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Dirt Rich

[My column in the Sunday magazine.]

When I was growing up in Florida, my mom and stepdad planned to save the world through organic gardening. Go find the counterculture and make a hard left: There we were, virtuous, alternative, crunchy before crunchy was cool. We labored under a brutal sun, hacking the earth, yanking weeds, swatting bugs, beseeching the gods to let food emerge from sandy soil that only a pine tree could love. We had discovered the future, and it looked strangely like a scene out of the Old Testament.

To grow one's own food was a political act, and some foods were more righteous than others. Sweet corn was a hybrid, too closely affiliated with corporate agriculture, so we experimented with "Aztec corn," the small, hard, black kernels of which radiated so much earnestness that you could almost overlook the fact that they were inedible.

For a while, we sold bean sprouts in little plastic bags at the local farmers market. They cost only pennies to grow -- just add water to some mung beans or lentils -- but we could sell a bag for, what, 75 cents? Multiply that profit margin by 10 or 12, and we might pocket a sum that approached the low two figures.

Business, unfortunately, was slow, as bean sprouts are a "niche market," which is what you call something that most people don't like. Even the pro-sprouts faction of society never truly craves them. This was like trying to sell little bags of hay. The sun would climb higher in the sky, beating down upon our pickup truck, and invariably, by noon, I would vow to become a marijuana dealer.

Eventually, we started a nursery and got into landscaping, which meant more hacking away at the ground, but with actual income. Cash! Like snow, it was something I'd heard about but had never seen.

We grew our plants in the one-gallon cans discarded by the school cafeteria. We'd sell an azalea for a dollar, plus an extra dollar if we planted it in your yard. We worked hard and made people happy, and at the end of the day had tangible proof of our industry. On the way home, we often stopped at the drive-through beverage market to buy a six-pack of the good stuff: Tuborg Gold.

We turned to hauling furniture, 25 bucks a load, everything piled high and roped down in the back of our 1963 Chevy pickup. We bombed around town looking like the Clampetts on their way to Beverly Hills. We branched out: Somehow we found free sources of sawdust, wood chips, horse manure. Often it would be just a pile of stuff out in the piney woods. We'd shovel it into the back of the pickup and sell it to someone as mulch for 25 bucks a load. We went to the place where they made telephone poles, loaded up the discarded stumps, split them back at the house with an axe, then sold the stuff as firewood for, yes, 25 dollars. Arguably, we were kind of stuck on 25. The breadth of our entrepreneurial vision was awesome, though perhaps not the height.

Back in those days, I dreamed of having my own farm. I'd draw pictures of it: nice frame house, big barn, windmill, henhouse, pigpen, horse paddock and an orchard where the trees were constantly in fruit. My corn had fabulous tassels. My chickens clucked merrily, and my pigs would have the highest test scores in the neighborhood.

Now, mature and wise, I know that this was a silly, juvenile vision. Food is most efficiently produced not potato by potato and apple by apple, but in factory farms and on impossibly vast laser-leveled fields that can be cultivated robotically by huge corporations. You can't make money in this culture selling one azalea at a time; you want to be the landscape architect or, better yet, the person who creates the computer software used all over the world by landscape architects. You'll never get ahead if you do something as old-fashioned as come into contact with dirt; even contact with other people is inefficient. You start losing money and market share the moment you step outdoors.

So, as spring arrives, I'll be in a fluorescent landscape, sitting at my desk near the photocopier, making a living with a keyboard. The windows are so far away, the view so attenuated, that I can barely tell whether it's night or day, and to find out whether it's raining, I have to check the Internet.

But down South, my mom and stepdad are still plant people, tooling around in a pickup. At the end of every day, they sit under the grape arbor, pop open a beer and admire their Edenic surroundings. Spring will be full throttle by now. The azaleas and dogwoods will be glorious. My parents know that to save the world, you first have to appreciate it.

[I like this mini-memoir from 'Bluestilton' posted on the column's comment thread:

"Dad looked like some sort of insane person, walking lines of the field with the old fashioned manual seed broadcaster, spreading buckwheat seeds so the bees would produce buckwheat honey. The Rhode Island Red chickens all had names. We sang to my horse and pony. We heated the whole house with wood mostly cut from the property. We wore hand-me-downs. This otherwise corporate family left the two-car garage world for good in 1972, move onto my grandfathers farm, and never looked back. It was the most fantastic upbringing anyone could have. Thank you, Joel, for reminding me."]

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 18, 2007; 8:40 AM ET
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Tuborg Gold! Cracked me up.

Posted by: Kim | March 18, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

repost from the last boodle, but only the important bit:

The volunteer fire department raised a lot of money and the school's new Robotics program made enough to pay the registration fees for one team to participate in the FIRST Lego League.

If anyone here has either coached a FLL team, or parented a member, speak up with tips to avert disaster.

Thanks dbg for the fetching dog tip.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

A friend of mine likes to tell the story of a teacher in our old high school who used to rant about how far away from self sufficiency we had moved. The last line from the old grump was, "And those dames on Commonwealth Avenue don't even know how to make their own soap!" (Even back then, as one got closer to Boston College, this particular street was lined with large, stately old 'mansions' and I bet even their maids didn't know how to make soap.)

"S" has fond memories of his dad working in their large garden and of all the vegetables they 'put up' for the winter. I never grew anything but flowers until I was close to 30. I've learned not to be too ambitious in the Spring with my vegetable garden because by the second or third heat wave in July, the weeds are thriving and the tomatoes have outgrown my attempts to tie them up. And don't ask me what happens to them if I see a hornworm.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | March 18, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

It's unfortunate for Joel that he wasn't more successful in his little business. But we are not sorry cuz we get to read his many great articles.

Posted by: rain forest | March 18, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I have had a veggie garden since I moved to WV,8 years now,some years are good,some bad.

I seem to have the best luck with Green beans,zuchinni,and tomatoes.

I usually try Peppers,egg plant,brocoli,and try something different every year.Last year was my favorite(Lima Beans) I got two servings.This year I think I may try Beets again.

Early spring is mostly prep work,more dirt,mulch,manure.I will till it a couple times before I am ready to plant.I put in seeds around May 1,then I put in plants after the 15th.If I am lucky I will have produce up to Christmas.

Our soil here is very shaley and it needs to be treated every year.

It is a Great pleasure to have and enjoy a garden,sometime it is frustrating with weeds,lack of rain etc.....but all in all it is a lot of fun.Plus I get Free produce.

I like sitting in a chair and watering the garden in the late evening,just watching all that goes on around me.It is a very nice place to sit and unwind.

I am not a Master Gardener and never expect to be,just a novice who likes to get dirty from time to time.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 18, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

When Frostdaddy retired from the army the rents bought 80 acres and started producing almost all their own food. I was only there for the backbreaking post hole digging, by hand in a land where holes need to be 4 feet deep, and was in college by the time the horses and cows were installed in the pastoral views created after 36 junk cars and 112 car hoods were hauled away. Ma Frostbitten demanded a return to city life in tidewater VA and the farm was sold.

In the intervening years I turned into my mother and married my father. The husband can't decide between dairy sheep and pygmy goats when he retires and I am doomed. I can make soap from scratch though, and if you aren't too picky about the ph I'll start with ashes from the fire instead of store bought lye. My rancher father-in-law lives somewhere to the right of Rush. I think the only reason he tolerates me is because of my mad frontier skills. He knows I could shoot a deer, tan the hide, and make everything from jerky to tenderloins with a jalapeno chutney with the venison. Wanting to is quite another matter. I do hold out hope that this is just the husband's way of making an RV look like a good place to live.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

frostbitten, if it's not a feint, think of the hysterically funny book you can write about it, recipes included.

I had a friend when I lived in Ohio. She'd grown up in Hawaii and somehow ended up marrying an OH farm boy. Her lunchtime descriptions of their day-to-day life on the family farm, the first time she realized they canned meat and how, why they had to plant 100+ tomato plants yearly to can, all great stuff.

Posted by: dbG | March 18, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I tried hide tanning once. I might be farmer born and bred, but there are just some things...Nuff said.

On the farm we did have a huge garden and we did not buy vegetables except for lettuce and tomatoes, maybe celery in the winter. The rest was from the garden. I'd have loved to have chickens and turkeys, and a sheep or two (for the yarn, always go for the yarn), but our well was not good enough, or so I was told. I miss the independance of it. What I don't miss is the back breaking hard work, the weeding, the picking of 10 - 50 foot rows of peas, the hilling and potatoe bug picking of miles of rows of potatoes. Or thinning carrots. I could go on.

Tuborg beer. There was a fad in the 70's where people used to treasure Tuborg for its shapely bottles. You'd cut off the neck and a little more, and attach it to the bottom of the bottle to make a swanky glass. My in-laws had a set.

Posted by: dr | March 18, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

dr-Weren't bottle cutting devices featured in TV's first infomercials?

Did you ever cut beer cans apart to make hats? The basic technique: cut front of can into rectangular panel, use hole punch to make evenly spaced holes all around. Crochet panels together with cooridnating yarn. Crochet round piece to fit top of head, attach to side panels. To make it more feminine you can crochet a frilly brim, otherwise it looks rather fez like.

dbg-it's a thought. Bailey White wrote what I think is the quintessentially funny piece on the making of a white themed English country garden, then enjoying it in linen dress and wide brimmed hat.

Here in MN the tomato and basil seeds started, along with far too many flowers to be considered a practical. I am sure to be the object of some ridicule this summer for my gardening priorities.

In FL our main goal is to keep the pot grown tomato plants productive enough for salads, though that is a tall order in the summer when heat and humidity weaken and the bugs finish them off.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

My mother was the first in seven generations to move to town, and she converted a 50 foot by 150 foot lot of heavy clay into a place of beauty. Now that I am retired, I hope I can emulate her success. I will say that the spouse and I have made progress in turning our lot from a completely weedy mess into something that is above average for the neighborhood.

My mother went back from town to the country, specifically to the 17 acres she inherited from my grandparents. This was land deeded to the family in 1791, and she wept when she sold in in 1999. She had the ultimate vegetable garden, complete with weeds. One of the first years, she planted cherry tomatoes. We were hauling water from town, the well being unusable, and, unknown to her, my nephews were spiking the water with dried manure - cow mature tea, it was. We had cherry tomatoes by the hundred pounds! No canning, we froze them and used them in vegetable soup, a winter speciality.

I play with having a few vegetables and have already bought two tomato plants and a green pepper. I've also bought bean and squash seed. We'll see how it goes this summer.

Posted by: Slyness | March 18, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes:
We branched out: Somehow we found free sources of sawdust, wood chips, horse manure. Often it would be just a pile of stuff out in the piney woods. We'd shovel it into the back of the pickup and sell it to someone as mulch for 25 bucks a load.

At last Monday's meeting in Helotes, a woman who represents the engineering department of the county said something that I thought was interesting--that there was no relationship between the Helotes brush fire and the fecal coliform bacteria found very recently in several nearby wells. Truth be told I hadn't paid much attention to the woman's name or her title (but I shall tomorrow), but for two meeting she had spoken authoritatively on the nuts and bolts of wells and septic systems.

You can imagine my surprise, on the morning of Tuesday, March 13, when reporter Jerry Needham, in a story on page A-1 in the San Antonio Express-News titled, "Bacteria Found in Debris Runoff," informed readers in the second graf that test results last Monday confirmed that the fecal coliform bacteria in the five private wells was coming from the debris pile. (There are many sources of bad information, no?)

In Tuesday's article, Greg Flores, vice president of communications for the San Antonio Water System, said that the agency had samples of water from the sluice pit and quenching pit--both pits used to douse or treat the burning debris from the pile, that tested positive for fecal coliform.

There is some "dirt" in the mulch pile, as has been acknowledged now for several months. At last Monday's meeting, a retired Texas firefighter gave a demonstration of how a foam surfactant or fire retardant could work to rapidly extinguish a hot fire composed of debris, but Kelly Cook, spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said that he had reviewed the data sheet of the materials in the foam that the retired firefighter had proposed be used shortly after the fire broke out and Cook said that the chemicals were not safe for use over an aquifer recharge zone.

So how did human or animal waste get into the towering inferno of the mulch pile? The retired fire fighter suggested that for years the pile had probably been home to all manner of rabbit and rodent. I suspect with the number of cows and horses in the area, that perhaps the dirt in the burning pile isn't 100 percent dirt. I believe Joel knows his mulch, generally speaking.

It was only last week that Mrs. Zumwalt, co-owner with her husband of the mountainous pile that caught fire on Dec. 25, actually apologized during what have become the now-weekly Helotes forums for the "discomfort" that they, the Zumwalts, have caused residents as a result of the almost three-month-old blaze.

Cook estimated last Monday hat may be anywhere from two to, worst-case-scenario, four more weeks before the local fire is completely out.

Robert Seltzer, assistant op-ed page editor of the Express-News, conducts a Q&A with Helotes Mayor Jon Allan in today's paper. Seltzer and I grew up only several miles apart in Bakersfield, where his liberal father worked for the very conservative Bakersfield Californian for a handful of years. When I knew several years ago that Seltzer was new to his job and Alamo City, I invited him for a meetng over a beer or two and a plate of quesidillas, and we ended up on the pleasant outdoor patio of the excellent and small Mexican restarurant El Chaparral--in Helotes! So, yes, you could say that I introduced Seltzer to Helotes.

Here's the link, below, to the interview. I like Allan's last answer best: "This is a Vonnegut-like story, isn't it? You couldn't make this up. The reality is crazier than the fiction."

Allan and the "anti-Wal-Mart Gang" (as I call them) of the Helotes City Council all submitted paperwork by last Monday's deadline to run again for second terms.

Posted by: Loomis | March 18, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

When I lived in Key West I had a good friend who grew sprouts and sold them to local restaurants. He also made and sold handicraft items and was involved in local politics--he and I worked on some of the same issues, although we didn't always see eye-to-eye on tactics. His crafts and horticultural activities notwithstanding, the way he actually supported himself and saved money for the future was by selling marijuana. Today, he owns his own profitable, legitimate business and a home in the Caribbean.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 18, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

One of my Favorite Little Feat songs

They all asked about you
Down on the farm
The cows asked, the pigs asked
The horses asked, too
All wanna know why to the city
You moved, changed your name to Kitty
What's come over you?

It ain't true; it ain't true, Linda Lou
Say it ain't true, Linda Lou
It ain't true; it ain't true, Linda Lou
Say it ain't true, Linda Lou

They's all bawling 'bout you
Down on the farm
The cows bawl, the pigs bawl
The horses bawl, too
Miss you so much that crying's
All we can do
Weeping and wailing, praying
You'll come home soon

It ain't true; it ain't true, Linda Lou
Say it ain't true, Linda Lou
It ain't true; it ain't true, Linda Lou
Say it ain't true, Linda Lou

I hear you're working in a saloon
I hear ya work from midnight 'til noon
I might be from the woods
But them hours don't sound so good
What do you do in here barroom?

It ain't true; it ain't true, Linda Lou
Say it ain't true, Linda Lou
It ain't true; it ain't true, Linda Lou
Say it ain't true, Linda Lou

You can't dance so I assume
In a bag you couldn't carry a tune
I might be from the woods
But these hours don't sound so good
What you doin' in here barroom?
It ain't true; it ain't true, Linda Lou
Say it ain't true, Linda Lou
It ain't true; it ain't true, Linda Lou
Say it ain't true, Linda Lou

I know the BPH is on the 21st.These guys are playing two shows at Ram's Head.
They are still incredible in concert.I was fortunate enough to see them quite a few times when Front man Lowell George was still alive.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 18, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

A little song
A little dance

Posted by: Boko999 | March 18, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Get down tonight.
Get down tonight.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 18, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

The French writer, Collette, writes rapturous descriptions of the countryside where she grew up. I remember her recounting of the way the dirt smelled and how she would put her face right down to the ground to smell it and experience it. After I read Colette, I started to see a pattern with other authors and developed a theory that growing up in the country is conducive to the kind of mind needed to be a creative writer. Maybe the slower pace, the lack of provided entertainment, the long hours working outside or rambling through the woods and fields provide the metaphorical soil that grows a mind capable of keen observation. It's an old theory, and I don't remember all the evidence I had to support it, so I'll just toss it out there--this article just reminded me of it.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 18, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Without getting too "adult" here, I've been fortunate enough to become closely acquainted with some very "earthy" country gals. (Sound, sensible, and fine writers, all!)

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

kbert - Only ever so slightly more seriously:

I don't know, or know of, any good writers (or any good readers, for that matter) who don't have some lengthy periods of solitude in their lives.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, thanks for the Helotes update. I strongly suspect they will find that some of the fecal coliform runoff is human waste. I can't believe Helotes has to put up with that thing for four more weeks.

(*checks home compost pile*) ('s'ok so far)

I play with a garden on days I feel up to it, but the erratic attention it gets precludes anything delicate or needy (or edible, for the most part). The ground here is historically rich in nutrients, plus I add in the finished compost at intervals. My exertion consists of (1) poking hole in ground and (2) dropping seed into hole in ground. If the seeds grow into a plant, it's on its own until harvest, although I'll come by and speak encouragingly to it now and then, especially if it has flowers. The first time I tried this, I lost all of the package labels and had no clue what was actually growing (pumpkin and chard eventually revealed themselves, but the tomatoes died young). Now I plant whatever interesting seeds I find on sale at the grocery, and wait and see what comes up. Makes a nice surprise to see whatever survives and starts fruiting. Some weeds always ninja in and fool me into nurturing them for awhile, but I'm getting better.

(yes, I've been warned about zucchini)

Posted by: sevenswans | March 18, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I have a similar meditation on the nature/literature nexus when I read and reread the marvelous scenes in Anna Karenina where Levin works with his tenants on the estate, and during the hunt. For me those are some of the richest part of the book.

Have you read the new translation of AK, kbertocci or anybody? Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, which I consider superior to the standard Dunnigan? Published in 2000, I think.

As part of my culinary explorations, I took on canning some 15 years ago. Chutney, chili sauce, pickles of one sort or another. About 2 years in, Himself's male cousin married into a very large farming family in Eastern Ontario. At the wedding, my MIL and I were sitting with some of the farming women, and MIL (trying to break the ice between the urban DIL and the bride's family, I think) suggested we talk about my experience of canning. The farmers just rolled their eyes and said, "thank goodness we can just buy the stuff now!" Hahahaha.

Posted by: Yoki | March 18, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

My grandfather grew up on a farm and hated it. He ran away from home at about 16 and went to work for the railroad. He only had to work 10 hours a day for 6 days a week. Later, in the Depression he had to start a family patch of about an acre to feed his family. My mother tells of how her assigned chore was to hold the chicken while my grandfather cut its head off! She cried until he told her she would not be required to do that anymore. He also had a cow he milked. "Ol' Bossy." He also had a hound named "Blue." He was not an exceptionally creative sort of man, but he was a fair provider.

My own father loved growing food and did so all his life. Before gardening was "cool" he converted our suburban near-Chicago yard to food production, and coaxed fantastic strawberries, grapes, and even a bearing peach tree, as well as lettuce, tomatoes, squash, wonderful corn, and I can't remember what else. My mother made jelly from crabapples. The Depression generation were, and are, made of strong stuff.

I read a theory a few years ago that resonated with me, which claimed much of the counterculture was in fact a reactionary movement to reclaim the past. This is at odds with many other explanations and so, I think, needs a closer look. I see lots of evidence to support it. The long hair? Look to images from the past: Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and fictional characters like Tarzan - Rousseau's image of man - and our culture's images of primeval Indians. "Granny glasses." That slight Luddite streak that pervaded the counterculture. The entire back-to-the-land movement, in fact.

I was privileged to visit Joel's home many years ago, and the plethora of homegrown food his family produced and his mother served was one of the standout meals of my life. It is simply not obtainable in restaurants, and difficult enough to assemble from the grocery store.

Now I must go plant that blueberry bush that has wintered in a pot.

Posted by: Jumper | March 18, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

My grandfather raised tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables in a garden so large that small boys would frequently become lost it in. He raised chickens in an abandoned railroad car. He once raised a steer called Joe, but found the need to slaughter it too traumatic to do so again.

My own father's garden was more modest, but, in addition to the mandatory tomatoes, contained the most delicious snow peas I have ever known. He tried to raise chickens once, but we refused to eat them.

My own garden is smaller still. (And the idea of raising livestock is right out.) Yet what my garden lacks in area it makes up for in emotional intensity. For I am reasonably sure that my grandfather never assigned his tomato plants individual names.

Although I imagine that this trend to smaller gardens will continue, I am optimistic that my offspring will not abandon gardening entirely. For that would be wrong. Be it only in a patio basket or a hydroponic bath, I hope my descendants will always grow a few mighty fine 'mater plants.

Whether they choose to name their produce is entirely up to them.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Frostbabysister, aka "Birdie," raised ducks one year named Tasty, Succulent, and Toughnstringy. She would walk under horses' bellies, bring the cow in for milking, and slop hogs with reckless abandon but was terrorized by poultry. By kindergarten she'd had enough of the free range chickens who "greeted" her whenever she went outside to play. One afternoon she went out of her way to catch them and was doing something I couldn't quite figure out from the kitchen window. She later showed me how a permanent marker worked to number them in the order she wanted them dispatched.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I remain fairly clueless in the art of raising things for food. Not that I'm not interested, but there's no place to plug anything in and I can't find the LEDs that indicate status.

However, I take some comfort in knowing I probably have enough space to be self-sufficient in the case of total societal breakdown, as long as I can figure out how to convince the deer and turkeys to commit suicide and dress themselves into a nice roast.

Possibly a project for retirement.

Posted by: Error Flynn | March 18, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, that's an interesting theory. Having been part of that time, I'd say it was more a rebellion against established dress codes, materialism, etc. A lot of the "style" came from Britain, after all - the Beatles, to being with. But I think there was also a desire to regain the knowledge of the past, to become more self-sufficient. So, yes, maybe on an unconscious level, that's what folks were doing.

My parents both came from farming backgrounds. My dad wanted to go back - he wound up building a small house on my mom's property, miles from any town or services, when he was 65. My mom had passed away before that happened. We used to joke that at least she hadn't lived long enough to have to go through that. I'm afraid my husband and I will do that too!

Here we are in our postage stamp-sized city lot, trying to live the country life. My heating mat and grow light setup is working well. I have sprouts of tomatoes, peppers, hummingbird sage coming up. A few gourds are growing - I only need a few. I had almost given up on the basil and sweet peas, but they're coming up too. I keep buying seeds, mostly flower seeds, even though I have a shoebox full of seeds, some of which I save myself. Gardening is a solace for me, and a connection to my family, and to the past. Nothing better than growing plants that Thomas Jefferson grew - not that I'm sure why that is!

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 18, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

SCC - to *begin* with. Sigh.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 18, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

As a guy who'd spent the first twenty or so years of his working career as a service provider (grocery store lackey, warehouse guy, A.F. electronics technician, bartender, several other jobs), I'll never forget my delight, after being talked into joining a buddy as his house-painting apprentice, at seeing the results of my handiwork. There's something special about being able to see, taste, feel the results of one's effort.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I took up model rocketry a couple of years ago for the same reason. Pointless as it is (and it's very pointless indeed!), it's kinda cool to start with a bit of cardboard and balsa wood, and end up with a device that shoots (well!) over a thousand feet into the sky.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

JA, what a wonderful kit. And here I thought you were a city boy, and there's that country charm all wrapped in you.

My mother, bless her heart, raised hogs, and always had a garden. That's how she fed us. And she bought live chickens and killed them herself. We didn't buy much from the grocery story, and that was good because we didn't have much money. We picked berries and my mother made jams and jellies, and also those great preserves. I picked peaches, beans, and everything else, and my mother canned and froze that she couldn't put in jars. The food tasted better, and bread was out the question. When we were small, the only bread we ate was biscuits. I didn't know anything about store bought bread until I was almost in high school. My grandmother made bread everyday. My grandfather took it as a personal insult if he was given store bought bread.

I sometimes think about how each of you sound, you know when you talk. How your voice sounds. In writing, one has to imagine how the person might sound. Sometimes I believe we get hints about the tone, but not really the voice. Is your voice shrill or is it bland? Do you sound squeaky or does your voice sound like boom? Is your voice soft and pleasant or is it hard and short? My own voice sounds terrible to me, there isn't any melody to it. It sounds chopped off. From reading your comments sometimes, I picture many of you as having nice voices, but some I picture as sarcastic or hard. I guess all of this includes tone. Gentle voices and nice soothing sounds is what I tend to think of when talking to you. Just curious. I wonder would the voice match the person or would it seem odd and an ill fit. I've heard Joel's voice in an interview here on the computer, but could not make out the exact sound.

I've been to church, had my lunch, and now I think I'll have a nap. Enjoy the rest of your day.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 18, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I agree, Cassandra, that this is a great kit. It seems like we all have some nice stories to share.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

My voice is composed of magical frequencies that teenagers are unable to hear.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and by the way, I have a beautiful grape arbor in my back yard. I built it myself using flying buttresses inspired by the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Surprisingly, very few people have ever commented on this fact.

Anyway, anyone who wishes to drop by and do some serious pondering beneath it is welcome.

But you'll have to bring your own beer.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Let me throw in a plug for the Seed Savers Exchange:

They have been working to save heirloom seeds for a long time now. They have a beautiful catalog with lots of varieties, many with wonderful names. No Mr Stripey, though. Someday I'd like to visit their center in Iowa.

Thanks for the book tips too. I have to get books for my plane trip - have added Anna Karenina (new translation) and Colette to the list, along with Jane Austen.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 18, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten: I remember those beer can hats. My mom made them for us when we were kids. Of course, she used cans from Seven-Up.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

So I have 64 square feet of garden. Not a lot. Obviously, I will devote part to Son of Mr. Stripey, but what about the rest? I'm thinking peanuts, or maybe heirloom potatoes. Any suggestions? What interesting crops can one grow in a small plot in Northern Virginia?

That won't get me arrested.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I only try my hand at tomatoes and dill. If there's something better than that first BLT with homegrown T's, I can't think of it.

Posted by: Kim | March 18, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Why do "flying buttresses" always remind me of 60's-era airline commercials?

(Sigh... I'm a very, very sad individual.)

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

RD- Mel Bartholemew, who has written some great books called Square Foot Gardening, has a web site that drives me crazy with its wild claims of "NO Effort!" and "NO Weeding!" but I do recommend the concept as a great way to get a lot of variety and yield in your little space. I used an early edition of his book to get my start in NoVA. My first year I bordered my two 4X6 ft. plots with basil. We ate pesto a couple times a week all summer and I froze some for winter use. The strawberries ran amok and spread quite vigorously beyond their alotted space, but the squirrels were better at determining ripeness than I. They invariably picked me clean the night before I had planned to harvest.

I still garden quite intensively in a smaller space than I have available. It really is easier, but it is not effortless.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, since I do this voice characterization game as well, I admit I'd visualize you as slightly raspy or wheezy, expressive, soft, slow (that southern accent, don't you know), and your sentences punctated more often with some laughter, sighs, and comfortable silences, than you'd probably believe ;).

If you actually talk like a New Yorker on nonstop fast-forward, please, please don't tell me ;).

As for me, my voice has no control to it and I don't use it for saying much. I think Pat described my laughter more than any other utterances.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Only two things that money can't buy,
true love and home grown tomatoes.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

frosty - The nice thing about true love is that money doesn't actually drive it away. Home-grown tomatoes, on the other hand, can become rather difficult to find in the presence of large amounts of swag.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

This article, while wonderful in its way, is also quite mean to all those would-be gardeners who have lived in apartments so long that they don't even have a square foot they can call their own to plant, weed, or tamper with.

Is it really time to plant tomatoes and basil in Minnesota, Frostbitten?

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - I've got a little experience with this! A single bucket of dirt and a window with occasional exposure to sunlight is sufficient to grow some herbs, tomatoes (hint - miniature varieties), peppers (see previous hint)... Maybe not ideal conditions, but stuff can be grown.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I remeber those hats! but I am more familiar with bags, made from the same materials. You know, that reminds me, up to about the 80's, it was almost impossible to get canned beverages in Saskatchewan. bottles only. Somewhere along the way it changed, but I have no idea when.

Posted by: dr | March 18, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-I'm starting mine from seed, indoors of course. My goal is to have ripe cherry tomatoes by the 4th of July and full size beauties a few weeks later. This is going to take the maniacal devotion to tomato cultivation exhibited by Lake Woebegone's own Irene Bunsen. Frostdaddy has suggested a hydroponic like system of growing the plants in straw bales and I'm looking at a variety of low cost, high labor, soil warming systems.

I do not suggest this for anyone who did not receive a parochial school education. Being well practiced in tedium and devotion to seemingly meaningless tasks goes a lot farther than visualizing tomato nirvana. Did anyone see the SNL send up of Oprah and "The Secret" last night?

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

My parents were the Master gardeners in my family,my dad could get anything to grow anywhere.They had so much yeild from their garden they would barter with roadside stands for things they didn't grow,like corn and melons and such.

I can remember coming home from work in the 19**'s, well it was a long time ago.They would be sitting on the couch,stone faced with blankets in their hands and i knew immediately that they were expecting a frost that night and my job was to go cover the delicate plants wherever their garden was that year.

Fun times!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 18, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

As a child, I was the professional weedpuller, arbiterer of planthood, tree whacker, part-lawn mower, and all-around live-in gardener.

I wasn't much good, but everybody else was worse. Except in mowing lawns and over a garden I had tried to start. Those budding watermelon vines got mowed to death by a sibling who apparently thought dirt was mowable, and I gave up on having a truck garden.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Anybody have advice on how to help big dogs and gardens coexist together, by the way?

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I put up an extra (removable) fence, Wilbrod.

Anybody with an informed opinion (!) on using shredded paper as mulch, probably around shrubs and trees?

Posted by: dbG | March 18, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, dmddog would instantly dig up any freshly planted plants, however, he did leave the existing ones alone. Except for the plants he liked to sleep on the gardens managed pretty well, I would recommend hardy plants that don't mind a dog roaming on them.

Mulching seemed to help he would dig the most when the soil was fresh, we also had a sandbox where he was allowed and encouraged to dig.

Potted plants seemed to be a toy and I have since learned to put them in big heavy pots or up high.

Hope that helps, Wilbrodog I am sure would be much better as from what you have said she/he actually listens to commands :-).

Cassandra your voice to me will always be linked with a good friend of mine, like you she has the kindest of souls and just a hint of a Jamacian accent, and is always tinged with laughter. I try to remember that many of you would have southern accents but I often forget.

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

When my girls were small I went through a homemade bread making phase. I would slice it to make their sandwiches for school and always included homemade cookies as well. Years later my daughters told me how they used to trade their lunches for ones with Oreos and Wonderbread.

I used to sew a lot of their clothes too. That was back when it was actually cheaper to do that. I am now committed (and will be ready to be committed when it's finished) to making my granddaughter's First Communion dress. We picked out the pattern, which is quite complex, and fabric a few weeks ago. At the time, I was a bit skeptical about the fabric yardage, the woman who cut it assured me it was enough (this particular fabric was an odd width). This morning I decided to cut out the pieces and sure enough, I was short, way, way short. So tomorrow night's journey home will include a trip to a different fabric store that I just found out about and want to explore anyway. Just one more example of me knowing better but trusting some stranger's advice. Will I ever learn to speak up when I know I'm right?

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | March 18, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Just as long as nobody plants catnip and attracts rascally cats to MY turf, I'll listen, I'm sure.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 18, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

dbG-what is it that you desire of this shredded paper mulch? I have used layers of newspapers as both weed barrier under pine bark mulch, and grass killer for future planting beds. Both uses require that the paper be weighed down with something so that it doesn't become litter in the wind. As a weed barrier newspaper is far superior to both fabrics and plastic products sold for this purpose.

I have quite a bit of unshredded newspaper in my current compost pile, but that is just a byproduct of changing the guinea pig cage. I'm going to have to keep an eye on that lest I be the second boodler to experience a Helotes moment at home.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I own Mel Bartholemew's book, but like many zealots, I think he overstates his case a bit.

This thing about my garden is that it is pretty much just for fun. Nobody in my house, except me and the rabbits, much cares for veggies. And we visit Amish country regularly, where the roadside produce will break a gardener's heart.

Although I always put in a tomato plant or two, I strive to do something, well, interesting with the rest of the garden.

One year I grew super-sweet "Kandy Corn." Then there was the memorable year when I grew nothing but Habaneros (a.k.a. "the garden of pain.") Then there were the sunflowers, which attracted so many bees that they became a neighborhood hazard.

Has anybody out there grown peanuts? Will I just be feeding the voles? I am intrigued with the idea, especially since I have it on good authority that boiled peanuts are an epicurean delight.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Hi, everybody.

Speaking of raising things, I've been flying as solo Dad this weekend, so I haven't had much time to Boodle.

Besides, with MD losing to Butler yesterday, I've been in a bit of a funk. I'll blame the Thin Mints. Which are completely gone.


Posted by: bc | March 18, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Crosscut shredded paper from credit card offers, bank statements, courtesy checks. I usually just recycle it, but was wondering if I could actually put it to use when I plant shrubs this Spring.

I don't know where it would be safe to use, if at all. I was envisioning underneath more substantial mulch.

Posted by: dbG | March 18, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten - you have guinea pigs? As long-time boodlers know, I keep two rabbits in a ridiculously extravagant cage in our basement. When I boodle in the evening I usually do so with the two of them hopping around me. Which explains a lot of things to you, I'm sure.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

dbG -- I have had several layers of newspaper in a garden bed for about four months. Wanted to stop weeds (and nasturtiums, which reseed like crazy here) in an area where I was putting in a new young tree. I put potting soil over the paper, just enough to cover it. For esthetics, more than anything.

It all worked well. No weeds, no nasturtiums, and blossoms on the new apple tree. I would think chipped paper would work just the same. Just do your paper mulching on a calm, non-windy day!

Posted by: nellie | March 18, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

RDP-boiled peanuts are an acquired taste I'd say, one I haven't acquired. But like you I think peanuts would be fun to try to grow. Have you ever grown miniature pumpkins on a teepee? I used to push the envelope with our HOA by growing such things in our front border among the shrubs and perennials. You could put a teepee on the north end of your bed and not shade your peanuts. I've also had some success with melons grown vertically. Tie the growing vines onto the nets or poles then as the melons form put them inside the toe of a leg cut from panty hose and tie it to the pole to support the weight of the growing melon.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

RDP-"ridiculously extravagant cage" I understand completely.

Sweet cheeses! just looked out the window and it's now snowing horizontally at about 30mph. This time next week I'll be Tampa, which will insure above average temps in MN for about 10 days.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I was looking for mice in Niki's garden when she saw me and said NO!
Nuff said.

Posted by: Buddy999 | March 18, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC ...she saw me and said,"NO!"
I'm so ashamed. Darn dogs. You tell them and tell them.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 18, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

RDP -- Rhubarb is a challenge here, but that is what I would grow in my imaginary garden. What about growing gourds that you can make into rattles, baskets, etc? They could hang down from your buttressed pergolia structure. Love green color, sometimes mottled. I grew them over an arch one year to greet success.

But, you could be very extravangent and grow a backdrop of easy but luscious flowers: cosmos, verbena-on-a-stick, bee balm......tomatos in front love this floral scrim as a stage. Or so they tell me.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 18, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I've tried and like boiled peanuts-- they taste (and feel) more bean-like and less peanutty, though.

Since I like the taste of beans, this is completely fine by me and I've since wished I could buy raw or boiled peanuts more easily.

They're not as peanutty as roasted peanuts, but probably less fatty and allergenic, but on the downside they're still very salty and they don't last.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

That reminds me...I sometimes cook canned chickpeas with peanuts, diced onions, and garam masala or apple pie spices as a fall vegan dish. It is usually a hit with peanut-loving vegetarians.

Maybe I should try and make it again and then try and list what I do exactly for Yoki's Panboodle cookbook, it's a pretty quick dish, frying the onions is what takes up the most time.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

CP-Have you tried rhubarb in MD? I never set myself up for the heartbreak in NoVA. When we lived in Carlisle PA the farmer's market always had plenty and we weren't there long enough to put in a garden.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

BC, the husband feels your pain. With him, it was an entire bag of Grandma Utz hand cooked potato chips. A few McSorley's only deepened his blues last night, but he seems to have rallied today. He looks a little puffy today, though. He can't decide who to root for now.

Posted by: Kim | March 18, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I was going to suggest gourds too. The Seed Savers catalog has some nice pictures. Nichols Garden Nursery in OR has a large selection of gourds, but no pictures. I'm growing Speckled Swan from them. Getting actual gourds for me is tough - practically have to put them under a sun lamp. But I keep trying.

Popcorn or Indian corn for decoration would be fun too. Seems like peanuts would take a lot of room, but I could be wrong.

Here's some info about straw bale gardening from Nichols:

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 18, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

My condolences, bc. I know it was tough. I ignored the Carolina game till 1:28 left and then watched to the end. That's about all the excitement I can stand.

Posted by: Slyness | March 18, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I love using straw as mulch, it decomposts within weeks and it smells so MUCH better (and less) than the horrid wood mulch in popular use in the DC area. That actually tends to give me allergic reactions when fresh, too.

I mean... why? That mulch was nearly not in use 20 years ago, now it seems like everybody is mulch-crazy in the DC area; I'm surprised the trees haven't had their roots rot off from all the mulch that gets laded on during the summer.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Frosty -- broke my heart twice with rhubarb plants here. TOO DAMN HOT for TOO DAMN long in July, August and into September. For a while, two of us in the neighborhood knew about a patch in an alley of dappled shade. Somehow the roots were deep enough and perhaps there was an aquifer underground, like the one near my basement....we harvested from it secretly for about five years. Community improvements being what they are, the city poured new asphalt for the alley way and the plant is toast.

I like to buy beautiful tomatoes through my CSA share -- occasionally we are graced with Mr. Stripeys.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 18, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Ah, that would explain why growing rhubarb is easy here, and in PA. I don't like it though.

Info on growing peanuts:
I like that there's a National Peanut Board! And where has peanutgallerymember gotten to?

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 18, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

All this gardening and nature writing reminds me of one of my favorite books: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. So achingly beautiful.

And to stretch the Irish thingie just one more day, here is a letter to the editor in today's NYT.

"The Irish, Scots, and Welsh are suspicious that the pronouncement from the University of Oxford that they are genetically related to the English is a thinly veiled attempt at social climbing by the English."
-- James M. Farrell

Posted by: Maggie O'D | March 18, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

mostlylurking-thanks for that Nichols nursery link. Basic technique with a few suggestions was all I was looking for!

CP-I'm so sorry for your loss.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Joel, the column was really good. I think you can tell when a kit or column is on the very high plus side, because more people stay on topic.

Posted by: nellie | March 18, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear you can't grow rhubarb down there, my parents always had a spot of rhubarb, (it may in fact be a weed up here). On hot summer days I would go out to the end of the yard where there was a small stand of pine trees and at the very back was the rhubrab, I would pick some and bring it in, rinse it off and then proceed to dunk the stalk in sugar and enjoy it.

Mom made wonderful strawberry rhubarb pie and crumble from fresh berries.

Can you grow red currents there, mom also made great red current jelly.

As you can tell we always had some sort of garden, very limited when I was growing up but when they moved to my grandfathers old house they inherited his vegetable and fruit garden, full of raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, potatoes, tomatoes, beans and whatever experiment Dad decided to try that year. I remember the Basil year very well, three long rows of burgundy coloured basil.

Like my grandfather, dad included a pumpkin patch in the compost pile so the kids could pick a pumpkin for halloween.

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I wish I could fax one of you poor gardenless people my 20'x40'x12" raised garden. It's wasted in my killing hands. I'm not sure whether I should tear it up and use the soil (primo stuff) in front of the house or leave as is. Trying to delve into the minds of prospective buyers is tricky though someone who would buy in the country might appreciate it.
Rhubarb and chives grow like weeds here. Even I can't kill them.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 18, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Maggie, thanks for posting that quote, I will have to try to remember it for the next time I see my dad.

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Vonnegut, Annie Dillard added to airplane book list.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 18, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"Bluestilton" reminded me so of Nani. I do miss her voice.

Posted by: Wheezy | March 18, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps rhubarb should be treated like herbs. Find a shady spot plant 'em and forget 'em. Like the Sopranos.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 18, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

My ridiculously extravagant cages are for the tomatoes or anything that climbs. Get a 50' roll of 6"x6" reinforcing wire (like what's in your driveway concrete) 5 feet wide, cut it into 6 or 7 lengths, and form them into cylinders. Sometimes the non-determinate tomatoes climb over the top and back down again to reach the ground. I planted 4 today, plus 4 peppers, an eggplant and a zucchini, and still have room in the 2 raised beds for another six or eight of whatever takes my fancy at the nursery in a few weeks. It'll probably be more peppers, really hot ones, and more herbs.

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 18, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

NYT article today on worms, mulch and forests:

Posted by: sevenswans | March 18, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Responsible worm disposal is an issue in our small MN town which relies very heavily on the sport fishing industry. I am going to have to take action in our yard as the grand parents ran a resort here and the worms have lived on long after the cabins were torn down.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

"Currants", darn it, "currants"!

Is RD Pad seriously considering the idea of growing peanuts, just to boil them, without ever having tried boiled peanuts before? Wow, THAT is committment to a recipe!

(As a Georgia boy myself, I've grown them once in the yard just to prove that I could [they stop working somewhere around southern Virginia, I think], and I genuinely LOVE boiled peanuts. But you can buy raw [green] peanuts pretty widely nationwide, and once boiled, it probably won't make too much difference whether they were fresh, as long as they're not ancient.)

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm still chuckling about various images of "responsible worm disposal"!

Posted by: Bob S, | March 18, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention: Guinea pig, a tasty treat (especially around the holidays)!

If you don't already know, I won't further bum you out.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the great ideas everyone.

Bob S. - Joel has stated his fondness for boiled peanuts so I figured they were worth a mention. But you highlight a frustration with gardening in general. There are so many ways to get high-quality produce, especially when you visit Amish Country as frequently as we do, that growing your own seems almost pointless except as a means of recreation.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Bob S-We have seen that guinea pig is still raised for food in South America, and we are not amused. Well maybe a little, one of our pigs is named Beauregarde Bacon Bottom.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

RD, gardening with me is only for recreation, most of the plants I tend to plant are marginally hardy here, I consider it a game me vs the plant. So far I am batting about 75%, but one good long winter and I may be toast.

Plus I like playing in the dirt.

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 7:30 PM | Report abuse

We grew rhubarb in the Pacific Northwest. This basically involved putting a plant in the ground and then jumping back.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks mostlylurking for that link on peanuts.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

We interrupt this frighteningly on topic boodle to point out that the brackets for the Frozen Four have been announced. My own University of North Dakota is seeded # 3 in the West and has a chance of meeting Scottynuke's Northeast #1 seed New Hampshire.

Sentimentality will destroy my hockey bracket early. I always pick North Dakota to win.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

SCC "a chance of meeting...New Hampshire in the semifinals."

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

OK, OK, I gotta admit that I'm just a little creeped out by the (apparently serious) remark, "I always pick North Dakota to win."


Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

My dad gardened for as long as I can remember. When it got too shady in the back yard, he moved it up to the front yard. His yearly favorites were of course, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, green peppers, eggplant, oregano and basil.

He also grew grapes--but only for the leaves. And with the garden's fresh onions and mint, every spring Mom would make the best Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) on the planet.

Every year we visit the nursery and my kids taste the leaves on every mint plant until they find the exact kind Papou had. That's the only kind they'll let me buy (we grow it in pots to avoid losing the yard to it).

Posted by: TBG | March 18, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

"Zealot!!" most certainly, though not of the southern football idolatry variety. It's more of a quiet, pick UND as #1 and take my lumps kind of thing.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Hey Joel... why isn't Gatorborn listed with the Celebs?

Posted by: TBG | March 18, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

TBG - You say Dolmades, I'll say dolmas! (You say "Poorly executed omelette, I'll say frittata!")

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Stupid question frostbitten and Scotty but is the "frozen four" really only four teams?

frostbitten love the name of that guinea pig - we had guinea pigs when I was young (as pets).

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten - yeah, trust me, I get it. The patient resignation of the quiet (but ever-hopeful) true fan.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, I haven't heard about worms being a problem around here, but it does make sense. I just wonder if pine and birch do require acidic soil.

I notice a major culprit indicated in suburban areas is overmulching and thus encouraging the worms.

Back in old Virginny, we had lots of azaleas and yes, even purple or pink hydrageas, and an oak tree or two, indicating the soil was quite acid. We never mulched, and the soil was thin topsoil with lots of red clay deep down.

I always wondered why it was so hard to find worms when we dug for them for fishing. After rains we'd maybe find 1-3 worms gasping or dying on the asphalt from the flooding, but that was the extent of worms I'd find in an average year.

It was all because we didn't mulch for worms instead of oaks and azaleas. I learn something new daily. Now with the endless mulching out there, I'm sure the worm has turned.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I wouldn't think pine and birch need acid soil, they predominate around here in alkaline soil. My hydrangeas were mostly pink unless I added a lot of additives to make the soil more acidic. Azaleas and rhododendren need additives to do well in the alkaline soil.

It may depend on the types of pine as well.

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

dmd-The Frozen Four actually starts with 16. Six spots automatically go to conference champions. They are:
Atlantic Hockey Association - Air Force
Central Collegiate Hockey Association - Notre Dame
College Hockey America - Alabama-Huntsville
Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey League - Clarkson
Hockey East Association - Boston College
Western Collegiate Hockey Association - Minnesota

North Dakota plays in the WCHA.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks frostbitten, that must be a great tournament to see. Is there one for women as well?

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

dmd-There is a women's tournament. In Division I Wisconsin beat the University of Minnesota-Duluth to win the championship. You can read all about it at:

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Worms are only to be used for fishing or for bracelets!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 18, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks frostbitten, with the girls playing hockey I have really begun to appreciate how well they do at it (not necessarily my girls!), it is so much fun to watch.

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

RD, have you checked out Whitley's Peanuts for boiled peanuts? I have had some of their other versions of peanuts and, while expensive, are really, really good.

We had a neighbor who somehow was able to grow rhubarb in Northern Virginia. I'm not sure what his secret was. I can also vouch for rhubarb in Oregon. Years ago I had a rhubarb/strawberry pie with homegrown rhubarb. It was absolutely delicious. As with many things in that part of Oregon, you stick it in the ground and it grows.

frostbitten, I'm not much of a hockey fan, but somehow Alabama-Huntsville in a NCAA hockey tournament just seems wrong. Do they take ice out of everyone's mint juleps to form the rink? I realize that Huntsville's in *Northern* Alabama but that just doesn't seem the same as Minnesota or North Dakota or Boston University. Regardless, good luck to all the teams and I hope you enjoy the tournament.

Posted by: pj | March 18, 2007 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Next month, the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) will have its annual conference, this time at the big new convention hotel across 34th Street from the Natural History Museum and its butterflies and mastodons. And within walking distance of an Asian grocery that sells neat Black Rice from China.

There will be some contributions from the UF faculty, including "Ditch of Dreams -History of the Cross Florida Barge
Canal" by Steve Noll, Department of History. That's one I can't miss. My first job, after getting my M.S., was do a vegetation survey of the canal route. Headquarters was in Gainesville. My colleague on the job had, if I remember correctly, a grandfather who had worked on digging the Cross-Florida SHIP Canal, a crazy New Deal project to build a sea level canal across the peninsula. Go to Google Earth, and you can probably spot the diggings. Follow I-75 sough from Ocala to where it crosses an east-west undeveloped swath that turns toward the northeeast on the east side of I-75. US 301 splits where it crosses the diggings. Hidden in the wide median, there may still be a concrete support for a tall bridge that was never finished.

The FNPS will have plant sales, featuring a whole bunch of growers. Fortunately no one uses old cans any more (Joel should know why that's a good thing). One of the newer inventions is to grow plants in fabric bags. Root systems are evidently better, and plants don't blow over so easily. But the bags are wasteful of potting soil, which is expensive.

At last year's FNPS meeting, I bought several coonties and kept them in my hotel room.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 18, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

By the way, if anyone wants some nice 100% natural rabbit fertilizer just let me know. These two bunnies produce prodigious amounts.

Think I will take a stab at the peanuts. After all, this is Virginia. And it will give me an excuse to do some serious digging so as to get proper drainage.

dmd - you're not the only one who likes playing in the dirt.

Course I'll still grow a tomato or two. I mean, traditions must be upheld.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Whew! I'm glad that I re-read greenwithenvy's comment of 8:35 PM. At first, I thought that I'd read, "Women are only to be used for fishing or for bracelets!!!"

While I found it to be bizarrely amusing, my follow-up comment would have been sorely misplaced, I think.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Hey pj - thanks for that link! I see they include a section on home gardening too.

As I recall, you are quite wise in the ways of gardening. I hope you are not laughing too much at my plan to grow peanuts.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I suspect so, Bob S.

Now, WHY a man would want to use a woman *just* to get a bracelet baffles me, unless he prefers men.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Even so, that'd be one seriously weird episode of "Will and Grace."

Oh, we're supposed to stay on topic as per the conspiracy to keep Joel feeling good. My bad.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - Perhaps bracelets are useful for the eventual goal of catching fish?

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Go for it, RD. I think southern Virginia is about as far north as peanuts grow as a commercial crop. If you make it work for your own purposes, that's great. Best of luck.

My dad tried to grow any number of things here. He finally settled in for leaf lettuce, beans, and tomatoes. Radishes, sometimes. We tried carrots a couple of times but we needed a deeper bed, like 12 to 16 inches. Virginia clay isn't conducive to digging that deep. ;-) We also had a lot of trees on our lot so getting direct sunlight was hard. That really limited what we could try to grow. We all enjoyed the products of the garden, though. I remember visiting cousins in New Jersey. That's where we learned the best way to enjoy corn: You put the water on to boil and then go out back to pick and shuck the corn and then put it in the pot. That is as good as it gets. :-)

Posted by: pj | March 18, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

When I was hauling logs in N. Ontario I was told that pine trees caused the acidic soil.

Coniferous forest:
The soil in a coniferous forest contains variable amounts of humus derived from leaf and needle litter. The "pine" needles decay to produce an acidic soil. Also, the "pine" needles do not decay as rapidly compared to deciduous leaves. Because coniferous trees retain their leaves all year, the coniferous forest floor does not receive the same amount of warm sunlight in the early spring. Because of all the conditions, there are different and fewer wildflowers and plants that grow on the coniferous forest floor.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 18, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse


Daughter Two's first and our favorite boyfriend used to bring over huge bags of "punnyboo" that was most excellent.

(He is no longer the boyfriend, :( , and college tends to interfere with bunnies.)

We used punnyboo to assist Son of CP in an amazing science fair project that involved night crawlers, a set of plastic tunnels, and powdered mustard. But, apparently, we were not cleared to use living subjects and boy earned an E. E = F. Ironic note: The learning was great; no worms were harmed; the punnyboo was part of the holding medium.

Later, some of the wormies were eaten by fishies, which is part of the great circle of life.

Boy has recovered from earning an E in science fair. Descendants of the wormies live in the yard still.

But, I am wondering, ala a certain biomass pile in Texas: can your pile ignite?

Posted by: College Parkian | March 18, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

pj - I hear you about the corn. I remember the first time I had fresh white corn after I moved out here. My wife's father grew Silver Queen in his back yard, and did exactly that same trick with the boiling water. I couldn't believe this was the same vegetable as the old yellow stuff I was used to.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

CP - I am terrified to find out. There are just some questions Science was never meant to answer.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Unless they are Gummi worms,then you could probably eat a few too!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 18, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

If anybody's concerned about the petfood recall, a complete list can be found through this article:

Thankfully, I feed kibble, and allow Wilbrodog to pick out the bag he wants, but have the final say on whether the dogfood has the ingredient list I want.

Last time he picked an "healthy weight" turkey-based dogfood. Guess being told he was "borderline chubby" by the vet has gotten to his sensitive ego.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

pj, Dad grew corn as well, and at family gatherings it was quite the procedure to get the fresh corn into the boiling water and then out again (under 3 minutes) and to the table. I never liked the old yellow corn, but peaches & cream or white corn is heavenly - no salt,no butter just the sweet taste of the corn.

Boko, my hazy memory is not always accurate, perhaps I am mixing the pines we have with our acidic soil. This would also explain why my attempts to get blue hydrangeas never quite worked out, managed purple on half of one bush.

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, oh, oh, the topic... (What was that again?)... Got it, get it, done!
A long time ago, when the earth was green,
(that was somewhere between grade school and my later teens!)
There was more kinds of miscreants
Than you've ever seen!
But the sneakiest of all was the Homecoming Queen!
There was....
Serious math students and kids who didn't care,
There was guys with big muscles, and girls with big hair.
There was freaks and geeks and ath-e-letes and folks in between,
But the scariest of all was the Homecoming Queen!


Oh, oh, hang on! Wasn't the topic about when the earth was green?

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

oops... The link at the top of my last comment was intended for those who enjoy Charlie Pierce. I think that the (long aforementioned) story about Hagel was great, and that link to the previous Kit & 'boodle had some other suggestions about his scribblings.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Through the kindness of NASA-y neighbors, I am about to start an experiment with Linux on a ^%$#@ Milleniumn Machine. So far, so good. I am astounded. The new move of MS to Vista and the MSWord ext .docx motivates me mightily.

Am thinking about the sunflower seeds I am about to start, that and cosmos, cleome, and zinnia. You can never go wrong with a riot of vulgar, upstart color in the front yard.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 18, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I think we cooked the corn for six minutes in the boiling water. We put butter and salt and pepper on it back then. Now I just put a small amount of butter on it sometimes. Part of me thinks that we took the time to season the corn was to keep from biting into it too quickly and burning our mouths. Now that I'm older I know to wait. If the corn is nice and fresh, eating it straight out of the pot is just fine.

Posted by: pj | March 18, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I should have added that I was the only family member who shunned both salt and butter. It is just personal preference.

Posted by: dmd | March 18, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

pj - If yu'v got the bowels for it, and you're in the right part of the world, and it's the right kinda corn gathered at just the right (miserably hot) time of year, it can be pretty good directly from the stalk.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

My wife thinks I'm an idiot for wanting to grow peanuts. She points out that we have such heavy clay soil that the amount of work needed to prepare it would be insane. Just like that women to go spoiling my good idea with even better facts. She thinks I should stick with 'maters.

CP - I grew sunflowers last year. They are such fun - except for the bees.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 18, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I loathe school science fairs where all students must participate as part of their grade.

In 8th grade Frostdaughter had the exact opposite of Son of CP's experience. After being dragged by the husband and myself through a worthless project, much like a camel through the eye of a needle, she learned nothing about the weighty topic of shampoo's affect on hair. Despite being late on every deadline set by her teacher she was allowed to enter the project in the school fair and was a first prize winner and went on to the regional competition.

I fear science fairs these days are set up to see how well students can document a contrived form of "the scientific process" and hit some "problem solving" standards and benchmarks in the curriculum. Science appears to be a minor sideline. Too bad for the kids who are excited by doing real science experiments.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 18, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

RD - Hmmm... Georgia -- Peanuts -- Red Clay-- hmmm...

Nah, don't get too discouraged!

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

We recently just rented/watched "Cars" (one of those amazing CGI creations from (I think) Pixar -- and I have to admit to being extremely dense regarding one of the characters:

A tow truck named "Tow Mater".

I didn't get it until the movie was almost over. "Tow Mater", "Tomater", "Tomato".


Somebody please put a fork in me. I think I'm toast.

As for growing your own, I've had mixed luck with veggies but have had great success with certain plants that put you in a vegetative state. And that was grown in a pot on a second floor balcony.

If it weren't for helicopters and nosy neighbors, I'd be rich.

Posted by: martooni | March 18, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Good WaPo stuff about shampoo:

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

//Somebody please put a fork in me. I think I'm toast.//

I don't think you're done, yet.

Pleeeeeese look after yourself.

Posted by: Yoki | March 18, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for another Lit. 101 reference but the discussion today reminds me of the following:

Pangloss: "There is a concatenation of all events in the best of possible worlds; for, in short, had you not been kicked out of a fine castle for the love of Miss Cunegund; had you not been put into the Inquisition; had you not traveled over America on foot; had you not run the Baron through the body; and had you not lost all your sheep, which you brought from the good country of El Dorado, you would not have been here to eat preserved citrons and pistachio nuts."

"Excellently observed," answered Candide; "but let us cultivate our garden."

Posted by: bill everything | March 18, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm lucky enough to drive through FL, SC, and GA a couple of times a year and enjoy some nice roadside boiled peanuts. Mmmm.

RD, to Bob S' point, don't be afraid of the clay. You might even consider importing some of the really red Georgia stuff, though I'll warn you that once you get it on a pair of pants, you can forget about ever wearing them again for anything other than gardening.

Scotty, enjoy your Frozen Four.

martooni, to Yoki's point, please take it easy big guy.


Posted by: bc | March 18, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Hang in there, Martooni. I'm ashamed to say how many times I heard the lines from Firesign's "Giant Rat of Sumatra" record that "the Mobius Dick was a low dive with continuous entertainment. They whale all night." I was so busy concentrating on the Mobius strip puns that I missed the whale altogether. Arrgh. It must be nice to be smart.

Posted by: pj | March 18, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse


We need more music from you, like what you posted last summer. Get back to that and remember, as in golf, with BAC, the goal is to have a low score. Do your best, there is a way out.

Posted by: bill everything | March 18, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Lastly, Torqueberto under orders to fall on the sword so it goes through the torso:

He won't make it through the week.

Posted by: bill everything | March 18, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

I hear Candide in my head. Bernstein! Perhaps the best and most American composer ever.

When I think about Candide, and the most American composer ever, I also think of Henry James, the (possibly) most American author ever.

This is very good. I admire you, Americans!

Posted by: Yoki | March 18, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - So, I guess my "Homecoming Queen" composition hasn't put me in the running for greatest American lyricist?

(grumble, grumble) Oh, well, I'll keep plugging away!

: )

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

I adore "Homecoming Queen." But really, for poet-ical-ness, you'd be pressed to rival Bernstein, don't you think?

"dancing queen....
Only seventeen!"

Posted by: Yoki | March 18, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that "Dancing Queen" was by Bernsteinsson (or Bernsteinssen).

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Or Bernsteinsdottir.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Ha! I wanted to rename myself Patricia Margaret Miller McIlveen Sallisdottir. My Mum wasn't so sure about that.

Posted by: Yoki | March 18, 2007 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I thought Voltaire wrote "Dancing Queen?"

Posted by: bill everything | March 18, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I rather like the -dottir suffix to names. It feels so Valkyrie (they're all Hellsdottirs).

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 18, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

bill everything, you made me laugh out loud. do you really believe he will be out of there by the end of the week? i just cannot believe that people aren't taking this more seriously. there just simply seems to be more to these stories. libby has been found guilty of lying, and now the attorney general, and all of it leads to the white house, but i don't hear any outrage or upset-ness, just indifference. no one seems to care, no one talks about how this administration was going to bring morality back to the office of the president. no one seems to care anymore. maybe it's just me. i clearly need some studies on political science or history. and Lord, there is not a day that i don't think about our soldiers in iraq and afghanistan. it's like a nightmare that doesn't end. if we're going to stay in iraq do we have a new plan? i have so many questions, and don't have any idea where to get answers. my grandsons have about six more years in school, will they go to iraq?

wilbrod, i certainly have the southern drawl, some call it a twang if you will, but i don't think the wheezy voice is mine, although it is possible. my voice tends to be slightly heavy, not like a man, but in choir i was never a soprano.

rd, my grandfather used to try his hand at growing peanuts. we lived in a part of the carolinas called the sandhills. i hated those peanuts. he made us go out there and pull them, and they never amounted to much, but if memory serves me, they were prickly or something of that nature. boiled peanuts has to be an acquired taste, yuck.

i can't sleep, and i so want to. i think my medications are causing the problem. the g-girl is knocked out. her mother is still here, but out for the evening. my grandsons are in philadelphia or they were for the weekend. i hope they got some rest over the weekend.

the cinderella team got sent home early. i could barely watch that. i'm glad they enjoyed it at least, not the loss, but the chance to play. i don't usually watch basketball but was visiting a sick friend and they were watching it.

i'm off to bed, have a good night folks.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 18, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Here's a sweet story about rabbits:
[actually, bittersweet]

"An Ohio University study of heart disease in the 1970s was conducted by feeding quite toxic, high-cholesterol diets to rabbits in order to block their arteries, duplicating the effects that such a diet has on human arteries. Consistent results began to appear in all the rabbit groups except for one, which strangely displayed 60 percent fewer symptoms. Nothing in the rabbits' physiology could account for their high tolerance to the diet, until it was discovered by accident that the student who was in charge of feeding these particular rabbits liked to fondle and pet them. He would hold each rabbit lovingly for a few minutes before feeding it; astonishingly, this alone seemed to enable the animals to overcome the toxic diet. Repeat experiments, in which one group of rabbits was treated neutrally while the others were loved, came up with similar results. Once again, the mechanism that causes such immunity is quite unknown -- it is baffling to think that evolution has built into the rabbit mind an immune response that needs to be triggered by human cuddling."

-- from "Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine," by Deepak Chopra

Posted by: Dreamer | March 18, 2007 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra - I gotta funny feelin' that you're underestimating just how seriously LOT'S of folks are taking this.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 11:53 PM | Report abuse

ixnay on the apostre-phay in "LOTS"!

Posted by: Bob S. | March 18, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Me too, Wilbrod. I like being a thorn in the side of the patriarchy.

Posted by: Yoki | March 18, 2007 11:59 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, I can easily understand why it's not the biggest story at the forefront of the minds of people who are dealing with other inconveniences like, say, their livelihoods going down the tubes because of job losses, crime, crappy schools, and other pesky stuff.

Sometimes, a few U.S. attorneys just seem like small 'taters!

Posted by: Bob S. | March 19, 2007 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Does Deepak cite the exact paper's title? Humans get low blood pressure benefits from petting pets, again probably not something humans evolved for.

It's probably down to release of various hormones (vasopressions, oxytocin) that promote learning, social recognition, trust, and incidentally has a diuretic effect on your kidney and also affects your blood vessels

But this is just an educated guess without reading the paper cited.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Joel. Paleeeze. I don't feel sorry for you one little bit. You have a great job and you know it. You worked hard towards the existance you have with words and columns as did your mom and step-dad with dirt and plants. So what if you sit near a photocopier, you poor thing. And you aren't exactly chained to your flourescent laden desk with all your traveling and carbucking. Get a plant. Maybe a cactus.

We all have our gifts. Your article was too syrupy for me. But on target with gardening season right around the corner. Probably one reason for all the boodlers "on-topic" comments. Which I did like.

Posted by: Random Commenter | March 19, 2007 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Dreamer - I gotta tell you, a Google search for "rabbits healthier fondle" leads down some very strange pathways, including a few references to the study to which you alluded.

I couldn't nail down a study title or date, though one book review said that it was published in "Science" in 1980.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 19, 2007 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Very good story about knots (really):

At the end, it talks about the Lorenz manifold, and the crocheting thereof, with a link to a pdf file full of equations and the crochet pattern. What made me laugh (rather than just be stunned) was when they said:
"From a crocheting point of view, crocheting a model of hyperbolic space is quite simple, as it involves the same crochet stitch and counting to N. Crocheting the Lorenz manifold, on the other hand, requires continuous attention to the instructions in order not to miss when to add or indeed remove
an extra crochet stitch."

Ha - wonder how many skeins I need to crochet hyperbolic space?!?

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 19, 2007 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Good analysis by Howard Kurtz on the attorney story - why it took so long to become big:

He talks about the Walter Reed story too.

I am outraged - and glad that the Democrats took over Congress, because otherwise, Bush would have gotten away with this too (not that he still won't). Republicans are even turning against the administration because they're so incompetent and corrupt. Not sure what can be done, short of impeaching Bush and then Cheney!

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 19, 2007 1:44 AM | Report abuse

It's hot, hot, hot (about 90 F) here near the equator. Yes, I know, it should be hot near the equator but I don't expect to get toasted in March. Middle of the year, maybe. I could use some of your snow but you probably don't have any anymore. I'm being baked medium to well done just going to the bank and restaurant and back to the office. Must be the deforestation on this island and the guilty parties would be Indonesia and Malaysia.

In this area, we can't plant any vegetables and expect to have a good harvest without using insecticide. Some farmers use nettings. I planted some basil last year. I was able to harvest the first batch but not the subsequent ones. Before the leaves were mature enough to be picked the bugs got to it. It was the same with cilantro.

Posted by: rain forest | March 19, 2007 2:23 AM | Report abuse

Patricia Margaret Miller McIlveen Sallisdottir. That sounds like royalty. Royalties have very long names, don't they?

Posted by: rain forest | March 19, 2007 2:45 AM | Report abuse

Nice kit, Joel. I assume you will give it the full "Angela's Ashes" treatment someday? Flesh it out a bit.

Angela's Bean Sprouts?

Just thinking out loud here.

Posted by: ot | March 19, 2007 3:38 AM | Report abuse

Consarn it all!!! A Frozen Four discussion and I wasn't here!!! *stompin feets*


*Grover waves* Morning all!!

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 4:36 AM | Report abuse

And I coulda beena contendah in the garden discussion, too. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 4:51 AM | Report abuse

For the NCAA men's hockey tourney, UNH is the "host" school for its regional games, with the teams playing in Manchester, NH.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 4:58 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all--

Scotty, by all means, share your comments. If you think this is a discussion I'm afraid you are suffering from a slight delusion. It's actually just a collection of comments which sometimes refer to other comments. Oh, yeah, and there's also that "kit" thing and occasionally a comment that refers to it. We're definitely outside the space-time continuum; if you don't believe me just check the time-stamps. Feel free to put your own time-stamps on your comments so that they can be sorted later into the order you wish they had occurred.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 19, 2007 6:02 AM | Report abuse

My grandfather was an officer in the army before and during World War II. After the war, he mustered out and tried his hand as a farmer in south Florida. My dad has several favorite stories from that ill-fated foray into agriculture.

Once he was sent to kill a chicken for dinner. He didn't know to hold the body of the chicken down. After it was beheaded, the headless chicken body ran into the cornfield and his mom had to come out and hunt it down.

They also had a cow named Hamburger. I don't remember its fate. My grandfather eventually rejoined the army and retired a light colonel.

In my childhood, my mom kept a vegetable garden. Our yard had a split rail fence around it with a chicken wire inner layer in a vain attempt to keep our beagle from jumping out. We would plant green beans around the fence poles and they would grow weaved through the chicken wire. One of my jobs was to go out and pick green beans for dinner.

My current townhouse has covenents prohibiting gardens. I assume to prevent the feeding of vermin although there is no shortage of lagomorphs around anyways. We could grow potted tomatos or basil if we cared to, but we don't have a deck to keep them safe from said lagomorphs.

My wife's mother used to grow herbs and vegetables she couldn't buy in US back in the 70s. My wife points them out at the Asian grocery stores where she learns their name for the first time.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 6:12 AM | Report abuse

Morning all. Running for the flight to DC! Boodle to you on Friday.

Posted by: Yoki | March 19, 2007 6:45 AM | Report abuse

I have a sneaking suspicion Yoki will be seen on the Boodle before Friday. :-)

kbert, I'm ALWAYS delusional...

And we had plenty of yard and garden chores growing up. Dad had a good-sized vegetable garden, at least a 1/4 acre. Always had fresh corn, squash, peas, green beans... *SIGH* The strawberries never seemed to make it to the house, however. And the semi-wild raspberry bush eventually took over about half the garden. I can't recall a single time I could mow the lawn near the garden without taking a raspberry break.



Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse

I will NOT SCC the double smile, demmit.

And hey, the server finally caught up!


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It is so cold here. What happened to the heat, the warmth, the sunny days of spring? Did someone ripped them off? If that is the case, please, please, I beg, bring them back! I need coffee. Bad.

Hey, what did you folks do over the weekend, and I mean other than looking at that March madness on television? I mean did you have a life or what? Can it be told in mix company and the Internet of all things? Did you have a great time or was it just, so, so? Was it a time to remember or thinking about it now, are you ashamed? I mean was it just something that was so great you want to do it again or was this weekend more like trying to live through something awful?

Personally, my weekend was what I usually do. I went to church, came home, had dinner with my daughter and the g-girl. Went out for awhile to visit a sick friend. Came back and watched television, and talk to you guys awhile. Called it a night, and back here this morning. I know, I know, sounds boring to tears, but for me, not so. Compared to some weekends in my life, it is gold.

I've never heard one of JA's kits described as "syrupy(sp)". Personally, I think it's a pretty good kit, although with this cold weather maybe a tad early to talk about gardens.

Have much to do this week. New stuff along with the stuff I'm already doing. Busy, busy.

I hope your weekend was good. I am off. Have a good day, folks. I know it's Monday, but try.

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

Morning, Scotty, Slyness, Mudge, and everyone *waving*.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 19, 2007 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Morning all, my little just got up and while I was answering her question I happened to look out the window, the sky on the eastern horizon is a brilliant red, my little one thought the world "was on fire". It is now softening to a bright pinkish orange - so beautiful.

The first colour reminded me of the raspberries I used to sneak from the neighbours plants when I was a kid.

Posted by: dmd | March 19, 2007 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Someone knew of a successful rhubarb plant in NoVA. Oh, how I fantasize on how to do this. Sneak into PA with a forklift. Take a granddaddy-sized rhubarb plant. Zip down 270 back to MD. Plant in the culture that suits most clematis vines: face in the sun, but roots cool by shading branches and perhaps mulch.

I would even lay ice on it, during the high days of August. Oh, the gentle madness of gardeners.....but rhubarb pie, topped with vanilla ice cream from the Terp Creamery. Now we can die and go to heaven.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

College Parkian... You WILL share!

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Casandra and all.

Since you asked about my weekend, I spent it driving between Ellicott City and College Park. My son had a two day seminar on botball. He is taking an engineering class where they enter two different competitions. Since the Mars Rover walker competition got cancelled at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, that freed him up for both days of the botball training. It seems this year, the bots have to be able to recognize color.

After Saturday's session, we took him to Charlie Palmer's in DC as a good grade reward. Since my wife had the surf and turf, I'm not sure who was reaping the benefit. For dessert I got talked into the Grand Marnier flight. It is a shot each of Grand Marnier Classic, 100 year old, and 150 year old versions. I figured when else will have a chance to drink something that was fermented before Lincoln was elected.

I let my son drive home since three shots of GM on top of a glass of Pinot Noir and a snifter of amaretto was not a good example.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I am getting worked up about planting this season as I now have some serious space for a garden. The question is: how far do I take it? How much preparation will I do?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Wait a minute Yellojkt!!! Who got the grades? Seems you won out!!!

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Sharing pie keeps one from wearing pie.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Please have a safe trip, Yoki.
We'll see you Wednesday (yay!).

Goodr morning, all.

Cassandra. I would have to agree with Bob S; perhaps a lot of the country is not taking the Gonzales situation seriously, but oh, my gosh, here in/around DC, I haven't had a conversation with *anyone* over the past week where that didn't come up at one point or another. I hope you have a good day, too.

My mom's got rasberries at her place, they're wonderful. I have strawberries at mine. Darn shame I'm allergic to them.


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Shhhh! He might catch on. The boy likes filet mignon and its the only thing we have found to motivate him in his weaker classes. I did make him take a sip of the 150GM. He was not impressed.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Where do I wear the piece of Pie?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I see... Yjkt. I now know that you are much smarter than I... that is why kids get to drive.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I had a garden when we first married. One evening, she asked me to get some okra as it was on the dinner menu. As I carefully washed it, I asked if she wanted me to peel it before I cut it up to be fried. It took an inordinate amount of time to get her off the floor and stop laughing.

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

My parents started a garden when I was a teenager. They got into the organic thing, which really stunk, because from their quest for being one with nature, it somehow became my job to bury the potato peels, watermellon rhynes, egg shells, fish bones..., Yuck! I have too many memories of bringing a nasty, dripping, rotten bag of mush out to the garden and using a posthole digger to dig a hole to plant this shtuff...

Then I had to eat those stupid zucchinis raw of all things, (it was the only thing my parents could grow), My mom said that cooking them destroyed the vitamins.

Oh, and the bean sprouts. something else I had to eat. Something about it that made it "free" food, and diabetics could eat as much of these things as they wanted.

My mom will never live it down though. She gets a little embarrassed when she hears me tell my own kids that I survived the difficult years by eating raw zucchini, bean sprouts, and took on the role of the family garbage boy.

Posted by: Pat | March 19, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

dmd, you should be crowing this am, your Ravens just won (again!) the Canustani college basketball championship. Won't be easy to six-peat next year witout Oswaldo.

Wilbrod, the dog can be trained to go around borders and garden plots, but relapses are frequent when caught in a rabbit or squirrel chase. The digging of precious hostas and other periennals and wild running that comes with puppyhood are a few of the things that keeps me wondering about getting a new dog to replace the aging giant lab.

Rhubard does best in cooler climates but if you keep it well fertilized and moist in the growing season it may take the NoVa weather. In the fall, I dig up a doughnut around each the plants (2) and fill it with rotten manure or compost . The quick growth in June is harvested and keeps us in rhubarb all year. The stuff that is growing in hot weather if tough and not really edible.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 19, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra... good morning! Thanks for asking about my weekend. I spent a wonderful Sunday with my daughter: running errands, a little shopping (always at the discount stores) and then we saw a movie: Music & Lyrics, with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.

I thought the movie was delightful. We weren't looking for classic literature. Hugh Grant plays a 1980s has-been rocker (the hit band Pop!, a thinly disguised Wham!). The words and music in the movie were written by Adam Schlesinger, one of my favorite writers, producers, recording artists. It was a lot of predictable fun.

But just spending time with The Girl was the best part. Silly talk at lunch. Spending about $30 for 7 things for her at Rugged Warehouse.

Come to think of it: we spent Saturday together as well, building a dresser together from Ikea. That's always fun!

I hope your week goes well Cassandra... and the rest of you, too. Me? I'm having dinner with a special guest tonight!

Posted by: TBG | March 19, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Regarding raspberries. I spent every summer between the ages of 11 and 16 picking raspeberries for a Welsh gentleman who had a farm up the street. We wore cardboard punchcards on strings around our neck to record the number of raspberry "flats" we had picked. The number of cards you filled was second only to the perpetual stain on your hand as an indicator of raspberry picking prowess.

If you worked the whole season you earned a seasonal bonus - which for the first few years greatly exceeded my base earnings. All of which end up being blown at the State Fair in September.

Everytime I see a pint of raspberries in the market I still think of wooden rollercoasters.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Shrieking, too bad the only things Carleton teams won when I attended was drinking contests! Actually we may have ruled in water polo if I remember correctly which is doubtful as I spent a good deal of the time in Olivers practising with the athletes :-).

Posted by: dmd | March 19, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

In late February as the Florida strawberry season wound to a close, many fields would open up to U-Pickers for about 25 cents a pint. My mom would drag us out and we would pick about ten dollars worth. What couldn't be eaten in a week would get frozen and every January we would have strawberry shortcake for dessert every night so that the freezer would be empty enough for the upcoming season.

The problem with relying on a teenager as a designated driver is that they have a very short shelf life.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

All this talk about garden and gardening makes me anxious to get started on mine.That is as soon as the snow melts.

2 days before spring and the morning temp was a chilly 17,but things are looking up we are at 21 now.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 19, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Pat, it all comes down to how thin you have to cut something to make it edible. Or the solution to any such problem: ranch dressing.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Accordign to Wikipedia (and why would it lie), Grand Marnier 150, aka Cuvée Speciale Cent Cinquantenaire, is made from cognacs that are only 50 year old. I have half a mind to go demand my buzz back.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

GM 150... you add up the ages, as opposed to raising them to the power, I think, yellojkt.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Boodlers with young ones, a bit of space and minimal skills can build the House of Beans. Four 2x2 stakes planted 2ft in the ground about 6 ft apart are linked by four 2x2 at the top. Then, some 6"x6" plastic netting sold by roll of 6'x20' is strung on three sides and the top. The netting is best weaved on the top beams but stapling it works too. Seed Scarlet Runner beans, the tasty Anellino in green and yellow varieties, the beautiful purple beans, the new pink runners and/or any other quick growing pole beans around three sides of the house in narrow trenches filled with a rich soil. I would add a couple of those Chinese 2' beans in the mix. By June the spawns of Boodler will be plotting the overtaking of the household in their own House of Beans.
A Wall of Bean can be made the same way if the 2x2 with the woven netting is suspended under the eaves. Be careful with that ladder.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 19, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Three all-purpose condiments:

Ranch dressing
pico de gallo

One of these three can make anything edible.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Or not, yellojkt... I was having dinner at a good Mexican restaurant and ordered some guacamole. About 10 bites in, I hit a pocket of what I swear was wasabi.

Nope, NO idea how that got there.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

When I was a kid, we were allowed to eat as much rhubarb as we wanted. Mom had some fine plants that were red or pinky through the middle, and then we had some that was green in the middle. It was easy to pick the right stuff. The green was very very sour. She would give us a cup with a bit of sugar in the bottom and we dip and crunch to our hearts delight.

One of the things I love to do is make jam. I generally am a barely tolerable cook, but I can make great jam. I love the way a shelf looks filled with all the bright colours of the rainbow at the end of summers jam season. Its a lot of work, picking, cleaning and then making it, but its really rewarding to open a jar and slather it on fresh buttered homemade bread.

I just realized I forgot my breakfast this morning.

Posted by: dr | March 19, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to the Ravens.
dmd | Olivers? I only imbibed in Mike's Place, there was a better class of rabble.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

tabbouleh... will save almost any sandwich. Or Horseradish. No one will have a clue what is on that baby.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

What might be the only wasabi farm in the US is near the Oregon coast, in the vicinity of Florence.

Ketchup used to be considered the perfect condiment because it combined all the basic tastes--sweet, sour, salty, maybe a bit bitter, and umami (meaty/mushroomy, from the tomatoes). I think it's been overtaken by chili pepper. Could chili-hot be yet another basic "taste"?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Snuke, you have to have a certain sense of humor in the kitchen ... and a resume handy.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

dr - we did the same thing with rhubarb in the Pacific Northwest. My mom used to make great jam from the many berries that grow in that area. Blueberry, huckleberry, blackberry and raspberry, but never rhubarb - this is a shame because it sounds great.

I make jam from the Concord grapes that grow in my back yard. Most years this works well, but this year something went horribly awry. Let's just say if anyone wants some tasty grape-syrup, well, I got lots.

I see my other screen is filling up with red indicators. Days like this I, like Joel, miss working outdoors.

I wonder if that Welshman is still hiring raspberry pickers. And what his 401K plan looks like.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

TBG, my daughter and I really enjoyed "Music and Lyrics." Only one scene that made me slightly uncomfortable in front of her...otherwise we laughed and laughed. I love a good chick flick and it was especially welcome because I watched "The Departed" and "Flags of Our Fathers" last week. Neither one was light-hearted fare. I've never been a Leo DeCaprio fan, but he was very compelling in the movie.

Posted by: Kim | March 19, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt, I beg to differ.

If you want to render almost any organic substance edible, you don't need 3 condiments, you need a bowl of batter and a deep fryer.


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Shrieking wrote: "The quick growth in June is harvested and keeps us in rhubarb all year. The stuff that is growing in hot weather is tough and not really edible."

Here in the frozen north that wisdom was translated as "rhubarb is inedible after July 4." Imagine my surprise when it was not only edible, but divine, at the farmers' market in Carlisle, PA right up until a hard frost. We ate 2 rhubarb pies a week from mid-July, when we arrived in town, until the harvest trickled to a close the first week of October.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

bc, so say the Japanese, but I have found a few exceptions.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

bc, was that Butgler U., as in little tiny Butler of Indianapolis, IN? Alma mater of ScienceGrandpa and his Uncle Chet? And also, alma mater of the Reverend Jim Jones?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 19, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Okay, that's why I usually remember to use the Preview function. Butgler? Butler, I think.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 19, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

We always had backyard gardens growing up wherever we had a back yard, but the kids were never put to work as this was the 'rents hobby.

Once walking home from the pool afriend and I took a shortcut through someones yard and he reached down into some bushes and pulled out a couple of stalks of what to me looked like pink celery. Oh man did I fall in love with rhubarb on the spot.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Dolphin, ranch dressing! Although I don't think it was commercially available until the mid 80s.

I put salsa on everything. Suppose it's like ketchup, or catsup whatever that is, but more chunky. Sometimes I'll have a bowl of salsa for lunch.

I do like zucchinis, but the problem with them is that 6 plants can feed an entire city block for the entire year.

Now blackberries:
I grew up in Woodbridge VA, and huge patches of blackberries grew in empty lots, even along the side of the road. Big, fat, juicey ones too, and they were super sweet. I didn't know that blackberries could be tart until I bought a frozen bag of them at the grocery store.

Posted by: Pat | March 19, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Kim... what I loved about the Hugh Grant character in that movie is that he KNEW he was an 80's has-been and just went with the flow. He had no delusions about himself. I thought that was kind of refreshing!

Posted by: TBG | March 19, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

SciTim-it is indeed Butler of Indianaoplis. Butler is a "mid-major" but if you believe their athletic department's web site they are ready to shed that image. Not too sure about that. This is their first tournament appearance since '03.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

bc sez: "If you want to render almost any organic substance edible, you don't need 3 condiments, you need a bowl of batter and a deep fryer."
... and some ranch dressing to dip it in.

I don't think I disagree here.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

6 zuchinni plants... almost as dangerous to your health (mental) as 6 dope plants.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt, sort of like my quest to find more things with which I can eat sour cream.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Thai cuisine may include deep fried insects... I guess you might use a side dish of ranch dressing.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Really most things that may seem inedible can be eaten,but all you really need is something to wash it down.

Preferably something in the alcoholic nature,or a "chaser" if wish to call it that.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 19, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Hugh Grant is wonderful, almost always, I think. He's been in a few clunkers, well, more than a few, I guess.

Posted by: Kim | March 19, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Zuchini, mostly blah for me. There should be a law that before you are allowed to plant zuchini in a home garden you must ask family, friends and colleagues if they LIKE zuchini. Only after reaching a certain 'magic' number of yes reponses are you given a permit to plant.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

That goes for eggplant and squash as well.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

The trick with zucchini, or cougettes as the Brits call them, is to thin out the hill to ONE plant. But then it's tempting to add a plant of yellow crookneck summer squash on the next hill. And a plant of summer acorn squash. And a plant of miniature 8-ball zucchini to make the delicious Italian delicacy of fried squash flowers with the tiny fruit attched. So basically you are back with the three-foot-long-10lbs-zucchini problem.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 19, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

SCC, cougettes that is. Sheesh

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 19, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The reason I say what I say is I once worked with a women who every year would grow boatloads of one of those vegetables and bring them into work and beg her colleagues to take a few off her hands.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Right on, Shrieking Denizon, please pick those babies before they reach 10 inches. Love making stuffed squash flowers. ... herbs and goat cheese. MMMMMmmmm.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Lest we forget, everything's better with Blue Bonnet on it. *sing*

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

re-SCC courgettes

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 19, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

She would also grow boatloads of tomatoes and corn every year, but would never bring those in.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I liked "Music and Lyrics" for the dead-on 80s music parodies. My wife drags me to every romantic comedy starring either Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts. Needless to say, "Notting Hill" is one of her favorite movies ever.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Jack, I would go with the Scotch Bonnet

Posted by: Dolphin Miguel | March 19, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

omni, I believe the issue is quotas. Home grown tomatoes are required if you even THINK about bringing in the others.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

It is a little known fact that the total number of zuchinni, the so-called "Z number" is a universal constant despite the efforts of people everywhere to give the stuff away.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Kim, I hear you on being uncomfortable at the movies... Went to see "Wild Hogs" with my daughter a few weeks ago. Wish I'd known in advance about the language and content. *SIGH*


And I don't think Google Ads is all that confused today:

Arthroscopic Back Surgery
Gentle, outpatient procedure 90%+ effective for spine problems.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I wound up taking one of her squashes one year and was racking my brain on how to prepare this in such a manner as I would find edible. I finally had a brain storm: I made the homemade cheese sauce I use in my macaroni and cheese recipe and made a caserole. I actually liked it.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Dolphin Michael, Where you wear your pie can depend on genetics.

Some people apply pie directly to their hips; others prefer pie applied to the tummy.

Pie seldom goes to the shoulders or to the upstairs-below-the-neck region in the fair sex.

Pie wearing happens, but not always in the right places.

But pie in the sky, when you die, or so the song says. I am a believer. Heaven is a picnic and God looks a lot like Paul Prudhomme mixed with Julia Child.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

haha scotty, took me a moment

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

CP, that sounds like a Pie-saster for the fair sex. Why can't JUST ONE THING be as easy as pie--eating go straight to the "you know whats" rather than elsewhere.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 19, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I had to re-read this about seven times to make sure it wasn't from the "Onion":


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

That is a pretty drastic way to get a seat upgrade. But if it works...

Funny that coach/cattlecar is fine for the living, but not comfortable enough for the dead.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

This really is a great kit. Like for so many others, it brings back memories of childhood.

We didn't really have a farm, just a few acres in what would now be called the exurbs. But at one time or another we raised pumpkins, apples, rhubarb, corn, tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, potatoes, squash, strawberries, peas, sunflowers, cucumbers, and lettuce. Mom canned tomatoes and beans, and made jams and jellies. (That all stopped when she finally got her long-sought-after freezer.) We had a few chickens (for eggs only) for several years.

The fond memories were: corn on the cob that was only 20 minutes from the stalk; fleshy tomatoes that tasted like candy; picking out my Halloween pumpkins from the field. The not-so-fond memories involve endless weeding in the hot sun and probably account for the fact that I refused to garden until Raysdad lured me back to it.

We now have our small suburban patch (maybe 6 x 15) that produces tomatoes, green beans, and peppers. It's always a sad day when we consume the last of the tomatoes harvested before the first frost. We've also converted every area of our lawn that refused to grow grass (there are many) into perennial gardens.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 19, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

So that's the sorry state of air transport in the 21rst century, one has to die to be upgraded to business class.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 19, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Cassandra; you sound reasonably cheerful this morning, which is good to hear. About my weekend: working backwards, spent Sunday down at the River House working on tile in the bathroom and hanging one of the kitchen cabinets. (Major discovery: 60-year-old men not in good shape shouldn't be hanging cabinets.) Working on that house is going to kill me one of these days. The good news is we had my wife's chicken suiss enchiladas for dinner--her best recipe. After dinner I watched "The Departed" with my son (guy bonding) for the second time, and went to bed early.

Now, Saturday: Did the usual Saturday morning chores (took household trash to the landfill, went to Lowe's to buy a 1/4-inch drill bit, took shirts to Safeway for dry-cleaning, and to shop: see below), and worked on installing new shelf system into hall closet beside the new wine rack. However, the piece-de-resistance was this: I successfully conducted my new cherry pie recipe experiment, twice. Here it is:

Curmudgeon's Puckerlicious Four-Cherry Filo-Lattice-Top Cherry Pie

1 can (20 oz.) Comstock cherry pie filling
1 can (15 oz.) Safeway brand Red Ruby cherries for pie filling (packed in water)
1 can (14.5 oz.) Oregon brand Bing cherries (packed in water)
1 can (14.5 oz.) Oregon brand Royal Anne cherries (packed in water)
1/2 cup RealLime brand concentrated lime juice
1 tablespoon real butter, divided
2 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
fraction (1/4?) of one package of filo dough, slightly thawed
2 store-bought pie shells*

* Purists among you will protest the use of store-bought pie shells, but the object of the experiment wasn't about the crust, it was about the innards and the top. The recipe already contains three and a half different experimental variables; adding a fourth (4th and a halfth) wouldn't have proven anything, and would have only made life harder. You can certainly make these pies with your own pie crust formulae, as you see fit.

In this case, I used two different pie shells: one a conventional pie crust, in a 2" deep-dish style, and the second a graham-cracker crust. At the end of the day, I'd say the graham-cracker crust was good, but the deep-dish was better.

Now, the procedure:

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees; have two cookie sheets standing by (one for each pie, or bake them sequentially, as you prefer). Remove filo dough packeage from freezer and allow to thaw for a few minutes.

2) In a (very) large bowl place the Comstock cherry pie filling. Open the three cans of the other cherries and drain the water/juice (either discard the juice, or combine them and put them in a zip-lock baggie and freeze it, like I did; I'll use the juice later to glaze a pork loin). Put the DRAINED cherries in the bowl. Add 1/2 cup of RealLime lime juice, and stir gently, blending all together.

(Now, a little necessary theory: this experiment [Experiment #1] had four points.

First, one of the problems with conventional store-bought cherry pies is there is often an excess of the (sickeningly sweet) jelly glop and not enough actual cherries. I wanted a high-density pie filling that held its shape and didn't run out when you cut a slice and plated it. I acheived this by using only the one can of Comstock filling with its gloop, which was sufficient glue to hold the other three cans of cherries together in a very nice ratio of cherries-to-gloop.

Second, cherry pies tend to feature only one type of cherry, which is usually an artificial red color signifying a cherry not normally found in nature. And I like Royal Anne cherries, and wondered why no one makes a pie out of them.

Third, I wondered about the interesting aesthetics of having four different colors of cherries mixed together; by and large, I think this was successful. I considered adding some marischino cherries for a fifth type and a fifth color, but didn't want to push my luck, and I was concerned about how they'd bake. Maybe next time.

Fourth but not least, Yoki and several others had a discussion a week or two ago about sour cherries and sour cherry pie. I wanted to make a sour cherry pie but lacked for one minor little ingredient: uh...sour cherries, which aren't in season. So I wanted to see if I could "induce" some pucker factor where none previously existed. [The Safeway canned cherries were slightly "tart" -- per the label -- to begin with, but not remotely close enough to what I wanted. So from the very beginning the notion of adding a juice to the mix was a given. I pondered whether to use lemon juice or lime juice, and instinct just told me lime juice was correct. I can't tell you why, but lime juice pairs with cherries and lemon I don't think does. YMMV. I started with 1/4 cup of lime juice and tasted the filling, which didn't register much difference. Adding another 1/4 cup was just right, and I might even consider another tablespoon or so next time around [I have not yet discovered the upper boundary where there is too much lime juice; I'm sure it exists, but I haven't found it].

In sum, Experiement #1 was the proof-of-concept experiment, and whether it was just luck or not I don't know, but it worked out just about perfectly. Some days ya just live right and the Shade of Julia Child looks over your shoulder approvingly and says (in that tune-cootie voice), "Curmudgeon, I think you've got it.".]

Back to the instructions:

3) Put half the filling mixture in each pie crust (licking the spoon afterward is optional, but you'd be a damn fool not to). There is enough for two full pies.

4) Unroll or unfold the filo dough so that there are half a dozen or however many layers of dough on top of each other. Using a paring knife (or better yet, one of those crimping rolling cutters, if you have one), cut strips of filo dough approx. 3/4 of an inch wide and place on top of 2" deep-dish pie, alternating strips in lattice fashion (each strip should have about 6 or 8 layers of filo).

5) Melt two tablespoons of butter in microwave for 30 seconds. Using a pastry brush, generously paint melted butter on top of filo strip lattice and any exposed edges around the deep-dish pie. Sprinkle lattic with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamom.

6) Bake for 45 minutes or until filo is nicely browned and puffy/crispy. Let cool thourghly before serving.

7) For the graham-cracker pie: Take two thin sheets of filo dough and separate, so they dry out. (Replace remainder of filo dough in wrapper and replace in freezer as soon as possible, so it doesn't dry out. You have to work fast with filo.) Over top of G-C pie pilling, crumble up filo dough sheets to create a thin topping. Generously dab melted butter on top of filow crumbs/shards. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamom. Bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool thoroughly before serving.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

The plane thing is too weekend at Bernie's for me. Coffee, tea or..aaaaaaggggghhhhhh

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I know, S'nuke...the ratings system is not reliable. Some of the PG-13's really should be rated R. I usually research pretty carefully before I let the kids see them although my son is 16 now so I'm trying to loosen the reins a little. My daughter, the June bug, is almost 14 and thinks she 21 and feels that she should be able to watch anything she wants. I was completely burned by "Anchorman" a couple of years ago. It looked funny in the commercials, I had seen Ferrell in "Elf" and nothing else, so I thought that was what I was getting. My stars, what a nightmare. Pure and utter nightmare.

Posted by: Kim | March 19, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

And I loved "Notting Hill" yellojkt, you can't tell me you didn't like it.

Posted by: Kim | March 19, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I really don't get worked up about adult content in movies. I took my son and a friend ( both were then 15) to "Harold and Kumar" which has more glaucoma medicine jokes that anything this side of Cheech and Chong. I spent last Friday evening shuttling him and some friends around to theaters so they could sneak into "300".

I told him the only R-rated movies allowed in the house are Kevin Smith movies, which are a pretty raunchy language-wise, but timid with the heavy breathing stuff. Once when my dad visited, he popped "Mallrats" in the VCR and I was more embarrassed having my dad in the room than my son.

A friend used to have a rule governing watching R-rated comedies with his kids. They could watch, but if they laughed, they had to explain the joke. It kept them quiet.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Mostly, that article on knots is fascinating. Doilies connect to all kinds of things!

Posted by: dr | March 19, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Turns out the gnome wasn't worried about me being injured or otherwise impeded by the garden. Apparently if a fence goes up around it, I'll be suspected if it gets mysterious yellowish water on the outer side.

Poor Pat, you weren't allowed to use the stove to cook anything? Me too.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 19, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The daughter is 17 and can go to any movie the authorities will allow. "Adult content" makes her more uncomfortable than I, but like her brother before her she's on a horror/slasher kick that is most revolting. Money earned at the job, after car insurance, college savings, wardrobe savings, IRA savings, and contributions to the family cell phone plan, may be used for tickets to such movies. This has been a very effective form of rationing.

I control the Netflix queue and am hearing rumblings of revolt against the documentaries and foreign films that occupy positions 2-10 on the list. Must throw them a bone with an action flick before I order Raid, the Finnish detective series.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I do like "Notting Hill", but my wife throws things at me when she is in tears and I start doing the "I'm just a girl..." speech in synch with Julia.

The PG-13/R/NC-17 rules are very Talmudic but easy once you can figure it the trigger boundaries. Always assume a movie is pushing the limit. No one adds stuff just to get a worse rating ("Star Wars" and "Snakes on a Plane are the rule-proving exceptions), but movies are frequently trimmed to just make the next level down.

PG-13: Brief non-sexual nudity allowed. Heavy petting, rolling under sheets allowed. "Crazy/Beautiful" pushed that boundary hardest in recent memory.

One George Carlin word allowed. See the first scene of "Be Cool" for a movie that shoots that wad early and cleverly.

Unlimited sexual innuendo or scatological humor.

R: Anything goes sexually as long as it is hetero or "tasteful" gay (meaning girl on girl is tolerated much more than guy on guy). Flaccid male frontal nudity is allowed.

Any actual penetration or non-traditional acts will earn an NC-17. John Waters' "A Dirty Shame" go an NC-17 for shear crudeness despite no actual sexual content.

No level of violence or gruesomeness has ever gotten an NC-17.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I like to draw knots. They're relaxing. Maybe I SHOULD learn crocheting aka "knot sculpture".

But wouldn't I get crotchety before I'm old?

Omni-- I like zucchini. They are watery and bland, yes.
You can cook them lightly in light thai-type vegetable/meat soups. You can also make zucchini bread, which I really, really like; the spices used are similar to pumpkin pie or gingerbread.

Or cook them until the slices are limp and partially dissolved in (garlic) butter. They also are decent cooked this way with onions and other vegetables.

Basically, their blandness means you can use them as filler in almost any highly flavorful recipe, no worries. I've even put a bit in chicken cacciatore and other stews.

But yes, nobody should grow zucchini unless they're prepared to eat lots of it when in season.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

The people in the early morning meetings were the ones to lose their jobs. My husband lost his job, but it looks like he'll be able to stay on with Wachovia for a year before his severance package kicks in--he assumes. Another co-worker is assuming 60 days, but all will be made clear with one-on-one meetings with employees later this week.

Since Loomispouse travels to Philly for three days at the end of this week for the quarterly disaster recovery drill, his one-on-one will be this afternoon. All the details will be made evident then

Life changes. Life moves on. But the bricks in the walkway to the two back patios haven't been laid into the ground long enough to even have changed color yet.

He worked about 14 hours on Thurday, about 16 hours on Friday and went into work for six hours on Sunday. I have literally had to do about 90 percent of the spring yardwork myself. I have been at it now for about eight days straight--I feel like I have been at a budget weight-loss spa--and there is a lot that remains to be done.

All the hard, hard work will make the house show better. I better get back out to raking up the piles of live oak leaves and the pruning--I need to let this mammoth life change sink in for a bit.

Posted by: Loomis | March 19, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, good luck through the changes ahead.

Posted by: dmd | March 19, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

A squash breeder pointed out to me that squash (including zucchini) is one of the world's most popular vegetables partly because the plants bear so heavily and reliably. If you live in a poor country, a zucchini plant is a nice thing to have.

A consequence is that there's an incredible variety of recipes. I recently ran into a new Taiwanese product--a big reclosable can of "pumpkin snow" that you can stir into a soup or sauce as a thickener.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

My mom always planted (and still does) too much zucchini. She also wasn't 100% diligent in harvesting it. Inevitably, we'd end up with one of those 2' x 10" green dirigibles. Being a child of the Depression, she just could let those things "go to waste." Shudder... But my brother and brother-in-law put one to good use as target practice. Spectacular sight.

She makes a casserole of the things using tomato sauce and mozarella, sort of an eggplant-parm derivative. It's not too bad, as zucchini goes.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 19, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, zucchini cakes/muffin/bread are banned in my house as they are zucchini multiplyers. These recipes use half a small squash to create an abundance of food, that is NOT good. Squash potage is the real squash killer. It uses lots of fruit while you add only some broth, potatoes for thickening and oignon and chervil/parsley for taste. It works well with crookneck and zucchinis as well. It freezes very well, if it separates upon thawing just beat-it up with a whisk. I make at least a dozen family-sized serving of each every year. It makes a convenient vegetable serving during the winter months. It will forever be known as "yellow soup" and "green soup" in the Denizen family.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 19, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Best of luck, LindaLoo.

yellojkt, there were MANY Carlin words in "Wild Hogs." Many more than NukeSpawn hears when I'm driving. "Unlimited sexual innuendo," indeed.

At least there weren't embarassing questions afterwards. Waitaminit...



Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

May you hear something like "one year" today.

I guess Wachovia, like the NCNB portion of Bank of America, became a big bank partly because North Carolina was one of the first states to allow statewide branch banking. The result was that by 1970, N.C., a poor state lacking an Atlanta-style big city, had big banks offering sophisticated services like ATMs and credit cards back around 1970.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Squash is the joke in the family. Several summers ago, when I had both my daughters and the older daughter's best friend at home, I grew yellow squash and we had it for supper every night for weeks. It really did get to be funny. Now when all the kids are home to supper, I make a squash casserole. They love to laugh about it.

My favorite easy way to cook squash (works for zucchini or any summer squash):

Split the squash lengthwise and prick holes on the cut side with a fork. Coat cut side with butter or olive oil and sprinkle with grated Parmesean cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven till cheese is melted and squash is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot!

Loomis, good luck with the changes! Will the husband be allowed to apply for other jobs within the company?

Posted by: Slyness | March 19, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

We only got through 2 of the 8 Mel Brooks movies this weekend. First we watched The Twelve Chairs, which I'd never heard of before. It's actually a 1920's story of the search for the jewels a man's mother sewed into one of their 12 dining chairs at the time of the Russian Revolution. It's not your typical Mel Brooks laugh-riot, but pretty well done.

Then, on to the Nth viewing of Blazing Saddles.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 19, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Just in off the e-mail wire:

A study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry has revealed that the kind of face a woman finds attractive on a man can differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle.

For example: If she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features.

However, if she is menstruating, or menopausal, she tends to be more attracted to a man with duct tape over his mouth and a spear lodged in his chest while he is on fire.

No further studies are expected.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, what Dave said. Hope you get the best possible news.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 19, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Canadian Content Alert:
Does anyone else think the Conservatives will put a poison pill into today's budget and trigger an election?

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, so many times I catch myself saying, "Oh Lordy, you're so strict" and I fancy that it is a good imitation of Dom Deluise (sp?) in The Twelve Chairs. It was him, wasn't it? It must have been 25 yrs ago that I saw that movie.

Posted by: Kim | March 19, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Good luck Loomis. Would thinking of all the hard work around the house as asset polishing help?

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

S'nuke, too funny. I really enjoyed that visual.
Lindaloo, yes, I hope the news is good. You've definitely had a tough time here.

Posted by: Kim | March 19, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Did someone mention knots? How about the Lorenz Manifold:

Another cool site:

Click on one the links and an image of the knot comes up that you can manipulate (rotate in 3d) with your mouse.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Nah, Boko, Stephen is still trying to be everyone's friend. Polls are too close for him to pull a stupid move like that, of course its politics so all bets are off.

Posted by: dmd | March 19, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Got those links from this really cool article in the post:

Funny thing is, no mention of 'Mudge. I mean he's the oldest sailor in the world, surely he's invented a few useful knots in his time that deserve to be named after the umbrage drawer open if you need any Mudge.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, would trying 'Mudge's Faux Sour Cherry Pie extravaganza help?

Good luck with all the changes.

Mudge, now can you find a substitute for rhubarb -- celery, lime juice, the left over gloop from the Comstock Cherry Pie filling can?

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, when I got diagnosed with diabetes at 8 years old, the diet life I had once enjoyed went right down the tubes. I did learn to cook oatmeal shortly afterwards and I could flavor it with 12 peanuts and 12 raisans. Counted them out.

And my mom went on a all natural kick and tortured me with food. She bought huge boxes of soybean something or another and then the spanish rice tasted almost as good as the dry dogfood that I fed to our pet german shepard.

My typical lunch I brought to school consisted of a tomato, wheat germ, pea soup, carot sticks, and for protein... a can of sardines.

One day, I sneezed while I was making my bowl of wheat germ, and there went the carbohydrate portion of my lunch. poof!

Yes, I had problems making friends at lunch.

Posted by: Pat | March 19, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear about the LoomisSpouse predicament, Loomis. What's even worse is he worked 36 hours on Thursday, Friday and Sunday--and then they say they don't need him. Jeez. Wachovia sounds like a good company NOT to work for. Glad I don't bank there.

Mostly, that was a pretty good article about knots. As a veteran nautical type person, I've spent I-don't-know-how-many hours/days/weeks poring over the Ashley Book of Knots, especially in my callow youth, either as a Cub/Boy/Explorer Scout (Scouts are--or at least used to be--very big on knot-tying) as well as a novice sailor. My father (WWII Navy veteran) taught my brother and me a dozen or so knots when we were kids, the usual most-common types for sailors: sheet bends, hitches, splices, and the ordinary sheepshank and monkey's fist, etc. I've forgotten a lot of the fancier ones, but still use half a dozen routinely on my boat (you can't own a boat and NOT know at least six or eight kinds of knots; you can't "shoelace" your boat to the dock). I'm not very interested in the crocetting thing or the lace, but I have to disagree about the Lorenz Manifold knot: that thing, whatever it is, isn't a single knot; it's 25,000 of them, and other than a fairly boring design (to my eye, anyway), it has no utility whatsoever, and to me very little eye appeal. It appears to have a high degree of mathematical structure in it: that's just swell, Is suppose, but it won't hold a fender to my bow rail nor keep my pants from falling down. It wouldn't even make a good front-door mat. I don't care if it took that woman 85 hours to make it. It may or may not be either interesting or useful, according to the eye of the beholder, but to call it a knot is ridiculous.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I only plant yellow zucchini because it's easier to spot them, so I'm not so likely to end up with any the size of my thigh. I've cut back to one hill of two plants this year, after years of growing about 100 times as many as needed.

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 19, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Almost forgot: Another Australian holiday: Canberra Day. Happy day all you Aussies out there.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Emma Leigh DiVito 4/29/89 - 3/16/07
God Speed Emma

Posted by: first_timer | March 19, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Oops, sorry mostly I didn't see your link.

Posted by: omnioops | March 19, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, best of luck, though luck might not be the right word. You are right, life moves on, and who knows what the heck is on the other side. May it be bountiful. May it be better than what was.

Posted by: dr | March 19, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Keep your spirits up, LindaLoo, and look at these changes as a growth opportunity. I admire you for toiling in the yard for such a long time.

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, sorry to hear the news. But sometimes not knowing is more stressful than finding out.

Good luck with everything. May the next step be even better!

Posted by: TBG | March 19, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

first_timer... that's a heartbreaking post. I'm very sorry.

Posted by: TBG | March 19, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I hope things work out for you and LoomisSpouse.

Scotty, re, your 10:42 - I've heard some people say they'd rather die than fly coach.

Mudge, is there any of that pie left?

Now, I need to read that knotty article...


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

TBG, Thanks. She was a close family friend.

Posted by: first_timer | March 19, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

first_timer, my condolences.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

first_timer, she's my son's age. I'll give him an extra squeeze today when I see him.

Posted by: TBG | March 19, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Actually, bc, I'm a bit worried about those two pies. When I went up to the kitchen this morning there were about three unaccounted-for slices missing. Unfortunately, not only is cherry pie MY favorite, it is also my son's favorite. And he's one of those 5'11", skinny, hollow-leg types that eats six times what an ordinary human can eat, has the metabolism of a hummingbird, and never gains an ounce. (I could kill him just for that metabolism alone.) Methinks I should have locked the pies in the refrigerator in the garage--and it's too late now.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

first_timer, I hope happy memories bring you some comfort.

Posted by: Kim | March 19, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about your loss, first_timer. All deaths are tragic, but the lost potential of young people is doubly sad.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks everyone, Emma touched alot of people and she'll be greatly missed.

Posted by: first_timer | March 19, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

first_timer, I'm sorry to read about Emma.

If it will help to talk about her here, please do. If not, I understand.


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I tried calling Loomispous to get more scuttlebutt (sp?). He's not at his desk at the lunch hour, so must wait. If there is a position for a World Savings employee in the "new" Wachovia, Loomispouse and others at the campus are using the new group vocabulary or euphemism--the term "mapped." For example, "She got mapped to a position at Wachovia, but I didn't get mapped." Or "Nobody who attended the 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. meeting got mapped."

What the heck does cartography have to do with it? Is there a shoreline or a mountain range or a large inland body of water involved in the current situation, I ask? A navigable river, an inlet, a peninsula, an isthmus, a prairie, a desert?

We know that the California (former) HQ Oakland group had their meetings and got the news last week. The projection was that 25 percent would get mapped to new positions. One of the network guys in the system group here in Texas works with people in Califonia frequently and the hearsay he unearthed, Loomispouse learned this weekend, is that only 15 percent in Califonia kept their jobs or were mapped-say 29 or 30 out of 190. (Will my husband's departure be hastened by my blogging this?)

We have always known that when we leave this house and/or Texas, it would be a vast dimunition of lifestyle. By law here, you can obtain only one yard sale permit per quarter. If I hold them, they will be whoppers.

But by the same token, Microsoft will build a large data center only a few stones' throw from the old World campus. One of my husband's co-workers slipped him a job notice after his 9 a.m. meeting for a senior AIX position for Wachovia San Antonio, the co-worker thinking my husband would qualify and should apply. Why not retain my husband instead of opening up a slot for one of the areas in which he is already currently working? That makes no sense, to me at least. And yes, Mudge, at times Loomispouse works many many hours in a day, or a run of days.

This weekend, we spent $50 for some new plants that I will probably put in the ground tomorrow. Recent purchases I made seem foolish now in retrospect--some new placemats, beverage glasses, and votive holders for the year-old outdoor dining patio, as yet another example.

It's all so up in the air. There seems to be no special consideration for retaining a World employee in a Wachovia position if the employee was one of the brave, brave, brave World people who moved halfway across country to Texas from California in 1994 (there are now so very few of us). It will be interesting to see how much of current management is kept, what groups fare better or worse than others, etc. So much information yet to come.

Posted by: Loomis | March 19, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, let me at the boy, I'll wrassle him for a piece. I'm his size, only older, meaner, and more treacherous. And the only hollow parts I have are above my shoulders, so I think I might have a mass advantage.

SciTim, I'm sorry I neglected to get back to you re. Butler. And as was poined out by other Boodlers, it was *that* Butler.


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Peanuts like other legumes, fix nitrogen into poor soil using the beneficial symbiotic bacteria in the roots. Here in the South, my brother and I discovered, and have found backup verification by others, that one may use kudzu leaves (the new leaves, not the established ones) for dolmades.

The yellow-corn haters are ruining my tortilla-loving life. There are simply no tortillas sold in this town that are not made of white corn. Boo!

Speaking of hyperbolic space, you can tile seven sided heptagons on there. A unique quilt that would make. But not flat.

My sister says if you must REALLY eat your shoe, hollandaise is the key ingredient.

The main use for zuchinni is to give away to neighbors you have not met until then.

Has anyone here grown asparagus? I want to hear from someone with experience.

Once upon a time Sam the Sham gave me a ride to work every day on his boat.

Posted by: Jumper | March 19, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, was that on the S.S. Wooly Bully?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Just found this and it's really cool. Find a website with lots of pictures. Delete everything in the address bar. Enter the following text into the address bar and hit enter:

javascript:R=0; x1=.1; y1=.05; x2=.25; y2=.24; x3=1.6; y3=.24; x4=300; y4=200; x5=300; y5=200; DI=document.images; DIL=DI.length; function A(){for(i=0; i-DIL; i++){DIS=DI[ i ].style; DIS.position='absolute'; DIS.left=Math.sin(R*x1+i*x2+x3)*x4+x5;*y1+i*y2+y3)*y4+y5}R++}setInterval('A()',5); void(0);

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I hope everything works out for you and spouse.

first_time, I am sorry.

And Mudge, I just know that pie was good. Made my mouth water just to read about it.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 19, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Ah, heck just do any old google image search and without clicking any of the links paste that into the address bar.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, sorry to hear the news. Hope it works out for the best.

first_timer, so sorry for your loss.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 19, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

omni, it's ok that you missed my link (typed "kink" just now!) to the knot article. Just proves that it was eminently boodle-able. On a number of levels.

On zucchini - yes, probably should require training and a permit. I grow the yellow zucchini, and have learned to harvest it when it reaches 6 inches in length. One more day, and it's a foot long and inedible - or more than you can reasonably eat. We use it in salads, stews, lasagna, on pizza. As someone said, it's bland, so it goes with almost anything, sliced thinly enough. And the plants are beautiful - I love squash blossoms (to look at, not so much to eat).

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 19, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

That's pretty cool, omni. I just did it to the WaPo home page. I'd try it with the Lorenz Manifold site but I don't think even my sea legs could handle it. Kinda reminds me of the Missing Afternoon of the Percocet Pills.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

WHOA, DUDES! Do the omni trick to THIS page and watch Joel ride that blogosaurus!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the SS Wooly Bully is a royal Nile barge, is it not?


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

omni - I typed in "frogs" on google image, and then used that code. I have doubtless set off several internal alarms, but gosh darn it, it was worth it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Ha, Mudge! Joel looks like Debra Winger in Urban Cowboy.


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse


Ya shoulda instructed people to first hit "Play" on "Dark Side of the Moon" or something...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I've heard of the over-zucchini'd searching the neighborhood for unlocked cars, and leaving the squash in the back seat.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 19, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

bc, regarding your 2:48 and 2:50: yes, and yes (alternatively, snort and snort).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I got it from Dawn over here:

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, the "more attracted to a man with duct tape over his mouth and a spear lodged in his chest while he is on fire" was too good!

Posted by: Wheezy | March 19, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The crocheted Lorenz Manifold is actually a dislay of the scale more than anything. It displays the principle in touchable 3D. I've seen it used to sample other mathematical things in crochet magazines. Way cool use of crochet. Truthfully, Mudge, if you can tie a seaman's knots, you could crochet with your eyes closed.

I read part of the pattern for the Lorenz manifold, and had to stop. I was startign to understand the theory, and scared myself.

Posted by: dr | March 19, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I hope everything works out for you and spouse. Here in Philadelphia, it's an open market, so I hope the same is true there.

When you integrate systems, you *map* data, field by field, from the system of origin to corresponding data structures in the destination system. That has to be the origin of their use of the term.

first_time, I am sorry for your loss.

Posted by: dbG | March 19, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Jumper - Thanks for that heptagon info. I vaguely recall doing something with heptagons back in the six grade as a way of getting us interested in math. Anyway, here's a link for making your very own hyperbolic surface with heptagons. Its fun and easy!

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

dr, that is scary. Obviously I skipped the math - the crochet pattern was the first I have ever seen with pliers and a screwdriver listed as materials! And sorry, the pattern literally scared the heck out of me. And the comments about their "perfectionism" just cracked me up. Not to mention, she's done *two* of them. And they're offering a bottle of champagne for the third. I'm afraid I'll have to stick with the model of hyperbolic space, whatever that is. (Sorry, RD, for all this applied math. Whatever that is.)

I was up half the night for work trying to do something I have now learned is impossible. I suspected that part way along, but kept the valiant effort going. Sigh. I may have to go to Half Price Books and a yarn store to soothe my soul.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 19, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Higher dimensional topology is fascinating, but quickly leaves intuition behind. My wife's maid of honor was a topological mathematician. At our wedding reception she tried to explain her PhD thesis to me.

It involved manifolds and hyperdimensional toroids and all sorts of cool stuff that I just barely understood. I also remember that there were these specific definitions of knots. Like knots of the first kind, second kind, and so on. But I may have lost some of the subtleties, since by that time we were all a little drunk.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I've skimmed the Boodle and do not find that word from the 70's that all of you must know, MACRAME!

Posted by: nellie | March 19, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Nellie, that's a good thing, isn't it?

Macrame is what they'd call it if the Top Ramen people made macaroni and cheese.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Super off topic but kinda interesting. Jack and Marie Lord's personal "collection" are up for auction on eBay. You can find the link in the "links" page at this site:

All kinds of stuff, marriage certificate, wedding rings, instruments played by Elvis (at least that's what they say), clothing, etc. It's strange what will sell (or not) when you're dead.

Posted by: Aloha | March 19, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Well, we all know about those knots that magicans use that look knotty but are actually unknots and get undone with a little fiddling.

The knots used in math are normally circles, rather than lines spliced together. Once the ends are fused together, can you untie it back to a circle? This is relevant for a magican who needs to do the computations to wriggle out fast when he can't reach that final knot that ties it all together.

Mudge is correct that the manifold is technically lots of knots, but at the same time, it's all one long circle tied in lots of knots, and theoretically you could slide the yarn through the knots and do whatever you want and still not untie it.

It is very knotty math. And I rather like looking at it myself, it sure makes up for not being able to do a simple bowhitch without saying to myself "now where does the wascally wabbit go? It hops and goes in the hole, and here's Elmer Fudd chasing him the wrong way, I think."

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

YouTube voting is commencing:

Ok Go video:

Sorry, Yello! OK GO has had my heart for a long, long time.

Posted by: dbG | March 19, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I was purposely avoiding that word, nellie. It does belong in this boodle.

I agree, mostly, a trip to the yarn store to soothe my mathematically battered soul. I feel another pair of socks coming on.

I never thought I'd see the day where serious doily dissucssions would be right for we pointy sciencey types (mommy blog, eat your heart out), and I am taking endless delight in this. I doubt there will be another chance.

Posted by: dr | March 19, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

For "bowhitch" substitute "bowline," methinks, Wilbrod. The sailor's friend: best all-around, all-purpose knot there is. "The rabbit comes out of his hole, goes around the tree and crawls back into his hole."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

S'nuke, I'd remove the duct tape if he wanted to say something along the lines of "Oh honey. You've had a long day. Let me deal with the kids tonight." I'd also *consider* removing the spear and putting out the fire if he had an offering of a box of chocolates. Or a Dove Bar.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 19, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

That is indeed cool choreography on treadmills (and not to be tried by anybody with coordination issues).

Some of the moves look familiar... I'm remembering an old Bollywood movie made in 1980-- "Karz" that featured an actor playing a popular singer doing a show on a rotating disc in disco-like outfits while singing "Om Shanti Om." The storyline involves reincarnation and murder by car and a romance.

It is decidedly cheesy but the dance moves on the disc I remember well. Maybe that's part of the inspiration for this video; certainly they all look like they're dressed up to be on "That Seventies Show".

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse
with some silliness but the best sound...

No, at the time Sam preferred going incognito, and I only found out his true identity by accident. Which occurred when his first mate started calling him "Sam the Sham" affectionately- first mate did not know who he was at the time either. It all came out over the next few weeks - and was verified by the local paper. I forget the name of his boat. Eventually Sam forged a comeback of sorts.

It was rumored one could tile a torus with a combination of heptagons and pentagons. I have not been able to track down this rumor.

Posted by: Jumper | March 19, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I bow to your expert line of knowledge as a hitched sailor, Mudge.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why I was expected to take umbrage at OK Go. When my son buys a CD, I rip it for him and put it on a shared drive. He then copies it to his computer and I add it to my iTunes playlist under "IndieCrap". I've got OK Go, Reel Big Fish, The Killers, and others I can't even remember. It helps with the street cred.

This weekend I was giving him the crash course in Police classics and explaining why the live remake of "Don't Stand So Close To Me" is so awful.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

For all you cineastes out there.

(Watch out for vile language; probably best not watched at the office.)

Posted by: Maggie O'D | March 19, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking, forgot to add earlier:(shameless plug for lab rescue start)

lab rescues are full of young-elderly adult labs, they generally have some history on the dog or can tell you about his/her behavior in foster homes, so you'd know if they were past the puppy stage, diggers and tramplers of expensive perennials and whether s/he'd be good with your old guy. adopts nationwide. I'd posted 2 videos of my last foster (now adopted) on YouTube, just search "black lab trio". My lone commenter called Gordon & Emma playing *doggie internet porn.* I got Emma from L4R when she was 2.5 yo, and as advertised, she was good with dogs, kids, housebroken, sweet, crate-trained and squeaky-toy obsessive--in other words, perfect.

(shameless plug end)

Posted by: dbG | March 19, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Yello, I didn't think you'd take umbrage at the OK Go. Just that I'm voting for them instead of you. :-(

Posted by: dbG | March 19, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

To answer your earlier question (to which no umbrage is attached), I did indeed invent many a knot during my early seafaring days, omni.

Early in my career, when I was but a miserable young f'ocsle rat, I invented the forget-me-knot, but it was so long ago I forgot it. I probably should have changed the name of it, accordingly.

I cannot tell you anything about the running ben-wa sling, at least until the children go to bed. Maybe bc can tell you more about it.

I invented a variation of the running clove hitch called the jogging nutmeg bend. Instead of a sheepshank I invented a ewe-haul: when you pulled on it it charged you $28.95 a day plus gas.

Perhaps the highlight of my career came one afternoon when we were on the foredeck on a break, I macrame'ed a giant recognition signal to hoist between the masts, to greet passing ships as they came by; this was perhaps unkindly nicknamed the "Hello Doily" by some jealous crew mates.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

It's an honor just to be nominated. I better start polishing my virtual acceptance speech.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"England expects every man to do his doily."

Don't forget the always popular reefer knot.

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 19, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Then there is the Hamlet, also known as Knot 2B.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 19, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Teenage girls with too much time on their hands, the HeLovesMe HeLovesMe Knot.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 19, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

When the White House decides to hang you out to dry because you prosecuted too many Republicans or not enough Democrats, the knot they use is called a Rove Hitch.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Then there's the famous "knot tonight" of which I've heard.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Alexander the Great would know what to do with the Rove Hitch.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Then there's the "You're having ANOTHER drink?" THe Why Knot?

Posted by: Maggie O'D | March 19, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Lets knot forget the deadly Knot On Your Life.

Posted by: Kerric | March 19, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

If you like literature and knots, be sure to read Annie Proulx's book "The Shipping News." I personally think it was the knots that won her the Pulitzer--they were very impressive.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 19, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

The article says that knitting is knotting. Not sure I agree, since knitting is more like weaving in the outcome. I am sure we could argue but I have a date tonight with coconut products and will be busy in the kichen.

Is knitting knotting or is knitting weaving? Discuss. Argue. Mind your manners. No use of knitting needles as weapons. Begin.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Personally I think weaving is a form of knotting. And Knotting Hill was a pretty good movie.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2007 6:56 PM | Report abuse

And we'd be terribly remiss (not to mention being threatened with a visit to Mr. Limpet) if we forgot the Mafia's many contributions to rope-tying...

I speak, of course, of the Don Knotts.

I'll just leave now.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I just want to say it's kind of a shame (in a way) that Dave Barry has a regular job, or three or four, because if he was an underemployed cubedweller like the rest of us, he would fit right in here at the boodle. Here's what he would have posted upon his return from his recent ski trip:

We're back, and here is what we have learned about (strikeout)spring skiing (end strikeout)* global climate change:

If you're outside all day on snow-covered mountains and the weather is intensely sunny, and you don't put on enough sunscreen, you will definitely get a sunburn. Your wife may also get sunburned, specifically on her lower lip, which will swell up to the size of a military pontoon. If this happens, and she calls you into the bathroom at 5:30 a.m. to tell you about it, and she is covering her mouth with her hand, and she says "You have to promise not to laugh," and you promise not to laugh, and then she makes you SWEAR you will not laugh, and you swear you will not laugh, and then she uncovers her lip, be advised that you will laugh so hard that you will have to grab the sink with both hands to keep from falling down, which means you will have no way to protect yourself when your wife hits you, which, trust us, she will.

(cut-and-pasted from

(*Dave has formatting on [i]his[/i] blog.)

Posted by: kbertocci | March 19, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

CP, such are the workings of my brain cells that I have been debating that same questiuon all day. To wit:

Crocheting and Knitting generally don't use knots at any point of the peice. You start and end by working the thread back into the work. As you progress, you are looping through a previously made loop more than knotting, certainly more akin to weaving.

Knitting and crocheting will unravel faster than you can blink, usually at the most inoportune time.

Knots generally hold till they are yanked firmly upon or are undone. Therefore knitting and crocheting cannot be knotting.

However, the moment you purposely try to unravel knitting and crocheting, you will find the most amazing knots, therefore knitting, crocheting are knotting.

Pass the the ibocaine.

Posted by: dr | March 19, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh, jeez, on TV tonight at 8 is a special 2-hour "Deal or No Deal" versus a special 2-hour "dancing With the Stars." Thank god for cable: Bill Maher's on HBO.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 7:30 PM | Report abuse

This is an interesting article, uh what was I saying? I was thinking about my grocery list, and shoot I got tons of stuff to do come to think of it, hope I meet some nice people soon and get more playmates for Wilbrodog...

Um, I think I meant to say this article is interesting. Why, I forgot.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

If this was true, loud sound could snuff us out in a trice.

And that begs the question: if I don't hear myself thinking, am I really here?

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

And is this boodle really here?

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Mudge is clearly a knot head.


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't get any better:

I'm becoming convinced that Nixon, however warped he may have been, had the interest of the country as a whole much more in the forefront than this administration and their appointed yahoos now wasting space in our executive branch.

How low can you go when you make Nixon look other-directed?

Posted by: bill everything | March 19, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

As I understand that story in the link, Wilbrod, if you don't hear yourself thinking, it could be one of four things: 1) you aren't in fact thinking so there's nothing to hear; this means you are a Bush supporter; or 2) you might be deaf, in which case, Wilbrod, you should have your hearing checked and maybe get a nice service dog...oh, right; or 3) you aren't really here at all, as you posit; or 4) you have too much olive oil between your synapses.

Regarding your second post (Is the boodle really here?) the answer is: Apparently not.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

bc, boy you're right, anyone passing up two hours with the bald-pated (not that there's anything wrong with that) Howie Mandel or whatever his name is, obviously, has screwed up priorities.

Posted by: bill everything | March 19, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Or apparently knot.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "knot that there's anything wrong with that"

What a bonehead to miss that

Posted by: bill everything | March 19, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

There's apparently a new poll that claims Iraqis feel that their quality of life has suffered over the past few years.

They needed a poll to figure that out.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid all the boodle's effort has been for knot.

Posted by: NaughtybutNice999 | March 19, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe I didn't type KnottybutNice. Is SCCing a signature allowed?

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Just hearing on NPR that US military helicopters are rushing to evaculate Afghans trapped by floodwaters where 400 houses have been destroyed. Gosh, so resources do exist -- at least when a flood occurs in Afghanistan or presumably Iraq. But not Louisiana.

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 19, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

If the discussion is still going on, knitting is weaving. Macrame is knotting. Crocheting is weaving, too, I think.

Posted by: nellie | March 19, 2007 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Hi DR, I agree. Thanks for confirming that weaving is not knotting.

Having tried macrame once, I can say confidently that that knotting is clearly knots. (nuts)

Knitting is a series of loops moved from one needle to another, incorporating a twist of loop from an auxially strand.

Tugging can ruin knitting or at least the zen experience of such. Tugging seems to be key to knotting, to make the form stick.

A related concept is lacing. See this amazing site about all things laci-cle. Lacing nearly always ends in a knot, to secure the lacings.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 19, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

That was me, tired of knitting a spiral scarf,

I would like to say to the mathie ones here that in circular knitting, you must be very careful when you connect the ends, otherwise, you knit a mobius strip. I believe that other than in a headband, the mobius form is hard to wear.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy! Now I can learn how to tie my shoelaces!

Now if I could just learn how to knit my socks...

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Weaves have a warp and a weft. Knots knot.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Bok, but that is the rub.I don't think that knitting has a woop and worf. Kniting is more like jersey fabric formation, rather than strick weaving.

But, we are off topic. I did weave once a wattle of willow wands into a fence of sorts. IT SPROUTED, the next spring as willows are want to do.

This fence kept boys from stepping in the iris rhyzomes before the sword-leaves stood at one foot.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

What a WONDERFUL bit in NYT today:

"Mr. Cooney said his past work opposing restrictions on global warming gases for the oil industry had no bearing on his work once he joined the White House. When I came to the White House,' he testified, 'my sole loyalties were to the president and his administration.'"


Posted by: LTL-CA | March 19, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

If you don't like saiyng weft you may say woof.
Buddy999 does it all the time.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

LTL, I had to laugh at that claim, too. Jeez.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

CP |Worf is the character on Star Trek with the knitted brow.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

A wattle weave of willow wands. I like that.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Willow's won't want but they're wont.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

What are we to make of the Gordian knot this Boodle has become?

When will Joel the Great cleave it with a great sword of a Kit and thus produce the required ends?

Knot soon enough, I think.


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

CP, I read an article once about living fences. One of the fences they talked about was taking a willow branch and putting both ends into the ground, and then overlapping with another arch, to make something that looked like the golden arches. The idea was that it would sprout and grow and could be clipped to form hold arch shape. They also had a seat surrounded by a growing back. It looked nice, but not comfortable.

The mobius analogy is how I KNOW that intentional unraveling is well nigh impossible, well you know, not quite but it feels like it. There is a pattern out there for a scarf/cape by that name.

Wilbrod, we have the technology, but its that darn distance thing.

In other things that actually fit the kit, there is a fellow just down the road who built his house out of cord wood. He holds seminars on how to build one. mrdr keeps telling me this sounds like work. It was very much on my mind when Joel's EarthHaven article came out.

Posted by: dr | March 19, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Bill Everything says: How low can you go when you make Nixon look other-directed?

This is a completely different take on the inner-directed/outer directed thing - I always was told that inner-directed people did what their conscience told them was right to do, other-directed people did what their clique or crowd told them to do. Here you're implying that other-directd people work for the good of the community rather than themselves? Are there any books or articles you've read that use this terminology? Because I think maybe I've been terribly wrong in my take on this all these years. Aaaagggghhh!

Posted by: Wheezy | March 19, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

C-Mudge, on NPR coming home I believe I understood that the latest poll of Iraqi citizens (and the poll sounded legit to me to the best of my Hoosier ability (make your own decision)) was that, now, only 42% of Iraqis think things are better now in their country than when Saddam was ruling.

A new view must be maintained. Bush has even backed off the term "victory." This is a time for major humanitarian damage control. This will obviously take a new political turn of events that cannot have the political overtones currently circulated.

I was listening to Tony Snow-job today and I hear a new approach from the administration: their "Battle of the Bulge" approach will be to somehow tar the D's if they use their budget power to limit our Iraqi involvement to say: "look we were just about to turn the corner . . . but"

I don't know that a lot of people will buy that but their base will.

I am not a political expert by the longest shot but I don't understand why (i) the Democratic party is not letting Bush tighten the noose further with war request money by letting him have what he wants (he doesn't have long to go, what's a few billion beyond what has already been wasted (other than what has gone into Haliburton's pocket's which I am sure the administration don't consider wasted a bit)); and (ii) the major candidates are not being more candid that this is a humanitarian crisis, not a "war" any longer.

Call me stupid but, consistent with my prior post, Iraq is a worse abuse of power than Watergate and its assorted abuses.

Posted by: bill everything | March 19, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, thanks for that link to the sound story.
It reminds me of Ayurvedic Sound Therapy, sometimes known as Primordial Sound Therapy:


Posted by: Dreamer | March 19, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy | No, No, No. Hold your arm up and say, "WAAAA."
You're obviously in the wrong place. It's 'Being Hit on the Head' lessons in here.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy, right. Meant the pop-psychology "other-oriented."

Posted by: bill everything | March 19, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Un. Yalliman.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Om Shanty Om (Om peace om) and Om on the Range back to you.

Could be, this does sound familiar.

As I venture on rocky ground, I would say that sound waves are too umm regular, while the body works more chaotically with feedback loops. I don't know how the heck you do that with sound.

As for the physicist's claim of a lack of heat produced by nerves... I'm not sure how accurately that can be measured in the first place.

One, life is very sensitive to changes in temperature and pH and has a lot of heat shock and cold shock proteins and multiple ion channels to keep things nice and balanced. It would be unlikely to find nerves heating up out of control in any living organism.

Two, the brain-- the center of the nervous system apparently already expends at least 80% of its energy just in the resting state; actual activity doesn't use that much more energy.

Likewise, life breaks energy into very small change-- the ATP cycle-- to drive chemical reactions one or two ions at a time.

Life is also pretty expert at amplifying weak initial stimuli and dampening out stronger stimuli just to keep functioning, so the "current" between the neurons doesn't even have to be remotely as strong as the resting electrical activity in the neurons themselves.

And finally, while cell membranes may or may not have the electrical conductivity of olive oil, they are NOT as homogenous as blobs of oil.

Time for the old physics joke here:

A dairy farmer desperate over the fact that his cows won't give enough milk, consults a theoretical physicist about the problem. The physicist listens to him, asks a few questions, and then says he'll take the assignment. A few weeks later, he calls up the farmer, and says "I've got the answer." They arrange for him to give a presentation of his solution to the milk shortage.

When the day for the presentation arrives, he begins his talk by saying, "First, we assume a spherical cow..."

I'd say comparing cells to olive oil blobs is like comparing silicon chips to the filament in the soon-to-be-outdated Edision-type bulbs.

Yeah, if you pump enough electricity through them both, they'll both catch on fire (in the presence of oxygen) and emit light in a vacuum.

But the light bulb filament is designed for that purpose.

The silicon chip is designed for an entirely different purpose to run on much lower currents, and it has, like, STRUCTURE. And cooling fans. You wait for a computer chip to glow or catch on fire, you have a long wait.

Well, we hope, anyway. I'm keeping a fire extinguisher handy for my PC AND my nerves now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Boko: Wheezy | No, No, No. Hold your arm up and say, "WAAAA."
You're obviously in the wrong place. It's 'Being Hit on the Head' lessons in here.

You're being opaque again.

Or I'm being obtuse. One or the other.

Whatever, 'night all, gotta rise and shine early in the a.m.

Posted by: Wheezy | March 19, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

A creator of Fortran and BNF has died. (This will be incomprehensible to most, I'm afraid. If so, click Continue.)

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 19, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Wheezy. It was a reference to Pythons "Argument" sketch.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

In any event, the transmission-of-sound-by-nerves idea is an intriguing one. I hope it gets a fair hearing -- although, as with many new ideas, it may have a tough time penetrating the status quo:

"While Eckenhoff acknowledges there is much to learn, he expects the precise effects of anesthesia will ultimately be explained by an integration of current theories rather than by employing the new idea of sound pulses."

[Current theories, good; new ideas, bad?]

To quote Deepak Chopra once again, from his "Quantum Healing" book:

"One should never underestimate the power of indoctrination. Medical training is highly technical, specialized, and rigorous, but it came about just like any other human activity -- by people collecting experiences and using those experiences to form explanations and patterns. These patterns in turn serve to indoctrinate the pattern makers, and within a very short period of time the indoctrination becomes law."

Posted by: Dreamer | March 20, 2007 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Well, we've obviously done a good bit of wandering, but...

This has been, by quite a large margin, our most "on-topic" 'boodle ever, hasn't it?

Posted by: Bob S. | March 20, 2007 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Read this:

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 20, 2007 1:06 AM | Report abuse

LTL-CA -- It's painfully amusing (and that's all I've got to say about that!)

Posted by: Bob S. | March 20, 2007 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Bob S, you may be right. And in that spirit - Jumper, we tried to grow asparagus many years ago. You need a deep, rich soil, as I remember, and it takes a few years for the plants to be ready to harvest. We had a few small spears that we ate the second year. My husband, not the most patient gardener, decided to abandon the asparagus and planted an Asian pear tree - but there are still a few asparagus plants that leaf out in that bed.

LTL-CA, thanks for the obit. Fortran was such a relief after I struggled with COBOL when learning programming. I didn't realize IBM had developed it, but I suppose that makes sense. Backus sounds like quite a guy - the hacker of his time (before computing was kewl!).

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 20, 2007 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Hal wouldn't let me post Mr. Chopras attacks on evolutionary biology in Huffpo
I hope this gets through.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 20, 2007 1:57 AM | Report abuse

"In 2003, a survey of Ayurvedic herbal products manufactured in South Asia and sold in Boston-area stores found that 14 of 70 products (20%) contained concentrations of lead, mercury, and/or arsenic that--if the products were taken according to directions--would exceed published regulatory standards. The authors also noted that ayurvedic theory attributes important therapeutic roles to mercury and lead and that perhaps 35-40% of medicines in the Ayurvedic formulary contain at least one metal. The authors concluded that users of Ayurvedic medicine may be at risk for heavy metal toxicity, and testing of Ayurvedic HMPs for toxic heavy metals should be mandatory. Several studies done in other countries have had similar findings. [Saper S and others. Heavy metal content of ayurvedic herbal medicine products. JAMA 292:2868-2873, 2004] Because Ayurvedic medicine relies on nonsensical diagnostic concepts and involves many unproven products, using it would be senseless even if all of the products were safe."
The quote above and details of a suit brought against Chopra are illuminating.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 20, 2007 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Funny -- Deepak doesn't strike me as an attacking kind of a guy. But I shall go and read that discussion on Huffington Post first-hand; it sounds interesting. I expect (and hope) it's a little more nuanced than a simple attack on evolutionary biology. (Perhaps "expansion on" would be a more appropriate description? Well, I'll have to go and see for myself . . .)

I think I'll skip the "Who Is This Idiot?" interpretation you posted though, Boko. (Too vitriolic.)

Posted by: Dreamer | March 20, 2007 4:11 AM | Report abuse

Morning Dreamer!!! *transoceanic Grover waves* :-)

I'm knot at the end of my rope just yet...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 20, 2007 4:34 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Backus, I salute you.

I keep some punchcards from an old Fortran 77 program on my desk as a reminder of where I've been.


Posted by: bc | March 20, 2007 6:09 AM | Report abuse

Yeeesh! How could I have overlooked that obit? I did FORTRAN in school as well... *SIGH* RIP, Mr. Backus.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 20, 2007 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Morning all.

Cassandra-now that I know you are from the sandhills I not only hear you, I picture you. If you do not wear a hat to church please do not tell me.

Loomis-best wishes.

Six degrees, F, here this morning. Gardening seems a long way off. I have discovered that with radiant heat in the floor I have a lot of heat mat for starting seeds.

Asparagus-never got around to trying it in NoVA where it should do very well. Here it was popular and you still see some where farm houses used to be. When I was stationed at Ft. Bragg back in the '80s North Carolina was encouraging tobacco farmers to give it a try. What a bonanza for asparagus lovers. Fresh, local, and inexpensive! Almost enough to make one a vegetarian.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 20, 2007 7:09 AM | Report abuse

frostbitten--yum, local asparagus. My husband sells his artwork some Sundays at a greenmarket. As he gets to know the vendors better, every week he comes home with more and more stuff that they just give him at the end of the day because it's perishable and they can't use it. Yesterday we had a whole mountain of fresh asparagus for dinner. I can't quite understand why it's considered some kind of gourmet delicacy, but it is definitely tasty, even without hollandaise sauce.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 20, 2007 7:40 AM | Report abuse

happy B-day slyness...(it is today right?)

Posted by: omni | March 20, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

All I remember of Mr. Backus' invention is FORTRAN for Humans, a course offered when I was an undergrad. And the boxes of punch cards and printouts of the programs my peers had to run and read to troubleshoot. Knot fun.

Posted by: jack | March 20, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

'morning, all.

jack, scotty, yeah, I had a shoebox or two of cards myself.

Learned to use lots of rubber bands in order to minimize the damage from when I dropped one.

Thanks for reminding me that FORTRAN should always be in upper case.


Posted by: bc | March 20, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I have mixed memories of working with FORTRAN. It was fun not having to declare all the variables. But one stinkin' typo and you could kiss the next hour of your life goodbye.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 20, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I was asked what I thought was the best invention of the 20th century ... my response: The card saw.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 20, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

RD, when I first wrote the comment at 6:09, I had a line about the hours I spent writing and debugging.



Posted by: bc | March 20, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Card saw - funny, DM.

RD, you ain't kidding about the typos. Oy.


Posted by: bc | March 20, 2007 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Gardening seems a long way off indeed frostbitten. It's the silly time of year, with the temperature at -13C/8F, a 20knots crosswind making it feel like -25C, yet the store windows display dummies in shorts, tank tops and sandals. And it's supposed to be 16C/60F and rainy later this week. Go figure.
I have no fond memories of Fortran, they're all bad. Punchcards were obviously on their way out when I got the course so the punching machines were not maintained anymore. Getting a 300 cards program rejected 5 times in a row for a couple of hanging chad wasn't exactly fun. But kudos to Mr. Backus, the efficiency of double-precision calculations in Fortran is still the reference IMOO.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 20, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

spent years providing tech support at a local university... least favorite debug, Ackermann's function. ... in assembler.

Double OY.

A close friend finally devised a non-recursive solution in a one-line APL program. I would hazard to guess that this was the first mention of APL in the boodle.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 20, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Morning folks! Had a nice dinner with Yoki last night. She's as delightful in person as she is in zeros and ones.

We drove by McCormick & Schmick's on our way to Georgetown and she's looking forward to our first International BPH.

(Dreamer... you don't count since you lived here at the time; sorry!)

About that FORTRAN fellow, too bad Mr. Backus didn't know how to properly spell his last name. Ha ha ha.

Posted by: TBG | March 20, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

My son asked me over the weekend if I had any programming experience. I told him that I learned a lot of FORTRAN in college. He said that if it wasn't C-based it was pretty useless. I told him that programming is a thought process, not a series of commands.

I just missed the punch card era. We used terminals for editing our files and then waited for our stripped sheets to drop into the bin so we could see that we had a typo and had to start over.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 20, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Dolphin, my alma mater was a hotbed for PASCAL. APL was considered passé. W-Basic (the flavour of Basic from the University of Waterloo) was for dummies. We were such dorks.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 20, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt, tell your son that we are all still trying to recover from the disaster that is C. Have him check out Ruby on Rails. From the old days, the most productive language environment was REXX. Still cooking, but little used. We did loads of PL/1, SQL and REXX in an IBM VM environment.... 20 years ago even on a PS/2.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | March 20, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Morning, friends. Running late this morning, out late last night. I have to go out this morning, but so sleepy. After hitting the cold air, I'm sure that will go away, the sleepy part.

frostbitten, get that imagery out of your head. Sandhills I am, but hopefully without full gear.

jumper, I thought it real funny you wanted to peel okra. And I do love okra. My mother used to plant so much of it. We couldn't eat it all, gave a lot of it away. Fried okra is the best, without that bread covering, yuck. Okra and tomatoes, a match made in heaven.

Morning, Slyness, Mudge, Scotty, and all *waving*

My guests will be leaving today, and I am going to miss them so much. I'm not sure if the g-girl is going, but will know shortly. Just another person breathing in here makes it so much better. Of course, the g-girl is work, and more work.

A good day is yours, and mine too. The weather has warmed up a bit, but we're looking for rain. Hope it's nice where you are.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 20, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | March 20, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Yello, if you missed punch cards count yourself lucky. When I was in college back in the Dark Ages, I had a PoliSci course, PoliSci 155, called "Scope and Methods." The entire class consisted of learning how to take a so-called "Breadboard" and wiring it to do punch card sorting. Then you had a gazillion punch cards, which you had to learn how to code, and you could sort them by hand with an ice pick, if IIRC. I think the breadboard was then inserted into a sorting machine, which ran through the punch cards and sorted them according to whatever code you'd "programmed" into the breadboard wiring. That was "state-of-the-art" demographics back in the 60s, beleive it or not. I hated the class and withdrew before the end of the semester.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 20, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

>A creator of Fortran and BNF has died

Tip of my hat to Mr. Backus. I still have several cardboard boxes of punch cards. I did rocket exhaust analysis with it as an intern.

And Mudge, the lady I work with went through the punch-board thing you describe, about the same time, and she's still going strong with whatever crazy stuff we throw at her.

>yellojkt, tell your son that we are all still trying to recover from the disaster that is C.

With all due respect, I say "piffle". We'd all be submitting jobs with JCL without Messr. Ritchie and Kernighan and their little C-based OS, Unix. There *is* a way to do it correctly, even if it's more observed in the breach. Of course I may be biased as I've been writing in it for 25 years.

Posted by: Error Flynn | March 20, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers,

The last time I made something from a pattern, the back of the envelope said how much fabric was needed...

Posted by: joyce | March 24, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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