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How to Write a Guest Kit on Achenblog

[With your blogger heading off to France to confront Zizou directly about his buttheadedness, there is a need for the commentariat to step up to the plate and attempt a header into the goal even at the great risk of striking out spectacularly. But it's not that hard, really, if you avoid things like mixed metaphors, excessive excessiveness, solipsism, and, the bane of my own existence, palindromes that are off by one letter. To help you out, the boodler who goes by "ot" has sent in this excellent guide on writing a kit. If you wish to give it a try, send your kit to Thank you.]


How does one go about writing a "kit"?

Obviously, it should be as "Joel-like" as possible. Here are eleven of the essential "ingredients" you'll need to get started:

1. Big words. The 25 cent variety. I suspect Joel has a list of unpronounceable, rarely used words taped to his PC and every morning when he wakes up he says to himself: today is the day I use a real humdinger!

Include the following words in your kit - at a precise relationship of 1:7 (one big word for every seven small ones)

- proletariat
- castaneous
- anthropophaginian
- floccinaucinihilipilification

2. Self-deprecation. Joel's confidence level is about on par with Mayberry's babe-magnet, Barney Fife. Except, Joel doesn't keep a bullet in his breast pocket, he keeps an eraser. Hint: before you write your kit, dive into the "Peanuts" archive and focus on Charlie Brown.

3. Joel is one funny dude. The kit MUST have clever twists and turns and all sentences MUST have a surprise finish. For example: "Feeling manly today, so I decided to change the oil in my hair."

4. Never, ever reveal your political leanings. Duck, dodge, squirm, flinch, run and hide. Claim that you've always voted using butterfly ballots - so you're really not sure which party you voted for.

5. Most importantly, the kit must be full of doubt. Include two or more from the following list:

"I don't know."
"I have no idea what that means."
"Don't ask me."

6. Led Zeppelin. (Enough said)

7. Baked beans (ditto)

8. Every analogy, every description should top the previous one. "This alligator was huge! It was bigger than Donald Trump's ego and bank account combined. It would make Godzilla look like some toy you get in a Happy Meal. Chop up this gator and Imelda Marcos would have 2000 more pairs of shoes!"

9. Science terms. The more the better. (Especially, "methane".) The key is to pretend you know what you are talking about by including Einsteinesque words no one will bother looking up.

"The readings from the anemometer, combined with the scale-limited F-bomb calculations show that the capacitance of the conjugate quantities from Pascal's Principle of Hydrostatics were possibly specious."

10. Always add ample amounts of alliteration.

11. Finally, the best way to end any kit - no matter the topic - is just to say: "I'll probably get fired."

(And after we completely take over his blog...he probably will!)

-- ot

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 11, 2006; 7:28 AM ET
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Next: These Kids Today


Ooohh... Joel--

You're in deep doo-doo.

Posted by: TBG | July 11, 2006 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I was undertaking an ambulatory excursion of my place of employment in a fruitless attempt to escape from a pernicious existential angst. (1) I do this now and then when I suddenly realize that there is a significant chance that the only person on the planet who finds me either funny or clever is me.(2) So sometimes I like to remind myself that I work in an important building filled with history and, occasionally, cute summer interns. (3) Further, this building is frequently visited by quite important people such as XXXXXX who look a lot shorter in person, which perhaps explains why he is such an ill-tempered crab. (4) At times like this I have no idea how I ended up here. It wasn't my plan. My career is clearly random. Is there no order at all in reality? (5) Fortunately I find that if I just blast Zeppelin IV loud enough on my CD player it chases those naughty thoughts away. (6) Besides, I think the cafeteria is serving baked beans for lunch, and those rock, so I have something to look forward to. (7) In fact, since I skipped breakfast I am anticipating a good meal the way a properly stimulated system of sycophantic standing waves in a three-level quantum cavity seeks a perpetual photon population inversion, assuming, obviously, appropriate values for the Einstein A and B coefficients. (8,9,and 10) Of course, between the loud music, the inevitable methane production associated with the beans, plus the fact that I am doing this on government time.

I'll probably get fired. (11)

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 11, 2006 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel. And thanks martooni, and the rest of you guys. Martooni, so sorry you've fallen off the wagon, and I hope you can get back on. I understood what you were saying, and I'm not offended.

As to writing a kit, with the above listed rules, sounds like a "toughie" to me. I'm on my way to the center, and just don't think I'm going to be able to get a kit in today. I earnestly await those who do send in one. I look forward to reading it, and enjoying it. Have a great day, folks.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 11, 2006 8:21 AM | Report abuse

ot, great start to the guest kit's, I look forward to reading them. RD - very funny.

Posted by: dmd | July 11, 2006 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Are those rules more like guidelines, or is Joel going to be applying them as some kind of sub-literary litmus test?

By the by, just wanted to say hello to everyone. Things have been a little crazy over here on Buzzard Point, but I'm reading the K&K when I can. I think I'm going to return to my blog after a very long hiatus.

Also, it pains me to admit this, but in contrast to last year the Nationals have lost EVERY GAME I've gone to. I claim no responsibility for this, but it is a little distressing.

Posted by: jw | July 11, 2006 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Too good, RD. By the way, I believe the allegorical significance of the beast in Joel's new logo is boodleholicism, and the simplified figure of Joel is a universalized stand-in for everyboodler struggling (through verbal means, naturally) to effingcontrol the addiction for a effingchange.


Posted by: Woofin | July 11, 2006 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Distressing news from India, CBC claiming six blasts occured at rush hour on commuter trains in Mumbai.

Posted by: dmd | July 11, 2006 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Actually, a kit can be on anything, funny or serious, light or dark. And short is better than long. It can be just a few paragraphs. In general it shouldn't be too self-absorbed -- hard as it may be to imagine that on this blog that is considered a demerit. Facts are a bonus. Actual insight into something is encouraged. Deft turn of phrase: priceless.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 11, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I turned in something long-winded and desperately self-absorbed, with only about 3 facts distributed within a field of blather. I fear I shan't make the cut. I need to work on a backup or a, you know, actual scientific publication for which I get paid and get to justify my continued employment. One of those.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 11, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

ot, that Kit sure is one hard act to follow. Intimidating!
(Maybe Joel should have started with a more sub-literate Kitter -- to use jw's deft turn of phrase.)

Posted by: Achenfan | July 11, 2006 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Tim, I'm guessing a lot of us are feeling a bit of post-Kitting remorse round about now. I think this is all part of Joel's evil plan to make us appreciate his superior Kitting abilities.

[As for that self-absorption comment, I just *know* he was talking about me. :)]

[Hey, I just thought of a twelfth essential ingredient of a Kit: No smiley emoticons.]

Posted by: Achenfan | July 11, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse


First you ask for a less-literate Kitter, then you say no smilies...

Do you want me to try this or not?????


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 11, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Shine on, you crazy diamond... *SIGH*

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Syd Barrett, who founded Pink Floyd but later lived as a recluse, has died at the age of 60, according to a spokeswoman for the band.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 11, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I guess that brings us to rule 13, S'nuke:
No inconsistencies or logic flaws. :) ;) ","

Posted by: Achenfan | July 11, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, S'nuke -- I boodled out of order.
RIP, Syd.

[Rule 14: Humor and death notices don't mix.]

Posted by: Achenfan | July 11, 2006 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Fie! Drat! Curses! I have Absolutely No Time To Write! [Starts throwing folders, kicks over trash bin] I had a great story "in my head" about Karl Rove taking John Warner and Charles Schumer for "a drive" with the RobertsBot. But, no time. No time at all. Feh.
[Wandering down hall, muttering under breath]

Posted by: CowTown | July 11, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

[Not that my comment could be considered "humor" as such.]

[Self-deprecation: Check.
Self-absorption: Double-check.]

Posted by: Achenfan | July 11, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Aw, come on CowTown, give it a whirl.
To quote Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider, "You can do it!"

Posted by: Achen- and CowTown fan | July 11, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Good one, ot.

Also to RD. You make me wonder if Joel has designed a program to spin out the kits (it sure ain't as easy as it looks).

Welcome back, jw. Are you keeping up with running? Hard to keep that kind of mileage going.

martooni, awareness is half the battle so all the best. You might find inspiration in the boodle following the kits a while ago about diet and exercise. Many people wrote about their difficult experiences with losing weight.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Sad news. Beeb is reporting the death of Syd Barrett.

Posted by: wiredog | July 11, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Hi SoC--still running. I'm actually doing the NYC Marathon this year, so I'm pretty excited. Looking forward to the finish in Columbus Circle.

Posted by: jw | July 11, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

jw, it's just so hard to try and keep up even one run as long as it has to be! I remember towards the end of training it seemed like every Sunday was super long runs followed by not wanting to do anything (pretty much accounting for the whole day).

Also, much harder to find that kind of time once you have offspring!

Congrats on getting into NYC - that's a draw isn't it?

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

NYC is a lottery unless you have a super rediculous time (like 2:20), which I'm in no danger of ever getting close to. I just lucked out this year--I also got into the Falmouth Road Race, which is another lottery.

Long runs are definitely a problem for me, but I bring the iPod along to help take my mind off things. I also try to do them in interesting spots so that I have some nice scenery.

Posted by: jw | July 11, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

One other thing, SonofCarl. This time around I'm doing a training plan developed by the Furman Institute of Running (FIRST) that was designed or people who can't run 5-6 days a week for whatever reason. It only involves 3 workouts each week--the idea being that each one has a specific purpose. They aren't exactly easy (lots of fast-paced intervals) but I'm hoping it will keep me from getting sick of running.

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

So, I'm wondering about the following scenario: Condi Rice makes the trip to Pyongyang, wearing an unspectacular black number (no dominatrix boots, no flash of any kind, somber and serious). She requests one meeting with Kim Jong Il, and refuses to speak with anyone else. After much bureaucratic nonsense, she finally gets her face-to-face. She greets Kim with no fuss, no flowery language. She delivers the following simple message, impassively: "Mr. George W. Bush, who is the sitting President of the United States, would most appreciate it if you would close down your nuclear weapons production facilties and demolish your factories for the construction of missiles." She refuses to answer any more questions, responding to everything with "I have nothing more to say." Checks her watch. "Thank you for your attention to this matter, Mr. Kim. I need to be going."

In the gangster movies, guys always get the message. No arguing, no negotiating, but sufficiently ambiguous that no specific threat has been made. Surely, popular entertainment cannot have failed me.

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

nicely done ot.

i won't attempt a guest kit. the only think i can think of right now is "10 ways to avoid my dissertation" with some form of "reading the achenblog" making several appearances in the list.

cassandra, please don't apologize anymore. you have made several gracious comments towards loomis. i hope she's ok, too, but at the point when you said "we disagree, let's just drop it" she should have respected that but didn't. imho i think that letting things go when people agree to disagree should be basic etiquette on the boodle, and you did that, or at least tried to.

happly boodling day to all!

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 11, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Joel's superior kitting abilities are indeed best appreciated by trying to kit oneself. The beast just won't get up and go.

Meanwhile, the picture of the day was of innovative and eccentric Californian-Australian surfing genius George Greenough doing a decidedly big, intimidating wave on an inflatable rubber mat. He was 64 years old at the time. And yes, there's a guy on the Oregon coast who produces custom-made surfing mats. Sort of like a Porsche Carrera compared to the $8 models you see in supermarkets that the kidlets scorn as uncool. Little do they know.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 11, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

There's a chain called Running Room up here that does "clinics" for prep for various events that has done a lot for popularizing (is that a word) running. You go to a 1/2 hr lecture followed by a shortish run one day, another day is hills (once you're far enough in the program) and Sunday at 0830 is the long run. It's quite popular. On the Sunday morning, they call out the different groups (split up by training time goal, and even by the event trained for). So it's like "Vancouver marathon, 4 hours, next up. Las Vegas half, 2:15, next."

Anyway, even with my schedule then I was only getting 3 or at most 4 runs in. Mind you, I wasn't exactly the poster child for low training for marathons as I developed an IT band injury and ran injured in the end.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse


No wonder you ran injured if you were carrying a bunch of computer geeks and their musical equipment.


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

SN, ha! It was all I could afford at the time. Next time I'll spring for an iPod.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

SN, ha! It was all I could afford at the time. Next time I'll spring for an iPod.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

SoC, spare no expense. *laugh*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 11, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

It wouldn't have been so bad except all they knew was 80s techno. There's only so much Devo a guy can take.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

But that'd be a great cadence for jogging, I'd bet.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 11, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

martooni -- as someone who has the same bad reaction to alcohol that you do; keep coming back, if you come at all. I've found the only way to keep my demon at bay is the Bill W. way. Pick up the phone.

TBG is right, of course. We all love you, even if you can write circles around me! :-)

Joel riding the LoneMule, hmmm . . . The Beast has claws and fangs -- maybe our old LoneMule looked more like this than a traditional mule.

TBG -- thanks for the intro -- have new emails to answer!! We both looked so perty in that picture!! :-)

Wilbrod -- where are you? am reading the absolutely delightful book you recommended -- "Our Marvelous Native Tongue." Will post more about it when I have time.

I hope all disaffected parties will come back and boodle. Nani, your prose is like a midnight swim; crisp and dreamy. I miss it.

Joel is right, we are all adults here. We have had some serious disagreements, but no one has burst out in flames. Temperatures no doubt have been hot though.

I hope everyone can take the past week on the boodle in stride, and dive right back in. (On the boodle -- the beast Joel is riding is the boodle, of course. He never knows what may transpire after he posts a kit. Forget LoneMule! We are the beast, fellow boodlers!!) Yikes!!!

Waiting for my eyes to un-dilate after my eye exam this morning; it's dark enough here in my computer room/study/bedroom that I can type and maybe even read what shows up on the screen.

Posted by: nelson | July 11, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse


See, the only problem with that scenario w/ Condi and Kim is that is would require numerous politicians to act in a straightforward, no BS manner, which is about as likely as me being able to write a decent guest kit while Joel is away. Other than that, great idea. You should def. be on Error Flynn's cabinet in '08

Posted by: tangent | July 11, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I won't be attempting a kit -- don't have the deft, quirky and intelligent writing style many other boodlers have.

jw -- my ex, as well as some very good friends have all run the NYC Marathon more than once. My 57 year old best friend in Colorado ran it last year to celebrate 15 years of survival after severe breast cancer.

I used to run, before I got sick. My ex and I ran a lot. I wasn't a distance runner though -- not enough stamina -- 10K was my longest distance.

SoC -- I really like the idea of the Running Room -- they must help a lot of folks who would otherwise struggle with time and place -- and training regimen.

Before I got too sick, long-distance cycling was becoming my sport of choice. My legs weren't pounded into swollen oblivion, which is what happened when I ran. I could hit a good cadence my on bike, and the miles would just fly by. Cycling induced the best endorphine highs I've ever had.

I miss it all terribly. I can still swim. When I'm hitting my stride in the pool, feeling good, pain level low, energy up, awesome. I can get the endorphines cranking. I try to concentrate on every stroke, to keep my mind tightly bound to each movement.

I feel alive again. Of course, the exercise helps me stay as physcially well as I'm able. I always am much sicker (like, say now) if I let my exercise regimen slip.

Not been doing any yoga, let my rec center membership expire. Am paying the piper. Am going to go to rec center today and rejoin, but it will take some time before I'm back in the "fit" saddle again.

But this is true for "healthy' people too. No pain, no gain (I know, very trite and common -- one more example of why I ain't writin' no kit).

Posted by: nelson | July 11, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, regretfully, I think that only works if both sides know that action will follow non-compliance.

That conversation would probably be better with the Chinese ("we will assume that any attack from your ally is an attack from China") or S.Korea ("stop sucking up to Kim or you're on your own").

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Oops, martooni, my apologies for my insensitive posting above. I've seen "falling off the wagon" used outside the original meaning for so long that I passed right over it. My family has considerable experience of alcoholism and I would never knowingly make light of it. However, I have seen people climb out who I never thought could. My best wishes for you.

Posted by: Woofin | July 11, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Yeesh. Nothing like Kim Jong Il to bring down the boodle. Sorry.

I wish all of the regulars and semi-regulars would put something in to Joel. There is such a broad range of experiences (and expertises) that should be shared.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

nelson, I have some suggestions for ways that you can keep cycling in your life. Unfortunately, neither of them is inexpensive. I'm not real clear on the nature of your health issues, and don't expect you to go into it in detail on the boodle. I think you know where to find my e-mail (hint: it's the one that includes the word "tim"), if you feel there's something that you'd like to clarify. These are options that will work if you have moderate muscular strength but are concerned about your ability to control a bicycle safely.

There's an Australian company called Greenspeed ( ) that makes recumbent performance tricycles that are capable of speed and performance similar to recumbent bicycles. They also have a tandem version. I'm afraid it would set you back about $3-8K, which isn't chump change, but you get a very practical cycle that is stable at low speeds and won't tip an unsteady rider onto the ground.

An even more expensive option: there is a European company that sells Velotaxis, EUR 8k. These are 3-wheel human-electric hybrids with a complete plastic fuselage over the driver/rider and with room for two (or for cargo) in back. The electric motor kicks in to help you up hills, and the battery is regeneratively charged during downhills, braking, and in normal riding. Real, real expensive, I admit, but it can give you very practical mobility and exercise over trips that you otherwise might do in a car. I googled up a bunch of alternatives that are availble for less in the US, but they all lack something: lack the body, or lack the regenerative braking or lack the cargo capacity, or lack having it preassembled as an integrated package. More info at

You might want to just check with your local bike shops. If I recall correctly, you now live in the Boston area. That is a mecca for bike shops. Shop around, and see if you can find a bike shop that really goes out of its way to serve people with physical challenges. Here in the DC area, Larry Black of College Park Cycles and Mt. Airy Cycles will heavily modify bicycles (for parts-cost only, usually) for people with very substantial physical differences from the standards for which bicycles are designed. Larry's shops are expensive, but he's the go-to guy for the unusual.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 11, 2006 1:40 PM | Report abuse

SoC, it is so quiet today, I think everyone is working on their own kit. Good luck all I look forward to reading them.

Martooni, I am thinking of you today and wishing to strength in climbing back on the wagon.

Completely off topic, did anyone see the obit in Gene's chat today, I personally found it wonderful, political overtones aside it would be something I would like for my obit. I am a little preoccupied with death these days, coming to terms with it and looking for any humour in the situation I can find, for me that obit today helped.

Posted by: dmd | July 11, 2006 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I finally finish my currrent project, catch up on the boodle, and it's ... dead.


Posted by: omni | July 11, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

OK, that was weird. I hit refresh. And again just to be sure. Submit a post, and suddenly four posts show up that weren't there the moment before. Hhhmmmm.

Posted by: omni | July 11, 2006 1:47 PM | Report abuse

OK, that was weird. I hit refresh. And again just to be sure. Submit a post, and suddenly four posts show up that weren't there the moment before. Hhhmmmm.

Posted by: omni | July 11, 2006 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Then a double post. I should go for a walk, but have a meeting in a few minutes...

Posted by: omni | July 11, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I e-mailed something for JA to use as a kit, but I fear it may be to succinct.

Posted by: omni | July 11, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

nelson, since SciTim has made a recommendation I will too. I've knowna few people with your condition. I also recall that your finances are tight.

Swimming is great, as you know. Daily walking also provides relief for many. One other thing you may want to consider is tai chi. I know one fibromyalgia sufferer that swears by it.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Harris Cyclery in West Newton, MA, carries Greenspeed recumbent trikes. The owner is Sheldon Brown, who maintains many excellent cycle-repair web pages and writes a column on bike repair and maintenance for Adventure Cyclist magazine.

And Larry Black, of Mt. Airy Cycles, carries Greenspeed recumbents locally. I wonder if I can convince the ScienceSpouse...

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 11, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Got serious work today, but I wanted to remind people that Joel had an excellent Rough Draft in the Style Magazine:

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 11, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I thought I remembered the tight-finances part. Unfortunately, anything out of the ordinary is expensive, even when it's low-technology.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 11, 2006 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Nelson, sorry to hear that you can't run any more. My future father-in-law has two artificial knees thanks to his years spent on the Georgetown track team. Even with modern sneaker technology and the relatively recent discovery by shoe manufacturers that not everyone's foot lands the same way, running isn't the most forgiving of sports.

Swimming, on the other hand, may be the most perfect fitness activity on earth (excepting the occasional drowning, natch).

Posted by: jw | July 11, 2006 2:13 PM | Report abuse

For another take on one-on-one talks with little kim see the Borowitiz Report entry of July 10th

Posted by: bh | July 11, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, Padouk, that was a very good Rough Draft. Don't know why he didn't post it; it would have gotten lots of comments from the boodle.

The line I especially liked was "Lack of self-esteem, I tell them [his kids], is powerful evidence that they aren't measuring up and are failing the family."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 11, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

jw, or aquasize, which eliminates the potential for rotator cuff problems. Plus, you get the No-Drowning Belt©.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Nelson, similarly I believe there is a running belt for the water, you would not have great scenery however. I like eliptical trainers as it (for me) reduces the strain on knees and feet).

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

thanks tim and jw for suggestions and links about cycling.

Tim -- my biggest problem is stamina -- also, I can no longer ride the thoroughbred ricing bikes I used to.

I the physical ability to ride a regular road bike. But it's not as sexy (I love the look of a cyclist flattened down over the handlebars of a racing bike, tight pants glistening in the sun, every muscle bulging . . . well umm, I better stop there . . .) :-)

It's the ability to go flat out for 50 miles in an afternoon that I now lack. I could probably ride again; like everything else, it would take patience to regain strength and endurance. And I'll always be pretty limited, a fact I sometimes forget. 10 miles would be a triumph. Nothing wrong with that.

I also have real back problems, so a recumbent bike would be a good fit for me. But you're right tim -- they're very expensive --

I very much still want to run, but am in the position of jw's future father-in-law -- kind of. The pain in my hips and back caused by running, even in decent shoes, is not sustainable. I'm under orders from my pain management doc to not even *try* to run -- everytime I do run, i end up getting trigger point injections in my back and hips, and end up on a week's course of prednisone. So I don't try very often.

Swimming is perfect for me -- I swam competitively as a teenager, so I know how to swim -- I'm not fighting the water. When I get back in shape, I can do a kilometer (40 laps) in 40 minutes -- and get a really good aerobic workout.

jw -- of course you're right about tai chi. My old boyfriend was a practitioner of Qi Gong -- it was helpful to me.

But I don't always do what's good for me. I've just gotten lectures this past week from my pain managment doc and my neurologist about climbing back in the saddle again.

My biggest whine is really that I want to be the athlete I once was. And that ain't gonna happen.

I am very grateful that I have been able to pull myself up from being bedridden ten years ago to kvetching about what sports I can no longer do. But I have to keep doing the workouts if I'm to stay vertical.

It's all a matter of perspective. I once was afraid I'd end up living with my parents for the rest of my life (they were pretty scared about this too!).

Now I can swim, walk, do yoga, and moderate cycling. I'm still only running at about 40% of "normal," . . . in terms of hours in the day that I'm functional.

omni -- I had the same experience with the boodle today -- about ten posts suddenly popped on in a couple of seconds. There must be a delay in the pipleine somewhere!

Posted by: nelson | July 11, 2006 2:57 PM | Report abuse

dmd -- what's this about a running belt for the water?

Posted by: nelson | July 11, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I just saw a car that would be to Martooni's liking. The Lebanese Garlic King minivan had 2 police flashers, in non-police yellow, in both winshield and back window. The sides were tastefully decorated with an air-brushed brightly smiling swarthy cook brandishing fistfuls of skewered sausages. The mastertouch though was the 3 foot crown on top of the minivan. It was made of an outer ring of golden crenellated plastic with an inner dome of plexiglass reminding me of the helmet worn by the salivating 8-armed alien's in The Simpsons. The thing was also blaring , repeatedly, a bit of Vivaldi's 4 Seasons. There ain't any rules against that kind of things ?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | July 11, 2006 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Nelson, I know I have seen it somewhere I will look for you, my problem is that through interest and work I am always going through websites, I tend to remember little bits of everything, a lot of nothing! :) (story of my life).

See what I can find, I too was former swimmer.

Posted by: dmd | July 11, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Nelson here is one link, it will give you a good idea about the idea of the products, I saw one link but it was in Australia, however, it raised a good point that some may pitch you forward too much - something to think about.

You could also simply tie some noodles (water) around you waist.

Posted by: dmd | July 11, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking do you want rules against the vehicle or the vivaldi?

Posted by: dmd | July 11, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey, they've got a old Kit on the home page!

Hal, get them on the ball, willya?


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 11, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I will post the Sunday column tomorrow, when I'm trying to skeedaddle to France. (Skedaddle?)

I've gotten a bunch of kits by email and will sort through them tonight and tomorrow, and will try to let the authors know if and when they'll run. Thanks for the kitting!

Posted by: Achenbach | July 11, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

SCC: an old Kit...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 11, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Look for something called the "aquajogger" or something like that. When used properly, you're supposed to stay in one spot in the deep end of the pool. You don't actually do a running motion--it's more like your legs and arms make alternating scissors movements, and the belt keeps you floating upright. It's a pretty good workout and lots of runners do it when they're recovering from injuries.

Posted by: jw | July 11, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Haha...major BOO. What dmd said!

Posted by: jw | July 11, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Great kit, OT, and hilarious first post, RD. Lots of great writers in this group. I actually drafted something to submit, but what came out is self-absorbed, devoid of either insight or humor, and (the real kicker) insufficiently alliterative. Other than that, it's a winner.

Am I the only one who thought Syd Barrett was already dead?

Nelson, great description of Nani's writing: "like a midnight swim, crisp and dreamy." Well said.

Posted by: silvertongue | July 11, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Joel... I think a good idea for a Sub Kit is mo's Achendictionary. Cut and paste, man. That's what it's really all about.

Posted by: TBG | July 11, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Not too long? Not self-absorbed?

I don't even want to check my email.

But hey, the pasta recipe I posted yesterday still rocks? Right?

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 11, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know squat about the early days of Pink Floyd. The connections from Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall to Barrett's mental illness is remarkably sensitive and shows an admirable degree of loyalty and caring for an old friend. I'll have to add some earlier Floyd to my collection.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 11, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, my personal recommendation is to start with Dark Side of the Mood - timeless.

Posted by: dmd | July 11, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

TBG (and Joel) oooo, good idea! The Achendictionary needs a "place" in the archives so that it can actually be found. mo, you might have to cut and paste it into an email for Joel so that he can kit it (since his journalistic ethics may prevent him from plundering your blog for the Achendictionary, or at least slow him down).

Joel, you can just forget about ever getting service in France if you keep using words like "skedaddle".

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 11, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall we already have on CD. Wish You Were Here and a few others I have only on LP.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 11, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

RD, really like the kit. I knew it was you before scrolling down. Your writing is excellent. Mudge, I do hope you have one in? And that description of Nani's stories is right on target. La lurker, just feel bad, but won't say anymore.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 11, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

A Princeton boy ought to have the French eating out of his hand. Come to think of it, are the quintessentially Princetonian works of John McPhee translated into French? Do French tourists make geological pilgrimages across the US, paying special attention to Wyoming?

How will the French get by in the second half of July? The country will be emotionally exhausted from the World Cup, and everyone will be sweltering out in the country, probably subsiding on cucumbers, cheese manufactured in the spring, the occasional plum, and lots of canned ham and LU cookies from Carrefour. The beach kids will be languishing in Hossegor, bemoaning the lack of surf.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 11, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Cassandra. Alas, my writing only seems to come alive when somebody does the heavy lifting of topic and structure for me. I might have been great at novelization, but not writing. It's the difference between being a draftsman and an artist. The brilliance of a guy like Achenbach is that he makes it all seem so easy - when it really isn't.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 11, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

umm, I didn't mean "subsiding on cucumbers." These veggies might make you burp like a volcano, but they don't cause subsidence. I guess you can't subsist on cucumbers either, without supplemental calories from ice cream, lemonade, whatever.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 11, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

ST: Animals and Meddle are two great Pink Floyd albums. But my favorite Pink Floyd song is Brain Damage as covered by the Austin Lounge Lizards: you can listen to 30 brilliant seconds at

Curiously, I stopped listening to Floyd around the time I, er, um, abandoned efforts in pharmacological experimentation.

Posted by: silvertongue | July 11, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Slivertongue, I'm rolling over at your post. I'm glad you quit. Can't wait to see what's up for those kits. I am so ready to read them.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 11, 2006 5:27 PM | Report abuse

RD... to an Italian or Greek, a good sauce is better than a good kit any day.

And a good, ripe August tomato is better than anything. How are yours coming along?

Posted by: TBG | July 11, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Silvertongue, I think your corelation to Floyd and pharmaceuticals applied to many people, I second the selection of Animals.

SciTim, sorry I misunstood your post.

Posted by: dmd | July 11, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

TBG - Well, Mr. Stripey is putting out lots of new flowers and has three fruit that, while growing, are still green. As for BB, well, let us speak of this matter no more.

The thing is, we visit PA Dutch country several times during the summer. They grow vine-ripened tomatoes to break the spirit of the home gardener.

For the Sauce, of course, I just use canned diced plum tomatoes. I would have to stew fresh tomatoes, and after all that simmmering the difference is really negligible.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 11, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the nice comments everyone.

Week in and week out, Joel makes it all look so easy - but the way he tells a story or turns a phrase is truly amazing. I certainly have a new found appreciation for his skill and talent. Especially because I struggle with every word and every sentence.

But now it's time for bed. Good night boodlers.

Posted by: ot | July 11, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

OT, forgot to tell you great kit. But you know what, I was thinking Joel wrote it. I am so dense. You did a fantastic job.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 11, 2006 7:05 PM | Report abuse

The morning after Billy Preston died, I stopped in to a local Safeway and their version of Musak was playing "All Those Years Ago" by George Harrison. Tonight I stopped off at a different local Safeway and they were playing "Another Brick in the Wall." I'm impressed by their speed in paying tribute and also with picking a fairly obsure, but entirely appropriate, Harrison song to play.

Posted by: pj | July 11, 2006 7:18 PM | Report abuse

"See Emily Play" would have been the perfect Muzak tribute:

1) obscure
2) a Syd Barrett tune
3) actually be listenable as Muzak


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 11, 2006 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Scottynuke, I'm not a big "The Wall" fan. Something by or about Barrett, like "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," would have worked well, too.

Oh, and neither of these songs was a Muzak arrangement; they were the original versions.

Posted by: pj | July 11, 2006 8:16 PM | Report abuse

>after all that simmmering the difference is really negligible.

I did that once making a greenbean casserole. I used fresh green beans, cutting and cleaning them carefully. And then cooked them into a canned-greenbean-like mush.

Posted by: TBG | July 11, 2006 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Poor Joel. I imagine he must rue the day he decided to invite contributions from the Boodle. Inundated with silly, pointless, self-indulgent, and pretentious tripe.

And that's just from me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 11, 2006 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Science Tim for the links to bikes. Think I'll stick with the pool. Am very happy to know that cyclists are so attentive to the needs of folks who are disabled.

BTW, I don't live in Boston -- I'm just down the road from DC in Williamsburg. Boston would be a lot more fun! Crazy cold in the winter too.

dmd -- also likewise the link to the belt. As I am a decent swimmer I think swimming is the way to go for me.

RD Padouk -- the recipe is worth more than a kit -- you can actually eat it!

I didn't plant any tomatoes this year, but I get great ones from a produce stand that sets up in the CVS parking lot. I eat one, sliced, with tons of salt and pepper each nite. Summer eating is the best -- blueberries, sweet, juicy tomatoes (after slicing them I will admit to sucking all the extra juice and seeds off the cutting board -- I'm still about 6 years old), cantaloupes, watermelon, silver queen white corn, sweet, melt-in-the-mouth peaches.

I gorge all summer on these treats, and mourn at season's end when the produce stands and the stores are back to apples and squash. Back to making ratatouille (sp?) again.

Last summer I had so many tomatoes left I tried to keep them healthy long enough to get around to stewing and canning them.

Problem was -- I hadn't canned veggies or fruit since I helped my mother when I was just a kid. I had no equipment, no jars, no big pot to sterilize, no nothing.

So the tomatoes sat in my fridge, waiting for their big moment, and slowly turned to mush. A few may still be in there.

Am very much looking forward to all the guest kits. OT kicked the guesting time off with a home run!

I knew Sid Barrett was part of the early days of Pink Floyd. I didn't start listening to them until I was about 14 or 15; by then Barrett was long out of the picture.

silvertongue, once saw a Pink floyd concert in Denver where they did some amazing things with very low-tech. It was actually the "Dark Side of the Moon" tour, and they had a rocket come sailing across the ceiling of the old Denver Auditorium. Was very lifelike, and if one was still experimenting with certain pharmacological substances, it was also quite frightening.

Posted by: nelson | July 11, 2006 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Wonder why I thought Boston... oh, well.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 11, 2006 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Nelson, you greatly underate your writing ability. Good luck with the swimming.

Posted by: dmd | July 11, 2006 9:17 PM | Report abuse

ot - really good job. I read it about three times because it seemed to capture the essense of Achenbloggishness completely. Too good.

Posted by: nellie | July 11, 2006 10:26 PM | Report abuse

As a longtime lurker, I feel compelled to step off the sidelines to say: Cassandra, you've shown so much class on this boodle. It's very admirable for you take the high road. As for the personal attacks from 'She Who Won't Be Named,' I won't touch them with a 10-foot limb off a family tree. Aren't we all related if you go back far enough? Give it a rest. Jeez.

Posted by: Joe Mayo | July 11, 2006 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm rubbing the flecks of years old glazing compound from my eyes. Today was a window day and the task was to replace new glass with the original wavy glass in a 3 over 3 double hung sash. Got as far as cleaning the joints in the majority of the lights, but alas, lost a piece of original glass to forcing the piece past a stray bit of glazing. Sorry to hear that you need to climb back in the saddle, martooni. Ethyl is insidious in that way. You have a support group of sorts here that have wide ranging experiences with Ethyl, I know you'll bounce back. Keep your chin up, you too nelson. I used to cycle a lot until I tore up my knee playing soccer. I can't cycle anymore on account of whatever ligament or cartilage is damaged. Ankling properly pains me on the upstroke, and prolonged activity causes the joint to swell like a casaba melon. I hate running, and access to the pool at the Y is reasonable, but not high on the list in the family budget. I wish there was a Frisbee golf course in town. The nearest one is in Charlotte. Not exactly prolonged aerobic exercise but its the nearest thing to golf that I'll ever do, since the real thing is beyond my patience quotient.

ot: nice kit.

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

Another lurker/boodle fan votes emphatically with Joe Mayo (re his 10:31 post)!

Posted by: Russian Hill Lurker | July 12, 2006 12:19 AM | Report abuse

I read a neat piece recently:


that mentioned that the vast majority of "Western" civilization can probably point to Muhammad (spell it as you will, this isn't the correct alphabet anyway!) as an ancestor. We're all very pitiful, given our splendid lineage!

Posted by: Bob S. | July 12, 2006 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Well that was a good first Guest kit OT.

I can't be the only one who noticed that JA is riding a wild boodle where his picture usually sits, can I??

Posted by: Kerric | July 12, 2006 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Bob- there was a show regarding that on the discovery channel the other day. It was quite interesting.

Posted by: Kerric | July 12, 2006 1:52 AM | Report abuse

Kerric - It WAS a darned fine guest kit, wasn't it? And RD's 'boodle entry (whilst following all of the suggested rules) was fairly inspired, I thought.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 12, 2006 2:08 AM | Report abuse

The beast is the 'boodle, no question. It's JA's secret little pride & joy & burden & embarrassment. REAL writers don't need one (he thinks, in his less confident moments), and plenty of REAL writers don't have one (he exults, in his more confident moments)!

The boss doesn't particularly need the 'boodle, and we'd somehow get along without him, but it sure has been fun getting to know each other in this way.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 12, 2006 2:16 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I made the front page of the Post for a minute: "How to Write Like Joel". But it's gone now...

Thanks Cassandra for the kind words, and everyone else - especially A-fan.

Padouk, I was hoping someone would write a "kit" based on my "rules" point-for-point. And you really knocked it out of the park! Amazing. btw, you made we LOL the other day with your "rock paper scissors" comment.

I hope Nani has been "silent" because she's working on her own kit. I so love her writing.

Have a fantastic day everyone.

Posted by: ot | July 12, 2006 3:00 AM | Report abuse

OK, since the first time I read this boodle, I've admitted to myself that I'm intimidated by people who where pocket protectors and glasses. It reminds me of the short few weeks when I was trying to learn braile, you know, reading with your fingers. I disected each word, letter by letter. Then I tried to remember each word as I built a sentence. So forth with the paragraph. The problem was, that by the time I got to the end of a long word, I forgot what the letters were at the beginning of the word, and had to go back. Same thing with the sentence, by the time I got to the end of a sentence, I forgot what the words were at the beginning, all the while concentrating on the next letter. to make it even worse, the learning tutorial was all about farm life, and after 45 minutes, I didn't know if the characters were getting milk from the pigs or collecting eggs from the cows.

the kit and boodle does this same sort of thing to me all the time. Even though I take the self-initiative strategy, as was taught to me in school, and look up the words I don't understand in and electronic dictionary, by the time I get to the end, I forget the meaning of the beginning. I thought that by looking up words, it might improve my vocabulary, but it hasn't. I think I'm at the age where every new thing I learn, I forget something else I already knew. The last 2 words I added to my vocabulary were "blog" and "turpid", both making the "word of the day" or "the most looked-up word".

I also want to add that I reviewed the Butthead thread, which I consider not the most exemplorary day of boodling, and noticed I had posted 2 comments which, in hindsight, seemed to come from a "classless jerk". Or should I say "an jerk without class", as not to offend those jerks that do have class. For these remarks, I sincerely apologize. From now on, I'll try to post thoughts that don't stoop to an eighth grade mentality.

As far as Pink Floyd goes, one of my favorite all-time songs is "Another Brick in the Wall, the part where they do "We don't need no education". Makes sense, don't it?

Posted by: Pat | July 12, 2006 5:39 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Getting ready for the walk, which I would rather put on hold this morning. Just dragging. Of course the highlight of the day will be reading what's going on at the "Achenblog". I finally see the new visual at the top of the kit with Joel riding whatever that is. It suppose to be really hot here today, will try to stay cool. That may turn out to be a mountain to climb. Daughter and grand are still here, but say they're leaving today. I'm off. Need to start before the sun gets up. I hope your day is everything you want it to be. Thanks for the compliments. I'm praying for you guys. And know that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

I have two highlights today. I have Bible study and I get to read the Achenblog in expectation of those kits. And of course, I'm going to the center today, and play.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 12, 2006 5:40 AM | Report abuse

Hey, no fare! That was mean! I cut and pasted the 4 examples of big words at the #1 advice on creating a good kit and spent a half an hour rearranging my last post just to get it through the word filter. The bad one was one of those four words posted in the kit, of coarse, I don't have a clue to their definitions, which is my fault, but I have a suspician that someone knew what they were doing and I'm the one who fell for it.

Meanies! So go ahead and have your laugh. You got me good on that one!

Posted by: Pat | July 12, 2006 5:57 AM | Report abuse

Here's a silly story to start the day, about the death of the groundhog used up here on groundhog day.

EF if you are around there is a need for those groundhogs of yours!

Posted by: dmd | July 12, 2006 6:53 AM | Report abuse


Cow "eggs" are definitely not something for the refined palate.

Pig milk, on the other hand...


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 12, 2006 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Pat, you're an inspiration. I finally know how I'll supplement my teaching salary. The refined palate demands cow rinds.

Posted by: jack | July 12, 2006 8:23 AM | Report abuse

New old kit (last Sunday's Rough Draft)

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | July 12, 2006 9:04 AM | Report abuse

You know how much a 1 dot difference makes on a paragraph that contains a "a flying duck". I had to do a triple take, actually a quadruple take on that one until I just finally accepted it as a misprint. But now that I think about it, it was probably some joker like myself having a little fun with a punch.

My first day at the computer lab in college, a similar but different incident happened to me. I was a hunt and peck typer and some prankster had switched the keys all around. Once again, I was a victim, this time, because I could see what I was doing back then.

Now, if you want to do some barnyard humor to start out the morning, I'm all for that, but I might get put back in the eight grade again.

Posted by: Pat | July 12, 2006 9:11 AM | Report abuse

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