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Achenbach Annual Performance Evaluation

By bc and Curmudgeon:

This confidential personnel file was leaked to Robert Novak, Judith Miller and Tim Russert, but only Novak cared enough to even bother publishing it. The first time Joel has seen his 2006 Performance Evaluation is after running his daily Google search on himself.

Confidential Personnel File; For In-House Use Only.

Joel Achenbach Performance Evaluation, FY2006

BRIEFLY List the behaviors and/or job specific competencies this person used in his or her role at the Washington Post and describe how they were demonstrated in delivering his assignments and contributing to the Corporate Culture at the Post (please refrain from using words like "catastrophic," "misleading," "disturbing," and "misanthropic"):

A: Joel's contributions to the Washington Post are immeasurable. His strengths are his ability to string complete sentences together with words and his ability to get readers to think for themselves, e.g., "What the #@&$ is this guy trying to say?" Joel has found a personal leitmotif in describing his own "inexorable psychological deterioration," and extending that personal "weltangshauung" to his column and feature articles in the Magazine this year, in the series the editorial staff refers to as, "Why Things Are Going to Hell."

Joel's blogging continues to be a self-indulgent distraction, but he does use it to frequently flog his column, so we will continue to ignore this as long as he does not do it in the WaPo offices.


- Shows a stunning lack of knowledge or understanding of HTML (e.g. cannot indent, link pictures, etc.) for an Internationally Recognized Blogger

- Has Genius Flyaway Hair, yet his body of work indicates otherwise

- Adequate Journalist Coffee Breath

- Adequate ability to locate Buffet at Press Conferences

- Remarkable ability to avoid deadlines and honest work (e.g. cajoles readers to actually write Blog content under his byline)

- Remarkable ability to anger readers by the end of the second sentence, thus generating hundreds of umbrage-laden yet humorless reader comments in his Blog

- Remarkable command of a dialect of English that does not translate well to foreign languages (e.g. Canadian, French, etc.)

Contribution Rating (please pick one):

Exceeds expectorations

Consistently unremarkable

Consistently meets very low expectations, roughly equivalent to a monkey with a typewriter

x Frequently noticeable, but not in a good way

Frequently fails to make Page A1

Frequently makes readers want to gouge their eyes out

BRIEFLY describe anything this individual can do to be more effective, or to salvage his or her career at the Washington Post:

A: Joel's work for 2006 includes pieces on "big" topics such as national politics and science, but has not written any noticeable items of interest to local readers within the past year, such as National Zoo superstar Tai Shan. What we need from Joel is less Global Warming and more Pandaing.

Delivering on time would be nice, too.

Joel should also stop parking his ancient Citroen in the Executive Editor's parking space when he thinks Mr. Downie is out of the office. Now that we think about it, those are the only times Joel ever actually comes into the office. Also, Mr. Downie is tired of slipping and ruining his shoes in the oil slicks that Joel's car leaves.

(Q: Does Achenbach ever go in WaPo Radio? Mr. Downie swears he did, but there are no transcripts or tape of the incident.)

Overall Rating (pick one):

Paranoid schizophrenic with an excellent vocabulary (target for promotion)

Should be off-boarded during the holidays

Should be water-boarded immediately

Should be "Erased" and all work expunged from WaPo files and archives, with hardcopy donated to animal shelters for housebreaking puppies, lining birdcages, and wrapping fish

Keelhauling's too good for him/her

x Glob of Bat Poop

Individual Recommendation:

Joel is recommended for vigorous, severe and prolonged disciplinary action at the hands and feet of Maureen Dowd. Furthermore, he should be sent on a one-week assignment to France and forced to listen to the Hugh Hewitt radio show for the entire Atlantic crossing aboard a tramp steamer, secured in his seat to prevent him from jumping to his death from the fantail. Upon arrival, he would walk the streets of Paris wearing nothing but a Speedo constructed of poison oak and a sandwich board saying, "Yes, I am THAT Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post. I am ready to receive your rotten tomatoes, you lazy, humorless anuran."

Our final recommendation would be for Joel's immediate conversion to Soylent Green. In addition to serving mankind, this would also reduce his snowshoe-sized "carbon footprint".


It is difficult to quantify the value of Joel's work at the Washington Post, and his work continues to elude categorization. Joel is always high in our opinion, and any publication in the country would be lucky if they could get him to work for them. The quality and timeliness of Joel's work indicates that he is best suited for sweeping responsibilities. Joel should consider cutting back on his promiscuous use of the word "promiscuous" (517 times in the past year).

Oh, and his penmanship is just average. And his blog STINKS!

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 8, 2006; 3:00 PM ET
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Geeze, I wish I could get that good an evaluation.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 8, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm really surprised the phrase "grave and deteriorating" did not appear in any context.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

So, a 3% raise?

Posted by: byoolin | December 8, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

A round of applause and supreme adulation is in order. Well ok, maybe supreme adulation is a little far, but....clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap

Posted by: dr | December 8, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

If Joel lived in New Jersey, who would be Tony Soprano?

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

It is a far far better thing I do...
As a noble gesture, I'll substitute for Joel and offer myself up for the MoDowd disciple.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

3%??? 3%

How about uuum, say 5%.

Posted by: dr | December 8, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I once got a .95 percent raise in a year I thought I did pretty good work. Next year I was terrified of my review. I got an 11 percent raise.

Posted by: godknowswhy | December 8, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I've ever had the word "anuran" in a performance evaluation.

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

If the ISG Report had come out before we wrote it, that phrase might have.

It was a total unknown unknown, if you know what I mean.

In the immortal words of D. Rumsfeld, "Stuff happens."


Posted by: bc | December 8, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Oops, I need disipline. (same root?)

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

5%? 11%?

He'll get a bowl of cold broth and slice of mouldy bread and be happy with it.

Posted by: byoolin | December 8, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Are you people kidding me? 3% increase?

His pay's getting slashed 50% and we're shaving his head. Eyebrows and everything.
I ain't goin' in those ears, though. Ew.

Not so much a compensation adjustment as a hazing, really.


Posted by: bc | December 8, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"The quality and timeliness of Joel's work indicates that he is best suited for sweeping responsibilities"

Joel, just in case, I know a curling team who needs a good sweeper. The evaluation didn't say what your rock throwing capabilities are, though. You may have to work on that.

Posted by: dr | December 8, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse

hey - bat guano is quite valuable and expensive in some places! ok - places that don't have indoor plumbing or electricity but still!!

Posted by: mo | December 8, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I'd take the poison-ivy speedo in exchange for a paid trip to France, Joel. After all, there's always gunk you could put on as a preventive.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 8, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse

dr, perhaps you should brief Joel on some of the other requirements for curling, as in the correct manner to yell SWEEEEEP, and HURRAY HARD. Also the tradition that the winners buy the drinks!

Posted by: dmd | December 8, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

"The blog is bad!.............does that help."

Posted by: albdemo | December 8, 2006 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I see Rumsfeld is bidding adieu to the Pentagon. Don't let the door hit ya on the way out, Don. (Methinks more than a few generals are silently thinking, "Boy, I thought that guy would NEVER leave.")

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 8, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm just surprised "flog his column" made i...

No, wait, I already did that joke. Sorry.

*start again*

I'm sure JA would rate a 3.1% raise if he used "huge tracts of land" a little more often.


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I think a more accurate saying would be, "Don't let the door hitcha where the good Lord splitcha."

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

it was a good thing that when I went to take a wee break from the office, with the intention to procure me a double espresso, I instead opted for health and sleep and bought a bottle of water.

IT assures me they can dry out my monitor and keyboard.

Now I just have to fend off HR which, apparently, got multiple calls about that strange woman in the office behind the filing cabinets, laughing while *all alone* therein.

bc, 'Mudge, this cracked me up most of all:

Joel is always high in our opinion, and any publication in the country would be lucky if they could get him to work for them.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Bush just hit 30% approval rating in the latest Zogby poll. At least Joel's review was still way better than that.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 8, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

My wife has a whole book of teacher comments to use for under-performing students when you don't want the parents calling. The art of the left-handed compliment.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 8, 2006 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Well, Joel, you certainly deserve high marks for being a good sport.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 8, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

And to show my opinion of Performance Evaluations, I offer the following quote from a recent one of mine:

"Mr.[Padouk] displays excellent work habits."

(I guess that means I am often seen typing on the computer.)

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 8, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Hegemony cricket, the new sport of Empire.

I have thought of a brilliant solution to our problems with Iraq. Brilliant, I tell you! We encourage Canada and Mexico to invade the United States and conquer us. Canada takes over administration of everything north of the Mason-Dixon Line, which will be extended all the way to the Pacific; Mexico gets everything south of the line. We will cease to exist as an independent nation. Therefore, there is no U.S. for the terrrrrists to hate, for our freedoms or our relaxed-fit jeans or for any other cause or purpose. Problems solved!

This also solves our problems with illegal immigration from Mexico. The addition of a huge class of persons with wealth and a sense of entitlement will democratize Mexican politics, while the incorporation of a huge class of persons who want cheap prescription medications will... will... will do something swell for Canada. I'm certain of it.

This is exactly the sort of powerful strategic thinking that is sadly lacking in our leadership today. It's so disheartening.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 8, 2006 5:17 PM | Report abuse

RD Padouk | I'm afraid that this is just a cynical attempt to lower expectations.
Due to to troubling issues that this assessment brings to light I reccomend the immediate formation of a Achenbach Study Group.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Credit where credit is due: that was bc's line, yoki (in fact, the review was 80% bc. I only kibbutzed here and there.)

Running for the bus. Have a good weekend, peeps.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 8, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

So I see how we're now paying to read the Achenblog. I'm waiting for the subliminal flashes of popcorn.

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Boko999, I second that motion. I also move we hold the first conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago, IL. It will be a tax deductible event, or perhaps we can get a grant from the Dept. of the Interior.

Posted by: CowTown | December 8, 2006 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I think Boko's Group will result in mandatory full participation in the Achenbach Study Seminar.

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2006 5:50 PM | Report abuse

The benefit to Canada in your plan, SciTim, is that we will stop agonizing over our identity and culture and differences and getting all insecure and wondering whether the Americans think well of us (the answer of course, is that the Americans don't really think of us at all).

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2006 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand you folks' obsession with your dawgs. They are no fun at all. What's the point of doing anything besides sitting around all day cleaning yourself?


Posted by: TBGcat | December 8, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Canada, the home of Islamic comedy.
"Little Mosque On The Prairie", coming in January.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

TBGcat, I was just a moment ago in the same position as you in that photo, just didn't look at cute. No one thinks its cute when dogs lick themselves.

Posted by: dmddog | December 8, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Yoki be honest we would just transfer our inferiority complex from the US to Mexico. Just as we previously changed it from Britian to the US, it is ingrained like our obsession with weather and hockey.

SciTim, I minor problem, if we listen to our intelligence people we are also on the hit list - there term not a matter of if but when.

Posted by: dmd | December 8, 2006 6:05 PM | Report abuse

What, no recommendation for Joel?

I was anticipating something like this: "Flog 'im before the fos'cle, give him a grog or two, and make him crawl on his belly for his raise." Wait, that's my last evaluation...

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 8, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I fear you are correct, dmd. And I was darned happy at the thought of all that angst evaporating.

What did the aspiring writers do at the workshop? Sat around contemplating their novels.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2006 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Boko99: The ASG recommends a concerted effort to integrate multiple humorous anecdotes into a synergistic column. The goal is to accomplish this for 3 out of 4 paragraphs 85 percent of the time.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 8, 2006 6:16 PM | Report abuse

RD... integrate and utilize. Don't forget utilize. Joel should be tasked to integrate and utilize..

Posted by: TBG | December 8, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

TBG, Achenbach Study Seminar. Naturally.


Posted by: bc | December 8, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

And optimize. Always optimize.

*distracting TBGcat w/a laser pointer*


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 8, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

TBG - You are right: The goal should be to utilize these techniques to optimize humor potential in 3 out of 4 paragraphs 85% of the time.

(If only this kind of writing didn't actually exist. Alas, it intrudes into both my professional and domestic existence. Thank goodness for the boodle. It keeps me sane. Or at least close enough for gov'ment work)

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 8, 2006 6:44 PM | Report abuse

you guys are too funny.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | December 8, 2006 6:48 PM | Report abuse

A$$, I just got it. DUH

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't the pic of Rumsfeld clutching his chest on the home page (might need to refresh a few times to get it) look like he has just forgotten to words to "9 to 5" during his tribute to Dolly Parton?

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 8, 2006 7:06 PM | Report abuse

TBGcat, thanks for the great photo! (I just spit iced tea all over my keyboard. That can't be good.)

Joel, I think you need to *leverage* the blog too.

Personally, it seems I excel at thinking technologically extensible thoughts. That's what I get for teaching my boss the word *extensible.*

Posted by: dbG | December 8, 2006 7:47 PM | Report abuse

AP Breaking News:
"Truthiness" Named Word of the Year

Colbert, who once derided the folks at Springfield-based Merriam-Webster as the "word police" and a bunch of "wordinistas," was pleased.

"Though I'm no fan of reference books and their fact-based agendas, I am a fan of anyone who chooses to honor me," he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

"And what an honor," he said. "Truthiness now joins the lexicographical pantheon with words like `squash,' `merry,' `crumpet,' `the,' `xylophone,' `circuitous,' `others' and others."

Posted by: ac in sj | December 8, 2006 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I know all about truthiness and "gut truths."

There was that time Wilbrod intended salmon for me when I see it half-eaten on the counter and Wilbrod's apparently forgotten about it. So I nosed it, it fell on the floor, and hey, food on the floor is for the dog, right? That was full of truthiness.

Turns out that( a lecture and a forced bath later) I was wrong about truthiness being reality.

You'd think people would know better than hungry puppies.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | December 8, 2006 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Actually, this sounds like an evaluation of excellent work. It IS excellent work in and of itself, of course, but it also describes a job well done. I mean, if we can't laugh about it, it obviously isn't well done. Everybody understand that?

Jeez, this having to train one's replacement is taking way too much of my boodling time. Only two more weeks, though, and we're done! She'll be trained, then, for better or worse...

Yes, Cassandra, very cold here today. Even colder in the mountains. When I looked first thing this morning, the temperature at the weather station near our place was 4.8 degrees F. I was glad to be in Charlotte, where it was 24.

Cassandra, the music makes Christmas for me. It's a bit early for the spirit to kick in, anyway, so don't sweat it yet. You know that we love you!

Posted by: Slyness | December 8, 2006 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Watchin' "Rudolph" with the kids, just made real popcorn on the stove.

All is well. Gettin' ready to visit the Islnnd of Unwanted Toys with an elfin dentist, an arial caribou with a luminous probiscis, and Yukon Jack. Yay!

Of course, the Bumble's my favorite.
He's everybody's favorite, like Mudge.

Come to think of it, has anyone seen Mudge with his glasses off? If they ever remake "Rudolph" Mudge oould play him, no prob.


Posted by: bc | December 8, 2006 8:17 PM | Report abuse

SCC. could.


Posted by: bc | December 8, 2006 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Bc, I like oould as a word, actually. Now we just need to come up with a definition for it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 8, 2006 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure that oould and sod have both been used in relation to 'Mudge.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey, piece a cake, folks.

Oould: What Curmudgeon is, when 'e's in Merry Olde England.

If you are making reference to the crimson hew of my probiscus as well as my rangiferian thespian are not the first.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 8, 2006 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Darn 'Mudge I just closed the dictionary

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 8:46 PM | Report abuse

bc don't forget Bumbles Bounce!

Posted by: dmd | December 8, 2006 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Sod...not so mulch.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 8, 2006 8:53 PM | Report abuse

The Homœopathic Proving of
Reindeer Moss
Cladonia Rangiferina
Conducted by
Misha Norland
and TG17 at
The School of Homœopathy

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 8:57 PM | Report abuse

There's show about to start on the History channel about the British plan to build(?) an aircraft carrier out of ice.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 8:59 PM | Report abuse

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is on Maryland Public Television right now, playing Xmas carols. Kinda cool. Also starring Jewel, and Ossie Davis.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 8, 2006 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, kidding. I should have mentioned the Organization of Oxford Liberal Democrats.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Ach, it's a shame when he's parted from the oould sod.

Posted by: Yoki | December 8, 2006 9:14 PM | Report abuse

SCC Organization of Oxford Union Liberal Democrats.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 9:16 PM | Report abuse

With the Trans Orchestra and Jewel in the background, I have just started something, the third sentence of which is: "It is a nonheirarchical collectivist intellectual enterprise in which no single person's opinion or thought is any less worthless than anyone else's."

Who is the author, and what is the "It" the author is describing?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 8, 2006 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I am a great fan of Charlie (Charles P.) Pierce, who writes for the Boston Globe Magazine, American Prospect and has also written a few books including a new one on Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, "Moving the Chains." I just bought this for "S" for Christmas 'cause I want to read it. Anyway, Mr. Pierce used to be a regular Friday contributor to Eric Alterman's blog on MSNBC until some sort of contractual (I assume) problem came up. Now that Alterman has moved to Media Matters, Mr. Pierce has today reappeared and has written a terrific little piece on the ISG which I am now going to drop a big piece of here:

"Jeebus Christmas, he said, in keeping with the season, have I grown tired of the MacGyver Theory Of Washington Politics -- the notion that, if we just pluck out of David Broder's moth-eaten Rolodex the people with the most gray mold on their careers, they will all get together and build a solution out of two coconut shells and a handful of magic beans. I first formulated the MacGyver Theory during the Iran-Contra scandal, when we had first the Tower Commission and the utterly pointless joint congressional committee, which worked in tandem to help the criminals escape as surely as if old Ed Muskie had baked them a cake with a file in it. (For the record, Lee Hamilton was in the middle of this mess, too.) The MacGyver Theory speaks only in the passive voice -- "Mistakes were made" -- and only in the sterile syntax of the bureaucrat. No individual is ever guilty, only the system is, because it "has broken down," and where did I leave that baling wire and chewing gum anyway? Nobody ever goes to jail because we're looking forward, not back. The MacGyver Theory's devotees believe quite strongly that the messy business of actual self-government will discomfit The American People, who are sweet little children asleep upstairs. That's how the MacGyver Theory protected jovial old Dutch Reagan. (We cannot have "another failed presidency," not even one that's already, well, failed.) It's also how it was trotted out during the extended 2000 presidential election. "The American People" needed "closure" more than anything else, and who better than Antonin Scalia to build an airplane out of palm fronds to get us all out of the "constitutional crisis" that was so visible from the Green Rooms in D.C.? And now, the Iraq Study Group, the MacGyver Theory applied to people's lives.

I rise again to present, by way of a relevant comparison, my argument that my colleagues in the sportswriting business do their jobs better than most members of the elite political media. Last year, Bud Selig appointed former senator George Mitchell to run the in-house investigation of what is perceived to be the problem with performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Almost immediately, the choice came under criticism that centered on the fact that Mitchell's probe would not have any real power to compel testimony or documents, and that Mitchell himself had been tied into several major-league baseball franchises -- most notably, the Boston Red Sox -- and, finally, on the very simple grounds that any in-house investigation started out in Credibility Gap given major-league baseball's inability to police itself.

I don't agree with a lot of these criticisms, but they have some merit, and the fact that they were mustered so widely and so quickly stands in stark contrast to the reverential coverage of the Iraq Study Group and its hunt for the pony in the pile. For example where was the instant and withering contempt from our courtier political press over the presence on the ISG of a useless old vampire like Edwin Meese, who started his career calling for detention camps to be set up to house student demonstrators at Berkeley, and ended it, two steps ahead of the law, by giving the Iran-Contra crowd just enough time to shred what they needed to shred? And, anyway, what in the name of Christ's sweet strawberry preserves does Edwin Meese know about Iraq? Why not just hire him to re-wire the space shuttle and design the new levees in Louisiana while he's at it? County commissioners go to jail for putting their idiot nephews on county road crews, But, on the bloodiest question of the past 30 years, supposedly educated people wait with their tongues hanging out for a viable solution to emerge from what appears to be the Petrified Forest, and nobody points out the absurdity that's sitting right there, listening to its arteries harden."

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 8, 2006 9:19 PM | Report abuse

'Sneaks, thanks for that. We need more of that in the MSM.

>Who is the author, and what is the "It" the author is describing?

Mudge, it's either Joel's Kit and our Boodle, or a typical time in most bars and barber shops.

Joel, good luck with the review thing. I'm generally told I put out perfect s/w releases and creatively solve problems, and that's "Meeting Expectations", which means about 2.5%.

If you need any more fly-away hair let me know, I have extra.

Posted by: Error Flynn | December 8, 2006 9:30 PM | Report abuse

J Warren, 19 c anarchy concepts?

Posted by: LostInThought | December 8, 2006 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Probably not sufficiently obscure.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 8, 2006 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers,
Thanks for that. Charles Pierce is truly speaking truth to power!
Thank you, Charles.

Is that the same Charlie Pierce who's on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on NPR?

Posted by: maggie o'd | December 8, 2006 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Maureen Dowd describing the ISG

Posted by: Boko999 | December 8, 2006 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Ooh,ooh, Mudge, pick me!

I know it's the people of the "Why Bunker" that Joel is talking about. But in that book he's calling them "the staff."

The third and final Why book, Why Things Are and Why Things Aren't, available, virtually, via a workstation near you.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 8, 2006 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes, maggie o'd, it is the same Charlie. I love to hear his laugh on "Wait, wait.."

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 8, 2006 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Bertooch, you win the grand prize! Nicely done.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 8, 2006 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Boko, that "aircraft carrier" plan was part of a plan to build ice landing strips across the Atlantic during WW II (the Big One). The framework for the test can be found at the bottom of Pyramid Lake near Jasper AB IIRC, and is a popular dive site for prairie and mountain people.

SciTim, the Canada-Mexico plan won't work. The terrrrsts hate us for our weather, weak coffee and the 1976 Olympics and the Mexicans for their moustaches (hey, don't blame me, I'm just reporting here).

Posted by: SonofCarl | December 8, 2006 10:44 PM | Report abuse

TBG, is that a tuxedo cat? Very cute.

I'm listening to The Beatles Love - the songs that George and Giles Martin put together for the Cirque du Soleil show. It's great - the sound is wonderful, and they mixed things up so it all sounds very fresh - but it takes me back to when I'm 12. So, you have fun watching the Monkees - I'm digging the Beatles. (I don't have much of the Beatles on CD - I listened to the albums so much that I can practically play them in my head - so this is a treat.)

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 8, 2006 11:35 PM | Report abuse

SCC - when I was 12

It's been a tough week!

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 8, 2006 11:37 PM | Report abuse

An early good morning, friends. Here I was moaning and groaning about the Xmas spirit, and guess who shows up? I have the whole crew here. My daughter, the grandsons, and of course, the g-girl. God is good. And thanks all for the lovely comments. Slyness, I believe we were colder than you.

I'm just real tired, and because the weather has been so cold, have not walked. I need the walk.

Mudge, bc, that report is something else. Where is JA? Has he read that?

I think JA does a wonderful job with words. And the ability to write a sentence with a subject and a verb will never, ever, go out of style. That ability alone elevates one to a place that calls for huge amounts of respect, despite the topic.
Of course, it does not hurt to have something to talk about.

I read somewhere that women that talked live longer than those that don't.

Have a good weekend, my friends. Give God some of your time, show your family that you love them, and please try to get some rest. And know that God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

I think you folks are special too.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 9, 2006 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mr. Curmudgeon. I do collect those little gold stars, the way bc collects STP stickers!

As soon as I posted my prize-winning answer, I went offline because I've been working on installing a wireless router for my DSL connection. Long story short: I've been on the phone for 3 hours with the tech support guy trying to make the thing work, and all we succeeded in doing was getting me back to square one--and I'm actually grateful for that because for a while there it looked like I'd never be online again. Somehow, the fact that it was midday where the tech support guy was made it easier to deal with the fact that it's the middle of the night here--and waaaay past my bedtime. Somehow I don't think I'll be getting up with the sun tomorrow (er, later today). But I do have a busy day ahead so I'm signing off now; I'll say goodnight AND good morning and best wishes to all.

Here's my Achenbach performance review: "☆☆☆☆☆☆!"

Thanks, bc and Mudge, for being suitably cynical and critical so Padouk and I (among others) can continue to fawn and flatter and it all balances out.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 9, 2006 1:27 AM | Report abuse

For Rumsfield, and the rest of the Bushies: It's been real and it's been fun, but it ain't been real fun. Seeya.

Posted by: Chris, Malmo, Sweden | December 9, 2006 2:16 AM | Report abuse

For Rumsfield, and the rest of the Bushies: It's been real and it's been fun, but it ain't been real fun. Seeya.

Posted by: Chris, Malmo, Sweden | December 9, 2006 2:16 AM | Report abuse

kbertocci, sad news for you, but just yesterday, I read an article about what not to get people for Christmas. They said the most often returned item is a wireless router. Too many connection problems it seems.

But I will console you with a little funny. My boss just ordered a new computer by himself. Its not something he normally does but its not that hard right? Anyway, we've been getting parts the last couple of days. His top of the line top of the line hard drive has morphed into an external top of the line drive, his dvd drive has morphed into an external dvd drive. All week, I've had this little picture in my head, of some guy in the factory in Texas going wha....

Posted by: dr | December 9, 2006 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Kber, I sympathize. When the time came for a wireless router here, I did the sensible thing and paid the wiz kid who is a buddy of my younger daughter $35 to set it up. I know my limitations. For the mountains, we purchased a modem/router combination and let the cable installers set it up...

Cassandra, says it's 19 here in the Queen City. Hope you're no colder! I'm planning to bundle up and walk later in the day, hope you can do the same!

Posted by: Slyness | December 9, 2006 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I see that the Mel Gibson movie Apocalypto is subtitled with the following phrase:

"No one can outrun their destiny."

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 9, 2006 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, RD, all the editors were killed in the apocalypto.

I'm getting ready to go out in the 18° weather to have breakfast with my buddies. We will be solving all the world's problems, so things should look better by 11 am or so.

Posted by: TBG | December 9, 2006 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all.

TBG, if you need some help brainstorming the solutions to the world's problems, just give me a call.

Or as my Mum and I both say, "If they'd just asked us first!" This applies to everything from architecture to internecine conflict.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2006 9:20 AM | Report abuse

kb - I guess I do fawn and flatter a bit. Part of this is narcissistic. When I read Joel's writing I recognize someone whose outlook on the world is very similar to my own. I find that very gratifying. And rare. In other words, I like Joel because his mind seems to work like mine.

See, I can be downright insulting.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 9, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Morning All! *wave* Cassandra *wave*

I find I haven't been able to watch a Mel Gibson movie since "The Passion of The Christ".

Posted by: Error Flynn | December 9, 2006 10:24 AM | Report abuse

kb, we have a wireless router in our house, we have had very little problems, after the pain of the initial set up things should go well, enjoy!

Posted by: dmd | December 9, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Darn, I wish I'd recorded the TSO last night.

And yes, Cassandra, Joel has seen that Perf Review.

As far as being "suitably cynical and critical", k - ha!


Posted by: bc | December 9, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Don't worry, EF, you might not be able to see Apocalypto, either.

I understand this one has even more unrelenting violence than Passion, but there are relatively few Mayans left around to go see it, unlike the previous film.


Posted by: bc | December 9, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

>Don't worry, EF, you might not be able to see Apocalypto, either.

From what I've read so far I doubt if I'll bother. Too bad, because I'm interested in the subject matter. ""Mad Max" was good, if a bit violent. The others in the series were much more accessible for most people I think, and there was a lot to like about the "Lethal Weapon" movies. I'm OK with separating the work of an artist from their political stance or whatever, but Mel's tripped my weird-o-meter once too many times.

I suggest he try a nice romantic comedy next.

Posted by: Error Flynn | December 9, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Mel is dead to me.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

My pose of self-reliance is temporarily suspended to ask advice from you all.

Last night at the office Christmas party, my boss gave us all envelopes with cash bonuses. My envelope dropped out of my pocket at some point. (I was wearing some loose trousers so I could eat a lot. Great strategy.)

In a company of roughly 50 people, some from the satellite office in another town, and their spouses and dates, there was probably at least one who just picked up the envelope and kept it. No calls today about it, and I went back and looked in the parking lot of the rented hall.

What if anything do I say to the people in management? I guess it's my own fault.

Posted by: Jumper | December 9, 2006 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Next time it's real cold and you are talking to a teacher, work the expression, "it's colder than a teacher's wit" into the conversation.

Posted by: Jumper | December 9, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Jumper is it possible to send an all offie email, stating you dropped the envelope and did anyone see it? I will cross my fingers for you and believe in the integrity of people. Hope it gets returned to you.

Posted by: dmd | December 9, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

This very thing happened to me, but it was theft rather than carelessness. Phone your management immediately and tell them what happened. Then you should all wait til Monday to see whether someone in your shop picked it up and will turn it in.

My outfit gave me the same amount again; their reasoning was that the bonus was for good work done in the last year; it was mine and they wanted me to have it. It wasn't future consideration. It was slightly different because it was a cheque they could stop at the bank.

Of course, if they gave you cash, they may be keeping it off the books so they'll be even more inclined to reissue it, since it costs them very little in additional deductions.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse


You've probably done this already, but you should look in your car between the seats or next to the seat (depending on whether you were driver or passenger). I've had stuff fall out of my pocket when I sat down in the car.

My first reaction is that I'd not say anything to management. It would cast suspicion on a lot of innocent people. It may still be found. It's possible that nobody's been in the hall since the party (or did I read that correctly? you said you looked in the parking lot and I assumed that you didn't get to look in the hall).

Posted by: ac in sj | December 9, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I yield to Yoki and dmd's wisdom on this issue.

Posted by: ac in sj | December 9, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers, maggie o'd, & other Charlie Pierce fans:
Here's one of my favorite short pieces from Mr. Pierce (my apologies to the sensitive for a bit of the language, but sometimes, that's the man's voice!) :

LET ME TELL you about spelling. I can spell. I am a spelling fool. I can spell in the morning, and I can spell in the evening, and I can spell in the (,oh, Lord) midnight hour. There are writers better than me, and there are reporters better than me, but there are very few people in this business who can spell with me. Don't bring your sorry no-diphthong-having, English-as-a-first-language, sad-sack, Tom Robbins-sounding, onomatopoeic, Hooked on Phonics ass in here. I got mad spelling game, no doubt.

In my house, we have a computer. This computer has a "spell check" device. It is to f***ing laugh, this thing. This spell check device apparently was programmed by lemurs. In my house, I am the spell check. My word is the goddamn law.

How did I get to be the laughing master of man and machine? Four words: Sisters of Saint Joseph.

by Charles P. Pierce
Esquire - | Sep 01 2000


Also well worth checking out (this has been referenced before, but it's been a little while) is:

Greetings from Idiot America -- The Flight From Reason

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Since Curmudgeon and I have both Boodled about UT Austin's Mayan expert David Stuart, I have pasted in below the grafs about him from William Booth's excellent and serious discussion today in the Washington Post about Gibson's "Apocalypto."

Some of the scientists have seen the movie, others have watched the trailers, read reviews or summaries. David Stuart, professor of Mesoamerican art and writing at the University of Texas, saw a rough cut of the film with Gibson and penned an unpublished editorial with Houston that suggests Gibson's Maya are so evil that they were "a civilization . . . that deserves to die."

Arthur Demarest, anthropology professor at Vanderbilt University, says, "I don't care about some minor historical inaccuracies. That's Hollywood. What I'm very worried about is how the Maya themselves will perceive the film."

As Demarest points out, the Maya are not a extinct lineage. Their descendants, 6 million or more, are still living in Mexico and Central America. (The film does not open south of the border until next year).

I really, really enjoyed the gripping "Blood Diamond" movie yesterday after reading an extremely petty review about it in our local paper (before praising the film Larry Ratliff picks on Connelly's hair and DiCaprio's accent) and an over-the-top review of it in the NYT. I know so much of the real story, but feel moviegoers will miss out on much if they don't know the details about the warring factions depicted in the film and their history in Sierra Leone: SLA--Sierra Leone Army, RUF--Revolutionary United Front, Kamajors, and Executive Outcomes.

superfrenchie, I will admit that you were much on my mind yesterday--in the morning after reading a feature story with a French-bashing first graf by local writer Paula Hunt about Mireille Guiliano's latest book (her earlier bestseller is "French Women Don't Get Fat"). She is CEO of a division of LVMH, the same French company that will market DeBeers' diamonds retail, an entirely new endeavor for deBeers.

Other Champagne houses decided not to plant roots in California. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Domaine Chandon's corporate sister as part of LVMH, discussed partnerships but ultimately demurred. Mireille Guiliano, president and CEO of Clicquot Inc., believes the time has passed for French investment in California.

I also found that I have misspelled Cecil Rhodes in the last Boodle. I wondered if Rhodes Fellowships to Oxford are diamond money? According to Google they are:

The Rhodes Scholarships, which are the oldest international fellowships, were initiated in 1902 after the death of Cecil Rhodes, a British-born South African businessman, mining magnate and politician. The first American Rhodes Scholars were elected in 1904.

This means that our local John Phillip Santos and Bill Clinton got higher educations on diamond money. Clinton will be in town tomorrow, on the stump.

sf, I also thought of you during our company Christmas party last night. *waving*

Posted by: Loomis | December 9, 2006 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Ummmm... I'll hope that the sudden thunderous silence is because everyone is reading the (rather longish) piece referenced by the link, or that pressing business has taken you temporarily away.

Otherwise, please accept my humble apologies. I didn't intend to offend. Or go that far off-topic, for that matter.

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Howdy, Loomis! I thought of you this morning. I happened to receive correspondence from a couple of folks located in Uvalde, TX & Pollock Pines, CA. I seem to recall that your reasonably familiar with both locales!

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

... "you're" familiar ...


Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Memo to staff:

Mr. Achenbach has apparently overlooked, disregarded, or ignored the clearly marked clause contractually prohibiting him from acquiring my any means any personal knowledge of his annual performance review. Furthermore, Mr. Achenbach has further compounded his offense by, in contravention of several important work product and copyright policies, posting said performance review on the World Wide Web. This serious violation of contractual obligation is exacerbated by his posting, not only the portions of the document pertaining to his own "work", but the entire evaluation and review criteria applied to all. This flagrant infraction is significantly mitigated, however, because Mr. Achenbach chose to commit this breach of contract and policy by posting it to his Kit, as he refers to his WaPo Blog, guaranteeing that it will not be viewed by any significant number of readers. Therefore, management has decreed that as punishment for his violation of contractual obligation Mr. Achenbach will be demoted from end of the waiting list for a good parking space. All Mr. Achenbach's parking waiting list privileges will be revoked, and he is on his own.

Thank you.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Bob S.-

Thanks so much for that link! Bracingly trenchant.

Posted by: wiccan | December 9, 2006 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I heard the Mel is coming out with a new Movie

The 4th chapter of my Road Warrior series.

Road Rage Warrior

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 9, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I can't figure out which I think is more impressive: the $30 billion-a-year diamond jewelry market (U.S. only) or the $12 billion-a-year (and growing rapidly) bottled water market (again, U.S.).

In either case, the mind reels at the sheer effrontery of the thing!

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I never get a performance review. If my boss likes my work, occasionally he'll tell someone else I did a good job. On a handful of occasions over the past decade or so, after a really extraordinary feat on my part, he will make a passing comment to me. This works for us. It also cuts down on the use of jargon.

Thanks to everyone who has introduced me to the work of Charles P. Pierce - what a day-brightener! "Programmed by lemurs" - I love it. I too am a spelling fool. I'm firmly convinced there is a spelling gene. I have it, and I passed it on to the Boy. Ivansdad can't spell for beans or sour apples.

I haven't caught up with the last Boodle but I gather, Cassandra, you were having some trouble with Christmas spirit. I'm glad your crew descended to help you with that. I've discovered over the years that there's always a moment when it's there, you're mentally or spiritually ready to celebrate Christmas. Often this isn't the result of any concentrated effort on my part, but is brought on by a phrase of music, a picture, or a visit. I know it is the Christmas season because I sang my first "O Holy Night" of the year at a party last night. It's always fun to surprise people who aren't expecting that high note.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 9, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Dinosaur rodeo ain't a new idea. I read a picture book like that over 20 years ago. I seem to remember the caveman driver of the cart parked nearly directly under the dump chute, if you know what I mean, and the tail giving a LOT of shadow overhead. No idea how the driver could have seen around the dinosaur to see where he was going.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2006 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I wrote a long post on Charlie Pierce (not only can he spell, but he can also write), but the computer ate it.
In it I praised him, the Sisters of St. Joseph (especially Sister Noreen and Sister Ancellita), and M.I.T. for being such a fun and awe-inspiring place for my brother and me when we were wandering through the halls when we were grade schoolers.

Thanks for the memories, Charlie.

Posted by: maggie o'd | December 9, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Bob S, I thought that was splendid. I was out getting groceries, not offended.

Big Indian feast at our house tonight, with the four of us, two other couples, #1 and her yobfriend, #2 and hers, and one 1-year-old little boy.

Matar alu tikki
Vegetable Pakora

Lamb Roganshosh
Butter Chicken
Alu gobi
Sag paneer
Bhindi masala
Khumbi muglai
Masur Dal
Tomato Raita

Khamri roti
Various Chutneys

Coconut Barfi
Raisin Halva

Am I missing anything?

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2006 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, an Indian feast with no succotash or pemmican?

(Ooops, wrong Indians, maybe?)

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Bob S.,
Yes, of course, I know Pollock Pines. How could I not? It's on Highway 50 to Tahoe.

A really interesting stop on Interstate 80 on the northern route to Tahoe is the Weimar Institute in Weimar, California. While enrolled in the dietetics program at CalSacto, I tok a day, working on an independent study class project, and went up and sat in on day's worth of classes of their heart-healthy seminar.

Culinarily, hubby's Christmas party was a great success. I did not have high hopes for where the party was to be held--arranged by hubby's only Asian-American co-worker, but hadn't ever been there before either, and it's relatively close to our home. The owner is an Chinese chef straight from San Francisco, and recently, too. We had an abundance of food, all of it simply divine. I don't think the native Texans were as pleased with the fare, but my tummy was in seventh heaven. Beside the co-worker and her husband, I was the only one eating with chopsticks. It was the best Chinese food I have ever eaten in this-here town. The flavors! Every mouthful reminded me of HOME.

Posted by: Loomis | December 9, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

You're making me hungry (and I know how to cook a few Indian food recipes, but not ALL THAT).

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I also took a couple of classes at Sac. State (lo, those many years ago), but I really missed my calling by not realizing that U.C. Davis (just down the road) had a master's degree program in brewery science. Back then, the Air Force would have paid 90% of my tuition. I don't often cry over missed opportunities, but even now, I occasionally shed a tear or two over that particular spilt beer!

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of good Chinese food in unlikely places...

When I attended USAF technical training in Biloxi, MS (lo, those even MORE many years ago!), there was a pretty decent joint down by the highway that runs along the coast. My parents (who had gotten pretty spoiled on decent, affordable Asian cuisine over the years in various places that we'd lived) expressed some skepticism that my judgment could be trusted, due to my tender years and relative lack of experience in these matters.

They changed their minds!

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, why isn't it just, "dietics"? I know it's not, I just can't figure out why. And it STILL bugs me (I've addressed this before, I think) that "OB-GYN" is almost always pronounced like we're trying to hide it from the children or the dog: "I've got an appointment at the O-B-G-Y-N clinic."

This isn't an acronym, why not just pronounce it, "ob-gine"?

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., I was certainly not offended, you'd have to go pretty far to do that. I loved the piece on spelling. The Esquire one I've seen, but still love it as a perfect example of Charlie at his best (even at mediocre, he's better than most). I've been out in the cold cutting holly and trying to position a spotlight on the front door. This is much easier to do when it's dark, which we have decided to wait for.

Think it's time to take a walk to the beach.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 9, 2006 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Boy is this going to kill any hunger you've been having. I'm posting it, because I have been working on the writing the darn thing out all morning.

Yoki, I shall give you a recipe, that is really a family recipe, and to be attributed to my mother-in-law.

R Family Potatoe Dumplings

2 cups mashed potatoes
2-3 eggs
Flour to make a stiff dough
1/2 pound of butter
6-8 slices of day old bread

Put all but 2 tablespoons of the butter in a pan and slowly melt. Cut day old bread into small crouton sized peices, and toss in the pan. Cook slowly till brown. Set aside.

Note: if you like you may actually add more butter. The croutons will absorb all the butter you could possibly imagine, and likely more.

Place mashed potatoes and eggs in a bowl. Mix together till well blended. Add in enough flour to make a soft but stiff dough. The less flour you use, the more tender the dumpling, but too little flour, and your dumpling will not seal.

Take a palm sized peice of dough and flatten on a well floured surface. Place 1/4 cup of the croutons on the dough, and surround the croutons with the dough. Seal well. The dumpling should be about the size of of a baseball. Its very important to be sure that none of the croutons are poking through the dough. Complete the 5-7 dumplings this will make before you cook them.

Boil the dumplings in a pot of hot salty water till the dumpling dough is puffy and cooked through, 10-15 minutes in full boiling water. Drain and serve with a medium white sauce (use the reserved amount of butter) and a generous sprinkling of fresh ground pepper and a touch of salt.

This is not a dish for the weak of stomach. For instance, do not, I repeat do not indulge the day after the night before.

It is hearty and best suited to freaking cold days after strenuous excersize such as moving cattle, loading hogs, grinding grain and other outdoor pursuits. Have these when you are not planning on moving for the rest of the evening. It fills the same niche in the carb load category as homemade macaroni and cheese. Its hot, its filling and it will put you to sleep.

These dumplings will do nothing if not fill your tummy. We believe this to be its principal function in the family cooking lore. It was developed out of a german recipe to suit a way of life. On the farm, you grew your own wheat for flour, you milked your own cows for the cream for butter, you raised your chickens for eggs. About the only thing from the store were the salt and the pepper. It filled the stomachs of how ever many teenage sons you had (there were 5) without costing you more than a few cents. For the health consious among you, I have been advised by my mother-in-law, that it contains no calories. But then we were drinking at the time.

Posted by: dr | December 9, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

dr - Yowza! Excellent hearty fare indeed!

It is, in fact, rather chilly out today (still colder tonight), and I'll be having friends over in a few of hours for snacks/casual dinner and cribbage and bull--- and beer.

I've already started to boil the potatoes, and I'm about to cube the last third-or-so of a loaf of bread that I baked a few days ago.

Perfect timing. (Although I may have to substitute something stronger and less-filling for the beer!)

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Fun article: "Odd Jobs"

Posted by: Bob S. | December 9, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, this crew always lift my spirit. They're so messy, I don't have time to be sad. And I don't say that with any meaness, they keep me busy, and busy is good.

This morning I went to a quarterly meeting of our Missionary circle, and gave the devotional talk, and that was good. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

My daughter has finally arranged for her father's funeral. It will be Wednesday. He did not have insurance, so they had to literally beg for money. I believe that had some impact on my Xmas spirit, and I'm sure it has not been a pleasant experience for my daughter either. But God is good, a door has been opened, and we move on.

What a lovely surprise, Mudge.

Right now, I'm on my way to visit a friend. It is her birthday, and we will wish her well, and celebrate her day.

Hope your weekend is going great. It has warmed up just a tad, and that sun is so bright.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 9, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, it is good to hear you have the grandsons with you. My sympathies again to you and your daughter.

dr - Yum!

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Liked the Odd Jobs, Bob. Anything in WaPo that uses the phrase "jiggly bits" has got to be worth reading.

This week's Rough Draft:

Joel does not explain the differences in how deuterostomes and protostomes develop those holes. On the other hand, he might be implying, "Trust me. You do *not* want to know."

I am relieved to know that it would take very little change in my genetic makeup to become a sea urchin. No comment on how much or little that would change my $ex life.


Posted by: bc | December 9, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I'm digging up my dev bio memories-- was taught by a teacher who spent more time drinking than teaching, so I may have missed a couple pages.

Protastomes develop like a tube from the start, with cell fate pretty much set from the start-- if you destroy or split off a cell in the early stages, the resultant organism may well be missing a part or two.

Deuterstomes develop rather like Wilson the volleyball-- they multiply a bit then form a beach ball, and then punch that in so it's a hemi-ball, then fold over to form a tube with two layers of cells and keep multiplying from there. If you cut a developing deuterstome in two in the early stages, you'll get identical embyros that adjust to the setback and keep going to develop into two identical twins.
(And you can chop it up again and again for a few stages, too. Nine-banded Armadillos routinely give birth to identical triplets, quadraplets, or quintplets).

So basically the protostome embryogenesis method is the quick and cheapie method, ideal for short-lived insects, but for the lucky urchin that lives to be 100, a more robust assembly method is required.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

>Am I missing anything?


Posted by: Error Flynn | December 9, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

That's it! I knew I'd forgotten something.

Have a good evening all.

Special greetings to Annie.

Posted by: Yoki | December 9, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

here is a recipe that I do several times a month. Even though the kids complain about me cooking it, when it's done, they can't pass the stove without snitching a few bytes of the chunks of chicken or their favorite vegetable right out of the skillet:

2 Beer Slop

2 Beers
cooking oil
half large Onion

At least 3 out of 4 of the following:
baby carrots - a few large handfuls
broccoli - a few large handfuls of gulf ball sized stalks
bell pepper (pick your color)
zucchini or yellow squash (1 fourth Pat's garden grown 14 incher or equivalent)

half cup salsa
soy sause [optional]
hot pepper [optional] 1 half Pat's garden grown cold curin' red pepper, or tobasco sause substitute)
1 t Montreal Chicken Seasoning or equivalent

You will need a large skillet with matching top. I use a geep-bottom cast-iron skillet myself, but teflon will do. A matching top is a must.


Pop a beer, take a sip.

Pour just enough cooking oil in the skillet to cover the bottom.
Cut the onion up into medium sized chunks into the skillet, seperate the layers.
turn the burner on to the lowest possible.

take a sip of beer.

Add your handfuls of baby carrots and broccoli, cutting up the broccoli stalks into gulf ball sized chunks.
Add the bell pepper by tearing it up into quarter dollar sized pieces.

Take a sip of beer.

Add the squash by cutting it into quarter inch slices or third inch wedges.
Add the chicken, 1 to 2 ounce chunks.

Take a sip of beer.

Sprinkle the nontreal Chicken Seasoning over the grub. mix in.
Optionally add 5 shakes of soy sause (maybe 2 tsp), and/or add tiny slecks of the hot pepper, and/or 5 drops of tobasco sause.
Pour in salsa.
Give the slop a stir or two in order to mix everything up.

Finish up beer. The slop should look nice and colorful. Whatever you do at this point, DO Not, i repeat, DO Not pour any beer into the skillet. If you do, the slop will be ruined!

I also like to add mushrooms, water dchestnuts, or Planters dry roasted peanuts, but the wife and kids have issues with these ingrediences.

Turn heat up to a hair past low.
Put top on skillet. Very, very important!

Pop the second beer. Kick back, play with kids. The slop takes about 20 to 40 minutes to cook depending on how high you set the heat and how big your handfuls are. I usually aim for about a half hour, or the time it takes to finish a beer. Nevertheless, you should check on it as soon as you smell it from another room. check if it's done by sticking a fork into a carrot. If it's soft, you are done.

Serves a family of 6!

Posted by: Pat | December 9, 2006 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Pat, that sounds wonderful! I'm not a beer drinker, is it okay to substitute two glasses of my favorite wine for the beer?

Posted by: Slyness | December 9, 2006 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Pat, I think you could do a whole cookbook chapter like that.

Posted by: Error Flynn | December 9, 2006 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, I've never tried the recipe with wine, but with 2 beers, it has always come out perfectly for me, but your idea has merit.

Error, the problem with following recipes from my cookbook is that very few would be able to do a 5 course meal, but once again, the idea has merit.

Posted by: Pat | December 9, 2006 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Not if they wanted to remain standing by the time dinner was ready, no indeed, Pat. Could you cut the beer rations in half per course for a 2 course meal?

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2006 9:25 PM | Report abuse

We went to the beach a while ago and saw the shuttle go by. A medium bright light moving very quickly across the sky flickering through some cloud cover. Kinda cool to see the launch on TV, then drive down the street and see it go by in person, so to speak.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 9, 2006 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I looked but didn't expect to see anything and was well rewarded.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2006 9:44 PM | Report abuse

and didn't ?

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2006 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Good grief! I spent all day today not being able to connect to the 'net, and I'm oncall for work. Unplugged, powered down, rebooted numerous times. I went in to work to take care of a few essentials, the main thing being to get someone else to cover for me (I wound up spending 4 hours there, though). Spent some time on the phone with Comcast, who informed me I needed to be at home to troubleshoot (duh - I was trying to get some kind of idea what it might be). Came home, had dinner, called Comcast again, got a very nice, patient woman who listened to me swear as I traced down cables. Finally plugged the cable modem into the PC rather than the router, et voila, I'm in. This setup has worked for years - I was logged on last night - guess I'll have to talk to Linksys or my kid who set this up (and is now 1000 miles away). *heavy sigh*

Cassandra, when you said -
"Ivansmom, this crew always lift my spirit. They're so messy, I don't have time to be sad."
I thought you were talking about the Boodle!

I missed you guys...

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 9, 2006 9:58 PM | Report abuse

I watched the space shuttle launch on TV - wow, really beautiful at night.

Which reminds me - the sunrise yesterday was spectacular. Fiery orange, rosy pink - dark blue/gray clouds above - Mt Rainier was visible, white and blue. Really magnificent.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 9, 2006 10:17 PM | Report abuse

If I want to flavour a steak, I rub it in Montreal, to get a tasty chicken I dreg it in St. Hubert.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't see much differene between the Pope holding the host aloft and the Mayan preist preparing to drive the obsidian blade home.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2006 10:32 PM | Report abuse

You pose an interesting question Wilgrod. My answer is that good cooking requires the combination of instincts, experience, and the ability to follow directions. Mathematical precision helps, but comes in 5th place.

By the way, I think the best brownies are the ones that have been let go stale on top of the stove for about 4 days and have to be chipped out of the corner with a chisel knife. extra chewy, like beef jerky. I had a roommate that could make them this way right out of the oven. Anybody know the secret? I live with a family that likes them cakey and the first person that cuts themselves a piece will take it right out of the middle of the pan. Hopeless to think that they will last overnight, much less the time it will take for them to get stale.

Posted by: Pat | December 9, 2006 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, I was talking about my daughter and my grand kids. But I would certainly miss the boodle if I couldn't get on you folks' nerves, every now and then.

Annie, just a short hello, if you're lurking.

Hello, Nani, and Merry Xmas and Happy New Year.

mostly, I don't know about you, but here feels like home to me. Finally got everybody in bed. We will be up early so we can go to Sunday school. I am so sleepy, it has been a long day. Good night, everyone.

Thanks, Yoki

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 9, 2006 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I suspect the secret might be in lower cooking temperatures, longer in the oven, Pat.
I vagurely remember my mom made brownies like that a lot. Also maybe cut down on baking powder, if the recipe has it?

I'll see if my mom has the recipe for those "rocky border brownies". I don't like cake, but I like them moist and heavy, although I never say no to the crunchy brownies as long as it's highly chocolatey.

She made rocky road brownies, which has chocolate chips, caramel, and marshmallows in addition to the basic brownie recipe. Very sticky, very gooey and heavy.

Delicious but it's pretty much mainstreaming sugar and a few hundred calories when you eat just one. She refused to write down the recipe, though.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2006 10:40 PM | Report abuse

//as long as it's highly chocolatey.//
I understand.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 9, 2006 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I had one of the best days I ever had with my youngest son and daughter this afternoon. My daughter loves my corn and crab chowder, and has been begging me to make it. My son loves my Swiss Steak and noodles, and has been begging me to make it. So what the heck, I made 'em both. My son, who is 20 and fancies himself a budding DJ, has pretty good taste in music, and was playing some good stuff while he helped me cook. (We both like Journey, and Rod Stewart's "Downtown Train" and "Ryhthm of My Heart.")Meanwhile, my daughter lurked around, occasionally tasting the corn chowder in progress, and pleading, "Dad, when's it gonna be ready?"

My son likes the corn chowder, but won't eat crabs or any other seafood. So I made the corn chowder part first, without the crabs, and when it was done I put up about a pint for my son. Then I added the crab meat and other stuff to convert it into corn and crab chowder.

My daughter had a bowl of it as an appetizer before dinner, which was the Swiss steak and noodles, for everybody. My son even had a friend come over, and he had a plate of the Swiss Steak, too.

A good day.

Yoki, here's the recipes for the Boodle Cookbook:

Curmudgeon's Corn Chowder/Crab and Corn Chowder

For the corn chowder:

2 stalks celery, diced small
1 medium onion, diced small
15 baby carrots, sliced/diced
2 pieces thick-cut bacon
4 small red potatoes, diced small
1 quart Half and Half
1 quart, "Imagine" brand "organic" (that's what the label says) creamy sweet corn soup (available at Safeway, in special gourmet/organic aisle)
1 20 oz. bag frozen white corn, thawed to room temperature
3 cans cream of celery soup
3 cans, cream of potato soup
salt, to taste (about a tablespoon)
ground white pepper (about ½ teaspoon)
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning (accept no substitute; if there's no Old Bay, might as well not bother)
½ cup sherry
2 tablespoons real butter (not margarine)
Chopped parsley or chives, to sprinkle on top when served

In a large (10 qt.) stock pot, soup pot, or dutch oven, put two strips of bacon, and cook until well done, making sure entire strips are crispy. Remove bacon from pot and let drain on paper towel. Put 2 tablespoons of butter in pot, add diced celery, diced onions and ½ tablespoon of salt, cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes. When bacon has cooled and dried, crumble into pot in smallest possible pieces or crumbs. Add diced carrots, thawed corn, and diced potatoes, cook for 5 more minutes, stirring so everything is mixed. Add corn soup, celery soup, potato soup, remaining salt, white pepper, sherry, Old Bay, stir to mix well. Cover, cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat so soup doesn't quite boil and making sure nothing burns on bottom.

This is the corn chowder, ready to go. To convert it to corn and crab chowder, in the final stage add:

1 lb. crab claw meat (half the cost of backfin or lump, but does the job)
2 Knorr's fish bullion tablets, crushed if they are hard (sometimes difficult to find; try an Asian market; instead of the word fish, they may say "Caladora" on the box)
8 oz. package of imitation crab meat, diced or shredded
another ½ cup sherry

For an extra jazzy presentation, go to a seafood market and buy half a dozen large crab claws, steamed, if they have them, or even king crab claws. The claws from blue crabs are about 2 inches long or longer, and you want them already steamed and seasoned with Old Bay. With a very sharp knife and a mallet or hammer, carefully cut the claw at the joint. Then pull off the lower, thinner pincher, leaving the main part of the claw with the top pincher. With a paring knife, the meat inside the claw should now come out fairly easily from the end closest to the joint. (If you buy the claws with the next full arm segments, crack them open with a nutcracker or with the knife and mallet, and remove the meat from them to add to the pot.) Remove the meat from all the claws and put into the soup. Keep the large, main part of the claw shells, and when serving the soup in a bowl, place one large claw on top of the soup in each bowl.

Sprinkle some chopped parsley or chopped fresh chives on top when served.

Curmudgeon's World Famous (Well, Almost) Swiss Steak and Noodles

(In some circles, Swiss Steak is called Spanish Steak.)

Prep. time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves six.

1 green pepper, rough diced to about ½ inch pieces
1 medium onion, rough diced to about ½ inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, diced or crushed
3 lbs. eye of round roast
1 20. oz can, peeled Italian tomoatoes
1 20 oz. can, crushed tomatoes
1 12. oz. can, diced tomatoes
approx. 1/2 cup flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons A-1 or similar steak sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 packets, Spatini sauce mix (they come 3 to a box)
1 packet, Good Seasons salad dressing powder (they come 4 to a box)
salt, to taste (about a tablespoon)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
approx. 6 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon oregano
½ cup red wine
1 20 oz. bag egg noodles (preferably extra wide)

Cut a large green pepper in half, cut away and discard the whitish central core and seeds. Rough dice the pepper into approx. ½-inch pieces. Peel onion and rough dice into approx. ½-inch pieces. Dice two cloves of fresh garlic. In a very large skillet or (preferably) an electric skillet or chafing server, heat 2 tbl. of olive oil and add green pepper and onions, sprinkle with half the salt, and sauté about 8-10 minutes; when done, remove from pan, but don't clean out pan.

Trim fat from approx. 3-lb. eye of round roast, and slice into cutlets about ½-inch thick. Cut smaller pieces in half, larger pieces thirds, so each piece is approx. 2 or 3 inches wide and 3 or 4 inches long. (Alternatively, I've used a large round steak, pre-cut piece of round steak, etc.) On a heavy-duty cutting board, use a metal meat tenderizing mallet to pound meat and flatten into pieces about ¼-inch or 3/8-inch thick (use the side with the pyramidal spikes). Get two large dinner plates; put approx. ½ cup of flour on one plate. Dredge pounded pieces of meat with flour until well coated, and place on second plate. Add two more tablespoons of olive oil to electric skillet, and when hot begin to pan-fry the meat; you will have to do it in two or three batches depending on the size of the pan. Brown meat on one side, trying not to move it or disturb it until well browned, then turn and brown other side. After first batch is done, add two more tablespoons of olive oil and brown second batch; repeat for third batch if necessary and remove from pan. Add ½ cup of red wine to pan to deglaze pan, using a wooden spoon or spatula to dislodge any "fond" (the brown pits of meat and flour). (A non-stick pan probably won't need deglazing, but add the red wine anyway; it's an ingredient as well as a deglazer.), When the pan is deglazed, leave the wine in the pan.

Add the three cans of tomatoes to the pan, making sure to pierce and flatten the whole peeled tomatoes. Add the A-1 and Worchestershire sauce, the sauted onions and green pepper, the Spatini and Good Seasons packets, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic and the herbs (fresh chopped or from a jar). Stir so everything is combined, then add the meat pieces back into the pan, making sure they are well covered with sauce. Reduce heat to a healthy simmer, cover, and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing burns or sticks. Sample/taste occasionally, test for whether it needs more salt, go "ahh," smack lips appreciatively. Open can of beer, toast Pat, take a sip.

About 20-25 minutes before Swiss Steak is done, put large pot of water on to boil, add healthy pinch (approx. 1 teaspoon) salt to water, and when boiling dump in egg noodles, cook until desired state of "al dente" is reached. Drain noodles, serve Swiss Steak and sauce over top of noodles. Also recommended: a nice green salad, some nice artisanal bread (I like sourdough, sliced, buttered and dusted with McCormick Salad Supreme seasoning before being toasted in the over/broiler), and a nice red wine, perhaps a chianti. Leftovers taste even better the second day.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 9, 2006 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Catching the very end of "the Grinch who Stole Christmas"-- this one with human actors.

All I can say is, if I was Cindy Lou's parents I'd show a LOT more concern about her hanging around a man without any pants.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 9, 2006 10:58 PM | Report abuse

mostly, call Linksys. Sounds as if your filtering needs to be adjusted to let more (any) sites in. I forget--did you switch cable modems too? That's the only reason you'd have to call Comcast.

Have a friend in from Cincinnati, he brought a cooler full of frozen Skyline! On a whim, we took a (topless) double decker bus tour of Philly today, front row seats. 2/3 of the way through, we were freezing. But the added height and open air made it a more interesting and vivid spectacle, so we persisted. Turning corners was an adventure, sometimes we had to duck low tree branches, more than once it seemed like being in the first car of a roller coaster. It was terrific fun, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

Hope everyone's weekend is good.

Posted by: dbG | December 9, 2006 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Went to the Palm Society's Christmas party today, at a big rural yard full of happy young palms. In five years, it'll be dazzling. The shuttle's good luck this evening was a bit of a quirk--the weather had been kind of windy all day, and clouds appeared in the late afternoon. Enough remained to obscure our view of the launch. It's warm enough tonight for a fairly loud insect chorus.

Thinking of Washington-specific journalism, it turns out that the NIH has a website on PANDA, a pediatric disorder. The site has a picture of a Chinese panda, anyway.

In view of Joel's evaluation, I suggest that instead of Paris, he should be sent to St Pierre & Miquelon, where the currency is the Euro and "Winter snowfalls and snow storms are spectacular and worth witnessing because of the forces involved. The bravest photographers will be rewarded with out-of-this world scenery."

I'm surprised the Appraisers didn't notice Joel's lack of Sunday stories or blog pieces featuring business subjects. This is a terrible omission. I suggest that Joel should cover the new pogo sticks (bounding maybe 6' or more into the sky), followed by a trip to a whitewater sports shop and a review of "The Mountain and the Wave," "unarguably a self-serving book" according to Surfer's Journal, which also called it "the lightly sanitized inside story of how a 2.5 billion-dollar behemoth emerged from simple little surfing." (vol. 15, No.6, p.126). The behemoth is Quiksilver. Their logo is apparently loosely based on Hokusai's print, "The Great Wave"

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 9, 2006 11:44 PM | Report abuse


So there is no chicken in your recipe, only chicken seasoning? Verrrrdy interesting.

My brown sugar brownie recipe is so good and makes the whole house smell devine, I will share it. But not tonight as I am suffering from being bucked off a horse earlier today and don't want to get up at the moment. I am mad at myself for not keeping control of my friend's mare. Apparently it was the wrong time of the month for the 5 year old named Kissee. And I was duly warned but unbelieving of 'the curse' in a hurse ... okay, horse. Luckily, I have only suffered humiliation plus an all-over body ache and bruising to my, ah-hem, lower backside. I was lucky, really.

On a brighter note, enjoyed Joel's Rough Draft. Just wonder if he was the model for the human in Richard Thompson's funny illustration. Nah, not unless Joel was wearing a wig.

Posted by: Random Commenter | December 10, 2006 1:16 AM | Report abuse

dbG, I'm calling Linksys tomorrow - just worn out today - overtired, as Achenfan would say. Not a good kind of tired. I didn't change anything - it was working Fri at 10:30 pm, was not on Sat at 8:30 am. Something in the wireless setup either broke, or...I don't know what...

Random Commenter, hope you're ok. Horses will be horses, eh? I always seemed to do better with geldings - and at this point, I wouldn't want to get on a horse younger than 20! Boko, you have any good horse stories (you mentioned riding boots the other day)? Or maybe I shouldn't ask? (I miss Nani, who was a fellow horse nut.)

Mmmm, chocolate. When I came home today, I found that my dear husband had made a chocolate cake with vanilla icing and put up the Christmas tree. That helped - he's a good guy.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 10, 2006 1:59 AM | Report abuse

random, ouch! When i take a fall, I usually give it about 24 hours before I can be sure all systems check out.

You are correct, I did forget to list the 1.5 pounds of chicken at the ingredience section of my 2 Beer Slop 8:01 recipe. However, the chicken is optional, and I still use the chicken seasoning in the vegetable-only version.

Posted by: Pat | December 10, 2006 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Pat, what sort of chicken do you use for slop? Boneless, parts?

Posted by: Yoki | December 10, 2006 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Last night's supper party was successful, and the best thing about entertaining our Muslim friends is that the morning-after is a pleasure -- I'm not the least bit thirsty!

This afternoon #2 has a gig with her band at a big outdoor party; we shall go along to cheer her on. Though when you get a group of 17-25 year olds together, they choose the most emo of emo tunes; not exactly party fare.

Next week her musical theatre group is putting on four performances of Grease. We'll go Tuesday night, #1 on Thursday. I'm looking forward to it. Last year they did the non-musical "The Scent of Honeysuckle." #2 played Jessie, the old lady who dies. I had tears streaming down my face when I went to congratulate the cast. If she keeps up with her acting, I will need to learn to separate the role from the daughter.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 10, 2006 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, 09:20 was me.

Posted by: Yoki | December 10, 2006 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I thought it looked more like Gene without the mustache than Joel.

Posted by: dr | December 10, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, I tipped Joel off to the hot subject of sea urchin genomes in Science Magazine back during election day week.

I guess he couldn't have said a gnome gave him the hot tip online, but I'm a bit miffed ;).

After all, do we REALLY believe he has a Deep Sushi Throat phoning him? That's so 20th century. Our "Deep Flipper" after all does know how to boodle.
(Hi, Dooley!)

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Besides I'm amazed anybody answers the phone at the Post those days with Gene prank calling at office hours.

Speaking of prank calls, this response to a telemarketer is so horrible but it's so funny, and at the end the telemarketer seems to catch on.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

So Wilbrod... what's the thought about Robert Davila?

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

He certainly is FAR more qualified than Fernandes. He also was the leading deaf candidate for Gallaudet President in 1988 and his resume has only gotten better since, being an undersecretary and a vice president at RIT.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I'd be surprised if he wasn't selected. Excuse me, assistant secretary, not undersecretary.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 11:03 AM | Report abuse

You can also see the other two finalists. One was also a candidate last time; the other candidate is the chair of the faculty senate.

All three are Gallaudet alumni in one way or another (Like IKJ) and have served at Gallaudet at various times, as well as served in distinguished positions elsewhere.

Like I said, Fernandes is just not the top candidate out of all the potential talent pool out there.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I may attend the announcement after all. It is going to be very interesting.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Oh, it's a temp job. That makes the decision harder.

"The Interim President cannot be a
candidate for the permanent President position. That was the directive."

The interim president will serve for 18 months. Because Davila made his character a strong selling point, I'd say he is a good choice to get the house in order.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Especially since from my calculations based on his resume, he is over 70 now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod...that's a main point in my argument as to how we ended up with Pope Benny (we're a familial bunch).

Posted by: LostInThought | December 10, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Pope Benny was second in command to Johnny Paul (if we're being irreverent), and certainly his age made it easier to pick him ;).

But Davila left within a year of IKJ's nomination over him and had a good career away from Gallaudet, so not exactly a heavy insider for the last 18 years-- a big point in his favor.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Genome, schmenome: how do I cook sea urchins? (actually, a good article)

Family favorite: Ham Pie
I once began to feel sorry for the vegans, who might miss out on this, and made some tofu "ham" which with its maple flavor actually tasted like bacon - I even dyed it red with beet juice - but that's another story. Smoked brewers yeast tastes a bit like cheese.

Make a batch of biscuit dough, and grate a pile of cheese - cheddar or swiss or both - slightly less in volume than the biscuit dough, and incorporate well. Very cheesy biscuits.

Dice 3 or 4 bell peppers, (the key is bell peppers, and I suspect the novice won't add quite enough - go with a large amount) a large slice of celery, and one large onion. A clove of garlic if you wish, but this dish isn't about garlic. Begin browning. Add and lightly brown a couple of cups of diced ham with it.

Either make a white milk/cream gravy, and add that, or add a can of condensed cream of chicken soup and 1/2 the milk. Bring to a full boil for 15 seconds, then off. Now season the chunky sauce adjusting for the already-salty ham, black pepper, and I do like a spoon of marjoram here. If not marjoram, a hint of oregano. Or a tiny amount of cumin, so small you know there's something but you can't quite identify it. Just buy some marjoram!

In a 9 X 12 or larger casserole dish, put the ham and vegetable sauce. It should be about 1 1/2 inches in the bottom. Spoon the cheese biscuit dough into the sauce mix in little golfball sized biscuits. Cook at 400 until the tops of the biscuits are brown. The bottoms will be like dumplings, immersed in the sauce.

Incredibly good.

Posted by: Jumper | December 10, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I hope not irreverent. Probably in that spectrum somewhere, but more toward the violet. Besides, he's JP around here. (Sort of like how a little boy named Cletus James goes through life known as CJ.)
I hope the Trustees are able to see their way forward.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 10, 2006 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Now that's more like it-- a recipe that you can make endless substitutions on and still get a reasonably good dish. No need to worry about having a specific brand on hand :).

Just "whatever. If it explodes, don't sue me."

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The announcement has a webcast starting at 1 PM, and "Dr. Bert Davila" has just been announced.

On the cooking front, I just learned about parboiling.

I'd be happy to submit some recipes if I can remember them in detail. I once adapted a twice-baked potato recipe to make a long-cooked potato pie that was very popular with my vegetarian roommates.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Whoo, good speech. He doesn't look 70+.

He started by saying "It's good to be home again." He outlined plans for opening up lines of communication (omsbudman) and explained why that would work and be helpful, and how that had worked at RIT.
He hit a lot of points about opening up communication that I and so many alumni had independently analyzed as useful to change the culture at Gallaudet. Focus groups will be established. He also said Gallaudet's accreditation renewal is on hold pending reviews. Oh, and he's charmastic, and he said when he was appointed dean of KDEs back in 1974, he beat out 2 hearing finalists and immediately appointed them to various important positions and he fully intended to tap the talents of the 2 other finalists, who he knew well. (One was his student in Jr HS).

Looks like we have the interim president we absolutely need after the Fernandes debacle.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

It's a dank, drippy day for Bill Clinton to be in San Antonio, stumping for the Democratic contender in the last run-off election in the country, locally for Congressional District 23.

The rally has just started inside the gymnasium at Palo Alto College on our city's East Side, and I'm beginning to wish I were there. Yesterday's San Antonio Express-News reporting mentioned only that organizers were putting together the details of Clinton's swoop into Alamo City.

Only if an individual had Internet access yesterday could one learn, via the newspaper's website and a local blog, when and where Clinton was scheduled to appear. The revised reporting--online shortly before 2 p.m.--advised those who might want to attend the rally to contact Democratic candidate Ciro Rodriguez's campaign headquarters. The online update by our local paper provided no phone number or web address.

I learned the particulars at 8 p.m. last night after getting online, and Googled to learn the phone number of Rodriguez's campaign headquarters. The young staffer told me there were 4,000 tickets available but that I must pick them up at campaign headquarters, but did ask if I lived on either the north side or the south side. He provided only the address of the north side office and didn't tell me what was located near it, what side of the freeway the office was on or how late the office was staying open. After I asked, he told me that the north side headquarters would be open until about 10 p.m. and tickets were going to be handed out on a first come, first served basis.

I conked out. I could feel sleep coming over me, unable to fight it. After Friday night's Christmas party, a short and fruitless excursion around our outdoor mall, and a hour in Costco buying to restock empty cupboards and refrigerator, I was worn to a frazzle. I told my husband to wake me at 8:30, so I could drive over to pick up my ticket. By that time I was sleeping my sleep-of-the-dead, and I was roused to utter not more than two sentences a half hour after I drifted off.

This morning, the San Antonio Express-News has a front page article on the differences between candidates Bonilla's and Rodriguez's House voting records. How this next piece of reporting by Greg Jefferson is structured raises all sorts of questions for me. The last subhead and section mentions how the two candidates voted on the issue of Bill's Clinton's impeachment. The article contains 52 paragraphs--I numbered them with a pen. Paragraph 51, only a sentence, mentions that Clinton will campaign this afternoon at a rally for Rodriguez at the local college.

I can tell you honestly that San Antonio Express-News coverage of previous visits by former President George H.W. Bush and Preident George Bush was nothing like the slight given to former president Bill Clinton. I wish I were at the rally because I don't know when in my lifetime I may again have the opportunity to see Bill Clinton in person.

But this run-off election for Congressional District 23, slated for Tuesday, is mired in Texas politics. Gov. Perry set the date, which is the Catholic Church's Feast Day for the Virgen de Gualdalupe, a high holy day locally. The newly redistricted area is 61 percent Hispanic and Bonilla picked up only 8 percent of the Hispanic vote in the election that preceded the slicing, dicing, and carving of the newly configured district. LULAC sued, and it went to the Texas Supreme Court, which O.K.ed Perry's pick of days. Both candidates wanted early voting but the voting was to start so early that the state voting body cried foul, then flipflopped, so that there could be at least one weekend during which voters could turn out.

How many people will brave the wet weather and slick streets to turn out at the rally? Will locals, who were so poorly informed in the first place about the event, be tempted by Clinton's star power or the storefront displays and discounted holiday bargains at the local indoor malls? Whatever, the outcome at the rally today, one thing I can tell you for certain, the story of this district and this election is about as crooked, with as many twists and turns, as the devil's backbone.

Posted by: Loomis | December 10, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Pinchet died. Age 91. It didn't seem like he'd ever go. How does someone like that get to live so long?

Posted by: LostInThought | December 10, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Pinochet. Geez, can't type.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 10, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Neither heaven nor hell wanted him, Lostinthought. That's my opinion ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, I do not know about eating Sea Urchins, but I do know about their close relative the Sea Cucumber. Sea cucumbers can be filleted, dredged in seasoned flour, and pan fried. The results are delicious, especially if consumed on a boat.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 10, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Kind of back to normal after talking to Linksys (twice) and powering off the router for 20 seconds (which I did yesterday, too). Still not quite trusting this, though.

Too bad you missed Clinton, Linda, but I bet you'll have more chances. I saw him during the 1992 campaign, and would have gone again in 1996, only a friend who said she would go talked me into just lunch instead. I had to pick up a ticket in an inconvenient spot, too.

When I saw that Pinochet had died, my thought was that he escaped his trial, cheating many people out of justice for the wrongs he committed. Kind of like Ken Lay. That's not very charitable of me, but that's how I feel.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 10, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Mostly... I'm sorry I didn't chime in sooner with the ol' unplug-the-router advice. Every so often we have to do that here. Unplug for 20 seconds or so and then we're back in business.

Posted by: TBG | December 10, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse


Whatinnaheck is Purgatory for if not people like him? Or was Carlin correct in saying it was cancelled when they purged a few saints... Or was that Limbo?

This cold has me SO confused...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 10, 2006 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, friends. Just wanted to drop in and say hello. My grandsons and I have been out all day, I am one beat sister. Can't hang with these young people, I'm too slow, and much too old.

Just want to go to sleep. It has been a tiring weekend, good, but tiring.

Have some running around to do tomorrow, and some work. Will try to get that out the way, and then, just maybe, I can relax.

I hope everyone has enjoyed their weekend. I can say with all honesty, mine has been busy. Got to go, I left my grandsons outside, and I will not guess what they might be into by now. Try to get some rest if you haven't, and remember that God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 10, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Yogi, back to the 2 Beer Slop recipe. I think you've outed me on why I named it "slop". It's a generic formula on a good way to use up leftovers. Any chicken will do, boneless, thighs, leftover KFC. In fact, these are some other substitutes I've use instead of chicken: scallops, shrimp, bacon, ham, pork chops, ribs and roast beef, I still use the chicken seasoning. If the meat is a leftover, or has already been cooked, I just add it in halfway through the 2nd beer.

Now I get to do the Christmas letter. The 25th seems to be the deadline for Christmas, but i'm trying my best to turn it into a 12 day season with the 25th marking the 1st day. I'm getting the scrooge label put on me because of it. I have to say that the marketeers are a formidable obstacle.

Posted by: Pat | December 10, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse


You are in good company in trying to extend the Christmas season. The traditional "Twelve Days of Christmas" begin with Christmas Day and end on January 6. Getting the Christmas letter out during that period should not be a problem. But it's probably a good idea to get it out by the first day of spring.

Posted by: pj | December 10, 2006 6:49 PM | Report abuse


Does your Swiss Steak recipe really call for a tablespoon of salt? That seems like an awful lot considering the other sources of sodium in the recipe. And I always thought a 'pinch' of something was about an eighth of a teaspoon.

Posted by: pj | December 10, 2006 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Pinochet (pronounced piece-of-sh_t) died of a heart attack?

He had a heart? Damn.

Posted by: pj | December 10, 2006 7:01 PM | Report abuse

You can back off on the salt if you want, PJ. But remember, you're going to use maybe half of it in the water to boil the noodles. You're going to spritz the onions/peppers with some when they are being sauted (you always spritz a little salt on sauteing onions). And it wouldn't hurt to put the remnainder in the sauce. But it's your call.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 10, 2006 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Mishelovitz, died. Ken Lay, Died. Pinochet, died. Hear attacts. Why?

Posted by: daiwanlan | December 10, 2006 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I hear they ate a lot of salt.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 10, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

[Sorry -- I realize heart attacks are not funny. But salt licks are *hilarious*.]

Posted by: Achenfan | December 10, 2006 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan, you're too funny. In a weird way, that is. S'nuke, maybe you could fax Mudge's recipe to some deserving folks? It would be nice to be king/queen for a day, wouldn't it?

TBG, thanks for the tip. Somehow it helps to know I'm not the only one that has this problem. I sure know more about how things are set up now - of course, the desk is sort of catty-wampus so that I could get to where the cables are attached. I hate hardware. Not so fond of software, either.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 10, 2006 8:20 PM | Report abuse

On a brighter note, I got time to listen to some of my new CD's and DVD's. U2 has a new CD of (old) singles with a couple new songs - and there's a package with a DVD of part of the Milan concert last year. It's wonderful - put a big smile on my face last night. I hope they release the entire Milan concert sometime - the crowd is tremendous - singing, dancing, waving arms - a joy to watch.

Loreena McKennitt's new CD is quite good too. And Leon Russell has a new CD out, Angels in Disguise (available on his website):

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 10, 2006 8:39 PM | Report abuse

PJ has a point.

Your recipe doesn't seem to call for too much salt when divided up by 6 people, actually.

But considering this: 3 cans of tomatoes may have high sodium, and that the Imagine brand cream of corn soup is bound to be high sodium already, just because ALL processed foods are, even innocous bread, but especially soups, it may be worth taking a look at the sodium total. Shop wrong and you can wind up with a lot more sodium than you expected.

I personally prefer not to cook with processed ingredients because of the salt levels (except for canned tomatoes etc.)

I'm sure this recipe would be just as delicious without using processed food brands.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Not that there's anything wrong with salty foods once in a while. Keeps the ol' blood pressure out of the basement, you know?

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 10, 2006 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Yup, gotta have some blood pressure. Otherwise, it just pools up in your legs!

Posted by: Bob S. | December 10, 2006 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I have to tell you, I went through h-e-double-toothpicks with the Linksys router and my DLS modem and various tech support personel this past week--a total of, no exaggeration, 10 hours on the phone, with the end result that the Linsys support person told me to take the router back to the store because it must be defective. I did take it back, today. I told the clerk my story and she said, "Oh, it's damaged?" I said, "No, it's not damaged. It's just crap." That's as ticked off as I ever get. We laughed, anyway, and I bought, instead, a USB hub and a long ethernet cord. This is my plan B--to use the USB connection for the desktop and the ethernet cord for the laptop. We'll have to wait and see if that is feasible. Right now my desktop is connected to the internet with the USB cable but it remains to be seen if we can get the ethernet cable to work again, or simultaneously or whatever. I have spent way too much time on this project!

I'm glad YOU are back up and running and I hope everything keeps working for you.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 10, 2006 9:32 PM | Report abuse

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