our names, each in a font of our own choosing. We had a massive book-stamping and alphabetical-ordering event, stamping them on the edge. Mingling your books is a major commitment, and we weren't quite there yet. That was over 17 years ago.

Since we moved into our current house, 10 years ago, we still have 3 big boxes of paperbacks for which we haven't found shelf space to unpack them. Soon, soon.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 14, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

No, no, GyppedOne, I understood and chuckled! Stay with us and enjoy the fun.

Posted by: Slyness | July 14, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse


didn't notice anything out of ordinary with your 4:10. As Joel says, "Boodle, duck and cover"... it is what it is. No big deal but I notice that WaPo has record of every Achenblog going back to Achenblog Day One; the perpetuity thing concerns me. Maybe WaPo will be bought out by Microsoft and all will be deleted... one can only hope.

Posted by: farfrombeltway | July 14, 2006 4:49 PM | Report abuse

"Guess I need to submit more often, then, huh?"

Practice makes perfect, Gyp. Chip in any ol' time.

You'll like M&C, SofC. However, it is somewhat different than all the following books, in that M&C uses the point-of-view of three different characters: Aubrey, Maturin, and James Dillion, Aubrey's 1st lieutenant. In all the following books O'Brian sticks pretty much to just Aubrey and Maturin POVs. I suspect the reason was M&C was the first novel in the series, and O'Brian did realize at the time how the series would go (or even that there would be a series).

But I don't know why I'm blathering on about that, since it has nothing to do with whether you'll enjoy it or not. You just have to hurry up and get through the first couple of books, until you get to the introduction of the incredible Diana Villers, one of the most terrific female characters in all of literature.

But there's not a moment to lose! You've got 19 1/2 books after M&C! Get cracking!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Regarding The Hobbit and the LOTR Trilogy. I read them in Junior High and loved them. There is a point in the LOTR where I actually became so scared that I had to put the book down for a while. This has never happened since.

Of course, that was before I learned of "Happy Kitty Bunny Pony: A Mouthful of Saccharine Super Cute."

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Refresh my memory, Padouk: who wrote "Happy Kitty Bunny Pony: A Mouthful of Saccharine Super Cute." Was that Teilhard du Chardin or Vladimir Nabokov? I know it wasn't Solzhenitsyn.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm hoping I don't get too addicted and can maybe just sample the series. I think you said HMS Surprise was your favorite.

Okay, RD, I'll bite. What part was that scary?

There's a good Friday afternoon topic. I confess that when I read The Shining and It I found them to be pretty darn scary.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

LA lurker (are you actually in la? i lived there for 5 years) - i haven't updated the achenfaq for a while... all suggestions, additions, etc are requested, encouraged and welcome! rovestorm will be added forthwith!

DOES ANYONE WANT A FRAZETTA'S PRINCESS FIGURINE??? i really wanna get rid of the darn thing!

also, here are some photos from Panama... i gotta figure the flickr thing out more before i post more...

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

H.P. Lovecraft?

e.e. cummings?

Percy Bysshe Shelley?

One of those guys.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

DARN! forgot the link

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, the Marquis du Sade.

or Zola.


Posted by: Ivansmom | July 14, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Sartre: LOL!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, I usually don't have much to say, but I've been a bibliophile since the day I was born. Taught myself to read by flashlight and all that. Always had a book in my desk at school...

Teacher: Now, class, you'll get a gold star for every book that you read over break. Reading is fun and I encourage you to read at least one book a week; it's an important life skill...Gyppo! Put that book down and listen to me or you're staying in for recess, missy!

Ah yes, good times, good times...

Quittin' time, have a good weekend, all!

Posted by: GyppedOne | July 14, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl, It's been a while. Something about going into a cave or tunnel where evil awaited.

Now I'll have to go re-read the whole thing just to remember.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Great photos, mo (I love travel slideshows). I had to chuckle at the "vegetation" one, though. Thank you.

Posted by: CowTown | July 14, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

For me the creepiest part of LOTR was Golem. Still makes the hair on my neck stand up. (He was great/super-creepy in the movie, too.) Talking to "Precious"...brrrrrrrrrr.

I think the only other book that made my hair stand up and blood run cold was "The Exorcist." Although a couple of Lovecraft come close.

And some Ann Coulter.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 5:23 PM | Report abuse

mo, great photos. I liked the artsy one of the bridge.

Hope to see you around again, Gyppo.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse

mo: yeah, i'm in l.a. picked the handle to sort of explain the middle of the night postings. great pics from panama.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 14, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

(The return of ConceptualTim!)

I'm telling you mo, you need to stage a major event, like a gallery opening, with white wine and cheese cubes on toothpicks and everybody wearing black and talking about the evocative character of the invocation of the enchanted coprolite, then you stage the destruction of the absurdly pulchritudinous Frazetta-babe figurine by impact with an enormous ceramic model of, uh, "manliness", followed by incessantly-repeated close-up slo-mo videos of the moment of impact on strategically-placed TV screens, with pompous commentary explaining the tiresome conception and political symbolism of the entire event. That's gold, baby, gold!

Gad, I love run-on sentences.

Posted by: ConceptualTim | July 14, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Ooh, ooh!

Then you video the whole event as a commentary on the pretension of the arts-nobbling crowd. At the same time, you video the camera operators recording the event, complete with snickering and parodies of the pompous pretension. At the same time, you video the video of the video recording, as a commentary on self-absorption and the nature of self-perception of the process of perception.

This is great stuff! I wish I had a picture of myself typing it...

Posted by: ConceptualTim | July 14, 2006 5:40 PM | Report abuse

great idea conceptualtim - but this is dc! where are we going to find a suitable artsy-fartsy gallery? and do we really wanna destroy the poor thing? surely SOMEBODY would charish the garish thing?

btw - the only ad i see by google right now is
Mayan Chocolate Ice Cream

um... yeah...

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

what part of LA? i lived in hollywood off of sunset (across from the rock-n-roll Ralph's) (but you don't hafta get that specific - i just did cuz i don't live there anymore! hehehe)

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 5:51 PM | Report abuse

mo - You get Mayan Chocolate ice cream? Lucky.
I got bookshelves.

Posted by: CowTown | July 14, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse

SofC, when you have to hope you don't get addicted, its already too late. You might as well cave and just go and get the rest of the books now.

Posted by: dr | July 14, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

ConTim, I still like your original idea of the indie film of the roadtrip to return it to Frazetta, inspired by the journey to Mount Doom.

mo, I'm sure somebody would love to have it but you have to travel in, um, the right circles to find a buyer. Hopefully your prospective buyers have not read your 5:08, as your bargaining position is not exactly strong after that one!

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

buyer? heck - i'm GIVING the darn thing away! i'll even pay for shipping!

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Conceptual Tim, methinks you are totally wasted just sticking to the sciences. Science might be your true love, and calling, but gol diggity...this could go places.

You don't need to type it, you just need to film a guy typing it. You can do the background voice over.

Posted by: dr | July 14, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Just so that everyone has an appreciation of mo's fine art collection that she is so desirous of parting with, here's Frazetta's Princess:

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

and just so's no one questions my art collection - i acquired the item through an unusual series of events - i did not purchase said item... it "ended up" in my possession...

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

mo, i'm in on the west side. another suggestion for the faq could be varieties of achenlurkers.

see the wiki article:

i probably should change my handle to L.A. de-lurker. haha

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 14, 2006 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. I could put Frazetta's Princess in my garden in lieu of a pagoda or a Bend Over Grandma.
Then my wife would kill me. There's that...

Posted by: CowTown | July 14, 2006 6:21 PM | Report abuse

p.s. nice sculpture. won't ask questions.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 14, 2006 6:27 PM | Report abuse

mo, I defer to ivansmom on how far you can get with the "I'm just holding it for a friend" defence.

On Achendictionary, Mr. Stripey probably deserves mention. Also, the motto and coat of arms.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 6:32 PM | Report abuse

i like how my 6:27 follows ct's 6:21

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 14, 2006 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, Frazetta's Princess needs an AchenFAQ entry, as it has become virtually a regular, itself.

mo, if you really want to send it to a good home, try contacting the Empress of the Style Invitational. I'm sure she can find a home for it. Possibly by way of a contest for ideas to dispose of mass-produced sex-fetish art.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 14, 2006 6:40 PM | Report abuse

SoC - please to elaborate on the motto and coat of arms... (i'm watching star wars - i feel like talking like yoda)

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Mo, you can use the "I'm just holding it for a friend" defense in combination with the "I don't have a Frazetta statue" defense in combination with the "Statue? What statue?" defense. None work well on their own, and they do about that well combined.

I recommend a "statue free to the judge" defense. Of course, that may lead to another crime. Unless the judge likes the statue.

I was compelled when I got home to reread "Happy Kitty Bunny Pony". Giggle. Snort.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 14, 2006 7:43 PM | Report abuse

well - ivansmom - i actually WAS holding it for a friend who purchased it from another friend - he is the penultimate slacker and i ended up having the darn thing in my car for almost a year - finally he said "just keep it!"... i was like "i don't wanna!!!!"... *sigh* now i'm stuck with the darn thing... um... i mean...

statue? what statue?

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Sonofcarl, those pictures are beautiful, but I kept thinking are there any bears in this place?

Glad you're back, mo, and I saw the picture. Is that art? Just asking.

Nani, where are you? Error, where are you? Loomis, where are you? How long do we, or rather I, have to feel bad before you come back?

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 14, 2006 7:59 PM | Report abuse

cassandra - yes, i believe that it is art. it's done quite well no? ok, i'm not crazy bout the darn thing but i can recognize that it is done with great detail and skill... just because it depicts something that may make people uncomfortable does not take away from its artistic value.

cass - i don't think you have anything to feel bad about! besides, me thinks that lindaloo was our anonymous 10:21 am post...

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

mo, I just tried to find it; I'm not very good at searching the archives. It was after the famed "Clouds are Hard" quote, which I believe was part of The Tempest. Wilbrod translated "Clouds are Hard" into Latin and some ideas were thrown around for the coat of arms. I think TBG and maybe another even did up a draft.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

oh yeah! SoC - i 'member now! achenfan is a wiz at archives - achenfan, a little help here, mon ami?

Posted by: mo | July 14, 2006 8:14 PM | Report abuse


It's not up to you, or I, or anyone but the Boodler themselves to decide when they appear. Don't trouble yourself over something you can't control. If they return, we welcome them. If not, we remember them and they're therefore still here in some fashion. *hugs*


As for being scared by books...

"The Stand" had me leaving lights on at night, but...

The first time I read Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising," I was actually in uniform, manning a command post, in West Germany, where many of the battles are set. Even WITH the lights on, that was scaaaaaaaaaaaaary, kids.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Here is the Boodle in question. Scroll down and you will see many versions of "Clouds are Hard."

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, what scotty said.

scotty, were you near Fulda Gap?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - "Fulda Gap?" We've warned you about that potty talk.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 8:33 PM | Report abuse

cassandra, they'll all come back when they feel like it.

periodic cycles of lurking and delurking (as wiki calls it) is probably healthy.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 14, 2006 8:37 PM | Report abuse

scc: are healthy

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 14, 2006 8:47 PM | Report abuse

As near as I can tell, the first reference in that kit that references clouds is at 5:15 p.m., about halfway down the boodle. Then it comes pretty fast after that. Wilbrod's excellent coat-of-arms comes at 8:31 p.m.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 9:04 PM | Report abuse

The scariest thing I ever read was a transcript from an internet chat in which a young man was having a crisis of faith. His intellect was in conflict with his religious beliefs. Others involved in the chat worked hard to satisfy his doubts. Evidently they succeeded, because the next day he walked onto a bus and blew himself up.

Doesn't get any scarier than that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, are you there? I need you to 'splain the infield fly rule to me. Sorry, I wasn't paying attention the first time. Went to the church softball game tonight, and the ump invoked it and provoked a storm of outrage. Best I could tell, the situation was this: ball hit low between first and second. Runner on first advanced to second. Outfielder dropped the ball in the grass. The ump called the batter out.

It make our side mad enough that they came back to hit several home runs and win.

Posted by: Slyness | July 14, 2006 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Slyness - are any of the players on your church team willing to be traded to the Washington Nationals?

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 14, 2006 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Well, probably not. They range in age from 18 to 57. The range in ability is pretty wide, too.

Posted by: Slyness | July 14, 2006 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Great Kit! The perfect topic for the boodle. I'm so glad I didn't even attempt to come up with a kit, because the bar is set very high! And I finally figured out why your boodle name is Stampede (you're from Calgary, duh). The Canadian contingent grows ever larger (not that there's anything wrong with that - I'm in Seattle, so I consider myself practically Canadian).

I had to organize my books recently to make room for my CD collection which has gotten out of hand. But, yeah, I would appreciate having one of you obsessive-compulsive types really put things in order. I was very happy to find out that Half Price Books takes anything, even old textbooks and outdated computer books.

I have to say the scariest book for me is The Shining (REDRUM) - the movie gets me too. I think it was the last Stephen King book I read.

Welcome, new boodlers! mo, glad you're back too.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 14, 2006 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Completely off-topic, but Thomas Pynchon is apparently going to have another novel out in December. More details are supposed to come out next week. I found the following quote from his Wikipedia entry that was originally from the San Diego Union-Tribue and enjoy it:

More recently, book critic Arthur Salm has written that

"the man simply chooses not to be a public figure, an attitude that resonates on a frequency so out of phase with that of the prevailing culture that if Pynchon and Paris Hilton were ever to meet--the circumstances, I admit, are beyond imagining--the resulting matter/antimatter explosion would vaporize everything from here to Tau Ceti IV."

Posted by: pj | July 14, 2006 9:51 PM | Report abuse

pj, nothing is completely off-topic here, especially books when the Kit was about books! I knew that my reading list was going to get longer (I've never read Pynchon).

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 14, 2006 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Joel is 2-for-2 in getting subs for him with ot's and Stampede's kits. Should we mention Wally Pipp's name? Just kidding.

Yeah, I'd like it too if Nani, Error, Loomis, suecris, and kurosawaguy would start posting again. This community is a lot more enjoyable and interesting with their presence.

Posted by: pj | July 14, 2006 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and this is pretty far off-topic, except that when I saw it (today), I thought about Joel, and hoped against hope that it wasn't about Ms Hilton:
From Paris, With Love

And now I'd best go back to lurking, before I cause a ruckus and get all Achenembarrassed.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 14, 2006 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, there certainly are bears there, but it is extremely rare to even see one, let alone have an "incident". If you give them a bit of notice you're coming (2 weeks by fax - kidding), they'll get out of the way. Some people carry little bells that are always jingling on their packs. My friend and I pretend we're the world's most remote hot dog vendors so we periodically yell out "get your cold beer!" or "popcorn!" (true story)

Still, we always carry bear spray. And you never have any food or garbage near your tent.

SN and Mudge, on my 1991 Germany trip I paid homage to Red Storm Rising by stopping in Fulda for a few hours (it was on the way to Berlin anyway).

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, the one word in your report of the play that bothered me was "low." We'll get to that in a minute. Here's the necessary conditions:
1) Less than 2 outs;
2) Runners on first AND second, or bases loaded.

If you don't have that, you don't have the bare minimum. Now:

1) Batter hits a fly ball. It must be "catchable by any infielder" (meaning the catcher, who you don't usually think of as an infielder, but he/she is). In other words, maybe the catcher is the only one who might be able to get it (i.e. a pop straight up one foot in front of the plate. However, because an infielder CAN catch doesn't mean that he DOES catch it; perhaps a hard-charging outfielder can also get to it, calls off the shortstop, and does catch it--that's OK (because the shortstop was also potentially able.

2) Just because the ball/fielder is on the outfield grass is irrelevant--the rule only says an infielder can catch it. It doesn't say it has to BE in the infield. So an infielder backpedling a bit into the outfield is OK.

3) The fly must be a fair ball. If it is a foul, it doesn't count as an infield fly. (But any fielder is still free to catch it, and if so, the batter is still out. But if it's foul, and dropped, then it's just a strike, like any other foul ball. And if the batter has 2 strikes, and the foul is dropped, it is nothing, just like any other uncaught foul with 2 strikes.)

4. It CANNOT be a bunt, and it CANNOT be a line drive. You said the ball was "low," which could be a problem. And defining a "line drive" is difficult, but most umps would say the arc of a "line drive" should be no higher than the height of a player's glove when he/she holds his arm straight up. So figure a 6-foot adult with his arm up; the glove would be about 8-9 feet above the ground. If it has more arc than that, it is a fly.

(You also said it was hit "between first and second." I don't know where the first baseman and second baseman were relative to the ball, but one or the other should have been able to make the catch "with ordinary effort." This is dependent upon the umps analysis of the player's ability; a 9-year-old kid can possibly catch a fly by moving only a step or two--that's all his/her "ordinary effort might be. But an experienced and skilled player might be expected to move 6, 8, 10 steps, or whatever, to get under the ball without too much effort. (In other words, the rule doesn't "require" a miracle diving catch, just a routine one.) (I once saw a sky-high pop hit a mile up on a very windy, gusty night. The second baseman circled under it, but the wind made the ball nearly impossible to track. Had it been dead air the catch would have been routine. But the gusts made it so difficult the kid wound up dropping it--and the ump declined to call it an infield fly due solely t the difficulty and the "ordinary effort" clause. And nobody argued with him. That ball was virtually uncatchable, even with the fielder camped right under it.)

If all the right conditions are met, ideally the ump calls "Infield fly, batter is out" while the ball is at the top of the arc. (You can't always do that, and even if you do, it is quite common that nobody hears you.) Once you've called it, the ump has to stick with that call no matter what; he can't "admit an error" and reverse hiomself (like he can on some other kinds of calls). The reason is that he has effectively told the batter not to bother running any further, and has also advised both runners on base that they don't have to move (there is no force play in effect). So there's no going back once the call is made. If he's wrong, the ump still has to "eat the call" (enforce it knowing it was the wrong call). Umps don't like eating it, but they know there's no choice--you aren't allowed to go back and decide who might have gotten how far, etc.

(I had to eat one in a tournament once--VERY humiliating. But I screwed up and then had no choice. You feel like crap for a week afterward. Occupational hazard.)

Just because an infield fly has been called and the batter is it, the runners are still free to run if they want (or if they run when they shouldn't). So they can still be tagged or whatever play develops. The ball is still "live"; there is no automatic time-out or anything. (If the ball is caught but the runner left the base before the catch, the runner is still liable to be doubled up, or an appeal made that the runner left early, etc., just like on any other caught fly ball.) I've seen parent umpires just totally butcher the call when there's an infield fly, the ball is dropped, kids run, etc., and the parent/ump declares the infield fly, batter out--and sends all the runners back where they started. Gaaaaaaaaaaaack!

So...could the first or second baseman have caught that fly? Was it a fly or a line drive?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 14, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Yes, mostlylurking. I know all too well the frustration Stampede has. I need a trip to Ikea myself.

Pynchon's "Crying of Lot 49" is an easy book to read and gives you a good feel of what his ideas and obsessions are. Most of his short fiction is in "Slow Learner." "V", "Gravity's Rainbow", and "Mason and Dixon" are long and tough to get a handle on. You would probably be better off reading books about his works before you try to tackle them.

Posted by: pj | July 14, 2006 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Just popping my head up to say somethin' before bed (gawd... 10:30... on a Friday night even... I have soooo lost my cool).

The only book I'm dying to read is J. K. Rowling's next (and last) in the Harry Potter series. Call me whatever you want, but those are some of the best durned books I've read in ages. So there.

Posted by: martooni | July 14, 2006 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Great kit Stampede. I yearn to have a structurally sound library but it's not always possible. Piles sometimes sway in the wind here too. The only thing I achieved is to keep languages more or less separate. French books mostly stay in their designated shelves and don't mingle with their Anglo friends. Otherwise it would be madness. I'm of the Mudge school of librarians, I try to keep authors together but books have a mind of their own. I just fished out a sneaky Michael Connelly out of a stack of Ian Rankins. This one is coming with me in San Francisco next week (Lincoln Lawyer ?). No computer shall come with me, so I look forward reading the boodler's kits next weekend. And again Stampede, you make us Canutistanis proud, first at bat and you get it out of the park. You go girl.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | July 14, 2006 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Definition of Infield Fly from MLB rules (note: pitcher also an infielder):

"An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare "Infield Fly" for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baselines, the umpire shall declare "Infield Fly, if Fair."
The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.
If a declared Infield Fly is allowed to fall untouched to the ground, and bounces foul before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball. If a declared Infield Fly falls untouched to the ground outside the baseline, and bounces fair before passing first or third base, it is an Infield Fly.
Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder--not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire's judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire's judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately.
When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05 (L). The infield fly rule takes precedence."

Posted by: distant lurker | July 14, 2006 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Previous post not to imply anything stated by 'Mudge (if I may be so informal) was wrong, just the lawyer in me had to go to the "statute"

Posted by: distant lurker | July 14, 2006 11:09 PM | Report abuse

distant lurker - another lawyer? What state/province are you in?

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 14, 2006 11:27 PM | Report abuse

The humble State of Indiana, land of as many ethanol plant projects as our corn yield can handle. I was afraid to "out" myself as to the bar thing until I saw you and Ivansmom do likewise. :)

Posted by: distant lurker | July 14, 2006 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I see that I am not the only Hoosier.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 15, 2006 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Wow, getting up to our kiesters in barristers here.

DL, you quoted the MLB rule, which is fine. It is stated a wee bit differently in other rulebooks (Little League, ASA softball, NCAA, etc.), but they all cover the same thing the same way. Note the irritating absence of a definition of "line drive." The stuff about bouncing fair or foul really doesn't belong here, because those same rules apply to all fly balls and ground balls, not just IFs.

Can't believe I'm up this late. Darn computer games. G'night all.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 15, 2006 1:05 AM | Report abuse


I was somewhat south of the Gap, but part of an armored battalion whose job (like most every armored battalion in W. Germany at the time) was to rush towards the border to reach an eminently defensible (we hoped) ridge blocking a major route of advance. Just like in da book.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 15, 2006 7:43 AM | Report abuse

NEVER toss ANY book. I did once, by "downsizing" our household for the travelling life. When the travel was over, and we moved back into a fixed abode, and the one bookcase of "Special" items we had not been able to bear the loss of was restored to the world, the loss of immediacy that had been there when we could swing around and reach out for ANYTHING was too frustrating for words. No book is too insignificant to tuck away somewhere for that one time one needs it.

Posted by: Another Lurker | July 15, 2006 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Hi! I stayed away from this place for four days on a dare from a student. She said I could not do it. She was right. I did read the kits. Great job, guest Kitters.

Oh, books. Love books. When I was 12, my family came to the States on vacation. We went to the bookstore at the mall. Sadly, in Colombia, literature for kids is not widely available. So we bought piles and piles of books. Then we bundled them up, five or six at a time, wrapped them in brown paper, numbered the packages, and shipped them back to our home address. We had to ship "surface" and the packages took weeks, and even months to arrive. The conversation on the school bus always included one of us wondering aloud if we'd get a bundle of books in the mail. We kept a list of the missing packages on the fridge for months. One of them never showed up.

I remember many of the books from those bundles. I've read them again and again over the years. When my parents moved to the States a couple of years ago, they brought some of those books with them. They're saving them for the grandkids

I'm off to Germany for 2 weeks tomorrow. I'm bringing the laptop, but may not have too much time to use it. So, I look forward to catching up when I return.

Martooni, hold on tight. I'm thinking about you.

Everyone else, have a fun July.

Posted by: a bea c | July 15, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mudge and distant lurker, that is helpful. I can't say for sure, but I didn't have the impression that it was a fly ball. It seemed to me, on the opposite side of the field, that it was about chest high. That may have been what set our guys off. The ump definitely had to eat it. Anyway, the outfielder who moved up to catch it dropped it.

I wasn't glued to the game (I was sitting with a group of my buddies gossiping), and it happened very fast. The aftermath stopped play for several minutes, however, and we were all riveted by the drama. I'm sure the details will come out in Sunday School tomorrow.

It was a church softball league game, fer cryin' out loud.

Posted by: Slyness | July 15, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

a bea c;

Viel Spass in Deutschland!


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 15, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

SNuke, thanks. (I think) Don't know ANY German. It's the last place I ever thought I'd visit.

Posted by: a bea c | July 15, 2006 10:39 AM | Report abuse

a bea c;

That was "Have a lot of fun in Germany," of course, and you're welcome. There really is plenty to do and see, and I don't think you'll have any problem communicating.


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 15, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Over the last months there have been several conversations about The Da Vinci Code. I've read Holy Blood Holy Grail and I find myself left with questions. Holy Blood uses a lot of suppositions to make its point, and no matter what my beleifs are on the subject matter, reading it does make me wonder about how our history is written.

I was strongly reminded of some Farley Mowat I read years ago, 'WestViking'. At the time my history teacher told me not to beleive everything I read in it. I don't have WestViking in my collection now, but I do have The FarFarers, also by Mowat. It is written in the same manner as WestViking, using supposition to fill in the cracks where he could not substantiate his beleif of a history, or the story he wanted to tell.

These two of Mowat's books are an interesting analogy of historical styles to Holy Blood. Mowat uses a very similiar kind of approach as Holy Blood to what can be implied from the dry facts of historical writing and documentation.

Holy Blood seems to leave most readers with really strong feelings for or against the writer's views, but Mowat's works just kind of leave you feeling, it's a heck of a story.

I hope no one minds me psoting about the subject again, but I thought some might find these interesting to consider if you are curious about that style of historicalish writing.

Posted by: dr | July 15, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, friends. I'm really late today. Been to the cemetery cleaning graves this morning, and just getting back in. Have to clean up and get ready for the birthday party for the pastor. Just want something icy cold to drink, and to sit. Don't want to move. It is sooooooo hot! My tomatoes are turning slightly orange. I hope they aren't stolen. Wherever you are, I hope you can find some cool air. There just isn't much around here. The comment monster ate my first post, I don't know what happened.

I realize that Error, Nani, and Lindaloo will come back when they're ready, just miss them. And I feel responsible to some extent. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do.

Please be careful in the heat, and get plenty of water. Try to stay cool. The birthday party is for our pastor and he's ninety years old, so I don't believe the party will be on the wild side. That said, I'm hoping I don't go to sleep. I'm tired. Have a good weekend, get some rest, give God some of your time, kiss your wife and kids, not necessarily in that order, and please know that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 15, 2006 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the off topic but . . .

Dispiriting news in the Middle East for sure. Bush is meeting with Putin and the two can't even agree on what to say about it. Bush: "Hezbollah has to stop." Putin: "Israel needs to take a more measured response." So in a little more than five years of "stablizing" the region by invading Iraq we've gone 27 years back in terms of progress towards peace in the region. Maybe the President feels if he keeps at it the Shah will come back to Iran.

Of course, it isn't the President's fault we've been told, he just got bad intelligence advice about WMD and, just like no one could have EVER guessed those levees would break in New Orleans, no one could have EVER guessed that the invasion would spur militancy in the region. Feh.

Posted by: distant lurker | July 15, 2006 2:41 PM | Report abuse

dr, "historicalish" has to be the word of the day.

Hopefully your reference to DVC will lure Loomis back.

Distant lurker, hurray! Another member of the bar. Indiana, hey? Did you see Curmudgeon's historicalish account of the Battle of Tippecanoe? A boodle must-read.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 15, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Regarding 'historicalish' and the 'word of the day' reminds me that Pee Wee's Playhouse is making a comeback. Oh how I've missed Chairy and the rest of the gang!

Posted by: widdershins | July 15, 2006 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Joel's Rough Draft for tomorrow is posted at

Good column. Joel doesn't say it in the column, which is about his first newspaper job back in the heady pre-cellphone, pre-PC computer days of Pac-Man, but this is his 25th anniversary year in the newspaper business. Nothing like a quarter century under your belt to give a man pause. (I'm more than halfway through my second quarter century, which means I'm so paused I'm pretty much dead stopped in my tracks.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 15, 2006 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Pssst, Curmudgeon, new Kit!
(Thanks for the tip about this being Joel's 25th year - that makes sense. I've got about 25 years in my career - only 25 more to go, unfortunately. Sigh.)

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 15, 2006 10:29 PM | Report abuse

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