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The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

I went to see my friend Michael Lewis last night at Politics & Prose (you remember him from our journey to see Hunter Thompson), and in the course of discussing his new book, "The Blind Side," he pointed out a fundamental difference between baseball and football: Football is impossible to watch.

What he means is, you can't really tell what's happening as the play unfolds. It's too complicated. Sure, you can see that the quarterback completed a pass for a first down, or a running back plowed up the middle for four yards, and so on, but it's impossible to discern all the machinations that went into the play -- the defensive formations, the blocking assignments, the decoys, the audibles at the line, the missed blocks and missed tackles, and so on. That's 22 players moving at high speed and in elaborate patterns. And the play itself may last only three or four seconds. Your brain is overmatched.

"The Blind Side" opens with an exquisite dissection of a play that lasts just four and a half seconds, and it's one of the most famous and gruesome in the history of professional football. Monday Night Football, 1985, Joe Theismann is back to pass, Lawrence Taylor comes flying in out of nowhere and hits him from his blind side. Theismann's leg snaps and he never plays again.

Redskins fans will be intrigued to read that Theismann has always believed that the great Joe Jacoby was his left tackle on that play, assigned to guard his blind side. Not so, Lewis reports: Jacoby was on the sideline in street clothes. Jacoby had a bum knee. The reader interprets Theismann's error as a sign that, in 1985, the left tackle position was not considered that important. Linemen were linemen. They were big, anonymous brutes. Lewis shows how that changed, how the game evolved, and how today the left tackle has become, on average, the second-highest paid player on the team after the QB. These big linemen, who are rarely seen on TV and who don't show up in the statistics, now make more than running backs and wide receivers.

But all that is just the backstory for "The Blind Side." It's Lewis's best book because -- in addition to the "Moneyball"-like investigation of how a pro sport values its players -- it has this extraordinary Pygmalion story at its core. It's about Michael Oher, born to a crack addict in Memphis, essentially homeless throughout his childhood, bounced from school to school. He's almost a feral child. But a friend named Big Tony takes him across town one day to an evangelical academy. Oher winds up adopted by a rich white family (to the discomfort of some of their white friends and relatives, who can't quite handle this huge black kid being in the family Christmas card). The mother takes over Oher's life and tries to teach him all the things that a person must know to survive in that part of Memphis (as Lewis said last night, "The Bible is important, but so is Tiffany's.") And meanwhile, football scouts decide that he's the next great offensive left tackle. A future multi-millionaire.

Years ago Lewis wrote a book called "Liar's Poker," about his tenure as a fresh-out-of-college investment banker at Salomon Brothers. Although we were college classmates I didn't really know him then. I declared with great confidence that he'd never write anything so good again. Because he would never be an insider again, never have that kind of access, that much great material. Clearly obsessed with that pessimistic prediction, he has dedicated his career to proving me wrong. And so he has, repeatedly. Enough, I say. Point taken.


Science news: Here's how John Mather figured out the structure of the early universe and won the Nobel Prize. Not bad for a civil servant of your federal government.

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 6, 2006; 7:59 AM ET
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Michael Lewis is so talented that he scares me.

Posted by: chris | October 6, 2006 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I am convinced that football is why instant replay was developed, and that without instant replay the sport would never have become so wildly popular on television.

I will put "The Blind Side" on my list of books to read.

And I will overlook that "not bad for a civil servant" crack.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 6, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

It is intended as a compliment of the civil servants of our government but I guess tone is a tricky thing with a line like that.

Chris, yes, Michael has scary talent. He must be stopped.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 6, 2006 9:42 AM | Report abuse

No umbrage taken Joel! In fact, a common joke I tell is that one of the worst things about being an employee of the federal government is the number of government employees one must deal with.

Look, I didn't say it was a good joke.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 6, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I read the excerpt from "The Blind Side" in SI... Excellent piece of explanation, although I was already aware of the need for effective blind-side pass protection.

JA, you know better than to attempt a tone with all the civil service writers that frequent the Boodle... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

'Clearly obsessed with that pessimistic prediction, he has dedicated his career to proving me wrong.'

Aha, you are the man behind the man, so to speak. Having given him a lifetime of motivation, he owes you at least a beer at the ball park, maybe two.

Posted by: dr | October 6, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

So is that where the term "blindsided" comes from, the Theismann incident?

Someday in ages hence when they're talking about words:
"Guge, these romans had a word for killing every tenth man!"
"Guge, These so-called civilized Yanks had a word for hitting people from the side when they can't see."

Of course, they won't question why they STILL have those words in their language from those so-called barbarian ancestors ;).

The sky is all too tangible this morning, with a cold wet drizzle tapping on people to remind them that Clouds Are Hard.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse


I was going to tell Pat my sky report was thwarted by little balls of water hitting me in the face as I looked up, but ya beat me to it.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 10:08 AM | Report abuse

"Not bad for a civil servant of your federal government."
Humm, we should have reduced expectations from our civil servants I guess.
I read the excerpts too RD, this is a pretty good story. This kid got a great break. He could be dead by now otherwise as he would likely end as an enforcer of some sort, given his size. I think it's fair that freaks of nature should get millions of dollars. If I were a 6ft 11 freakishly talented basketball player or a 350lbs kid with huge thighs, speed and stamina I would certainly required to be compensated for the duress. (Just too bad that deaf gnomes don't get the same treatment ;)Wilbrod)

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 6, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Too bad there's not a job that requires the ability to focus and do artwork/sign in extremely loud conditions and not have to duck whenever balls or trays of glasses whiz overhead, Shrieking.

Otherwise, I'd have that job sewn right up, no question.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I give up.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 6, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Puffy clouds are hurrying north to south this morning, seeming to have incurred damage from the unusual direction. The trip has frayed their edges, as if a nervous hand has been worrying them, leaving scattered whisps everywhere.

Plus, it's darn cold here, the plumber promises to have the heat reconnected this weekend, if he doesn't, I'm going to have to learn how to type while wearing mittens.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 6, 2006 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Joel has been giving excellent links lately in both the kit and the boodle. I want to connect the dots between two. I have been reading Michael Kinsley since his New Republic days and he always has a fresh original perspective that is not rehashed talking points. After he left Salon, he was at the LA Times, and was one of the first rats to leave that sinking ship.

The hand-writing on the wall about Jeffrey Johnson was pretty clear to all. He might as well have been having a flag at the barricades. The tragedy with his ill wife just makes the Dickensian arc of this tale of greed that much more poignant.

The evisceration of the Baltimore Sun at the hands of Chicago Tribune beancounters is nearly complete as well. It seems the fight between old media and new media is not helped by the barrage of (not so) friendly fire from behind the lines.

Liar's Poker is a brilliant book, but I avoided Moneyball because I am not much of a sports fan. I think I will have to get Blind Side on reserve at the library. Thanks for the endorsement Joel. It's good to have the opinion of people you trust. I am nearly 100 pages into Calamity Physics and it's been rough road so far, but I think I'm about at the point where things pick up.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 6, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Lewis's "Wading Toward Home" about Katrina is still available at the NY Times.
Football is kind of like going to the orchestra. Most of the music is so complex, and the things that can happen during a performance so numerous (any number of possible musicians' bloopers, conductor's choices, general alertness level of the conductor, etc)--that a dumb non-trained audience member like me has to treat it like football. Most of the stuff going on won't even register. No instant replays, even. And heaven help us if some expert starts doing reviews during intermission (really scary that someone could actually do it. We have too many electronic gadgets). That said, it was really neat to watch Marin Alsop walk up to the podium and, without the usual pause, launch into a quick, brisk, non-monumental duh-duh-duh-DA for Beethoven's Fifth. The old approach was to get everyone into a suitably reverent mood, then stretch out the famous notes as long as possible (maybe something to do with World War II?)

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 6, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

It's kits (or any discussions) like these (about sports) that force me to go into "ultra-manly mode" because of my unnatural apathy as a hetero man towards sports.

I tried, really, to be a sports fan. Dad sure wanted it that way. I came from a family of diehard Steelers fans -- an uncle of mine actually painted his house black and gold -- and I remember forcing myself to sit and watch games with them. Maybe I just didn't "get it". Maybe if it was two hours of watching the cheerleaders instead of very large men slamming into each other, then patting each other on the butt... I was a closet Cowboys fan back then, solely because they had the hottest looking cheerleaders.

No... I was more interested in chasing girls and playing guitar.

I can hit a ball, mind you, and I can catch one if I'm in the mood -- I'm not some uncoordinated geek who slaps himself silly and falls down every time someone tosses him a ball. But I'm not very fast, nowhere near tall enough, and my center of gravity seems to be growing exponentially (damn you, Taco Bell and your 1/2 lb. burritos).

I guess my disinterest is due to my inability to participate in any useful way.

So I tend to overemphasize the "manly" things I *can* do whenever these topics come up. Like building things, fixing things, knowing who has the best prices on lumber. It always comes back to the lumber. And then I catch myself humming the "Lumberjack Song" from Monty Python right up until the "we wear women's clothing" part. At that point I run to my workshop and pick up the manliest tool known to man -- a hammer -- and start randomly beating on scraps of wood.

To hell with football, I say. I want to see "Monday Night Fun with Power Tools -- Let's Build a Shed!".

Posted by: martooni | October 6, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Liar's Poker was a great read. I know very little of football. My dad & I watched it when I was small, and the sound of televised football is like the ocean: various sounds, some loud, some more subtle, in waves. Very soothing.

The clouds are almost uniform gray, with small variations in texture. The light makes the beginnings of fall colors seem more luminous than they would in full daylight. The Virginia Creeper on tree trunks has turned scarlet, making the trunks more noticable than the canopy.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 10:36 AM | Report abuse

In Florida, palms and cycads are boy toys. I guess the ultimate satisfaction would be to move a big spiny-leafed cycad named "Encephalartos horridus" from someone else's yard to yours. You'd need a big pickup truck and some friends. Maybe even safety glasses and hard hats to minimize spine damage.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 6, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse


Editor and Publisher has a good summary of the Herald-Hiaasen kerfuffle. Normally, I would be on the side of the publisher, but it seems this was a post facto policy change. Whenever Castro is involved the normal rules of ethical behaviour are almost always reversed.

Speaking of Hiaasens, Carl's brother Rob has a very funny meta-take on starting a blog and gives props to the Achenblog in defiance of his corporate masters.,0,5522636.story?coll=bal-modernlife-headlines

I want to know what his boodle handle is or if he's just a lurker. That's my two link limit so I have to go.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 6, 2006 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, your comment (which I completely concur with in my heart) reminds me of when a jock told me he wasn't handy at all. I asked him, "What is the difference between hitting a nail with a hammer and a baseball with a bat?" He said... "I DO NOT KNOW?"

It just is. My personal suspicion is that nobody goes into riotous cheering if you drive a nail home in one blow.

On the other hand, baseball is just slow, social, and you don't really get anything done that stands the test of time.

With a well-built birdhouse for cardinals, you'll be feeling satisified for years every time you see the birds tweet in and out. (Or should the word be "card?"). That's the artistic drive to accomplish.

While sports is more about the moment of performing and the attention obtained for ability. Accomplishment is measured in numbers, not in aethestics. A particularly graceful slip from a tackle wins no extra points.

Now to why most men dislike figure skating (other than a hidden convinction that the male skaters are 90% gay) has to be the lack of coherent standards, head-on-head competition that makes it easy to visually judge who won... (if you had two skaters try to outdo each other on the ice in the same routine, that might appeal).

Or maybe it's just that ultimately, all sports is about achieving the goal no matter how many ugly guys on the other side are out to stop you.

In that case, artists working in a minefield might get higher ratings from male viewers than figure skating.

We must analyze this and develop the perfect sport that us "Home again" fans could endure to watch and spontaneously get those sports fan thinking using hammers and so on might be really cool.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 10:51 AM | Report abuse

civil servants:

True story about an uncle said at his recent eulogy. He was a supervisor for highway construction and maintenance and one morning a two man crew called to report that they were in location but forgot their shovels. Deadpan response from my uncle: "Okay, I'll come out to your location. In the meantime just lean against each other until I get there with your shovels."

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

If they were still remembering his comment at his funeral, SoC, I hope that means those workers never forgot their shovels again.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Dave of the Coonties, your description of moving a cycad sounds like it could be used in a commercial for one of those enourmous pickup trucks that one sees so many of during football season (the commercials, I mean - the trucks are around all year). Instead ripping off your neighbor's garage door, move a huge, spiny plant.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

There are many ways to be *blindsided*:

In his 2004 book, "Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness," a moving and engrossing memoir, veteran television news producer Richard Cohen relates a life spent dealing with multiple sclerosis, first diagnosed when he was 25 years old and just getting started in the competitive world of broadcast journalism. As his career progressed, he struggled not only with the disease but the touchy question of how much of the truth about himself to share with colleagues and potential employers.

Cohen spent much of his life running from the onset of the disease's symptoms from which his father [a physician] and grandmother also suffered. Defiantly, he took challenging, sometimes extremely dangerous assignments in Lebanon, Poland, and on the domestic political campaign trail, even as his body deteriorated.

But over the course of "Blindsided," it becomes apparent that illness had actually built Cohen up even as it ripped him apart. Without the physical and mental toughness required to navigate a journalist's life while fighting back loss of eyesight and poor equilibrium, it's doubtful that the flaky kid we meet early in the book would transform into the award-winning professional Cohen eventually becomes.

His marriage to journalist Meredith Vieira [new anchor on Today's NBC's news morning show, replacing Katie Couric], every bit his equal as both newshound and deadpan cynical comic, gave Cohen the stable family life and children he needed when MS made it impossible to continue in a traditional news job.

But two bouts with colon cancer in the late 1990s tested his resolve and his family's patience. While Cohen is both courageous and inspirational, "Blindsided" is not the overly sentimental clichéd tale that stories about fighting illness often become. He refuses to paint himself as the hero (except when making fun of his own failure to be heroic) and recounts in detail the strain that he put on his marriage and children.

Stories such as this often end with the memoirist arriving at a state of peace and mental clarity but again Cohen remains more compelling and credible by offering no such pat answers. As with most people fighting to preserve their families, their lives, and their bodies, Richard Cohen's is an ongoing struggle.

Posted by: Loomis | October 6, 2006 11:00 AM | Report abuse

FYI, scotty, I almost agree with your comment in the previous boodle (I agree with it in spirit, anyway) that the coach on the losing side might have forfeited the game rather than continue to get drubbed by that [expletive deleted] on the other team. However, you almost certainly are unaware that in a lot of sports (I know it to be true in both high school baseball and football) if a coach pulls his team off the field, he's the one who gets in trouble (suspended or fired), not the other team who might have prompted it. This comes up more often when a coach gets super-ticked at an umpire or referee's decision about something, and pulls his/her team. Big No-No. Whoever the reviewing authority is--the league, the school district, the sports league board of directors, whoever--immediately forgets all about the initial cause of complaint, and they just blast the coach who defaults. So, yes, that coach in the story pretty much had no choice but to stand there and take it. Unfortunately. That's why he had the pow-wow with his other coaches to decide what if anything to do. "Walking" wasn't an option, and they all knew that. Even refraining from shaking hands might have gotten them in trouble, though no jury on earth would have "convicted" them. The theory is, even if one player or team does something grossly unsportsmanlike, the other team isn't supposed to respond in kind. And there's a certain amount of sense to that, even if it's hard to do in actual practice. But them's the rules.

(In part to take care of this problem, some sports have a so-called "slaughter rule," whereby if one team is leading the other by X number of points at Y point of the game, the game is automatically terminated. For instance, in Little League baseball tournaments, there's a first-round slaughter rule that says if one team is losing by 10 runs by the end of the 4th inning, the game is over early. So a team may intentionally try to run up the score to get 10 runs ahead. This is NOT considered to be unsportsmanlike, and is widely accepted. But in the absence of a slaughter rule, otherwise running up the score engenders the worst insult one team or player can hurl upon another: "Bush league.")

Wilbrod, "blindsided" goes back to the 1600s according to some etymology sources, and was used in football well before Theisman.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Joel.. excellent Kit, but you forgot to include any Chinese characters.

Watching football has changed dramatically since the introduction of Tivo into our lives. Gave up the season tickets since Mr. G would rather sit at home with his Pause, Rewind and Slow-Mo buttons.

We don't even start watching the Redskin games until they've been on for at least a half-hour.

And if the phone rings, we have to answer with, "We're not in real time; don't mention the game!" I can't even Boodle during games for fear that someone (read: Mudge) might mention the outcome.

I guess you could say we watch the Redskins in Boodle Time (usually about 30-45 minutes behind "real" time)

Posted by: TBG | October 6, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

ahhh, martooni - you are SO not alone!! my hubster was born in the land of "footie" (as the Brits affectionately call that which we think of as soccer) and really doesn't like it. or cricket. or rugby. it really makes him the odd man out every 4 years when the rest of this part of the world becomes completely insane about the World Cup.

there are loads of men like you guys out there - and we women who are married to you love you for it!! I can think of nothing worse than being a football/soccer/cricket/baseball/hockey widow.

btw ... sky report - it's BLUEBLUEBLUE!!! after 2 days of grey, drizzly, frankly London-like weather, the sun has decided to make it back to town in time for the weekend!!

Posted by: lurking in london | October 6, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt, what a great attaboy from the Roblog! Let's keep that on the short list of Friends of Achenblog (maybe it's actually the charter member). I am also glad to see that Carl H. is still causing trouble down in Miami. He could have quit columnizing years ago and just lived off the book royalties and whatnot, but he keeps going.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 6, 2006 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I had wondered about the seeming lack of a slaughter rule in HS football. Thanks, Mudge.
I think if one team is 60 points ahead by halftime, there SHOULD be a slaughter rule in place for the referees to call game over. I know football games are timed, unlike baseball games, but football is not that safe to play.

The slaughter rule is totally necessary. A little league game in which one side can't seem to get the other side out could continue for a very, very long time. I've played innings that lasted for over 30 minutes.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Earlier this year, my son's school was on the giving end of a football butt-whipping. Their version of the "slaughter rule" is that in the second half of the game, the clock did not stop for any of the usual silly reasons. The second have took just over 30 minutes to play. The other team did manage to get a mercy score and no single game records were broken.

There was a lot of worry as the bored fans began to take out their frustration of watching a boring overmatch on each other. Cops were called, gates were locked, but ultimately nothing to make headlines.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 6, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse


I know that aspect of forfeiting, never fear. But that's part of the point; the coach knew his charges were being abused and humiliated for the worst of reasons. A principled stand on their behalf would (I fervently hope) be a source of considerable praise among his community, if not the reviewing authority.

Then again, I'm a hopeless romantic, so...


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the football players should have just decided to sit down and drink hot cocoa on the field while the other team went amok scoring. ;).

"What can I do, they got bored of playing."

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 11:16 AM | Report abuse

No umbrage taken JA, but most people do have reduced expectations from public service employees. I forgot the sky report this morning, now that we KNOW that Pat is really bling and not an attention seeking cross dressing free-spending pederast or whatever the wailing harpies were calling him we can go on with the reports. Blue skies all-over this morning, not a whiff nor a puff of cloud in sight. The air has the clean, crisp quality of autumn. Great flights of geese cross the sky in near silence, just the occasional honk to signal their intentions or to chat about the weather.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 6, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

catching up from yesterday. had a great time at the BPH. wish i had gotten one of those cheeseburgers. they looked real good, but i didn't know that when i ordered. oh well. it was cool to meet everyone, and wilbrod's sculptural reproduction of scottynuke was unbelievable. and so fast.

cassandra, perhaps you are feeling off because superfrenchie hasn't been pestering you for the last few days, and you are feeling that he might not like you anymore. ;-). i hope you cheer up, and have a much better week next week, since this one seems to be going so poorly for you.

Re: george will. i've only been reading his stuff for a couple months, but my senior year, his son was a new kid in my boy scout troop, and he was a great kid. smart, respectful, inquisitive, and a quick learner, so i can at least say that george will is a good parent (but don't let anyone at the mommy blog hear me say that).

Posted by: sparks | October 6, 2006 11:19 AM | Report abuse

SCC Pat is really bling... Yo' the man Pat.

I hereby make Wailing Harpie available as a Boodle handle.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 6, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Asthma always kept me on the margins of the sports I participated in. My bro was the athletic one. Anyway, soccer turned into to somethng I could do, but I still sat the bench, 'cause I didn't have the stamina. FFWD to college: We were the doormats of our div. 3 league (SUNYAC), playing a squad that was up on us 4 nil at the half and 7 nil by the time I got the call. Freezing cold,I had my hands in the waistband of my sweats to keep warm. Getting the call from our Irish assistant coach, I reported into the game. With my back to the stands, I remowed my sweatpants. The coach said: "Jackie, I know you're execited to get into the game, but I think you had better go in with your shorts on." Thankfully, none of the 300 or so in attendance saw my better side.

Posted by: jack | October 6, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Oooooooooooh, you should go over to Fisher's blog and see all the empathy (NOT!!!!!!) on display about the "record."


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Yup, Pat's really bling, alright!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I made the mistake at my first BPH, too. These cheeseburgers were flame-grilled, MUCH better than Mickey D's burgers.

BTW, not to exaggerate my speed of sculpture, I had come with a prepared head (on a carved foam ball base, so light) that I hoped would be as adaptable as possible to a few different faces. As it turned out, 2 sculptures was enough, especially when I got my cheeseburger, or Mudge would have gotten an eyeful of a Mini-Mudge and so on.

I believe you on George Will, Sparks. Opininated political commentators don't make bad parents or my dad would have sucked too. (He just didn't get PAID for political rants, though.)

Also, I recognized you from the BPH you missed out on last time so had no problems knowing you must be Sparks.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

In HS we once beat a team 77-0. Short of actually calling the game, sometimes there's not much you can do. We were on third string QB etc.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Martooni (or, "the man who is considering not being martooni any longer" -- how's that handle-change coming?), I suspect that many guys obsess over sports in order to compensate for an inability to "hit" the nail effectively with their "hammer." And let's not even go to a discussion of "sawing wood" or "cutting mortises." It's just too sordid.

"Theismann" should be a noun. "He really did a theismann on the QB." "That would have been a powerful theismann, but it was blocked by Gargantua the Steroid-Monster." Football would be improved if we acknowledged the physical freakishness of the players by giving them really cool nicknames. "The Refrigerator" is a start, barely. They already have masks and costumes. They should go the extra mile, and make it more like Mexican masked wrestling. Mucha lucha!

Figure skating would benefit enormously if it were recast as an ice-skating version of one of the great Olympic Sports of antiquity, the pankration: an all-out, all-against-all battle. Oh, wait, we already have hockey. Never mind.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | October 6, 2006 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Didn't arena football allow the players to have nicknames on their jerseys at one point?

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Ha, I remember reading Lewis' "The New, New Thing" about Jim Clark (in fact, I keep a copy of it in my office), SGI, Netscape, Healtheon and the good ship Hyperion (and whatever came after it).

As far as football watching goes, I *do* pay attention to the details as much as possible. I try to watch blocking (line and downfield), whether cornerbacks play "up" or leave a cushion, how quarterbacks call audibles, execute fakes, misdirection and ball exchanges, defensive switches and indicators (e.g. linebackers and defensive backs "showing" blitz, and the d-line alignment and adjustment), ball carriers taking care of the ball as well as the ability to adjust to holes and take advantage of blocking.

Local Washington NFL Franchise notes: the WaPo has noted it today, but I've been a big fan of Clinton Portis since he was in Denver. He's one of the best in the game away from the ball, has an uncanny knack for finding holes, and maximizing the gain from any given block when carrying the ball. For NFL junkies (like Joe Gibbs) he's the equivalent of football p0rn.

I'd add that if possible, keep an eye on kicker John Hall when he's doing kickoffs. He's been asked to refrain from contact these days because of his value as a kicker, but he's made more downfield hits than any kicker I can remember. I've seen him absolutely blow up blockers and ball carriers who don't expect a linebacker wearing a low number and helmet with so few face bars.


Posted by: bc | October 6, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Tim says "the pankration: an all-out, all-against-all battle. Oh, wait, we already have hockey" Tssk tssk, this is old hockey. In the new post-strike hockey players resolve their conflicts by a frank discussion of their deep feelings over cups of green tea.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 6, 2006 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I LOVE watching the Capitals play hockey live. Speed, focus, intensity-- football is like a group of lumbering hippos doing a complicated, clumsy dance routine in comparsion.

I vote for football players wearing painted logos on their backs (shirts or pants, whatever). It'd make 'em easier to keep track of... "Hey, that refrigator guy got tackled by the alligator guy!" And the coaches should wear outrageous outfits too.

As it is, the uniforms make them look as anonymous as Star Wars Imperial troopers.

But not to get sidetracked, I wanted to share this post from Slate:

Undergrad and grad study in physics only encompasses 7 years, mostly on math and experimentation.

Somebody who has studied a specific field of physics for 30 years as a hobby is going to know a lot more about various aspects than an apple-cheeked post-doc, so this does not surprise me.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

whyrlegyge, my old XFL jersey used to read "She Hate Me" on the back.

Also, don't get Mudge started on the topic of Theismann. Talk about umbrage!


Posted by: bc | October 6, 2006 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Whoa! I went over and read the Fisher blog you linked, scotty. Folks, don't go there. It's the testosterone version of the Mommyblog, and it ain't pretty. There's a handful of about five or six guys who...well, I admit it doesn't take much, but they give a certain muscular, hairy gender a bad name. And there are one or two who might actual go all the way to "cretin" level.

Wilbrod, a Mini-Mudge???? Noooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!! AAAAIIIiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee!!!!
I don't think the world is ready for it. God knows, I'm not.

(And remember, there are people trying to eat their dinners nearby. And guys trying to pick up girls. Please have some consideration for innocent bystanders.)

(Anyway, you haven't got enough clay. :-P )

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Re: wilbro's post:
But not to get sidetracked, I wanted to share this post from Slate:

Undergrad and grad study in physics only encompasses 7 years, mostly on math and experimentation.

Somebody who has studied a specific field of physics for 30 years as a hobby is going to know a lot more about various aspects than an apple-cheeked post-doc, so this does not surprise me.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 11:43 AM

I think Alan Sokal's point is sort of missing the mark. What Collins did was to show that a layperson could, given enough energy, intelligence, time & interest, learn an abstruse subject well enough to have an intelligent conversations with pros in the field. Sokal warns that other laypeople could be fooled. Different issues.
If anyone's read the recent bio of James Tiptree Jr., there is a quote from Rudolf Arnheim regarding people who don't have credentials being treated as cranks.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Um, I didn't mean that the WaPo has noted that *I'm* a fan of Clinton Portis, but that he's a great player when he's carrying the ball or not:

Serves me right for trying to do several things at once. Thinking *should* be one of them.


Posted by: bc | October 6, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

wilbrod, i believe it was george carlin who pointed out that coaches are only required to wear the uniform in baseball. i used to wonder about that as a kid. not so much why the coaches didn't have to wear the uniform in other sports as why they did in baseball. we all know joe torre looks ridiculous in that getup, although some of them pull it off okay. although, it /would/ be kinda funny to see joe gibbs in shoulder pads and a jersey.

Posted by: sparks | October 6, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

The most lop-sided college football game in history was Georgia Tech over Cumberland 222-0. John Heisman was the coach and he was avenging a 22-0 baseball loss from the previous year. Heisman is a hero they named a trophy after. Sometimes arrogance pays.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 6, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm reading the actual paper analyzing the implications of the experiment, and it's really a lot like how I manage to talk about sound/music/whatever.

Likewise, a person born blind also seeks out to learn as much about sight and learns about the various properties of objects so the person can handle discussion relating to visual material.

Both approaches tend to be much more analytical and errors will be made on a frequent basis; the quality of the "socialisation" is directly dependent on access and accurate feedback from experts or cultural informants.

Also, the bluff can only be made via language, not identifying actual phenemona.

Which is why all those language-based tests are worthless for measuring actual experience, unless Dooley designs those tests or something. He's done right to make labs a major emphasis of his classes.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse

pictures from the 10th Official DC BPH (not to be confused with the TBG traveling BPH) (sorry, no pics of omni cuz he had already left and no pics of wilbroddog - he WAS working after all!)

what fun the bph was! as the others i was concerned about the communication challenge we had but that made it even MORE fun! i stunned everyone with straight hair (my hair is usually a long curly mass of unmanagability) - they almost didn't recognize me! (grin) G jnr. is a great kid and fit in perfectly! what an intelligent, outgoing guy! we had the sign up for newbies and it became the talk of the bar - everyone trying to figure out what BPH meant, so much so that one guy even came up to us to ask... (i forgot what the guy said the consensus was). i didn't get the burger this time opting instead for crawfish ettoufee... YUMMMMM!! and omni - don't worry about the bill - but that at least explains what happened, cuz i was thinking, "sheesh! that's some expensive ettoufee!"

Posted by: mo | October 6, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Football Trivia: The CFL's Grey Cup was first awarded in 1909. What was the only U.S. team to have ever won it? (Hint: 1995)(no Google honor system - answer next)

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

darn! my server ate my comment (this time the problem WASN'T the wapo server!)

here are the pics - i'll try and redo what my post said...

Posted by: mo | October 6, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Football Trivia: The CFL's Grey Cup was first awarded in 1909. What was the only U.S. team to have ever won it? (Hint: 1995)(no Google honor system - answer next)

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

In other words, I would have LOVED to see the pros assign Collins the job of diagramming how to design a gravitional wave detector and ask technical questions on the level of "which nail does the hammer hit?"

Or, if Collin had managed to write a paper claiming some fresh research (maybe something he actually DID do) and sneak it past peer review, that'd rock.

Papers in science journals need to be peer-reviewed for the precise reason that it's hard to know if somebody's pulling a fast one until a peer goes over the paper in detail. That said, I've seen scientists sit down and sweat how to write their data up into research articles.

They often, when writing the abstract or introduction go and look for papers on similar subjects and look at the terminology used to:
1) help them find the words for what they want to say
2) fit in with the general tone in their field
3) cite all papers that might be connected and put their own spin if they must repeat points made by others
4) get the style and format in a form that might get them into a science journal more easily-- after all those papers are "successful" papers. The research etc. is their own-- they're not plagarizing IDEAS.

Still, mimicry is prevalent when talking about science.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Baltimore Stallions

sorry for double post)

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Great shots, mo!!! *applause*

I promise, I'll get mine up ASAP this weekend! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

*sigh* clearly i'm having puter issues...

i can't stand football, i think it's deadly boring - i LOVE baseball (my yankees lost last nite - *pout* thanks again for the news 'snuke) and hockey... but i DID see the clip of the tackle heard round the world and i wince everytime i see it (i had a skiing accident which busted up my left knee and three subsequent surgeries)

Posted by: mo | October 6, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Hi, team! First things first -- Slyness, I was so sorry to read about your family's loss. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Mo, thanks for the *great* BPH pictures! I was very sorry to miss it. I ended up coming back from New York yesterday after all. But it was an action-packed couple of days, and (I counted) I got a combined six hours of sleep on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Tried to sleep in the train on the way home, but you know how it is -- a million conversations going on all around you, not enough leg room to stretch 'em out, constant unnecessary announcements from the conductor, nagging preoccupation with what the answer could possibly be to 7 down in the NYT crossword and total inability to just LET IT GO . . .

Upshot is that I walked through my door at 4:00, gave the dog some love and a walk around the block, and then said, "Before I set out for the BPH, I'm just going to stretch out on the sofa and close my eyes for five minutes."

Next thing I knew it was midnight.

Any plans on the books yet for the next one?

Posted by: annie | October 6, 2006 12:33 PM | Report abuse

We missed you Annie, but you were better off getting the rest in.

Is Dooley showing up tonight for the BPH? I dimly recall this whole quick BPH was so he could meet the DC area boodlers, but for some reason it wound up on Thursday and Dooley could only do Friday. He might be too busy to porch anyhow?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Here is another detail regarding Mather and his very nice Swedish Prize. Mather also teaches part-time as an adjunct at UMCP (cheer for the great unwashed who teach the nation's children --- for peanuts, candy-coated popcorn, peanuts and a PRIZE).

I am happy to report that my 8 AM tech writing class knew all about this event. Mather is a wonderful teacher and very kind to students. "Even dumb ones, " quipped a little chipmunk of a math major.

Should I explain chipmunk? Do I offend anyone? Said student is perky every morning, without carrying in a cup of coffee-fortification. He tries his best. So, "chipmunk" is good.

Why bother to explain? OK. Last comment about On Balance blogging, because my recovery is nearly complete. "Chipmunk" applied to a person, could be a fighting word.

Pat -- Wilbrod vouched for your reality on the Balance Blog. I suppose that a link to Mo's fun slideshow could convince others. But then, you know, PhotoShop IS a powerful program....

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

1) Is there in fact a BPH tonight, Dooley or no Dooley, or is the answer to that question Dooley-specific?

2) Is there anybody rich, out there in Boodleland? Here's why I ask. My sister-in-law is staying with me for a couple of weeks starting on Sunday. She is an artist of some renown and has a show at a gallery in Georgtown. THe opening bash is Friday (which also happens to be her birthday).

She is under strict instructions from her parents to take herself, me, and her sister (who will also be my houseguest) out for fabulous meal, on them, at the best restaurant in town. I tried the old "You know, my favorite meal in the world is kung pao chicken," routine, and they're not buying it. It has to be a place where you get dressed up to go.

So . . . at their hard-to-fool insistence, I am mulling the restaurants that have been lingering on my life's to-do list. But I need guidance. The last time someone wanted to take me for a slap-up meal, I foolishly chose Cafe Milano, for no better reason than you're always reading in Reliable Source about people being spotted there. Now Milano, where people go to see and be seen, is the corollary to my rule about restaurants with stunning views. The food was bad. Not just "not all that." Actively bad.

I am considering Galileo, Citronelle, and Tosca, but am worried now that they are all hype, too.

Any rich foodies our there? Long shot, I know, since we're all, what was it, "pointy-heads?" But worth a shot.

Also, don't want to have to drive (just in case I decide I want some wine :-) ) so has to be within taxi distance -- no Inn at Little Washington or suburban places.


Posted by: annie | October 6, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse


We go to M&S for the cheap Happy Hour fare, and you're asking us for top restaurants???? *L*

Seriously, if German fare is acceptable, Cafe Mozart on 15th and NY Ave. is pretty darn good.

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Totally off topic, but I just love the artwork in the Non-Stop to Tokyo ad at the top and side of this page (I think it's for United Airlines).

Much, much better than toe fungus.

Posted by: TBG | October 6, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Annie -- foodie comment but cheap and astonishing:


In Adam's until 4 Am on weekends.

Imagine a salad bar for falafel, but every offering is homemade, fresh, that day.

Brownies are good too, really good. No "substances" in the brownies, despite the Dutch name.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 1:05 PM | Report abuse

 Sound Report: the best sounds I've heard for quite some time came from the BPH last night. As innocent as a child and with genuine excitement, the expression
of happiness and joy blessed the air right next to me throughout the evening. It was Wilbrods genuine, strait from the heart laugh. Contageous as it was,
I wanted to hear more and more. communication between Wilbrod and me was challanging. I could write with pencil and paper, but I couldn't read any responses.
So we resorted to touching and feeling, and blushing on my part to express our thoughts. To those that were sensory unchallanged, it may appeared as if
we were misbehaving, but that was simply not the case. I think we were both trying our best to communicate with what we had. Thanks Scottynuke for helping
out so much. Also thanks TBG & son for the lift. I just knew it would rain.

Now If I wanted to hear Wilbrod laugh so much that I reached out and tickled her, that may be considered going out of bounds.

There was no off-sides, no illegal procedure, and no unsportmanship like conduct. No flags were thrown last night.

I had a lot of fun.

Posted by: Pat | October 6, 2006 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod -- if I read between the lines correctly, you are very bright with technical skills. You are also a natural teacher. You could teach online -- great for many people but I can imagine you are very good at this. Your students wouldn't even "experience" that you are deaf....they should, actually, but I think you know what I mean.

University College at UM is a great place for online teaching. You can't make a full living, but while you are looking, could have pennies (peanuts) and some networking options. Apply now for the winter and fall semester.

Need more guidance? I can put you in touch with some "real" people.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 1:16 PM | Report abuse


It was my pleasure to help. And hey, we ALL had a lot of fun.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Citronelle has the best reputation, the superstar chef, you really can't go wrong there if money is no object. I ate there once in, like, the early 1990s. My favorite in Georgetown is probably the take-out from Moby Dick.

Out MacArthur Blvd. there's a charming little Japanese place called Makoto that I've never been to, but everyone raves about it, it's formal and you take your shoes off and there's lots of tiny courses.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 6, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

If you want GOOD Italian food, you can't go wrong with Maggiano's Little Italy.

It's not overpriced and there's one near Friendship Heights Metro, next to a bookstore.

When I found out it was less than 30 bucks a platter for several courses + desserts for banquets, I INSISTED that we should throw my parents' retirement party there. I took the other decision-makers there and they agreed with me. It was a great banquet!

For good vietnamese in DC (but DEFINITELY not dressy), Pho 79.

If you want dressy, try the Queen Bee near Clarendon Metro.

And if you want nice and expensive French food (but kind of modest portions, still filling) try Lamplighter out in Fairfax, same spot as K-mart. If they're vegetarian, Woodlands is next door as well.

But there is a Woodlands in NW DC as well, and I'd suggest that one too.

For thai, there are a lot of decent thai restaurants out there-- to me even bad thai beats no thai ;)...
I'd check out the fusion Thai restaurant in Georgetown (Bangkok Joes', was it?), but I only ate there once and I can't vouch for the overall food quality, but it is good fusion.

And if you really MUST have chinese food, have them tour Chinatown and let the restaurants speak to their nostrils.

Always pick a chinese restaurant with your nose, that's my motto. There is also supposedly a good burmese restaurant in the area, but I haven't been.

And if you want to shell out for vegetarian (not Indian), Try the sunflower restaurant in vienna-- it's one of the most expensive vegetarian restaurants I've seen, but they do good mock chicken and lots of nice dishes, very healthy and brown rice and all that. Chocolate is actually used as a seasoning there.

Well that's it for all the "classy" joints I've been to that didn't have food that made me gag.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

College Parkian, thank you! But remember, I could be another Collins fraud ;).

Contact me at wilbrodthegnome at yahoo etc.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Annie, here's the top dozen or so from Washingtonia Magazine:

CITRONELLE French, Georgetown, 202-625-2150

INN AT LITTLE WASHINGTON Modern American, Washington, 540-675-3800 [but you ruled this one out]

LABORATORIO DEL GALILEO Italian, Foggy Bottom, 202-293-7191

MAESTRO Italian, McLean, 703-821-1515

MINIBAR AT CAFE ATLANTICO Modern American/Nuevo Latino, Penn Quarter, 202-393-0812

CITYZEN Modern American, Downtown, 202-787-6006

KOMI Modern American, Dupont Circle, 202-332-9200

MARCEL'S Belgian/French, West End, 202-296-1166

PALENA American/Modern American, Cleveland Park, 202-537-9250

BANGKOK 54 RESTAURANT & BAR Asian/Thai, Arlington, 703-521-4070

BISTRO BIS, HOTEL GEORGE French, Capitol Hill, 202-661-2700

CHARLIE PALMER STEAK American/Modern American/Steak, Capitol Hill, 202-547-8100

CORDUROY American/Modern American, Downtown, 202-589-0699

GERARD'S PLACE French, Downtown, 202-737-4445

INDEBLEU French/Fusion/Indian, Penn Quarter, 202-333-2538

INDIQUE Indian/tapas, Cleveland Park, 202-244-6600

KINKEAD'S Seafood, Foggy Bottom, 202-296-7700

Here's the link to the above--you can sort the list by price, type of cuisine, and location.

But not being remotely rich, I haven't eaten in any of them (whoops--correction--I ate at the Willard Hotel, which was fabulous, and the atmosphere there is mind-blowing. Come to think of it, this is exactly the kind of place you want. Yes, I can recommend it.) Two blocks from the White House, too--very chi-chi to show off to an out-of-towner. Plus the Willard is pretty famous and historic, so it also has that going for it. You might even see a celebrity or two.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Pat, your sound report was even better than the photos (and they were great too).

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Oops, for got your link, annie:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 1:24 PM | Report abuse

SoC, is Wiki cheating? I guess it doesn't matter cause the answer is already posted, but here it is anyway:

November 19

83rd Annual Grey Cup Game: Taylor Field - Regina, Saskatchewan

Northern Champion: Calgary Stampeders 20
Southern Champion: Baltimore Stallions 37

The Baltimore Stallions are the 1995 Grey Cup Champions

Grey Cup's Most Valuable Player:
Tracy Ham (QB), Baltimore Stallions

Grey Cup's Most Valuable Canadian:
Dave Sapunjis (SB), Calgary Stampeders

Posted by: omni | October 6, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Annie.. if you had to ask me for a single recommendation for classy, tasty, but unadventurous food (you know what I mean-- no chocolate covered ants on truffles)-- I'd say Maggiano's. It is reliably excellent.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Of course I couldn't have accomplished that amazing feat of internet search without the clue. Imagine how long it would have taken me if I had to look at every year and started in 1909 working towards the present.

Posted by: omni | October 6, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Another home run for Opportunity:


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Mudge's list is a good one.

I've heard good things about 1789, and I think that is DEFINITELY the one to shake down your Sister in law for.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

OK, back to politics... have you read Keith Olbermann's latest commentary?

His question to President Bush:

But tonight the stark question we must face is -- why?

Why has the ferocity of your venom against the Democrats now exceeded the ferocity of your venom against the terrorists?

Why have you chosen to go down in history as the president who made things up?

In less than one month you have gone from a flawed call to unity to this clarion call to hatred of Americans, by Americans.

Read it here:

Posted by: TBG | October 6, 2006 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Also, if they're this type to want to sit down a bit with food, consider taking a break from touring D.C. with an British tea at the:

Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 202 342 0444
Mon-Sat 3-5 p.m., Sun 4-5.30 p.m.

Can't vouch for the quality, but I've considered springing for a tea for very special out-of-town guests myself if I had the money ;). Maybe next time.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 1:39 PM | Report abuse

TBG, ya beat me to it...

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 1:42 PM | Report abuse

A review of the Willard:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse


I took my wife to 1789 in Georgetown for our 20th anniversary and was not disappointed. Lavish attentive service and very good food. I ate at Galileo during a Restaurant Week and was reasonably impressed one my RW expectations were factored in. I would love to eat at Citronelle some day. The best place by gourmet reputation is CityZen in the Mandarin Oriental. Next time I take out a home equity loan, I'll eat there.

I heard that the Queen Bee in Clarendon/Arlington had either closed or is going to close. The good Vietnamese food is now in Eden Center in Falls Church. All the non-Asian foodies go to Four Sisters because Sietsema raves about the place continuously. Right next door is Viet Royale which has pretty much the same menu in slightly less upscale decor. It passes my "the natives eat here" test for authenticity.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 6, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Golly. Howdy, all. Thanks for the splendid BPH pictures, it looks like a good time was had by all. Thanks for the Olbermann link -- he's become a real favorite of mine. Welcome back, Annie. Cassandra, hang in there. Maybe your nagging worry is just from a bad week. Let it go -- it isn't yours to carry around anyway (I know, you know that).

I'm very fond of Michael Lewis books and look forward to the latest, even though I have no interest in football (crash, bang, they all fall down). The man can write! Thank you, Joel, for providing him a standard to live up to.

Did anyone notice the item on the Monster pliosaur fossil discovered on the island of Spitbergen near the coast of Norway? I don't understand linking, and I don't know where I read the story anyway (Reuters?) but it is cool. Vertebrae the size of a dinner plate and teeth like cucumbers (only, I presume, sharp). I look forward to finding the story again with the Boy.

Cross your fingers for me. I applied for a job as Special Judge in our local district court. These are hired by the district judges to do preliminary hearings, divorce court, and suchlike. For reasons of current courthouse politics I'm unlikely to get the job, but I certainly won't get it if I don't ask.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

The list above includes many very good restaurants. But Citronelle, Maestro, and Cityzen are in a different league than the others. (I would include the Laboratorio at Galileo as well, but Galileo is currently closed for major renovations.)

Posted by: lurking foodie | October 6, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm invisible again.

Still posting. . . sky report: Blue. No clouds today. In fact, finding clouds are hard. The weather gods are supposed to send us a cold front with moisture soon. Even though we had rain in September, today's paper reported the continued drought is so hard on the farmers it may affect the stability of rural community banks.

Also, there's a report out on a newly bred, soon-to-be-shipped breed of hypoallergenic cat, bred without the gland which produces the protein which makes so many folks allergic. New York Times. Meow.

Annie's query reminds me how long it has been since I lived in DC. Not that I had any money then, either.

Happy Harvest Moon!

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I like Filomena's in Georgetown (Wisconsin Ave. between M and the river), not too expensive and plenty of food. I suppose it's close to the gallery...

Filomena Ristorante really feels like an authentic Italian basement in NYC (I should know, cause I've eaten in plenty of them), and there's plenty of food.

Moby Dick - I'm with you on that, Joel. I've probably been to the one in Bethesda more than the one on Georgetown, but they're both good (and real local landmarks).


Posted by: bc | October 6, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Here's a bit on the plesiosaur:

If your teeth are the size of cucumbers it probably doesn't matter if they're sharp or not:
1. it hasn't hurt the Royal family, anyway
2. unless you're actually eating cucumbers, then its probably a big problem

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Of course, you could always take them to McCormick & Schmick's on K--great seafood in the main dining room, and historic as all get out--you can show 'em where the BPH sits, where the Achenfish hangs, etc. Jeez, what more could ya want?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Curiosity got the better of me and YouTubed the Theisman hit (had never seen it). Boy was that a dumb idea. Damn YouTube. My shin actually feels kind of funny right now.

Posted by: omni | October 6, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

SoC, they need big teeth (the Royal Family) to balance off the ears!

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I enjoyed the plesiosaur story, but the comments about it devolved quickly into the same old arguments that stories like that always seem to inspire. It's nice to see the absense of that here.
Are we not doing poetry today?

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

All you had to do was ask whyrlegyge.

What if...
You opened a book
About dinosaurs
And one stumbled out
And another and another
And more and more pour
Until the whole place
Is bumbling and rumbling
And groaning and moaning
And snoring and roaring
And dinosauring?
What if...
You tried to push them
Back inside
But, they kept tromping
Off the pages instead?
Would you close the covers?

Isabel Joshlin Glaser

Posted by: omni | October 6, 2006 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Rain, rain, go away
Come again some other day.

Sorry, whyrls, that's all I got on short notice.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Whyrlegyge, go ahead and toss a poem out there.

If You Were Coming In The Fall by Emily Dickinson.
If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Hurray, poetry! In honor of the Harvest Moon I'll re-post the lyrics to the Grand Old Song that I'll inflict on the Boy and his guest tonight (isn't it a parent's job to embarass her children?):

Shine on, shine on Harvest Moon
Up in the sky.
I ain't had no lovin' since
January, February, June or July.
Snow time ain't no time to stay
Outdoors and spoon,
Shine on, shine on Harvest Moon,
For me and my gal.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 2:34 PM | Report abuse

i was going to recommend the occidental but the darn thing is closed! :(

Posted by: mo | October 6, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

hey, I thought whyrlegyge wanted dinosaur poems.

I'd never dine on dinosaurs.
They can't be good to eat.
For all they have are lots of bones
And not a bit of meat.

Posted by: omni | October 6, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Condi made an unexpected stop in Baghdad, but the plane had to circle in the skies for an hour, before landing, because of mortar fire near the Baghdad airport. On the noon news here locally, ABC affiliate, she was shown walking rapidly from her plane in a flak jacket or bulletproof vest.

WaPo reports:
Rice is expected to hold meetings in London Friday night but her plane experienced mechanical problems and her departure was delayed.

Fox News in Boise, Idaho reports:
Mechanical trouble on the secretary of state's plane is delaying plans to deal with Iran at the U.N. [I wonder what kind of mechanical problems?]

A military transport plane was supposed to fly Condoleezza Rice out of Iraq to London today, to join other envoys from top U.N. allies.

The group from the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China had intended to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for action -- and possible sanctions -- over Tehran's refusal to shut down its nuclear enrichment program.

When her military flight was grounded, Rice had to wait about two hours for a replacement plane to carry her to Turkey and another flight to London. [Wonder if she also left on a military plane? Had the mortar fire near the airport ceased?]

The group still plans to meet, but a State Department spokesman says it won't be able to finish its business today.

Posted by: Loomis | October 6, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Okay... no Emily. Dinosaur Pie instead. (Grumble).

"Dinosaur Pie"
Dinosaur pie, dinosaur pie.
If I don't get some,
I think I'm gonna die!
Give away the green grass.
Give away the sky.
But don't give away my dinosaur pie!

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

And another:

My Family of Dinosaurs

My sister, finkasaurus,
is a tattletaling shrew.
My brother, slobasaurus,
doesn't quite know how to chew.
My mother, rushasaurus,
finds it hard to be on time.
My father, cheapasaurus,
never spends an extra dime.
Our doggy, barkasaurus,
keeps the neighbors up at night.
Our kitty, scratchasaurus,
gouges everything in sight.
And then there's angelsaurus--
who, you might have guessed, is me--
the only one who's perfect in this crazy family.

Helen Ksypka


and another another:

When earth was yet a little child
Dinosaurs lived free and wild.
Some as big as spacious homes,
Some as small as tiny gnomes.
A few had wings to fly the skies
With giant beaks and searching eyes.
Harboring murder in their breasts
They stole the fledglings from their nests.
One giant breed lived deep within
Dark waters with its kindly kin.
Still others wandered mean and bold
And ate each other, I've been told.
I know what might or must have been-
I'm glad I'm living now, not then!

Lillian M. Fisher

Posted by: omni | October 6, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

yeah, ivansmom, but they're gonna cost like 4000 dollars. my cat allergy isn't that bad. (maybe it is, and i've just had cats for too long to notice.

i've been to the willard twice. WaPo has their presidential innauguration party there, so you can watch the parade go by out the windows. VERY classy, and the food is real good. probably pretty expensive though.

Posted by: sparks | October 6, 2006 2:41 PM | Report abuse

OK, yer makin' me work, here, whyrls. One of my favorite poets is the somewhat obscure Jacques Prevert (1900-1977). Here's a poem called "Barbara" (translation by Ferlinghetti) from Prevert's book "Paroles" (the poem was written during WWII, which is the war reference; you'll see it when it comes by):

Remember Barbara
It rained all day on Brest that day
And you walked smiling
Flushed enraptured streaming-wet
In the rain
Remember Barbara
It rained all day on Brest that day
And I ran into you in Siam Street
You were smiling
And I smiled too
Remember Barbara
You whom I didn't know
You who didn't know me
Remember that day still
Don't forget
A man was taking cover on a porch
And he cried your name
And you ran to him in the rain
Streaming-wet enraptured flushed
And you threw yourself in his arms
Remember that Barbara
And don't be mad if I speak familiarly
I speak familiarly to everyone I love
Even if I've seen them only once
I speak familiarly to all who are in love
Even if I don't know them
Remember Barbara
Don't forget
That good and happy rain
On your happy face
On that happy town
That rain upon the sea
Upon the arsenal
Upon the Ushant boat
Oh Barbara
What sh1tstupidity the war
Now what's become of you
Under this iron rain
Of fire and steel and blood
And he who held you in his arms
Is he dead and gone or still so much alive
Oh Barbara
It's rained all day on Brest today
As it was raining before
But it isn't the same anymore
And everything is wrecked
It's a rain of mourning terrible and desolate
Nor is it still a storm
Of iron and steel and blood
But simply clouds
That die like dogs
Dogs that disappear
In the downpour drowning Brest
And float away to rot
A long way off
A long long way from Brest
Of which there's nothing left.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

If you want to stay in Georgetown I would second the Citronelle and 1789 recommendations. Sea Catch is a notch down, but right on the canal and expensive enough that they may feel appropriately soaked (pardon the pun).

Other parts of town: Kinkead's (west end) is solid steak place and the service is decent, prices on the higher side.

Komi is over by Dupont, at little less formal, but the food is tasty and inventive (but not overly so), the service is very good and the wine selection varied.

And Palena is the sentimental favorite, it's in the Citronelle leauge, steps away from the Clevland Park mtroe stop.

Happy eating!

Posted by: eater | October 6, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I like "dinosauring" as a verb. And I love Dickinson, thanks Wilbrod. As for me....

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, omni! I don't know any dinosaur poems so I'm enjoying these.

My geography is VERY bad, but I'm assuming Cassandra's part of North Carolina is not near Apex, Raliegh or anywhere else affected by the hazardous waste explosion and evacuation? I hope? Cassandra?

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

No poem but this posted on my cube-carpet-wall that is like the rain will will endure for the next three days:

Linky alert

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I had the same thought as you so I googled where Cassandra lives, seems far enough away.

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

ivansmom, I got them here:

I posted the few I liked the best.

And mudge, that was a sad, beautiful poem.

Posted by: omni | October 6, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

afternoon sky report:

Against a very blue background, a large fluffy bunny was spotted next to what can only be described as an albino Bactrian camel wearing a hooded parka (the kind with the furry fringe). There were several other critters of the white fluffy variety accompanying them in what appeared to be an orderly procession towards a very large ark-like structure floating next to Moby Dick and Tweety Bird's head.

I'm sure I would have seen more interesting things with the proper glaucoma medication, but this will have to do.

Posted by: martooni | October 6, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse

more dinosaur poems!

The Great Tyrannosaurus
By Arthur Guiterman (a personal favorite)

The Great Tyrannosaurus
Lived centuries ago;
Through marshes wet and porous
He rambled to and fro.

The most tremendous Lizard
That ever browsed on meat,
His length from A to Izzard
Was forty-seven feet.

The Great Tyrannosaurus
In habitude was not
What one would call decorous --
He ate an awful lot.

Lamellibranchs in sixes,
Iguanodons to spare,
And Archaeopteryxes
Comprised his bill of fare.

The Great Tyrannosaurus
Of all the world was king;
With trumpeting sonorous
He swallowed everything.

When everything was swallowed
Beneath the azure sky,
What naturally followed? --
The Creature had to die.

The Great Tyrannosaurus
That was so blithe and free
Hath passed away before us;
Then learn from him and me:

This earth can never nourish
An appetite like his,
So if you hope to flourish,
Don't gobble all there is!

Posted by: sparks | October 6, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, that was very powerful. Thanks.

Ivansmom, I am sure this has already been asked, but do you sing that to the tune of "Shine on, you crazy diamond"?

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

You made me read the poem in French Mudge. The man was in a pretty sad mood. Brest was an important Kriegsmarine (sp ?) base, it must have been bombed on a regular basis. You probably know that at the time he was a famous screenwriter: Quai des Brumes, Les Visiteurs du Soir, etc He also wrote the famous "Les enfants du paradis" that was filmed clandestinely in Vichy's France toward the end of WWII. A Spanish guy named Picasso apparently did some of the sets in LEDP.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 6, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Len Downie says that blogs have helped the WaPo and that all the reporters want to be bloggers.

I found this article from a link on the Drudge Report. Don't ask how I got there. It's very embarassing and something I'd rather not talk about.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 6, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

oh shrieking "les enfants" is one of my favorite movies! well worth the 190 min run time! i may hafta get that out and watch it this weekend!

Posted by: mo | October 6, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Meaning absolutely nothing to no one but the fans. I was at that game at Taylor Field. It was freakishly cold. Ok it was normal for Saskatchewan. The guys who came up from Baltimore to the Grey Cup, came up for several years after that, because it is beyond a doubt, the BEST PARTY on the PLANET. If you are lucky you live to see the football.

And yes I am shouting that. Its the Saskatchewan in me.

Posted by: dr | October 6, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Tried to find a poem that would do justice to the day outside. It is a complete feast for the senses, sky is blue, leaves are full range of colours, air is crisp with a soft breeze but the sun is warm on your face. The air is full of the sounds of birds, the children have a day off so they are out playing and people are getting ready for thanksgiving my mowing the lawns. It probably smells nice outside but I have a cold so I can't describe it.

Since I am not great at descriptions I provide the following link to the webcam at Niagara Falls, with a view of the falls and trees. Pat there is a link to turn on the sound of the falls. Hope it works.

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm on a blackbird streak today:

Carl Sandburg - Laughing Corn

THERE was a high majestic fooling
Day before yesterday in the yellow corn.

And day after to-morrow in the yellow corn
There will be high majestic fooling.

The ears ripen in late summer
And come on with a conquering laughter,
Come on with a high and conquering laughter.

The long-tailed blackbirds are hoarse.
One of the smaller blackbirds chitters on a stalk
And a spot of red is on its shoulder
And I never heard its name in my life.

Some of the ears are bursting.
A white juice works inside.
Cornsilk creeps in the end and dangles in the wind.
Always--I never knew it any other way--
The wind and the corn talk things over together.
And the rain and the corn and the sun and the corn
Talk things over together.

Over the road is the farmhouse.
The siding is white and a green blind is slung loose.
It will not be fixed till the corn is husked.
The farmer and his wife talk things over together.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Nope, whyrlegyge, this is a song from the early 1900s, with its very own charming tune. I have a copy of the sheet music from my grandmother's attic. I could hum it for you!

Anyone notice Sen. Warner says we're going "sideways" in Iraq and if things don't look up we'll need to change course.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

annie--restaurant recommendations:

If you have a wad to spend, I would definitely recommend the Laboratorio d'Galileo or the kitchen table at Galileo. The kitchen table is such a wonderful treat. You can get to watch the prep work and be treated to excellent service by so many people walking by. Having the chef drop by to let you sample something that he just worked out, etc, was marvelous. Unfortunately, as already noted, Galileo is under reconstruction and not due to reopen until 2007. *sigh*

If you have time and a car, I would recommend travelling up to Roy's in Baltimore. Roy Yamaguchi started a chain of restaurants that kicked off the Pacific Rim cuisine some years ago. On my honeymoon, we visited the original Roy's (or maybe it was the second one) in Maui and it was wonderful too. The Roy's in Baltimore has wonderful food and only slightly pricey.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse


I'm proud of you for going after that Judge job. I tell my daughter all the time she's got to go for it if she wants it.

You're a great example for ivan!

Posted by: TBG | October 6, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes, shriek, I know all about Prevert and the movie ("Children of Paradise" in English), which was voted best french film of the century by something like 600 french critics. I used to be able to quote a couple of his poems, especially "Quartier Libre" by heart.

"Barbara" mentions the town of Ushant, across the harbor from Brest, which is where the Germans build their bomb-proof submarine pens. Brest is where the Biusmarck was headed when she was sunk.

I've never been there, but feel like I have, partly due to both the Hornblower and Aubrey/Maturin novels; one or the other always seemed to be blocading Brest or "putting in to spy out the fleet" or whatever. I had a big ship's chart of that entire peninsula (Cape Finisterre, "land's end"), circa 1930, which my wife used as wallpaper in our downstairs hall bathroom, so guests can sit on the throne and contemplate the various anchorages, etc., there. And if they don't like Cape Finisterre they can look at Gibraltar, Algeciras Bay, or the inner roadstead at Casablanca instead. It's one VERY literate and nautical downstairs hall bathroom.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I might be wrong, but isn't Brest where Das Boot ends?

Good luck, Ivansmom!

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes, ivansmom, meant to say good luck on the judgeship thing. Anything we can do to help? Write letters of recommendation? Bribe somebody? Ooops, guess that's not a good idea. Forget I mentioned it, your honor.

Yes, say the Warner thing. Hope it starts to get more attentionbut at the moment it appears to be drowned out by Foley et al.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Ivansmom, I was trying to be clever, but in retrospect, I sound rather silly.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 3:34 PM | Report abuse

IIRC, I think you're right, SofC.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Then you should visit. I was in Jaipur and came out of a jeweler's shop opposite the Hawa Mahal and I had the STRANGEST case of deja vu... then I realized I had seen the Hawa mahal in one of the many books in India and had forgotten about it until I was standing in about the exact spot the photograph must have been taken from. Freaky.

Jaipur is a lovely city, by the way. lots of rotting forts with brightly painted plaster in geometric patterns around. I stayed at two forts-ade-into-a-hotel myself. Neat!

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I didn't think you sounded silly, Wh.gyg. Thanks, everyone, for the good thoughts. Fortunately this application is pretty targeted, so I only have to call a handful of local people to lobby their friends on the bench on my behalf (really, it helps), then wait. I truly don't expect anything, but it is kind of an example thing: I said I'd apply for the next opening, here it is, and thus here I go.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Literate and nautical indeed. Like many old european cities Ouessant has its own name in English I see. It's hard to believe now but Prévert sold about 2 million copies of "Paroles" published in 1945. Very humorous some of them. For this generation of Frenchmen Prévert will forever be associated with the Libération. He wrote great songs too.

J. Prévert

Louis I
Louis II
Louis III
Louis IV
Louis V
Louis VI
Louis VII
Louis VIII
Louis IX
Louis X (dit le Hutin)
Louis XI
Louis XII
Louis XIII
Louis XIV
Louis XV
Louis XVI
Louis XVII
and then nobody and nothing more...
What are those people that can't even count to 20 ?
(my bad translation of :
et puis plus personne plus rien...
Qu'est-ce que ces gens-là
qui ne sont pas foutus
de compter jusqu'à vingt ?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 6, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Just saw this story on a farm in SW Ontario, that has a 24 acre corn maze. There is a link to the website and photo in the story, part of the maze is the MS logo, their charity of choice this year.

Sorry feeling very autumnal here today, must be the lack of heat in my home.

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure I typed the "m" in "made" there. And I see Mudge has an missed space in his last post. Has AchenHOG decided to eat posts a little at a time now?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm running off to pick up the Boy but had to scold RD for comparing the Purple Antichist to a dinosaur.

I like your song, though.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The only dinosaur poem I know starts with the stanza "I love you, you love me," and I don't think that's quite the idea. But thinking of those Barney years does remind me of my favorite little poem:

I'm a little sleepy head
Time to snuggle in my bed

I will snooze all through the night
Till I'm roused by morning's light

I'm a little sleepy head
Time to snuggle in my bed.

Worked for two kids...

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 6, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Emily Dickinson's sky report from um, somewhen in the 19th century.

The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A travelling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.

A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Purple Antichrist. It was the Achennibbler. Really. Besides, it was temporally displaced anyhoo.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

RD Padouk, between the rain and your little poem, I am about to nod off...

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

To whom it may concern:

We are writing this post in support of Ivansmom's application for appointment as Special Judge.

Ivansmom has clearly demonstrated exemplary humanity and judgment as the mother of the Boy. But Ivansmom is much more than Ivan's mom. Her writing ability, sense of humor and common sense make her an ideal candidate for this appointment.

We would be pleased to discuss Ivansmom's qualifications with you further. To schedule an appointment, please contact the writer(s) directly at


Ivansmom's Imaginary Friends

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Another terrific Dickinson poem. Wilbrod, did you ever read any of her letters? Somewhere at home I have a book containing a selection of her poetry and letters, and they are just what you would expect from her. She is such a treat.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

DMV, I like the sound of rushing water, it's so soothing, but today I celebrate my 16th wedding anniversary and I doubt the harvest moon will be out. It's somewhat miserable with steady rain and gusty wind outside and I don't think I'll make it home with dry feet.

Squish, squish, squish. Honey, I'm home!

I'm cutting & pasting all the dinosaur poems and e-mailing them to my kids.

The fork lift came by again today and dumped another load...

BPH picts? any descriptions? What was the best one?

Out to the clouds, off to the train... Have a good weekend everybody.

Posted by: Pat | October 6, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Pat have a great anniversary, it is perfectly clear here, I will try to describe the moon tomorrow, saw it last night but it was through a fine mist of clouds.

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh...the joys of the mommyblog. I'm being taken to task over there for using the word equanimous. I'm basically being told that I'm being haughty and stuck up for using it.

I love the Achenblog--this is where my "balance" comes to keep me posting over there. :-)

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, this E. Dickinson poem is for you:

The Judge is like the Owl --
I've heard my Father tell --
And Owls do build in Oaks --
So here's an Amber Sill --

That slanted in my Path --
When going to the Barn --
And if it serve You for a House --
Itself is not in vain --

About the price -- 'tis small --
I only ask a Tune
At Midnight -- Let the Owl select
His favorite Refrain.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 4:19 PM | Report abuse

In a development sure to terrify all informed members of the boodle I must report that I got a promotion today.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 6, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, this E. Dickinson poem is for you:

The Judge is like the Owl --
I've heard my Father tell --
And Owls do build in Oaks --
So here's an Amber Sill --

That slanted in my Path --
When going to the Barn --
And if it serve You for a House --
Itself is not in vain --

About the price -- 'tis small --
I only ask a Tune
At Midnight -- Let the Owl select
His favorite Refrain.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Congrats RD.

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The Achenduplicator got me. RD Padouk, congratulations.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I was told not to use the word "via" in a memo a few years ago. It's maddening when people with poor vocabularies try to impose their limits on those of us with good command of the language.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse


Use your power only for good. Congrats!


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 6, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm hoping for my very own black helicopter.
Or at least a decent parking space.

My professional goal is simple. I am going to teach the entire Community to "Think like a Scientist."

It may take some time.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 6, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Let the Achenrecord reflect that Phase 1 of Boodle World Domination is now complete.

The crow flies at midnight.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

whyrlegyge--Yes...and I still remember the amazingly stupid scandal when Mayor Williams' staff member used the word niggardly (correctly, mind you) in a private session meeting. I can understand the misunderstanding, but it went far beyond the bounds for Mayor Williams to accept the man's resignation due to an ignorant misunderstanding.

And BTW, I love your handle. I remember dancing a Whirligig when I was doing English Country Dancing (very similar to Renaissance dancing). I also remember in grade school learning about Thomas Jefferson's whirligig chair. Your nickname brings back good memories.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Trying to get most people to "think like a Scientist" is a noble goal, but I think it might be easier to get most people to think like a Scientologist.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 6, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, RD. Subvert the system from within.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 6, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Mo's pic site has some descriptions but don't know if you can JAW those.

First slide: a big piece of paper with BPH in plain block letters, no frills whatsoever or explanation given.

Second slide: TBG and her boy-spawn. TBG is, well take a greek goddess with high, strong, rounded cheekbones, curly grey-brown hair, age and pad her a bit (not explaining how MUCH padding) and you have TBG. She is smiling, showing off her cheekbones and the glow in her cheeks and looking like the goddess of Happy empty-nesting.

You can see she's thinking "Oh boy, my spawn is all grown up and soon he'll be off to college and I can redo his bedroom in pink and lace for my sewing work!" You expect her to start tittering any moment, if not actually breaking into a "bwa ha ha ha!"

Her boy-spawn has inherited her looks but has a broader head. C-section, I hope for TBG's sake. He has the thick, wavy brown hair that mothers love and barbers hate. He has an "Oh yeah, that's what SHE thinks" look on his face. He must be reading TBG's mind about having him move out. Betcha he plans to commute to college.

Whew, THIRD photo. Mudge, who is wide and has a squarish, bulldog face but not jowly enough, has a crewcut in a slight widow's peak. You cannot see his bottom, but he is wearing a gorgeous light sky blue shirt, plaided with darker blue lines.

Mudge looking at his hand with his right hand on his chin, like he's trying to remember if he picked up his beer bottle and it slipped out of his hand, or he just picked up his hand without the beer bottle. Guess it's one of those 3,000 year-old moments.

Behind him, Scottynuke has successfully managed the complex maneveur of taking another drink of his beer. He is wearing a more indigo-blue shirt and together Mudge and Scottynuke form a banner of blue. Scottynuke is of average build. If he was built like Mudge, I would be biting my tongue not to write something about "the blue mountains' majesty."

Fourth picture: A picture of me in my frilly pink copper-and-gold outfit, holding the notebook over my face. The caption says "Hey! Don't photograph the gnomes!" Which says it all. A woman in a blue sweatshirt is sitting at the table over, her back to the camera.

Fifth Picture: this would be a good side profile of you, except Sparks' head is in the way. I do NOT remember him having such a big, white head. He is young, thin, dark shirt and tie, brown hair in a nice haircut. Nice thick eyebrows. He looks like a young, self-loathing and preppy republican except for the 2 rings in his right ear. Looks kind of like my kid cousin, only much better looking.
I'd cast him in a movie as a college freshman in a heartbeat and THEN see if he can act. His face is fineboned. His mouth is open in a "Gee" or maybe "cheese" position.
Dude, don't say everything Mo tells you to say, not even "cheese". That way lies trouble. BIG trouble.

Taking a breath now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Pat and lovely wife's sweet 16-aversary. We bow down.

To DadWannaBe: I thank you and other fine NasaPeeps (ooooh. NasaPEEPS, by JustBorn in PA, could be available in the candy sections at shuttle launchs; shape = white clouds?)

for these things:
(Teflon, too)
nylon, velcro, freeze-drying processes for food, plexiglass, some advanced insulations....and employing Dr. Mathers...

No soccer but this rain report. The metal roof of the bay window means I hear rain-on-tin roof sound. Heaven on earth.

No soccer due to rain. Thanks for the poetry. Will read one to soccer-Dude.

Thanks for lightening the work load this week.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse


Ah, yes, the other "N" word. So sad. Since I am not a public figure, I once tried to use it in conversation when appropriate, but you know, you just can't. Oh well. I guess it is all part of speaking a living language.

I am glad you like the "W" word. To me it connotes spinning around madly in all different directions, which has more or less been my life's motif.

Good night, all, and have a wonderful weekend. I'm really enjoying this little community.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

RD -- Huzzah.
RD and Whirly -- what, a scientist is in charge of something? Speaking knowledge to the Power that is itself?

I am so happy, knowing that a Sci-guy wields power. Make us all proud. Hire us. Hire Wilbrod first.

I try to teach everyone in my technical writing class to THINK LIKE AN ENGINEER (and sometimes like a SCIENTIST). I make them read C@E News.

But, I never encourage them to, ahem, write like an engineer.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations, RD.

Not sure if we should be talking about a better parking space. You know who may get envious about that waiting list he is on and for heavens sake if you get a window, don't even mention it. Its tough when it's your blog and you just have a cubicle under the stairs.

Posted by: dr | October 6, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations, RD, and hold out for a parking space for the helicopter. Think like a Scientist Friend!

Congratulations Pat on the 16th anniversary. Stay warm and dry! They were splendid pictures, by the way, and thanks Wilbrod for the description.

Thank you, Whyrlegyge, for the poem, and SonofCarl for the excellent letter of reference. I'd love to use it: I'm proud of my imaginary friends!

Enjoy your rain, folks. I got home and can smell smoke -- can't see it, but I'm getting a little nervous. I think I'll call the nearby fire station & see if they've heard anything. We water purely for the firebreak.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, College Parkian--unfortunately, at this point I am towards the bottom of the ladder as a NASApeep. I'm just a computer jock that manages Unix systems here. When I worked with John Mather, he was the Senior Project Scientist on Hubble and I was a line manager for the LAN support team--definitely a couple of rungs down from his level. He probably wouldn't even remember me from then, since he only really encountered my staff who came to service his computer when it had problems. But as I recall, he was a pretty good guy. But you can bet that the entire Goddard center is celebrating this week because of John. There was a major party for him yesterday in the largest on-center auditorium. One thing I love about NASA is that it is very much of a "family" atmosphere. When things happen, they happen to all of us, both good and bad (I still remember exactly where I was when I heard about Columbia and it still affects us all).

Thanks for the reminder about Teflon. When I was writing up my note there I can't believe that I forgot Teflon. D'oh!

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

RD Padouk -- congratulations! When things finally start looking up, I will know whom to thank.

Ivansmom -- good luck. I know what you mean about the politics of certain job vacancies. As it turns out, there was already a hand-picked successor for the Afghanistan job. But they needed to follow employment recruitment/procurement policy and to document that they had interviewed X number of candidates. I am choosing to consider that it was good practice to hone my interviewing chops . . . and that there are worse fates than *not* getting to be the public face of the poppy eradication program in the most violent region of southern Afghanistan. Keep us posted! Even without having met you, I think you'd look great in black silk.

Thanks to all for the restaurant recommendations. Am inclining towards Citronelle, 1789, or the Willard based on the kind of experience that Beth's parents are shooting for. If any of them has a fireplace, that's the place I am picking. But also *very* good to have leads on fun new places when little ole me, rather than sofware moguls, are footing the bill!

Posted by: annie | October 6, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Picture six:

Ta-da.... the first picture of the HEAD! Scottynuke is holding it up on a platter. To the left, you see a swath of my dull copper orange outfit with the shiny gold on it.
To the right, you see a section of his shirt, which looks like a bright royal blue, also like it is made of silk? Just how it shimmers in the light.

The shirt almost matches the purple of the hair as modelled on the head, that's how bright the flash was on the head. The head is pink and all moustache, lips, eyebrows etc. are purple. The neck is bottomed by purple, and the head rests on a light greyish plate.

Seventh picture. Full shot of Scottynuke leaning forward, cocking his head and making wide fish-eyes at the camera while puckering up his mouth in a "who?" I don't remember him making this face, though, I was probably reading some writing.
Gosh, I hope neither Wilbrodog or Mudge hit him in a tender spot under the table. One of the many mysteries of the BPH pictures anyway.

Eighth picture: Scottynuke has his chin up in "you wanna some? I'm gonna smack you one" and his eyes wide again... maybe a leftover reaction from Wilbrodog's friendliness. He looks like he's saying "arr" now.

Ninth picture. Mo with Sparks. Mo is all in black except for her skin which is a medium tan with raspberry freckles. She is doing her Connie Chung impression, grinning with mouth open and eyes squinted up, and bending away a bit from the camera as her face faces the camera, as she is trying to con Sparks in giving her a backrub for the camera. Sparks is grinning widely and its a nice shot of his tie which is this kind of shimmery pattern of bright blue over black or dark grey.

Tenth picture: Mo in a normal position for picture-taking now that the back rub helped. She has her hair long and flowing down half of her face, and the other side has her hair brushed back. So it's actually a picture of a half-Mo-On. Good picture to sketch from, even with the hair in face.

Eleventh picture: More head shots of the HEAD sculpture of Pat.

Twelfth picture: TBG's boy-spawn has a solemn look, his lips plump as only a teenage boy can have it, and he is looking towards the camera from the side. MO's caption "What am I doing with those weirdos" perfectly sum up his expression.

thirteenth picture-- the head, back shot showing the receding hairline.

fourteenth picture-- TBG and her boy-spawn pose with the head. TBG is grinning, and her son is leaning, squinting to the side at the head, with the "weirdos" expression. I think he's trying to tell us something?

Fifteenth picture-- picture of you, from the side, close up from forehead to just below your chin.

Sixteenth picture: the head posed against your chest, by a hand that can only belong to Sparks.

Seventeenth and final picture-- a cropped picture of me pretending to consume the sculpture, an classical reference to Ouronos devouring his own children in Greek mythology and evoking the cannibalistic theme of creation through evolution and a lot of other deep stuff that I cannot begin to convey, about the inevitability of the universe coming to an untimely end, and conveying the sadness that BPH had to end.

It's not a very good picture, which is why I had to be pretenious and all.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I'll take some NasaPeeps, College Parkian! Not that I'd eat them, but do you know what happens when you put Peeps in a microwave? I learned it while lurking here & it inspired me to jump in. I'm so glad you and DadWannaBe have migrated from the MommyBlog, and Megan drops in.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom--thanks for the Achenwelcome. I have to say that the Achenblog is definitely friendlier and more "homey" than the mommyblog. But I keep trying there...(I don't know of those masochistic little secret addictions, maybe?)

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Annie, for the good wishes. I'm so pleased you were honing your interview skills while some hapless soul will be stuck in southern Afghanistan. Very relieved.

I noticed from previous BPH pictures that you & I are at least superficially similar in looks. Of course, your hair is a little shorter and blonder, you're obviously taller, and probably younger. There y'go, folks, just think of me as a mini-Annie. Looks only, probably not politics, though I'd gladly claim a connection to the writing & humor.

Look, a whole post without exclamation points. I don't get to use interesting punctuation at work; must be why I'm so enthusiastic here.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey, wait! Before you guys all leave for the weekend, ya gotta check out the pix that just went up on the WaPo home page! It's a NASA photo of a giant--200-mile-wide pancake they found on the durface of Mars. Really cool.

I'm wide, huh? Hmmm. I guess I can accept wide. I would have preferred "deep," but I can do wide if pressed.

(Pat made us all laugh last night--when he first heard me talk, he said I sounded EXACTLY like he'd imagined I'd sound.)

Three-day weekend, folks (good ol' gummint holiday on Monday, in honor of Columbus. Jeez, I remember that trip. Wet the whole way, and scared ----less we were gonna fall off the edge. Worked on my tan when we got here, though. October's a great time to tour the Caribbean--the summer crowds were all gone and the winter crowds hadn't arrived yet, but the shops were still open. The locals made a heckuva chonch chowder.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I have 1.5 minutes today.
RD, congrats. Mo, thanks for the photos. Welcome, whyrlegyge and dadwannabe. All these sophisticated sports and literary references are making me feel small and superfluous. I think I'll stick a garden house in an anthill to gain a sense of power and control. Or, I could start a rightwing blog. Cheers.

Posted by: CowTown | October 6, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Cowtown! Shoot, sit yourself down and talk about what YOUR bliss is.

You'll make us feel small listening to your gardening queendom ;). Always welcome... we just got to pulling poems off the 'net at random for some reason. And I don't think Dinosaur Pie is "sophisticated."

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

RD, i would be satisfied if you could get the community leaders to think like scientists.

ivansmom, good luck. i think we call them magistrate judges here.

pat, good luck getting home with dry feet, although i don't know if i'll be able to manage such a task, so don't feel to bad about it if you don't. i wish they would let me wear boots to work. my mom tried to make me take an umbrella this morning, but i don't really care about the rest of me being dry...the only thing that won't dry out in the office is my feet.

Posted by: sparks | October 6, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

OK, the bosslady just left. I'm outta here! See yuns on the boodle tonight, and to those who won't be around, have a good weekend.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 6, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Alas, it's too late to revise "wide" in favor of "majestic", Mudge. You ain't that wide, just that nobody, no matter how drunk they were could mistake you for "wispy."

You sound like how Pat imagines you? I'm guessing gruff, not too loud, variable speaking speed, quicker but not really louder when you're more vehement.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey a 3 day weekend in Haute Maine too. Its Thanksgiving here, sans turkey as is my home's normal procedure. When we farmed, we were usually still in harvest, and now its the first night of...

da duh duh duh daaaaaaaaa...
(insert off key music and drumroll here)

Curling season.

Mr. dr is up for the first game of the season come Monday evening.

Posted by: dr | October 6, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Holiday here on Monday as well. Canadian Thanksgiving. A holiday started in Ste. Haute-Poutine, as a matter of fact. Maybe I'll see if I can dig up those records, if Mudge can find his about his time as the correspondent on the Santa Maria.

Annie, my friend isn't going to Afghanistan either. He was going to be leading the tank squadron, but a medical issue arose.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I have to tell Pat that he HAS to describe the voices of the BPH'ers for me now.
Namely, pace, accent, voice quality, verbal quirks, any non-word noises such as groaning, heavy breathing, snoring, etc.

Any comparsion with famous stars or animals would be nice but probably not helpful. I'm sure Mudge sounds like Robert Redford, but I don't know what HE sounds like, f'instance.

On the other hand, I've seen enough Eddie Murphy and Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro to have a fair idea of what their voices are like from their dictation style.

On the other hand, I seem to think Bobby Dylan has a clearer singing voice than others do, because I like his singing pace and he is actually lipreadable while singing which very few people are. So my impressions vary.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I am thinking you may be able to understand Bob Dylans signing better than any of us with hearing. IMHO he is a nasal singer, not to clear, and as he aged tended to mumble, but although I like his songs I prefer them when others sing them.

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Getting back to the original hand.
For some reason, I seem to have mutated into a three-handed person. (Mind-blip here, sorry.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

college parkian, i know you're knew here, so i'll forgive you for not knowing this, but clouds are /hard/, while peeps are not. nobody would know what they were supposed to be. meanwhile, i present:

wilbrod, common mistake, but i only have one earring. you can sort of see it clearly in picture 5, although i don't recommend looking at it, as my eyes appear to burn with the fires of hell.

and as for your accusation of being a republican, i have been a registered libertarian since i was old enough to vote. the publicans aren't too keen on all those things that make life great.

Posted by: sparks | October 6, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the nice comments. I should stress that I am still but a small cog in the machine.

Unfortunately, I will probably have to curtail a lot of my at-work boodling since my new position will take me from the isolated safety of my underground lair. I will have to attend lots of meetings. But they will be my meetings. And since I can't sit still very long, my meetings are always short.

Anyway, have a great weekend everyone!

Now I am going to go drink something.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 6, 2006 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Sparks, didn't say you were republican, just saying you look almost like one, taht kind of neat business dress, although the dark colors and the earring point to a certain unconventionality ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

DadWannaBe, I am trying to deduce which of GSFC's computer geeks you happen to be. I have my guesses... I have already been outed by a computer-geek colleague who is (A) already a parent, and (B) female, so I'm sure that's not you.

RDP, my late sister-in-law had an excellent tool she employed to keep meetings short, especially those impromptu ones where somebody finds you in your office. She kept a trickly decorative fountain in her office. When you're used to it, it's not a problem, but for outsiders, it would send them running to the restroom after a few minutes. End of discussion, end of meeting.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 6, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim--so, what code do you work in?

I'll give you a hint. Years ago, I used to work for the former Code 660, LHEA in B2. Then, HST in T12 and B3. Now I work at the DAAC in B32. I'm also active with MAD (yes, it aptly describes me, but it's the Music and Drama club at GSFC, the theater group). That along with some of my postings should be enough to figure it out if you've worked with me.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim and DadWannaBe have a secret code! Plus their mastery (or apprenticeship, as may be) of the Achencode. Plus sciency jargon! And English, too. What rich language lives you lead.

I told the Boy about the Monster Pliosaur and the dinosaur poems, but his friend is over now so there will be no substantive parental communication until tomorrow, other than the Harvest Moon. My job is to feed them and make them sleep at a reasonable hour (midnight). Ivansdad is off in the wilds with theater students, so I can break out the wine & the book -- or watch Grey's Anatomy, which I glimpsed last week but cannot watch with the Boy. Very interesting. The fire danger appears to have passed, no more smoke.

Happy Thanksgiving, Haute Maineiers! No three-day weekend here, we gave up Columbus Day for MLK Day. That's okay, we're a little touchy about Native American issues here anyway.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 6:46 PM | Report abuse

The code is just a tiny bit of NASAspeak. Rumor has it that there is only one institution in the world that uses more acronyms than NASA and it is...IBM. This may be outdated and I know that many government agencies also think they have a lock on the most acronyms, so I can't say for sure if it is true or not, but I do know that we do have a lot. The Code system is the organizational system within NASA and then the acronyms talk about projects/departments I've worked in and places that I've worked. Just helps enhance the NASA mystique. :-)

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 6:52 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, I wouldn't make those assumptions. Many a mom has become a dad wannabe after seeing some of the different expectations. See the Mommyblog for further detail, if you dare. Make sure you rope in before you venture over.

In other news, I actually started but discontinued a limerick on the subject of Mudge's nautical bathroom. I do have standards, you know.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

NASA has a theater group?

That just took me to a VERY bad place full of amateur drama in my head.

"Oh, my name is John Stellarton Jells
I'm a dealer in gravity wells
In waves that disperse
And ever-empty purses
Satellites, rockets, and Dells
If you want a rude layman to "see stars"
If you'd land an red rover on Mars
You've but to look in on our snide Engineers, NASA, GFSC...."

Now I have a nerd singing dance number cootie in my head.

Begone, ye black-rimmed glasses, blah blue shirts, and pocket protectors!

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I is in 693. I used to live in the B2 Trailer, many a day ago, but I now I get to stay in the nice big building, B2, not far from the excellent toilet facilities.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 6, 2006 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Scc: snide should be "applied" instead. Need that extra syllable, sorry.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I have a set of black-rimmed glasses that I call the Apollo Glasses, but usually I wear wire-rims.

And now, I must go. Camping at the synagogue tonight, airplane to LA in the morning. See ya.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 6, 2006 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Theatre group? Why on earth would NASA need actors?

Uh oh.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 6, 2006 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod you poem had me giggling, great visuals.

Harvest moom update, had a really busy day here finally plowed through the boxes in our playroom and entertained 5 kids at my house. Decided I need a coffee after dinner so on my way out to get it, in the early twilight, I turned right onto the road I need to go and there low the southeast sky was the harvest moon big and bright even in the still soft blue sky, if I had looked northwest I would have seen the glow from the setting sun.

Reminded me of a scene in Prince of Tides when the mom took the kids out to watch the sunrise while the moon set, (or other way around).

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I think these NASA images are about the coolest thing I've ever seen. I love that you can see Opportunity at the crater rim.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 6, 2006 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the picture, Joel, and thanks for the moonrise heads-up, dmd. It is over the horizon now and as soon as it gets past the trees I'm going to drag the boys away from the computers (World of Warcraft, my evil nemesis) and make them look at it. Will probably try and get them to look at the Mars picture then, too. Oddly, to me it looks like it is erupting from the surface, not sunk into it, but that may be the wine watching.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Just to describe, in the spirit of the sky reports: The crater seen from space, directly overhead, is a just a ragged, roughly circular dimple in the Martian surface, not smooth-edged like lunar craters but looking as though it was excavated by a flat-blade shovel over the course of a long time, the excavator shooting for a circular hole but not so good on keeping it tidy. There is, prominently, a series of ripples dead center that we take to be sand dunes. Opportunity is a dot. It could be a bush. It could be a tree. It could be a rabbit or a turtle. But caption tells us that it is the rover, perched at crater's rim. We trust authority enough to accept that explanation. What is extraordinary is not just the clarity of the image (its not terribly colorful but it is in sharp focus), but the fact that we have two views of the same thing: From the orbiter in space and from the rover on the ground (we have different, but also very dramatic, images of the crater in which it looks like something in the American southwest, no surprise). And thus we sense that Mars is increasingly part of the universe we can understand and know. It is less alien all the time. Soon we'll have it triangulated, and in another 20 years or so it will be not that much more exotic than Canada.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 6, 2006 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Joel. In some ways your description is actually better than the picture. Of course, that's why you're a professional writer -- you understand the concept of word pictures. It still looks to me like it is erupting from the surface. Visiting Boy thought so too, and he hasn't had any wine, so I feel better. Visiting Boy is a spaghetti fiend and has made me feel guilty for only cooking him two large bowls, rather than three. I must atone with cookies.

By the way, Ivansdad & I spent our honeymoon there, and truly there is no place more exotic than Canada.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Joel. What an elegant and beautiful description. That's a keeper.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 6, 2006 8:40 PM | Report abuse

And it defines your "voice" very well, how you process the ambiguity and come to a conclusion.

I tried to see it how Ivansmom sees it, but I can't.
The shadows and the darker color of the crater make it too clearly an depression in the earth. Her monitor must be off.

My first thought was that it looks like a layer of fat on refrigated soup, so thick that pushing down on it has yielded a crater that drops straight down 3/4 of an inch. My second thought was that I need to cook less greasy soups.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Perspective is everything. I looked at it from the side, not straight on, and the crater immediately sunk into the planet's surface where it belonged. Visiting Boy saw it thus as well. The Boy saw it properly immediately.

Success! I got both Boys outside to marvel at the moon. I love it that they're not too cool to enjoy Nature (and Science). I intended to walk to the top of the driveway and shut the gate, but it is too late. The Giant Spiders have begun spinning their webs from tree to tree across the road, and you don't want to mess with them. At any rate I don't.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 9:00 PM | Report abuse

And thank you, Wilbrod, but you're too kind. I don't think it was the monitor.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Hmm Canada as exotic, there is a word I would never use to explain my homeland, vast, rugged, beautiful yes, perhaps somewhat dull in history. I tried last night to find something fun to add to the Haute Maine history, but couldn't come up with anything, closest I got was one of our historical minutes explaining how we settled one of our rebellions (using the term loosely) without violence.

I too dragged the family out to see the moon, its pretty cool out and there may be frost tonight, just adds to wonder of the full moon. I tried to take a picture to post as it seemed it was raining for many boodlers but the camera battery is dead.

Ivansmom - Giant Spiders?

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom--I have a high-resolution flat-screen LED monitor.

I can't deal with the flicker on the older monitors at all-- I usually have to sacrifice resolution for the speed I want. Whenever I look at the old-design monitors everything looks fuzzy now because the resolution is not the same.

Posted by: WIlbrod | October 6, 2006 9:29 PM | Report abuse

dmd, the outdoor Spiders which (who?) live in the trees are well upwards of an inch in diameter, and I mean the fat bodies, not including the legs. They are completely harmless to humans, as far as I know (at least they're not poisonous) but I wouldn't want to meet one in a dark alley. As walking up the driveway is the rural equivalent of a dark alley, even with the moonlight, I'll cede the territory.

When the Boy was younger and worried about night monsters, I told him we were protected by the good witches who lived in our trees. Perhaps this is some sort of natural extension.

No frost here, though it is down to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Drat its raining here too but its a lovely soft rain, and its pattering on the front porch roof. Early tommorrow monring I shall have fresh eyes to look at the Mars pictures with. Just too tired to look now.

dmd, I was thinking of one of those historical minutes too. The one with the prisoner who sneaks out his newspaper columns under the pie. That one is related to the 1837 rebellion. Not the same one perchance?

Anyway, rather than spending the rest of this evening inside, I am going to put on some warm woolly socks, a winter jacket some gloves, and grabe me a fortified coffee, and go sit outside and listen to the rain.

Posted by: dr | October 6, 2006 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Thats some big spiders, spiders don't bother me but I tend to keep my distance from larger ones. Yes getting cool at night here but daytime temperatures still climbing anywhere from 50's to almost 70 on a good day.

dr,there are several minutes that deal with the era between 1837-1841 in the push for responsible government. One where the guys yells no GUNS, in the middle of the to do(best way to describe it), the other one explains how they will have a Francophone run in the riding of York (now Toronto) to settle the disagreements between the cultures English/French (guessing that didn't quite work as planned!.

What I was looking for was a comedy sketch I vaguely remember on the 1837 rebellion which quite amusingly describes how it was much ado about nothing and ending in a bar in York (true story).

Posted by: dmd | October 6, 2006 9:55 PM | Report abuse

We have them here on the California coast, too -- "black and yellow garden spiders". Enormous, and usually building their webs off the lower branches of trees or from the patio roof. Last year we had one that lived on the patio for weeks. My daughter told her children the spider was our pet ---

Posted by: nellie | October 6, 2006 10:03 PM | Report abuse

And they are are a fall phenomenon, like the harvest moon. Which was not visible here, obscured by the "marine layer." (I know we called that stuff "fog" when I was a kid.)

Posted by: nellie | October 6, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

mo, outstanding pictures again! But seriously, next time you need to get a picture of the dog. Glad Pat made it, and sparks too. And all the BPH veterans, of course, as well as sonofTBG.

RD, congrats! We can say we knew you when, when you were just a lowly...whatever the heck you are.

Annie, may I just say I'm happy that you're not going to Afghanistan. I know, it would have been wonderful for you to get the Afghani farmers to plant Mr Stripey's or legumes, but...Best of luck to the hand-picked winner.

Rain here and mostly an undifferentiated layer of gray clouds, so probably won't see the harvest moon, but I'll check.

Wilbrod, you can lip read Dylan? Amazing! I'm trying to recall if I could detect his lips moving when I saw him last year - his mumbling gets progressively worse, I think. In the Scorsese documentary, when he was young, I found him very clear. These days, not so much.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 6, 2006 10:12 PM | Report abuse

We have those garden spiders here, too, Nellie, gorgeous things. One lived in the window corner when the Boy was a Toddler, and we watched him for months. Unfortunately the Giant Spiders in the Trees are just big fat brown spiders.

When I lived in Santa Barbara we called it "fog". It cured me of fog fear anywhere else. "You call this fog?" I scoff.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Seems the marine layer will be obscuring the harvest moon here, too. Where in the Golden (soon to be green) State are you, nellie?

We had a tarantula stroll down the stairs into the living room a few weeks ago. Very stately walkers, tarantulas. I read that the males go a-courting this time of year around here. Since he was unlikely to find a female in our house, we took him outside to resume his search.

I like spiders somewhat but their webs give me the willies when I walk into them. I wouldn't have walked up to the gate, either, Ivansmom.

Posted by: ac in sj | October 6, 2006 10:24 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect, ac in sj, how do you know he would not have found a female in your house? After all, there HE was. Brrr. I respect tarantulas but must confess I have no natural affinity for spiders. I had to overcome my fear when I had the Boy, though. I couldn't justify imbuing him with a senseless fear of spiders for no reason other than that I had it. I knew I was on my way the day that I wandered into the dining room to find his infant face in a wide pleased grin and several legs dangling from his mouth. I was almost calm as I fished out the remains. I prefer to believe that I got the body, too.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Mostlylurking, I was watching the documentary. I haven't seen him in recent clips. ALL singers are impossible to lipread. Bob Dylan is surprisingly lipreadable compared to most.

Also, I have banned photos of the dog or me in full being identified as Wilbrod etc. While Wilbrodog gives me a LOT of protection from muggers and other possible crimes, I don't want to draw any extra attention, I get enough already with Wilbrodog some days.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Eek, Ivansmom, I admire your fortitude in the face of spider legs dangling from the Boy's mouth.

I lived in Florida for a long time and there the house spiders are your friends, dispatching the inevitable bugs that lurk, so I thought of them fondly (sort of). My wariness of them returned when I lived in the country outside of Sacramento and there were black widows everywhere. I keep a respectful distance from most spiders and remove them to the great outdoors when I find one big enough to capture.

Posted by: ac in sj | October 6, 2006 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Time to sign off. I have to get the Boys settled with a movie (or the Simpsons!) and myself with a book, struggling to stay awake so I can call lights out by midnight. All the Boy's friends seem to accept my authority, perhaps because they believe my threat that, if they quibble with the Rules, I'll call their parents to pick them up. Even at midnight. This is one advantage of always doing what I tell them I'll do.

With luck I can check in again tomorrow. Remember, the Moon is always there, above the fog and rain.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 10:43 PM | Report abuse

If you're still on, Ivansmom,

I was singing Shine on, Shine on Harvest Moon off and on all day. Thanks! and I mean that.

Posted by: ac in sj | October 6, 2006 10:47 PM | Report abuse

My pleasure, ac in sj. Glad to hear someone else knows it. I told the Boys I was chatting with my imaginary friends and Visiting Boy asked, "You have imaginary friends?" I couldn't tell whether he was intrigued or alarmed. Of course, he immediately understood when I tentatively said, "blog".

Now I really must go.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 6, 2006 10:53 PM | Report abuse

ac in sj -- sorry, I went off to do other things there. I am 2 1/2 hours south of you, in SLO.

Almost always under the old marine layer.

Recently spent two weeks in Camarillo, and found it unreal to wake in the night and see all of Orion, including that nebulae (sp?) that can only be seen with your peripheral vision, right there in plain sight. Amazing what a change of perspective can do.

Posted by: nellie | October 6, 2006 11:20 PM | Report abuse

I wandered off, too...

We're on the other side of the Santa Cruz mountains from the coast, so the mountains keep the fog away a lot of the time.

I'll be driving through SLO on my way to L.A. in a couple of weeks.

Posted by: ac in sj | October 6, 2006 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Signing off for now. Goodnight!

Posted by: ac in sj | October 7, 2006 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Hello...I'm back. Yes, Goddard has a theater club. Goddard is amazingly like academia. With a population that is down to about 12-13K on-center and another 7-8K off-center, it is essentially a decent sized university campus with the same general environment. We have a number of clubs for the employees and their families. The drama club is essentially a community theater that has been producing shows since 1971. I'm a relative newcomer having only been involved since 1998, but I did meet MomWannaBe in the theater club (actually in my first show in 1998). She snatched me up pretty quickly and the rest as they say is history. One of the reasons that I stay at Goddard even when I could make better money in corporate America, is that I like the academic atmosphere. I work hard, but I find the non-working perks here to be well worth it and if I have a choice, I intend to retire here. Of course, as a federal contractor as opposed to a civil servant, it isn't necessarily my choice. The best part though is that there are never enough Unix sysadmins to do all the work that NASA needs, so I'm relatively safe to work here as long as I want.

ScienceTim--Well, I started working in your neighbor 660 in 1992 and stayed until 1996 when I went to HST. I had the position that DPF had (he took it over from me when I left in 1996). In those 4.5 years, I did provide support for some of 690. Back then SK (the 690 sysadmin) was the only sysadmin in 690 so I occasionally provided support or backup when he was not there. You might have met me back then. I still keep up occasionally with some of the 660 folks. Does that help identify me?

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 7, 2006 12:03 AM | Report abuse

(For the last week!) I'll try a sky report from Japan. For me it is 1:05 p.m., Oct. 7th. Yesterday was typhoon weather, with high winds and heavy rain (at that lovely slanting angle which is impossible to block). It was particularly vicious if you were trying to get into your car and bring down the umbrella. If the door was facing the north, once the umbrella came down, the rain came in. Which leads to a favorite question of mine of late: is it at all possible to open the car door, get inside, bring down the umbrella and close the car door without getting wet either from the rain, or more likely, the umbrella? I just stash my umbrella by my seat, if possible, but that isn't safe and can cause problems with the door. If you toss the umbrella to the other side of the car, you drip water on everything.

But this morning it was sunny, with lots of those lovely fluffy white clouds, either small, billowy types, or groups shapes (some of whom seemed to form into herds). Now, though, it is darkening and gray and windy again and more rain for the night. And while the mountains are visible, Mt. Fuji is blocked off again. I'm really going to miss the view of Mt. Fuji when I leave for Yokosuka (pronounced Yo-ko-ska, not Yo-koo-ska and definitely not Yo-ko-su-ka!). At least I go with the pronounciation from a Yokosuka native, not a Fussa (pronounced Hussa) native. Yet Fuji is pronounced Fuji, not Huji.

Posted by: Yokota AB, Japan | October 7, 2006 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Since I have such a romantic streak in me... here's my suggestion.

Dadwannabe and SciTim, just wear pink carnations in your left pocket protectors on a pre-arranged day, and you'll find each other. ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I was going to demand an actual picture of you, too, but you've got a good point.

I did see the harvest moon, and it was lovely. It was hidden by some clouds, but as I watched, they moved away and there it was, silver as could be. The clouds looked bluish and a bit red. "By the light of the silvery moon" is what ran through my head.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 7, 2006 1:34 AM | Report abuse

The great Buck O'Neil has passed away:

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 7, 2006 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod--aw shucks. I didn't think anyone would notice. Isn't the clue supposed to be a rose in my favorite book? I can carry it around Goddard for the next few weeks and see if anyone asks about it.

Besides, pocket protectors are so passe'. Maybe a rose stuck in the Treo holster?

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 7, 2006 2:18 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Congrats to RD, and to Ivansmom. RD, I don't know what you do, but I can imagine you are very good at it. I've always been afraid. And Ivansmom, I imagine you can tell that I am always cheering when women move up in the work place. It does not happen often enough, therefore, I scream and jump around.

Welcome back, Annie.
And yes, Ivansmom, I know I cannot change the whole world or cure all its ills, but everything starts with one. Thanks for your kind words, and thank you all for your concern and care.

It got cold here, fast. I am wrapped up in sweater and socks. Will not be outside much today. I love cold weather. Just like putting on more clothes.

JA, the picture of Victoria is beautiful. And Mo, love the BPH pictures. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. If I ever get to one, no pictures, your camera won't work again. Babies cry when they see this mug.

I slept a little bit longer, but was up at four. A friend of mine says that I absorb the problems of the world around me, and I think she has something there. Yet, I would rather do that then pretend they don't exist or hardened my heart to them. Sure it's difficult and it hurts, but Scripture says God give beauty for ashes, and joy for tears. I am counting on that, and the fact that God loves me and you so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, His Son, Jesus, will always sustain me, make my day, and hopefully, do the same for you.

Have a good weekend folks. Tell your family you love them, and try expressing it with affection, get some rest, and give God some of your time. I love you all, and want good things for you.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 7, 2006 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, yellojkt, for the link the article. New favorite phrase: "unlimited newshole," or at least it will be when I stop rotfl.

Here, cold and rainy, dropped 2 friends off at a 3-Day Breast Cancer walk at 6 a.m. in Fairmount Park. I raised the requisite $ & trained, but have bronchitis and can't walk 60 miles just this weekend. One friend brought plush dog toys and the young lab is running around with a fish-shaped one embroidered with the word "Gefilte," which says "Oy, Vey!" and makes bubble sounds. I'm trying to remember when something delighted me as much as the toy does her.

Cassandra, thank you. Your beliefs feel good to me in a way "church" never did.

Have a good weekend all!

Posted by: dbG | October 7, 2006 8:16 AM | Report abuse

No soccer. But I like the quiet Satuday stretching before me: Comforting sounds of two sump pumps working away. One is newish. After first installing it (er, paying the excellent Bob of Bob & Dave's Plumbing), I was compelled on rainy nights to check. New technology is quieter. I miss the swish and gurgle of the oldster.

I appreciate that others saw and will tell about the big old Moon. A lid of clouds and rain-shroud here in Metro Maryland, kept the moon from grinning through.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 7, 2006 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I think there are some fun and interesting moments in Canadian history, particularly if spectacular incompetence in critical circumstances is amusing.

Take a moment to remember Adam Dollard des Ormeaux. During the great Iroquois/New France battles of the 1659-60, and against
the advice of experienced soldiers, Dollard organized an expedition west. From Wikipedia:

"The group comprised about 16 volunteers who had little or no experience of Indian warfare. After a 10-day canoe trip up the Saint Lawrence and the Ottawa River, they set up camp not far from Long Sault, in a former stockade. They were soon surrounded by about 700 Iroquois and after a siege lasting several days, were all killed or captured and massacred. For reasons unknown, the Iroquois did not continue east to capture Montreal. The events were witnessed by about 40 Huron allies who at times had joined the colonists in the stockade and at other times had harried the Iroquois from outside.

The deaths of Dollard des Ormeaux and his men were recounted by Catholic nuns and entered into official Church history. For over a century Dollard des Ormeaux became a heroic figure in New France, and then in Quebec, who exemplified selfless personal sacrifice, who had been martyrs for the church, and for the colony.

However, there were other versions of the story, even then, that raised questions about his intentions and actions. For one, many historians now believe that Dollard and his men went down the Ottawa River for other reasons and did not even know of the approaching Iroquois. Nevertheless, Dollard did indeed divert the Iroquois army temporarily from its objective in 1660, thereby allowing the settlers to harvest their crop and escape famine."

Yoki again:

During the separatist crisis of the early 1980s, The Government of Canada in its wisdom decided that since most Quebecois did not identify with the monarchy, the public holiday known in ROC ("Rest of Canada") as Victoria Day or The Queen's Birthday (May 24) would henceforth be called "Dollard des Ormeaux Day" in Quebec to reference the great hero and give people a long weekend to plant their gardens. It is still called Dollard Day, though any identification by the general populace with Dollard has pretty much disappeared.

The fun part is that one of the more reliable "other versions of the story" is that, besieged by the Iroquois, Dollard ordered his men to craft a bomb in the form of a barrel of gun powder and a fuse. They lit the fuse, but failed in the attempt to toss the ordnance over the wall of the stockade, allowing it to blow up inside the fort and killing most of the French volunteers. Friendly fire rather than an Indian massacre. You can see why that wasn't reported back in Ville Marie. Not to mention the cynical propaganda value of the revised story to fomenting distrust and encouraging oppression of the First Nations.

Also, one of the western suburbs of Montreal, in a largely English-speaking area, is called Dollard des Ormeaux.

Posted by: Yoki | October 7, 2006 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Man, was that moon something last night. We had perfectly clear skies here -- just a few wisps of cloud -- so me and Little Bean had excellent viewing conditions. What was really cool was that the shadows cast by the moon were actually sharper than those cast by my neighbor's mercury light.

Speaking of cool...

37°F this morning. Was there some strange geological event recently that bumped Ohio up into Canada? If so, I'm not complaining.

Now I must be off to do manly non-sports things -- mainly playing with power tools at the Martooni-in-law's rental property. The last tenants completely trashed it -- every window broken, doorknobs stolen, light fixtures gone, giant holes in the walls, and (very gross) feces literally splattered on the ceilings. Time to break out the hazmat gear.

Posted by: martooni | October 7, 2006 9:10 AM | Report abuse


Not before calling in the police, I hope! Malicious damage should not be pooh-poohed...

Oooh, bad pun. So sorry.

I really am working on those pics... Really.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 7, 2006 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Re your name discussion earlier, you may like this visual evoked for me by your name"

Martin the Martian! You know, little angry outer-space guy from Looney Tunes?

Mash-up with MARtin and carTOONIes.

So, I think that and not the Bondian drink shaken or stirred.

Posted by: College Parkian (TO Martooni) | October 7, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, don't get me wrong I was a Canadian history major (although strong emphasis on post World War 1 through 1980's history), there are lots of small events, my point was in comparison to other nations the struggles we more moderate in nature.

Re Victoria Day, until I was ten I thought it was Fire Cracker Day, I am not a big fan of the monarchy, and would rather not have them as a symbol of the country, mostly because I do not believe in hereditary importance.

Posted by: dmd | October 7, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Are you MsPainting moustaches on everybody first, Scottynuke?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Scotty... I think she did call the cops, but these "people" were long gone and didn't leave a forwarding address. The cops around here are more into DUI and drug enforcement than tracking down vandals, so whether she called them or not really doesn't matter.

College Parkian... I think he was actually "Marvin" the Martian (a.k.a. "Brush Head"). A very fitting visual as I am short and do have anger management issues (really working on those). I've also been called "looney" and I play guitar, so there's the "toons". I dunno... for the time being I think I'll just stick with "martooni" and just try to avoid explosive cocktails.

Now I'm really out of here...

Must... leave... computer... alone... open... door... now...

Posted by: martooni | October 7, 2006 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, you have me ROFLMAO with your BPH pict descriptions.

Sound Report: Voices of the BPH:

Scottynuke: Great voice, masculin, professional, speaks with little emotion, conveys practicle information very effectively. He has what I call a radio announcer voice. He has a good laugh.

Mudge: He has the voice of what you would expect from a thousand year old guru that lives on a mountain peak. It's thin, raspy, patient, his words are chosen wisely. He is not loud, it took effort to hear what he was saying over the background noise, but his words were well worth it as you might expect.

TBG has the voice of the tender, fun-loving, experienced mom. round and relaxed, plain, kind and always ready to interject a little laughter as she spoke.

Sparks: He sounded like a typical smart-alec college student, but on his best behaviour. His voice is young, fast, natural, confident, he thinks quickly. Without a doubt, he will assume a leadership role as his career matures.
TBG's Son: Sounds like Sparks little brother.

MO: Sexy, clear, young, concise. Her tongue is sharp, mixed in with an , alto-suprano voice so that she could begin speaking turn into a laugh, perhaps another expression, turn around, raise and lower her pitch, start up again, all on a dime. I call it the Corvette voice.

Now I have to go to get the boy ready for a football game. His team has been outscored about 250 to 0 this season. I'm not kidding about this either, it's sad, they only have 3 1st downs, but the parents are still supportave.
Omni: I only heard him as he was leaving to say good by. Sounds like the timid professor.

Posted by: Pat | October 7, 2006 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke DID say he has done narration.
Just as long as he doesn't sound like Ben Stein.

Mo is also expressive facially and in body language with the abrupt transitions you describe. She'll love you for this voice description.

Mudge's the only description that surprises me. He just doesn't look old enough to have the seriously thinning voice of a 1,000 year old guru. And he IS perky. Any chance his voice was affected by the smoke in bar or other things?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

It is a lovely "crisp" (for here) 60 degrees this morning, so all the windows are open. The Boys went out for one last moon sighting about 11:15 last night, it was finally over the trees so they could dance in the light. They were asleep by 11:30 but (shudder) awake by 7:00 a.m.! Life is unfair. I know the Boy is never that awake on a school morning, when he should be, and I'll wager Visiting Boy isn't either.

Cassandra, I only meant for you to let go of the worry. Keep up the good works and thoughts. "RD, I don't know what you do, but I can imagine you are very good at it. I've always been afraid." -- VERY funny!

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 7, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

And now, I have that song "Marvin, I love you-- Marvin, I love you--" running through my head. Anyone else remember the Dr. Demento song from the 70's and 80's about Marvin the Martian?

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 7, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Oops...trying to find a sound file of the song, I found out that it was actually about Marvin the paranoid (and depressed) android from Hitchhiker's and not about Marvin the Martian...

But, the reference still made me think of the song.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 7, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I found the lyrics to Marvin


I'm just a robot and I know my place,
A metal servant to the human race,
I work my can off trying to satisfy,
I know they'll disconnect me by and by.

Chip on my shoulder made of silicon,
My printed circuit's like a lexicon,
Ten billion logic functions, maybe more,
They make me pick the paper off the floor.

Solitary solenoid,
Terminally paranoid,

Know what really makes me mad?
They clean me with a Brillo pad.
A carwash wouldn't be so bad.
Life! Don't talk to me about life!

I'm so depressed I could expectorate,
My moving parts are in a solid state,
I want to rust in peace, switch off and lie,
In that great junk yard in the sky.

Solitary solenoid,
Terminally paranoid,

Nothing left to be enjoyed,
Every diode rheumatoid,

Outer alloy,
Inner void,

Happiness has been destroyed.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Found Marvin, I love you.

The sound clips and lyrics from 4 Marvin the Paranoid Android songs can be found at the main site:

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 12:08 PM | Report abuse

One my very few talents is that I am able to exactly reproduce the original voice of Marvin the Martian. It used to impress my big brothers no end.

Posted by: Yoki | October 7, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

What a wonderful post! A sound report!
I read your words with tremendous eagerness, I admit. Personalities keyed or described by voice quality.

Since I have spoken with Mudge on the phone but once (research-related), I will second the fact that his voice is soft and I was slightly surprised that it was one or two registers higher than I expected. Mudge told me he thought I sounded younger than my age (a comment I have heard more than once in the past several years)--nowadays a minor stumbling block when I'm calling people on the phone asking for research help or with questions. ("What, you're not 16 or 25?")

But Pat, you failed to describe your own 6'2" voice?

And snuke, that was some photo--if ever anyone has whites of his eyes, you have them in abundance in that one snapshot of mo's! A radio announcer voice? Sounds interesting and provocative...

MoDo has such a great op-ed at the NYT today--an IM exchange between the Bush, Rove, Rummy, Dick, and Laura. My year's subscription to ideas and opinions "behind the velevet ropes" expires Oct. 8, but I just can't give up some individuals over there at the competition.

Posted by: Loomis | October 7, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, he reads from what I write very calmly and clearly.

The one thing I noticed is that TBG and Scottynuke say "Pat" very differently. For some reason every time Scottynuke said "Pat" I saw it as too like "Bob" for ease of mind. He could possibly snap his Ts, closing his mouth before he does the T, which would make the T look explosive like a p/b. P/B look alike on the lips.

Scottynuke denied he had any accent whatsoever, but I couldn't shake the impression.

Then I saw TBG call Pat's name. TBG said "Pat" to look almost exactly like "Bad" (Padt). Very different from Scottynuke.

Maybe us No.Va. people are the ones with accents and Scottynuke is accent-free.
And Pat's your uncle.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

nellie (and others re spiders),

That black and yellow garden spider is a beauty. At an inch and half though, I think most people would be intimidated. The largest one up here is the Jewel spider; we usually get one every year in the garage window:

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 7, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Tour de France Celebrity Cyclist's Dam Dirties Dead Man's Hole

Posted by: Loomis | October 7, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

That's a really interesting web page. I'll have to see if the big spiders we have are Jewel spiders. I'm not terrifically afraid of spiders, but I don't venture too close to them if I can help it. We get in the habit of waving our arms out in front of us so that we don't hit webs face first (yuk).

I liked this line from the website:
"When conditions are right, the babies send out strands of silk which the warm rising air carries aloft, often transporting the babies miles or even hundreds of miles away."

I never knew that!

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 7, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

And as promised, the rest of the BPH photos.

*back to chores and such*


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 7, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha - great pictures, Snuke! Everyone looks very perky. You got omni before the "dine and dash"!

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 7, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Great photos. Good ones of Pat.

Babelfish translation for Scottynuke:

Neenwad kerplunk. Riki tiki Bob.


Posted by: SonofCarl | October 7, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The Lonemule could have been the drunk who came over and asked what the BPH was.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 4:54 PM | Report abuse

What I want to know is where was the Lone Mule?

Posted by: dr | October 7, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

PJ, don't just gloat about these da** Yanks, the Detroit Tigers deserve their just chops for winning, it's been a while since they had a playoff-worthy team.
And to be lil' David against Goliath!

Motown be rocking tonight until first light comes.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Based on some arcane achenreasoning I found here, I restarted my computer and all browsers to see if I'm back to the present yet.

PJ, I certainly understand your fatigue, next time?

Timestamp 8:25. Testing testing...

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I keep singing a song my mom used to sing:

Marvin, Marvin, you're a rotten kid!

(Sung to the tune of "Funiculi, Funicula")

I think it's an Alan Sherman song.

Posted by: TBG | October 7, 2006 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Tigers in four!

The Evil Empire stumbles to yet another ignominious defeat. The great Yankee offense scored only six runs in the last three games against a team that stumbled into the playoffs. What a pleasure it was to see them flail away in defeat!

(Sorry, mo.)

Did I ever tell you that I don't like the Yankees? Remind me to do so sometime.

Posted by: pj | October 7, 2006 8:48 PM | Report abuse

BTW, welcome back pj, haven't seen many posts from you lately. It's good to get away from the computer, of course ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 7, 2006 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Nice pics of the BPH, mo and Scottynuke! Thanks for them. Sorry I missed it but work was just a bit crazy this week and I wanted to head on home. I'm really bummed that I missed the return of Wilbrod and the appearances of Pat and TBG's Pete. It's always fun to meet new folks at the BPH.

Posted by: pj | October 7, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm in full agreement, Wilbrod. It's been many years since the Tigers made it to the playoffs, so Detroit City will be hopping tonight. The underdogs won both first-round series. I'm not sure who I will root for in the next round. I'll just root for good, or at least entertaining, baseball.

Posted by: pj | October 7, 2006 9:44 PM | Report abuse

My watch says it is 8:30. Achenblog time is obviously still wacky.

Posted by: pj | October 7, 2006 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Joel's RD column,, is an aging middle management type who's more than a bit dog-eared, but still has a few tricks up his sleeve that the young whippersnappers haven't learned yet, viz. Costner, Eastwood, Bruce Willis, a certain H. Ford (whom I've been told I closely resemble--well, it's either Ford or Bob Redford, one or the other), Kurt Russell, Michael Douglas, etc. The question is couched as WW[AAH]D: What Would [Aging Action Hero] Do?

Joel's not quite old enough to qualify --but it's pretty clear he's an AAH-wannabe and has been studying the genre. Which is cool. After all, a man's gotta waqnnabe what a man's gotta wannabe.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 7, 2006 9:52 PM | Report abuse

pj says "work was just a bit crazy this week.."

Pretty funny, pj. Pretty funny.

We'll need a better excuse next time.

Posted by: TBG | October 7, 2006 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Wilbrod. I've been playing catch-up with the boodle for a long time now. It's tough when you open up a new boodle and you are already 100 or more posts behind. So I just check in when I can and make whatever comments I can. I'm glad there are others, like you, who keep this thing moving. Otherwise Joel might have to get a real job. ;-)

Posted by: pj | October 7, 2006 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Great moon last night after all, here in Japan. I tried to take pictures, but failed miserably. Maybe some lessons?

Stanley Fish had an interesting, probably tongue-in-cheek, idea for Bush to do (posted in the NY Times). This is my wish--and I yes, I do live in an alternate universe. It is here (and I can't make it link!)

I think Dr. Fish was being facetious, simply because everyone does know Bush is simply not capable of doing something like this. It is very sad, and unfortunate for the U.S. and the world, that is so, but, there it is. Still, even as a liberal and registered Democrat, I don't really care who gets us (the U.S.) out of the mess we are in. If Bush turned 180 degrees, fired Rumsfeld, neutered Cheney, fired Rove, (I know...all fantasies), worked with the Democrats, listened, practiced real Christian attributes like humility and patience, I would be happy. If the Republicans actually stood up to him, and did not pass (obviously I live in an alternate universe) legislation emasculating our Constitution...our governing document, the one they all swore (as did I) to uphold and defend...looked after those less fortunate while still working on a viable budget for all, and not the superrich.... Ouch! Someone just pinched me and woke me from my dream. Sigh. I just wish someone, I don't care which party, would state and restate and expound on what can be done to fix what has been going wrong. Not just investigations, but solutions. Make Bush veto legislation that restores the Constitution and then override the veto. Do something.

Posted by: Yokota AB, Japan | October 7, 2006 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I had never heard of the Jewel Spider, SonofCarl -- thanks for the link. An impressive beast!

Some years ago I was sweeping my carport in Charleston, SC, my home at the time. There was a large spider walking around, and I gave it a swipe with the broom. Imagine my consternation --- it split into what seemed like hundreds of little spiders. The mother spider had been carrying them on her back.

This noon we had lunch with a nephew and family, up from southern California for the Cal Poly - Davis football game. Mentioned to my niece that I follow a blog. Which one? she asked. One in the Washington Post, I say.

Which one? she asks.


Oh, she says, I often read that, I like the writing --- but I usually follow "On Balance." And then we had a nice talk about the attack on Pat, and I could assure her that Pat is just who he says he is.

Yes, a small, small world.

Posted by: nellie | October 7, 2006 11:28 PM | Report abuse

nellie, that's great. nieceofnellie, do you only lurk or post too? I've never gotten anything but glazed stares when I mention "blog" or "Washington Post" - much less "Achenblog".

pj, wondered where you've been. I haven't been following baseball at all this year, but I was kind of sorry that Randy Johnson did so badly yesterday. There was a point when the Yankees had a lot of ex-Mariners, so I didn't mind so much when they won. I really didn't like the Yankees when I was a kid, because they always beat the Pirates (except in 1960). Sorry, mo.

Beautiful day here today. The weather guy predicted heavy fog this morning, but it started out sunny and blue sky, then heavy clouds rolled in and it got cool, then the clouds broke up and it was blue sky again. I transplanted my bay laurel and a couple of bushy plants from containers to the ground - been meaning to do that for years. It's supposed to rain tomorrow. Haven't checked on moon visibility yet.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 8, 2006 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Heard that southern VA has heavy rain and floods - hope nelson's ok.

The moon is an oblong blur tonight - must be some clouds in the way.

Time is way off - temporal dislocation in full effect.

7:37 pm PDT

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 8, 2006 12:10 AM | Report abuse

In the interest of science, I rebooted my PC. We'll see if the temporal dislocation has been made right. Although I think it's unfair that I have to reboot when it's not my computer that is confused about what time it is. (I know, life is unfair.)

7:53 pm PDT

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 8, 2006 12:28 AM | Report abuse

mostlylurking -- you are the person, I am sure, who mentioned "Anna's Book" a month or more ago? I remembered how much I had liked it, found it in my bookcase, and re-read it. She Rendell/Vine is SUCH a good writer. The book held up well during a second reading. Thanks for mentioning it.

Now I must read "An American Childhood" by Annie Dillard. When I first started following Achenblog, Joel was teaching and put up a book list as a kit. He cited some examples of excellent writing, this was one.

I have had the book on my "to read" shelf for over a year. My daughter was here about a month ago, and picked that book up and said, "This is excellent writing."

So I think I had better read it.

Oh, from what I understand, nieceofnellie posts on the Mommyblog. I'll ask her if she minds my telling her nom de blog, when they get home from this weekend.

Posted by: nellie | October 8, 2006 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Christian behavior. Seeing the Amish show up at the funeral, to pay their respects, of the man who committed such a truly horrific crime, speaks volumes for true Christian behavior. I don't think I could have done that. That is Christian love, forgiveness, humility. Not what the politicians speak, but what these people just did. I am in awe of anyone, of any faith, who demonstrates that kind of true love of all humans.

Posted by: Yokota AB, Japan | October 8, 2006 12:43 AM | Report abuse

I don't think your reboot worked, mostlylurking. So much for that hypothesis that it's all the boodlers' faults for having... well, computers?


Good night all.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 8, 2006 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Yes, nellie, that was me recommending Anna's Book - my favorite Rendell/Vine book. I've read it several times.

Nope, the boot didn't help - tried to post a snarky remark, but it kept failing, so I gave up.

The Amish response to such a horrific tragedy is so amazing and inspirational to me. They've even asked that some of the donations that are coming to them be given to the gunman's family.

*waving at ScienceTim* Not to worry, but there was a 4.5 earthquake at Mt Rainier a little while ago...Where is my "go bag"?

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 8, 2006 1:28 AM | Report abuse

DadWannaBe, it is my guess that you are SA. ????

DPF and I attended the same graduate and undergraduate school. His father was my undergrad advisor.

I am out here in L.A. I had a lovely dinner with my stemother-in-law and with my wife's cousin. A place here in Pasadena (not really L.A., I know, but it all looks the same to us East Coasters) that has a wide range of Armenian and Greek foods.

L.A. Lurker, since I'm out here in your neck of the woods, sorta -- maybe a mini-West Coast BPH? So far, I still have Wednesday and Friday nights free. If some of the ScienceSpouse's family come through for dinner on those nights however, I'll have to dump you. Sorry, that's just the way it's gotta be.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 8, 2006 2:46 AM | Report abuse

ScienceTim--yes, I am an SA. As I said, I had DPF's job in 1992-1996. He took over from me when I went to HST.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 8, 2006 2:57 AM | Report abuse

Timestamp check:
10:35 pm PDT

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 8, 2006 3:28 AM | Report abuse

My previous post, at 1:28 am, where I amazingly sensed that ScienceTim was in LA, actually posted with the correct timestamp. The next one, at 3:28 am, did not.

I really give up.

10:44 pm PDT

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 8, 2006 3:37 AM | Report abuse

DadWannaBe, actually I thought your initials were SA, rather than that you are an SA. Oh, well.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 8, 2006 3:49 AM | Report abuse

ScienceTim--alas, no, I am not SA.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 8, 2006 4:26 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone. I am in a great vacation-rental house in a tiny town in western Maryland near the Antietam Battlefield. It's on Main Street of a typical Northeastern town: narrow street with just a tiny strip of sidewalk between the front doors and the curb.

This house is a two-story log home built around 1800. It is just wonderful and very comfortable and homey. I think we'll return here again to explore the area further. It's only about 50 miles from home but feels like another world.

We toured the battlefield yesterday, listening to the CD audio tour in the car. We didn't finish and will return today. The battle here, which took place on Sept. 17, 1862, is still considered the bloodiest day in American history: 23,000 people lost their lives in one day.

[Every time I think of that it brings tears to my eyes. I can't even imagine what 23,000 lives lost means, really. My brain just can't wrap around that.]

We'll continue to explore here and drive around the area, always on the lookout for great roadfood. We found a nice, old seafood restaurant in Hagerstown yesterday where we were the only folks not eating Maryland crabs. A diner here in this town serves great hamburgers and tonight we're heading to a tavern in Sharpsburg where maybe we can catch some highlights of the Redskin victory over the Giants.

Posted by: TBG | October 8, 2006 11:27 AM | Report abuse

OK... the Preview showed the correct time of the posting above (8:45 a.m. vs 11:27 a.m.).

This post was made at 8:50 a.m. Preview says 8:50. What time does the timestamp show?

Uh oh. Submission error. Let's try this again.

Posted by: TBG | October 8, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, everyone. 'Morning, TBG.

Not eating crabs? How dare you! Even if it's not unpatriotic, it's You don't want to make Bob Ehrlich cry, do you?

There's one spot on the Antietam battlefield that is really, really weird. It's called the Sunken Lane, where a group of Union troops were able to fend of waves of Rebs. The open field next to the Sunken Lane is what is weird. It is comprised of a bunch very small hills. During the battle, companies of Union and Confed troops were marching all around the area, and kep accidentally bumbing into each other at virtually zero range, and hand-to-hand combat brokes out. Reading accoiunts of this action in Ambrose's book, I could never figure out how one company could accidentally bump into each other, since it isn't heavily wooded (like, say, the Wilderness battlefield). Then, when I stood at the Sunken Lane and looked at the field, I understood. It is something you can ONLY understand when you stand there and see the ground, and see how a hundred men could suddenly come over a hillock and be five yards away from you. Very weird, very spooky in a way. Made the hair on my neck stand up.

Three days of rain from the Nor'easter have moved off, the sun appears to be almost out, and I'm off to the Annapolis Sailboat Show, to wander amongst the yachts and dream that I was a (younger) millionaire...(and have a MANDATORY crab cake sandwich for lunch, without which no visit to a boat show in Annapolis is complete).

Everyone have a nice day. Go, Redskins and Eagles.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 8, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Oh no, looks like it's back to roses and secret ciphers for SciTim and DadWannaBe. *Sigh* Will those crazy kids ever find each other?

Mudge, I finally put it together why Pat wasn't surprised by your voice. As Yoda with better grammar, you he had imagined.

As for the timestamping, it reminds me of this quote:

"Always in motion is the future."

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 8, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

TBG -- Burnside Bridge over the creek is also the sight of a broad, flat shallow swimming hole that my children enjoyed for many years. Amazing to that we could enjoy this gentle and tame spot now, that once ran with blood.

For rustic fun next trip, stay in the treehouses at Maple Tree Campground in Gathland. (Sometimes marked as Gapland) You can walk about twenty yards up to the War Correspondants' Memorial on the Appalachian Trail. You can also walk over South Mountain to Burkittsville for ice cream. Now that Blair Witch-stuff is passe, the area is once again a quick yet quiet get-away from DC.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 8, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... yes, crabs are mandatory in eastern Maryland, but considering we might be closer to the Ohio River than to the Chesapeake Bay, I think our choice not to partake was OK.

And, yes, as a matter of fact, I'd like to see Bobby Haircut cry.

I'll check out the Sunken Lane today. We hadn't gotten that far when we quit yesterday (too much rain; too many wet Boy Scouts).

Posted by: TBG | October 8, 2006 12:57 PM | Report abuse

To Sparks and Ivansmom re PEEPS from PA, the edible kind.

Sparks -- so Peeps is part of the special language and history of boodle-hood? Very good. I ADORE

(The world is so full of wonderful things; Why can't we all be as happy as kings.)

Ivansmom -- I do know about microwave peeps. Our favorite version is Peeps Jousting (Jousting IS THE STATE sport of Maryland and our red/yellow/black coat of arms/checkboard flag is pretty darn good too).

Peeps with toothpicks -- if you burst the competitor's peep before, you win....Very fun.

When we were little, we had one pack of Peep Chicks divided into the seven baskets. We didn't know you could eat Peeps. We thought they were decoration, like say chenille the time Peeps arrived by mail order, well they were very dry.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 8, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I used to run a fertilizer blend plant in Gettysburg and occasionally ride my bike from Hanover to G'burg and ride about the national park/monument. Little did I know the first time I visited that the battle consumed the entire town. I once stopped by a marker designating the site of a battery manned by soldiers from Ohio. According to the account on the marker, the day of the big battle, the soldiers were fighting their opponents as they approached and finally began climbing the walls of the battery. The soldiers unloaded on their opponents with a double loads of grape shot, opening up a gaping hole in the charging line. The time I took to read of the events at that location was enough to satisfy my curiosity about how big the battlegroyunds around Gettys burg were. Watching Burn's account of the conflict on PBS, I learned that Antietam, Petersburg, and a battle in some cornfield were all sites of incredible carnage. Kind of makes you wonder about armed conflict when two parties are passionate about their beliefs, and man's inhumanity to man.

Posted by: jack | October 8, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The most disturbing holes that I have seen in walls were in some anonymous little plaza in Santiago, Chile, in 1994. I looked around and realized that all the sourrounding buildings had had their windows blocked-in with masonry up to the 3rd or 4th floor, and there were many, many, pockmarks in the walls from about the 2nd floor on down to about 4 feet off the ground. Talking of man's inhumanity to man -- at least in our Civil War, BOTH sides were fighting for a cause in which they believed.

But, I remain amused that the national hero of Chile, their George Washington, is Bernardo O'Higgins. I dunno, it just strikes me as funny.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 8, 2006 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Quiet day around the Padouk household. Good day to sneak outside with the radio and do some yardwork. Also a good day to get all weirdly sentimental about a plant.

For today I put the garden to bed. I pulled out the remnants of the bush watermelons, dug out the dead roots of BB the Better Boy, and then paused for a moment to contemplate the remaining resident of my little plot of cultivated soil. I sat on the ground and, for several long minutes, stared at the faded and desiccated vines of Mr. Stripey.

I thought back to the spring day when I found it nibbled to the nub by varmints, and my amazement when it sprouted fresh leaves. I recalled my surprising despair when I thought it had died of water wilt, and my elation when it recovered. I remembered how important tending this quite unexceptional example of Lycopersicon lycopersicum had become to me.

I'm not too sure what to make of all this, except, perhaps, that I really do need to get out more. For Mr. Stripey was, of course, nothing but a food crop. Yet, by sharing silly little stories about it on the Achenblog, this ordinary plant had become something I would always remember.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 8, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I too was outside cleaning up the garden, RD. I have neglected to mention, because I find it depressing, that my Mr. Stripey, although perfectly healthy, never bore any edible fruit. The tomatoes would grow, some to a very large size, and then rot before I could pick them. Not sure if it was because they were very late developing or I just didn't pick them in time. They also never looked particularly "stripey." My other tomato plants did okay, and the cherry tomatoes got way ahead of me and most of them rotted on the vine, alas. I don't like to fail with a plant, so I may welcome Mr. Stripey to my garden again next year, as by then I should be done with all the major house renovations that have stolen much of my energy and attention this year. While in the garden, I saw an absolutely huge preying mantis. Or maybe they are all that big, I haven't seen one in years, so what do I know? The thing was about six inches long and wouldn't go away. Maybe he's my mascot?

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 8, 2006 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Hello, friends. I'm running so late today. Just got in from church. Jack that is so awful about your cats. I love cats, but don't have one now. I like dogs too.

Robin Hayes will speak this week at a church here in my town. I might go and see what he's talking about. I doubt many of the folks he talk to will know anything about what's going on in Washington. Of course, not many of us really do, do we?

I have a busy week coming up, must tie up some loose ends. Hope to start walking again. I do feel better.

I have been informed that a teacher from the middle school just might come out and help with the math and reading program. I certainly hope so.

I do hope your weekend was good. I'm sleepy and a little tired. All the talk of spiders, not my cup of tea. I don't like spiders, none of them. We've had a couple of people here to die from spider bites. And this apartment is full of them.

I know you know this, but guess what I found out at church today? God loves me and you so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 8, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse


Minor correction to your Antietam figure - there were 23,000 casualties, not deaths. A "casualty" is someone killed, wounded, captured, or missing after a battle. That doesn't make the 23,000 any less of a stunning figure, of course. Just over 50 years after Antietam on the first day of the battle of the Somme in WWI, the British had about 57,000 casualties with about 19,000 deaths. Most of the casualties occurred in the first hour of the battle. The battle lasted 4 and 1/2 months with over a million casualties in all. Isn't progress wonderful?


By "battle in some cornfield" I think you mean Cold Harbor in 1864, which had huge casualties for the Union troops. You could also include Fredricksburg in which Union troops were sitting ducks for the Confederates and suffered astonishing casualties. I understand that you can still see lots of bullet holes in buildings and walls in Fredricksburg.

Posted by: pj | October 8, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I've been on my own this weekend which means I had time to clean the house AND have time left over to work on my website (at least by next week I should have the new content uploaded) AND watch movies. I just watched "Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys," including the special features, which include an interview with Dave and *John Cleese*--woo hoo. Here's a small trivia tidbit from that interview: Both Cleese and Barry report growing up with seriously depressed mothers. So their comedy skills were honed on a tough but appreciative audience (both said their mothers had "a good sense of humor, but dark")--we'd like to draw a conclusion from this, but really, even though you CAN extrapolate an infinite line from two points, that doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Tonight I'm planning to watch "Glory Road" so that eventually when Joel posts his Sunday column, which somewhat disses my boy Josh Lucas, I'll have fresh encomiums to offer on his behalf.

Posted by: kbertocci | October 8, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Praying mantis. I was going to type it that way, then thought I was wrong.
Jack, sorry about your cats. Great Danes puzzle me. I had thought that they were basically gentle but my daughter has one, and although she is very good around people, she really, really hates other dogs. She does however, tolerate a baby squirrel that my daughter has been raising. (This would be a whole other story for a different time.)

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 8, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. My computer (still on East Coast time) agrees with the posting time of my 2:02 PM message, which was in response to pj's "4:34 PM" message.

The time is now 2:04 PM (EST).
The time is now 11:04 AM (PST).

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 8, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse


I don't care for crabs that much. My friends and relatives in Maryland used to be appalled at this until they realized that meant there are more for them! Now they don't complain so much.

Posted by: pj | October 8, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Battle of the Little Bighorn, formerly known as Custer's Last Stand -- wind always blows on the buffs. Wildflowers, including blue flax and red penstamen, boom in early June.

Growing up in MT, we visited this memorial often,stopping at the little concrete flush marker that indicated where Private J.S. fell. He was related to my father's side.

Now, relatives who are mixed Assiboine and Crow nations have children who are rangers and interpretive specialists at the park. I hear the new center is amazing.

BTW, these relatives don't care for the Redskins moniker at all. But they don't want to be called Native Americans. "If it matters, say my nation or tribe. Mostly just say my name and town."

Posted by: College Parkian | October 8, 2006 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Jack sorry about the cat, that must have been traumatic for everyone.

Another perfect day here, again clear skies and warm. I was outside most of the day, I had three cedars I wanted to remove and my brother had a spot for them so he came over and helped dig them out.

Just looked out my front window, the five year old is out front sitting on an upside down laundry basket in front of a sled (the round kind) full of leaves. She has a stick in her hand and she is pretending to roast marshmellows, life doesn't get any better than this.

Have a wonderful night everyone.

Almost forgot saw the opposite site of what I saw the other night, this morning got up to see the moon low on the western sky just a little before dawn.

Posted by: dmd | October 8, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

These poor crabs also need not to be overeaten so much so they can make more and more baby crabs for years and years of future wooden hammerbashing festivals.
As long as there are shrimp cocktails around, I'm more than happy to forgo eating anything with claws. Wilbrodog, however, likes crab, so if crab must be eaten.... Woof?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 8, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Woof. Anybody who has a crab-eating disability can ask me to help ANY day!

Posted by: WIlbrodog | October 8, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

*crossing my fingers that this post will show up this century*


No sabbe, pliz... :-)


I sincerely hope you find a solution that's not too drastic.

Back to watching the games, where I'm enjoying the Pats' victory more than I'm lamenting the Skins' loss.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 8, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I've been to the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields - drove by Manassas for several years. I don't know if they didn't have guided tours there 30 years ago, or if I just didn't take advantage. Very sad places. We stopped at the Little Big Horn, probably 20 years ago when we were moving back out here. I remember the wind, and the eerie quiet. I was thinking of the Disney movie Tonka the other day when people were talking about westerns. One of my favorites, as the Tonka of the title is a horse. He is the only survivor on the cavalry side at Little Big Horn (not sure if that is supposed to be true or not).

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 8, 2006 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure which cornfield it was in Virginia, pj, but the comment made by people that saw it after the battle was that the dead were so numerous that one couldn't step on the ground. BTW, in one of those battles mentioned this morning, when the troops started fighting there was an estmated 5,000 casualties in the first five minutes. Holes in the walls to remind one of what happened in Fredricksburg, Santiago, etc....sheesh. Good thing that the race is on and I have house cleaning and laundry as a diversion.

Alas, sad day in our home; our male dane came busting through the house last night and did in one of our cats. Long story, but I suspect that this is the fourth cat that has met its fate this way. I know that two have gone this route. My wife tried valiantly to save Hattie (I was on my way home from our daughter's band competition)and was quite distraught when I arrived. The kids saw everything. Time to find our dog a catless home, and I hate it.

Posted by: jack | October 8, 2006 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Oooh, jack, not a pretty thought. Good luck with homefinding.

I haven't forgotten about you! Garry's got you on his calendar, but I want to make sure he's confirmed before I email or call you back. Thanks for your patience; the last five days have been tough and I'm not over them yet...

Posted by: Slyness | October 8, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Poor cats! I feel for your family, Jack. I hope this Dane will not go to a new home intact for breeding purposes.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 8, 2006 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Pat, you never cease to amaze me.

Posted by: Slyness | October 8, 2006 8:45 PM | Report abuse

RD, your lament for Mr. Stripey was very moving.

I pulled our plants last weekend. We have about a zillion yellow and red cherry tomatoes (some still ripening) now. The Romas were big, but surprisingly bland. The BB produced very well.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 8, 2006 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I think I know the hills Mudge is talking about near Sunken Lane.

The best battleground I ever toured for making things clear after seeing the ground was Little Bighorn. You can really imagine it all happening, especially with the excellent guides.

The Battle of the Plains of Abraham (Quebec City) is another one where seeing the site really brings it all to life.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 8, 2006 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Son of D and I arrived in the DC area (Springfield) at around midnight on Thursday, so we couldn't make the BPH--sounds like a good time, though. We had a good day Friday looking at fossils, but Saturday we had to cancel our plans of going to the VA State Fair, because of the weather in Richmond--we went to the Air and Space Museum at Dulles instead.

On the football record, both as a player and a coach, I was involved with football teams that we're regularly trounced--the only time I played on winning teams was in college. In high school, we were everyone's homecoming opponent. My senior year we went 5-5, and it was the best record in school history up to that point.

Unnecessarily running up the score for any reason is reprehensible. But I remember in the 9th grade, being hammmered by the 4th-ranked team in the state, that ended up beating us 50-0 without trying to run up the score. No matter what we did, they were just that much better. After the game, the officials came to our locker room, and told us they had never seen a team play so hard right to the end of the game when losing that badly. That comment has stuck with me as much as anything from when I was a player.

Playing sports can have value far beyond winning. I think the coach did the right thing in not forfeiting the game. It would be a tough descision to make, but I think it's easier for the players to deal with being beaten, that to have to consider themselves quitters.

Posted by: Dooley | October 8, 2006 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I've been pondering that very thing, Wilbrod. I blame myself for the cat thing. My wife and I had always lamented the fact that we didn't take more time to socialize all of the animals together. Droopy has a penchant for stuffed animals, particularly these Zany brand stuffed rabbits that are about the size of the kittens. Once he has one of these in his mouth, he will run about with it to keep it away from our other Dane. I wonder of the remote possibility that his dysfunction might have started this way. In any case, he wasn't socialized with the other animals. All of that aside, the cats will usually give the dogs a lot of space and in the past, our outside cats, all of which are buried about the yard, would find a hole in the fence and split when the danes were about. We lost two cats to somethig unexplainable; no marks or anything, they simply were foud deceased in the yard (Tom and Jerry). About four months ago, the danes got Susie cat. Very unusual, because Susie wouldn't have anything to do with the danes. We figured she might have bee sick,and got caught off guard. I heard the commotion, got the cat, who scratched and bit me as a last act, but it was too late. We didn't tell the kids about that one. The two kittens (Hattie ane Freda) were around dogs at the vet's where I adoped them and did'nt mind our small dogs. As a matter of fact, they would play together. Hattie wasn't so fortunate to get out of Droopy's way. We have had four litters of pups with our pair and have kept track of many of them. Since we sell by cotract, the owners have the option of returnig the animals to us for placement in another home if the dog isn't compatible with their family, provided the animal has had obediece training. Of twenty eight pups,we have had to deal with only one such scenario, a man who couldn't take care of the dog because of his work situation. She was placed in a great home in Clt.. at this postig, we aren't aware of any of our dogs that have problems that would necessitate placement. So, to fix, or not? I feel like it's a socialization thing. We're in touch with the breeder we purchased from to find a remedy and place him in an appropriate home. If it comes down to a fix, so be it as long as he has a home that is proper. Long story, but we buy our dogs by contract and place pups by contract, so that all of the parties involved are covered in situations like this.

I'm glad to hear back from you, Slyness. I hope you've found as least some pleasant moments during the past few days. Sudden losses are the toughest to deal with. I left messages for you, in a pesky way, with the hope that the window of opportuity for the guest speaker wouldn't slip away. Excuse me for doing so.

Posted by: jack | October 8, 2006 9:24 PM | Report abuse

TO SON OF post should come after yours. Little Big Horn comment. Glad to know you have been there.

Mr. Stripey! Try him again, oh do. CONFESSION:I cheat, because instead of vegetable gardening, I know own a share in a CSA -- community supported agriculture. I give MF 100 dollars and about 6 hours per month helping in some way. He grows produce for me and ten other families.

Mr. Stripey -- joy of children and wise fools everywhere. I always think of Kermit the Frog and Jim Henson when I see these darlings in my produce box.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 8, 2006 9:39 PM | Report abuse

sciencetim, i could swing wednesday if you are still free.

how about m&s pasadena? =)

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 8, 2006 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that posted accurately!! *L*

6:24 p.m.

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 8, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Jack, sounds reasonable. All unsocialized dogs will chase cats.

Still, I can't forget about a friend's great danes killing a collie because it probably decided to stop giving puppy license to one of her growing teen male pups. I think a few dogs were in the attack. Such stories will give the breed a bad rep.

That friend also told me that she will not keep a great dane with any hints of object guarding-- too dangerous. I don't know if the dog that instigated the attack had a history of object guarding or not, will ask.

That said, to others that don't know the breed, a good Great Dane is wonderfully goofy and fun. You just have to know dogs and be relatively consistent with house rules.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 8, 2006 11:02 PM | Report abuse

College parkian, how do I get into a CSA? ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 8, 2006 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Now I remember why I've been putting off updating my website--it's because it's a time-hole; once I get started I end up staying up past my bedtime. I've got another busy week ahead of me and don't think I'll be on the A-blog at all tomorrow, but I finished my updates and you guys are just about the only people who might care about it, so here goes the news flash.

If you remember a few months ago I put up a fansite dedicated to Tropic magazine, the now-defunct Sunday magazine of the Miami Herald where many of our favorite writers used to work. I emailed Gene Weingarten about it, since he was my favorite Tropic editor (not taking anything away from Tom Shroder, who was a worthy successor). Gene wrote me back with a list of articles he remembered with particular intensity. I dutifully sought them out and have added seven of his suggestions (three are still on the missing list--it's a real sleuthing job tracking these articles down). Three of the articles Weingarten suggested were penned by none other than our own Achenkitmeister. One is about space, entitled "The Final Frontier?"; one is about a guy who was hired to create a p.r. campaign for the U.S. Constitution ("The Rights Stuff"); and then there was a feature about the process of judicial elections in south Florida ("Juris Impuris"). When I was finding those articles, I came across another Achenbach classic. Back in the Why Things Are days, Joel was a regular "Mr. Know-It-All"--not that he knows any less now, but he doesn't write encyclopedias anymore--this article is called "Encyclopedia Tropicanica" and it's probably the only article anybody ever needs to read. I know I can't post links to all these individual articles, so I'll just tell you, the site is and you can go to the Browse by Title page to see all of the articles--the new ones are marked "new!"--even though all these articles are actually quite "old!"--it's relative, see?

I also added Dave Barry's farewell to Tropic; click on "More About Tropic," and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Posted by: kbertocci | October 8, 2006 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Custer Battlefield is located within the Crow Indian Reservation, and as part of that agreement the Crow tribe specified that most employees would be selected from among tribal applicants. We always stopped there, coming or going to Great Falls, Mt., where our son lived until a few years ago. It is indeed a haunted, erie place with a restless wind. It's also a Veterans' cemetery. I think I remember that Custer's horse was named Comanche, and that he was paraded around the country. Newspaper reports were wildly inflated. I did a term paper many years ago about that...still have it somewhere.

Posted by: Gunde | October 8, 2006 11:17 PM | Report abuse

N. Korea has claimed to have conducted an undergroud nuclear test. I'll have to go to NOAA and the USGS sites to see if any sensors have picked this up. I wonder how the administration will react to this, and I wonder why we will be in a reactive mode when the world powers that be had so many chances to be proactive.

Posted by: jack | October 8, 2006 11:42 PM | Report abuse

in russia the price of investigative journalism runs extremely high at times. because the latest victim is both famous and a woman, there is quite an outcry.

wapo article:

the cover of novaya gazeta (her newspaper) is very moving:

a basic translation--
the large red letters announce the murder of anna "anya" politkovskaya

the large blue letters declare "while novaya gazeta exists, her murderers will not sleep peacefully"

skipping a little below, in smaller red letters, it states that the share-holders of novaya gazeta will pay a 25 million ruble (~1 mill. USD) reward for information leading to the arrest of those who ordered, organized and carried out her murder.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 8, 2006 11:49 PM | Report abuse

no CP. not the peeps info, the fact that clouds are hard. although if you grew up without access to soft peeps, the mistake is understandable, and thus completely forgivable.

annie dillard is the only living author on the st. john's college curriculum. we read an excerpt from pilgrim at tinker creek as the first lab reading, when we're learning about observation.

and all this talk of the moon has brought up canoeing songs in my head. i don't know why.

My paddle's clean and bright,
Flashing like silver
Swift as the wild goose flight,
dip, dip and swing

Dip dip and swing it back,
Flashing like silver,
Follow the wild goose track,
Dip dip and swing.

Posted by: sparks | October 9, 2006 12:10 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't too bad yesterday, my son's team only lost 36 to 0. I think it was the best game they played all year. My son still wants to be on the team and my wife is doing a great job calling play by play.

I'm irritated with the Skins. They used to be my favorite team, but the organization sold out the radio contract to what they call "Triple X ESPN". For one thing, I'm a family guy and "triple X" just makes me cringe every time Sam Huff mentions station identification, which I can barely hear anyway since the network is broadcasting out of some no-name, half watt radio station.

So instead of listening to a bunch of static about million dollar losers, I gave myself a huge ego boost. I replaced an overhead kitchen light for my wife and anybody else in the house that can appreciate sight. It only took 2 trips to Home Depot, no blown fuses, and I'm living to brag about it.

Next challange: ceiling fan.

Sound Report: Voices from the BPH, I left myself out, but from the inside, this is how I sound. I've got a 6 foot 2 inch Southern Virginian voice, deep, strong, husky, playful. However, it's clumsy, it trips over itself, staggers then rewinds. A few drinks usually smooths it out. From the outside, like from the answering machine, it sounds even better. Anybody from the BPH wish to comment? I'm just trying to be accurate.

Sky Report from Wife after church, (Sermon on husband & wife becoming one):

the sky is baby glue!


Posted by: Pat | October 9, 2006 12:31 AM | Report abuse

is that glue made from babies pat, or for sticking them together?

it's cool that you think that your voice sounds better from the outside. i am constantly weirded out by how deep my voice is when i hear it recorded. the first time i noticed this, i was in like 5th grade. i speak much louder, and my voice is much prettier in my head. this may be why i am such a narcissist, and have such trouble believing that nobody else loves me as much as i. but enough about me, i think that was an excellent description of your own voice, i could not have done better. one of the major problems i've found with having a photographic memory is that i have a lot of problems describing things, because i never describe them to myself. i just think about them, and see (or hear) them complete in my head. that's my story and i'm sticking to it.

Posted by: sparks | October 9, 2006 1:01 AM | Report abuse

L. A. Lurker: Wednesday it is, then! I am supposed to be guarding my poster until about 7:00 PM. Would 7:15 at M&S be good for you? I can make it earlier, if that would be better, but not lots earlier. You will see me in unusual attire -- I'll be wearing a necktie and sport coat. Unsual for me, and unusual for anybody else in L.A. However, the necktie will be a somewhat silly one.

01:04 AM EST.
10:04 PM PST.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 9, 2006 1:04 AM | Report abuse

When I looked on Amazon to see if I was remembering "Tonka" at all accurately, there was a mention of it being reshown as "Comanche" and I could not figure out why. I found this with google - part of a history that was done around 1961:
This says that the horse Comanche (yes, not it comes back to me) was the only living thing found on the Little Bighorn battlefield - he was Captain Keogh's horse. The part that Disney romanticized was probably about him belonging to Indians first - or maybe not, who knows.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 9, 2006 2:10 AM | Report abuse

SCC - that would be *now* it comes back to me

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 9, 2006 2:19 AM | Report abuse

SCC- baby blue.

Posted by: Pat | October 9, 2006 3:01 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. So many comments, can't read them all. Slyness, I hope everything is going okay with you. And to the friend that checks in some time, peace and love to you, and my prayers.

Have to get busy, so much to do today. Will try to check in later.

I went back to church after checking in yesterday, and it was dark when I got home. I seldom go back in the afternoon, but a friend wanted someone to go with her, so I caved in. And the speaker was a young woman from my church.

Pat, I'm going to start back walking this morning, had a week off. Will try to post a sky report, but you get so many, may not need one from me. And all of them are so lovely.

Jack, my dad does not like cats, but now he's feeding the cats that live in the back of his house. I mean actually buying cat food for them. And he stands outside while they eat so the dogs don't take over. I can't believe it. I am in awe. It's a three-hundred and sixty degree turn around.

I know everyone is so excited about going back to work and starting the week. I can see the happy faces in my mind's eye (smile). Hope the weekend was good. And I believe with all my heart that if we think about the fact that God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ, the day can't help but be a good one. Love to all.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 9, 2006 5:12 AM | Report abuse

Morning all, hi Cassandra! *wave*

A little voice in the back of my head says N. Korea probably has enough conventional explosives to simulate a nuclear detonation underground. We'll see what the nuclear sniffers have to say.

You know you're an Achenaddict when you're posting at 6:51 a.m. on a non-weekend day off.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 9, 2006 6:51 AM | Report abuse

And here's a sad, sad commentary on humankind's ability to affect nature... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 9, 2006 6:55 AM | Report abuse

October is the month of birthdays in the House of c. We are either hosting or attending celebrations both days for every weekend of the month (don't ask how this family celebrates Valentine's Day). This combined with a blow delivered by the Compaq/HP service department requiring that we return our home computer for service under the terms of the warranty (I did say that I could easily replace the parts myself if they would send them to me, to no avail), so the home computing capacity is severly curtailed. My wife's work and the kids' homework takes priority, so I'm the bottom priority.

I am trying to catch up with the weekend's boodling, and with today being Columbus Day, volume may be small enough for me to catch up.

Quick comment: I'm not sure that North Korea's actual detonation of a nuclear weapon actually changes, other than the media attention. They've said they have had capabilty for years, and we've believed them.

Russia says that they don't detect radiation indicative of an atomic bomb, so my Spidey-sense is starting to tingle. Could North Korea have actually detonated 5 or 10 thousand tons of TNT to make people *think* they have atomic weapons?

Hmmm. The North Korean Government *are* the #1 counterfeiters of American dollars in the world, to make people think that they actually have money (this is a big reason why the US has such stringent economic sanctions in place).

The folks I know in the Treasury dept. point to the North Korean bills as the best counterfeit dollars anywhere (and that includes the new "counterfeit resistant" bills), and are darn near undetectable in a cursory visual inspection.

Me, I'm not looking too closely at my money, but the next time I do, I'll be wondering if that $20 paid for a nuclear bomb, a big pile of TNT, or simply helped amortize the costs of a big, expensive, sophisticated printing press.


Posted by: bc | October 9, 2006 9:30 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "actually changes anything, other than the media attention."


Posted by: bc | October 9, 2006 9:33 AM | Report abuse

This morning the sky is just pure blue, not a cloud to interrupt it. The light is shining through the trees, some of which have turned gorgeous shades of red and yellow. Other trees seem to be holding out for even colder weather before they give up the green. The sunlight is highlighting the dew on the grass, it looks like the lawn is strewn with diamonds. The air is crisp and very clear.

I hope the timewarp thing gets corrected today. Yesterday I found I was replying to Jack's story about his cat before he posted it. But I guess that's now normal around here (smiling).

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 9, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Good morning! Sky report: the sky is blue blue with some streaky clouds randomly scattered through the north, south and east. We can see the front coming in from the west, though -- a nice big bank of solid cloud, a little spidery on top, fading from white at the edges to a promising gray in the center. May be rain tomorrow! Cassandra, please keep up your sky reports. You describe them so well, it is fun to read.

RD, thanks for sharing your ruminations on Mr. Stripey. He became a real presence to us all, and an example to Lycopersicon lycopersicum everywhere. I look forward to his continued adventures -- perhaps a winter stint on the Mediterranean. My own Mr. Stripey is still alive, in the subsistence sense of the word, but that is all.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 9, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I find it a highly unusual coincidence that the SciFi channel had several "atomic disaster" flicks yesterday. Including "The Day After," although I'm pretty sure it was edited. Can't imagine why, but I know some bits were missing.

You know we have a problem when a cable channel has better intelligence than the government. *SIGH*


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 9, 2006 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Regarding praying mantes [the plural]: Back when I was small, one could order the egg cases from Burpee's or other mail order seed houses. The idea was that one would place them in one's yard or garden, and voila! you'd have environmentally friendly pest-control. You could also buy egg cases for ladybugs, which also eat insects [small ones] gardeners consider undesireable. I would assume that these are still available, but I have not looked into it. Even if you are insect-phobic, these two types beat Japanese beetles any day, at least in my book.

Sky/moon report: this morning, my pre-dawn run was beautifully lit by the almost full moon in a perfectly clear sky. As the eastern sky grew lighter, the sun and the moon lit their respective halves of the sky in a way that I have no words for, except perhaps luminous. I remembered too late to try the experiment of reading text by moonlight. I will try to remember tomorrow morning if the weather is clear.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 9, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I've read some articles there and here about elephant behavior but this puts it together, pretty good.

It's ironic because when I read about the young male elephant behavior in the absence of older bulls, I thought that sounded way too much like teenage gang behavior in humans.

Elephants are intelligent creatures and have been known to be sensitive to psychological problems in zoos when isolated and bored, and I am not surprised they would show serious abberrations in behavior in the wild from serious life traumas.

The National Zoo now has a policy of protected contact with all elephants for the zookeepers' safety. Bull hooks aren't used--just simple positive reinforcement training to submit to everything for food etc.

Wilbrodog didn't recognize the elephants as animals first, just way too big to see, until he saw the mama and calf together and then he got excited.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Past time for a new kit, I think. This one is 3 days old. Joel?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I was wondering if you were clairvoyant, 'Sneaks. My danes are pertty territorial, like yours. Great around the children, hate the neighbors. The latter get brave between the sidewalk and fence and torment the dogs. Funny thing is that the fence is 4 ft. and could easily be cleared. When they wer5e pups, we kept them out of selected areas of the house with a baby gate. The device worked as they won't go over a fence, but under it. The teerritoriality and cat thing is a combination of genetics (they originally hunted boar in Europe; the aggressiveness inherent in the genome had to be bred out over twenty some years when the breed crossed the pond in the late 19th cent.) and our lack of holistic socialization.

Our middle daughter saw the designation of Thanksgiving (Can.) on the calendar last night. "You mean thanksgiving is cancelled??????" No offense to blonde boodlers, but our daughter had a blonde moment.

Posted by: jack | October 9, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Pat, I have to give you a sky report from Saturday because it was just too darn beautiful. My son woke up early and I didn't have any cream for my coffee, so I headed out to go to the store, and what a sight when I walked out the door. In the west, there were low clouds hanging on the mountains, then a strip of clear powder blue sky, then more clouds stretching back to the east. In that strip of blue, the full, full moon hung, floating. With the mountains shrouded behind the clouds, the early morning sun was hitting the foothills and brining out a golden glow from them beneath that amazing moon. It was gorgeous. In the east, the bottoms of the clouds were lighting up pink and yellow. Thank goodness for early mornings!

Wildbrod, your comment about Wildbrodog not recognizing elephants reminded me of a funny moment years ago when I was working on an historic farm. I was walking the cow out to the pasture in the evening, and we came upon a small group of deer, maybe about 5 or so, in the alfafa. The cow, Rachael, froze, and the deer froze, and they all just stood there sniffing the air and regarding each other intently. I was very nervous, not being sure how they would all react, and the moment seemed to last forever until there was a loud noise from over by the barn and the deer all bounded away. I have no idea what Rachael and the deer made of each other, it was a very odd feeling standing there with them.

Posted by: Megan | October 9, 2006 11:03 AM | Report abuse

To Wilbro re Community Supported Agriculture. The Post ususally does a feature in the food section in later Winter about CSA.

Ask around at farmers' markets. Read the bulletin board at food coops.

You can also buy heirloom or "antique" tomatoes at farmers' markets. Be sure to try the pinkish, globular variety called Brandywine. Brandywine sports an ugly face but has some taste and personality. Cherokee is similar but less globular.

Don't be too critical now, since tomatoes are pask peak. They need hot night to ripen to perfection. Still worth eating though, especially with fall baby lettuces, spinach, and other greens.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 9, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

OOOh, CSA's are the best for good produce! Wildbrod, if you're looking for one, there's a website that has a list of them by state - it's probably not all-inclusive but would be a good start: Also, in many areas there are organic farming associations that provide links - the northeast organic farming association, for example, has a website at; and there's one out here in CO, but I forget the address. Anyway, we've done CSA's in various places and really loved it.

Posted by: Megan | October 9, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

That is funny, Megan. That reminds me of the donkeys and monkeys googling at Wilbrodog at the zoo.

The very first time Wilbrodog saw deer one evening, he merely nosed me and I turned and saw a deer standing still around 10 feet away. I thought okay, that's great. I made the mistake of letting him sniff offleash near the woods.
Bingo, another deer showed up and this time he bolted and my dog pursued. He came back in sight in 2 minutes but then was gone out of sight for 20 minutes. After that, no more offleash play in that deer-infested area, everything was on a long line just in case.

Nowanights, he barks at deer roaming anywhere near our window.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Anyone happen to catch Bob Woodward on Larry King last night? I found it interesting how the Bush admin thought his first two books on them were great -- and went out of their way to cooperate with him -- but on this one they weren't so cooperative or talkative and are now implying (though not saying it outright) that he has an "agenda".

Posted by: martooni | October 9, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

GOOD MORNING, TEAM. I hope your trip is going well, TBG, you certainly have fine weather for it. FWIW, as a Fredericksburg native, I must correct the record that it's Sunken ROAD (not Sunken Lane). I was well into my teenage years before I realized that not everyone went to church in buildings that had cannonballs in the walls.

My school was at the top of that hill, next to the Federal cemetery. I know, I know, everyone who went to Catholic school is supposed to be fashionably bitter and scarred for life. But I have very fond memories of it: the place was run by an order of French Canadian nuns, Les Filles de la Sagesse (Daughters of Wisdom). When they wanted to have private conversation, they would revert to French, so the nosier among us learned that language at a young age. They had a pair of German Shepherds, Duke and Duchess, who were allowed to roam the halls and grounds at will, and who both had an unerring instinct for the kid who needed a cold wet nose on the back of the knee.

At the foot of the hill that led to the school was a statue of "The Angel of Marye's Heights." This was a soldier named Kirkland who spontaneously nursed the wounded and the dying, regardless of the color of their uniform. The statue shows him crouched over a wounded man, offering a drink from his canteen. It made a powerful impression on me, to ride my bike past that statue twice a day, every day, on my way to and from school.

It's a testament to the power of that lesson that to this day, I could not tell you which side Mr. Kirkland was fighting for.

The school is gone now. Back in the day, there were maybe seven Catholic families in Fredericksburg and, together with Protestant families who wanted Christian education for their kids, that was enough. Then Fredericksburg started growing, and lots of private schools, Christian and otherwise, opened up, and my school lost its niche.

I went running there one day last fall. Strange sensation. The school, gardens, and orchard are completely gone. The convent is still there but (I confess, I peeked) it was full of file boxes, like it is, or is going to be, an office. I don't know where the sisters went.

Whenever I am tempted to lament what has happened to Fredericksburg, I have to remind myself that I don't have standing: I could have stayed, but I left, for the big city. But it's not just the school. I used to ride horses on the land by Route 3 that has become the laughably misnamed "Central Park." It was a farm called Altoona that belonged to my best friend's grandmother.

No doubt it was a big payday for Mrs. Rowe, and no doubt the taxes that all these new stores are paying are doing some good. But I am haunted by Peggy Noonan's observation: In America, you don't have to be very old to be able to say The world that I grew up in no longer exists.

Posted by: annie | October 9, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

And the Bush administration doesn't have an agenda themselves?

Etymology: Latin, neuter plural of agendum, gerundive of agere (to manage, drive, lead, act).

1 : a list or outline of things to be considered or done
2 : an underlying, often ideological, plan or program

I think the Bush administration wanted the word "vendetta."

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Annie, I felt the same way since around I was a late teenager-- this area has developed so fast. Now the house I grew up in no longer exists-- there are 2 huge houses on that property. I don't miss the house, it had its life, but I do miss the trees that had to be chopped down for it.

Now that landscape exists only in my dreams, usually in some distorted form. It's strange to think about.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

You know, like the Administration has in place in Iraq instead of an actual agenda.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The Great Dane is my daughter's dog, Jack, FWIW. I don't pretend to have your knowledge of the breed but I always found this dog a bit odd. She doesn't like to ride in cars, she will manage short trips of perhaps a 5 mile radius, but any further and she's a basket case. She was in puppy playgroups when she was younger, and seemed ok with, if I remember right, a rotweiler and two bernese mountain dogs. Back then she just hated Labs. Now she won't tolerate any dog. But she's always been good with my other daughter's children (although she does steal cookies - but any dog would do that) and is very friendly and personlike with me. I think my daughter has spoiled her terribly and indulged her too. She did go to obedience classes but I can't see that it ever did much good. When she is walked, she has to wear a collar with spikes (?) in it to keep her under control if another dog approaches. My daughter is careful to walk her at times and places where she is pretty confident that they will be alone.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 9, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Bad sneakers, do you mean a prong collar? The prongs are similar to spikes but not quite. Prong collars can detach very suddenly so I hope your daughter has a back up collar on her.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, didn't see the clip but I love the "agenda" comment - as if the Administration does NOT have an agenda. It reminds me of the way each side now is always accusing the other of "playing politics." Ya think? I mean they are, after all, POLITICIANS!! What a surprise!

Annie, that was a great post. It brought out exactly the feelings I have when I visit my home, which has experienced so much development that I hardly recognize it anymore - long gone are the prairies, irrigation ditches and cottonwoods I used to play in. Though I have a harder time being generous about the cheap houses that reside there now - some are already being left behind in search of newer construction and the neighborhoods going to seed. Perhaps someday the praire will take them back over?

Wildbrod, that must have been a sight to see your dog take off after the deer - I'm so glad he came back!

Posted by: Megan | October 9, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Me too. I was reasonably sure he'd come back, but my dad said some dogs are gone 2-3 days at a time just chasing deer.

He said sometimes the deer let the dog approach within X distance and then bolt, starting the chase all over again. He said the deer seem to be playing with the dogs.

Fortunately, that deer didn't want to have fun with my dog.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure about the collar, Wilbrod, but I will definitely tell my daughter what you said. I'd hate to think what might happen if the dog got loose. Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 9, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I heard it from a dog trainer who said that is what he does whenever he uses a prong while discussing the pros and cons of various equipment.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Cesar the dog Whisperer has some interesting dog training strategies. I miss the original host of Good Dog U. the morning sky has given way to a pattern of clouds and blue sky approaching that of a large hand held fan.

Posted by: jack | October 9, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

megan & wilbrod...

The irony of "you're playing politics!" by the Repubs (or the Dems) hasn't escaped me.

If anything, it makes me even more disgusted.

What made me laugh about the Woodward interview and all the flack over "State of Denial" (his latest book), is that the Bush team thought Bob was on their team (or at least sympathetic) after his last two books about the administration. Woodward made it clear last night that in this book, as in the first two, he is just reporting the facts as he finds them. In the first two books, the facts made Bush's actions seem reasonable (or at least plausible). This time around, the facts being reported show the opposite -- that this administration just doesn't have a clue -- so the Bush admin is trying to discredit it by insinuating that Woodward has an "agenda".

I know that politicians will use whatever dirt they can against each other to stay in power. But this isn't a freaking highway project or other pork barrel gimmee. Bush and his cronies are bankrupting our nation, ignoring legitimate homeland security issues (i.e., chem/nuke/petroleum plants, harbors, rail, etc.) and doing what seems to be his damnedest to make sure that everyone in the world hates us.

And they have the nerve to say that anyone who doesn't agree with them isn't patriotic or is too dumb to understand.

I understand.

I understand that we have a freaking idiot in charge of the country. An idiot who's cronies have ensured that the Executive Branch is and will remain beyond reproach or accountability. I'm also aware that I stand a good chance of being "indefinitely detained" for even thinking these thoughts, let alone typing them out and posting them in a public forum.

What we need is a revolution.

Next month, folks... Next month we have our say.

Vote early and often.

Posted by: martooni | October 9, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I had read something not long ago debunking the Dog Whisperer. Unfortunately, it is no longer available to read for free, but if you are really interested, here's the link.

As the co-owner of a docile and aging lab, I'm pretty impartial to all this, so don't think I am trying to stir up a debate. I do think good old behaviorism works, though.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 9, 2006 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Watched the International Space Station pass over this morning for about 4 minutes. It was scheduled to appear at 6:37 AM PDT in the NNW sky and travel across to the SSE. But we live on the east side of a mountain with lots of tall pines so we didn't see tor about a half minute. It came out of the pins just to the north and below the moon. We watched until it faded into the brightening SSE sky. It's scheduled to be visialbe over our sky three more days.

Posted by: bh | October 9, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Blog Meta discussion here. ('Meta' as in how blogs work and why we engage thusly)

I've been reading for some time now, blog pioneer Andrew Sullivan, hosted/sponsored/claimed by Time Magazine. He used to be on his own in cyper-space. His blog hits make him a king of online presence.

Early on Andrew S. included comments. He is contrarian-conservative and openly gay: so imagine the ugly comments.

AS's "The Daily Dish"'s comments are disabled, but in a recent post he suggested that comments might come back in his blog. He is trying to figure out screening and immediacy problems. (Should JA send him Hal on loan; Prince Hal, instead?)

I have been "blogging the classroom" for about five years (flogging is a way of teaching ;) ). Some definitions of blogging REQUIRE comments as key to the digital engagement.

Enough theory. Can A-bloggers here comment on the history of your boodling (I like poodling myself as porch+boodle)?

A-blog: largely civil, engaged, even kind.

Was this always so?

I am intrigued how this happened. A certain blog-that--shall-not-be-named seems doomed to trollness (not the cute kind).

As a scholar of sorts and intrigued by how blog is being defined now, I wonder what y'll think.

HINT: one hypothesis concerns the darlingness of pointy-sciencey types.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 9, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

C. Parkian, I sporadically look at blogs and other sites where comments are posted, & notice a lot of troll-like behavior as well. While I am normally rather sardonic, I was immediately charmed by this boodle, and am trying to stay on my best behavior here. It does seem that most social situations devolve to the level of the lowest common denominator. Most workplaces seem to go through dramatic culture shifts, and not always for the better. This is probably something that corporate HR departments should be more atuned to, but I have a feeling they are not.
How to elevate the level of discourse in any given situation, and ensure it stays elevated? I do not know, but I sense that I am not the first one to ask the question. I do have a hunch that exclusivity is the practical way, which of course goes against the grain of every red-blooded American, right? There are answers out there, but we might not always like them.
In the mean time, the knowledge that this boodle is something rather special might be at the back of the minds of each of us as we post. I know it's at the back of mine.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 9, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Cesar Milan also has a lot of critics in the dog training community for using outmoded alpha dog methods. Some things he does ARE right, of course. But you can't cower a dog into doing what you want, call it training, and tell the owners the dog will do the same for them forever after.

He uses a LOT of force on his show. He does fine with it, but force doesn't really teach dogs much. And he does get bitten on the job.

Exotic animal trainers handle animals much more lethal and dangerous than dogs everyday by never confronting them or provoking them into fearful aggression. And those techniques work on many species- from dolphins to guiena pigs to elephants.

I was just thinking about this point this morning-- domesticated animals can deal with some punishment and use of force, because humans don't WANT animals that will react to an accidental bump or restraint with panic, aggression, etc. And yes, they are capable of learning from it, partly because most of them are social animals and have some similar signals that use some force.

Camels and cats are the two domesticated animals that don't tolerate force at all. The only aversive you can use on a cat is spraying it with a water. A camel, like an elephant, will endure being beaten, then seek to kill the abuser later.

It is always a mistake to assume that any given animal can psychologically withstand what we consider to be minimal force without having their fight-or-flight drive turned on... that an undersocialized, fear-aggressive dog will tolerate behaviors that a well-socialized, calmer, "harder" dog will, including an forced alpha roll.

Off Cesar for a moment. A female trainer who works with aggressive dogs accidentally killed a german shepherd puppy who had become a biter due to restraint and improper training to teach him to be submissive. The dog was very fearful and an insecure alpha.

How did this trainer kill the dog? The dog bit the trainer, the trainer threw the dog down in a restraint with a muzzle on and held the dog down for a hour. The dog died from it. Sounds amazing, but true.

What happened was the dog was in an intense state of panic and fight for all that time. Dogs overheat easier than people do, and with the muzzle and the trainer holding the dog down, the dog couldn't breathe very well either. The force wasn;t intended to "hurt" the dog, but it killed the dog, the dog was panting and rushed to the ER and died very soon after. It was in the paper and the trainer was saying oh the dog had to be tamed or put to sleep, it was fear aggressive, the owner did wrong, etc. And that she really did love dogs and never intended to hurt the dog.

Well, yes. That I do believe. But she still used the exact wrong technique on that dog, as her own assessment shows. It's hard to understand the logic that fear aggression would be helped by brutal force and restraint by a stranger.

This is a method called "flooding" with the aversive stimuli. The dog was flooded to death.

A real rehabilation program (no free lunch), etc. would have taken longer. The family got a new GSD puppy and I was just hoping they didn't repeat the same mistakes that made their first GSD aggressive to start with.

That said, The Dog Whisperer's good TV. But for seriousn animal behavior problems, see an certified animal behaviorist from

This is your best bet (not perfect) against all the quacks out there who will tell you hanging your dog will set your dog straight for life.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 9, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The only experience I've ever had with a Great Dane was rather odd. While visiting a friend of my GF, their dog was pawing at the back door, and it was obviously a big dog from the noise. The friend let the dog in -- a full-grown Great Dane, but I can't remember the gender. Dog almost sprinted around the room, sniffing everyone in passing, then came straight to me and buried its nose in my armpit. Stood there, docile as could be, and as I was sitting, we stayed that way until the dog was ready to move. *L*

martooni, I'm no fan of the administration, but I must disagree with you on the topic of security at nuclear power plants. A great deal HAS been done, and they already had a lot of security before 9/11. What, exactly, do you think isn't being done?

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 9, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, I'm right there with you. This administration infuriates me endlessly in its hypocrisy and ability to make any disagreement an issue of "patriotism" or lack thereof, and its spectacular diversionary tactics and on and on. I am also frequently disappointed in the Dems, who seem unable to come up with a way to counter and I feel like instead they simply make less effective copies of the administration's tactics. I've been so irritated and depressed by the whole state of affairs that I tend to tune out a bit these days, which is no good. But I am beginning to study up for voting day - CO has 14 voter initiatives on the ballot in addition to all the candidates!

Posted by: Megan | October 9, 2006 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I started by lurking. One of the first times I posted, there was a warm welcome and it was said that this corner of cyberspace is a big tent with lots of room for people of differing opinions. I learned the rules of A-blog etiquette by watching how posts were made, how differences of opinion are handled among the boodlers, and how cyberstorms are handled when someone violates the self imposed rules. Thus, conversation here is rather civil, excepting the few times when cyber arguements break out, compelling valued contributors to become deciparacidos (excuse me, mo, if I mispelled that word; meaning the disappeared, as in Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua and other places when someone snatches you and you vanish, never to be heard from again.). The novelty effect is interesting to watch, as when the Mommiebloggers came over. The other blogs I have read are usually formus for people who feel the need to get nasty, or otherwise extremely opinionated. I'm satisfied with being another voice among people who share the same general set of values and believe in the merits of reasonable disagreement and debate.

Posted by: jack | October 9, 2006 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Great Danes! Any around for me to play with?

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 9, 2006 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I went off camping and thought I had done all the correct Moveable Type things necessary to post my Sunday column. But I forgot to activate the doohickey. The "Scheduled" button. I wasn't thinking cleary. And am not bell-ringing clear right now, either, after 48 hours with those various happy campers. I think I might have gotten some material for a column.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 9, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

re: History of the Boodle

I came in rather late to the game, but here's my take on why the Achenblog is "different."

The combination of science and humor is a very powerful thing. Take a bunch of very intelligent people [my honest opinion, and I have no idea how I got here ;-)], and do a bit of self-selection for the kinds of "senses of humor" that "get" JA's columns. You end up with a community that will almost reflexively deal with potential arguments in a kind, humorous way. Even during the worst cyberstorms here, I've seen Boodlers almost bend over backwards to come up with the most thoughtful means of expressing themselves.

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 9, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Wibrodog! I am not a great Dane, as you know! But I am highly fun! And would love to hang out with you and go for walks and chase sticks and sniff the breezes and go to parks! And beg for treats! The Blonde did some babysitting over the weekend. I had Mr Morgen *and* Miss Coco for roommates. Coco and I go way back, but Morgen needed some things explained to him.

He came to the house, and I helped him understand that The Blonde is MY MOM, and all her love is mine. It is my house, and all the food in it is mine, and all the toys belong to me, and all the furniture is mine to jump on, and all the brushes are *my* brushes, and the bed is *my* bed.

We got along fine, once he understood that it was my house and it and everything in it belonged to me.

The Blonde cannot read stories about bad things happening to dogs, they make her too sad. It works out well for me, though, because whenever she reads a story that has any dog sadness, she gives me extra love.

Posted by: mr luke aka annie'sdog | October 9, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

College Parkian, you may want to read something I wrote for the first anniversary of the Boodle:

It is indeed something special, made so by the people in it (and even Joel). You're part of the reason the Boodle is what it is, even though you're relatively new to it.

It's not about griding axes or pushing agendas or dogma. We all do have our points of view and beliefs, but we're willing to at least consider another's point of view. We're interested in the world and the uni-/multiverse around us as a context for trying to understand our place in it. It's about thinking.

That, and a sense of humor serves us well.


Posted by: bc | October 9, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

If I told Blonde my life story, think she'd give me some love too? ;). I led a real dog's life, you know.

Yes all ready to play whenever I can get Wilbrod over there. What time evenings?

It's TOO hard to get Wilbrod out of the house some days, even when I bring leash, poop bags, and vest! I'd think Wilbrod is smart enough to understand by now... Sigh.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 9, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Scotty... re: nuke plant security...

I know that nuke plants aren't exactly easily accessible to the public, but are they really as locked down as they could/should be?

When I read of all the Homeland Security dollars that are being misappropriated and misspent, not to mention the nearly trillion dollars wrapped up in this "war on terror", are nuke facilities getting what they need to protect themselves?

What plans do they have for a rogue Cessna loaded with explosives? Are there National Guard troops with M-16s at the gates or rent-a-cops with clipboards?

I may be lumping the nuke plants in with the chem facilities, but a drive down the Ohio River here goes past many of these facilities and the only thing keeping the bad guys out are chain-link fences with the gates wide open. I know that this is further complicated by the fact most of these facilities are owned by commercial/corporate entities, but still... All it takes is one suicidal truck driver to make a chlorine storage tank go boom and potentially kill tens of thousands. What if that truck driver (or small plane pilot) was targeting a nuke facility?

You know I'm not a "hawk" type... just a peace-lovin' hippie. My point is that we're spending too much on offense and nowhere near enough on defense (from what I've read, the disproportion is staggering).

I should also add that I've been in "paranoid mode" lately (a side-effect of sobriety for me), so I start to worry about things that are as likely to hurt me as an asteroid.

Seriously, though... would like to hear what types of steps have been taken to secure these facilities and whether they're self-initiatives or gov-mandated.

Posted by: martooni | October 9, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse


Please don't lump chem and nuke plants together. The companies that operate reactors have had to meet security requirements on their own dime (to the tune of several hundred million dollars), although DHS has started some grant programs recently.

Every plant has armed guards with lots of heavy-duty vehicle barriers, intrusion-detection systems, etc. States have deployed their Guardsmen to reactors a few times in the past few years, but that's each state government's decision. Here's one reporter's very recent look at a plant tour, including some security comments:

As for a Cessna, please keep in mind reactors and their safety systems are housed behind several layers of reinforced concrete and steel designed to withstand tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and so on. Every plant has plans, procedures and resources to deal with fires and explosions no matter the cause.

If I sound kinda official, there's a very good reason for that. Even if I'm at home today.


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Posted by: Scottynuke | October 9, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the insider's perspective, Scotty. I suppose if you feel it's safe enough to work in one, I should feel safe enough living 80 miles away from the nearest one. I'm actually pro-nuke (clean, cheap, safe), but like I said, I've been in paranoid mode lately.

Now all I need is a chem facility insider to make me feel a little better about those gigantic storage tanks that are much nearer my home than the nukes.

Posted by: martooni | October 9, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

As to why the Boodle is civil - we have had episodes with trolls, posters who came in with nasty, suggestive, creepy comments, aimed at mainly one "regular" boodler. And we've had some nasty squabbles, complete with hurt feelings and people stomping off, never to be heard from again. But those, thankfully, are few and far between. A lot of it is due to the humor and excellent writing that is found here - that's what attracts us to Joel in the first place. Maybe it's also because of the topics Joel writes about - usually not divisive (although we rarely stay on topic for long).

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

SCC - that was me, at 3:51 pm. A thousand apologies.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 9, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse


I visit them regularly, and have lived as close as 10 miles to a reactor. I wouldn't have a problem living next to one, either. At 80 miles out, I really wouldn't devote any energy to worrying. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 9, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

BC, Scottynuke, Jack, Whyrlegyge:

Thank you for your history lessons. I do think that science-ness is part of the mix here. Humor too.

I originally wrote: snottycuke. Arrogant Cucumber? Wow. What a handle that could be, for the right poster. Thought you would like to know that.

I guess the periodic links to extra-WAPO boodle culture occur often enough to help we newbies out.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 9, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

CollegeParkian, I've been called that plenty of times, never fear... *LOL*

Posted by: Scottnuke | October 9, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

SCC: My own damn handle!!!! *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 9, 2006 4:53 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, College Parkian.


Posted by: bc | October 9, 2006 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Excellent post on training, Wilbrod! Thank you.

Jack, sorry to hear about your cat and needing to move the GD to a new home.

Cassandra, congratulations on starting to walk again. Walking is a profound act of love for yourself and everything you care for. :-)

My 2 labs were just playing rough (tai kwan dog) in the living room, when the lab girl squealed (rare). Went to see what the matter was, the big guy was sheepish. The young one whimpered, caught my eye, then ran right to the bags of dogfood. Science Diet cures all that ails you!

Posted by: dbG | October 9, 2006 6:43 PM | Report abuse


Did you grow up in this area? Building two houses on one lot is something that is going on where I grew up, which was about three miles south of Alexandria. I'm sure it goes on elsewhere, though.

Posted by: pj | October 9, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link explaining the origin of the blog and the terms you guys use, like 'boodle', 'kit', etc. I've been reading this blog for about 2 weeks--came to it from a comment on the Mommyblog after the hatchet job on Pat/Fof4. The thing that most impressed me is how you seem to care about each other-- a real sense of community. I also looked at Mo's and Scottynuke's pictures because I wanted to see the people whose comments I've been reading. One day maybe I'll post an opinion or comment but for now I will continue reading all of the ones you guys post.

Posted by: New Lurker | October 9, 2006 11:00 PM | Report abuse

You're very welcome, New Lurker.

I look forward to your posts.


Posted by: bc | October 10, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

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