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The Apology Crisis

Remind me to write a screed someday about how we've lost the knack for apologizing. It's a dying art. We're forgetting -- as a culture -- how to say "I'm sorry" in a way that doesn't immediately then retract or excuse or modify the apology.

And I'm not talking about Hillary and the war. I'm thinking of the radio announcer Cedric Maxwell:

'Celtics radio analyst Cedric Maxwell apologized on the air last night for saying that a female referee should "go back to the kitchen" after he disagreed with one of her calls. Maxwell made the comment during the Celtics' 77-72 victory over the Rockets on Monday. He subsequently said, "Go in there and make me some bacon and eggs, would you?" in reference to referee Violet Palmer.

"'If I said anything that might have been insensitive or sexist in any way, then I apologize because she worked extremely hard to get where she is now, end of quote," Maxwell said before the Celtics' game against the Knicks ...'

I don't know, that's a big if.

(I'm sorry I didn't post this last week when the item would have been current rather than utterly stale.)

(But it was because I was working so hard and so diligently on other stuff and ... )


Also, remind me to type up a screed someday on how The Post is so much more than the sum of its political coverage. For example: Great piece in The Post's Health section by Dennis Drabelle on his struggles with insomnia and how there's an upside to having a whirling, creative, restless mind. He's a pad-and-pen-by-the-bed guy. Wake up in the night, jot down an inspiration. Isn't that how that cat figured out the structure of benzene? Dreamed of a snake swallowing its tail?

Diet news: Here is a story on how the Atkins diet did slightly better than several other diets in a peer-reviewed study. Seems to be just a few pounds over the course of a year. No obvious harmful side-effect from Atkins. You won't keel over if you cut back on refined starch and refined sugar. I'm thinking of starting my own high-profile and highly profitable weight-loss program based on the revolutionary idea of exercising more and eating less.


Remind me to write a protracted and dyspeptic blog item about how people should stay away from the Internet.

'Employers, including law firms, frequently do Google searches as part of due diligence checks on prospective employees. According to a December survey by the Ponemon Institute, a privacy research organization, roughly half of U.S. hiring officials use the Internet in vetting job applications. About one-third of the searches yielded content used to deny a job, the survey said..."For many people the Internet has become a scarlet letter, an albatross," said Michael Fertik, ReputationDefender's chief executive. '


We track Orson Wellesiana here (speaking of a guy who should have spent more time on the Atkins diet), so check out the piece in the New York Review of Books, about the rash of new Welles bios. Interesting commentary on Welles as a visual stylist, his ability to frame a scene, his echoing of surrealism. Excerpt:

"His great theme was how a person's worth is judged, how a life is summed up, and his conclusions are frequently raw and unsettling. Uninterested in the transforming power of love or the answers of religion, unconcerned with acts of courage or altruism, and, on the other hand, never merely cynical, he sends nearly every one of his protagonists off to his end in a state of loss, bafflement, or rage. Most played by Welles, they are cosmic losers but not exactly victims. The tug of war Welles's major characters enact with their respective worlds--the way this or that one is fully prepared to start yanking his world apart as he finds himself losing his place in it--makes moot possibilities of victimhood or heroism."


Science news:
Astronomers finally figuring out why galaxies are the way they are.

A hot mug of cocoa is good for you!

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 7, 2007; 9:01 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Fall Guy
Next: Budgets Gone Wild


I heard about that, I'm surprised Maxwell didn't ask Ms. Palmer to make Cornbread.


Posted by: bc | March 7, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Maxwell's "if" is pretty lame. If hadn't thought it was offensive, he wouldn't have said it.

Posted by: TBG | March 7, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Niall Ferguson's "War of the World", a nasty history of the violent 20th century, is named in honor of Welles's fictional invasion from Mars, which turned out to be not so different from the assorted invasions by mere earthlings. Funny, in a ghastly way, how a hard-to-forget Soviet war movie titled "Come and See" (a phrase from the Apocalypse) reminds me of Welles with a bit of "Road Warriors" thrown in. Plus a scene of piled dead people exactly like what we saw from Rwanda about a decade later.

I apologize for making such a comment shortly before lunch.

Meanwhile, Surfer's Journal has a nice story on a Palos Verdes, Calif. paddleboard shaper who does most of hie work in the wee hours of the morning. One excuse is that the shipping container that serves as his workshop gets too hot during the day, another that the phone doesn't ring at 3 am. But maybe the best paddleboards take shape at that creative hour.

[paddleboards are rather like big surfboards, designed specifically to be paddled for long distances. Think Catalina Island to the mainland, or Oahu to Maui]

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 7, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

It's true that there is a distressing tendency for many to issue non-apology apologies. I find it embarassing to hear or read. It makes people look small.

Posted by: Kim | March 7, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

For those wondering: yes, my 11:33 has a joke in it for sports fans of a certain age.

To Drabelle's article, I confess, I'm the same way.

I keep paper and pen next to my bed, in my car, and in the ofc for scribbling ideas. If I'm out and don't have pen and paper handy, I'll call my own voice mail and leave myself messages with the idea, so I can transcribe them later.

Pro: I'm recording ideas.
Con: I have enough ideas to keep me writing for the rest of my life at this point.

I can't stop the ideas from coming, like a hailstorm. Sometimes I wish they'd stop for a little while so I could focus on getting one or two of them complete and out the door.

You know, maybe I should sell the ones I don't have time to work on on ebay or something.

And I didn't even mention the voices...


Posted by: bc | March 7, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

It's just so easy to say, I'm sorry. I don't know what the problem is. My wife, soon to be ex, cannot for the life of her say she's sorry, about anything. It's almost as if, by admitting fault, a wide chasm will open.

Posted by: Udder Balm | March 7, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

It would have been better if Maxwell said something along the lines of, "Yeah, I told her to get in the kitchen! This is a man's sport! She's got no business out here with the men! Next thing you know, she's gonna be T-ing up guys 'cause they hurt someone's feelings! Women don't know nothin' 'bout basketball. The only thing women are good for in sports is driving the minivan. I'm suprised she's not out there trying to hand out orange slices during the time outs!" And so on and so on.

In my opinion, making a non-apology is way worse than digging in and burying yourself. Also, Maxwell's 51--he's probably going senile. Everyone knows that people over the age of 50 can't be held accountable for what comes out of their mouths.

Posted by: jw | March 7, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Dave, are you thinking of HG Wells?

If not, sorry. And sorry for the interruption.

Speaking of Soviets, I wonder if it's too late to make a movie out of Red Storm Rising? With advances in CGI, that would be pretty cool.

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 7, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I heard an excellent presentation at a conference (I know, it is a shock and worthy of an entire Kit on its own but just believe me), but one portion gave me pause. The speaker was describing first reactions to situations and set up a visit with a friend, tea served in her home from special china, some slip in the serving and you break the teacup. The presenter asked what our first reactions would be, then went on to discuss it. I was shocked that my own reaction -- "I'm so sorry, how can I make this right (repair, replacement, etc)" was not the common default. Apparently the anticipated reaction was to "apologize" while finding a way to blame the server for causing you to break her china.

I hear these versions of "I'm sorry if what I said offended you" non-apologies, and worse, and I just think, "Where are their mothers?"

I note that it is not just ANY mug of hot cocoa - you need a special trademarked Mars Inc. cocoa. Marketing and product placement is all.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 7, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

From the galaxies link:

"The relation between a galaxy's mass and the orbital speed of its stars and gas is remarkably consistent over a wide range of galaxy morphologies and over billions of years of galaxy evolution, according to new results from a major survey of distant galaxies. The findings show that certain fundamental properties of galaxies have actually changed very little over the past 8 billion years (about half the age of the universe).

'We think this trend reflects a regularity in the process that led to the formation of galaxies. We are not sure where it comes from, but it is a major constraint on galaxy formation,' said Sandra Faber, University Professor of astronomy and
astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't dark energy overtake gravity about 5-8 billion years ago and cause the expansion of the universe to accelerate rather than the decel of the gravity-dominated first 6 B years or so of the universe's existence (such as it is)?

Hmmm. Coincidence?

Just a thought.


Posted by: bc | March 7, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

World's best apology ever:

To Loomis re a post from the last boodle:

I am truly, very sorry to offend you.

I see how insensitive that phrase landed amidst all context.

You asked me to explain, yet apologies generally need more humility and less explaining.

I did not mean to hurt you, yet did. I am deeply sorry.

Posted by: College Parkian | January 3, 2007 03:40 PM

Posted by: Wheezy | March 7, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Re diets: I've always been a fan of the, "Mmmm, that looks good," diet; Calories be d@mned.

Posted by: Tangent | March 7, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Apologies are like any other social skill. If we don't teach it and encourage its use in our young, it will disappear. Kind of like the Texas German dialect. There are only a few old-timers who can speak it anymore, as back in the 30s and 40s parents discouraged its use (for obvious reasons). Now, it is almost a dead language. Soon, there will only be a few old-timers who know how to apologize without usig the words "if" or "but".

Since this is a skill our kids need to learn, and many parents aren't teaching it, let's just force the public schools to add it to their "character education" curriculum and have a high-stakes test over apologies.

Sorry about my inner educator peeking his obnoxious head out.

Posted by: Gomer | March 7, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I've always considered the non-apology apology as simply a passive-aggressive add-on insult to the original attack. "I'm sorry you took it that way" is the most common, implying weakness or over-sensitivity on the part of the insulted person. Double points go to the instigator if the original attack was subtle and sly, so that the insulting rebuttal to the honest response - i.e., being called out on what they know was an attack - can pile on abuse under guise of apology. The almost hysterical aversion to a plain old "I'm sorry" or "I was wrong" (or "mea culpa"), in my experience, is adopted only by those that meant their insults in the first place, but did not want to face the reaction to the insult when it was challenged. In other words - cowards.

It takes strength to accept blame and make amends. Most people realize this, and are extremely gracious when sincere contrition is offered. The pile-on, "whee, you said you were wrong and now I can attack you more" personality is obviously socially deranged, and only expose their own problems with the second attack. Unfortunately, I think the latter are over-represented in political discourse.

(I've a fiery temper that matches my hair color - i.e., bright in youth, fading with age - and my lifetime "dang, my fault, sorry" apology score is quite high)

Posted by: sevenswans | March 7, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I note for the Achenrecord that Tangent is what, 20?

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 7, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I blame that blame-shifting reaction at your conference (thereby shifting the blame, I know) to the standards of the insurance industry. We're trained as adults not to ever, ever accept blame for accidental happenings for fear of being denied coverage. House insurance, car insurance, whatever - everything that is supposed to be covered requires someone else to be at fault. Parental training falls by the wayside when faced with the professional advice to deny, deny, shift and deny - Or Else (pay it out yourself, lose coverage, get sued, etc.)

Posted by: sevenswans | March 7, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse


Totally got the Cornbread reference, bet Bad Sneakers did too.

I still model my foul shots after his. The ones with the basketball, of course.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I subscribe to the Miss Piggy guide to dieting: Never eat anything bigger than your head, don't eat more than you can lift.

I should add that this catches up with you, no matter how much you run and I put in many miles. In fact my main form of exercise is RWF (Running While Fat).

Posted by: frostbitten | March 7, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

First they tell me to drink a glass of red wine every day. Then I'm told to take a nap every afternoon. Crossword puzzles fedn off Alzheimer's. Now I have to drink a cup of chocolate every day. I mean, it just doesn't get any better than that. You couldn't PAY anybody to give you that kind of advice. What's next? Quickie lunchtime sex with perky college cheerleaders improves your posture?

Joel, the major problem with your revolutionary diet of exercising more and eating fewer calories is that it only works, "on paper," not in real life. Like most every other diet (except the much vilified but otherwise somewhat effective Atkins), it has about a 95% failure rate at one year out.

Have a nice cuppa cocoa instead. You'll feel better. Endorphins, flavonoids, and all that. Then maybe a nap.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

The three required responses to a fight with a female significant other are:

1. Apologize.
2. Promise it will never happen again.
3. Ask for help.

Pretty all-purpose advice.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Prescription for a happy life:

Every day, say "thank you." Every day, say "I'm sorry."

(Hot chocolate is optional.)

Posted by: kbertocci | March 7, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I am really, truly sorry for my abhorent post at 12:38. I apologize from the bottom of my heart. Honest Injun.

There, I feel better already.

OK, I didn't mean the slur against Native Americans.

Really. Ooops. My bad. Slap my wrist.

Lashes, wet noodle, all that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Regarding apologies:

I never say I'm sorry, if I err, I know it and all I give is "Whoops, my bad."

Anything more, to me, is just facetious. Apologies need no explaination, they just are.

Posted by: Kerric | March 7, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

yello, you forgot the flowers and bling. And perhaps the extended groveling.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Another backhanded apology: "I'm sorry you feel that way."

Tangent, it will catch up with you. When I was 20 I could lose 5 lb. by skipping lunch. Now, after eating *zero* from Saturday to Tuesday, I lose 2 lb. (and it will probably be back tomorrow). But enjoy it while you can!

Re: the damage that can be done by the Internet. Does this mean we should remove our Achenblog profiles? At least the part about GTP?

Posted by: Raysmom | March 7, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

We would like to apologise to those people who may have heard a short extract from "Pleasures of the Dance - A Selection of
Norwegians Carpenters' Songs" earlier in this boodle. This appeared in error and will not be repeated.

Posted by: byoolin | March 7, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Byoolin, apology graciously accepted.

Posted by: dbG | March 7, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I have just one question for this posted site. Is it some sort of secrest frat? I knew a while back this guy was scare about keeping his job and wrote about it - I thought it was so lame, thinking a do-gooder Republican who went to lunch had ass for lunch and came out with his job. Other than that this is a wasted article unless you are some White conservative who got your own little inner circle for young white americans who would had continue to buy into bush lies as long as they keep their jobs.

Posted by: danders5000 | March 7, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

bc, a sports reference I got! You made my an alumna of the university that Cornbread attended, I'd better get it...

The Southern lady who raised me, and the Southern lady who raised her, would both rise from their graves and smite me if I didn't apologize appropriately. Besides being good for the soul, it always takes people aback and hugely lessens the bad consequences. But that's just my take.

Posted by: Slyness | March 7, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

It's always nice when a true apology is accompanied with a macaroni and cheese necklace, although "shell pastas provide a truly classical look:"

From Keith Farley's "Macaroni and Cheese" series:

Pre-formed objects can be cast quickly. I knew somebody had to be doing pasta.

Posted by: dbG | March 7, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

It's always nice when a true apology is accompanied with a macaroni and cheese necklace, although "shell pastas provide a truly classical look:"

From Keith Farley's "Macaroni and Cheese" series:

Pre-formed objects can be cast quickly. I knew somebody had to be doing pasta.

Posted by: dbG | March 7, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Psssst... Front page.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse


You forgot item #4 in dealing with fights w/female SO:

4. Start building up reasons for next apology.

Posted by: Gomer | March 7, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

*straightening tie, getting on topic*

Article discussing interesting proposed legislation removing legal consequences for apologies:

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 7, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

danders5000, I'm very sorry you feel that way.

What can we do to make it up to you?

Slyness, Scotty, thanks for restoring my faith in humanity.

Scotty, I pattern my foul shots after Rick Barry.


Posted by: bc | March 7, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The Macaroni Pendant-Conchiglie cost $185. I think we know what Lady Mudge is getting for her next birthday.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse


The best words for the apology minuet are:

"I'm sorry. I want to change. Will you help me?"

The chicks just dig that stuff. Say that enough and you are in like Flynn.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I hope Danders5000 posts a translation for his/her earlier post, because I don't get it. Sounded interesting, though, and like he/she really felt strongly about whatever the topic was.

Posted by: Gomer | March 7, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I take umbrage at yello's repeatedly stereotyping women, and demand an apology.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

A warning to all Canadians getting ready to do taxes

Posted by: Kerric | March 7, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Kerric, you don't have your taxes done yet? Don't you do them the day you get your T4?

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I was indeed thinking of HG Wells. My only excuse is that some very good writers (the Post's Steven Perlstein, for example) are worse at the keyboard. Or maybe Perlstein was just having a jumpy fingers day.

None of which reduces my need to apologize. Back to the kitchen to do more experiments with Thai curry paste.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 7, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Apologies are so much less sincere when they are demanded or requested.

That said, remember the Simpsons episode where Homer walked around slapping people with a glove and demanding satisfaction? He kept getting what he wanted until some southern dude accepted his challenge and wouldn't leave until Homer dueled him.

Now that's what we need in this country again... legal duels. "Either apologize, or die!"

Posted by: Gomer | March 7, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, Orson Welles did direct the radio version of War of the Worlds, so you're not completely off, Dave.

Posted by: jw | March 7, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, knowing how hard it is for men to change.... I'd probably be itching to say, "Dude, you're not making your screw-ups MY problem to fix. It's yours. Do it for you."

Here's my 6 A's of an full, groveling apology:

* Acknowledge the harm done emotionally
* Apologize for the pain
* Accept recrimination passively
* Admit A**hood if needed

* Apply bling-bling, Hail Marys, or other tokens of repentence

* Ask for forgiveness

Catholicism: the best training ground for apologies.
When you're in the habit of apologizing to god for being a low-down dog of a sinner, ain't no trouble to apologize to others.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 7, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I wish professors would apologize for making EVERYTHING freaking due on the same 2 days at the end of the quad. Heck, don't apologize, just don't do it.

Sorry for the caps.

Now I have to find out why a certain someone is upset and if I need to apologize for anything, although I think it has to do with studying doing a blitzkrieg style takeover of our quality time, something that i can't really apologize for...(sigh)

Posted by: Tangent | March 7, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

dander5000, I really, deeply, truly apologize on behalf of my colleagues, none of whom has deigned to reply to your question. I will address this deeply rude behavior with them at a later time. In the meantime, I will answer your question. Yes, this is a secret frat. Someone will escort you to the door. I apologize for any inconvenience your stumbling into this coven of closeted conservative yuppies may have caused you.

Once again with deepest apologies, I am

yr humble srvnt

Curmudgeon, Shop Steward

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for that thoughtless remark, I know dogs have far purer hearts (and cleaner crotches) than people do.... yes. Yes. Will a doggy biscuit help you forget all about it and forgive me? Oh, you insist on an apology walk instead? Okay.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

*faxin' Wilbrodog an apologetic scritch*


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

yello, that sounds a tad like the Man's Prayer from the Red Green Show (a good Canadian show, too).

I'm a man
But I can change
If I have to
I guess...

(Said in a dead monotone, of course.)

Posted by: Raysmom | March 7, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Just a brief survey of the boodle: How many sincerely, contritely apologize to their pet(s) for (a) tripping over a sudden hairy obstacle; (b) feeding late; (c) vet visits?

(I *know* it's not Just Me)


Posted by: sevenswans | March 7, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Change? Who said anything about "change"? Us guys are supposed to change? Yet another damn memo I never got. I really do have to speak to the mailboy (sorry: mailperson) about this. I thought according to Billy Joel, Wilbrod, that you ladies are supposed to love us "just the way [we] are."

Change. Jeez. As if it ain't already tough enough bein' a guy as it is. Now we have to go and change stuff.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Mostly for not changing water BEFORE Wilbrodog gets thirty, etc. I never apologize for vet visits except with a long apology walk after.

Now I really do have to go.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, with that near-simultaneous post, now I *really* know it's not Just Me!


(let's hear from the Companion of the Rabbits. . .)

Posted by: sevenswans | March 7, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

sevenswans, I not only apologize to the dog, I say excuse me and pardon me when I need to get past him. I am Canadian and was raised Catholic, the words I am sorry are habitual.

Posted by: dmd | March 7, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse


My cats insist I apologize.

All the time.

Just 'cuz.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, I know I haven't said this often enough (and for that I humbly apologize), but: Thank you for being you.

And for sticking your snout in scottynuke's crotch at McCormick & Schmicks. (I needed the laugh.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Don't know about you, sevenswans, dmd, but when I apologize to the dog, I just get this look that says "Talk is cheap. Bring on the walk, food, whatever."

Posted by: Raysmom | March 7, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I apologize to the cat but I'm pretty sure she doesn't forgive me.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 7, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I know that look Raysmom. My children have a similar look.

Posted by: dmd | March 7, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I apologize to the dogs and the cats, but not for vet trips. They should thank me for protecting them from disease and parasitic worms, but they never do. They don't apologize for their inconsideration, either.

Mudge- I tried to reply to Dander5000, but I couldn't get past the poor spelling and grammar. I got stuck on wondering if this had turned into a "secrest frat". I like the American Idol guy, but haven't seen anyone posting about him lately.

Or ever, for that matter.

Posted by: Gomer | March 7, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

OK, enough's enough. Have we all got all the apologizing out of our systems now? Can we move on to the next related topic, which probably HAS to be make-up sex?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Joel -

Remeber this non-apology from John Kerry?
"I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform and I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended."

OK. So he regrets that stupid people didn't get it (which is ironic given that his joke was that soldiers were too stupid in the first place) and ... even better ... he personally apologizes to those WHO WERE OFFENDED. Here again, the apology is conditioned on the context and subjectivity of the butt of the joke.

Posted by: Kane | March 7, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, how to explain this? Just 'cuz a woman would like a man to change doesn't mean she doesn't love him as is. Kind of like you really love your house, but also really would like to see that plasma TV in it. In a successful relationship, though, she doesn't pin her future happiness on it actually occuring.

As to not getting the memo, therein lies the problem. Somewhere between the send and the receive.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 7, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

2:35 was me. So sorry for any distress that may have caused anyone.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 7, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Now we have to apologize for make-up sex? What???

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Your not getting it. You just have to SAY you want to change. You don't even have to be genuinely sorry. Women (Yoki excepted) just want to know that you acknowledge your faults. Change can be a very slow process. Heck, it took me fifteen years to learn to leave the seat down. My wife taught my dog to pee on the tree in the front yard on command in just three weeks. I'm still be compared unfavorably to him.

I apologize for any confusion.

Mea culpa. (Latin for "my bad")

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I didn't particularily wait to do my taxes till now, it was more that I didn't recieve my T4 from one job until Friday.

Posted by: Kerric | March 7, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

And well you should, Scottynuke, and well you should. . .


Cats have a fine-tuned sense of justice. I've got many stories from years past of some visiting SO or guest that insisted on being abusively dismissive of the resident feline's privacy or comfort, only to eventually find a garment or belonging in somewhat fragrant condition - thus demonstrating the Cat's Opinion of their behavior.

(and then *I* got to apologize) (but such obvious boors were never invited back) (not that they wanted to risk it anyway. . .)

Posted by: sevenswans | March 7, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, you just should tell your wife that apparently it took her that long to figure out how to train you. But only if you want to be splitting a tree with the dog.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't think of it as "change"; I like to think of it as "mellowing." Of course, what it really is, is "deterioration."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

*curling up into a fetal ball of confusion while contemplating which thought sevenswans was replying to*


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I didn't realize how popular this site has become. For instance, I didn't realize that danders1 through danders4,999 had already been taken . . . .

Posted by: bill everything | March 7, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Hell, if that's all it takes, I can pee on the tree in the front yard. Heck, I could do that BEFORE I got married. (Whether I HAVE actually done that or not I can't remember. I may have been heavily self-medicated at the time. But it sounds fairly do-able.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The one about your cats requiring apologies, Scottynuke!

(so sorry) (it's my dial-up, I never get posted in time) (but that's no excuse) (I did put a smiley!) (but that's no excuse either, I'm soooorrrryyyyyy....)

Posted by: sevenswans | March 7, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse


Apology accepted, sevenswans.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

>danders1 through danders4,999

Well bill, at least we have our danders up about something.

Posted by: Error Flynn | March 7, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I think Joel might be disappointed to have us labeled a frat instead of a cult.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

A cult, Yoki? Not a wild bunch of groupies?

Posted by: Slyness | March 7, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

As a result of the same dial-up lag, now I'm wondering why Mudge wants to pee on the tree in the front yard instead of apologizing for make-up sex and why billeverything says this requires an upright dander.

or 4999 or them.

or not.

(augh! protect the trees! they're innocent!)

Posted by: sevenswans | March 7, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Yes. And isn't "frat" sexist? It implies men only, and of course we have many of the weaker sex here.

Oh, did I just say that? I'm deeply abashed. I apologize for any sexist remarks I may have made. I'm sorry. It'll never happen again.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed (and am proud of) my old home town of Philly as described in this article about its many BYOB restuarants:

Wish we had them in DC and Merlin.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure our resident dog experts will explain the training process much better, but the key is to start with a behavior the trainee wants to do and then channeling that into a command/reward response. The dog wanted to pee on the tree. It was coming right back into the house that required conditioning.

My problem was the lack of recognizing any immediate reward for performing the task. Like 'mudge said, we now move onto make-up sex. Although personally, I have found there are places I don't want any rouge or blush. And particularly not lipstick. But if that is what Mudge and/or LadyMudge enjoy, who am I to complain?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

yello, I believe you may find use of the hyphen an admirable aid when discussing the diference between make-up sex and makeup sex.

Although in both cases it's probably a good idea to first establish a firm base.

And keep the powder handy.

And try not to stick the pencil in your eye.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for reminding me about simplicity in apologies. Someone Canookian noted that being both Canadian (tends toward politeness) and Catholic (through my fault x3, my most grievious fault) can help with the Mea Culpa thingie.

I guess Montanians borrow the politeness from their Northern neighbors.

Does anyone read Walker Percy? He laments the decidedly modern lack of shame or guilt. I think that the endangered species of Homo humilitas underscores in part our cultural move away from "I am sorry."

And guys, I mean both male and female of the species who may be evolving away from saying sorry.

BTW, where did the "my bad" phrase come from? I like the idea that this is a hipper mea culpa. But I don't think I can ever say this. Sounds flip and automatic. Does it mean 'I am sorry?' Does it mean 'excuse me?'

Posted by: College Parkian | March 7, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Long story short:

Little Gomer got kicked out of his daycare for biting other kids (he was 15 months old). Ms. Gomer wanted to meet with a child psychologist, just to assure ourselves that his behavior was normal, age-appropriate, etc. Conversation with psychologist turned to potty-training methods. The doc said to let daddy (that's me!) train him outside in the backyard, using the trees, as all boys like to pee outside. I had to tap Ms. Gomer on the leg, as she had been getting on me recently for refusing to pee in the toilet (wastes too much water!) and using the compost heap instead.

I think that I shall never pee
On anything lovely as a tree.

Posted by: Gomer | March 7, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I thought we were an autonomous collective...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Too many syllables, S'nuke.

Posted by: Slyness | March 7, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

You're fooling yourself

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 7, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I apologize, Slyness. I agree, I must reduce my syllables.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Scotty, no apology needed. It was just an observation.

Posted by: Slyness | March 7, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

We saw this coming...

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Astronaut Lisa Nowak was fired from NASA on Wednesday, a month after she was charged with trying to kidnap a woman she regarded as her romantic rival for the affection of a space shuttle pilot.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 7, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Gomer: your comment on "secrest frat" - LOL

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 7, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, perhaps things might have been different if only Lisa knew how to apologize: "I'm deeply sorry if you chose to miscontrue the purpose of my driving 950 miles in a diaper and armed with a BB gun and a rubber hose to discuss with you the fact that you are banging my ex-boyfriend."

I think that might have made a world of difference.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

We're So Sorry Uncle Albert
We're So Sorry If We Caused You Any Pain
We're So Sorry Uncle Albert
But There's No One Left At Home
And I Believe I'm Gonna Rain

We're So Sorry But We Haven't Heard A Thing All Day
We're So Sorry Uncle Albert
But If Anything Should Happen We'll Be Sure To Give A Ring

We're So Sorry Uncle Albert
But We Haven't Done A Bloody Thing All Day
We're So Sorry Uncle Albert
But The Kettle's On The Boil And We're So Easily Called Away

Posted by: omni | March 7, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

see that second line: it's all Paul's fault

Posted by: omni | March 7, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

CP, "My bad" means "oops, sorry."

It's a big difference from "I'm really, really sorry, now will you tell me what I did???" Or "I'm so sorry to hear your rich uncle died, can you buy me a BMW?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

This is almost as good as a Weingarten chat.

I'm no so sure about peeing on a compost heap, at least if you use the humus on a vegetable garden. Though Broc assures me that peeing on the pvc compost bin is just fine.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you do not want to know what gets sprayed on the farmland need my Dads' - they truck it in and it is nasty.

Posted by: dmd | March 7, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Finally, back to the Beatles. If God is calling them back in order of talent, who's next, Paul or Ringo?

That joke was tasteless. My apologies. Wow! You can get away with anything if you just apologize.

Has Ann Coulter apologized for calling John Edwards a f-word? Has George Will apologized for calling Coulter a man? Do either see the need for an apology?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 7, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Pee is sterile, Yoki; unless somebody has an infection. It's when the urine exits that the trouble starts. Also, for some reason some dogs can really wilt grass with it-- too much protein.

Don't think many men would want to be blamed for yellow grass.

By the way, Wilbrodog was barking at a howling dog recently, right in the direction of a neighbor who had apparently decided to take a leak outside (back to the street, mercifully.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it is the protein, I think it is the concentration of nitrogen in dog urine that wilts/yellows/kills the grass, just like a fertilizer-burn. That is why at the edges of the spot the grass is often dark green and over-grown; cause by the time it pools all the way out there, the nitrogen left is just enough to act as a super-fertilizer.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I had a neighbor once who was having trouble with raccoons getting into her trash cans. She and her husband were talking about ways to keep the little pests away. Next thing she knows, her 10 year old son is outside, peeing on the trash cans. He'd seen dogs marking their territory and took the logical (or not) leap.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 7, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

BTW, protein is the source of nitrogen, Yoki.

Amino acids (the building blocks of protein), in contrast to fats and carbos, have nitrogen in an amine group, hence the name.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

My favorite apology:

I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you, or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future.

John Cleese - "A Fish Called Wanda"

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 7, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

That is indeed a fine apology, RD, particularly the admission of motivation by malice (in the common use of the term). Don't we all wish we could offer that on occasion?

Welcome back from the Land of the Contracting Rabbits.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 7, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I feel sorry for Padouk this week. When he goes home from work he has to listen to pitiless cries from his children, "Daddy, Daddy, tell us how day's COTR PowerPoint training went! Oh, Daddy, please, Daddy!"

And then -- good Dad that he is --he has to read the PowerPoint aloud to them while they read it silently to themselves from the print-outs. And then later, after the kids are asleep, he has to tell the whole thing all over again to his wife.

I tell ya, it ain't easy being a dad in the Federal Gummint.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

S'nuke, I told you, we're an anarcho-syndicalist commune, we take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week . . . .

Posted by: bill everything | March 7, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I, on the other hand, have to explain to my family "multicollinearity," which just now popped up in a document I am editing, along with "ordered probit model." I am utter clueless, but somehow I shoulder on.

And you guys wonder how Iraq happened. Sheesh.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-- parallel processing? Prostate exam?

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Whoops, lookit the ol' clock on the wall. I'm outta here, peeps. Later, dudes.

Oh, by the way, I'm sorry. I really am. I feel terrible about the whole thing. Really. It's all my fault.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 7, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I'm sorry for not knowing my aminos from my nitros. Is there any way I can make amends?

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Short of brewing up life from scratch in a lab, not much, but you're forgiven, Yoki.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"brewing up life from scratch in a lab"

Science fiction
Double feature
Dr. X
will build a creature

Posted by: sevenswans | March 7, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse


Errr... if you prefer more familiar forms of life, check out my blog at

Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 7, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt asks "Has George Will apologized for calling Coulter a man?"

But to whom, exactly, should he apologize for this? The situation is somewhat ambiguous.

Posted by: Tim | March 7, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - I threaten to tell my children about my day when I need to enforce discipline. Years from now they will doubtless be in therapy complaining that I didn't just scream at them like other fathers.

The Companion Of The Rabbits class is sucking the life force from my body. Especially since I found out today that I still need a five day Program Management class to be fully certified. Perhaps you could hear the screams drifting over the new fallen snow?

I don't even want to be a COTR Level II. Level I takes up enough of my time as it is. But given the many other constraints I already place on my employer regarding travel and hours, it seems prudent to indulge their wishes whenever I actually can.

Well, enough whining. On to the topic of apologies. I suspect, with a shocking lack of originality, that public officials avoid apologies because they are viewed as an admission of culpability instead of an opportunity for reconciliation. It's like when I try to apologize to my wife for, like, forgetting to fully close the back door thus causing the heat-pump to blow a fuse. (To pick a, like, totally hypothetical scenario. Yeah that's it. Hypothetical.)

Anyway, after I offer a heartfelt apology I naively expect that my sincere remorse will induce her to melt into my arms and commence an orgy of forgiveness. Alas, the reality is somewhat different.

And so I have learned to blame the dog.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 7, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, I love your expression in the duck picture - and the cat's expression in the other one!

Posted by: sevenswans | March 7, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

In my youth, before I gained the appellation of "ScienceTim" or earned the right to place any other specific prefix before my "Tim", I occasionally erred. Fell from the straight and narrow. Committed one or two acts that I could not defend. On a few occasions, my own ScienceDad (now the ScienceGrandpa, of course), would require me to march with him to the house of the injured party, knock on the door, request an audience with said injured party, and make an apology that did not claim any failure or instigation on the part of the injured. No letters possible, it had to be face-to-face. This was extremely difficult. I felt genuinely sorry, and knew that I had done wrong, but I sure didn't want to have to face the person I had wronged. This has led to my philosophy that I try never to say anything about a person that I could not defend to that person's face, if compelled to do so. Whether I would want to say it to that person's face, or would choose to do so, is a different matter. This has also led to my feeling that I will apologize for what I agree I should not have done, but I will stick up for myself if I feel that I was right to have done whatever it was I did, and accept the consequences without apology.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 7, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

And I agree that Hot Cocoa is very good for you. Especially with a modicum of schnapps.

Now I need to do homework. Sheesh. Three days down, four to go.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 7, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry for all of the psychological trauma brought upon you for undertaking the role of the Companion of The Rabbits, RD. Had we been more responsible members of this screst frat we would have encouraged seeking a more benign means of furthering your career. Like singing. Look out for those Trojan rabbits. They're killers.

Posted by: jack | March 7, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I think you need to apologize to New Jersey for your comments in your previous post.

Posted by: Hello | March 7, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Joel writes, "Wake up in the night, jot down an inspiration. Isn't that how that cat figured out the structure of benzene? Dreamed of a snake swallowing its tail?"


"Snakes are omnipresent not only in hallucinations, myths and symbols of human beings in general, but also in their dreams. According to some studies, 'Manhattanites dream of them with the same frequency as Zulus.' One of the best-known dream of this sort is August Kekules's, the German chemist who discovered the cyclical structure of benzene one night in 1862, when he fell asleep in front of the fire and dreamed of a snake dancing in front of his eyes while biting its tail and taunting him. According to one commentator, 'There is hardly any need to recall that this contribution was fundamental for the development of organic chemistry.'"

-- from "The Cosmic Serpent," by Jeremy Narby

And then there's this:

"In late July 2004, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, died at the age of 88, and soon afterwards a little-known fact of his life hit the tabloid press. This was that when he was working at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge in the early 1950s, he frequently used LSD (which remained legal until the mid-1960s) as a 'thinking tool' to boost his mental powers. According to a report published in London on 8 August 2004 in 'The Mail on Sunday,' Crick had privately admitted to colleagues that he was under the influence of LSD in 1953 at the moment when he 'perceived the double helix shape' and unravelled the structure of DNA."

-- from "Supernaturual: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind," by Graham Hancock

Posted by: Dreamer | March 7, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to break in with this off-topic post, but i would be remiss in not mentioning that the Turner Classic Movie channel is playing several Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes flicks tonight.

Posted by: Error Flynn | March 7, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Hi Tangent,

I hope Cosine forgives you sweetly and enthusiastically, etc.

On behalf of professors every where, I apologize. Spring break makes us crazy, trying to load up with ideas, readings, assignments, etc.

But, my students who leave on the 19th for Aruba or perhaps social justicing in New Olearns are working hard this week, instead.

Still, I am sorry, sorry, sorry. Do forgive.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 7, 2007 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Thanks CP and Mudge for the lesson on stocks.

I often apologize to people because I talk loud and it can sometimes sound mean and irritable. There's quite a bit of frustration going on for people that are deaf. And so many times it comes out in our voice and our response to people. Plus one has to deal with folks that believe because one is deaf, that the person can't talk or the person is mental. I fit all the fore-mentioned categories at some time or other, but I still apologize. No one wants their feelings hurt, and it doesn't matter how old we are. I know that I am frustrated a lot by the hearing loss so in knowing that, I realize that just maybe I've probably reacted in a bad way. Apologize. It doesn't cost a thing. And I feel better, and I'm hoping the other party feels better also. I know that's child like thinking, but what does one expect from someone that still likes coloring books and crayons? The big box.

Time for bed. Have a good evening everyone. Good night. Peace.

Slyness, I know you asked me something, but I can't remember. Will go back through the comments later, too tired and sleepy now, God willing.

Posted by: Cassandra S | March 7, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Am off to grade papers and watch the Sherlockian movies recommended by EF. (Shssshhh. Tangent, don't tell that I mark dangling modifiers and watch TV at the same time.)

But I must report that on my community list serve tonight, someone is asking for a spare geiger counter. Apparently, the cat was treated for a thyroid condition with radioactive iodine. The poster wants to check the rads, and see if it is safe for the kitty to sleep with the kids.

[click, click-click, clickety, clickety......]

Posted by: College Parkian | March 7, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Re diet : When I was in college, my rommates and I went on a diet after watching Miss Universe. We ate no more than 100 calories per day and agreed to do it for a month. All three of us failed (cos we gave up after 1 week) except for one. That one wasn't me. Months later I found out that a certain amount of exercise (not too much) curbs your appetite. How much is too much? I think it depends on the individual cos I discovered it by accident. I ran alittle over a miles and when I got home, I realized that I wasn't hungry. When I ate, I ate no more then 100 calories a day and I saw results after 2 weeks. I tried all sorts of diet and none worked for me except for this one. There were no Atkin's diet at that time.

Let's not talk about maintaining ...

Posted by: rain forest | March 7, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Great summary of how Walter Reed is just the tip of iceberg of ignorance that has guided this administration in its treatment of vets, the very people they use as a political shield time and time again:

Posted by: bill everything | March 7, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Way late with a response to the Cedric Maxwell thing. bc and Scottynuke, I confess that I had to ask "S" about the cornbread reference as I am not a basketball fan but he seems to know an awful lot about all sports. Anyway, "S" had told me about the whole brouhaha with Maxwell when it happened last week. His feeling was that Maxwell was trying to imitate Tommy Heinsohn (sp?) who tries to imitate the late Johnny Most (i.e. trying to be outraged and funny at the same time). "S" says that if you heard Maxwell's comment rather than just read it, that you'd realize that there was no malice or disrespect meant and that immediately after he made that comment he went on to say that the ref was one of the best in the league. So apparently, the feeling here is that no apology should have been required.

I can't believe I just wrote a whole paragraph about something I know absolutely nothing about (and couldn't care less about). Should I apologize?

My #1 daughter says "sorry" all the time. It drives the rest of us nuts. It's a low self-esteem issue and a leftover from having had a very strict father. However, #2 daughter had the same father and she hardly ever apologizes for anything. I'm somewhere in the middle.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | March 7, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

pj, thanks for the Neil Young CD tip - looks fabulous. Brings back lots of memories.

For being off-topic (again!), a thousand apologies.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 7, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Ummm... well if ANYONE eats less than a hundred calories a day (I'll be generous here, and assume that you actually mean kilocalories, as is usually assumed in dietary contexts), they're damned sure gonna lose weight, at around a pound every three days, not counting water weight loss. This diet actually has a traditional name:


Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Actually, re-checking some figures, it's more like a pound every two to two-and-a-half days, as long as the fat reserves hold out. Once the fat gets low, it gets wierd and ugly.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I just remembered the other traditional name for this diet:


: )

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and thanks to bill everything too for the Sugar Mountain reminder. When I saw Candy Mountain, I thought of it, but I was encouraged to post when I saw his response to RD. And I certainly didn't mean to make him feel bad about misremembering the age mentioned in the song. 18, 20 - what's the diff? Only Tangent and the lovely Cosine and sparks know.

Think I'll have a nice mug of hot cocoa.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 7, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Bob, I had that thought myself. Maybe the person means 1000 calories. One could stick to that for a while.

Posted by: Slyness | March 7, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm hoping rain forest meant 1,000 calories a day, not 100.
100 calories is, like, an apple. Of course, that's not unheard of among people with anorexia, but I didn't get the impression rain forest was in that category.

The problem with diets is you can't stick to them over the longer term. Which would be OK if you just went back to "normal" eating, but most people feel so deprived after the diet, they go overboard, eating way beyond the point of fullness. Food has become an obsession, at that point.

I've gone the 1,000-calorie-a-day route at various points of my life, interspersed with the 3,000-calorie-a-day route -- the classic yo-yo. These days, I tend to follow more of an Intuitive Eating approach:

"If you don't love it, don't eat it. And if you love it, savor it!"

Posted by: Dreamer | March 7, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

rain forest, will you please email me at

Put in the subject line: From rain forest

Put in the first line of your email: to yoki from rainforest

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Yup, I'm sure it must have been 1000 calories.

I remember going on a ten-day hike in the Grand Canyon in late June one year (it's still fairly cool on the rim, but already painfully hot down in the canyon by then) and losing a considerable amount of weight because the heat and exertion/exhaustion were powerful appetite suppressants, even as I was burning up a lot of energy most days.

By halfway through the trip, I'd learned to take large mouthsfull ("mouthsfull" - Is that a word? Should it be "mouthfulls"? Anyway, it's useful here!) of Tang or lemonade powder, and gulp it/them down with a big swallow of water.

Whatever works to keep the calorie intake up when you need it. Maybe I should have brought whale blubber!

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Mostly L., no, I was kicking myself. Felt like I referred to the first song on "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" as "The Licorice Girl."

That song "Old Man" is getting more real by the day . . . .

Posted by: bil everything | March 7, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

And let's not forget the "Big Rock Candy Mountain".

(Why do I fear that I may be the only one old enough to remember that song, even though it's from WELL before my time?)

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 10:35 PM | Report abuse

"Birds and the bees, and the cigarette trees..."

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Not! I think "Big Rock Candy Mountain" is possibly the best folk/roots song ever. For the young people, there was a fantastic version sung on the soundtrack for "Brother Where Art Thou?"

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Good grief! "multicollinearity" really is a word! And altho I read the definition, I have no idea what it means.

Shoulder on, Mudge, shoulder on.

Posted by: nellie | March 7, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

and the alcohol comes tricking down the rocks...

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

SCC: And the alcohol streams come trickling...

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - Aaaahhh, I feel better!

I'm gonna try to make it to the upcoming BPH. I'm looking forward to being able to say "howdy" in person.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Nellie - Yeah, there's no question that someone was trying to be just a little too cute when they decided to start using "multicollinearity".

It'a quasiparameaninglessful!

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

oh yes, Bob S. But be forewarned. I cannot sing a note, in tune. I know the words, but the tune? Not so much.

OK, I'm coming clean. I will be in DC for meetings in mid-March, and I think I shall join a BPH (if all goes well).

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - I had heard that rumor! I've been to one other gathering, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The timing and/or my budget have not cooperated for me to attend any since that one, but I'll hope to be seeing you.

They are genuinely fun, welcoming kinda folks.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Come on down anyway, Bob. We'll work it out, eh? I'll be the fat middle aged-lady wearing the giant blue or purple bow.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 11:03 PM | Report abuse

And now that I've come clean, I would quite like to meet other Boodlers. Come on down!

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

To tell you the truth, in all the excitement, I've kinda lost track myself...

What day have we settled upon for "The Gathering"? Was it the 21st?

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 11:27 PM | Report abuse

yet another SCC: middle-aged fat lady

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, it's wonderful you're going to meet the DC boodlers! Wish I could come, but I live far away and have too many Lilliputians keeping me tied down.

By the way, I hope you could tell I was just faking umbrage yesterday about the Scots/Irish thing. If not, please accept my most sincere and humble apology.

Posted by: Wheezy | March 7, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I think, late afternoon on the 21st of March. I plan to tip up at M&S at around 16:45.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting a feeling that this is gonna be a more-than-two-tables kinda BPH!

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh, you'll be the middle lady, Yoki. Purple bow sounds nice as long as you don't wear it on your head in the same style as Dolores Umbridge.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

My Wheezy, my captain... In spite of the Kit, no apologies are due or owing. I (as #1 and #2 would say).. *totally* knew you were joking.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 11:34 PM | Report abuse

This just in: Stephen Colbert has apologized to Sumner Redstone.

Posted by: maggieo'd | March 7, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I hope so! I'm gonna miss you and Wilbrodog, though.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Delores Umbridge? Umbridge? Hahaha.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 7, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Even though we're kinda beyond it now, I did have this thought about apologies ("Beat that deceased equine, Bob!"):

Folks who can't give a genuine apology are generally afraid. Sympathize, empathize, pity them if you must. But go ahead and understand that their fear makes them actually incapable of anything that you and I would understand as contrition. It's a lot easier to put their moves into perspective once you bear that central fact in mind.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Why is it okay to make obscure literary or Star Wars or whatever references, but not to use a word like multicollinearity? Those are different forms of specialized knowledge. I don't complain when the boodle goes off on a Star Trek tangent, a periodic occurrence and something I know zilch about. (Note: Periodic is a highly technical term.) Another topic will come along in due course. Anybody want to reminisce about Number Six?

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 7, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

OTOH, maybe I make the same mistake Loomis does -- imagining we're discussing Topics with a capital T. There's some of that, but most of the bandwidth is perhaps devoted simply to staying in touch. That's not really a guy thing.

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 7, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

What is Number Six, LTL-CA?

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 7, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Aha. Google up The Prisoner. To me, that and Monty Python are what Star Trek is to most folks. Unfortunately it only lasted maybe fifteen episodes.

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 7, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

LTL=CA, I think it is a matter of timing. I like words like words like multicollinearity. As do you. Shall we talk about those sorts of beautiful multisyllabic and resonant words?

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Not a thing in the world wrong with that, LTL-CA. In fact, I applaud it!

It's just a funny word, which shares with much other jargon the trait that it (while almost certainly intended to be specific and clarifying) is rather vaporous when used outside very technical applications.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

G'night all.

Posted by: Yoki | March 7, 2007 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, that's great. Thanks for the smile.

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 7, 2007 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, I had left your pictures up on the computer this evening while I was away, and my older daughter saw them and thought I had taken new pictures of her dog, Froggie. The two of you have a definite family resemblance. Froggie has a big white blaze down her chest, though. I loved your pictures. Fergie also has a cat friend. We believe the cat thinks the dogs are *her* pets. The cat graciously allows the big stupid smelly dogs to open the doggy door for her, and she skips though and out after them. She's not heavy enough to do it herself, you see.

Posted by: Wheezy | March 7, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

LTL-CA - C'mon now, give up the inside info here: Were you the one who wrote that document that the 'mudge is trying to edit?

: )

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, LTL-CA, you can certainly use "multicollinearity" all you want, but I still don't know what it means, and I cannot spell it and must paste it in every time I use it. On the other hand, I can spell "Star Trek." Altho I don't know any of those references, either.

Posted by: nellie | March 7, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Sorry - omitted the line where I explained that we call Froggie Fergie. So I made that more confusing that it should have been.

Posted by: Wheezy | March 7, 2007 11:58 PM | Report abuse

LTL-CA -- A few months back, I caught (what I assume is the final) "Prisoner" episode, where he gets off the island, back to London, then goes on the search to find it again.

Fun stuff!

Posted by: Bob S. | March 7, 2007 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Yoki's mention of "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" sent me off to listen to 30 second swatches of various renditions. I found several where the song had been "cleaned up" for today's children, with "chocolate trees" instead of cigarette trees, and "orange squash" instead of alcohol.

Posted by: nellie | March 8, 2007 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, when I saw your comment that you are editing a document that includes collinearity and ordered probit model even though apparently those are from outside your technical specialty, I wondered how your office assigns tasks. The best editor I ever met (my boss at the time) was an engineer, who just wrote and edited technical papers. They sure were clear and easy to understand, although not to a total novice.

My dad gave me a copy of a chemistry book he co-wrote with one of his PhD students. The first chapter was a history of natural products chemistry, which was interesting and quite clear. Then I turned the page to chapter two, and couldn't understand a single word for the rest of the book!

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 8, 2007 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Oops, I forgot to mention, the technical papers my engineer boss edited were specs written by his staff members, including myself. After a couple of years he started letting them go through pretty much unscathed, and I felt I had really achieved something. Since then I have rarely encountered an engineering manager who seems to know or care how a specification should be written or whether they make any sense. Many seem to be most interested in the company's stock price.

Posted by: LTL-CA | March 8, 2007 12:13 AM | Report abuse

'mudge can, of course, speak for himself, but I think he was mostly having a little fun.

This crowd can handle at least a much diversity in vocabulary as most groups of non-academics that you're liable to find yourself amongst, probably a good bit more.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 8, 2007 12:13 AM | Report abuse

That would be, "AS much diversity", natch.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 8, 2007 12:14 AM | Report abuse

nellie - I think that my introduction to the song was a Burl Ives rendition that had been made kid-friendly, many decades ago.

Posted by: Bob S. | March 8, 2007 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Bob S -- we used to have a kid's record by Burl Ives called "The Little White Duck." I cannot remember if "Rock Candy etc." was on that recording, but it was great for little kids.

Posted by: nellie | March 8, 2007 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Goody! I don't need to buy any false moustaches to disguise myself then, just some white paint ;).

What breed mix is Froggie/Fergie?

Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 8, 2007 12:30 AM | Report abuse

I remeber hearing "the Big rock candy mountain" off of the sound track to "Oh Brother where art thou"A fine sound track at that too.

I sure enjoyed that flick.

beautiful drive home tonight,moon and snow,very nice.

There is a freezing fog warning in affect for out area,now that is some cool S...

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 8, 2007 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Please excuse my grammar,been up for 24 hours or so

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 8, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Hi Wilbrod/Wilbrodog - Fergie was at the pound listed as "lab mix." Our vet pointed out that the "mix" part is a lot pit bull. So she looks like you, but bigger, I think. Fergie is 75 lbs. She has a "little" brother named Twix, who weighs about 72 pounds. He's also a black lab, but he seems to have some bloodhound or even dachshaund mixed in with his labrador. He doesn't look as much like you.

Posted by: Wheezy | March 8, 2007 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Greenwithenvy - freezing fog is bad for trees, isn't it? I mean, like weighing them down with ice till they break? After all the big power outages this winter I just want spring to come already! At least you made it home OK, now you can finally get some rest. You always make it sound like you appreciate weather and nature you see, more than most do.

'Nite all.

Posted by: Wheezy | March 8, 2007 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Many who see me in person think I weigh 100 pounds, Wheezy. In reality I weigh only a little more than Fergie.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 8, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Literary bulletin: Kurt Andersen's novel is out--my copy arrived yesterday. Entitled "Heyday," it is a lovely, 600-page historical novel set in America c. 1848. I plan to read it this weekend and will probably need to revive my blog in order to express my enthusiasm without boring the boodle.

Good morning to all--I hope the day brings good things to everybody.

On-topic comment: I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this saying, which is popular around my workplace: "It is easier to apologize than to ask permission."

Posted by: kbertocci | March 8, 2007 6:05 AM | Report abuse

LTL-CA wrote: "Since then I have rarely encountered an engineering manager who seems to know or care how a specification should be written or whether they make any sense."

Hi LTL-CA (Does that mean CA as in Cali?). I may quote you to my tech writing students. About 40 out of 60 are engineers or architects. Care to say something even more helpful, like, "writing can save lives"?

I appreciated your chemistry book comment. Long ago and far away, I took organic chemistry for all three semesters. I enjoyed reading Morrison and Boyd. Fast forward: UMCP does not use Morrison and Boyd's _Organic Chemistry_. I can't recall the title, but a student gave me the book to look at one summer, since I needed this as background to edit a document. Wow. Crappy writing. Terribly unclear.

Dreamer mentioned the famous Kekule dream about snakes. This helped him (K., not D.) figure out the structure of benzene, which helped him define aromaticity, a special kind of carbon bonding. Dreamer, that story fronted Chapter Six in Morrison and Boyd. Lovely story to open a chapter on how carbon seeks carbon.

KB -- bore me, really. Here or there. Be sure to signal when your blog is open for Kurt A. business.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 8, 2007 6:28 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, boodle. Was 20 degrees here when I took my daughter to the bus stop a few minutes ago. Purty nippy, I'd say.

LTL, you asked how my office assigns work. I can answer that question, now that I have stopped alternately weeping and laughing hysterically. Since I am the only copy editor in my office (as well as my entire department, as well as my entire 700-person agency, as well as the entire Department of Gummint Stuff [as near as I can tell]), assigning copyediting work is pretty easy: I get it all. Fortunately for me, about 2/3 of the agency holds to the belief that (pardon the language) "it's s--- don't stink" and therefore doesn't have to be copyedited, it's not as bad as it sounds.

Yesterday was worse than usual: about 10:30 I was told I was about to receive four reports, each 8 pages long, that were "super rush" that I had to copyedit by noon so they could be posted on the Web by COB. I replied there was no way in hell I could copyedit 32 pages decently in 90 minutes (especially since I was about to go into our weekly staff meeting, which lasts about half an hour). But I was told it came from "upstairs" and although everyone realized the utter absurdity of it, I was to do the best I could. So the work actually arrived about 11, and turned out to be four 11-page reports--plus a five-page addendum to one of them. So the promised 32 pages turned out to be 49 pages. All of which had to be posted on the Web by 5. Of course, the nperson who does the Web posting was leaving at 3 p.m. yesterday for a doctor's appointment (she's about 6 or 7 months pregnant, so it's not like she can just blow off the doctor thing). Fortunately, we do have a proofreader (separate from my copyediting job, but we do assist each other once in a while, as needed). So the proofer took two reports and I took two, plus the addendum. I finished about 1:30. I dunno if they got posted or not; not my problem.

Was there a good reason WHY they had to be posted by 5 p.m.? Don't make me laugh even harder.

Just an average horror story, and one which I'm sure any of the other gummint as well as private industry folks here can top easily.

My boss, in a bit of frustration, has pointed out in staff meetings from time to time that when our groups "steps up" and delivers like we do from time to time, we are only just "enabling" the bad behavior, incompetence, stupidity, and laziness of the folks upstairs. And she's right, of course.

(The final irony, of course, is that the person whose chestnuts we pulled from the fire yesterday and whose butt we saved happens to be my and my department's arch-enemy, an upper-mid-level department head. One day we are going to "get" that person, one way or another. I don't know when or how, and most likely it won't be me who does it [more's the pity]. But that's just how it is in the real world. Paybacks are hell. In my head I hear people calling out, "Dead bureaucrat walking!")

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 8, 2007 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Mudge and everyone else: feel free to repost any treasured comments on the kit I just put up (the much anticipated federal budget story!!!!)

Posted by: Achenbach | March 8, 2007 7:35 AM | Report abuse

College Parkian, I apoogize for this very tardy reply...

For that person wondering about the iodized cat sleeping with the kids, the answer SHOULD be a) the vet should be able to calculate when the cat would no longer provide a dose to other creatures (if that was ever the case), and b) an extra day or two of separation wouldn't hurt either the cat or the kids, just to be safe. Don't get me started on whether the person could have actually done anything with the reading from a Geiger counter.

Morning all! *Grover waves*

BPH newbies on the 21st??? Excellent! *Snoopy dances*


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 8, 2007 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Following up a thread from yesterday, I play a game with Scientific American articles. I count the paragraphs until it becomes complete gibberish. The over/under is five paragraphs.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 8, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse


I now picture Grover with a Geiger Counter. Thank you, for such a happy image, especially since Grover and all others may need hip replacements at 70 but die while waiting in line.....

Hey, how old is Grover anyway? Was he born in 1970? Does that make him Gen X?

Posted by: College Parkian | March 8, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I have observed that people now believe that if they do something wrong or offensive, apologizing makes it O.K., and they continue behaving poorly because they believe saying "I'm sorry" makes the misbehavior acceptable. I don't necessarily want you to be sorry - I want you to change your behavior.

Posted by: abman47 | March 8, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I agree with your general thesis about a culture that finds it difficult to apologize. However, I have to strongly disagree with you over the Cedric Maxwell comment, which is indicative of an even larger problem with our culture: Hyper-sensitivity to the most innocuous comments. I'm sure Cedric wasn't planning to escort this lady back to the kitchen. When did our collective egos become so fragile that we wilt before any kind of good natured ribbing.

Posted by: mpm | March 8, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Quite a coincidence. Last night on telly there was a documentary which followed a ex-criminal who, after finding God while in prison, was travelling the country and apoligising face to face to all his victims. I only saw part of it where he apologised to a store owner who he'd robbed at gun point. You could see that both men were moved by the conversation. The victim, although nervous about coming face to face with his attacker again, was able to forgive him and commend him for his change of character. And the ex-crim was on a big high from getting it all off his chest. Goes to show that saying sorry is important for both parties.

Posted by: Mary | March 8, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry.
I mean it.
I'm serious.
Stop looking at me like that.

Posted by: Aurasboreus999 | March 12, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

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