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These Kids Today

[My column from the Sunday magazine.]

The problem with children is, there's no User's Guide, no owner's manual, no 800-number you can call for Tech Support. And so as a parent you just have to wing it when a child asks if she can, for example, play with the WeedEater.

Or maybe she simply wants to dye her hair green and get a few eyelid piercings and a forehead tattoo before she goes to the Slayer concert with a guy she met through who promises to drive very safely on his motorcycle.

You're the parent: Make the judgment call. You're no dummy. You simply refuse to be manipulated by a spoiled brat of a child. And thus you must make the hard decision to say no, absolutely no, incontrovertibly no, unless of course you think that by saying no you will disappoint her.

In my house I'm the steel pillar of supreme authority, and the kids know I cannot be budged, swayed, guilt-tripped or bribed. Their only hope is to exploit my inattention to the finer details of things, and so we have conversations like this:

"Dad, can I borrow the car?"

"Sure. [Pause. Thinking hard.] Wait, are you old enough?"

"Daaad, I'm already 12."

"Yeah, but what's the legal age for driving?"

"I don't know. But I'm only going to Massachusetts."

"Oh. Okay. Cool. Put gas in it."

I'm not the kind of father who constantly passes the buck and says, "Ask your mother," because that's weak. Besides which, the kids know that their mom is definitely going to say no, and I can win points with them by sometimes saying yes. The distance from the obvious no to the surprise yes is proportional to my popularity with the children.

"Who's your favorite parent?" I often ask them, teasingly. "Who always lets you have a fourth helping of ice cream even when you are on the verge of lapsing into a diabetic coma? Who's the one who lets you stay up until 4 a.m. watching slasher movies while playing computer games on Mom's laptop until you somehow destroy the hard drive? Huh? Who?"

I have found that a child will offer a loving peck on her father's cheek for as little as a dollar.

Being firm is critical to parenting. Kids claim to want freedom, but they crave the structure of a world in which there are clear rules and boundaries, as well as clear techniques for transgressing them without detection. A parent has to teach them these things. A parent must lay out the societal norms, and then explain how they can be strategically undermined.

I work extra hard teaching my kids about negative emotions. Lack of self-esteem, I tell them, is powerful evidence that they aren't measuring up and are failing the family. But they must also know that negative emotions can be socially useful. For example, if they can muster enough guilt and self-loathing about a mistake they've made, it's as good as not having committed the bad deed to begin with.

I explain that envy is a sign that some other person has more than he or she deserves and should be liberated of the surplus material. Don't sulk: Take. And I teach them about the power of reason, and explain that, as females, they will be presumed by males to be the less rational sex. Therefore they might as well use irrationality as a cudgel to win every argument.

Sadly, none of this is codified in any widely available parenting guide. Thus, at crunch time, we often just do what our parents did to us. Let's say my kids have found a buried garbage dump filled with rusty tin cans, broken bottles, wires, unexploded munitions, mysterious yellow and green oozing chemicals and some powdery material that appears to be glowing, and they ask permission to excavate it and bring the best stuff back to the house. My first thought is going to be: What would my dad have said?

And the answer is: My dad would have said to forget the trash heap and instead help him and his friend Dave, the professor/artist/warlock, make a plaster cast of the nude body of my dad's latest wife, so that it could be turned into a coffee table and serve as a guaranteed conversation starter.

So that's no help. That's just weird! That's completely bizarre! And my wife would never agree to it.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 12, 2006; 8:44 AM ET
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Next: From "Stampede": Kiterature


My kids come to me when they feel like playing Let's Make a Del. The latest round involved our 12 year old, who approached with a request to get a bell button piercing. My reply: "Why do you think you need such decoration?". Here reply: "I dunno." Me: "Fine. since you don't know, permission denied." Truly, if in the future the worst she does is a piercing, I'm ok with that . As long as it doesnt morph into basement tatoos and hanging out with skanky bikers.

Posted by: jack | July 12, 2006 8:55 AM | Report abuse

hasty SCC's: belly, not bell; her not here...duh.

Posted by: jack | July 12, 2006 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Joel is right. Kids don't come with manuals. However, there seem to be a lot of third party vendors who are trying to fill the void with books on how to be a Perfect Parent. I know. I think my wife and I bought most of them. Unfortunately, outside of certain common-sense advice, such as not keeping your children in windowless rooms illuminated by nothing but glow-in-the-dark religious figurines, there seems to be little these experts agree upon. I believe that this is because these books are geared to the parents of typical children. You know, a child who lives in a typical family along with 1.3 siblings. Yet, typical children do not exist. Each child is frighteningly unique.

I learned this from my own sainted mother. (She hates it when I call her this.) For when I was a child there was universal agreement among parenting professionals that letting children watch a lot of television would rot their brains. Nevertheless, she understood instinctively my need for massive amounts of audiovisual stimulation.

She let me watch countless hours of Star Trek, Gilligan's Island, Speed Racer and Batman. She stood by patiently as I devoted each Saturday morning to Space Ghost, Johnny Quest, and the shamefully under-rated animated version of Fantastic Voyage. Indeed somewhere in the vast archives of the National Broadcasting Company is confirmation that I was once proud members of the Banana Split's fan club, and friend to Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky.

And my brain did not rot. For I was not a typical child. No child is.

Good parents know this. They are adaptive and creative. It sounds like Joel has this down. I am sure his daughters will, one day, thank him for making it all up as he goes along.

I'm awfully glad my mom did.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 12, 2006 9:03 AM | Report abuse

All I ever needed to know about parenting I learned from Commander Adama...

Or was it Steve Austin?

No, wait... Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 12, 2006 9:16 AM | Report abuse

All I can say is there's nothing like coming home to a four-year-old squealing "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!"

I'm sure that 10 years down the road it'll be more like "Oh crap! Daddy's home! Quick, Johnny... out the back window!"

(Note to self: install iron bars on daughter's bedroom window and plant poison ivy and briars under it)

btw... thanks for all the kind and supportive comments yesterday regarding my recent wagon fall. Wagons may be difficult to stay on, but at least they wait around for you to climb back on. Much better today.

Posted by: martooni | July 12, 2006 9:17 AM | Report abuse


Two words for the daughter's bedroom window:

precast cement


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 12, 2006 9:22 AM | Report abuse

RD, loved your comments I will keep you in mind in my constant struggle with how much TV my older daughter watches.

As for children being unique I learned that lesson, my girls are five years apart after the learning curve with the first I thought the second would be a breeze. That was when I discovered that children are each unique, in my case almost polar opposites, what had worked with the older child, failed with the second.

My solution to tattoos and piecings is to play to their fear of needles (they both share this), nothing blatant just subtle reminders that both require needles, in the case of tattoos lots of needles.

Posted by: dmd | July 12, 2006 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Glad to hear from you today martooni and happy to hear that things are looking better.

Yes, wagons have those great running boards to jump onto, but they also lack the handlebars and side rails to keep you on when the road gets rough. Sometimes you have to hold on tight to the person next to you. I guess you've even found out how a 4 year old can keep you from falling off sometimes. But it doesn't always work; the best you can do is climb back on as soon as possible.

Anyway... I for one am glad you found the "submit" button. You're a good writer and funny and have good stuff to share. Funny how addictive that "submit" button becomes, isn't it?

Straying on topic...

My 12 year old daughter just had her hair dyed hot pink. Not the entire thing--just the ends. And, yes, I took her to the hair dresser and paid for it.

I figure two things: 1) if you can't dye your hair pink when you're 12 when can you? and 2) Hair is hair. Just that. Nothing permanent, no big deal. If I can go along with pink hair now, I'm hoping I won't have to deal with worse later.

Let's see if I'm even half right.

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 9:25 AM | Report abuse

RD, when I was a kid and shared a room with my little sister, we had a glow-in-the-dark Mary. Most of the time it sat there unnoticed, but every once in awhile my sister would get all freaked out by it and make me hide it in the closet. (She also used to claim that someone whom she referred to as "The Little Lady" would creep into our room at night and approach us as we slept, dressed in similar garb to that old woman in Snow White. We later figured out it was probably just my Mum in her dressing gown, tiptoeing in to make sure we were warm and cozy. Probably.)

Posted by: Achenfan | July 12, 2006 9:27 AM | Report abuse

TBG, I agree completely, I try to save the battles for big issues, please note I say try - I am a parent we are in my opinion infinitely fallible. The goal of my husband and I is to raise the girls to be good people, to believe in themselves and to hopefully do our jobs well enough that long term therapy will not be required in the future :)

Martooni so glad to hear from you this morning.

Posted by: dmd | July 12, 2006 9:38 AM | Report abuse

For the last twenty-five years, I have shopped with males, for males, and with males tagging along. A male's idea of a great clothing shopping is to go to a store, stand in one spot and pick out all the essentials. Twelve pair black socks, one pair heavy woolen work socks, twelve identical underwear, four pairs jeans, Levi's preferred, twelve t-shirts. The t-shirts may be of different colors depending on how many black ones everyone else took before you got to the store. The goal of this quick in and out trip is to come out looking like every other male in your class. Total time elapsed, fifteen minutes. Next item is footwear. Huge amounts of time are spent deciding the cut of ones sneakers. Boarder shoes? High tops? What brand? Standing in sport footwear stores, trying to find a balance between what your mother says you can afford, and what you know every guy is going to be wearing is the one thing a teenage male suffers over. The adult male variation to the pattern is that they no longer care what their footwear looks like, and the t-shirts selection is dependant on what brand of beer is giving away t-shirts this summer. Under the weight of these experiences, my own shopping has become a lot like this. If it takes more than an hour, I just go home. I know, I know, I am handing over my woman card right now.

Monday, I went shopping with the girls. The first thing to do was choose a place for lunch. While we ate lunch, we discussed all the stores they like to go to and placed them in order of importance. They carefully itemized all the pieces of clothing they were interested in looking at. The really efficient one of my pair of young ladies listed everything in a book so she would not forget. There was a budgetary discussion. "Did you bring your money?" after which both checked how much money they had in their purses. This of course brought up a very interesting discussion of the merits of purses. Long strap versus short strap, organizer versus big bag, tiny versus shopping bag.

After lunch, we headed to the shopping centre of choice. In one store, seven hundred and forty two tops were tried on. Many, many tops were viewed but did not make the cut. Model A had sixteen tops she just had to have. Model B slightly less, but then it was harder for her. She is right between the arbitrarily set sizes, not yet a young lady, but no longer a child. The tops were tried on at least twice to weed them down to the final five for each, and that is when the serious debating started. About the only comment I did not hear was 'it makes me look fat'. After much gnashing of teeth over 'will my mom let me wear this', 'is it out of my age' and 'how many ways can this top be accessorised', we finally choose three tops between the young ladies. Then we went to the second store. We visited three stores, and spent five hours shopping. They had a wonderful time, and I came home very, very tired.

We are going again today. Give me strength.

Posted by: dr | July 12, 2006 9:42 AM | Report abuse

dr, my heart goes out to you, welcome to my world. Its even better when one of the girls is younger in my case 5 and throws a major fit in the store or at home because you asked her to wear something she doesn't want to, the lesson learned let them choose, shop when you are well rested and in the best possible mood, remember if you like it chances are they won't.

Posted by: dmd | July 12, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Annoying son: Daddy, Sissy hit me.
Me: Why don't you hit her back?
Annoying son: OK!

[Whack, slap, humph, bop, bop, whack, whack]

Anoying son: Whaaaaaa

You will never find the "Why don't you hit them back" in a parenting book, but when I give the permission to the older ones who are being harassed by their little sibblings, "Use whatever force is necessary!", the fight ends before it starts.

I'm lucky to have the girls first. It would never work the other way around.

Posted by: Pat | July 12, 2006 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I was going to submit that yesterday, but it just never happened. We were doing 'stuff'.

I have strongly ambivalent feelings about parenting. I have loved being a mom, but I have also had to face my deepest darkest fears. I really didn't like that part. Being a parent stripped away the presumptions and pretense and left only the naked heart of the matter: that I love my kids. Everything else is just window dressing.

Now that they are grown, I look at all of them, and feel even though there are a million things I would do differently if I had a second chance, in spite of me, they turned out ok.

Posted by: dr | July 12, 2006 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Glad you had a good time shopping with the girls, dr, but please please please tell me that at the end of lunch, you all didn't spend 20 minutes with the check, deciding who had what and that Model A's came to $8.17, and Model B's share was $$6.78 and yours was $$6.52, and therefore the tip came to $3.22, and you left the waitperson $3.20 because you didn't have a quarter. As a species and a gender, I'm extremely fond of you folks, but you're behavior in the ten minutes after the check arrives is pretty awful, and the next generation does not need this as role models of how adult women "should" behave.

We men have many, many, many faults -- tons of faults, humongous lists of faults, if you insist -- but had it been three men eating lunch, each would have slapped a $10 bill on the table, and be done with it. Our behavior toward splitting the check and tipping are perhaps our only virtue -- but by God, at least we get that part of life right.

(And also how we purchase clothes. If my house burned down I could replace my entire wardrobe in, say, 25 minutes -- and I'm pretty finicky about my neckties. This, too, should be looked upon as a virtue, not a flaw. You can never have too many identical chinos and polo shirts.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Was too late catching up on yesterday's boodle, so I'll post this here. The easiest way to find mo's Achenfaq is to search 'Joel Achenbach' on wikipedia. there are links on the bottom of the page to the original post and the additions.

Posted by: omni | July 12, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I note in the wikipedia entry it says Joel and family live in D.C. My understanding is they live out in the Virginia burbs somewhere. Anybody feel complelled to correct that entry?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

My method of shopping is very effecient and lasts a few minutes. I walk in and walk up and down the aisles looking for something that I like. Check to see if they have it in my size (they usually don't). I spend a few minutes looking and pants and a few minutes looking for shirts. I've been known to get in and out of Hecht's in under ten minutes. Of course if I do find something in my size it takes a few minutes longer because you then have to check that the pants actually do fit then find a register open and hope and pray there isn't a gaggle of morons and idiots in line ahead of you. But even then I'm still out in under 20.

Posted by: omni | July 12, 2006 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I agree Mudge, we shouldn't get criticized because guys buy three-of-the-same. I'm all for power shopping, I think I can do it in less than 25 minutes as I don't wear neckties anymore, or so rarely that one would suffice. Here is another annoying trait we find in the female shopper. Say Mrs. Denizen tried on a size X item and found it too small. This item is then completely out, no way Mrs. Denizen will go to size X+1 as she is a size X. What gives? I thought 16 years ago that seeing a daughter grow up would give me insight on the female mind. Two daughters later I know what a fool I was. They are witches first and daughters second.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | July 12, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to have to hand in *my* woman card, too, because I tend to shop like a man: Several skirts and blouses in the same style but different colors. (I used to mock my mother for doing that.) The occasional quick purchase without even trying the item on. A tendency to wait 'til all my clothes are faded and worn before going on a clothes-buying spree.

And I wouldn't dream of paying for a $2 cup of Starbucks coffee with a check or credit card. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Posted by: Achenfan | July 12, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Also the two links in wikipedia to the Achenblog aren't working; I get something called a "WordPress" error message. mo, whassup wid dat?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Of course the definition of something I like is pretty much anything I wouldn't mind being caught dead in. And you'd be surprised how much that actually rules out.

Posted by: omni | July 12, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

SCC: not Achenblog, I meant AchenFAQs.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

dr and Mudge...

Your two posts (10:04 and 10:08, respectively) are two of the best things I've read lately. Perfect explanations of what it's like to be a parent (thanks, dr) and a guy (Mudge... at least that's what it looks like to us women).

I love this boodle.

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Socks are easy: black with the most cotton. White all cotton, length doesn't matter.

Underwear even easier: bikini briefs in my size (colors or patterns don't matter).

Posted by: omni | July 12, 2006 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I would never critisize a man for the way they shop, I am envious. My woman card has always been at issue, I was raised by a mom who could be both a stereotype of her era and a rule breaker, kind of like June Cleaver with an attitude and althletic ability. She hated shopping, once even got harassed returning across the border because they wouldn't believe she went to Florida and didn't shop.

On the other hand SIZE MATTERS to women, just check any womens magazine its drilled into us.

dr - just remember apples don't fall far from the tree, if your sons turned out well there is a reason, and you are a big part of that.

Mudge you are so right about Women and paying the check, although I have no problem just throwing down some money but that has more to do with me not liking getting bogged down on unnecessary details than anything else.

Posted by: dmd | July 12, 2006 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Joel lives in DC.. Palisades to be exact.

At least that's what he says (most recently in but also mentioned elsewhere I'm sure).

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I get to fly solo for a coupel of days, as my wife wil attend to her Mom, who is having surgery to remove a tumor on her liver, round two of such surgery. Cereal for dinner, but don't let my wife know.

RD: Johnny Quest rocked. Did you ever have the pleasure of watching Journey to the Center of the Earth?

Posted by: jack | July 12, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse


Of course. In my country I was champion television watcher.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 12, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I like telephone communication as the best example of the difference between men and women. I tend to adopt the submariners' approach of "burst transmission". Pure function. Most of my conversations with my friends pass information relating to a projected meeting, and cease upon passage of said information.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 12, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Jack my best wishes for a positive outcome for you wifes mom.

Posted by: dmd | July 12, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

SoC, my husband will often comment to me that he spoke to a friend that day and had a great conversation, I will then ask how that person is, their spouse is and children. I get a blank look in return it seems those aren't normal conversations although there is usually a long hockey update.

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

For me to take a 3 year old to the park is extremely risky, some may consider it endangerment, but one has to have a life. If one of my kids even got 1 foot away from me, they could be gone, forever. I would never catch them, but at some point, it's time to let go, and so I did, with enough anxiety to make me shake.

I had a plan worked out. I told my daughter that since I was blind, I couldn't see the cars coming when I crossed the street. So it was up to her to make sure Daddy didn't get hit by a car. It worked! She waited at the stop signs and took my hand and waited until it was safe to cross.

So when I say "I took the kids to the mall",, I'm being deceptive. In actuality, the kids are taking me.

I know some people complain about parents now-a-days being "friends" with their kids instead of the authority, but in my family, it's a teamwork mentality that makes it work.

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

Jonny Quest, I think. That show would rock real bad with today's realistic animation.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | July 12, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

SD - you are right. It was Jonny Quest.
I should be bitten by Bandit.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 12, 2006 11:20 AM | Report abuse

My kids have turned out okay, despite having to deal with their father and me. How they survived, I'll never know. Of course, I don't know how I survived, either! They are polar opposites and are both amused by that fact. Older one is the girlie shopper, younger one is the geek who would rather die than shop for clothes. Older is gorgeous and works at it, younger is a beautiful frump and couldn't care less. I don't know how I would do without either of them.

Posted by: slyness | July 12, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I am convinced that daughters become insufferable monsters between the ages of 14 - 19 so we fathers will miss them less when they finally leave the house. My wife and I are enjoying partial empty nest syndrome already. We look forward to the day when our kids come over, as guests.

Posted by: CowTown | July 12, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

How about when your husband says, "Judy had her baby."

Then you ask for details like, say, what gender?

"I don't know."

Forget about finding out the name.

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Details, TBG, details, mere details. We men have more important things to think about, like...uh...foreign policy. Yeah, that's it. And ...uh... baseball scores ... and ...uh ... hoe Evangeline Lilly is doing on "Lost"... and... um...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

yes, my site ( is down - checking to see what's up...
as for losing my woman's card - i think i lost that ages ago - since i have the weird quirk of only dressing in black, shopping is easy for me - i go to a store, pick up everything in my size that is black and try it on. if i like it but it doesn't fit, i make the necessary size adjustment and purchase... see? easy! shoes too... i really think i must have my estogene level checked... also, paying for meals - i slap down a bill big enough to cover my share, tax, tip and then some and leave it at that... i don't do pennies, percents, you-had-a-coke-and-i-had-water, AND i always overtip (i used to be a waiter).
also - i'm not a parent so... that being said, i've had hair every colour of the rainbow, 13 piercings and 3 tattoos (still planning more)... my mother said i couldn't do any of it when i lived with her so i went hog-wild when i moved out - not to scare any of you parents, but... just sayin... (none of the tatt's were basement tatts and i don't hang with skanky bikers - not that there's anything wrong with that! - i like bikers!)

my mother, on the other hand, is the quientissential (sp?) woman shopper - it can take her 3 hours just to pick out THE. PERFECT. BLOUSE.


Posted by: mo | July 12, 2006 12:00 PM | Report abuse

DR, my sympathies. That sounds like a fun bonding experience overlaid on a day from hell.
Ivansdad & the boy are the shoppers in our house. They both are very good on clothing -- color matching, fabrics, appropriateness for event, etc. It helps that most of the boy's clothing comes from Target (hey, he's growing fast). They also like to wander the mall. I prefer online shopping and, when I must enter a mall, know exactly which store I need for what particular item. Sometimes they gleefully kidnap me and force me to walk around a mall with them.

Since he was very small I've told the boy that all our most inconvenient edicts and decrees are recommended or mandated by the Parent's Manual, a copy of which is given with each baby at the hospital, but kept strictly secret from children. He used to believe me; I'm not sure but I suspect he just humors me now. He's old enough to notice that his friends aren't always held to the same requirements.

Ivansdad & I were in our thirties and only children ourselves, so we truly had no idea what to do with a child. We settled on doing with it basically what we would do anyway, accomodating its desires as they became known. It seems to have worked so far, and the boy's natural charm and genial nature have prevented him from getting beaten up for our more quirky choices.

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

Actually, TBG (and this will come as no surprise), my wife and I drive each other crazy the same way. I can have a half-hour phone conversation with one of my best friends in Philly, and then my wife will ask, "So...what's up with Nick and Phyllis?" And my entire reply and condensation of the conversation will be, "oh, not much...same old same old."

She, on the other hand, can talk to one of her old pals, and I'll say, "What's new with Micki and Ronnie?" And she will proceed to repeat to me her entire two-hour conversation, complete with footnotes, references, sidebars, parentheticals, annotations, explanations, cross-references, referrals, textual emendations, multiple interpretations of the same point, et alia. And of course all I really want to know is whether anybody's dead or not, and if not, that's nice and about all I need to know.

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

I'm of the Mudge school of check splitting. Life is too short to mess with checks. I also overtip, and have taught the boy why tipping is so important and why the figure is a respectable percentage, not random or a figment of whimsy.

Also, we don't care what he does with his hair. Life is short and there are more important battles. Tattooing hurts. As for motorcycles, rodents, etc., he knows he is welcome to those when he graduates from college and graduate school, can pay his own insurance, and has his own place.

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

Color-matching? You're supposed to do that?

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

So they say, Mudge. Ivansdad knows where to hang pictures and put furniture too.

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

Cats are much easier to raise than kids: they get what they want when they want it, no ifs, ands, or buts, no gray areas, no worrying about the ethics or moral lessons involved.

The one thing I *have* taken away from my cat is the bird feeder (she got two birds last summer) and junk food. She eats an expensive, everything organic-and-good-for-her food, advertised to convert fat into muscle. so far no results.

I too, need to hand in my woman card about shopping (also, I've never belonged to a restroom-gaggle).

Me wonders if there is some stereotyping here? Do most women shop in the presumed manner, or just enough to warrant the assumption that all women shop like mad dogs? Just wondering.

My parents (actually, my mother -- my father was MIA -- either working very hard or drinking very hard) heartily believed that it was much better to be a friend than a parent.

I began smoking (cigarettes) in front of my parents at 15 or so. They believed it was much better to have it out in the open than for me to hide any aberrant behaviors. Soon, I was drinking at home too.

My sister and I reserved our truly aberrant behaviors for away-from-home gigs (mostly -- we did do some stuff in the basement that might have raised Mother's eyebrow).

When I was 16, my best friend and I made plans to go see the Rolling Stones ('75) in Ft. Collins, Colorado. This was going to be a three day camping adventure.

My "date" was a guy who had hair down to his waist, wore more silver and turqoise jewelry than I did, and looked the very image of a spaced-out druggie (but then again, so did I).

My mother *allowed me* to go spend three days with this fellow, and my best friend's chums, all of them in their twenties.

The Stones were great! We went swimming in Horseshoe Resevoir, had a great time and went home.

Then there was my junior prom. I was a bit too um, different, shall we say, for all the guys in my rural high school. Never had one date from any of them.

So I invited a friend of mine -- a 25 year old biker named Tony. His family owned the only 3.2 joint in town (For the uninitiated, 3.2 is beer that only has 3.2% alcohol -- it used to be legal for 18 year olds to drink -- the rest of the stuff was legal at 21).

There's this great family photo, one that made the cut into the 50th anniversary DVD, of me, my sister, and her best friend, all proudly standing with our prom dates on the front porch. A picture most households in America possess.

My sister is with the man she would marry within a year -- he was in his 20's, a college drop out who was then delivering papers. I'm standing with Tony, who had long hair and a heavy beard -- he cleaned up for the prom though. He had on a suit if sorts, with a very big biker belt buckle (love that alliteration).

My mother proudly snapped this photo; both my sister and I were wearing beautiful dresses she had made for this ocassion.

After that prom, my reputation for behaving outside normal high school rules was clinched.

Yet for all that (including the parent sponsored keggars in the basement) I went on to college and did very well. My brain shook off the high school haze, although I readily admit I didn't mature past my teens until I was in my 30's.

My sister survived the marriage to the paper boy. They had 3 beautiful kids, two of whom are doing very well (the oldest will be 30 in October, born my freshman year of college).

It could have all gone the other way so easily. With me, it almost did. But somehow, I outgrew my desire to be a "professional freak" or hippie, and realized there was more opportunity with a college degree. I got no parental prodding. I just grew into the idea.

They were just happy I hadn't run away to Haight Ashbury.

dmd, thanks for the nod to my writing. I feel bested by most of the boodlers.

martooni, glad to see you back online.

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

Mudge, it isn't a unviersal female trait to haggle over the restaurant bill down to the penny.

When I lived in DC, we would all just throw down money on the table, making sure there was a nice tip.

I discovered the haggle school when I first "lunched" with some of the Williasmburg women. I still just throw down my money, and split.

Having worked as a waitress, I know the need for decent tipping -- leave 20%.

Wilbrod, where are you? I want to discuss the Caliborne book on the English language, and also my ongoing battle with the japanese beetles (just ordered a product full of Bt and other nasties. Is supposed to stop them from eating at first bite, and to kill them outright within an hour). I must have had over 50 beetles on one rose yesterday.

When fall comes, I'll lay down the "Grub-Away" nematodes, and hope the little critters spend the winter munching happily on jap beetle grubs. It will probably take me two seasons to get them under control.

OK -- time to go and actually accomplish something today. Pay a bill, call Dell about my broken printer (under warranty), clean the kitchen, watch the beetles eat my roses.

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

No more 3.2. Pity. I recall being in Ft. Collins with several other Wyomingites. Went to a large, zanily-decorated bar and consumed large amounts of beer, to essentially no effect, other than diuretic. Very puzzling. Finally figured out that real beer couldn't be served until later in the day, or some such thing.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 12, 2006 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Dave of the Coonties -- you're a Wyomingite? didn't know that.

I lived in Laramie for two years after college -- was an archaeologist -- Laramie was sort of central to the range of field projects I was on.

I love Wyoming -- if only it weren't so bitterly cold and windy in winter, and scortchingly hot and windy in summer, :-)

3.2 is still sold in Colorado -- but now 21 is the legal age for *all* alcohol -- which leads one to wonder why breweries still make 3.2?

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

Famous, oft-reenacted conversation between my parents several years ago:

Dad: "What's-his-name is in the hospital."

Mom: "That's too bad."

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Hmm...Jonny Quest...Good evening Dr. Qvest...what a pleasure to see you again...Dr. Zin...what a bad man.

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

My parenting skills aren't going to be in some self-help book someday. My motto: Know the difference between spoiling and indulging, and then spoil your children.
My three darlings make me wonder about gene pools. How can they each be so very different from the next?
The oldest is somewhat ethereal, and tends to say things like "Oh. (pause) Wow. (pause) I didn't really think about that" and occassionally calls me "dude." (This is the genius who once told me, during the sniper incidents, how the police presence at his high school made it really difficult to cut school. All I could think to say was that a big part of a successful presentation is remembering who your audience is.) This same child (young adult but always my child) just got his hair cut, so now it's only just past his shoulders (instead of the middle of his back). The ZZ Top goatee down to his chest isn't something I would have picked out for him, but he is definitely the type that if I say something, it will just be that much longer until it changes. No need to poke the beast -- a lesson that should be in every parenting book.
The middle child is brilliant, but misses so much of childhood, as she is wound awfully tight -- she thinks the world is going to start spinning the other way if she gets a B in AP Physics (a class that I wouldn't have signed up for if you paid me). She's the child I'm encouraging to be a little late past curfew, or to do something unexpected (but not a felony). I was thrilled to return home from a long trip to find that there had been a party here...I was so hoping she was involved. No such luck. The culprit was Ethereal Boy.
The third, while also showing the occassional glimpse of brilliance, thinks the world spins around her (thanks to their father's parenting skills).
I've been able to treat them as individuals in that I'm sure I've given each one their own special topic for future discussions with a shrink.

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

nelson... you seem to have turned out great. But then again, just think what pink hair would do for you!

As for your quote:
>my reputation for behaving outside normal high school rules was clinched.

I think those people who violated "normal" high school rules for the most part turned out to be the most successful (in many senses of that word). Lookng through the 30-year alumni directory for my high school, I enjoy seeing how successful some of the less-popular kids are now.

Just like my parents predicted to us; just like we tell our kids...

If high school is supposed to be 'the best years of your life' then what the heck do you have to look forward to?

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the support, dmd. I hope only for the best for you, your Mom and your family.

TBG: High school was rough for me, as were the first couple of years of college. I wouldn't wish that mess on anyone, but I like to think that those experiences made me a better person.

Posted by: jack | July 12, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Jack and dmd...

So sorry you are going through these times with your mom(s). I went through it two years ago. Almost a full-time job for each of us four daughters.

If you need any help or just a shoulder to cry on, let me know. I mean, really: what's a boodle for?

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

lostinthought, very funny. I'm still laughing at your description of your children.

My daughter and my granddaughter just left, and it is quiet. I'm enjoying the quiet. My daughter is so loud. Perhaps she thinks it helps me, but it doesn't, just loud. She gets so touchy. I was happy to see her, but not crying because she's gone. Will miss them of course. I've been trying to get my daughter to go back to school, and finish, but it's falling on deaf ears. She refuses to do that, just wants to act like she's still in high school, and this chick is almost thirty. I love her dearly, but probably spoiled her.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 12, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

You know, some phones by LG have a "EZ Tip Calculator" a nifty feature for the thrifty. In regards of Johnny Quest, I would recommend you watch the Venture Bros, a brilliant parody of the forementioned show. Season one just came out on DVD.
Scheck it out!

Posted by: Geist | July 12, 2006 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra...maybe she just needs a little more time. Who knows..that 30th birthday might shake her up a bit. Besides, we never see our children as they truly are, right? (I'm hoping mine appear at least somewhat normal to others.)

Posted by: LostInThought | July 12, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

TBG - thanks, I am not sure about Jack but in our case there is little we can do, its seems they found the secondary cancer before the primary, the primary being still completely undiagnosed but narrowed to a very rare form.

In a way the last few weeks are applicable to Joels post, not quite the norm, finding humour in the strangest places and sometimes inappropriate places. That humour has helped us all in the last weeks, I think many people would be shocked at some of the things that made us laugh recently. Also I am of Irish descent although a long time removed so both life and death were openly discussed growing up. My main concerns now are keeping Mom out of pain, unfortunately that means very drugged and helping Dad.

one of the funnier aspects was that my sister came for two weeks to help, she lives across the country. My dad was shocked at how well we got along at first (we are totally different), in the end we reverted to our regular pattern of constantly disagreeing with one another and remembered how it is often easier to have a good relationship separated by 3000 miles! :)

Posted by: dmd | July 12, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra & Lostinthought, it sounds to me like you both loved your children and tried to raise them right. No spoiling there! To me, "spoiling" is when children get things as a substitute for love & discipline. I'll say again, my professional observation is that one can do everything to raise children to turn into adults, but often just can't be held responsible for the results. We do our best and hope for the best.

In Oklahoma you can buy only 3.2 beer in grocery stores. Any other liquor, including "good" beer and wine, is sold in state-licensed stores not open on Sundays, some holidays or Election Day. Thus the continued demand for manufacture of 3.2 beer. Okay, maybe that's not as good a tourism selling point as some of my others, say the noodling festival.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 12, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse


There's a FSM festival in Oklahoma? Who knew?

*AchenFAQ -- *


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 12, 2006 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Election Day? It seems to me, when the votes get tallied that night, a little more than 50% of us will want to celebrate, and a little less than 50% of us could use a stiff drink. Could be a big sales day for the liquor industry.
I guess one could plan ahead, but what with all the hoopla over the noodling festival, who has time?

Posted by: LostInThought | July 12, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse

scotty, mo's site is down for some reason; she's looking into it. (She can't boodle from work, but e-mailed me about it.)

LiT, seems to me on election day 100 percent of us could use a stiff drink. The only difference btween the 49% and 51% is motivation.

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

So I've seen, 'Mudge...

The joy of technology. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 12, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

So give me a hint, Scotty -- What is FSM? Or can we not say without angering the Boodle Filter?

Noodling in Oklahoma, of course, is all about fish. And beer.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 12, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

OK Ivansmom, I am curious Noodling? Is that a way to eat fish?

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

ivansmom, FSM is the Flying Spaghetti Montser, the agreed-upon supreme being of the boodle. No one's made reference to it in the last few months, so you probably aren't familiar with it. But six months or a year or so ago the FSM figured prominently in some of our spirited (but still thoroughly civil)theological discussions. If mo's AchenFAQ site was up, it would explain it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse

In Califorina the alcohol content isn't listed on the beer labels because it's all 3.2
Take a brewery tour and you will see the hugh tanks labeled CA 3.2.
Only the microbrew's are allowd to sell higher %.

Posted by: bh | July 12, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Perhaps "agreed upon" was a poor choice of words. Make it "Official (But Not Necessarily AGreed Upon)" deity, a sort of generic supernatural being who "dangles his noodly appendage" from time to time. Hence the reference to the Oklahoma noodle.

Ya hadda be there, I guess.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse


'Mudge beat me to it on the FSM description, with one small omission. The FSM works its will through its "Noodly Appendage," thereby prompting my question about the festival.


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 12, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Ah HAH! Thank you Mudge. I remember fondly reading references to the Flying Spaghetti Monster (it was one of the things which attracted me to the Boodle) but failed to make the acronym connection.

Dmd, noodling is a way to catch catfish. You wade into a muddy lake or stream, looking for a hole or underwater cave usually near the bank. Stick your arm in and poke around until you find a catfish, then grab it. The catfish tend to be extremely large and dangerous, and can really tear up your hand and arm. You may also get bit by a water moccasin (cottonmouth) snake instead. You may drown. Real noodlers don't wear wetsuits or use tools, and often have serious scars.

You can see where the beer would come in.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 12, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

See, for instance, and the wikipedia article at

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

The FSM's "noodly appendage" might in fact go a long way to explaining the willingness of the noodler to engage in that activity. Other explanations have involved beer, methamphetamine, and sheer boredom.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 12, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Demmit, 'Mudge, ya beat me to the appendage, too...


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 12, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

So there is American beer stronger than 3.2% ? I wish i knew that when I was in OK city (in August ! stupid me). I understand it's available only on special days and for people older than 21 though. At one point someone should point out to Mrs. Dole that that 18 years old marines are given powerful guns and the permission to use them in crowded area while they are still 3 years away from being permitted to go in bars and buy real beer. Am I the only one finding that a little strange ?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | July 12, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I could see that keggers of strong beer were involved in the development of competitive noodling. Let me take a wild guess, noodlers tend to be of the male persuasion, aren't they ?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | July 12, 2006 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Denizen. OKC has some good microbreweries which will serve you beer at their restaurants any day. You do have to be over 21 though. At the risk of once again offering too much information, Oklahoma was the state which generated the groundbreaking 1970s gender ruling on liquor. At that time, women could buy beer at age 18 but men not until age 21. A young man and bar owner were persuaded to bring an equal protection suit. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (then a lawyer) took the case to the Supreme Court and won. At the time this resulted in the overall drinking age in almost every state dropping to age 18. In the late 80s or early 90s, after people got all worried about teen drinking and drunk driving, most states raised the limit to age 21 for everyone. You aren't the first to note the irony of the military/drinking age discrepancy.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 12, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey, this is cool. I never really looked into all the FSM stuff before this moment, but the wikipedia cite is pretty funny. And I never realized the thing about Pirates, nor that FSM included 8 "commandments" (originally there were 10, but they dropped two) called "I Really Rather You Didn'ts." I've taken the liberty of pasting them in here for those (like me) who were unaware of them. They form the basis of "Pastafarian" belief:

1) I'd Really Rather You Didn't Act Like a Sanctimonious Holier-Than-Thou Ass When Describing My Noodly Goodness. If Some People Don't Believe In Me, That's Okay. Really, I'm Not That Vain. Besides, This Isn't About Them So Don't Change The Subject.

2) I'd Really Rather You Didn't Use My Existence As A Means To Oppress, Subjugate, Punish, Eviscerate, And/Or, You Know, Be Mean To Others. I Don't Require Sacrifices And Purity Is For Drinking Water, Not People.

3) I'd Really Rather You Didn't Judge People For The Way They Look, Or How They Dress, Or The Way They Talk, Or, Well, Just Play Nice, Okay? Oh, And Get This In Your Thick Heads: Woman = Person. Man = Person. Samey - Samey. One Is Not Better Than The Other, Unless We're Talking About Fashion And I'm Sorry, But I Gave That To Women And Some Guys Who Know The Difference Between Teal and Fuchsia.

4) I'd Really Rather You Didn't Indulge In Conduct That Offends Yourself, Or Your Willing, Consenting Partner Of Legal Age AND Mental Maturity. As For Anyone Who Might Object, I Think The Expression Is Go F*** Yourself, Unless They Find That Offensive In Which Case They Can Turn Off the TV For Once And Go For A Walk For A Change.

5) I'd Really Rather You Didn't Challenge The Bigoted, Misogynist, Hateful Ideas Of Others On An Empty Stomach. Eat, Then Go After The B******

6) I'd Really Rather You Didn't Build Multimillion-Dollar Churches/Temples/Mosques/Shrines To My Noodly Goodness When The Money Could Be Better Spent (Take Your Pick):
Ending Poverty
Curing Diseases
Living In Peace, Loving With Passion, And Lowering The Cost Of Cable
I Might be a Complex-Carbohydrate Omniscient Being, But I Enjoy The Simple Things In Life. I Ought To Know. I AM the Creator.

7) I'd Really Rather You Didn't Go Around Telling People I Talk To You. You're Not That Interesting. Get Over Yourself. And I Told You To Love Your Fellow Man, Can't You Take A Hint?

8) I'd Really Rather You Didn't Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You If You Are Into, Um, Stuff That Uses A Lot of Leather/Lubricant/Las Vegas. If the Other Person Is Into It, However (Pursuant To #4), Then Have At It, Take Pictures, And For The Love Of Mike, Wear a CONDOM! Honestly, It's A Piece of Rubber. If I Didn't Want It To Feel Good When You Did It I Would Have Added Spikes, Or Something.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Right again Denizen. I've never heard tell of a female noodler. I'm sure there is one but expect she'd be the exception that proves the rule.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 12, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Election Days in Oklahoma... Bars are able to open after the polling stations close, the same may be true for liquor stores though I'm not certain. You can still purchase your beer at the grocery/convenience store though, just not the hard stuff. I've been to many a watch party over the years in the Tulsa area and trust me, liquor is flowing.

There is currently a push to reverse the ban on liquor on Election Day.

Posted by: TulsaFan | July 12, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

scotty, I've always been quick on the draw where the noodly appendage was concerned.

If ya know what I mean.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Mudge is going to take the boodle straight into the gutter as soon as I leave town.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 12, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Need a ride to the airport, boss?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to everyone for the guest kits. I haven't had time to read all of them yet but will get back to you by email as soon as I do.

Ideally I will take the very best one and type, at the top, "By Joel Achenbach" and submit it to Sydney in lieu of a Rough Draft column. I am assuming you understand that that's one of the provisions of The Rules.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 12, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Here in your Nation's Capital we have black skies, thunder and lightning, no rain yet, but all sorts of dire warnings. I hope my beloved gummint building doesn't get struck by li




Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, Joel. We thought you were already gone [blushing a little and wondering if we said anything "bad" about our fearless leader].

Have a great trip! Can't wait to see your beret and pencil-thin mustache when you return.

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

This was on PBS sometime last year I believe.

Posted by: someyoungguy | July 12, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

...and bring back some of those famous post cards I've heard so much about.

(Before I get accused of going into the gutter, I refer, of course, to postcards of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Bon Voyage, Joel! Thanks for sending me out as leadoff kitter. Pretty scary and I'm glad it's over! (But glad I racked up 111 "points" for the team.)

I wonder who he's got planned for cleanup?

Posted by: ot | July 12, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Postcards? What about the ticklers?

[Did I really say that?]

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

*pushing the wheeled garbage can and broom*

ot, you just hadda ask, dincha...

*sweeping TBG's ticklers into the can*


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 12, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

(I had to google "ticklers"...)

that's funny s-nuke!

Posted by: ot | July 12, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

No doubt TBG is referring to those fluffy feather boas. (After all, she is a wife and mother.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Great article in the post about Frank Sinatra, Jr. Amazing - he travels with 38 musicians!

But a very sad "coda" to that story. Which I will tell you later...

Posted by: ot | July 12, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Joel - Enjoy France, but be careful. They may want to keep you for themselves.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 12, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Joel, bon voyage. Bonne chance. Beau soir. Laisser les bon temps roulez.

That's enough of that -- only the boy will put up with my bad bad French, and he not for long. Mal. Very mal. Drink lots of wine, eat lots of pain et fromage, ride some trains.

When you come back maybe the Post will send you on assignment noodling. Thanks, someyoungguy, for the link. That is one of my favorite documentaries. Joel, if they send you, DON'T WATCH THE VIDEO before you try it yourself.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 12, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Sacre bleu! Zat means we'd have to get ze Paris Match to read hees Ebauche Rugueux column every week! C'est un terribleu!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Okay, this is long past, but I'm just back. I have been briefed on the requirement to come back from telephone conversation in which the arrival of a baby featured with more than that bare fact. Left to my own devices, that would be enough, but NOOOO, weight, length, name and all kinds of sundry details are expected.

On alcohol, (as far as I know) in Haute Maine its either 18 or 19 across the country. That's just plain entrapment to have a law pretending to outlaw liquor consumption for the first three years of university.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 12, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Joel, if you find yourself in the 7th arrondisement (near the Eiffel Tower), check out the Rue Cler for lunch. There's a great place for roast chicken (I think that's all they sell), a Greek joint that sells crepes "to go," and some find bakeries and chocolate shops. You can post your photos on Mo's site!

Posted by: CowTown | July 12, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

And if you find yourself near the Rue de Remarque, Joel, just say, "I may be one, monsieur, but you are one, too! Zut! Alors, ha ha!"

Works every time.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 12, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

OK - one last comment and then I'm outta here...

Joel, they have unbelievable ice cream in Paris. Not far from Notre Dame. Your kids will love it.

You can read about the shop/brand here:

Posted by: ot | July 12, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

> "Rue de Remarque"

Y'know... I thought it was funny when I first read it, but now that I've read it again and actually sounded it out -- LMAO.

You must be very cosmopolitan, Mudge, to be able to pun in foreign languages (or you're cheating and hiding a French joke book in your cumberbund).

Posted by: martooni | July 12, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of laughing and the French, I hope you're practicing your "French Laugh", Joel. Remember that the "hoh-hoh hoh!" should be very grunty and smarmy with an emphasis on the closing "hoh!" and should be executed with a slight rocking of the head with each syllable. Bonus points for raising one eyebrow.

Posted by: martooni | July 12, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

On the Wiki site, I note that they now have "citation needed" by the note about Duchovny being Joel's next door neighbor at Princeton.

So is this insecurity on Wiki's part, or has Duchovny entered the answer to trivia question category of fame? Q: This one-time next door neighbor to Joel Achenbach was briefly famous for his roles on Red Shoe Diaries and the 90's series The X Files?

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 12, 2006 6:16 PM | Report abuse

nelson, your comment about the restroom gaggle made me giggle.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 12, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

"Briefly"? SonofCarl? for shame. The X-Files was almost as interesting as Twin Peaks (still the most bizarre show ever to be optioned for network). If you want a true Duchovny weirdness role, check out the film "Rapture". Scary.

I like the trivia question, though. Very nice perspective.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 12, 2006 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Oui, M. martooni, je suis tres cosmopolitanique. Vous should see moi being tres cosmopolitanique at the Le Heaure de Boodlois de Porche (at Bistro le McCormick et le Schmick, on Rue de 16th near Rue de K)with mon frers boodlaires, wearing my chapeau d'Alcoa and telling le joque du poop. On le street I'm often mistaken for Yves Montand.

Posted by: Coeur Ma'dijon | July 12, 2006 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I was a big X Files fan too (at least until the movie; it turns out there is such a thing as revealing too much). You have to admit though, that the series is slipping or has slipped from The Coffee Table of Pop Culture towards The Recycling Bin of Pop Culture Trivia.

I think I saw part of Rapture once. Didn't you drop a few Twin Peaks references in the last few days (something about the red curtain)? That's a series where I liked the movie but found it hard to keep up with the series (and like Lost or some other series, if you miss one...).

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 12, 2006 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Coeur Ma'dijon, je t'aime! "Le chapeau d'Alcoa" - manifique.

Posted by: dmd | July 12, 2006 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, FilsetCarl, I did drop a few Twin Peaks hints hither and yon -- the dwarf, the one-armed man, cherry pie, and the fish in the coffee. Truly, the series was MUCH better than the movie, particularly the first season when David Lynch clearly couldn't believe these fools had given him a network contract. I agree, X-Files did lose a lot in later years.
To our credit we have agreed to wait until the boy is a little older before subjecting him to either of these cultural icons. We do have some restraint. Though it occurs to me that in the spirit of Joel's kit we should be showing him Twin Peaks AND taking him noodling. Alas. Parenting is so hard.

Posted by: Ivansmere | July 12, 2006 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Whoops. Got my name wrong. I told you my French was VERY bad. Sounds great, though.

Posted by: Ivansmaman | July 12, 2006 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I am no French expert its been twenty years since I stopped taking it and haven't used it much since, but I believe both your spellings are correct Mere is Mother, Maman would be more like mommy,mom.

Posted by: dmd | July 12, 2006 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I was a fairly regular visitor to UW in Laramie when I lived in Worland and Cody. Driving from Casper through the Shirley Basin, past the Diplococcus bar in Medicine Bow, it sometimes seemed I was going toward the End of the Universe. That didn't actually happen until years later, when I lived just up the street from The Bar at the End of the Universe in Portland, Oregon.

The drive to Laramie took about 6 hours. By my calculation, it would have been legal at the time to consume a 6-pack en route.

Yes, the bars on UW doors to keep the wind from making them fly open and break their hinges were really, truly necessary.

UW's benefitting from the state's current wealth. I'm sure they'd like to see applications from hard-working, adventuresome students. One biology faculty member did take an entire class on a field trip to Brazil.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 12, 2006 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Sacre bleu! Code Postale! Vous-tous parlerais bien le Francais! Il-y-a dix ans quand j'ai parle le Francais tous les jours, et je suis impresse! (please to mentally place accents graves, egules and circonflexes where required, as the form apparently won't let me).

Curmudgeon, I do believe your Franglais qualifies you as an honourary Quebecer. Probably not an honour you are eager to accept. Quote Sherman if you must.

I think Joel should take us all with him to Paris France Europe just in case he and his family need a translator, dining companion, navigator, driver, babysitter, astrophysicist,spirit guide, substitute Grandmother/father, bureaucrat, archeologist, lawyer, or all purpose Boodler (you never know, do you, when travelling? Better to pack too much than too little).

When I was first learning French on the streets of Montreal, I was introduced to French-Canadian swearing (all, at that time, [25 years ago] religious. Sorry Cassandra, but it's because of their history with the Catholic Church. Religious terms were much more shocking to the average ear than body parts or biological functions). The mnemonic I was given by my fellow street-urchins was this little Hum:

Hosti, tosti, Tabernacle,
Sacrifice et Cul de Sac.

(More or less to a combination of the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down and the na na na na na song all obnoxious little kids spontaneous produce).

Oh dear. Oh dear me. Retreating to lucker status again.

Posted by: Stampede | July 12, 2006 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Spontaneously, of course.

Posted by: Stampede | July 12, 2006 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I hate to be a (s)tickler, Coeur Ma'dijon, but I believe those were chapeaux de Reynolds we were wearing on Rue de K.

Posted by: Teh Beh Geh | July 12, 2006 9:19 PM | Report abuse


I love that there's someone else who refers to her son as The Boy.

In my house we have The Boy and The Girl. I think that's what they'll be called long after they've passed boy and girl status.

I think it was pretty darn convenient of me to have one of each, don't you?

Posted by: TBG | July 12, 2006 9:24 PM | Report abuse

I saw this in Adrian Higgins' chat the other day and meant to post it for you - he's answering a question about Japanese beetles in weeping cherry trees:
Adrian Higgins: The dreaded Japanese beetle. There is no easy solution. If you live in a subdivison, applying imidacloprid to the turf to kill the grubs will have some effect. Pheremone traps are only effective if you have a large property (probably a couple of acres or more) where you can entice them to a far corner, away from your ornamentals. The best thing, if you can reach them, is to pick them off and put them in a pail of bleach solution. By getting to them early, you prevent a mob attack.

Dear me - sounds bleak.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 12, 2006 9:35 PM | Report abuse

C'est moi. J'arrive a la heure tres tarde.

Je desire la grand volka et un lit comfortable.

This travelling lag is worse than I thought... why am I speaking bad french on the boodle? And so to bed.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 12, 2006 9:41 PM | Report abuse

TBG: Thanks for your kind words and your shoulder. My wife's Mom is a dear woman that has beaten some remarkable odds. As a type one diabetic, she has survived a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery, and colon/liver cancer for which she was initially given a ridiculously small chance of surviving. Chemo and surgery was the remedy prescribed by her team of MD's, a fine team in a field of overworked folks. This is her third major abdominal surgery in four years. One must be optimistic in terms of a good outcome.

On the lighter side, MSN has a banner proclaiming the discovery of killer kangaroos andremnants of a demon duck among other things. The latter must be related to Dirty Duck.

Posted by: jack | July 12, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, TBG. I stand in awe of you having one of each, and something more than awe of Pat (known elsewhere as Fatherof4). Just one is all I have energy for. We used to call him the Malignant Agent of Chaos, but I find the Boy works well now. A sort of ur-Boy, or Plato's Universal Boy. It annoys him in company, but he answers to it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 12, 2006 10:25 PM | Report abuse

The Platonic Form of Boy, Ivansmom?

Posted by: Stampede | July 12, 2006 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Walking in a funky little restaurant-dense enclave near Notre Dame, about 10:30 at night. Orchestral music seems to be coming from a church. We wander around, find a door, go on in. Baskets on the floor, full of money. We throw in some euro. How much was that? Orchestra playing something I love, can't remember what, now. Crazed, sweaty conductor brings it to a tumultuous finish. The crowd roars approval, demands an encore. The conductor catches his breath, gets the 1st violin's eye; they agree. Another piece. 11:00 PM, orchestra and conductor can go on no longer. Conductor waves off the shouted entreaties: "encore! encore!" He gestures to the orchestra -- time to take your bow. The audience applauds, while a few helpful souls carry the baskets of money to the orchestra. We wander out into the August night. No time for a midnight dessert and café au lait, there's a plane to catch in the morning.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 12, 2006 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmaman: I heard stories told of noodling for channel cats early as 1978 from a roommate of mine that had lived in Florida. He also stated vhemently that channel cats could be caught with grappling hooks, using roasting chickens for bait. Filed the stories away for many years, more like they were pushed back into some cravasse in my frontal lobes by all the fun stuff we did in college. Fastforward to 1988, and my move to the Carolinas. Shurnuff, the stories were true. I KNOW people that do it and the DO consume copious amounts of cool, malted beverages and wouldn't trade a day on the lake for anything. These are the folks that posess demon bass boats with a 300 HP outboard, chrome wheels and four-on-the-floor and pickups with mudslingers and Calvin urinating on someone. Oh, and the you'll-only-get-my-gun-by-prying-it-from-my-cold-dead-fingers stickers. But they go to prayer meeting every Wednesday.

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

Cool, SciTim. My wife, who teaches Spanish, used to go to Europe regularly with some HS students in the summers between the time we met and our marriage. Her stories about the trips are great. The closest I ever get to Paris is watching the movie Diva. Mon dieu.

Posted by: jack | July 12, 2006 11:21 PM | Report abuse

I used to have an Isuzu P'up small pickup truck in grad school. I was proprietor, manager, and sole employee of Tim's Light Hauling. I had many mottoes on my flyers; for example, "No job too small! No load too light!" or some such thing. One of my more heartfelt mottoes was "If you are evading eviction, I want cash in advance!"

Anyway, my essential cheapness and lack of serious motivation toward disorderly behavior restrained me from what I really wanted to do with that truck: place a rising sun flag on the antenna, and throw a few empty Sapporo beer cans in the back. Have a bumper-sticker made with those sterotyped pseudo-Japanese English letters saying "Rice Mower".

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 12, 2006 11:24 PM | Report abuse

My favourite vehicle was my fist car, a '64 Impala 4 door, no post. I stuck the biggest K2 sticker in the rear window and engaged in many disorderly behaviours. A favourite was easing up to a shopping cart, accelerating up to an unreasonable speed, slamming on the brakes and launching said cart to destinations unknown. This was particularly amusing in the vicinity of four lane divided highways.

Posted by: jack | July 12, 2006 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Last night, while my wife was working, and my oldest daughter a hundred miles away, I was informed that my favorite daughter (11) had "officially" turned into a woman.

My favorite daughter telephoned my oldest who, in turn, told me because the new woman in the family was too embarrased to tell me herself. My oldest daughter insists that the proper celebration for this occasion includes the consumption of a red-iced caked baked in a circle pan. I'm not totally convinced.

Now, my almost 4 year old son wants to be a "big boy" from now on and sleep in his own bed. I was jamming some Hendrix yesterday to impress him on how good I was at playing electric guitar and he just held his hands against the sides of his head and screamed at me "Daddy, you're scaring my ears!"

there growing up, and life is running out...

Posted by: Pat | July 13, 2006 4:48 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Dmd and jack, you and your family are in my prayers. Feeling a little queasy this morning, but will still try to go for the walk. Maybe it will pass. I am missing Nani, Error, and Loomis, so much. Come back guys, we miss you a lot. And not in that particular order. It was really hot here yesterday, I felt totally drained in the heat. Just really tired when I got in last night. The weather person is predicting more of the same today. Joel, I really hope you have a nice vacation, and enjoy your time with your family. Not to put a downer on your trip, but perhaps you can find out why the city burned from a personal point of view? There is much going on in the world, and much of it not good. I've said my prayers, and I remembered my friends here. I know in my heart, and hope that you know too, that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Thanks, lostinthought, about the comment regarding my daughter. She has many issues, and I believe most of them stem from the loss of her brother. She will work it out, yet in the meantime, I wish she would go back to school, it just might help.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 13, 2006 5:59 AM | Report abuse

mostlylurking...came across your comments
about aaron brown...newsnight with ab was
a hightpoint on the cnn evening schedule...
i was surprised to see him let go...thanks
for the followup as to where he is now...
i hope his time at ASU goes well...aaron
had a nice way of pacing nn and a raised
eyebrow here or there communicated much :)

...recent days here in the land of smiles
have the Thai PM having sent a letter to
GWB and having got one back from the texas
rancher hisself...well the copy printed in
the thai papers could be a form letter as
it comes across as such...the Thai Pm is
having ongoing political problems but to
write a letter to GWB would seem not very
useful as THE DECIDER has not exactly been
hitting home runs politically either... :) wishes during your time
away...have fun in france...RUE DE CLER
is indeed a lovely street of small shops
where flowers,cheese,seafood and some very
nice french breads and pastries are to
be found...many french school children
from nearby school too...still fondly
recall the wonderful parisian feel this
street held...the sights,scents and sounds
were especial... :)

Posted by: an american in siam... | July 13, 2006 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Hey AiS, LTNS! *wave*

My Paris adventures were rather laid back. A couple of days there with my oldest brother, who visited a little while after I arrived in Germany, then a longer weekend years later. Favorite memory from that weekend (apart from missing the return bus):

We gathered our remaining francs the last night and went to a "proper" restaurant. Probably not on the Michelin guide, but definitely a sit-down place. Got the menus, and perused the choices using my three years of barely remembered high-school Francais.

"Quel que fromage du jour?"

"Roquefort, monsieur."

"C'est bon, et le pot a feu, s'il vous plait."

Looking back, I'm surprised the table didn't collapse when the garcon plunked a 5-gallon earthen crock of Roquefort in front of me and left it there. Gooooooooooooooooooood cheese. :-)

And does anyone REALLY think Joel's not going to take us with him? In his laptop, of course.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 13, 2006 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Apologies for a serious post.

Israeli airstrikes kill around 47 Lebonese civilians at the Beirut airport. The airstrikes were in response to Hezbollah terrorists kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

Well, glad to see that the Middle East is a far more peaceful and stable region now that there is a "democracy" in place in Iraq.

Posted by: tangent | July 13, 2006 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Merde, this is so bad. Please Hal zap the whole thing so that Rabelais, Molière and Hugo can stop spinning in their graves. Bon voyage Joël, profitez de la bonne bouffe et du bon vin. Amenez les filles à en haut de la tour Eiffel tôt le matin par une journée claire, c'est quelque chose qu'elles n'oublieront pas.

Posted by: Gendarme de la grammaire | July 13, 2006 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Science Tim, what a lovely post about Paris. I love traveling when its off the beaten path, and don't only do the touristy thing. Here's hoping that Joel and family have a wonderful time, discover all the things that make France a wonderful place to visit.

Posted by: dr | July 13, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, Jack, Paul, Americaninsiam - thanks for great stories this morning.

Posted by: CowTown | July 13, 2006 9:50 AM | Report abuse

CT: Thanks.

Cassandra: Thanks for your kind words, as always. Stay inside as much as you can, for it is at least a code yellow day.

If my folks ever knew what was between the covers of the old NatLamp, there would have been serious merde hitting the fan. The "Wait 'till your Father gets home" would certainly have been heard. I've always been wondering what got into P.J. O'Rourke; its illogical that he'd pen for the NatLamp then and now for whatever publication, I think the National Review.

Posted by: jack | July 13, 2006 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Gendarme de la grammaire, there's no need to get all bent out of shape and fluffitado (as we say en Espaniel) about our multicultural sophistication. No one has more respect for Rabblay, Molyear and Hugh Grant than I do. (Didn't know Hugh was French, though--but loved him in "Notting Hill.")

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 13, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse


Before you congratulate me for having more than one kid, remember that they are 5 years apart. That means that The Boy was simply a boarder in the house by the time The Girl came along.

Posted by: TBG | July 13, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

As much as I like to think that our kids are good, they still have their moments. Our son, aged 6 came home from school near the end of this past session and asked what a-s-s, spelled. The reply was that it was a word we don't use in our house. He said : "I can sound it our...aaaaaaassssssss...a$$ (all smiles on account of his diction).

Posted by: jack | July 13, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

TBG, didn't that mean The Boy was a built-in protector and babysitter? Or are all those stories merely an idealization of sibling life?
Congratulations, Pat, on favorite daughter's evolution. They're growing up, but life is running ON. I like the idea of the cake -- and how can you turn down an opportunity for cake anyway? Give your "big boy" earplugs and his own guitar.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 13, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Whew! End of year performance report finished and submitted! I can be human again, and even participate in the boodle!

My oldest, who was extremely active in the womb, was the Wiggle Baby. The pediatrician commented the morning we were bringing her home from the hospital, "My, she's a wiggly one!" Her sister was the Squirmy Baby. She would sit on my lap and cuddle, whereas the older one always wanted to be doing something.

Posted by: slyness | July 13, 2006 10:20 AM | Report abuse

The thing about children is, not only do they lack manuals, they also seldom come with money-back guarantees. Not that I would ever trade either of my offspring for any amount of money. (Although, at moments I might briefly consider a leasing arrangement.) The point is, having children is like inviting random strangers into your home for the next few decades. You never know what you are going to get.

I recall the spring of 1994 when my wife was pregnant with my daughter, and my son had just turned three. He was, and is, fiendishly challenging as only a startling brilliant child with eccentric brain chemistry can be. After an especially exhausting day I sat down next to my wife, gazed at the picture of my son on the mantle, and wondered aloud, "What if, one day, we consider him the easy one?"

Which, of course, we do.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 13, 2006 10:22 AM | Report abuse

slyness, my two are similar the first was very calm in the womb, worringly so, she is also like that to this day 10 years later - the younger one moved constantly in the womb and really hasn't stopped since. I don't know if there is a general corelation to it outside of my situation.

Ivansmom in my case with girls five years appart the built in babysitter/protector only applies in limited amounts. Mostly they try to irritate each other as much as possible, reminds me of my sister and I.

Pat - the cake is a great idea we are fast approaching that stage and are in preparations as my daughter wants to be ready :).

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

RD, AND, they never upgrade easily.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 13, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Science Tim,
I had a four-wheel-drive Isuzu P'up when I was an underpaid Wyomingite. It would have benefitted from more ground clearance, but could get up things like steep, loose gravel. I shoulda plunked down the extra bucks for a short-box full-sized Chevy. Gosh, they don't even make the shortboxes any more.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 13, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

George Will's piece today was amazingly good. Recommend it to anyone who has been through what I have been with a senior parent.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 13, 2006 10:36 AM | Report abuse


oh, how true! Kit can be labeled "The Dilemma of Being a Dad". How many times has my wife told me, "I can't believe you said 'yes' !!!" (Esp after she just told the kids "no"...)

Posted by: farfrombeltway | July 13, 2006 10:39 AM | Report abuse

DM thanks for pointing the article out.

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

dmd and Pat,

We are approaching the same milestone in my house and I dread it. Ugh. The cake is a great idea. But I don't think the guys in the house will go anywhere near a red-icing round cake celebrating such a milestone. "Eww gross." I can already hear it.

But congratulations are in order in the G household today: The Boy started his VERY FIRST JOB today!

And yes, Ivansmom, the built-in protector and babysitter is definitely true. But in our case, The Girl is the more mature one and always has been, even at 5 years behind. So he didn't know it, but when we started leaving them home alone together (he was around 12 or so) we always figured she was the one really in control.

This fall, they will go to the same school for the very first time. She will be in 7th Grade, he in 12th. (Yes.. it's a HUGE school; a "secondary school" if you will--some 4,000+ kids). He got a parking space in the lottery (You win the opportunity to pay $150 to park!) so he will drive them both each day. He is looking forward to being her protector as the Older Male Brother.

No need for shotguns or folk music as long as he's around.

Posted by: TBG | July 13, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

TBG - 4,000 STUDENTS - Yikes! I remember my brothers being my protector, it was a lot easier to get along with them than my sister (still is!). To this day they are still my protectors should I have the need.

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

My baby sister (who will always be that despite turning 37) has three older brothers. Because she lived in a house of teenaged boys, and saw us in the morning and while eating, the species lost much of its mystery. Therefore, when she chose boyfriends, I think she always used good judgement.

She made sure they were nothing like her brothers.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 13, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I mentioned this a while ago but the kite tubes (tubes used on the water that can fly upto 60 feet with no means to control the flight while being pulled by a boat)were recalled today. If anyone plans on using them or knows someone who is please let them know the dangers.

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I was the only girl among three brothers (which goes some way to explaining the love of fast cars and ordance and my male-pattern shopping habits). I don't ever remember them being protective of me. Rather, I think I worked hard to keep up with them; trying to be as tough as they were. That has helped me in lots of ways in the business world, but it was a delight when I met my husband and had our children to discover and explore a gentler spirit. I was surprised to have only girl-children and worried whether I would know how to mother them properly. They seem to have come through OK, though.

Posted by: Stampede | July 13, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

TBG, my 4 kids, being offspring of a nurse and a blind dad, don't get grossed out by much. The bathrom is shared by all 6 of us, and the door only gets shut and locked when I need some pease and quiet.

I used to give a bath to the middle boy and girl at the same time. When they turned 5 and 7, I had to discontinue this practise due to the excessive giggling. The girls still get away with a little bit when after their shower, they ask their little brothers to get them a towel. what a trick.

My little one who is 3 now, reserves the priveledge to name his buttwiper when he is done. My number comes up all too often.

And after all this, my daughters are still begging my wife and I to make another baby.

And I'm seriously thinking of moving out to the shed.

Posted by: Pat | July 13, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

TBG, this might be a dumb question, but is that $150 per month or for the school year? I have become numb to inflated parking prices, so I wouldn't be too surprised if it was the former. Nice photo of you and nelson on your blog, BTW.

Cassandra, what did you mean by "Not to put a downer on your trip, but perhaps you can find out why the city burned from a personal point of view?" Just curious.

Favorite Paris: bicycling the garden/estate at Versailles, and Sainte Chapelle.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

mostlylurking -- thanks for the beetle advice. I should get today the product I ordered called "BullsEye" -- laced with stuff that kills (supposedly) only the bad bugs and leaves the lacewings and others alive to pray on more bad bugs Bt and other stuff toxic to the nervous system.

In the meantime, swarms of them eat every single bloom before it even gets a chance to open all the way.

Dave of the Coonties -- I had an archaeobotanical lab at UW for a while -- i wasn't on UW staff -- I worked for a private archaeological consulting firm, but we rented space in the archaeology labs for me to work.

Don't know if you ever read "The Monkey Wrench Gang," but when I lived in Wyoming, I made a concerted effort to count mileage like Hayduke did. Has something to do with cans of beer.

I really do love Wyoming -- when doing survey work in the Powder River Basin, really in the middle of nowhere, sometimes even separated visually from other members of the survey team -- it was fabulous. Just me, the wind, and incredible beauty. Some of the most peaceful times in my life.

Ditto for the "dry" camps we would set up in some pretty remote areas (dry, as iin we hauled in our water; we did not lack alcohol!!!). Wyoming and also in Arizona and Colorado.

Am hoping to finally relocate myself back "home" to the West in a few years.

Posted by: nelson | July 13, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

The daughters are 5 years apart (16 and 12 now) and yes the older one is the built-in protector and babysitter. They get along great, they can do stuff together all day. The boy is the oldest but alouf, not interested in the sisters even if, at a younger age, he was best pal with the older girl who is only 2 years his junior. All three kids are very different, physically and otherwise.

Favorite Paris : A public market in the 16ième arrondissement a few days before Christmas. The display of beautiful vegetables, chicken, pheasant and goose with their feathers, venison, cheese, sea shells, etc. was just spectacular.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | July 13, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I think little Buffalo at the foot of the Bighorns has become something of a retirement haven. I was on the other side of the hill and saw nearly every bit of the Big Horn Basin outside of the National Forests.

Once, I hosted a field trip with some remote sensing types. I stopped the little caravan on a ridge, adjacent to a double hill with a needed-to-be-bowdlerized place name, on very latest Cretaceous rock from just before the asteroid hit. I knew the site had an unusual flora. One of the remote sensing guys spotted a little flowering carrot and wondered what it was. I told him it could be a species new to science. The right professor from UW happened to visit just 2 2 weeks later. The carrot was indeed new.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 13, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Alas, the closest I've come to Paris was Canterbury in December. The town was full of French school children on field trips. Their main objective seems to have been finding Christmas presents!

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 13, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

TBG, dmd and Pat-- just wait a little while longer, and then one day you'll get a call like this (as you are riding home on the bus, and loathe to talk either long or loud on your cellphone in front of 50 other people):


Me: Hello?

Milestone (Plus 6 Months) Daughter (Curmudgeonette): Uh, dad, are you going to Safeway for anything?

Me: Uh, no, I wasn't planning on it. Why? [Knowing full well the stupidity of asking "Why" but doing it anyway.]

Curmudgeonette: Um, er, I need something.

Me: OK, what?


Me: Hello? Did you hang up? Are you still there?

Curmudgeonette: I'm still here, dad.

Me: OK, What do you need?

Curmudgeonette: Ah, um, YOU know. *quieter* Some pads.

Me: Pads? *and then realizing the nearest 30 people have heard me*

Curmudgeonette: Uh huh.

Me: *Very quiet* What kind?

Curmudgeonette: What? I can't hear you.


Curmudgeonette: I dunno. Any kind, I guess.

Me: [Disregarding the 47 smart-ass remarks I could make but won't with 30 eavesdroppers] Ask your mother.

Curmudgeonette: I don't think she has any.

Me: No, ask her what KIND!?!

Curmudgeonette: She's not home from work yet.

Me: Then how do you know she doesn't have any... oh never mind. What kind was the last box?

Curmudgeonette: I don't remember. Mom bought them.

Me: Well, call her, then.

Curmudgeonette: I did. They said she's in a meeting with a customer.

Me: Can't it wait until I get home and Mom gets home?

Curmudgeonette: Daaaaaaaaad, I really NEED 'em. Noooooowwww.

Me: Oh jeez. Don't you ever plan ahead for these things?

Curmudgeonette: I ran out. I used four already today. I don't have any more.

Me: *Squirming* Jeez, too much information! I don't wanna know about this stuff. OK, what are we talking about here? Kotex, Tampex, some kinda Maxi mini pads with wings, no wings, ailerons, training wheels, regular, heavy-duty, menthol, smoking or non-smoking, scented, unscented, floral blossom, mountain spring, what? Help me out here; what do you want me to get?


Me: Hello? Hellooooooo???

Curmudgeonette: Never mind, dad.

Me: No, just tell me what kind. You called, you said it was an emergency. I just need some help here. What color was the package?


Me: Close your eyes and try to picture it.

Curmudgeonette: Green.

Me: Green. Okay, big or little? Was there a picture? A lady, flowers, something?

Curmudgeonette: It might have been, like, blue.

Me: *silent, but in my head: %#@%$#@&%$##%$$*

Curmudgeonette: Green.

Me: OK, let's try something else. Was it the tube kinda thing, with the string, or the giant band-aid kinda thing? *ignoring the woman seated next to me, a complete stranger, whose hands are over her eyes and her shoulders are shaking from silent laughter*

Curmudgeonette: Eeeeuuuuw, Daaaaaaaad, that's gross.

Me: OK, never mind. I'm a guy, I don't know about this stuff. Look, I'll stop at Safeway and get something, and you'll just have to be satisfied with whatever I get, all right?

Curmudgeonette: OK. Get, like, the one with 48 in it.


Curmudgeonette: Dad?

Me: 48? What's that, like, a two-year supply or something?

Curmudgeonette: Daaaaaaaaad.

Me: OK, OK, 48. You got it. I'll go through the express lane with a 30-pound box of lavender-scented giant band-aids. Nobody will notice. Do you need anything else?

Curmudgeonette: Um...

Me: What.

Curmudgeonette: Some root beer?


Curmudgeonette: Dad?

Me: I'll be home in half an hour.

Curmudgeonette: Thanks, dad.

Me: *click*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 13, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, that's got me giggling uncontrollably at my desk!

Posted by: slyness | July 13, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, too funny.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

That was great, Mudge. Funny and had the ring of truth. You'd better hope Curmudgeonette doesn't read the Boodle, though, or your life will be miserable. Worse than the phone call.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 13, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Mudge thats what makes you a great Dad!!

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse


All this time, and you've never seen Mrs. 'Mudge's brand?

Of course, you also have the perfect checkout line excuse for the string-bearing version: "The sailboat leaks."


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 13, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

You da man, Mudge.

I have to admit I did buy nursing pads and a box of diapers a few times, however, I've been lucky enough throughout my life to have been spared the embarrassment of ever buying:
1) My own underware.
2) a tube of Preparation-H.

Posted by: Pat | July 13, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

We are currently at the stage where the oldest just finished studying "family life" at school. The school in its infinite wisdom waits until the end of the year when the kids can barely concentrate to start this program.

It made for some funny dinner table conversations as my very open husband quizzed my reluctant daughter on what she learned at school today, it was a funny reply full of quiet whispers, hand signs for the terms she didn't want to say out loud and much complaining about how "gross" and embarrassing it all was.

The fact that they go to Catholic school makes it all the more amusing for me - hence the term "family life" as opposed to "Sex ed".

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 12:30 PM | Report abuse

That phone call, more or less, took place with not one, but TWO (count 'em) two of my three daughters, at one time or another, and once from my wife (who at least gave me explicit instructions on what to buy). And I have subsequently been asked to bring home what I (privately) refer to as Girly Vinaigrette, the Herbal Mountain Spring version, by Massengill, and I believe once in lilac.

I suspect the checkout clerks at Safeway believe me to be a deeply weird person. I'm not. I'm just a dad.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 13, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, that was wonderful.

Several years ago I had an older dog who had terrible allergies, and as a result would get "yeasty" ears and feet, which she would then chew on, like a weasle in a leg-hold trap. The only effective treatment was to rub Canestan cream into her paws. At the time we lived in a small town in the interior of British Columbia (the pharmacist was actually our next door neighbour!) so I'm sure everybody in town gossiped about what sort of lifestyle could lead a middle-aged woman to buy tube after tube, week after week, for three years.

Posted by: Stampede | July 13, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Terrifying comment piece in the Wall Street Journal today: research shows that parental interaction with adolescents is a good predictor of the kids' future romantic success. Apparently modeling "good relationship skills" to the teen, along with parenting skills encourages kids to develop good relationship skills of their own. They refer to the parent's relationship with the teen, by the way, not the parent's own romantic partners (or loyal opposition).

As if parenting didn't already provide enough to worry about.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 13, 2006 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, did they mention any definite do's or don't's?

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

SoC.. $150 a year. To park in the huge parking lot. I think that's what it costs; haven't gotten the bill yet.

The kids who don't get one of the 400 spots (the seniors go into a lottery; this year's senior class has 850 kids) park waaaay into the neighborhoods surrounding the school. Most of the nearby streets have permit-only parking to keep the kids from clogging them up.

There are some families who live pretty far away. The bus can take an hour, so driving is a good alternative even if they have to park almost a mile away.

It's $150 well spent if you ask me.

Posted by: TBG | July 13, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh, jeez...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 13, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I think they're some truth there. All that begging and pleading for the car and for a few bucks to spend at the mall prepared me for later life.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "there's: and "later in life"

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

SCCC: "there's"

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

...the sail boat leaks...brand specific...hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Off for a weekend in Wilmington...

Posted by: jack | July 13, 2006 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom... I'm sure that's true about parents and kids and future relationships.

I guess that parent/child relationship is the closest they'll get to an adult relationship. I mean, the close proximity and the sharing of a life: if you can make it work with them when they're young, they learn how to do it when they are older.

It's probably a matter of learning mutual respect, kindness, sharing, enjoying each other's company, etc.

Does that make sense?

Posted by: TBG | July 13, 2006 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Very well put TBG.

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, your story made my soil my monitor with coffee. But it was worth it.

Posted by: CowTown | July 13, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmm. No guest kits yet. Are we unworthy? Or just in need of greater editing?

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 13, 2006 1:39 PM | Report abuse

That's pretty much it, TBG. Nurturing, respectful conflict resolution, genuine liking & affection are encouraged. Also setting parent-child boundaries; apparently children who think of parents as friends or peers only, or who have to take on a parenting role, don't form role boundaries generally and are more likely to enter abusive or violent relationships. They recommend consistency and discourage lack of involvement and harshness.

All pretty much in the common-sense category. Fortunately it doesn't say anything bad about the use of sarcasm, irony, and deliberate attempts to misdirect attention. Besides, those teach valuable skills too!

ScienceTim, perhaps they're waiting until the posts number in the hundreds before throwing us fresh meat.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 13, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I can just see JA now, walking down the jetway, with a little thought bubble...

"Why do I have this nagging feeling I forgot something?"


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 13, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Tim, he is so flooded, I don't think he's had time to read them yet. and then there is all that packing for France stuff to do.

Ivansmom, In a lot of ways and for a billion reasons, I hope that study fails at least once, but just in case, I am going to add it to the list of things I pray about.

Posted by: dr | July 13, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Cut to Joel's desk. The desk is strewn with emails, most of which have red marks all over them. Joel mutters to himself what a bad idea this was, particularly when he already has a bazillion things to do before he's ready to go on vacation.

If I don't make the cut, all I have to do is use Word's "replace" feature to change "poop" to "kid" and maybe you'll see it on the Mommy Blog.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 1:51 PM | Report abuse

>Fortunately it doesn't say anything bad about the use of sarcasm, irony, and deliberate attempts to misdirect attention. Besides, those teach valuable skills too!

I see that Ivansmom has been sitting in on some G family dinners!

Posted by: TBG | July 13, 2006 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I picture Joel with red marks all over his computer screen. Isn't that how you edit emails?

Posted by: TBG | July 13, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

DR, I take the study in the same light I take most sociological things. Because it describes what often happens, or what should happen, one can always argue that it doesn't apply in any given particular situation.

Which is not to say that I won't pay attention to it, especially since it supports choices we've already made (such as, "Sorry, Boy, it is mommy's job to not give you everything you ask for").

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 13, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

mudge, that was hilarious.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 13, 2006 2:02 PM | Report abuse

A few years ago, at the beginning of my son's teenage years, we had a fight (rare, but they are nice and loud) that included his shouting: "You are a b*tch 98% of the time!"

After the dust had cleared and we were out enjoying a lone meal together (a great way to make up), I asked him if that was true. He thought about it and said, "No. You're only a b*tch 33% of the time."

My answer: "Good. Then I'm doing my job."

That 33% has become our benchmark.

Posted by: TBG | July 13, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

FYI, I heard from Joel a few minutes ago; he's literally five minutes away from getting in a cab to go to the airport. He mentioned he has the first week or so of guest kits already established, though he didn't mention any details. So some new kits will duly appear at some point.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 13, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Already I can relate, I get told occasionally I am the worst Mom in the world, my reply most often is "then I am doing my job". As these incidents most often happen when the girls are not getting what they want I figure it goes with the territory, however, I have learned to admit when I make mistakes and to apologize. If I can teach them one thing its that we all make mistakes, what is important is how we correct our errors. My hope is that by allowing them to make small mistakes the chances of making big ones will be smaller.

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 2:23 PM | Report abuse

you're a good dad, mudge.
When I was a young girl, 14 or so, I saw a tampon commercial that ticked me off. Right then and there I decided I was going to go into advertising to change the world through feminine products. I was true to my own promise. Got the degree. Marched right onto Madison avenue. Ready to represent women in the marketplace. First big account? Valvoline Oil. Spent a lifetime convincing men to buy oil and beer and women to buy bras and tampons. The day I can flip that around is the day I can consider myself a successful marketer! thanks again for the great story!

Posted by: loyallurker | July 13, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Hi, I'm new here. This is a great blog; I've been reading it for a couple of weeks.

I just had to comment on Curmudgeon's (Mudge's?) story. So, so funny. Just this morning I asked the teenage cashier at the grocery story to check the price on some Products. He was so embarrassed that he just gave them to me for the cheaper price. (Wasn't trying to pull a fast one...they really were on sale).

Posted by: widdershins | July 13, 2006 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I can hardly catch my breath for laughing so hard. You are the funniest man I've ever known. I was laughing so hard my feet were going up and down. I hope your daughters know what they have in having you for a dad. Excellent, just excellent.

Sonofcarl, I was referring to the time when there were riots in France, not too long ago. When the young people were setting cars and other things on fire. Perhaps it was not in Paris, but I thought it was in the country of France? Maybe my facts aren't correct? I was thinking perhaps Joel in talking to the folks there might get a personal slant on it? What they thought, felt, want, that type of thing. And if there is any correlation between the riots we experienced during the sixties and what they went through? Just want to know. It is too much because Joel is on vacation.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 13, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, this first article explains that the unrest was spark by the death of two youths:

While this one explains in more detail the conditions in which minotiries live in France (not good):

Posted by: omni | July 13, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reply, Cassandra. You're right about the riots being in Paris (and elsewhere). I see that omni has provided links on the background. I was thrown off by "the city burned", but it was (and is) certainly a very serious situation.

Personally I doubt most people as tourists really pick up on the full undercurrents of a culture while traveling. Joel is exceptionally perceptive, though.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reply, Cassandra. You're right about the riots being in Paris (and elsewhere). I see that omni has provided links on the background. I was thrown off by "the city burned", but it was (and is) certainly a very serious situation.

Personally I doubt most people as tourists really pick up on the full undercurrents of a culture while traveling. Joel is exceptionally perceptive, though.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Just a note to say I'm back after a week in the City of Brotherly Love, followed by an unexpected (as they ususally are) two-day trip to the other end of PA for a funeral. Don't have anything to contribute today--No kids to rag on/brag on/swear at/extol the virtues of, etc.

Posted by: ebtnut | July 13, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, ebtnut, tell us the IMPORTANT stuff: Pat's Steaks, or Geno's?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 13, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm amused by the level of angst, anxiety, and simple hard work that goes into us trying to get papa's... the Boss'... Joel's approval for guest kits. Notice how the Boodling has severely dropped off for the past four days, as all the would-be scribes (we know who we are) diligently work on offerings. And we expect Joel to crank out a winner every single day. Amazingly, he does. That's the difference between a pro and an amateur.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 13, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse

We should call the combined guest kits the Ugle Reader.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: The general consensus there seems to be Geno's, but just by a nose. I will admit (hanging shame-faced) that I did not personally partake of the Philly specialty this go-round. My dinners (when I had time) were either at the brew pub in Reading Terminal or at Maggiano's across the street from the hotel.

Posted by: ebtnut | July 13, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I don't know SciTim, many of the posts the scribes write (you know who you are) on an almost daily basis are great sometimes multiples in a day, they are sometimes mini-kits. I think perhaps the perception of the difference between writing a comment and a kit is what increases the anxiety, I am sure they will all be wonderful and worth the effort.

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Gee I hope my compliments didn't scare everyone away.

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm still here, dmd.

I turned in my homework early like a good boodler, so my only distractions are work related. Come on 8 o'clock!

Posted by: martooni | July 13, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Don't you hate it when work gets in the way of boodling.

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to widdershins and loyallurker!

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Grrr... Yup.

Stupid Puritans and their stupid "work ethic". I wonder if the thought ever crossed their minds that maybe they weren't being persecuted for their religion, but because they were irritating busy-bodies who expected everyone else to stop partying and be constructive and productive all the time.

Posted by: martooni | July 13, 2006 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the goofy hats and shoes.

Posted by: dmd | July 13, 2006 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I needed that 30-lb laugh, and so did those 30 eavesdroppers, I'm sure. Unfortunately the laugh won't last me two years.

On a quieter note: Will's column was excellent. It also explains why he's been off his conservative game recently. That makes the third column of his I've actually liked somewhat this year.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 13, 2006 7:11 PM | Report abuse

"Queer Eye: The Lost Episodes"

Act One: Scene One

Where we find the Puritans have landed on Plymouth Rock and are about to be greeted by a group of Indians.

Puritan 1 to Puritan 2: Hark!

Puritan 2 to Puritan 1: Hark? Dost thou havest some blocking in thine gimlet?

Puritan 1 to Puritan 2: Nay! Hark! Hark! Over there! On yonder hill! There are strange looking people coming this way! Hast thou e'er witnessed such silly garments? No black hats, no black pantaloons, no buckles on *anything*! Savages! (shivers)

Puritan 2 to Puritan 1: Nay, brother. Can't sayest that me hast. The feathers are a tad flashy, but those loin cloths look mighty comfy.

**(meanwhile, up on the hill)**

Indian 1 to Indian 2: How!

Indian 2 to Indian 1: How? How what?

Indian 1 to Indian 2: How! How! White man come across water, get out of big canoe!

Indian 2 to Indian 1: Dang! That some canoe! A brave could pickem up lots of squaws with canoe like that.

Indian 1 to Indian 2: Canoe cool. But look at silly clothing! Do they not know tanned hide is the new black? Me take it they missum smoke signal about hemline, too. Savages! (shivers)

Indian 2 to Indian 1: Ah, how! No breeze in *them* britches! Make it not so easy to poop like bear in woods, either.

Posted by: martooni | July 13, 2006 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Boy-oh-boy. Getting lots of programming done tonight. Yessiree. Lots and lots of code being written. The algorithms are just oozing out my fingertips.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to put this down in my time logs.


Research is always a good cover because you really don't need to have anything to show for it. Just say, "Sure was busy last night, Boss. I was researching how this approach might speed the system up, but it didn't work so I scrapped it. Guess we gotta try something else."

Posted by: martooni | July 13, 2006 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod: >Unfortunately the laugh won't last me two years

What, has your sentencing already happened? I would have thought two years was a slap on the wrist in all the circumstances. ;)

In other news, in some circles the Zizou controversy continues. Here's a funny link with some "different perspectives" on the incident:

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 13, 2006 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Amazing what one can do with video editing, eh, SonofCarl? Enjoyed that link. What the Americans saw was particularly good.

Posted by: Slyness | July 13, 2006 8:12 PM | Report abuse

SoC... I particularly liked the version of what the "French" saw.

Posted by: martooni | July 13, 2006 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the welcome, SonofCarl!

And being a Philly native, I must say that Jim's Steaks on South Street is far superior to Pat's and Geno's (the Cheez Whiz is from a JAR not a 55 gallon drum). You can order en Espanol as well.

Posted by: widdershins | July 13, 2006 9:03 PM | Report abuse

yes, thanks for the welcome, SonofCarl. With a group as intelligent and funny as all of you it's a little daunting to venture out of lurkerland.

Posted by: loyallurker | July 13, 2006 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey, widdershins, what part of Philly? (I had a steak at Jim's on South Street the last time I was in Philly.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 13, 2006 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I do believe that the manuel should work both ways. I always felt sorry for the girl-children that they weren't given a Book of Rules at birth.

Came upon #1 when she was about 18 mos. old, squeezing a juice box and laughing heartily as each drop, when it exited the straw at speed, hit the tiled floor and made a star-shaped splash. She spent some time filling in the wee spaces. She was surprised that Mum was not amused. So I stepped back a tich and reviewed the rules she knew so far (and also changed my brain). Nothing in there about spilling drinks and observing the physics of the thing. We both got a box and splashed to our hearts' content, and then wiped up the spills with a damp cloth.

#2, at roughly 9 mos., belly laughed at a musical joke. Ausgeseichnet! She cared not at all that it was 35 degrees C. in the shade, in the car, and we were making our way home in Montreal's rush hour. Just when I was ready to melt down, she saved me.

Should there not be a kit about what we learn from our children?

Posted by: Stampede | July 13, 2006 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Stampede you are right a kit about what we learn from the kids would be great. There is something wonderful in their wisdom.

Two of my favorite lessons from the kids, no matter how big the problem a piece of candy will almost always make it better. The second is more important be specific in your instruction giving them crayons/markers and saying why don't you go do some colouring is dangerous unless you specify where they are to colour, on the table, only on the paper, do not colour walls, furniture, yourself etc.

Posted by: dmd | July 14, 2006 6:44 AM | Report abuse


I foresee a little cognitive dissonance if the little colorers have ever heard the parents talking about "wallpaper."

LC's Right Brain: Mama said no coloring on the walls, only on paper.

LC's Left Brain: Mama said there's paper on the walls!

LC's Right Brain: Is SpongeBob on?

LC's Left Brain: We could color SpongeBob on the wallpaper!

LC's Right Brain: Only if you let me color inside the lines this time.

LC's Left Brain: That's not art, that's copying!

LC's Right Brain: Oooh, look -- cookies!


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 7:43 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: Scottynuke | July 14, 2006 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Well when you name your kids Kit and Boodle, their gonna have a few issues.

Posted by: ErrinF | July 14, 2006 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Yo Curmudgeon...I'm from East Oak Lane--North on Broad, about a mile before Cheltenham.

Philly is favorite city, though I admit bias. I haven't had a good pretzel since I moved.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 14, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Oops, um, that last post was from me. Still learning the ropes...

Posted by: widdershins | July 14, 2006 9:41 AM | Report abuse

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