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Global Warming January

Never has good weather felt so bad. Never have flowers inspired so much fear. Never has the warm caress of a sunbeam seemed so ominous. The weather is sublime, it's glorious, it's the end of the world.

January is the new March. The daffodils are busting out everywhere. It's porch weather. Put on a T-shirt and shorts, fire up the grill, blast "Rastaman Vibration" into the back yard. Everyone out for volleyball! The normal high for this time of year is 43 degrees; yesterday's high at Reagan National was a record-breaking 73.

And yet it's all a guilty pleasure. Weather is both a physical and a psychological phenomenon. Meteorology, meet eschatology. We've read the articles, we've seen the Gore movie, we've calculated our carbon footprint, and we're just not intellectually capable anymore of fully enjoying warm winter weather. Just ain't right. Ain't natural. Cherry blossoms during the NFL playoffs? Run for your lives.

"Amazing, but it makes me think we might not be here too much longer, because of global warming," said Laura Ingoldsby, a grad student getting ready for a jog on the towpath at Fletcher's Boathouse.

"I think it's a bit scary. It's too warm," said Ellie Motazedi of Bethesda as she paused during a bike ride.

"Days like this, I worry about global warming, and we're not doing anything about it," said Coby Dolan, an attorney basking in the sunshine on the porch of the clubhouse at the Hains Point golf course. Let the record reflect that he did not appear to be suffering.

At the U.S. National Arboretum, horticulturist Scott Aker has been keeping an eye on a Magnolia zenii: "The buds are ready to pop." They mow the meadows in winter when the ground freezes solid, but it's still soft out there. Last year's petunias are still going strong in Aker's yard -- and there's no serious winter in sight.

Bulletin: A Washington Post editor nearly drove into a black bear Friday night in Prince William County. Official word from the authorities: "Oh yeah, it's so warm, they can't hibernate."

Bulletin: British scientists say there is a 60 percent chance that 2007 will be the warmest year on record.

Bulletin: Ski resorts are struggling to open in the Alps.

Bulletin: Palm trees are growing around a tiki bar in Antarctica.

So maybe we made up the last one. Still, we don't need anyone to tell us that some computer model in some climatologist's office is showing that a doubling of atmospheric carbon will lead over the next century to approximately 3 degrees Celsius warming in the average surface temperature of the planet, etc. Because we've been outside. We can detect climate change epidermically.

[Click here to read the rest of the story.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 7, 2007; 9:20 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 28-Item Agenda For New Congress [Updated 3 p.m.]
Next: Know when to hold 'em, and...


My daughter's six-grade teacher has taught her that the mark of quality writing is a clear, concise Thesis Statement. By that criterion, Joel's piece has Pulitzer written all over it. For what could be a more pithy Thesis Statement than "Just ain't right"?

And I would suggest the there is more "ain't rightness" about the weather than just cognitive dissonance between enjoying the warmth and fearing for the polar bears. For me, at least, this weather induced a free-floating anxiety even more flee-floating and anxious than normal.

It was that feeling you get when you know that there is something crucial that you are supposed to do, yet you can't quite remember what it is. I think I was recapitulating some primordial instinctual response to the weather. Like it was time to migrate or something.

In my case I think I kept having to convince myself that the lawn really didn't need to be mowed, and that the garden really didn't need to be weeded. I was suffering from a suppressed drive to perform ritualistic suburban yard work. And that, indeed, "Just ain't right."

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 7, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

What's really scary is the groundhog hole has clearly been opened up again, and he's on the move. (I know because I half-covered it in order to know when he's up and about.)

I've heard about ornery bears as a result of broken hibernation - I don't want to know how much more ornery my groundhog can get.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 7, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Several crocus bulbs UP this morning. This happened overnight, as I was on my hands and knees yesterday in the heat wave, planting more.

Now, let's be real: a hot day can be an extreme or anomolous data point. But the pattern of warm days in November, December and January, sustained over let's say, a decade. Well, Nature, you got my attention.

Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.

Posted by: College Parkian | January 7, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. You understand that those of us not rejoicing in abnormally warm temperatures feel that you folks should worry. We bask in your unease. We, too, recognize that your current weather Just Ain't Right, even if only because it isn't ours. That said, my daffodils are already a couple of inches above ground, ensuring that they will bloom and die in a freeze before the end of February. It is almost a tradition here the last few years.

Perhaps in Denver, January is the Little Ice Age. The storm track, though broad, really is localized, though; in the southwestern mountain ranges of Colorado (San Juans), the snowpack is only 75% of normal.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 7, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal had an article on "Climate-Change Gardening" with a discussion of the unofficial redrawn hardiness-zone map. It refers to this winter in the Midwest and East as "freakishly warm".

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 7, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Climate modeling is complex (understatement of the day) and hard to blog about.

But, see this comprehensive blog-site for climate change information:

Written by an international community of interdisciplinary scientists, this is a must-see resource on climate.

JA is right to report to us that weather is not climate. But the El Nino driver for unseasonably warm weather on or about Christmastide given by his source is only the tip of the iceberg. (Forgive me my grievious pun!)

See this article about El Nino and climate:

Midway through this article is this quote:

"However, it seems that one common trait among some climate models is the indication that a global warming may result in a more a general El Niño-type average state (eg. Collins et al. 2005, Climate Dynamics, 24, 89-104. 19 and here)."

Here is the link provided within the quote:

This link is a posting from the widely respected climate scientist Matthew Collins of the
Centre for Global Atmospheric Modelling,
Department of Meteorology,
University of Reading,

The key idea here is "feedback." Positive and negative feedback loops complicate climate modeling mightily.

The other area of complex modelling with multiple feedback loops both positive and negative is ECONOMIC MODELLING.

Economists somehow get a pass about their complex modeling. Policymakers do not damn the entire field because of the complexity and hard-to-interpret/hard-to-apply "predictions."

So, the final overstatement of the day is this:

everything is related to everything else.

Now, on to string theory...

Posted by: College Parkian | January 7, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Reposted from previous Boodling (with SCC Error Correction implemented:

"From Achenbach's piece (which only uses a form of the world 'guilt' once that I detected): 'And yet it's all a guilty pleasure. Weather is both a physical and a psychological phenomenon. Meteorology, meet eschatology.'

We should pe partying like it's 1999, shouldn't we? At least the weather will make thongtastic public celebrations much more comfortable."


"I wonder if Joel broke down and smoked a cigar during his quick nine at Hains Point yesterday, nattily decked out in Bermuda shorts, Hawiian shirt, and flip-flop golf spikes; his Genius Flyaway Hair tacking at jaunty angles in the breeze."


Posted by: bc | January 7, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

SCC: ")"

Ah, me.


Posted by: bc | January 7, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm watching Buddy999 try to stare down a llama and it just ain't right. Llamas ain't supposed to come out until April. The sheep seem unusally bewildered (and that's saying a lot) as they wander around the field in the beautiful sunshine.
I planned to stay indoors and try to clean up my sty but the weather is so gorgeous I'm gonna go play outside. Enjoy it if ya got it.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 7, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Hasn't there been a fashion debate among men about whether t-shirts and shorts are strictly summer attire or are acceptable year-round attire? Or do some men just ignore the rules (much like the white after Labor Day debate)?
I was also under the impression that men consider grills to be year-round equipment.
Last, but not least, I thought the only time men didn't play golf was when there was lightening or snow on the ground (how do you find the ball?)

Posted by: LostInThought | January 7, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The recent weather has been mind-bending, as much as I dislike the frigid weather we usually have by now, the lack of it is disconcerting and rather scary. A silly associated issue for me is trying to find clothes to wear to work that fit the weather without having to dig into the storage bins in the cedar closet. We watched the football game last night on the porch (we were on the porch, not the players - it's big room but...). We kept commenting on the weirdness of being out there in January without heavy sweaters. In fact, the last time we sat out there was just before the kitchen was finished, around the beginning of November, and we had the portable heater going and were all layered up. Yesterday we ordered a fireplace screen, the woman in the store said it had been very slow - duh! On the plus side, considering my current employement status, I'm glad to have lower heating bills.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 7, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

My personal fashion debate is-

Clothes: Why?

Grills year-round, sure. Ribs are good any time of the year!
I've been supressing an urge to mow the lawn, held it off by shoveling a trashcan full of Lab poop.

Here's something that can help you find your balls if they get lost or otherwise mishandled during play:

Er, golf balls, that is.


Posted by: bc | January 7, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

LIT, colored balls are used in the snow!

Posted by: dmd | January 7, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Black balls are used on the Yellowknife golf course in the Winter season (Sept-May).

Posted by: Boko999 | January 7, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Bc, if you can ask "why" to the question of wearing clothes, that must be one open-minded area you live in.

In summer in Denmark, a lot of people go scantily clad or near-nude to catch all the sunrays they can before winter comes back. My friend reported he saw a few men motoring in the nude. He didn't give me a thong count, though.

(Thongs and golf... I just blinded myself by thought...)

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 7, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

A recent weather observation from N.E. Ohio:

The local "Polar Bear Club" had their annual meeting last week where they drink large quantities of beer and whiskey, then do the next most logical thing and strip down to their skivvies and jump in the lake. Everything went off as usual except that it was unnecessary to chainsaw a hole in the lake surface this year and sunblock sales were up 4000%. In fact, the only ice present at the event was in cube form, conveniently packaged in plastic bags and used primarily to keep the Bloody Mary's cold.

Posted by: martooni | January 7, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

And the new members are thinking "Wow that was easy, and AREN'T those bloody marys good?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 7, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

>My friend reported he saw a few men motoring in the nude.

This is why I finally gave up motorcycles for convertibles. Not that I ever have but y'know... you *could*. And after all, if your shirt's off the rest is up to the imagination.

A dirty mind is a joy forever.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 7, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to go off topic but the Republicans have just announced their new job plan for Iraq. 5000 bomb-proof MacDonalds.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 7, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry... but we can go back and look at the late 1800's and the early 1900's to see times when January hit the 60 degree mark.

Your minds are way too easy to control... this isn't global warming.

Posted by: Local weather doesn't equal climate | January 7, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

wilbrod... I didn't mind the thong/motoring visual.

Being a living, breathing, hetero man, this immediately brought to mind a pleasant (if cliche) mental image of a nubile young woman waxing the hood of a Lamborghini with her, um... polishing kit.

But then I caught the "men" part in your comment and must say that my day is now ruined.

And now I have "Y.M.C.A" stuck in my head.

Somebody shoot me. Please.

Posted by: martooni | January 7, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, there were plenty of nude and scantily clad women out there as well.

For some reason, my hetero male friend chose to focus on the eye-searing image of nude Danes, male variety, probably to prevent himself from drooling openly at the thought.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 7, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Local weather doesn't equal climate | Read the article again. It clearly draws the distiction between weather and climate

Posted by: Boko999 | January 7, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Local weather doesn't equal climate |
It might help your concentration if you don't move your lips.

Sorry I forgot the gratuitious dig.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 7, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Take a look at the comments to the on-line article. Everyone there is so serious.

Either they charge JA with telling jokes at a funeral or they hit him for even considering that Global Warming {might exist, might have some human agency, might be repairable by people}.


Posted by: md 20/400 | January 7, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

md - I read some of those comments and winced. Clearly there are people who believe that a valid existence mandates incessant outrage. I believe such people are known, technically, as "under-medicated."

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 7, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday was a time of predictions, and uncertainties. Today is a time of consequence and emergency. Tommorow is bearly at the tips of our fingers.

Posted by: ani. a. | January 7, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday was a time of predictions, and uncertainties. Today is a time of consequence and emergency. Tomorrow is bearly at the tips of our fingers.

Posted by: ani. a. | January 7, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

RD, MD, I'm thinking of writing something about the comments that get posted to our stories (as opposed to, for example, our blogs, where people get to know one another and aren't, for example, surprised that a global warming story has some humor in it). I refuse to believe that the crabby, humorless, furrow-browed tone of those comments reflects the general temperament of the American public.

Part of the problem is technological: Online it's hard to discern the diff betwixt a day-hit in Style and a news story on global warming. The "Style" part doesn't track well online.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 7, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm still trying to figure out why this El Nino isn't like the other ones we've experienced, which mean milder, drier winters in the Pacific NW. It just ain't right.

(That was written the day before the huge storm that left a million people without power - and we're still having record rains and wind and cold, fer cryin' out loud!)

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 7, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I thought about the technological bit too. (Did you hear about the grief CNN online got when they started posting links to The Onion?) Also, I suspect there is some societal filtering going on. Many of those who submit comments on the WaPo site are probably so hysterically enraged over Global Warming that they aren't bothering to appreciate the nuances of your piece.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 7, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

bh, I really don't know much about hummingbirds - they're too fast for me. Apparently they do molt, and even cross breed, though. Here are a couple of good websites I've found:
How they got the pictures of the hummingbird in someone's hand, I'll never know (hope it was,like, still alive!).

BTW, thanks for all the kind words for my friend - and condolences to those of you who have experienced a similar loss (including you, bh). It's not easy, is it?

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 7, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Mulch Fire Flipflopping and Fingerpointing

Amount of news coverage:
Yesterday: Giant aerial photo on page A1, story below the banner jumping to 2/3 pf page 12A. Plus op-ed: "Do something."

Today: Miniscule photo from ground level with a tease to the story on B1. Five grafs on top right of Metro page B1, jumping to 1/4 page of 7B.

Was the fire arson?

Property owner: Someone cut the lock on my gate.

County Fire Marshal Orlando Hernandez: The cause of the fire is still under investigation and has not been ruled arson.

Express-News on Friday: It's arson.

Source of Friday's assertion in the local paper: Ted Manganello, arson investigator denied Saturday that he had said that it was ruled arson. He claims that what he said Saturday was that "'we' believe it to be intentionally set, but it's still under investigation."

Brett Thacker, managing editor of the Express-News on Saturday: "The investigator told our reporter, without hesitation, that the mulch fire was arson."

Is there particulate matter from the smoke in the air?

Known-knowns: An air monitoring station 16 miles away gave extremely high particulate readings on several days after the fire began.

Kwown-unknowns: According to our local paper, two statements--"local health officials say air quality readings show *no consistent rise* in the amount of potentially harmful particles floating in the air" and "officials did not produce any analysis of the results for the public or say whether the readings indicated unhealthy levels."

It was originally reported by our local paper that four new test stations had been set up, one next to the high school and one next to the burning mulch pile itself.

Today's reporting: three new monitors have been placed closer to the fire, but Saturday's rain blocked a full-day's reading from those, according to Dr. Fernando Guerra , director of the Bexar Metropolitan Health District (I have numerous issues with him over smallpox inoculations.)

So I drove over this morning to get a look-see at the pile--still burning and putting out a fair amount of smoke. I ended up speaking with Cameron Lopez, environmental investigator (the paper calls him the emergency response coordinator) in the San Antonio office of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. He was having a cup of coffee in the sunshine with about three other gentlemen outside his two-trailer command and control center adjacent to the Helotes City Hall building, about the size of a neighborhood branch bank when I pulled up. I certainly was not given the impression of any emergency. When I approached he was friendly and eager to talk.

He said that yesterday they ran two tests. The testing period for those air monitors is three hours but because of an afternoon shower in the area, yesterday's results were one two-hour test and one three-hour test. Because the high school was not in session yesterday, they did not monitor the air quality on the campus adjacent to the fire. (That seems strange to me--the biggest population with the closest proximity who might most be impacted--and freedom to roam the campus yesterday at will.)

The air testing monitors are mobile. Lopez invited me to step into one of the trailers to see this morning's testing sites. Think of three branches of a trident and all are downwind of the fire, one at a Little League field not far from us. The state is running two three-hour tests per day, but Lopez said the optimal would be three three-hour tests. TCEQ only collects the data--but cannot analyze it and turns it over to county officials, including physicians, who obviously aren't on call on the weekend.

Lopez declined to comment on the results to me--"I'm no doctor". When I asked him to tell me if there should be concern about the readings that he was receiving from the air monitoring stations--without giving me numbers, he said citizens are advised to follow the guidlines--those most at risk should reduce exposure by staying indoors in a tightly sealed building and cutting down on physical activities.

Lopez intends to be his onsite in his two-trailer compound for seven days. He admitted his biggest problem was the communications capability between his computers and others, including a satellite link.

Is the mulch fire making residents sick?

The paper reports that more than 200 local residents have called a hotline set up by Metro Health, asking when the fire will be put out and how they can protect themselves. The newspaper asked for comments yesterday and got them: there are health concerns. Two families have been moved into hotels. Beyond 50 hotel rooms and the Red Cross will set up a mass shelter.

Guerra at Metro Health: It's hard to determine whether symptoms are caused by cold or flu vuruses, seasonal allergies such as cedar fever or are directly related to the smoke. No numbers were provided by Metro Health or conveyed in today's reporting of the fire about wehter there are deviations from the normal pollen count or spikes in the number of area flu cases.

Helotes Mayor Pro Tem Linda Boyer-Owens: Malarkey! It's not in our heads. Even *I* am being affected.

State action and ultimatum:
The state has demanded that property owner Zumwalt turn over a written plan by 1 p.m. tomorrow about his plans to contain the fire. Lopez says that if the plan is unacceptable to the state, the state is prepared to take action within hours. Their first step would be to try to contain the smoke, then tackle the fire itself.

County action:
There will be a meeting tomorrow of county honchos at a Commissioners Court meeting downtown. (For heaven's sake, why not closer to the impacted area? Really?) The public can attend. The notice of the meeting has been posted for 72 hours on the county's website, according to law. Not ONE mention this weekend of the meeting by our local paper.

How long will it take to quench the blaze? What will it cost?
If the state's plan is unacceptable, then the state's contractor, O.L. Mop (I kid you not about the name) and subcontractor Williams Fire and Hazard Control Inc. of Vidor, Texas, will step in and extinguish the fire, Lopez said. In that event, property owner Zumwalt must pay the costs. Williams Fire has estimated the job will require 100 million gallons of water and cost between $1 million and $6 million. The paper reports that Lopez estimates the shortest amount of time to extinguish the blaze would be one month. Lopez told me that they would have to tear up the adjacent raodway to run a water pipe under it and that there are plans to contain the surfactants (fire-retarding chemicals) before they reach the aquifer underneath.

Other opinion:
The paper interviewed the owner of a Cleveland, Ohio company, Gary Broberg, who claimed that he could lower the cost to $250,000 and complete the job in a week's time by using a special technology and a wetting agent like the one used to extinguish the fire at Ground Zero, the World Trade Center site, after 9/11. According to Broberg, he helped extinguish a fire in a smaller heap in Durham, N.C., in just 48 hours. slyness, know anything about this?

Tomorrow appears to be a red-letter day as far as information (I hesitate to use the word "action") about the fire.

Posted by: Loomis | January 7, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Echoes of the Mossadegh story:,0,4572971.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 7, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Mostlylurking - I normally torment my Pacific Northwest friends and relatives with my tales of epic East Coast Weather. This year the tables have definitely been turned. Still, I understand the snow pack is pretty impressive, so there will be lots of guilt free hydroelectric electricity come spring.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 7, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Post-script: There is no doubt in my mind that terrorists should strike Texas first.

Posted by: Loomis | January 7, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes, LTL-CA (thanks for the LA Times link), this local concern is keeping me, timewise, from commenting on another, far more national story in the news. Perhaps this week.

Posted by: Loomis | January 7, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Catching up a bit from yesterday -- Thanks, TBG for the news about nelson. Let's hope we hear from her soon.

mostlylurking, I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I'll keep the two of you in my thoughts.

bc, Easterbrook's Potomac River Basin Indigenous Persons was a great one. As I recall, he figured that since they train and are based in Virginia and play their games in Maryland they may not enter the city of Washington at all. Very cute.

Posted by: pj | January 7, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

RD... in these parts, we have a name for the perpetually umbrage-inflicted -- it's a compound word that rhymes with "glass pole". ;-)

Oh my... now there's a visual. As long as nobody mentions naked Danish men on motorbikes or Mudge's blue bottom (or my healing quite nicely black and blue one), I just may get through the afternoon without having to claw my eyes out or bash my own head in with a hammer.

(*dangit... i swear i'm my own worst enemy*)

And before I forget (or incapacitate myself with a hammer):


I agree on the "dirty mind" thing. Maybe that's why I enjoy so much. I really do try to be a gentleman and all that, but sometimes you just gotta let hormones be hormones and let your inner man-child run loose with a chainsaw (scissors are for seamstresses). And "Foobies"... well... I'm beginning to think there definitely was an intelligent designer behind all this.

Otherwise, what's the point of fast cars and rockets?

We must embrace our innate masculine fascination with blowing things up and/or making them go faster. We must allow our manly selves to say "hey... I *meant* to do that", have 9-1-1 on speed dial, and encourage the women in our lives to accept the fact that sometimes the best way to really love something is to let it explode.

We must also remember to never ever ever ever *ever* say "no, those pants don't make your butt look as gigantic as it is" and we must ALWAYS... and I mean ALWAYS... remember to say "of course you're right, dear".

It took me a while to figure out that last one. But I'm happy to report that I haven't had to sleep on the couch for three whole days now.

YMMV (as they say on the Internets).

Posted by: martooni | January 7, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Sky report: the sky is a beautiful deep clear blue. Fluffy white clouds drift. At ground level, a viciously strong cold wind reminds us why we want to view this beauty from indoors.

I never read comments attached to regular stories. I don't know those people. I can confidently say that the apparent prevailing atmosphere at such places does not reflect that of most citizens. Leave us remember, folks, most citizens do not comment online, even including the ones who get their news here. Lots & lots of people don't venture into cyberspace yet (or whatever you want to call this).

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 7, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

No, Linda, I'm not familiar with that incident in Durham. I'll check and let you know if I find anything...

Posted by: Slyness | January 7, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy to report that the Christmas tree is down and all the holiday decor is put away (that's what the kids say who took it all to the closet downstairs; I'll see when I venture down there).

Now I get to experience the joy of finding an elf or other such decoration that we forgot about it. Sometimes that lasts until June.

Sometimes that lasts until we take the little hanging Santa off the powder-room door and put it away today--a year later. :)

Posted by: TBG | January 7, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I hope the situation improves soon, I feel for those who need to head this advice for their health,

"those most at risk should reduce exposure by staying indoors in a tightly sealed building and cutting down on physical activities."

TBG still slogging through the de-Christmas ritual here, like you I will continue to find things throughout the year, especially the stuff the little one has ferreted away to play with while it was out.

Posted by: dmd | January 7, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

TBG - I prefer to think of forgotten Christmas decorations as a means of keeping the happy magic of the season alive all year long.

(This is harder to pull off with Easter Eggs.)

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 7, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Pyrocool (of Virginia), Ground Zero, and Durham, N.C.:

(pretty much the same coverage as the second link, above, at

Posted by: Loomis | January 7, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom... I think you're onto the real story behind the online commentary.

When you look at online polls (I'm thinking of the ones on, they have a line in the small type under the poll that says "This QuickVote is not scientific and reflects the opinions of only those Internet users who have chosen to participate."

To me, that means that the field of opinions has been narrowed down to people who are:

1. Internet users
2. CNN readers/viewers
3. People with a predisposition to click "yes" or "no" to a usually loaded question (btw... I've clicked, but I often don't because they rarely ever provide an option that isn't one extreme or the other -- i.e., should babies be boiled or deep-fried?)

Of course, in order to be online, one must also own or have access to a computer (which implies a certain level of affluence and/or access/willingness to visit a library, which then implies a certain level of education, concern, participation, etc, etc...)

My grandmother is as opinionated as George Will, but she's never touched a computer or even written a letter to the editor. For that matter, most of my relatives (of all ages) are of a similar persuasion. They have opinions, they pay taxes, they vote -- but they're part of that silent majority that treats "manners" as seriously as "matters". They'll be happy to share their views, but they aren't going to go out of their way to get in your face to do it. Instead of making their opinions known immediately, they save it up for Election Day.

On the other hand, there's people like me (and I'm guessing more than a few of you) who would freak out like a crack-junkie if your Internet access was taken away. We're (and I'm speaking from the "me" point of view, though you might agree) have become used to being able to spout off whatever we want on a global level. All you have to do is type it out, click "submit/send/whatever" and next thing you know, the entire world can see that you have trouble discerning the proper use of "your" and "you're" and that you don't know how to spell "asinine" when drunk (made this mistake myself, right here on this blog a few weeks ago).

What I'm getting at is that it's really easy to be heard these days. It's also easy to participate, manipulate and misinterpret online polls and discussions and since it seems that these polls and forums are what drive a lot of public policy, I'm thinking we're in for some serious guano fallout.

I dunno... that barely made sense to me. But it comes down to "those with computers and internet access are the ones who shape public policy".

I would go back and delete all the extraneous guano that ended up in this post, but that smells like work and it's Sunday and I've been doing everything in my power to avoid that kind of thing today.

Peace Out, Make Love (or Cookies)

Posted by: martooni | January 7, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Ya gotta love Joel, don't ya? "I refuse to believe that the crabby, humorless, furrow-browed tone of those comments..." I *knew* he was a great humorist, and now I've got all the evidence I need.

Posted by: Yoki | January 7, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

martooni - My wife refers to telephone polls as reflecting the opinions of people who are willing to answer telephone polls.

And yes, I will give up my high speed cable modem when it is pried from my cold dead fingers.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 7, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

lol, RD...

I would add that people who respond to telephone pollsters are people who are fortunate enough (or smart/responsible enough) to not have to cringe when the phone rings. Especially around the 1st and 15th of the month.

And then there are those of us with not-so-perfect credit records AND long-winded relatives.

All I can say is "thank you, Flying Spaghetti Monster (or insert your favorite deity here) for caller ID".

Posted by: martooni | January 7, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Not familiar with Pyrocool, Loomis, but it seems to do the job. Let me also say that there's a good possibility the mulch fire wasn't arson in origin. When you get that much organic stuff together, there is bound to be oxidation, and I wouldn't be surprised if said oxidation created enough heat to cause spontaneous combustion. After all, fire is defined at rapid oxidation, producing heat and light.

Posted by: Slyness | January 7, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, considering that half of the relay services available to the deaf depend on the internet OR on finding clunky, outdated TTYs....

I think a T-mobile sidekick still counts as internet, since it provides AIM and limited internet access for relay calls.

Gotta get one. But I'm kind of scared I'll then be doomed to IM 24/7 if I do so.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 7, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I checked back through the NC fire service website ( and didn't find any reference to a yard waste fire in Durham. The Durham FD submits info to the site, so I guess they didn't consider this incident or their response to it of interest to anybody else. Figures.

Will be interesting to see if your local authorities use the stuff, and if so, how well it works.

Posted by: Slyness | January 7, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I've just returned from a couple of weeks in Canberra, Australia, where they're having an unseasonably *cool* *summer* -- on the heels of a disconcertingly early and scorching spring. I found myself in the unheard of position of needing to wear a sweater to the family seafood fest on Christmas Day.

And there's the ongoing drought, which broke briefly for a massive hailstorm one afternoon shortly after we set out to see "Borat." The hailstones (some say they were the size of golf balls, but I would have said peas -- marbles at best) blocked the drains at the local theater, causing water to rush into the lobby and auditoriums. Alarms sounded, the theater was evacuated, and Emergency Services arrived, so we had to save "Borat" for another day. (He kept nicely.) Over the next couple of days there were brief thunderstorms around town. Some were mere "dry storms," but some produced flash flooding when the hard, parched soil refused to soak up the downpours. I hear things are back to "normal" now.

I went for walks in bushland close to my parents' home, and on one occasion saw as many as 50 kangaroos grazing up there. (As it gets drier, the kangaroos come closer and closer into town, searching for water and grass, and can even be seen on front lawns, or attempting to cross busy streets -- sometimes more successfully than others.

I couldn't help but notice how seriously the people of Oz are taking global warming, and environmental issues more generally -- it seems to be all people are talking about right now. [And did you all hear about that iceberg spotted off the coast of New Zealand a few weeks back?] Rarely will you see a supermarket shopper who isn't using those bright-green re-usable grocery bags, and store clerks more often than not ask their customers if they need a bag for their book/CD/greeting card/drugstore item, etc. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but it seemed to me that a majority of the customers were saying, "uh, no, that's OK."

There was talk of recycling sewage water in Sydney. I'm not sure what this entails exactly, but one newspaper poll suggested that 70 percent of Australians would be prepared to drink water obtained in this fashion. [!] My Dad said, Oh, I don't think people really understand what the recycling process involves (which only confused me further, because I thought a lack of understanding about recycled sewage would result in a conservative estimate of willing participants, not an inflated one [70 percent!] -- but maybe I've been away from home too long).

Posted by: Achenfan | January 7, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad the nation's political elite is getting a taste of the warm weather. I've got a couple of snowmobiles here in central New Hampshire that I'd love to sell to the next presidential wannabe that come up here.

Posted by: Dave | January 7, 2007 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Achenfan! We've missed you!

Posted by: Slyness | January 7, 2007 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes, welcome back Achenfan and thanks very much for that dispatch. In your absence I made roughly one trillion uncorrected spelling, grammatical and typographical errors.

Poor Weingarten. Giants lose. But spring training for the Yankees is only about seven weeks away.

This story on stem cells is huge, and as Rick Weiss notes will have major political ramifications (if anyone out there has insight on this new class of stem cells, please let us know):

Posted by: Achenbach | January 7, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes--welcome back! And Achenfan, please tell Dreamer we'll be glad to see her around again, too!

(And Tomfan, too!)

Posted by: TBG | January 7, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Slyness -- it's good to be back.
I managed to do some boodle skimming while I was away, and to post a Dreamer-esque Ramtha quote [and thank you, Error Flynn, for your contribution there]. But it's nice to be back at my own computer, in my own apartment, where I can boodle "properly," and where I have access to all my Achen- and Shroder- and Bleep books.

[BTW, don't ask me who that "JackassInHongKong" person was who posted a few days back. I think I was in a plane when that one appeared. But hey, if he/she is still *in* HK, maybe this jackass can catch up with that jackass and hoist a couple of Yuenglings, or Tsingtaos, now that I'm back in town.]


Posted by: Achenfan | January 7, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

And thank you to yous too, TBG and Achenbach.

Posted by: Achenfan | January 7, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I heard, at 5:40 p.m. on the NBC affiliate local news, about a meeting just getting under way at the Helotes City Hall about the mulch fire. I jumped in my car and drove over, arriving just as the press conference (as it turns out) was ending, in time to see the newspaper health reporter outside phoning in her story (and popping into the hall to ask a followup. "Any hospitalizations as a result of the fire?" "No."), and television camera crews leaving.

I entered the building, was handed a press release issued by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Metro Health, and stepped to the edge of a conversation the Helotes Mayor Jon Allan was having with Steve Roldan, reporter for our ABC affiliate station.

The purpose of the news conference was to release two days of air quality monitor data. Of the three monitors used today, the one giving the highest reading was the one downwind from the fire and closest to the burn. Since I don't know where precisely Wynstone Estates is, offhand, I can't tell you the distance between the smoldering mulch pile and the closest monitor.

Both the morning and afternoon readings for this location fall in the unhealthy category, 120 micrograms and 200 micrograms respectively.

In the press release, Cameron Lopez of the TCEQ, with whom I spoke this morning, said the 200 microgram reading isn't accurate because of skewed circumstances--the proximity of traffic to the monitor and because the monitor was placed downwind of the blaze. I wonder why this monitor that yielded unhealthful readings was stationed so close to traffic in the first place, if it's a given that traffic skews the results? And, really, doesn't the TCEQ want to know what the reading is in a subdvivision that is downwind from the smoke emanating from the burn? Isn't that one of the purposes of the testing?

Honestly, the press release I was handed is one of the most garbled and nonsensical pieces of writing I've seen in a long time, other than the numbers contained within. Take this one sentence as an example: "Lengths of monitor readings vary during rain events." How's about: "When it rains, it may not be possible to conduct a full three-hour test." Mudge, I feel your pain.

Roldan ended up interviewing me, but I fully expect the footage to end up on the cutting room floor.

I spoke with the Helotes mayor. I asked him what would be his best case scenario. He replied--for property owner Zumwalt to turn in his proposal tomorrow, for the state to take immediate action, and for the fire to be extinguished as quickly as possible. He has not received advance word of any TCEQ and Metro Health press conference scheduled for tomorrow. He won't be able to attend the county meeting because of a funeral.

More than a dozen people protested near the burn site and then moved to the Helotes city hall this afternoon.

As far as the County Commissioners meeting tomorrow, I'm far more interested in the agenda item for 1:50 p.m.--"a discussion of the appropriate action regarding a presentation by Dr. Harold Timcoe of the UT Health Science Center on the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility. (Timcoe and Guerra did a co-presentation a year or two ago on their plan for wisepread smallpox inoculations in the county. They failed to rpovide any plan for the smallpox-vaccine injured.)

I mean, if the county can't even handle a mulch fire in an appropriate timeframe, heaven forbid that they'll bring dangerous bacterium, fungi, and viruses into the county! Lab 257, where are you?

Posted by: Loomis | January 7, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Well, Weingarten's unhappy, but Mudge is delirous with joy, so the World stays in balance, I guess.

Those dour comments to Joel's article reenforces my theory that humor is a funny thing. And you can quote me on that.

A-fan, welcome back to, er, Hong Kong.
Thanks for letting Dreamer visit last week (IIRC).


Posted by: bc | January 7, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Hi, bc!
Indeed, Dreamer could not help herself when the opportunity to post a "Bleep" quote presented.

Posted by: Achenfan | January 7, 2007 8:32 PM | Report abuse

I have never read the "general readership" comments to one of Joel's columns before, usually reading the column on the blog, not as a Style piece. What do those people do with themselves when there are no humor articles and/or humor writers to bash? So many people bent on making rude comments. What is the *matter* with them!

Posted by: nellie | January 7, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

How 'bout dem IGGLES!!!!!

Martooni, on behalf of all humanity I beseech you: please don't use my name and the word "thongtastic" in the same sentence ever agin. Thank you.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 7, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey bc
Did ya catch the games today?what do you think about next week's matchups?

I plucked this article from the baltimore sun.,0,6588392.column?coll=bal-sports-headlines

I use the post for general news,politics,to blog etc....but use the sun for sports.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 7, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

got to love those Iggles....they could go all the way....I will be rooting for them....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 7, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

My apologies, I'm jumping in with a comment before reading all the way through the comments, but:

Do I correctly understand that Saint Tony-folk are concerned that the end is near because of a fire from a measly 80-foot mulch pile that's only been burning for a couple of weeks, and which the owner will have extinguished within a month or so, even without other help?

Good golly, these ain't your daddy's Texans, are they?

As recently as the last decade of the twentieth century, northern Californians (a group with whom Loomis has some at-least-passing acquaintance, and who are NOT known for their indifference to environmental degradation!) managed to bear up stoically while a much larger pile of burning tires smoldered on for a couple of years. And haven't Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Colorado all been struggling along with underground coal fires that have been chugging along for 40-100+ years now?

Posted by: Bob S. | January 7, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I read in the last boodle with some unease the continuing bitterness towards the "Indianapolis Irsays." If it is of any comfort, imagine being a current Colts fan and having to suffer the exquisite torture of having, next to Dan Marino, the greatest regular season quarterback ever who is once again having playoff "happy feet" and can't calm himself down enough to get things done in the post-season.

We are a small market that blew its best chance last year when Bettis fumbled but the idiot kicker missed. I fully expect the Ravens to make life miserable for the horseshoes next weekend. My apologies to the old Colts fans if things turn out differently.

Posted by: bill everything | January 7, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Has Mudge come down from orbit yet? Was he holding his breath so tight that his face was as blue as his bottom? Regardless, it wasn't as blue as the Giants' fans.

Welcome back, Tom Fan, et al. I was wondering where you were. I'm glad you had a good visit back home. "Seafood fest on Christmas Day" sounds like a *lot* of fun. The juxtaposition of steamed shrimp combined with tinsel and mistletoe is a bit jarring in my mind. But I'll get over that quickly. Very quickly.

Posted by: pj | January 7, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Mention Ramtha and win a free link!

Posted by: Boko999 | January 7, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I've had ramtha. Tasted like chicken!

Posted by: Bob S. | January 7, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Check the "best before" date. 35,000 years seems a bit optimistic to me.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 7, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't all that stressed out, pj; I was pretty confident they'd get the field goal. What were the odds that TWO playoff gamnes in two days would end with a one-in-a-thousand disaster of some sort?

What really got me worried wasn;t the end of that game, it was the beginning. The Iggles look flat for the first 8 or 10 minutes, and I though, oh, crap, just what I was worried about: the Iggles all got the flu or something. But after they got their heads straightened out and Westbrook started to run, it was OK. Of course, I was miffed when that Iggles cornerback (the rookie, can't remember his name) missed that tackle on Buress that would have stopped him. But overall, ya gotta love that Iggles defense.

I've always admired Shockey, and sort of felt sad to see him injured and hobbling. But bad for NY, good for the Iggles.

And I think we can take New Orleans, too. After that I'm not so sure.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 7, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday was so nice I had to go out for a bike ride. I am terribly out of shape. I did 12.5 miles and clocked my worst average speed ever for that route. Or I set a January speed record. Either way you want to look at it.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 7, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

I hear Time has a new web site coming out in the morning. Here's the URL and I assume this is still the old model (as of 10:47 p.m.):

This is intriguing but dare one say speculative:

Posted by: Achenbach | January 7, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

(*begin very bad impersonation of Billy Crystal*)

'Mudge... remember it's not how thongtastic you "feel", but how thongtastic you LOOK! And you look thongtastic!

(*really am clawing my eyeballs out now*)

Tell me to do something and I'll maybe get around to it. Tell me NOT to do something and I'll do it immediately.


Sky report: today's sky had less glow than a corpse with fresh makeup.

Global warming report: N.E. Ohio expected to get back to normal weather business for the next few days, then more unseasonal warmth for who knows how long. I'm not complaining, but I keep thinking of those commercials from the '70s with the little girl and her grandfather planting a Charlie Brown Christmas tree in a dried out mud-flat plain while wearing gas masks.

Blue bottomed thongs, they make the boating world go 'round....

sorry 'bout that... came from nowhere. Honest.

In other news, we had some fun this morning at the Martooni household. While I was out at the grocery store this morning to pick up a loaf of fresh-baked Italian bread and a Sunday paper, I saw a very lonely ready-made cake with balloons on it. I then asked if they could put "Happy Unbirthday, Monkey Pants" on it (some explaining was involved, but they did it). I then surprised Little Bean and Mrs. Martooni with a very unplanned unbirthday party for breakfast and we all strapped shoes to our heads and ate cake.

And I was sober. Really. And sans glaucoma meds.

Just one of those days, I guess...

Posted by: martooni | January 7, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Joel, until I read the rest of the article about Mars, I thought the guy was saying that the Mars Rover ran over the microorganisms, smushing them in its path.

Posted by: TBG | January 7, 2007 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Hydrogen peroxide? How do they know, did the nasa probe come back with bleached hair?

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 7, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

No real bitterness on my part...more so of some Baltimorons I know....are you going to the game?If so,come by our tailgate and enjoy some of Baltimore's finest contribution will be seafood.

I saw the coolest creature on my way to albino deer in my community and right after hunting season....I will try and get a picture in the next few days and post it.

Enjoy the game should be great

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 7, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

In this crazy, flip-flopped world of weather, we just got chased off the summit of Mauna Kea by snow. The latest forecast has a winter weather advisory at the summit until Tuesday. We just finished getting our instrument ready to observe, in time for the weather to shut us down completely. Fortunately, we have been granted time in late February on the same observatory and we will simply be moving the instrument out of the way after this trip. That spells a shorter trip to the joys of dessicated and attenuated paradise for me in February. Hooray!

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 8, 2007 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Finally the penny dropped (ain't it great to have an education!) and a bit of the climatology class of 43 years ago comes to mind. Climate wasn't defined by the weather at all, it was defined by the native vegetation is leads to. Kentucky and Kansas are at the same latitude, and experience the same kinds of weather -- hot, dry, humid, rain, snow, all the rest -- but they come in different proportions, so consequently there's enough moisture in KY to support forest, while KS is grassland. Of all the differences, the one that determines the vegetation is the most important in defining the climate. The determinant might be moisture or temperature, depending on where you are. The definition in expressed in terms of climatic variables, but the boundaries are determined by the vegetation. So it's not whether you need to have snow tires or can play outside in January. Does anyone know whether that's still the basis for identifying a climate zone?

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 8, 2007 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Hey, green, that deer might not have been an albino. My son-in-law #1 lives adjacent to 600 acres of forest and meadows near Upper Marlboro (Md.) just outside Washington, D.C., and somebody in the area deliberately brought in and released a species of white deer. Now there's a family of four of them on that property. He sees them all the time (I've seen one of them once, from a great distance). So it might have been one of these types, not an albino. Where did you see it? Though rare, they exist in many states. The species is called a Seneca White Deer.


'Morning, everybody. TGIM, so I can get back to work and get some rest. Spent the weekend tiling two walls of a bathroom. Not my favorite thing.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Good to hear from you, Achenfan. On the very morning I intended to walk, it is raining. Not walking in the rain, will start tomorrow in the cold, hopefully. Yesterday it rained all day here, and still raining.

I remember one Christmas when I was about twelve years old, it was very warm. So warm in fact, that we could go outside without coat or sweater. We did not need to make a fire, that's how warm it was. And at the time I thought, this is so odd, but did not have any idea how weather or climate works, still don't.

I enjoyed the article, JA. It was funny, but had a serious side. I do not understand all things weather or climate, but I have a concern about these things because of what is happening around me. I like the weather, but my rose bush is beginning to have flowers again, and somehow that just does not seem right. I also see the good side of this kind of weather for those that have trouble paying heating bills, and for the homeless. No matter the circumstance, there is a benefit for someone. I'm having trouble trying to find the benefit of the war in Iraq.

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I did my usual, and that, in the rain. Have a good day. I begin my work this week, so might not get a chance for much boodling, but will check in when I can.

So much of the time, I feel at a loss here, because everyone is so smart and knows so many of those worldly things that a country girl like me doesn't have the slightest idea about. And when I talk about religion, it can be offensive to so many. So how can I contribute to the conversation? I don't want to go on, and on, about me, that isn't very interesting, so I'm at a loss.

I had seriously considered not participating anymore because I do feel out of place so much of the time. That does not mean that I don't like my friends here, it just means that I feel inadequate and not up to snuff. And that certainly is not your fault. I think I work with children so much of the time because I feel comfortable in their world. The crayons, the water colors, the games, the reading, the finding out new things, all of it appeals to me. Perhaps it is an age thing too.

I will pray over it, and do whatever the Spirit leads me to do. My world has been touched deeply by those of you here, and I am very glad to have met all of you. I will never forget you, and I always think of you as my little secret, but then I go and blab about my friends at the Achenblog. You have been with me through so many things, and your kindness to me has been beyond anything I can imagined. I thank you, and I love you all.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | January 8, 2007 6:45 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Cassandra. You wrote: "So much of the time, I feel at a loss here, because everyone is so smart and knows so many of those worldly things that a country girl like me doesn't have the slightest idea about. And when I talk about religion, it can be offensive to so many. So how can I contribute to the conversation? I don't want to go on, and on, about me, that isn't very interesting, so I'm at a loss."

You really shouldn't feel that way in the slightest. Among many other things, you often ask very intelligent questions. And you aren't the only one who often doesn't follow some of the arcane discussions; sometimes I don't either. And that's OK. What you bring to the boodle is a sense of civility and decency, and you often keep the rest of us grounded. So don't think you don't contribute. You just don't see your contributions, that's all--and that's one of the things we like about you.

Don't worry about the religion stuff. Most of those who don't like it can still handle it, and those who can't handle it...well, too bad. You don't proselytize or try to convert anyone, and that's the main thing; you just state your own point of view and that's fine.

(Anyway, you laugh at my jokes -- it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. Where would I be without you?)

Gotta run for the bus again.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, where in the world do you get the idea that you're inadequate? Absolutely not so!

Most of the references to popular culture go over my head too. The science stuff is out of my league, but it's interesting and I learn a lot, so I try to follow along. The stuff I don't understand or care to bother with, I just pass over.

You may think of yourself as a country girl, but you have that rare commodity everyone values, common sense. Your ability to cut to the heart of an issue is valuable and valued by this community. I, for one, am strengthened by your faith.

Don't even think about going away. We need you too much!

Posted by: Slyness | January 8, 2007 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, what Mudge said.

Although you must follow your inner direction, please know that the boodle would be a poorer place without you.

Posted by: dbG | January 8, 2007 7:16 AM | Report abuse

>That does not mean that I don't like my friends here, it just means that I feel inadequate and not up to snuff.

Cassandra, welcome to the club! Just stay healthy and keep coming back.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 8, 2007 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Hi Cassandra,

My two cents about your spirituality revealed her on the blog:

First penny is this: you invite us all to give some of our day to God. This works fine for everyone, in the manner of AA, as we define or understand God.

Second penny is this: I appreciate being prayed for. My sense is that you believe salvation is primarily God's business, yet place all of us in the care of the second person of the Trinity, God's beloved son.

So much of digital land is quick quipping, bluster argument, and even meanness that when called troll-like only insults trolls, who I believe may be distantly related to gnomes.

Thank you for being here. I am glad to know you.

Books on the way after next week as I am out of in and out of town.

God bless, dear digital friend.

Posted by: College Parkian | January 8, 2007 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, ditto Mudge and the others. Speaking at one of the less intelligent on the blog, you contribute more than you know.

I get lost on the discussions sometimes as well escpecially the deep science and even worse the science fiction (totally lost). I appreciate the ecclectic nature of the blog.

Have a great day.

Posted by: dmd | January 8, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I too get lost on topics of books, movies, actors, politicians, politics, history, current events, popular music, sporting events...

I'm a consumer more than a contributor and I like reading the personal experiences of the Boodlers most.

You, my friend, are a contributor and I would consider it a significant loss if you left the Boodle. Where else could I go online to get a personalized morning's blessing as well as a NC sky & lake report?

God bless you, Cassandra!

Posted by: Pat | January 8, 2007 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Pat - You make a great point. There is a temptation, to which I certainly succumb, to become what TBG and I once dubbed "Simple Regurgitates." That is, to simply restate what one reads with an emphatic "me too!" as if one were the baby kangaroo in "Horton Hears A Who."

When Cassandra, or anyone, takes the time to relate personal experiences the boodle becomes a unique and special place. When people just use it to echo stuff they heard somewhere else, it runs the risk of becoming just another tedious media outlet.

Cassandra, by sharing of yourself you enrich the tone of this boodle. Thank You.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Morning Everyone
I'll take any unwanted prayers Cassandra.
Even atheists benefit by knowing someone is praying for them. Makes us all warm and fuzzy.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, er. balderdash!
I don't think anyone in here thinks of you as inferior in any way, intellectually, spiritually, socially,...?

We all have our strengths in terms of what we contribute (mine happens to be throwing Jarts in the air and trying to catch them), and other areas where we're not so knowledgeable. I learn a lot from the people in this place (such as it is), yourself included. I'm glad you're here, even if we may not see eye to eye on everything, and may not have a lot in common personally. I value having friends who are different from me, because they help me to understand different viewpoints, and they help me learn and grow as a person. YOU help me learn and grow as a person. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Plus, you're really nice.

Please stop doubting yourself, Cassandra. There are a bunch of people out here who believe in YOU.


Posted by: bc | January 8, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. I come to you a tireder man, and perhaps wiser (ha!). For lo, we did return to the mountain, and the mountain did not like it. We gave up all hopes of doing astronomy at 1:15 AM, local (6:15, for you East Coasters). On the way down the mountain, to finish our darts game and to get some sleep (not simultaneously), the truck began to slide one way, then t'other. Then we faced uphill and briefly considered driving down backwards. Then we tried to turn around. Then we pushed it out of a ditch (do you have any idea how much a Ford Expedition weighs?). Then we parked it, and squeezed seven people into the telescope operator's vehicle, which had chains and seating for five. On the way downhill, we encountered three other vehicles from our observatory, who were concerned that there might be bleeding wreckage and such, because we were overdue to arrive by, roughly, ages. Apparently, they were not entirely cheered up by our jolly assurances that we felt just fine and needed no rescuing.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 8, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, can you understand that "self-loathing" is almost a requirement for membership here? The most arrogant, the most seemingly self-assured among us, certainly the most witty and clever, believe me, they all feel the same as you and I do, once in a while or maybe all the time. Here's how it is for me: I type something in the comment box, I hit submit, I brace myself for the wave of immediate regret and self-castigation. The positive reinforcement that the boodle provides balances this self-inflicted negativity but never extinguishes it.

Joel said it best, many months ago--these are words to live by (tongue in cheek, of course):

"Psychologically healthy people will pause at least once a day to say, out loud, 'I hate myself.' This is a kind of purgative, a casting-out of the demons that cause one to do stupid things. You feel better instantly. And you can be proud that you have the courage to get in touch with your Inner Loser."

And now I must return to work (tote that barge, lift that bale...)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

see, the fact that I often don't sign the posts is a clue.

Posted by: kbertocci | January 8, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

SciTim - Oh, man, I feel for you. I've been there. (Figuratively, that is.) Field experiments seldom go as well as planned. And you astronomers have it worse than many. Hey, at least you weren't looking for a transit of Venus or something.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra... I like to think of you as the blog's unofficial "chaplain". As someone else said above, you keep us grounded. I may not subscribe to your personal brand of faith, but I do appreciate and enjoy your daily blessings.

Speaking of faith, I just read and responded to the editorial from the Episcopalians who have decided to go their own way because they're not happy with the direction the main Church has taken.

Here's the editorial:

And here's my response:
"Not being an Episcopalian, it really doesnt matter to me one way or the other what these guys do or say. But it does show me that they prefer Tradition over a Living Church, so they won't find me in their congregations. I prefer the stance that life is a journey and an adventure -- maps and rules for the road are useful, but how can you make new roads if you insist that they must already be drawn out on the map? To each his own, but I'd rather be lost in Alice's world than know my precise location in theirs."

Which kinda ties into why I think Cassandra's voice here is so wonderful... She's got a map which she refers to, um... religiously... yet she doesn't seem to be afraid to explore what lies down Frost's "road not taken".

To mapless me, that means something.

In any case, I did come here today with a question for the pointier-headed types:

Is "infinity" a line with no beginning or end?

Or is it the conjoined circles that loop back on each other?

Are there any other constructs/representations you can share?

The reason I ask is also somewhat related to "faith" and all that... trying to wrap my addled head around a concept of epiphanic (is that even a word?) proportion that might just shift me one way or the other regarding my place in the Universe and whether I'm heading somewhere special or just going 'round in circles (or nowhere).

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

As I've said before, I too don't follow a lot of the discussions here, especially regarding science or other highly technical topics. I think that you, Cassandra, have a way of stating questions or views in a very clear, no nonsense way that is very important to the discussions here. And I don't know too many people who would be offended by being prayed for, we can all use a bit of help.

Now for a mini rant. I've got the day off from this temp job I've been working for the past three weeks and I couldn't be happier to not be there. I have done some temp work in the past but have never experienced such a sterile environment. The people I've been working with hardly speak to each other unless it's a work related subject. Maybe it's because the work is mostly numbers. It doesn't help that what I'm doing there is not at all my forte and is very tedious and repetitive requiring little actual thought. I rarely get through a day there without a headache and when I come home I feel like I've been liberated from prison. The job has probably two more weeks to go and I'll be lucky to make it that long. My workload varies from sort of busy to bored out of my mind. I took it because I figured that even though the payrate was below what I would normally get, it would at least help pay the bills, and it might give me an 'in' if a job more in line with my skills should come along there, but if I had it to do over, I'd have passed. It seems to be a good, solid company, growing very quickly through acquisitions in an industry that is booming, but it also seems to be a very stressful, not especially happy place to work. At my age, I think that temping my way into a 'permanent' job is the best option for me but boy did I not choose the right one this time. Okay, I feel better now that I've vented.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 8, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I've been meaning to ask around about Cassandra's email address so I could thank her for how much she's helped me. Seems now is the time to sit down and write that email. Can someone send me her email address please?

Posted by: LostInThought | January 8, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Take it from one who often knows very little about what is talked about here.

I often feel lost reading what everyone has to say,but it seems like every day I pick up interesting and often funny facts that just seem to make my mondane life go by easier

I have learned so much in my little time here.And everyone has made me feel welcomed and loved.

Take it from the newbie,everything that is shared is precious to someone.

I have a little saying that I live my life by.

For everyone I meet in a day.If I can make them smile it is a good day.
If I can make them laugh and feel good about themselves then that is a Great Day!!

You have made me smile and laugh.I have enjoyed reading what you have to say.
So it is a Great day whenever I read your posts.
Stay around and share your thoughts and feelings.We will all be better people in the long run.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 8, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday, behind closed doors with county officials, the mayor of Helotes, members of the state TCEQ, and "unnamed" others, California environmental specialist Todd Thalmer gave his advice about what to do with the Helotes fire. He had flown into San Antonio yesterday for the consultation.

Thalmer cautioned that pouring tons of water on the giant burning mulch heap would be a big mistake. He advised against pouring massive amounts of water on the fire and cited the 2003 Fresno fire as an example, saying this similar fire left a large polluted area.

California's involvement in the 2003 Archie Crippen Excavation site fire:

From C&D Recycler about the Fresno fire:

Reportedly, though, little of this material was actually processed. So the pile grew, and while state and local authorities knew about the growing mess, they did little to stem the tide. The Blob grew to about five acres and three stories high.

Then the pile caught fire and burned for a month. Not surprisingly, the fire started naturally, caused by the wood in the stack spontaneously combusting. Unfortunately, Fresno, which is in the San Joaquin Valley, was experiencing a weather inversion at the time. The thick smoke from the fire stayed in the area and low to the ground, and respiratory ailments began popping up among the residents of Fresno, especially those with asthma and other existing conditions. School children were not allowed out for recess for two weeks. Meanwhile the local fire department, supplemented by state and federal experts, battled the huge blaze for weeks before finally bringing it under control.

County officials are now toying with the idea of dismantling the pile "piece by piece" (newspaper jargon) and dousing the blaze in smaller lots, although--according to the paper--details on this plan are sketchy.

Six families are now in hotels and the Helotes mayor is still calling for a massive effort to stop the blaze immediately.

You know, Padouk, when I Boodle, I rob Peter to pay Paul. That means that when I post things, I'm always aware that there are weeds to be pulled, leaves to be raked, dust to be dusted, a meal to be cooked. As much as I would like to be at the county commissioners meeting today, as a concerned citizen and one impacted by the fire, I have to dismantle the Christmas tree and am very behind on making a homecooked meal that I promised by husband, oh, say, five days ago.

Let me be precise: It really irks me, not as an individual (do as you please), but as an American taxpayer that some on the Boodle are government employees who spend most of their working hours here. Are you here to get a gauge of public sentiment for your employer, I've always wondered? How do you get anything done on the job? Or aren't you tasked with anything to do? (We met a man on New Year's day walking his dog who spoke of all the waste and fraud in his fuels division at the former Kelly AFB. The story was the same for me when I was at Brooks AFB.)

Even more egregious are those instances when you say others are wrong and you're right, with little subtantiation--other than your opinion, or citing of sources for your viewpoint. This is equally as tedious.

I dream, just dream, of getting a well-paid government job where I am compensated for Boodling the better part of the day.

Posted by: Loomis | January 8, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Ok, back to Science Monday.

I'd heard about the potential of amniotic stem cells a couple of years ago, glad to hear it's fleshing out, so to speak.

Re. the Viking experiments possibly killing Martian microbes - ah, can't comment on that, I'm a little to close to that situation to be objective about it.

Aw, hell - some philisophical commentary; we humans can't do much of anything without something being destroyed or reduced. Life requires metabolism - the consumption of something to extract energy, energy that is used to maintain, improve or grow the condition of the living thing doing the consuming. Is may not be so different for intellectual life, that we humans require the breaking down of components containing complex information into more easily digestable, er, understandable chunks for processing.

Do we need to kill to live, do we need to destroy to learn? Even in the oldest human texts, the coming of glory is preceded by destruction.

The entire universe seems to work this way, as galaxies and solar systems are formed from the acretion, organization, and destruction of galaxies and stars before them. And all stemming from an original act of creation - which looked an awful lot like an act of destruction, depending on how you look at it (e.g. if there was a universe around before the Big Bang, what happened to it? Or, the Big Bang was the biggest and most important release of energy in history; easily likened to a bomb). Suns and black holes are the foundations, the anchors if you will, for the organization and arrangement of matter (and what life we know of) in the universe, and their major characteristics we can observe of them are destructive by nature.

(See Marc Kauffman's high level primer in today's WaPo on Black Holes. Some mention given to the fact that black holes appear to anchor galaxies, and though none given to the theories from Hawking and others that black holes can be considered huge repositories for information, information derived from all the matter they consume)

Ok, gotta run here, but lest you think I believe that the universe is a bad place to be, I don't at all.

It's yummy.


Posted by: bc | January 8, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

>I dream, just dream, of getting a well-paid government job where I am compensated for Boodling the better part of the day.

So, what does your job entail?

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 8, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I understand the recently revealed gospel according to Judas reveals that Jesus was a bit of a techie.

Posted by: Dave | January 8, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Concerning Bad Sneakers' job comment:

I used to work as a janitor in a dress factory in Roanoke. Everyone was pretty friendly there, except the "machine operators" (the women-they were all women-who operated the sewing machines). They would sit alone during lunch and the two 15-minute breaks they got each day.If you said "hello" to them, they would usually duck their heads and literally run off.

My mother and some of my aunts had been machine operators there, so I asked them about it. They told me the supervisors would hover over the operators all day, and would berate and officially reprimand anyone they caught talking. They also set work quotas for the group (how many dresses sewn in a day). If you had too many days below quota, you got fired. There was a bonus for exceeding quota, but if more than one person managed to exceed the quota they would raise it. Those work conditions didn't extend to the rest of the factory.

Posted by: Dooley | January 8, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

CNN is reporting the pervasive smell of gas from mid NY to Battery Park. Reports are coming in from Jersey City (?) too.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

So, what does your job entail?

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 8, 2007 10:01 AM

Not being hammered by you for having three miscarriages.

Posted by: Loomis | January 8, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I did have Taco Bell for lunch yesterday... but even I can't claim the rights to that one.

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

uh oh...

I hope Mudge has stocked the bar in the fallout shelter, 'cause the last time my danghippie senses tingled like this, I slept on the couch for a week -- and still don't know why.

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Are you ok Loomis? There's been a change in the tone of your posts over the past couple of weeks.
Hey, if we're gonna get personal.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

bc, Nature published a Dark Matter map yesterday. You are probably aware of it but just in case, here it is.
*putting the glassware away and laying tarps over the good furniture, just in case we get another loomis explosion*

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 8, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I wandered into the comments on this item in its incarnation as a story, as opposed to blog. In fact, being a weird hour of the morning, I couldn't find the blog comments and assumed that there'd been some strange change of regime and the Boodle had been supplanted by a bunch of people I wanted nothing to do with.

So Joel, I endorse your proposal to do a sober analysis of these alternative commenting universes.

So long as that "pervasive smell of gas" hasn't turned into anything serious.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 8, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Hi Cassandra!!!! *waving madly*

Just let me say I am always glad to see your contributions to the Boodle, and I would feel an equally strong void if those contributions stopped. :-)

And LindaLoo, perhaps some of us read and type quickly enough to pop in, post, and get back to "reality." Yanno, kinda like the smoke breaks other people take. 'Zat mean I'm addicted to Boodling? Probably. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 8, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

What's this, a new debating technique - someone disagrees with you and you (albeit obliquely) threaten their job/livelihood? Or, at least, impugn their honor. Nice.

Posted by: Wheezy | January 8, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

For the record: non-gov employee, no health bennies, home with the flu and not getting paid for today.

For some reason, I'm not feeling much sympathy for the hypothetical Martian microbes that were squished or boiled or whatever by our little interplanetary dune buggy.

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I am amazed that NJ residents could detect the odor of gas over the habitual stench (in the chemical industry/refinery section anyway).

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 8, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

>So, what does your job entail?
>Posted by: Error Flynn | January 8, 2007 >10:01 AM
>Not being hammered by you for having three miscarriages.

Well since that's what we would call an egregious lie and possibly slander, and like so much is in your head rather than my typing, what else do you have? I hammer you for being a "feminist" who complains to high heaven but doesn't appear have a job. If you want a job where you can boodle, go get one. There seem to be plenty of women here who do that.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 8, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Loonmis - I read white papers and then evaluate them. I supervise contractors. I listen to endless pitches from contractors. I figure out funding priorities. I defend funding priorities to various people. I look for gold and silver in the snow like Yukon Cornelius. I help define experiments and then analyze and interpret the results. I answer stupid questions from really important people who watch too much CSI. I give tours to VIPs. I teach classes to incoming officers. I mentor several younger analysts.

Having a productive job does not equate with being engaged 100%. The busiest job I ever had was when I worked at McDonalds.

It is the nature of any analytical profession, that there is down time. In a job like mine if I doen't take frequent mini-breaks, I cannot concentrate.

I consume information and digest it while thinking of other things. Distraction is an intrinsic part of my cognitive process. A process, I might add, that has served me rather well.

I am not sure why you have decided to put me in your sights Linda. For the most part I enjoy your posts. I like hearing about your life.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Thanks SD for the link. That's facinating stuff. I've added that site to my Favorites(sic) list.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Our man JA was on WaPo radio this morning for 3 minutes (7:43 a.m. to 7:46 a.m., for you anal retentives) opining on the warm weather global warming, "It ain't right," el Ninos, and whether (or weather) we're all going to pay for this.

Given WaPo's tendency to recycle, they may rerun it throughout the day.

I myself am much more optimistic about global warming since a friend e-mailed me this report this morning:

Snow Says Bush Cares About Environment

Washington (UPI) Jan 04, 2007
The Bush administration cares about the environment, but wants to find ways to clean it without harming the
economy, the White House said Thursday. "The President does care about the environment, has been active and
aggressive on it, and has been talking with European allies about such things as clean coal technology, about
renewable fuels, biofuels," Press Secretary Tony Snow said during a news briefing."

Well, lemme tell you, I feel SOOOOO much more relieved to hear it.

*blorphs into trash can*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

*Stretching arm out parallel to the floor, wiggling fingers*

Hey Padouk, look over here!

Posted by: Kibbutzer999 | January 8, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Hey 999 - is that Kibbitz as looking over someone's shoulder and offering advice, or Kibbutz as in a communal farm in Israel?

Posted by: Wheezy | January 8, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Maybe this should be in Pegoraro's column, but I think I am having some weird computer problem: my screen is displaying the words "Bush Cares About Environment" together, in that order!

I have hit refresh a few times and it keeps coming up that way.


Posted by: byoolin | January 8, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Let me check. Must be kibbitz.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Happy 65th birthday, Stephen Hawking.

Posted by: byoolin | January 8, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Oh that's so true, RD.

Being a low-level gummit contractor employee once upon a time...

I would also say that Loomis doesn't realize how much redtape actually gets in the way of getting work done, especially if you're working as part of a team. Almost NOBODY has the initiative to start, do, and end a project alone.

You need to have the client or other people approve the work, make some changes (Yo, Mudge), and your workload simply may not be that much because you're only a contractor. I was so bored I started reviewing my calculus at lunch, and math is not even my favorite subject.

Later on, I had two jobs similar to what Dooley describes-- quotas, pressure. It was called "the factory floor" by others in the company, which I didn't like. I exceeded quotas, and they didn't give me a pay raise equalivent to cost of living. NO, they raised quotas to an insane figure instead.

Some people'd be talking and having fun daily on their breaks, but if I was out there chatting I'd always get attention drawn to myself, as my supervisor and I didn't get along. The second point is, being deaf, I can't hear people approaching and sudddenly pretend I've been working all the while.

Boodling or otherwise using the internet only way to communicate at the job and still appear to be working, so I wouldn't go insane. Another was to go outside for my breaks.

Like Dooley mentioned, the stringent rules only applied to my specific office, not the whole workplace, although everybody did have plenty to do.

My ideal job now would be much more skewed to RD's job pattern, with mixed duties and downtime. But not all gummit jobs are like that, Loomis.

Also, since we're talking about teamwork and red tape, here's a simple example: Mudge has to edit what others do, so if they're late or performing under quota, he has a little bit of free time now and then.

He also has little or no authority to kick others' butt for not delivering work on time, because that's how things work in large organizations.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 8, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Just came across this on CNN:

Bacharach-Dickinson's Daughter Commits Suicide

From the article:

"She loved kitties, and earthquakes, glacial calving, meteor showers, science, blue skies and sunsets, and Tahiti," the statement said.

Sounds like she would have fit in very well here.

Don't know much about "Asperger's Disorder", but a quick read at wikipedia didn't paint a pretty picture.

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm...I think it might be time for me to post a new kit. On something light and easy and funny. The war!!!

Posted by: Achenbach | January 8, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Just curious... does "glacial calving" mean I'll have to wait a few weeks to get really fresh veal parmesan?

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

While we're on the subject of Global Warming January (jeez, I can't believe I'm staying on topic--me, of all people! Oh the horror!). many of you on the East Coast suffering through this balmy attack may be comforted to know that our friends in the Himalayas (anybody out there speak Yeti?) are also suffering record heat waves:

"CLIMATE SCIENCE Agence France-Presse: Record Temperatures Across Himalayans Spark Climate Change Fears
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 07, 2007--Temperatures in rugged Tibet have hit record highs in recent days, China's state press said Sunday, as a scientific survey warned of the impact of global warming in the Himalayan region. Friday's temperature in the Qamdo area of eastern Tibet was 21.8 degrees Celsius (71 degrees Fahrenheit), 1.7 degrees higher than the previous record set for the same day in 1996, Xinhua news agency reported.

In Dengqen county, also in eastern Tibet, the mercury reached 16.6 degrees Celsius on Thursday, 2.5 degrees higher than the previous record for the same day set in 2001, it said.
Eight other places across the region also recorded record-breaking daily temperatures over the past few days, it added.

Meteorological data in the Himalayan region began to be collected in 1970.
China's Tibet plateau, seen as a barometer of world climate conditions, is experiencing accelerating glacial melt and other ecological change, the leading People's Daily reported Friday.
The mountainous region's glaciers have been melting at an average rate of 131.4 square kilometers (50 square miles) per year over the past 30 years, the paper said, citing a recent geological study.
Researchers who conducted the survey said that even if global warming did not worsen, the area's glaciers would be reduced by nearly a third by 2050 and up to half by 2090, at the current rate.
The survey, conducted by the Remote Sensing Department of the China Aero Geophysical Survey, also found a rapidly rising snow line, shrinking wetlands, and increased desertification compared with 30 years ago, the paper said.

These problems will worsen as the glacial melt -- which has accelerated in recent years -- continues, further depleting the area's water resources, the researchers predicted.
The Tibet plateau, which includes the Chinese portion of the Himalayas, accounts for nearly one quarter of China's landmass, stretching from Tibet to the adjacent provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan.
A separate national assessment released last week on the impact of climate change said temperatures in China would rise significantly in coming decades, water shortages would worsen, and extreme weather events would intensify."
The story has two consequences: (1) if you though Sichuan cooking was hot now, it's only gonna get worse, and (2) this may be the end of the Abominable Snowman. From here on out, we'll only have the Abominable Rainman. (Also, Mt. Everest could melt, and we may find out it's only, like, 1,400 feet tall.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

... or does it mean it'll be cold by the time they serve it?

Badda-bum... crash! (and no, that wasn't me falling through the ceiling again).

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

SD, I'd heard of the experiments that led to the method of developing that DM map, but I hadn't seen that yet. Thanks.

*Tim, glad you're OK after the scary icy decent. I figure you've got something in your backpack or ScienceTim Utility Belt that could help get you out of just about any jam, but it's a lot harder if that jam happens to be sliding off a mountain.

Y'know, the Achenblog is *not* a completely open, free place, as has been demonstrated. We're guests here, at the pleasure of the guy whose name happens to be at the top of this page. Nothing wrong with asking questions and discussing viewpoints, even passionately, but I take a dim view of personal sniping, and cannot help but that think That Guy probably feels the same way. I wouldn't want *my* name associated with it, and I doubt he does either.


Posted by: bc | January 8, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

martooni | At least it will be nicely brined.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge, bc;

Do ya think the Abominable Rainman would be an excellent driver?


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 8, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Oh... you guys are in for it today.

I'm home with the flu, high-speed internet access, and nobody cracking a whip over my head to program faster...

And I'm all hopped up on TheraFlu and leftover "unbirthday" cake with super-sweet icing about 2 inches thick.

This can only end up in cardiac arrest or arson.

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

bc, that is correct. Sniping and personal attacks are not cool. If anyone feels that they've been attacked, please contact me at or just call me at my desk at 202-334-7261. That's my direct line. Of course you'll get a message, since I'll be at Starbucks or Java House, in all probability.

I'm actually hoping to write something about comments in general. I prize the comments here and take no doubt ridiculous amounts of pride that, over time, this has remained a fun and pleasant place for people to hang out. In contrast, let me note, to some other well-known blogs AND more than that to the comments that get appended to stories (such as my piece on global warming). But I can't write that piece, or brag on the A-blog, if people here attack one another.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 8, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

How can anyone "love" earthquakes? Just askin.

Posted by: Wheezy | January 8, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse


It could end up in lots of barely coherent giggling, too. Or Googling, for that matter.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 8, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

And even though I'm Boodling from home, I assure you I am wearing pants.

My hair is a mess, but I'm wearing pants.

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Hey, yeah, Joel, do the war--been looking at Ryan Crocker and reading a book on Gertrude Bell last night--including her suicide at 58--interesting tidbits about Winston Churchill.

As an aside, about half of what I've told you about our local fire and related issues wasn't on the television news or in the paper. Interesting stuff and sidebar issues have to make way for matrress ads and local retailer sales, etc. I've yet to see our local newspaper use the words "surfactant" and "PyroCool" as examples. Of course, most newspapers are written for an eighth-grade reading level.

Posted by: Loomis | January 8, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Late to the party as usual. Cassandra, everyone else already said what I would, and better. You're important. I'd miss you. Don't go.

Loomis, I'm really glad you're posting the fire updates. My San Antonio in-laws haven't mentioned it, and I really think they've just not heard much about it. Odd to be giving them information!

I Boodle from work, sometimes from my own laptop and sometimes from my state computer, but I function much as RD described. I read and write all day long with, ideally, analysis taking place in there somewhere. With the Boodle in a separate window, I can check in while cogitation occurs. It sounds odd, but works for me; usually by the time I set out to write at work my first draft is my last, since everything has already been worked out somewhere in my head while I was doing other things.

I'm off to try & watch the governor's Inauguration, if the cold doesn't chase me back in. Going to the Ball with the Boy tonight.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 8, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I apologize if anything I post is construed as a personal attack. I believe I crossed the line with SF once or twice, and apologized at the time. Linda I certainly never meant to attack you personally at all. My "Simple Regurgitate" comment was not supposed to be about you in particular. As I said, we all do it.

And as to criticizing my workplace or work habits? Trust me, I got better things to lose sleep over.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

martooni, I don't think "Depends" actually count as pants, per se. But I must admit they are quite useful for those long stretches of boodling when you don't want to be interupted by a call of nature.

Anybody looking for a high-level (read: overpaid, like me) speechwriting job? I've got one open and in a hurry to fill. Must have beaucoup experience. (Slowly but shirley I've been acquiring my own little empire here deep in the bowels of the feral gummint. I've got 9 so far. Today: the gummint. Tomorrow: the Whirled.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, your contribution is being yourself. I bought "A History of God" over the holidays, and was thinking of you. You definitely make the Achenblog a richer place.

Loomis, did you see the bit in the NYT a while back about the reporter that looked for Gertrude Bell's gravesite in Baghdad?

SciTim, re: vehicle issues. I have more sympathy for your story than you might think. As a lawyer, I'm haunted by the fact that were I to get injured or killed in some freak circumstance it would probably end up as a funny story at the end of the news ("138 escaped ferrets mauled a lawyer today"). So I have some sympathy for the possibility of, in addition to being in an accident, a story such as "four car pile-up as astrophysicist misses curve in road". Probably with a byline: "No word from NASA on whether future trips will be unmanned".

Posted by: SonofCarl | January 8, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Yes Ivansmom - I always suspected your mind worked a little like mine.

(Oops! Sorry! No personal insults allowed!)

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Ow, those overlapping positive- and negative-feedback loops give me a headache. One of my own areas of interest in the global warming science is the role of ice. Some thermodynamics investigation has led me to understand the somewhat counterintuitive fact that everytime water freezes, (because of water's high latent heat relative to most other materials) a large amount of heat is released. And the opposite: when ice melts, a huge amount of heat is absorbed. This leads me to believe that 1. When the icecaps STOP melting, it's going to get hotter than blue blazes, and 2. If the icecaps start to re-form, it's going to get hotter than blue blazes.

Posted by: Jumper | January 8, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

You kids don't make me come back there!

Posted by: Jumper | January 8, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

SonofCarl, let us know what you think about A History of God. I gave up on it somewhere around medieval Jewish kabbalism (sp?). Book just completely wore me down.

My work experience was much like RD's, Mudge's, and Ivansmom's. Think, think, do something else, think some more, answer phone calls, write, take a break so as not to lose my sanity. For us analytical types, multitasking is a way of life. Achenblog is a great way to maintain sanity.

Posted by: Slyness | January 8, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge... you just made me spit tomato soup all over the place with your "Depends" comment. Good thing I'm not at work or this might haven taken down several webservers and prevented a collective of blue-haired ladies in Peoria from purchasing the craft supplies they need to keep our economy going, not to mention the war effort.

I obviously need to take my work more seriously.

I hope none of my comments today were misconstrued as personal attacks. I'm just a dang hippie whacked out on TheraFlu and highly-concentrated sugar icing (which, btw, Mrs. Martooni is a bit ticked off about as it's very difficult to keep up with a 4 year-old under normal circumstances, let alone one that's bouncing off the walls with a sugar buzz).

My cure is on the way, though. I sent Mrs. M off to the grocery store to buy collard greens, Hungarian hot peppers and fresh garlic (already have the onions). Dump them all into a large iron skillet, add heat and olive oil and Voila! Instant flu cure. We probably won't be able to get rid of the stink until spring, but I should be back to work tomorrow.

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Martooni...I've found that the way to get through the madness of a small child on a sugar high is to look forward to the inevitable sugar crash. They'll sleep like bears.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 8, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I think the Boodle is "not only really dead, [it's] truly most sincerely dead."

Posted by: Wheezy | January 8, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"Achenblog is a great way to maintain sanity." AMEN slyness! lindaloo - it's called multi-tasking... my job is to be glued to a computer at all times and i have multiple monitors to do such. not cool of you to make that statement, believe me, i work for my money.

cassandra - i've said multiple times that i am very very unpointy! do you think i understand even HALF of what these pointy people say? trust me, i learn more here on the achenblog that i prolly did in school! don't you dare go anywhere sweets! and as for you being "just a county girl", i'm just a city girl and i like to know what goes on outside of the city so your point of view is indeed needed! (remember i'm the one who had to ask if you COULD actually tip a cow!)

Posted by: mo | January 8, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I believe 15% is acceptable mo.

Posted by: omni | January 8, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The boodle isn't dead, it moved over to the NEW KIT.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 8, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Someone located the Helotes mulch pile in Google Earth & Google Maps. Its neighbor to the east is a large school.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 8, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Just in case no one noticed, there's a new kit...

Cassandra you better not leave, we need you! It just wouldn't be the same, or be right, without you here.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 8, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

After all these years and you (ie Americans) still haven't worked out sarcasm.

Posted by: Joe - Australia | January 8, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

There is a vas deferens between a man and a woman

Posted by: donmacnamara | January 20, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

There is a vas deferens between a man and a woman

Posted by: donmacnamara | January 20, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

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