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Boris Yeltsin

History will judge Boris Yeltsin the right man at the right time, until he became precisely the opposite.

I called David Remnick, who covered the collapsing Soviet Union for the Post, and asked him to advise us on how to regard Yeltsin.

Remnick: "He was the catalyst, or a catalyst, in the Gorbachev era, constantly pushing Gorbachev. And for whatever personal reasons, and also political, he took a sledgehammer to the Communist Party.... They were kind of the yin and yang of the late 80s. They hated each other to a great degree, or eventually hated each other. The interplay between the two of them was one of the important narratives of that drama."

[I'll elide the brief, perhaps inevitable comparison to Lennon and McCartney.]

During the August 1991 three-day coup attempt, in which Communist hardliners put Gorbachev under house arrest, "[Yeltsin] performed magnificently. He really was brave. He said the right things and did the right things, and with enormous energy."

But after 1991, the bad Boris began to surface: "He unnecessarily started a war in Chechnya, which was a horrendous disaster that haunts the country to this day." And Yeltsin's economic reforms "allowed a kind of criminalization of the overall economy."

And Yeltsin gave us Putin. (Putin agreed to give Yeltsin immunity from prosecution.) Russia has since slid into what can at best be called a "soft authoritarian" government, Remnick said. The press isn't as free as it was during Yeltsin's era.

"Nobody talks about democracy anymore."


The Wikipedia bio.

From the AP story:

"He stood atop a tank to resist an attempted coup in August 1991, and spearheaded the peaceful end of the Soviet state on Dec. 25 of that year...

"But Yeltsin was an inconsistent reformer who never took much interest in the mundane tasks of day-to-day government, and nearly always blamed Russia's myriad problems on his subordinates."

From Remnick in the Post, Aug. 21, 1991:

'And above all, Yeltsin set the tone of fearlessness when he told his people, "At least 50 tanks are on their way to this building. Anybody who wants to save himself can do so. We are continuing to work." '

Remnick, Aug. 23:

'Yeltsin, the triumphant leader of the resistance against this week's coup, drastically tipped the balance of power here, showing himself to be at least the political equal, if not the master, of Gorbachev. In a symbol of the new order, the Russian tricolor, the banner of the anti-coup resistance, flew over the gates of the Kremlin alongside the red Soviet flag for the first time since the rise of the Bolshevik state.

'In a joint appearance with Gorbachev in the Russian parliament, Yeltsin made it clear that the Soviet president can maintain a semblance of authority only if he agrees to share power and intensify the march toward a democratic political system and a market economy.

'"And now for a bit of relaxation," Yeltsin said, interrupting Gorbachev's speech, "let me sign a decree suspending the activity of the Russian Communist Party."

'Gorbachev, who has insisted the party is still capable of reform, stammered a bit and then said, "Boris Nikolayevich, Boris Nikolaye- vich . . ." With an expression that was half smile, half sneer, Yeltsin broke in. "It's been signed," he said definitively, and the deputies broke out in cheers. Gorbachev struggled to explain his own position, but he seemed at a loss.'

Post editorial, Dec. 26, 1991:

'Mr. Yeltsin did more than elbow aside the now-retired Mikhail Gorbachev. He pulled off an impressive power play, sweeping into Russia the ministries, properties and powers of the old Soviet Union, confirming Russia as first among equals in the new setup and establishing himself as its preeminent personality. His vigor on the political side, however, has not yet been matched by performance on the program side. The world is watching to see how Mr. Yeltsin takes hold.'

From the Post, Jan. 1, 2000:

'After Yeltsin's departure, Putin signed an order giving him immunity from prosecution, as well as guaranteeing him a security detail, medical care and other benefits...

' Earlier, in the television address announcing his departure, Yeltsin was seated alone in a large Kremlin hall that echoed with his voice, a fir tree lit in the background with holiday ornaments. His face was puffy, and Yeltsin spoke agonizingly slowly.

'"I did all I could," he said, adopting a contrite tone. "I want to ask you for forgiveness because many of our hopes have not come true, because what we thought would be easy turned out to be painfully difficult," he said. "I ask you to forgive me for not fulfilling some hopes of those people who believed that we would be able to jump from the gray, stagnating totalitarian past into a bright, rich and civilized future in one go.

'"I myself believed in this," he said. "But it could not be done in one fell swoop. In some respects, I was too naive. Some of the problems were too complex. We struggled on through mistakes and failures." Yeltsin said he was retiring in defiance of his critics. "Many times I have often heard it said: 'Yeltsin will try to hold onto power by any means, he won't hand it over to anyone.' That is all lies. That is not the case." '

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 23, 2007; 10:11 AM ET
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Yeltsin was just like any of us.


At times noble and courageous and thoughtful, at times unable to manage important situations well or just plan wrong.

It may still be too soon to judge the man in the context of history, but the fact that he left a mark on the world is undeniable.


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Given what I've read about his health problems, I'm a tad surprised he lived to be 76. We had such great hopes for what he started. I just wish the Russian people could have followed through in a peaceful, productive way. We should be grateful, I suppose, for what he did accomplish.

Posted by: Slyness | April 23, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

//Yeltsin said he was retiring in defiance of his critics. "Many times I have often heard it said: 'Yeltsin will try to hold onto power by any means, he won't hand it over to anyone.' That is all lies. That is not the case." //

It's appropriate that this juvenile tactic of reverse psychology should have worked on Yeltsin, who seems so childlike in many ways.

Perhaps this is the method we should use vis à vis Alberto Gonzalez (or even Bush himself)?

Posted by: TBG | April 23, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Credit should also be given to Gorbachev, who recognized that the house of cards was going to collapse, but wasn't able to get institutions created to replace the Party in time to take over.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 23, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Tune cootie for the day:

Boris The Spider by The Who

He's come to a sticky end
Don't think he will ever mend
Never more will he crawl 'round
He's embedded in the ground

Boris the spider
Boris the spider

We need to get Andrew Lloyd Weber to start on the score, because this man definitely needs the Broadway tragedy treatment. Full of promise and hope and eventually destroyed by the system. I believe there is such a thing as national character, and while it can change, it changes very slowly. Far too slowly for Yeltsin's reformist ambitions.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 23, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Has it really been 15 years since the collapse of the USSR? /Fifteen years ?/

Posted by: wiredog | April 23, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Yeltsin reminds me of those crazy days when it seemed each dawn brought a new world. That the stalemate of the Cold War could end without the exchange of thermonuclear missiles was fantastically exhilarating to those of us raised with the Berlin Wall, and Yeltsin personified the wild exuberance of the time.

He showed that the future does not always unfold because of sober geopolitical machinations, or because of a naïve belief in Universal Love and Personhood. No, sometimes things happen because stubborn people of vision make the future through the force of will alone.

I remember the gloom and cynicism brought on by the 1991 coup against Gorbachev. (Remember when the hot catch phrase was "for health reasons"?) When the smoke cleared and the confused plotters had scattered, there stood a beaming Yeltsin glowing with energy and good Russian Vodka.

Whatever his horrible mistakes as an administrator, and the dubious example that whole "Force of Will" business may have set for other world leaders, I will always remember those early Boris Yeltsin years with joy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 23, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

reposting from the previous boodle:

76 e-mails. That's what I had in my inbox this morning. 76. At least seven of them were work-related. I hate like hell having my inbox clogged up with work-related stuff like that. Didn't those seven people already know I was out? Yes. Yes, they did. Some people just have no consideration. I'm a busy man--I have personal correspondence and blogging to do. Do people think I just sit here all day and work?

I just don't know what some people are thinking half the time.

Wheezy, Dylan is fine, thanks for asking. We haven't seen him in a month or more, and my wife called up our daughter the other day and left a message that we were going through severe grandkid withdrawl.

Geraniums. Jeez.

Martooni, thanks for the suggestion about the peanut shells on the floor. But that's exactly what we HAD on the floor...until last week.

Yes, bc, we could put up the 72-inch flat screen, I suppose. But I have bad news for you about your daughter's science fair experiment we had going in the refrigerator. It's gone. Missing. Presumably trashed. For her science fair project, she was going to study the various mold products we had growing in there, and had been carefully monitoring them for several months. We had an 8-month-old half of a Subway tuna melt that had turned the most incredible shade of puce. Gone. There was a thing of jello fruit cocktail, and I suppose the jello was very similar to agar, and provided the most excellent culture medium for the embedded grapes and peach cubes and the one lone marishino cheery. The cheery had swollen and expanded to nearly twice its original volume, and kinda looked like a black truffle. The peach cubes were a lovely shade of turquoise. And the grapes looked rather like an interesting Montrechat '57 from the southeastern slope of Mount St. Helens. All gone now. And the highlight of the collection: a tupperware containing several tablespoons of three-bean salad that we've been nursing for four years. The spoor mold had of course climbed out of the tupperware and was inching slowly across the refrigerator grating toward the tuna melt; we used very delicate GPS tracking system to monitor its progress. And we think it may have been a previously unknown species of refrigerator mold, since it was bioluminescent. It kinda reminded me of a Portugeuse Man-of-War that had devoured a couple pounds of blue cheese and a Humboldt squid, and was flashing distress signals. Somebody threw it out. That thing alone might have been an entire episode of the Discovery Channel. Personally, I think it was a whole new life form on the cusp of learning how to vocalize. Just a hunch, nothing more.

I'm so sorry, bc. Tell your daughter it wasn't her fault. I know she and "Wolfowitz" were very close. (That's what we named the mold creature.)


Regarding Boris Yeltsin: little-known trivia factoid. Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed in the building where they were being held prisoners, called the Ipatieve House, in Ekaterinburg (aka Sverdlovsk for a while) at the foot of the Urals. The house was becoming something of a shrine because of what had happened there, and too many people where visiting it and thinking about the execution, so the authorities (chiefly Communist Party idealogist Mikhail Suslov) ordered it demolished. The local Urals party official who carried out the order in 1977 was Boris Yeltsin. He had the place knocked down and bulldozed in one night.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Yeltsin is a haunting figure, who no matter how talented at times and completely irresponsible at others, can not be really be blamed for having failed to arrest the defects the Soviet system had imposed on post-Soviet Russian society. The transition in Russia was bound to be a disaster even in the most capable and astute of hands. What Yeltsin did do to his eternal credit was prevent the former USSR from going the way of the former Yugoslavia. Yes, the war in Chechnya was a disaster, but that a Russian Milosevic never surfaced in the Kremlin, and that the collapse of the USSR was a relatively peaceful affair, is nothing short of a miracle. It did not have to end that way, and frankly it's amazing it did.

Posted by: Col. Klink | April 23, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

dmd, hugs your way.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 23, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

A science experiment????? I have one word to say in my defense. Labels. Fumbrage, fumbrage, fumbrage (faux umbrage to keep it seperagte from real umbrage which occasionally must be taken).

Yeltsin was only as good as the people behind him who kept him informed. I always had a feeling that their agenda changed over the years from supportive of him, to following someone else's agenda. I've often wondered if that is what happened to Gorbachev too.

When I think about it, there is probably a long line of backroom and front room power plays in leadership changes in Russia and the Soviet Union. Then again, what party in a democratic society does not suffer the same game.

Posted by: dr | April 23, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

No world leader is perfect. Yeltsin was astonishing just when he most needed to be. His mistakes were real but so was his heroism, and both have shaped Russia.

Catching up: dmd, I am so sorry about your father.
Cassandra, I hope the procedure today went well.
Martooni, congratulations and keep it up.
RD, thank you for the phrase "a Darwinian playground of herbaceous diversity." If I hang onto this, I won't have to say "weeding is my life."

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 23, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes, dmd. My condolences.

If this isn't the single strangest (and most obnoxious) celebrity pairing on the face of the earth, I don't know what is.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I know for certain that spring has come to Edmonton. I am sitting near a recently deliverd horde of Girl Guide cookies aka Girl Scout cookies. You guys can weed away to know spring is here, but I at least can have a cookie.

Faxing some to Cassandra for after the tests.

Posted by: dr | April 23, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Somehow I knew which pic that was before I opened it, 'Mudge.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 23, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, Trip report? I hope you are tanned and ready, rather than paste-faced and know, the Kennedy vs. Nixon look. Re the lawn business, weeds are in, as in Earth Day, and all.

My neighbor is a forester. His lawn line is "Monocultures are very overrated."

Besides, weeds could be IvanBoy's life. In our house, when the "I'm bored gremlin emerges, I suggest that we could always 1) wash windows, or 2) weed.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 23, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

*out of breath and still not caught up*

I apologize to the boodle for abandoning the helm. It was only this morning that I found Ivansmom turned it over to me Friday afternoon. Mudge, I hope there was no B&E while the place was empty.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 23, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, don't worry. I channelled you, making sure that our clock in the reception area is the Audubon one, that plays a different bird call on the house.

(I confess to owning one. I now know twelve bird calls cold, and so do the progeny....and the small parrot used to imitate three or four of them dead-on.)

Posted by: College Parkian | April 23, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I always thought Yeltsin looked a lot like W.C. Fields, but with more hair.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | April 23, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

i spent about four years in russia during yeltsin's first term. almost everyone at that time had unrealistic expectations about reforming post-soviet russia. a lot of mistakes were made by both the russian government and the international agencies advising it. if there was any lesson to be learned, it was that change is very difficult, expensive and slow. the fact that the the u.s. government didn't learn this lesson from the post-soviet situation and invaded iraq with delusionally high expectations is just beyond the pale.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | April 23, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if your GG cookie names match up with our GD cookie names; even here we have seasonal variations.

In the freezer are three booxes of thin mints. These pair nicely with home-made lemonaide in summer. I like Trefoils with tea. I am not a fan of the new candy-bar flavors, including the wildly popular Samoa.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 23, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

David Tilman, an eminent ecologist at the University of Minnesota, noted in a Discussion at the Post that if you plant a bunch of native midwestern prairie plants, they will manage to coexist, will outproduce a monoculture, and don't need much maintenance. Lawns are generally non-native single-species, so sort of doomed to fail.

However, St Augustine grass, if it's happy, almost completely suppresses any Bermuda grass in the lawn, and nearly everything else, too.

Posted by: Dave of the coonties | April 23, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm in a bit of a snit. There I went to all the trouble to haul out the worst of the fripperies, and install a plasma screen and a new beer fridge and all, and what appreciation do I get? Complaints about a few geraniums!

Oh, BTW, I distinctly heard that pot of repulsive goop curse me, as I tossed it into the dumpster behind the coffee shop. If a bunch of caffeine-crazed, mouldy, suppurating, DNA-altered freaks are seen in the vicinity, we can take comfort that the experiment was successful on some level.

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse


You mean caffeine-crazed, mouldy, suppurating, DNA-altered freaks OTHER than me, of course...


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 23, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

A kurosawaguy sighting!

I had reason on Saturday night to cite as one of the worst titles ever: "Zato-Ichi Meets Yojimbo". Obviously, this criticism applies only to the English-dubbed version.

Posted by: Tim | April 23, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

So Boris « Smirnoff » Yeltsin finally bought it. He certainly left an interesting heritage. Just too bad he trusted Putin (Poutine is the French official translation!) with the keys of the house. I fear Mr. P loves his power so much he won't relinquish it for a long time.

SoC and dr, Mrs. Denizen will be in Edmonton next Wednesday&Thurday, would you be kind enough to get rid of the snow and put out a decent spring weather by then. Thank you.

Alert ! An extremely large cloud of gas has been located!
Plain language :
Abstract in gibberish from the Astrophysical Journal:

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 23, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

S'nuke, I wouldn't describe you as suppurating, exactly.

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

First off, Mudge how could you that picture may have caused permanent eye damage - but you are correct very weird.

dr, at this time of year I am so greatful my girls gave up guides, I have no will power when it comes to those cookies, and we usually ended up buying all the extra boxes.

CP I believe we have different names, fall cookies are Chocolate Mint but don't believe they have a fancy name, spring cookies are boxes of chocolate and vanilla, one side vanilla, one side chocolate. Plain and simple - a Canadian tradition from way back, as I understand it in the US there are many varieties, I saw some of them when we were down visiting friends.

Re Russia, I think the difficulty to change over from a Communist system to a democratic one was very much forgotten by the western world, both politically and economically - the change is a huge upheaval and even in modern times apt to create a chaotic period.

Posted by: dmd | April 23, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

And I'm working on the mold, too, Yoki...


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 23, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Especially since we're on the home page now...

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 23, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I've had to Google two words today, "elide" and "suppurating". I come here to be entertained with snarky commentary, not to be flummoxed by Joel's SAT shower curtain. Can we keep the reading level in here down a little? There are people trying to pretend to work around.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 23, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I always suspected that Coulter was "dyn-o-mite", just not in a good way.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 23, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

They say this is what happens if you leave Ann Coulter out in the sun:

WARNING: Do not click on this while eating lunch. Not for the faint of heart. Care should be taken by the elderly, pregnant women and those with heart conditions.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 23, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

You know, some of us have to go home to check our emails.

Thank goodness for password protection.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 23, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, wow. I don't know what I'm going to tell the girls. They were getting attached to Wolfie. Why do you think he ran away? A female, perhaps?

As far as science experiments go, I suppose that we're going to have to get the girls to try something else, like maybe rigging a rubber-nose MGB on some sort of biofuel...

Thanks for that pic, Mudge.
I note that Ann Coulter appears to have stopped aging, unlike Mr. Walker.

I have no idea as to why this would be the case for Ms. Coulter; my knowledge of necromancy and the dark arts is woefully small.


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"I note that Ann Coulter appears to have stopped aging", perhaps that is part of the benefits she received after she sold her soul!

Posted by: dmd | April 23, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

My front lawn is definitely not monoculture -- it's a battle (turf struggle?) between St Augustine, Bermuda and Kikuyu, which reminds me the contest for ethnic territory in former Yugoslavia or Iraq. This one depends on the distribution of shade, and on how much water I provide. In the back, Bermuda has achieved total dominance.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 23, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I just typed out a big post (bigger than my usual) and <it>poof</it>, it just disappeared.


My thoughts are with you and your family dmd. (2 types) (11 types at most)

Maybe this also has something to do with our obesity epidemic, too many dang cookies...

Posted by: omni | April 23, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

What a contradictory man has been Boris Nikolaievich Yeltsin through his life. When he was the head of the Communist party in the Urals in the early 80's, in his hometown of Sverdlovsk (formerly and now again Ekaterinburg), following orders from Moscow destroyed the Ipative House, where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks on July 17, 1918. The argument of Moscow was, we are going through a process in which many people are paying tribute to the last Emperor, and is a sanctuary for the Orthodox Church. He was reluctant to follow those orders but finally he fulfilled them. In the years to come, he was one of the major contributors to the renaissance of Russia as it was before 1917, and he struggled fiercely against those "old communist" that wanted to keep the role of the party, which was responsible for the death of dozens of millions of Russians, just because they were afraid that someone will demand for their responsibilities; even though, Stalin and the old guard had disappeared many decades before the fall of the Soviet Union. Nontheless, we must be thankful to Boris Yeltsin for his efforts to dismantle the Soviet totalitarian state, goal that he had achieved only partially. Electing as his successor the former KGB officer Vladimir Putin was one of his worst mistakes, along side with the chaotic and extremely corrupted privatization process in Russia, which had benefited the former "Nomenklatura" most members of the Communist party, and "Aparatchniks" of the Soviet State. But in spite of all these facts he tried hard to change Russia for better, even if had failed in most fields, which at the end will prevailed in his legacy. Russia looks again as an autocratic state as it was for most of his History and Vladimir Putin is more a dictator than a president. This is a consequence of Yelstin's errors.

Posted by: wetzvonken | April 23, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

B & E, Raysmom? I should be so lucky.

Speaking of which, I need to warn some of you guys about the toilet seat. I had to go in there a while ago, etc. etc., and I put the seat up, and I'm standing there unzipping and BAM! the seat falls down. See, someone put a cover on the *&^%$#@ thing and now it won't stay up on its own. So I raise it back up and push it against the tank to "force" it to stay up, which it seems to do. And so, a few seconds later I'm...and BAM! it falls down again. And I push it up and...BAM!

See, it's like an Emeril Lagasse greatest hits video. I' know...and BAM! And I try some more and...BAM! And I'm getting to that advanced physiological point in can I put this delicately? When you're young, you can "stop" on a dime, so to speak. Hit the ol' "Clench," maybe throw in a little hip flex, and you can skid to a total stop, so to speak, in the blink of an eye. But when you get to be my age...

OK, never mind. So at any rate, I decide the only solution is to step a few inches forward, so I'm closer so that if the lid falls again I can reach out and catch it in time. [Us guys have been doing this for 50 or 100 years, ever since the first invention by whoever it was decided a padded cover would look darling on a toilet seat. Some guys catch the seat with their knee, which presents some targeting difficulties. Some guys may have a free hand, while other guys don't necessarily have a free hand, needing to keep both on the tiller, ya might say.}

So I release the brake, so to speak, and I'm so happy I sigh, and close my eyes...just that one split-second of inattention...

No, not BAM. BAM would have been if it hit the bowl. It didn't...not at first, anyway.


If you're new to the Achenblog and are just now joining us from the link on the WaPo Home Page, my previous remarks immediately above weren't at all about what they may have appeared to be about. Really. I wouldn't kid you.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, have mercy. It is still lunch time for some of us. I don't really like to inhale Caesar salad.

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I knew the padded cover would get you.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 23, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what Russians think when they see the incredibly wealthy thieves who ended up with their country. From time to time on TV I see Mr Abramovich watching his English football team, and I'm not overcome with feelings of charity.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 23, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Probably very much the way the urban and rural poor in the US feel when they see the Bush Admin. and their corporate friends.

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, thanks for the heads' up, as it were.



Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

bc, it was worth it to see Yoki snort a crouton.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I am enjoying the perspectives on Yeltsin from people far more informed than I. I mainly just remember that amazing performance during the coup attempt, and then feeling embarrassed for him much much later.

My trip was lovely, CP, thank you for asking. About 120 folks gathered to discuss weighty and not-so-weighty issues, learn things, drink wine, recite poetry, eat tasty food, and generally relax. I wound up neither pasty nor tan (I'm never tan and I prefer "pale"), tired but happy.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 23, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, agreed.

I'll buy you a drink if she blows a chink of anchovy out of her nose.

Er, hi, Yoki. Can I see that tissue?


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Would that be a porcelain anchovy bc?


Posted by: dmd | April 23, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "chunk". Apologies for that typo. Not cool. Dang, "u" and "i" are right next to each other on the keyboard. Sorry, folks.


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Er, no, dmd. But that was darn quick of you.


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

BC owes Curmudgeon a drink. Who knew you could do self-heimlich?

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON, April 23 -- President Bush strongly reiterated his support for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today, declaring that Mr. Gonzales's performance on Capitol Hill last week had increased his confidence in him.

"The attorney general went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer, in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job," Mr. Bush said.


This raises again the question, What exactly does Bush think Gonzales's job is? And the observation that performance is a good word for it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh that I could have my typos be so funny bc.

Posted by: dmd | April 23, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Who is that cogent poster at 3:24?

I love cogency.

Posted by: Tim | April 23, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

In answer to your question Tim, I don't know, or I don't remember.

There seems to be a lot of that going around.

Posted by: dr | April 23, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Cogent Poster is available as a Boodle handle, I believe.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 23, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Funny exchange on Liz Kelly's Celebritology blog today. After her blog item about Alec Baldwin, one poster went off-topic and wrote about proofreading and corporate marketing errors.

After a few commenters responded, this exchange took place:

What's all that got to do w/Alec Baldwin, anyway?

Posted by: | April 23, 2007 02:36 PM

Nothing. It's called the Achenblog effect.

Posted by: WaPo Reader | April 23, 2007 02:54 PM

Posted by: TBG | April 23, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Excellent, TBG.

BTW, has anybody else seen that headline on the WaPo front, "Is [censored country name] Doomed?" and thought, holy cow, if that had been the title of Joel's kit there would be barricades up in the streets surrounding the Achenblog, with certain persons going intercontinentally ballistic.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse


I aims to please, ma'am.

Would be happy that I was funnier when I intended to be than not. Norm Crosby, where are you when we need you?


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh, cogent poster was me, forgetting to sign it. Sorry.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 23, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

OMG, CP! I own the same Audubon clock. Although I admit that I finally had to turn the bird calls off. I prefer the real ones, I guess.

Saturday night was a wonderful night to listen to the birdies. A background of sparrow chatter, a couple of cardinals doing their horndog call, joined by a titmouse and a blue jay with their own version of that call, a distant red-winged blackbird. Heavenly.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 23, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

TBG, that clip from Celebritology was priceless, thanks.


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I back-boodled at lunch since I was too busy last week to keep up and I noticed someone mentioned Click and Clack from Cambridge. Sure enough, in the middle of Hahvahd Sqwah, overlooking the Coop, are the offices of Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe. It was so good, I had to take a picture as proof:

One valid observation of Marxist theory is the progression of economic systems, only the order got backwards. China is now undergoing a massive industrial revolution and Russia went straight to robber baron kleptocracy.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 23, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, been meaning to ask both Yoki and TBG all day (and anybody else who might know the answer). Had lunch yesterday at one of the sidewalk cafe type restaurants along Ocean Blvd. This place served little squares of bread that were really, really good. They were obviously cut from a big sheet of dough about one inch thick, and some edges were rounded, indicated the dough had sat on a sheet (there was no 90-degree edge you'd expect from a pan). The bread was whitish, but pretty "thick" but had a thin but discernable brown crust on top and bottom, and the top had a discernible oily feel. I asked the waitress if the chef would tell me how it was made or what the recipe was. She came back a while later and said (she had a heavy European accent I couldn't place) and said the bread had only water, milk, flour, salt and olive oil in/on it, and was baked at 180 degrees. She also said this was a Greek recipe, even though it was basically an Italian restaurant (all of whose staff was Hispanic).

As some of you know 180 degrees is a very low temperature to do any baking, and you'll note the absence of any reference to yeast. Could that temp be centigrade instead of Fahrenheit? Anybody know how to make an approximation of this bread? (I know it also had some herbs in it because they were visible, and one looked like a rosemary leaf in size but thinner and not stiff like rosemary.

Anybody? That stuff was deeee-licious.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, they serve that bread at Tesoro on Connecticut Ave, and I know the chef there a little bit. I'll try to remember to ask him about that when I see him this week.

That bread is quite yummy.


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, it sounds like an echt Focaccia bread, with fresh rather than dried rosemary. I've never seen a yeast-free recipe though the cooking historians say it was originally made without leavening.

I adore a homemade loaf of Focaccia made with lots of olive oil. My favorite recipe starts with a 10-hour sponge and then adds even more yeast at the mixing stage. Shall I dig that out for you?

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, Yoki--sounds like it's already beyond my skill level.

Could the 180 degrees thing be right? Can you bake something that low?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I suspect you were correct about it being Celsius temperature -- 180°C is only 356° Fahrenheit, which is a reasonable temeprature for baking bread.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 23, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

180 does sound low. That would be about 350 F, though.

You could easily make the bread I have in mind. Just needs planning to let the sponge sit for 10-24 hours before making the bread. Nothing difficult about it. I'm going to the post the recipe later, and you can decide.

TBG, what else could this be, if not Focaccia?

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I've just been reading some focaccia recipes and suspect you are right. One of them mentioned poking a spoon into the batter at about one-inch intervals--which this seemed to have, though spaced further apart. The dimples were large, almost belly-button size.

The bread was a little bit sweet, and very salty. It kind of tasted as though the top had been painted with a salty olive oil.

It looked like it would be great for dipping in olive oil/pesto, too. The restaurant served it just with butter, which I thought was a mistake. But who knows.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Yep, hadda be a focaccia. I've been reading about it/them at

Methinks I am about to add this to my repertoire. Bring on that recipe, Yoki!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Yup that has got to be focaccia.

Would it be cheating if I said this is the kind of thing I do in my ancient breadmaker? That machine does a better job on small batches of dough than the big mixer. Of course it could easily be operator error...

Posted by: dr | April 23, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Those dimples are made with your fingers; to use a tool would be inauthentic!

This recipe is based on one that appeared in Bon Appetit in the early 1990s, I think, though I've messed with it since. Note the large amount of salt. You can halve the salt in in the bread dough, and eliminate the salt sprinkled on before baking, for blood-pressure or taste preferences.

Focaccia bread:


1/2 cup warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)
1 teaspoon dry yeast
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour


1 cup warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or unchopped fresh rosemary
3 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt


Place 1/2 cup water in large bowl. Stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture is cloudy, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour. Cover with plastic. Let stand, 10-24 hours. The sponge will bubble up and then subside. This is just fine.


Place 1 cup water in small bowl. Stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture is cloudy, about 10 minutes. Stir dissolved yeast mixture and 1/4 cup olive oil into sponge in large bowl. Stir in 1 cup flour. Stir in 2 tablespoons rosemary and 2 teaspoons salt. Add remaining flour in 2 batches, mixing until well blended after each addition. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough until soft and velvety, about 10 minutes.

Oil large bowl. Add dough, turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic. Let dough rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Oil 11x17-inch baking sheet. Punch down dough. Transfer to prepared sheet. Using oiled hands, press out dough to cover bottom of pan. Cover dough with kitchen towel. Let stand 10 minutes (dough will shrink).

Press out dough again to cover pan. Cover with towel. Let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven. Place baking stone on rack and preheat oven to 425°F. If you don't have a baking stone, heat another baking sheet in oven 10 minutes).

Using fingertips, press dough all over, creating dimples. Drizzle dough with 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.

Place pan directly on pizza stone. Spray oven with water from spray bottle. Bake until focaccia is golden and top is crisp, spraying oven with water twice more during first 10 minutes, about 25 minutes total. Transfer bread to rack. Cool slightly. Serve bread warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 Focaccia

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

This is taking things just a little too far.

Posted by: dr | April 23, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Yoki -- yummy. Perhaps TBG knows a Grecian name for this treat.

Cassandra -- thinking of you on and off. Will take a bike ride soon, and really, really, pray for you. I don't hit the floor on my knees so much anymore. Once I heard the Greek Orthodox advice(John of the Cross) about praying unceasingly, well, I started to do my best prayers while swimming or riding or gardening.

I hope you hear good news or clear direction.

Raysmom -- that clock! I wish I could muffle it but somehow this is part of the family culture now. And we did learn our 12 birds songs! Besides, the clock beats the mounted plastic fish thingie with a motion sensor in it, anyday.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 23, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, try this:

Bread - Focaccia

2 cups warm water (85 to 95)
1 pkg. dry yeast
4 C. bread flour
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 - 3 tsp. olive oil
2 T. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. kosher salt or sea salt

Put water in 4 qt bowl, add yeast, and stir. Add 2 C. flour and the salt, beat 2 minutes with wooden spoon. Add remaining 2 cups flour, beat 2 more minutes. Cover w/ plastic wrap and let rise 30-40 min.

Preheat oven to 500. Oil a 13x9 baking sheet. Pour the dough onto the sheet, carefully clearing it from the bowl with a rubber spatula. Spread the dough on the sheet by dipping fingers in olive oil, poking them straight down into the dough, and pulling it into a one inch high flat loaf. Sprinkle with the other tsp. of oil, the rosemary, and the sea salt. No need to let it rise.

Put the pan in the oven and lower heat to 450, bake 15 - 20 minutes, until a nice golden brown.


Oil a 9 1/2" high rimmed pie pan. Slide dough into pan with round spatula, trying not to un-inflate it. Sprinkle with oil and rosemary. Let rise 15-20 min. Heat oven to 500, put pan in oven; reduce heat to 400. Bake 30-40 min.

Suzanne Dunaway, "No Need to Knead," 2000

book has many good recipes.

Posted by: nellie | April 23, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Susan Dunaway's book has the subtitle, "Handmade Italian Breads in 90 minutes." This one is the fastest, I think!

Posted by: nellie | April 23, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

the "achenblog effect" - too funny
i think the toilet seat discussion wins today's award in this category.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | April 23, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Crow's music I can listen to, sometimes.

Her "advice," not so much...

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 23, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Two great-sounding recipes. I definitely gotta try 'em both. Thanks, Yoki and Nellie.

Thinking about it, I'm certain the bread I had definitely had salt sprinkled on top, which some of the facaccia recipes suggest.

Yum. (Just what I need: a major carb recipe. Ah, well.)

Wait'll I tell my wife we need a domed fire-fed brick oven...

I think I missed my calling in life. Instead of going to college, I should have been a Tuscan peasant. The things your *^%$#^% high school guidance counselor never tells you. No SAT tests, no cholesterol problems, no heart condition, no stress, women running around who look like Giada De Laurentiis...a little red wine, lotsa family, pasta, bread. From where I'm sitting today it looks like a no-brainer.

Padouk, is there a Mr. Stripey in this summer's future?

Gotta walk in a stately manner for the bus.

(Something to ponder on the bus: The Curmudgeon Institute for Tuscan Peasantry. Learn how to enjoy the simple things in life. Earn a master's degree and become a happy Tuscan peasant in the field of your choice: winemaking, baking, cooking, farming, directing spaghetti Westerns, overpriced fashion design. Classes now forming. Tuition assistance and scholarships available. Take our introductory online course to see if you qualify: Intro. to Colorful Gestures. Learn: cheek-pinching, shrugs, obscene gestures, feigning ignorance, fanny-pinching, belching. Advanced students may go on to choose (a) seducing American tourists such as Diane Lane, or (b) driving Formula I cars. Junior year abroad program studying waste management industry in Newark, N.J. with the A. Soprano organization, c/o Da Bing, Rt. 17, Rahway, N.J.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Hi everyone!

I've kept up with Joel, but it has been months since I've visited the Boodle. But, today I got my big break. Come August, I will be a Technology Integrator for the local school district. Last year my employing district turned me down because they didn't want to replace a Spanish teacher. Now they have to find a new Spanish teacher, AND they don't benefit from all my valuable geeky knowledge. Too bad for them. Great for me. I love myself today more than I usually do.

Now that I have the job, I don't have to spend every waking moment proving to everyone that I know more about educational technology integration than any other teacher in the district. I can enjoy a few good laughs.

It is great to see everyone is still here, sharing recipes and umbrage.

Posted by: a bea c | April 23, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Focaccia to me, too, Mudge. I'm also surprised they didn't serve it with olive oil rather than butter. The mojitos probably did a good job of washing down the bread, eh?

The alternative would be the incredibly delish flat bread we used to get at a Middle Eastern restaurant somewhere in Arlington (maybe Atilla's?). I'll have to ask my sister where, as my brain must be suffering right now from the Achenblog Effect.

Of course every time we have Focaccia bread in the G house, we have to yell, "Hey! You fo'got ya bread!" (gotta put that "ch" sound before the 'ya').

Posted by: TBG | April 23, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

a bea c... we've been wondering where you've been! We love you, too... just as much as always.

Congrats on the new position. Don't you hate it when employers are so stupidly selfish? And don't you love it when it comes back to bite them?

I hope the new job means you can spend a little time here with us.

Posted by: TBG | April 23, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the top five Most Viewed articles on the WaPo site right now, and it hasn't even happened yet...

Posted by: TBG | April 23, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, TBG. I'll certainly try. My new employer keeps a tight rein on the network and blogs are most certainly blocked, but if I don't have to work much from home, I'll be able to visit more often.

I'll be driving to DC to renew one of my passports this summer. Maybe I'll finally meet some of the Boodlers.

Posted by: a bea c | April 23, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm back! Just a slight problem, but problem solved. Still feel a little disoriented from the medication, but really good. Thanks so much for everything, and especially the kind thoughts and food.

a bea c, I wondered what happened to you. I second TBG's thoughts. We've missed you.

I can't drive today, so can't work. I had a new child to work with today, but will try to do that tomorrow.

That picture of Coulter as she might be when old and in the sun was just awful. I was surprised by the picture of her and Jimmy Walker.

dmd, hope you are okay. I am thinking about you.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 23, 2007 7:04 PM | Report abuse

"Hey! You fo'got ya bread!" LOL! That is like at our house, when we suggest someone put out pickles and olives. "What kind?" "Olive of them."

nellie's recipe looks delightful, and more manageable, than mine. I shall try it this weekend!

a bea c, good to see you here. Technology integrator? That's cool.

'Mudge, can we please have an olive grove at your school for Tuscan peasantry? I love the way the silver undersides of the leaves flicker in the breeze. And they smell heavenly in the hot summer afternoons. I'll man the press for the oil.

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Whew! I'm so glad to hear from Cassandra, and to know that at least one problem is not such a big one, after all.

C, you are the loving guiding-spirit of the blog, for sure. Now eat and rest and be well. And *hugs* from me.

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

a bea c - Welcome back!!!!

Cassandra I am OK and glad your test went well.

Mudge I am thinking some nice sun-dried Mr. Stipey's would be wonderful on top of the bread.

Posted by: dmd | April 23, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

DMD -- my thoughts precisely: Mr. Stripey all laid out on on a bed of focaccia and drizzled with the really good olive oil, with perhaps a soupcon of Locatelli grated on top. To the side, some balsamic vinegar. Try Colavita White balsamic vinegar if the dark stuff is too aromatic.

Summer meals, here we come. I meant to type in Frogmore stew and will later tonight. No froggies, but very yummy and easy.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 23, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, excellent idea about the olive grove--it is yours to command. (Giada did a show on Napa and Sonoma valleys where she went to an olive oil vineyard and they had olive oil tastings instead of wine tastings.) Gotta have something to make the focaccia with and to drizzle on top.

A bea C, we missed ya!!!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 23, 2007 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Kb, and Rd, can't speak for all poor folks, but will try to address the food article from my perspective. The good foods as the article indicated are located next to the wall, and I mean, fresh fruits and vegetables. But these foods many times are quite expensive, and with the recent bad weather, even more expensive.

I don't believe people (poor or otherwise) go in the grocery store to intentionally buy bad food. For me, when my children were small, the idea was to buy enough to last until the next paycheck. That is the culprit, having enough to last. That basically dictates your choices. It's called stretching your money. Another situation now, people don't have gardens like they used to when I was coming up. Young women don't know how to cook. McDonalds and Burger King have become the family chef. If not them, the processed food with the directions on the box. And price guides it all.

People still get food stamps. If there weren't food stamps, many children would die from starvation. Again, mothers are trying to stretch these resources, and not making good choices, and let us get real here, money is the object. It is what guides everything in this world of ours. The article in so many words says the same thing. Young women don't know how to cook fresh food, because many of them don't have that experience.

I met two young people at a check out counter in the grocery store, and I was buying an eggplant. They asked me if I was going to eat that. I said yes. They had never, ever, experienced eggplant. Didn't know what it was, and certainly had not eaten it.

I have tried to write two grant applications seeking funds to initiate a program teaching food and diabetes. Yesterday I got another refusal. Many of these folks have stock in the very thing I am talking about, and talking against. It is deeply rooted and entrenched, and the dollar dictates the action.

I cannot talk, I cannot judge. I, myself am a product of this can of worms.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 23, 2007 7:36 PM | Report abuse

A visit from a bea c and kurosawaguy in the same day? This is great! Good to see both of them and I hope they stick around.

That's the good news. The bad news is that David Halberstam died today in an automobile accident:

Posted by: pj | April 23, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back any boodlers out of lurkdom for the day! (That should cover any more surprise boodlers).

Wilbrodog is busy stuffing his face on homemade dog food (I gave up on feeding him kibble after he threw up 3 times in a month. That, combined with the dogfood scare was trying my nerves too much).

I expect him to flop on his dogbed for a nap any minute with a big smirk on his face.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 23, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for those wonderful insights Cassandra. Sounds like lots of complicated forces are at work here.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 23, 2007 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't the peasantry school be in Umbragia?

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 23, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Cassandra. I think I have posted about this before, and from personal experience.

This is what drives me to distraction. The entire North American social structure is designed to suppress the poor, and then to blame the poor for poor choices. If there is no generous social welfare for the marginalized, and no investment in young children, and then (*) people point to the poor choices the marginalized make... well, duh!

Who was it? Marx? Lenin? G.B.Shaw? Some good socialist at some time in the early 20th century said that a society can be judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable members. And that statement was predicated on the supposition that the most vulnerable were members of society (paid up in full).

Arghghrgh! Paying taxes is not the worst thing that could happen to the middle-class. Losing an entire generation of mothers and fathers and a second generation of unparented children (who will have children) *is* the worst thing that could happen.

OK. I'm obviously way too leftist to be accommodated. I'm done. But to say that poor people are obese because they don't make good nutrition choices? Poor people (and lots of other people) just want to be not hungry. To be not hungry is not to be well-nourished. Good nutrition for all is not an unimaginably high bar to set, in a rich society.

Let us not judge. Being safe and strong does not give us the right to judge people who are in peril, every day.

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Certainly the peasantry school should be in Umbragia, and it should have a degree in slow food.

I never thought about it till now, how fortunate I was that my mother didn't use many convenience foods. Just quick rice, IIRC. Oh, how I hated having to pick green beans in the sun on a July day, but now I realize how lucky we were to have fresh vegetables. And how fortunate I was to watch her cook them, so I learned myself. A precious gift, to cook good (slow) food for the people you love.

Posted by: Slyness | April 23, 2007 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm a few days late with this question, but since there are people who really know their insect stuff...

Yesterday the kids and I had a picnic in our front yard. This year we have had these humongous caterpillar nests full of hairy little critters. They have eaten two or three trees almost completely bare. The kids and I were watching the caterpillars eat when I noticed a little dragonfly-looking thing slowly circle one of the caterpillars. Then it folded its tail under its legs and stung the caterpillar in the eye. Or that's what it looked like. Then it flew away and left the caterpillar wriggling and waving its head. I found another caterpillar to watch, and the same thing happened, maybe the same fly, maybe a different one. I've looked this up on google. I found information about wasps laying eggs inside caterpillars. Is that what I saw? The fly didn't look like a wasp. And can an insect lay eggs in fractions of a second?

I know someone here will know the answer, or where to find it.

Posted by: a bea c | April 23, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

What Cassandra says makes sense. It's what you can obtain plus what you're used to, plus a reluctance to experiment and cook new foods that might have to go to waste.
However, research with animals and people do indicate that the more stressful and the lower the animal (or person) is on the social totem pole... the more apt they are to pack on the belly fat-- it increases cortisol and helps people deal with stress better.
It's just nature at work-- if you can't be sure you can eat when you need to, eat everything you can when you can.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 23, 2007 9:16 PM | Report abuse

RD, sometimes I don't know if you're putting me on, or being quite serious. I suspect either way you're sincere.

It is sad in so many ways. Many times thought is not given to the future in terms of health when purchasing groceries because getting to the grocery store is a hurdle to overcome. I find as I age that many times I just grab something, anything, just to stop the hunger without regard to its health content. I suspect eating alone contributes to some of this. Food is enjoyed much better when there is company, and presentation has a lot to do with that enjoyment.

For many people, because of the hardship of getting food, presentation is not something that is given any thought. I don't profess to be able to speak for anyone, just know how it is with me. For many of us, food is comfort and that dictates bad choices. Environment has always played a major part in the eating habits of humans, and that is still the case. I guess when one's environment is hostile and one is perceived as unlovely, comfort is sought in whatever is at hand. I don't believe anyone wants to be known for not having enough to eat, it is sign of extreme-not-good. And for some, plenty of food is seen as having enough of the world's good, not scraping the bottom. I can imagine it is a "self-esteem" thing.

Well waiting for the test this morning, the nurse left my chart on the table. Naturally, curious as I am, I read it. I read the description of my last office visit, and the person that saw me had to describe how I looked. There is a price paid for being nosey(?). I was described as "well fed", I believe those were the words. Now the question to asked, is that a good description? Afraid so.

And with that little tidbit, I will say goodnight. Thanks again for your kind thoughts and good words. It really does a heart good. Peace.

k-guy, good to hear from you.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 23, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I was described in a chart I peaked into as "prosperous." HAHAHAHAHA! I did myself no favours that day.

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Putting you on? Never. I mean what I say. I don't pretend to be an expert on any of this. My point is what I said. After reading your post and thinking about it some, it seems clear to me that obesity among the poor is a very complicated thing with lots and lots of factors involving available food choices, economics, culture, education, and stress. And that the relative importance of these are doubtless different for different people in different areas of the country and with different situations. Which seems to be pretty much what you are saying as well.

What bothers me most is that you somehow think I would be, what, teasing you?

Please believe that I am a better person than that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 23, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Hear, hear, Yoki. (your 8.58)

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 23, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Yoki and Nellie, just wanted to say that your recipes made me very, very hungry for focaccia bread. Thanks, Mudge. I decided to make the quick one tonight and the sponge for the slow one for tomorrow. My kids like it, too, so it'll be eaten. So I made the one, and we have already eaten 1/3 of it - delicious, Nellie! And now I'll set up the sponge for tomorrow.

Last time I made focaccia was from a recipe in a cookbook from the library, Deborah CantRecallHerName's Amazing Greens cookbook - it was actually too salty. I cut the salt in your recipe down just a tad, Nellie, and it was great!

Posted by: Wheezy | April 23, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Not Amazing Greens, just Greens Cookbook, by Deborah Madison. She was the first cook at the Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. Actually the focaccia might have been in one of her follow-up cookbooks, I checked them all out.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 23, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy -- glad you liked that Focaccia. I make the one in the "glass high-sided pie pan" and my daughter makes the one on the cookie sheet, and that is about the only bread either of have made since we ran into these recipes.

I think I was led to the book via the LA TIMES.

Some years ago, before my daughter was married, her Italian boyfriend (now husband) came for the weekend and made a bread, "out of his head," just like this. I figured he was EXCELLENT husband material.

Posted by: nellie | April 23, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh no, RD. Certainly I have never thought that you were thoughtlessly judgmental. My experience of your posts has been that you were *pondering out loud.* I hope you did not think that my rant was against your position (as I did not think you had a position). It was against the prevailing conservative winds. The mean-spirited pols. You are not at all mean. I know this. And I apologize if I sounded as though I were pinning it on you. Not at all.

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

David Halberstam, one-time Vietnam reporter and writer of "The Best and the Brightest" (not to mention a book on rowers) died this morning in a car crash, which wasn't his fault.

That's a life worth quite a lot of discussion.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 23, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

And I must add, and all you bread bakers must note, that is FRESH rosemary.

Posted by: nellie | April 23, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'd be glad to sign on as one of the F1 instructors at the CITP. Because it is an advanced course "Drive to Victory Con Brio 512 BB," students must demonstrate the ability to orbit a given piazza five times in a row while keeping a Fiat Punto up on three wheels (that inside rear wheel must not touch the ground. Additional consideration given for occasional vigorous gesturing out the window) before being accepted for this course.

Hi a bea c, and kguy!

Geez, do you think the flood of pent up traffic (hey, those virtual panties take some bandwidth. I'm resisting the rest of that joke) Gene's chat will bring any systems down tomorrow?

Cassandra, I'm glad you're feeling better, and I understand your feelings on the nature of nutrition in this country for people who don't have much money.

It's a shame about David Halberstam's passing. He did live a heck (ha, I first typo'd "hack") of a life, and gave the world a lot to think about for a long time.


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Holy Moly. I was once walking across a piazza in Venetzia, when I was nearly taken out by a mad driver.

Per'aps my intended assassin was bc?

Have you ever tried to walk around a small cobbled alley-ridden Italian city? You will be knee-capped by sports-cars. Excellent!

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, long ago and far away in my town two resources helped with food culture: nutrition and cooking advice from the County Extension Agent and 4H. 4H is where young people learned to cook. Can you develop some cooking clubs or cooking lessons through your church program?

Crock Pot 101? Rice and Red Beans

Mudge, I would like to open the Peasant School of the Dolomites, near Lake Garda. I will have to take on a faux Italian name, but you must shroud yourself in macaroni, too, I believe. The Italian families in the neighborhood next to me growing up came to my mining town, via those Italian peaks. Can you finance my small villa in Limone, through Pisano Wisdom and Slow Food, ltd.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 23, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Rosemary, fresh, is possible in many climes with "Arp" winter hardy rosemary. I have friends growing this as far North as Long Island, but the coast sure helps. My Arp is going strong since 1996, but is a bit straggly-looking.... still, fresh rosemary is a piquant treat.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 23, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

a bea c: Ichneumon "flies" are actually wasps - related to ants and bees - and do lay their eggs so the larvae can feed on other insecta.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 23, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, if the driver was a blue-eyed, Roman-nosed, curly-haired guy who had the car pitched over into a three-wheeled drift with one hand, and was gesturing and whistling at you out of the driver's side window with the other... yeah, it coulda been me.

I wasn't trying to kill anybody; I had at least 8 inches of clearance there, Yoki. That's like 4000 coats of fender paint. Not even close. Tell me which cobblestone you want me to hit in the piazza and with which tire, and I'll nail it in a 100 kph slide.


Posted by: bc | April 23, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I hope you didn't throw away the receipts for the plasma screen and the fridge. Otherwise you'll have problem convincing the taxman. You know how they are.

Posted by: rain forest | April 23, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Nellie, I must confess, I used dried rosemary. I soaked it in hot water for 15 minutes first, though, and then drained it before I put it on top of the bread. It was good! Really! I did tell the girls to get me a kitchen window-sill herb garden set for Mother's Day, though.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 23, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra I was hoping you would find the energy after the tests to post about the food article. What you said. And again. I could have cried when I read that article.

I agree whole heartedly that our young people are far worse off because they don't know how to cook. Not fancy cooking, not big cooking but simple good food. We are losing our ability to take care of ourselves in the most basic of ways.

One point the food artcile skips, is that all those highly processed foods mean a lot of jobs. It doesn't take more than good seed, good weather and a man on a tractor to bring in a whole quarter of wheat. The balance of votes is on the side of processed food.

Posted by: dr | April 23, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

All this talk of nutrition and poor people makes me remember my Mom's stories of the Depression. There was always a big garden in the back yard, which my Mom dug and planted and tended. There were four kids and my Grandma worked because her husband left at the beginning of the Depression. My Mom still talks about days when she would pick a bushel of green beans and leave them on the kitchen table for her Mom to deal with. So after work, the bus home, making dinner and cleaning up, my Grandma would can the whole bushel of green beans before retiring for the night. Because it was food, and she was glad to have it, and you didn't waste food. And on other days there were strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, etc. She was an amazing woman.

I'm so glad I don't have to work that hard.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 23, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Eating well is more expensive and time consuming than eating badly. Even if frozen veggies and dried apricots are relatively cheap. I'm becoming diabetic, so it's veggies and fruits from here on out, at least if I follow the rather vegetarian-oriented guidelines of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I don't like chicken anyway.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 23, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Shreiking Denizen, you can tell mrs. Denizen that for her trip to Edmonton, she should pack the usual Canadian gear for this time of year. Light summer tops and warm sweater, sensible shoes, with a side of flip flops, a warm coat for the early morning stop at the Timmies, and some good gloves and an emergency toque tucked in there somewhere. It was a splendid day today, and in the city the grass is starting to turn green on the south sides, and in warm corners. I am on the in-city dandelion watch as we speak. At home, we are working on the 'what day will the snow be gone' pool. The hot date picks are sometime after mid May.

I swear we drive down the road home, and its looks like spring, it smells like spring, the robins and geese and ducks all know its spring. Then we turn into our yard, and its winter all over again. Though it takes a long time to melt on this north facing hill, we always are grateful for small blessings on the hot summer days. Its like a cool green oasis in an ocean of too hot.

Posted by: dr | April 23, 2007 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy, good try!

Does your market have, in the fresh produce section, little packs of fresh herbs?

If not, grow some rosemary in a pot and take it in, in the winter. I don't think you really have to take it "in" but just out of the cold --- the garage, for instance, not necessarily in front of the bay window.

Posted by: nellie | April 23, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

CP writes: Mudge, I would like to open the Peasant School of the Dolomites, near Lake Garda. I will have to take on a faux Italian name, but you must shroud yourself in macaroni, too, I believe. ...

If you want to pay homage to the FSM, may I suggest in a Italian travesty calculated to create umbrage--

"L'a Scuola Stizzita della Volentes Aldentes."

"The Angry School of the flying al dente pasta".

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 23, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Maybe that should be better mistranslated as the Angry school of the al-dente flyers?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 23, 2007 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, why is the FSM angry?

Posted by: Wheezy | April 23, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

I must be missing something obvious (like that is a shock!); FSM - angry - what why?

Posted by: Yoki | April 23, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

See, the umbrage is starting already.

(Rumor has it that the FSM is angry because of course we forgot to pay homage to him while we were redecorating the bunker. I mean, Oracle at Delphi, but no Pirate Ship?)

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 24, 2007 12:11 AM | Report abuse

I wish people would stop ticking off FSM. My patch is at the cleaners.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 24, 2007 12:57 AM | Report abuse

I went to the Russian Far East in the very early '90s (can't check for the exact year b'cuz I'm in one country and my pictures are in a box in another country). They were promoting tourism in that area. In June that year the Russians were able to travel to another city without having to apply for permit. We were there in Sept. We started off in Magadan near Alaska.

The Far East being so far from Moscow was often neglected by the central government. The first sign of neglect that hit us were the roads - full of potholes and in some areas big ones. There were cracks on runway at the Magadan airport. Most buildings were not repainted and the whole place looked dreary. Despite the dull façade, the place was clean and the locals dressed very neatly. We saw an abandoned tank on the road side. In other big cities like Moscow and St Petersburg, a lot of Lenin statues were taken down but in Magadan there were still everywhere - in the park and in government buildings. We were touristy people. We wanted to buy souvenir and whatever that is local to bring home but there no shops or supermarkets that we could go to make any kind of purchase. The tour guide said that are shops that sells necessities but their supplies were limited and only sold to locals. However, we were able to buy badges from little boys on the street. They came up to us - 15 badges for US$1. We won't have minded if it had cost more but a dollar was what they asked for. One thing Magadan had were minerals. The local museum had some very beautiful stones and gems.

After Magadan, we flew to Khabarovsk. It was interesting to see businessmen left their calling cards on a notice board at the airport. There are more outsiders in Khabarovsk than in Magadan. There were shops we could visit though not many. Still supplies in the shops were limited. There were long lines at the bakery. The guide brought us to a shop that catered for tourists. There was a nestling doll that I particularly liked but didn't buy (I got distracted). The doll started with Lenin and ended with Gorbachev. I bought a watch with a submarine on its face from the boot of a car. It was army surplus. From Khabarovsk we took the Siberian express to Vladivostok. There were more things to see and buy in Vladivostok. The city was catered for outsiders. It was quite and experience for us. We went there with an opened mind and were not disappointed when we left.

Posted by: rain forest | April 24, 2007 2:28 AM | Report abuse

Morning all, especially kguy and a bea c!! Can't believe I missed you last night!

*torpid Tuesday waves 'cuz it's like, 71 degrees* :-O

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 4:57 AM | Report abuse

And it's pretty darn warm in the cubicle this morning, too!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 7:03 AM | Report abuse

OOOOH!! Ooh oooh ooooooh!!!

GOOD NEWS!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 7:05 AM | Report abuse

SN -- so Butterball stays. Thanks. The morning retains the fingerprints of a light rain from last night. But Scotty is right: could be hot today. Hot, I tell you. So this year, do we have only two or three days of spring? I was hoping for two weeks.

Frosti --Q for you. Do I pinch off the side buds on the peonies? I await your wisdom and direction. The stalks are still a rhubarbie shade. Columbine blooming its fool head off. I was very bold and put in petunias (purple, since they smell!) and alyssum (white and purple-red "Easter Bonnet") in a strawberry pot. I can haul it in, if we have a frost warning.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, Mo is going to be pleased at that.

Did you put the coffee on yet. I could sure use some.

Posted by: dr | April 24, 2007 7:31 AM | Report abuse


I'm actually going for Diet Pepsi this morning, it's so warm!


And yes, I think mo will be downright giddy. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 7:38 AM | Report abuse

I must be losing it...Happy belated St. George's day (yesterday)

In other news, I have two movie recomendations:

A must see (actually a must hear): "Little Voice". Jane Horrocks will blow you away with her voice impressions of Judy Garland and Shirley Bessie and others...

And "George and the Dragon", a little British film that turns the legend around, and upside down, and of course being a British film it's funny. Bonus: starring the lovely Piper Perabo.

Two movies I intend to see again...

Now too catch up on the boodleee

Posted by: omni | April 24, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' all...

It's looking like a perfect (to me) day weather-wise -- partly cloudy with highs in the mid 60s, low humidity and a steady breeze.

On processed vs. fresh food... I think this is one of those things where balance is the answer. A diet that relies solely on the former is not good for your health, but one that consists of nothing but the latter is beyond the grocery budgets of not just the poor but the lower-to-middle middle class as well. The martooni household's pantry has it's share of processed junk and convenience food, but we also make sure there's always a bag of apples on hand. Canned tuna is another healthy staple here (great for sandwiches, pasta salads, and mixed in my simple but yummy fettucini aglio olio). Oh... and baby carrots -- a cheap, crunchy alternative to potato chips.

Regarding Yeltsin... Boris always used to me of the Russian president in Kubric's "Dr. Strangelove": a moody, passionate, philandering drunk. Of course, he brought a bit more to the table than that -- he also had a shrewd political mind, brass cajones and the know-how and ability to get things done in a government infamous for its resistance to change.

Cassandra... hope the tests results are good. I peeked at my chart on my last hospital visit and must say I'd rather have seen "well fed" than the word "alcoholic" followed by "BAC 0.342" (as in blood-alcohol content -- and that was from a blood sample taken 4 hours after being admitted).

Lots of work to do today, then party time. Today is Little Bean's birthday (the big oh-five) so we're going to have a little shindig for her tonight. Which reminds me... better call Dairy Queen to order the ice cream cake and then get my butt over to Toys-R-Us and the bookstore.

Peace, my friends.

btw... today makes 28 24's in a row. :-)

Posted by: martooni | April 24, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Shiloh, thanks for confirming the larva story. I won't tell the kids their beloved caterpillars will be eaten from the inside out by another form of larva. Yuck!

Q for all: Why do people insist on using crock pots instead of pressure cookers? You save time and electricity.

I'm starting a group with a few fellow teachers. This summer we'll be gathering once a week and I'll teach them to cook quick, without cans or boxes of pre-made stuff. All recipes will be real, abundant, and relatively cheap. I shop for a family of four, including lunch boxes for all four, for under $100 a week. Every meal includes a protein, a starch, and at least one vegetable. We don't count potatoes and corn as veggies, either.

Cassandra, we could meet at my parents' house in Wake Forest one day, too. I'll even find you a yard sale pressure cooker for under $10.

Posted by: a bea c | April 24, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "Boris used to me"... there was supposed to be a "remind" in there, but I forgot.

*kicks coffee pot... c'mon, caffeine... come to daddy...*

Posted by: martooni | April 24, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

martooni, congrats on all counts. per your comment, I have said that DC seems to be the potato chip capital of the world.

What I have done in my own life is cut portions. Also, veggies aren't that expensive. Not using them, but throwing them away, is. I also suggest that we all rediscover the home garden.

BTW, I haven't thrown away a veggie in 3 months. A record for me. I do a lot of salaads and my defense is that I am now prepping some veggies so I am ready to go with a stir fry or salad. Here's one that is cheap, make your own lo mein.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | April 24, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Happy birthday Little Bean!!!

CP, petunias should be OK in a light frost, they bloomed well into November here last year, there were a few light frosts but no hard frost. I love the smell of Assylum.

Morning all.

Posted by: dmd | April 24, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Congrats on another tic mark, martooni! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

a bea c - My mom used to use a pressure cooker, but abandoned it when we got a microwave oven. And I don't think my wife has ever even touched one.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

And Happy Birthday Bean!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I looked over the list of regular, and semi regular boodlers and of note: 'a bea c' is first on the list, Yoki (nee Stampede) is last on the list, and smack dab in the middle is...kbertocci.

that said, welcome back a bea c and congrats on the job. sounds like a lot of fun work to me.

still catching up on the boodle.

Good morning Cassandra, great to hear the good news.

Posted by: omni | April 24, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, everyone. :-)

Bean just made me laugh... she's been counting down the days to her b-day and you'd think she'd have been up at 5am and bouncing off the walls already, but no. She just rolled out of bed a few minutes ago and I asked her what today was and she said "Friday?" Of course, after I reminded her that today was a "special" day, she freaked out and started running around the house yelling "I'm FIVE, I'm FIVE, I'm FINALLY FIVE!"

I'm kinda glad I've got lots of work to do today. She's hyper enough on a regular day.

Posted by: martooni | April 24, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse


heh heh heh That's cool. Enjoy.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 24, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, martooni, that's a day-long grin for me.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm first? I've never been first. Well, that's a first.

I don't like microwaves because things tend to cook so unevenly. Growing up in Colombia, if you walked down most residential streets at about four in the afternoon, you could hear pressure cookers going in most houses. To me, it is the sound of home, all that hissing.

Another advantage is that you can cook several things in one afternoon, then just leave them in the pressure cooker without opening them. You don't even need to refrigerate as long as you don't break the seal after cooking. If you cook in advance, you don't need to rely on fast food in a bind.

Posted by: a bea c | April 24, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday to the Bean! And Martooni, I think we should pre-celebrate in some suitably sober way; just think, if it were still February, this would be your monthiversary. You are showing incredible strength and I admire you. Wait, I'm going fax some of the gourmet brownies I made last night from a NYT recipe published two weeks ago.

We have a beautiful day here. The snow is nearly gone, the sun is shining. Though the poor Yeoman became conditioned to relieving himself on snow. Now the giant dog shrinks himself smaller and smaller to stand on the last rotted patches of snow lurking in shady spots. I'm amused.

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I think "martooni and the Bean" is going to be one of the greatest love stories ever made.

Congrats, dude, keep up the good work, and please give Bean a big birthday hug and kiss from all of us.


Posted by: bc | April 24, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, that's funny! Does he become conditioned to doing his business in the dirt, when there's no snow?

Happy birthday to a five year old! Amazing how time flies, isn't it, Martooni? And keep up your good work, we are proud of you!

Today will be a quiet day, to allow me to recover from the exertions of moving the elder daughter's first load of furniture last night. The sun was hiding behind the clouds as I walked this morning, but the temperatures are definitely mild. I'm glad it's spring.

Joel, you need me to water the geraniums today? That's about all I'm up to...

Posted by: Slyness | April 24, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Happy birthday little Bean.

A bea C, I always wanted one, but my mother has instilled a fear of them. She knows how attentive I am, and so do I and I think we fear I'd blow the house up. It's a great way to make a less tender cut into something very very nice.

Omni, great film recommendations. I saw Little Voice in part a few years ago, and I keep waiting for it to be played again on tv.

Posted by: dr | April 24, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

>FINALLY FIVE! Definitely makes me smile. Thanks for that, Martooni. My baby girl just turned 14 a week ago and it's crazy, but I've been weepy ever since the day. I remember standing with her in her first grade line with tears running under my sunglasses. It seemed like it was going to be so different going from a half day of school to a full day and I knew I was going to miss her! And now, she's going to high school next year...sniff, sniff.

I know I sound like some nutcase, 'coptering parent, but I'm really not. Not, Not, Not.

Posted by: Kim | April 24, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to let go, isn't it, Kim?

I'm beginning to understand what my mother meant when she said that she had enjoyed every stage of our growing up but liked her children as adults best of all.

Posted by: Slyness | April 24, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I saw an interview this morning with the makers of a new documentary airing at the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto right now.

A tad interesting.

Posted by: dr | April 24, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. RD, I think you are a fantastic person, and believe me, I was just messing with you. Forgive me. I did not mean to offend. I imagine you in my mind's eye as being this really smart person, and sometimes that is so intimadating for me; hence, I don't know when you're serious or pulling my leg. I think I've commented before you have what I perceive as "dry humor". Does that make sense?

Happy Birthday, Little Bean, and may you have many more. I'll bet Five is a great number. Martooni, I laughed at your comment concerning the medical records. It was just the way you put it, not the thing itself. God bless you much.

Thanks, omni and a bea c. dr, the fact that I join the ranks of those that many times are struggling with food cast a deep impression on me. And thanks again, Yoki and CP.

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

Back to the old routine today, but have to take it easy. A little sore this morning. I hope you folks have a great day. Again, thanks for the comments and good thoughts. Dmd, let us hear from you if you can. I am thinking of you.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 24, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

dr - more than a tad interesting, I think. I never saw Fahrenheit 9/11 for a lot or reasons. I did always think it might be worth the price of admission just to see the footage of GWB calling a room full of wealthy folks "my base." But I read a lot about it at the time and it seems to me that these film makers have exposed some ugly truths about some of Moore's work.

I loved their reference to a communist basketball league.

Posted by: Kim | April 24, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

SCC: a lot of reasons

Posted by: Kim | April 24, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse


I'm shocked, shocked that Moore would fail to present objective reality in his films.

*suppressing a fit of giggling*


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Here's what it looks like to climb a redwood tree:

I will staple together a kit at some point this morning.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 24, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

does Magadan have a cool city flag or what:

Oh and congrats Martooni on your continued success and big Happy Birthday smooch for the Little Bean. We all expect you to post pictures of cake and ice cream on your blog.

Posted by: omni | April 24, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, I'm no defender of Moore, but if you're asking a human or group of humans for really truly "objective reality," you're probably asking the wrong people.

Granted, I may be oversimplifying here.


Posted by: bc | April 24, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

JA -- will the kit have flowers in it? I loved the Einstein and Tulips motif and was happy to jabber-back about the "Professor Einstein" daffodil. I am trying to stay on topic, really I am.

Jamestown Anniversary and Joe-Pye Weed?

I guess a stapled kit means paper...origami flowers, perhaps? I remain hopeful....

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, enjoy your day with the Bean. My youngest will be five in September. Last weekend he was talking to the produce guy at the grocery store while he helped me put the garlic in a bag. He said, "I know how to read, I already know my phone number, and I can tie my shoes. Now I have to wait until my birthday and I can ride the bus with my sister. I want to be in her class, but she won't be there 'cause she'll be in first grade with a new teacher."

Posted by: a bea c | April 24, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse


We specialize in oversimplification here, no? :-)


Just keep the 300-Foot-High Club out of the Kit.

Leave that to us.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Kids say the darndest things

Posted by: omni | April 24, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

like their minds only work in stream of conciousness mode most of the time.

Posted by: omni | April 24, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Good morning! I am posting as a public service, to hasten the new Kit -- it usually appears just as I catch up with a Boodle.

Congratulations, martooni, and happy birthday little Bean! Cassandra, I am glad the problem was resolved and you are feeling better. Howdy, a bea c, and congratulations on the job.

About that food question: I try hard to eat a lot of fruit & vegetables, and go to the farmers market weekly in the summer. I also seldom buy processed meat products. It often strikes me how quickly those healthy products add up. Here in urban Oklahoma, most of the poor don't have the option of planting a garden, and even flowerpots are hard given our weather and their living situations. The minority neighborhoods have a striking lack of grocery stores and their prices, particularly for fresh food, are even higher than the other neighborhood stores. Our city has a huge area, so without a reliable car (also something many poor people here lack) you either walk to the nearest store or take a bus a long way, then haul your groceries back. The buses are not convenient for the farmers markets, even if you have the extra cash to spend there. Of course, there are the other social and cultural issues already mentioned. However, here, money and logistics alone can play a huge part in what you get to choose to eat.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 24, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Martooni for Daddy of the Month! All in Favor say AYE.

Bean has the bestest present already, the authentic you. But of couse, you will ice the cake with a book and some bauble. Such a day. Enjoy. Report. We are happy with you.

Cassandra -- When you write the grants about healthy cooking, is the "asking" institution your church? Perhaps if you partner with a non-sectarian group -- school or PTA or community center -- then the grant might be looked at more favorably....I bet you have thought of this, but wish you could succeed here and create a caring community "node" of cooking. So many of our huge problems can be addressed locally, as you would like to do. Scotty? Where is that magic wand? We need to fax some sense to somebody there in the grant-making driver's seat. Cassandra, nationwide I see the beginnings of school lunch reform. Perhaps this is a glimmer of hope, within an instition.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Well, this is a first, I was ahead of Joel on something. I already bought The Wild Trees, just last week. I bought it for my tree-hugger daughter. I hope to read it with her this summer.

A tree-hugger anecdote, Dave of the Coonties will appreciate:

Because of the citrus canker problem in Florida, the government has been trying for several years to eradicate citrus trees from private yards. We've been threatened, pleaded with, bribed, etc. But our family has held out, as the state passed laws and was sued by citizens, as one court would rule that the state had the right to take the trees and another would overrule that decision and say the government needed a search warrant to go on private property to inspect trees, and so on. (Every time a decision made it look bad for us, Tree-hugger would threaten to chain herself to the grapefruit tree...) Finally (well, maybe it's final, what do you think, Dave?) the government and their bosses in the citrus industry gave up and let us keep our trees. (Which do not, by the way, have citrus canker). Now every day when I get to my neighborhood I pass our local plant nursery and they have a big sign that says "CITRUS TREES AVAILABLE"--that is happy news for us. Score one for the little guys.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 24, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I saw it from the other side of the fence, as a farmer. In the rough times, our cash in the bank was always red, but the huge benefit of being a farmer, of having space and access, was that you had the space to grow your own if you choose too. And we surely did.

Farming, and how to live cheap makes me think of legumes. But for your sakes, I won't go there.

Posted by: dr | April 24, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse


Oh, and that reminds me, when we were visiting the redwoods in northern California, my daughter posed for a picture hugging one of the big trees. Just our luck, a park ranger happened to be passing by, and we got in trouble for it (!) -- I guess we were not supposed to be off the official path or something. I had to laugh (I kept a straight face until the ranger left, though)-- how much damage do you suppose she did?

Posted by: kbertocci | April 24, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

dr, legumes! Somebody had to say it. All this talk about how junk food is cheaper than healthy food--what is cheaper and healthier than rice and beans!

Posted by: kbertocci | April 24, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Sky report: Overcast, windy, and looks like it will rain. It will, too, because today is the opening day of our annual Arts Festival, a six-day downtown arts extravaganza marked, each year, by rain on opening day. However, it is not actually supposed to start seriously raining until sometime after 1:00p.m. This is important because the school honors choir and orchestra, with Boy participating, are part of the official opening ceremony at 11. I'll be there, wrangling children. With any luck I'll be back in my dry office before the thunderstorms hit.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 24, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Happy anniversary "Everybody", released 25 years ago today. And the world was never the same...

I know you've been waiting, yeah
I've been watching you, yeah
I know you wanna get up, yeah
Come on


Everybody, come on, dance and sing
Everybody, get up and do your thing
Everybody, come on, dance and sing
Everybody, get up and do your thing

Let the music take control
Find a groove and let yourself go
When the room begins to sway
You know what I'm trying to say

Come on, take a chance
Get up and start the dance
Let the D.J. shake you
Let the music take you


Let your body take a ride
Feel the beat and step inside
Music makes the world go 'round
You can turn your troubles upside down

Gonna have to change your mind
Gonna leave your troubles behind
Your body gets the notion
When your feet can make the motion

(chorus, repeat)

Dance and sing, get up and do your thing (repeat 3 times)

I know you've been waiting, yeah, yeah
I see you sitting there, I've been watching you
Across the room, yeah, yeah
I've been watching you, I see you sitting there by yourself
Yeah, yeah
Come on, come on, come on


Let the music take control
Find a groove and let yourself go
When the room begins to sway
You know what I'm trying to say

(chorus, repeat and fade)
[Dance and sing, get up and do your thing] (in background)

Posted by: omni | April 24, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

And Richard Reston is able to climb that tree in Founders Grove thanks to paleontologists (cue Dooley).

The founders of the Save-The-Redwoods League were Madison Grant, Henry Fairfield Osborn and John C. Merriam (hails grom Iowa, but part of the Maine Merriams--part of my great-aunt's married-to clan, I have wondered more than once?).

Merriam was a paleontologist at the Univrsity of California, Berkeley and intererested his good friend Stephen Mather (Massachusetts or Connecticut Mathers?) who was the first director of the National Parks and who joined the group, along with Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior at the time, For a short time, Lane served as president of Save-The-Redwoods League during its founding, then Merriam followed. The Save-The-Redwoods League, starting with $100 contributions, began to start buying up groves in 1919 and 1920, which would eventually be protected for their great antiquity and beauty.

The Sequoia taproot system is also pretty interesting.

John C. Merriam bio:

Stephen Mather, Borax millionaire, bio:

We have already spoken here of Connecticut-born and Princeton-educated paleontologist and geologist Henry Fairfield Osborn.

During my three minutes recently at the microphone within San Antonio City Council chambers, I spoke to Mary Bomar, current director of National Parks, about Governor's Island and Yellowstone. The San Antonio forum was the second of 17 currently ongoing listening sessions around the country sponsored by Bomar (she the 17th director) and National Parks. Perhaps others will speak to Ms. Bomar of the continuing need to preserve the western North coast redwoods.

Posted by: Loomis | April 24, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Stop laughing. Look up the redwoods taproots. It's not your daughter per se, but your and every other child who has to climb over the fences set up around the trees and mug a camera for their parents' sake.

Posted by: Loomis | April 24, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday, Bean!!!My son was just like you last year, only he kept insisting that he was fifteen until he was "finally five". Way to go, 'Tooni, by the weekeny youllhave your first coin. One day at a time...

kb, I always suspected you were a matriarch of tree huggers *L* BTW, one can estimate the DBH (diameter at breast height)of a tree by hugging it, since one's armspan is nearly equal to one's height.

Shiloh: Good call regarding the Ichnumonidae.

Posted by: jack | April 24, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

...and the Password is...*noctilucent*...


Posted by: jack | April 24, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Hey Jack,

I wrote about noctilucent clouds back in the mid 1990s. Any day now, NASA sends up a special craft to assess these emerging (new?) clouds....that may be associated with climate-forcing chemicals in the atmosphere.

The clouds are WAY up high, and eerie-beautiful, according the Scandihovian sighters.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Ooooh. I think I saw noctilucent clouds when I was up North, I just thought they were funny looking aurora borealis. "Our people" in Edmonton must have seen them too.

Deadeye is at the clinic again.

"He has had four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, two artery-clearing angioplasties and an operation to implant a special pacemaker in his chest."
The soul implant will have to wait after January 2009 apparently.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 24, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, congrats to Bean, and to you.

"Finally Five". I suppose 21 is the last age that anyone is "finally". For my part, I had a little sneak preview of wistful sadness when RD was writing about taking down the swing set. We also had a little preview of that when we put away the first car seat.

kb, the only thing I can say in the ranger's defence is that wilderness can't tolerate too much love. In the mountains where the lichens and trees tenaciously hang on over the winter (much like I was feeling until recent spring-like conditions [SD, Shrieking Spouse (?) should be fine with current weather]), even a few people going off a trail end up starting a new trail. Having said that, hug away. Good for the soul.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 24, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

This here might interest Curmudgeon.

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

This must be important, for Joel's big boss to weigh in:

Posted by: Slyness | April 24, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Oh dear, Son of Carl, I am not a hovering parent, but even at the 21 mark the mommy thoughts and wistfulness continues. (I know you know this.) I have a 21Dot and 24Dot: Mostly they are fine but still inclined to some heart-tugging moments. They especially think the word's systems are good and logical, which leads them to some doozies about insurance, etc. This weekend, I moved three or four boxes of their school papers and keepsakes to dryer but semi-deep storage. Bit of a tear: the joyful kind. I am glad that they make their way forward, but the picture of a mermaid self-portrait circa 1996 took my breath away.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Okay, I have to say in my OWN defense, of course we didn't climb over any fences, or disobey any signs or disregard any advice from the rangers! We didn't step on any roots or trample the lichens. It was truly an innocent thing. The ranger was just enforcing the rules and I respect that totally. The real irony is that I am such a rule-follower and it's so easy to make me feel guilty--that's the reason I remember that incident so clearly six years later.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 24, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

kb, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you would be the preferred "low impact" hiker. Not that you need an invitation, but you are welcome in our alpine meadows anytime.

High volume and mountain bikes are hard on fragile ecosystems. Here's some photos with the world's longest link:,GGLD:2005-07,GGLD:en%26sa%3DN

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 24, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

  I know the perfect gift for Little Bean Martooni: A Kelly Clarkson CD. She's 25 today.

  Thankful, her first CD, has sold over 3.1 million copies.

Posted by: omni | April 24, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm, quiet in here. Everybody must be over at Weingarten's chat.

Mudge, was that you who just wanted to be friends with Gene?

Posted by: Slyness | April 24, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

It was truly an innocent thing.

Principal enemies:
Soil compaction by the thousands of tourists that visit the groves each year has seriously reduced the vigor of many large trees (8).

We didn't step on any roots or trample the lichens.

No, you didn't step any OBVIOUS roots. Why did I mention the redwoods' interesting taproots? Because they have none! You think the flathat was harassing you just because he or she was in a grumpy mood that day?

The roots are incredibly shallow for such a huge tree. Roots may only penetrate 6 feet below the ground (Snyder 1992). Redwoods have no taproots (Fritz 1995).

So much for tree-hugging when you don't know the first thing about the trees you profess to love by hugging. And no one bothered to look up the redwood information except me?

Posted by: Loomis | April 24, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

No, Slyness, not me. But I thought it was terrific, and would like the true author to fess up, simply to receive kudos.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

dmd, you there? I can't access my hotmail account from work, so can't send you an email message. I apologize to Joel and the Boodlers for hijacking the blog for a personal message. Please forgive. If I wait until I get home to send dmd a message, it will be too late.

dmd, when you get home tonight there should be a delivery with your name on it, on your front stoop. It is all intentional, and OK. OK?

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

The effort to eradicate citrus canker was a mess. The canker popped up near Miami Airport something like a decade ago, and could have been eradicated by destroying all citrus trees in a relatively small (albeit urban) area. For whatever reason, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services got really serious as the canker was popping up well to the north. The procedure was that whenever an infected tree was spotted, every citrus plant within some 1600 feet was removed. Removals were periodically stopped by court orders and protests--it would have helped if the Legislature had supported the Department. By 2004, large-scale destruction of citrus groves was necessary, and growers were employing lots of costly precautions to ensure that they didn't spread the disease. Then the hurricanes in 2004 spread the bacterial spores all over. End of game. Now the industry had to cope with greening being established in Florida.

Also a decade or so ago, an psyillid insect capable of spreading Huanglongbing/Citrus Greening Disease became established in Florida. Much more recently, the disease itself popped up. It can't be eradicated and there's no cure. So efforts are being made to control the psyillid.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 24, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Dave: Biological insect and plant control has always fascinated me. Your post and Shiloh's about the wasps got me thinking about it again. I wonder whatever happened to the experiments with fungi that were fatal to fire ants and ,IIRC, kudzu. I think in the case of the fire ants it was BT, and in the latter case a fungus native to Asia. For some reason a lot of folks are freaked out by the biological agents. I guess there's also the real possibility that the non-native control agent will have no natural predators of its own on our side of the pond and get out of control.

Posted by: jack | April 24, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Ms Loomis. If you are so worried about people being rude to kids so that they might grow up to be killers, why are you so rude here? If one of the readers goes nuts because of your rudenss would you take the blame.


Posted by: nobody | April 24, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

...the bees are still disappearing, and with them, lots of food production...

Posted by: jack | April 24, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Yoki -- hijack and kidnap away. I love that DMD is in your neck of the wood. Thank you for the practical kindness. I found a focacia-type recipe in *gasp* the new Martha Stewart mag. Dear Reader, I bought it! The seduction was the tagline of "Cottage Pink"....near "Garden" and silly, weak-knee-ed me thought I would read about flowers known as garden pinks, the species precursors to carnations.

I will copy the recipe out later. BTW: what will happen? Will JA be slapped with a MSOmnimedia cease order?

Omni- you are nothing like MS, which is as she might say, a "good thing."

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

If 'neck of the woods' ecompasses 2000 km, then I am in dmd's neck of the woods! Bluto's neck, maybe.

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

...the new Password is...Zidane...


Posted by: jack | April 24, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that it was Raysmom in Gene's chat today. Am I right?

Posted by: TBG | April 24, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Lots to catch up on (having just spent the last hour with Weingarten, as most of you have, too).

First, Happy Fifth to the Beaner.

Next, happy reprieve to Tai Shan.

Now: Joel's (delinquent) kit featuring staples: I interpret this to mean not that it will features pieces of paper mechanically fastened together. Rather, it will discuss common kitchen foodstuffs and similar products, such as flour, butter, milk, toilet paper, paper towels, several pounds of hamburger, potatoes, onions, sugar, Cheerios, 10-for-$7 cans of tomato soup, etc. (In my own household, add to the staples list: capers, shallots, beef base, vidalia onions, liverwurst, Taylor's ham, Hebrew National all-beef hot dogs, Bush's baked beans, several kinds of canned tomatoes (for spaghetti sauce), mandarin oranges, McCormick's Salad Supreme, four kinds of mustard, EVOO, dried apricots, Irish Spring, Safeway Brand X diet cola, salmon, Parmesan-Basil Wheat Thins (for me), Triscuits (for my wife), crab claw meat (in season), and Breyer's All-Natural Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.

Or maybe he meant something else.

bc, we have the prototype Tesla all-electric car down on the plaza of our building today. A very snazzy car, and only about $95k when it goes on sale in the fall. Shall I order one for you?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Weren't me in Gene's chat, fer sure.

But I am glad he kinda agreed with me.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge's list reminded me. Can I use canned (and therefore cooked) crab meat for crab cakes, or does the meat need to be raw?

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Note from the Devonian, roughly the time at which that kit was posted.

Life in Euramerica during the Devonian.
"The monster mushroom (20ft), the scientists said, towered above prehistoric plants that rarely reached heights of more than a metre, at a time before any backboned creatures had emerged from the sea. "That world," noted Mr. Boyce, "was a very strange place.""

The article doesn't say it but the only Devonian site in the Gaspé Peninsula is Miguasha. The site is famous for lobbed-fin fish, those adventurous fish with four little feet just pining to explore the world beyond the shore but not quite capable yet to do it yet. Don't miss Miguasha if you happen to vacation in Gaspésie or the Chaleurs Bay in New-Brunswick. Looking through that window at almost 400 million years ago remains a highlight of this trip for my kids.
The photo gallery has a few pictures of famous fossils. Is Keith Richards a famous fossil?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 24, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Cooked, Yoki.

Not even sure how you'd cook with raw crab meat, as you only kill the crabs by boiling them (yes.. horrible, I know).

Posted by: TBG | April 24, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks TBG. I'm such a hypocrite. I cannot, no matter how much I steel myself, plunge a living animal into boiling water. But I'm happy to eat crab and lobster if someone else does the nefarious deed.

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The neatest biocontrol agent for fire ants is a tiny wasp that bites off an ant's head, then lays an egg in the detached head.

Present-day biological control agents are reviewed and tested exhaustively to avoid unwanted side effects. Not all work, but I'm optimistic about getting some degree of control for pests like Brazilian pepper.

Posted by: Dave of the coonties | April 24, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I throw them in hot water myself but I guess one can try to kill a crab by cutting the cerebral ganglion (a crab's small "brain") from the abdominal ganglion (a crab's larger "brain") by plunging a knife across the shell just behind the eyes. Some people make a + sign with a sharp knife in a lobster'head, just behind the eyes for the same reason. Plunging them in boiling water works just as fast though.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 24, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

jack - That bee article is sobering. I have a coworker whose husband is an entomologist. She tells me that the bug people are all over this like flies on ... well let's just say they are enthusiastically tackling the problem. Most of the time commercial entomologists are preoccupied with controlling insect populations, so this is considered a refreshing change of pace. And it isn't that often that they get the chance to save the world.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

...or "Florida holly," Dave, they make lovely Christmas wreaths for the non-allergic among us... (mostly kidding--I've done my share of "manual eradication" of this annoying plant.)

By the way, Dave, I'm halfway through Michael Grunwald's Everglades book, "The Swamp" and I'm finding it very interesting and readable. You'd probably like it. He mentions how the melaleuca was brought in because someone thought it would help dry up the water and improve the land, and then there's the water hyacinth, so pretty but, oops...

Posted by: kbertocci | April 24, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

SD - I don't think I have ever before seen the phrase "monster mushroom." It certainly has a lovely ring to it.

This planet never ceases to impress me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

" a tiny wasp that bites off a fire ant's head, then lays an egg in the detached head"

Anyone who has ever found themselves standing on a bunch of fire ants can only celebrate that idea!

Posted by: TBG | April 24, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci - I really liked that book too. The bit about people trying to sell Florida Swamp Land was so absurd as to be funny. And I found Grunwald's description of the shameful treatment of the Seminoles and Calusa truly heartbreaking.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, RD. A friend of ours is a bee keeper and just attended a conference with some big wheel apiculturists. There has been a curious lack of discussion regarding how those nasty Africanised hybrid bees have been affected. All of the compendiums of research that I've read has the scientists pulling at straws. In all likely hood, repopulation is going to be with non-native species, IIRC, European (Spanish?).

Posted by: jack | April 24, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Doug, Doug, wake up. Spiney Norman's shadow!

Posted by: python fan | April 24, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

>That bee article is sobering.

RD, I still have a bunch if they're paying, along with the carpenter bees which bore lovely 1/4" holes in my car port. I could live with that but they leave behind these nasty piles of sawdust and goo on the car.

The only way to get rid of them is to stand around casually with the extra large can of flying insect death ray behind you. You whistle and pretend to inspect siding as they fly around, waiting until it's late and they're coming home to the hole. When they get in there you sneak up and blast the the toxic bits into their hole/burrow with abandon and then step back to watch them fall out.


Posted by: Error Flynn | April 24, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - I think Nikola Tesla would be honored to have an electrical car named after him. He was a fascinating guy. I want to be him when I grow up. Preferably as played by David Bowie in the movie "The Prestige."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, canned (cooked) crabmeat is fine for crabcakes. Canned (or in plastic tubs) crabmeat is always either cooked or at least pasteurized (kinda/sorta the same thing). Jumbo lump is "preferred"--but is the most expensive, and then comes Backfin. I use the cheapest kind--claw--in my chowder recipes, but wouldn't use it for crabcakes. (I also used those honking big pieces of crabmeat from Alaskan King crab claws and legs in my chowder--awesome!)

What recipe are you using? I must have about eight books devoted to nothing but crab recipes, this region being Ground Zero in the crab world.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

CP, you lost me on that 'nothing like MS', but I'm slow, and might figure it out eventually...

Posted by: omni | April 24, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

'twas me at 2:23.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"Cyril Connoly?"

"No, *semi-carnally*."

Posted by: byoolin | April 24, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci, I haven't quite finished Grunwald's "swamp." It's an excellent book despite the occasional blooper that shows he isn't a local.

Brazilian pepper is nasty, but at least it doesn't persist in pinelands that are burned regularly. On the other hand, Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) can blanket vegetation, burns enthusiastically, and returns post-fire. A nightmare.

Ecological restoration is becoming a big deal in Florida. Coastal areas cleared of Australian pines are highly restorable, as shown at Cape Florida on Key Biscayne and, recently, by the City of Miami's impressive results on Virginia Key, just north of Key Biscayne. Not to mention barrier islands all over southern Florida. The University of Florida's Environmental Horticulture Department now has a program in Restoration and Plant Ecology. Sort of a fulfillment of Daniel Janzen's view from maybe 30 years ago that to save our ecosystems, we would have to engage in a degree of gardening. He was busy restoring seasonally-dry forest in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. A journalist's book "Green Phoenix" tells the tale entertainingly. Even Oliver North makes an appearance.

Posted by: Dave of the coonties | April 24, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Omni -- MS as in Martha Stewart, you know, the convicted felon/domestic diva/OCD unbound/makes-her-neurosis- work-for-her.....

The inside of the mag, btw, is not about a cottage pinks garden, but a cottage house in shades of subdued pink. Apparently, she has always wanted a house done entirely in pink. So, house number 8 or is that 9? yielded to her ministrations in shell pink, Venetian blush, muted mauve, sunrise glow, candlewick blush.....etc.

Medium-long ago, we kept bees in the close-in suburbs, with a grad. student friend. We were NEVER stung. But the town elders HAD A COW and zoned us out of existence. UMCP has a renowned beekeeping program: lots of bee supers all over campus.

Posted by: College parkian | April 24, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Re: restoration, no question it's a good thing, but I did have a little twinge when I heard they were clearing the Australian pines from the beach at Key West's Fort Zachary Taylor (or as the locals like to refer to it, "Ft. Elizabeth Taylor")--that land was artificially created in the first place, by the U.S. Navy. And the trees made it a very nice place, shady and breezy. I'm not sure how far along they've gotten with the project, but last I heard it was definitely going ahead. John U. Lloyd beach in Broward County was also full of Australian pines when we used to go there, we liked it, too. Oh, well.

Re: selling the swamp land, this quote made us laugh--"I've bought land by the acre, and I've bought land by the foot, but by God, I've never before bought land by the gallon!"

(quoting from memory, might not be exact)

Posted by: kbertocci | April 24, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Rice and lentils are certainly healthy. There's a VEGAN collie who made it to 27.

Wilbrodog like rice and lentils too, but he's suspicious of this claim. He wonders how often the dog sneaks hamburgers while the owner's not looking.

After all, he says, if dogs really preserve their mental acuity on vegetable-rich diets, Bramble could easily figure out how to file an order at the butcher's every week.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 24, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Success! The Arts Festival is duly open, the music was grand, and the thunderstorm didn't hit until the kids got on the bus. With any luck, they made it back to school before the downpour.

Posted by: Ivansom | April 24, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

All this crab talk makes me more than a bit peckish for snow crab.
And they are in season as well. The Cheezy Bay crabs aren't bad though, I'll grant you that.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 24, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I will admit it: it was me -- well, "I" -- who posted the shout-out for Joel in Weingarten's chat.

Posted by: anonymous | April 24, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Good for the timely downpour. We could use one.

Australian pines are definitely great for shade at beaches, causeways, etc. But
1. their roots make sea turtle nesting more or less impossible
2. birds don't like them (except for night roosting)
3. they displace a lot of interesting native plants
4. you don't dare put them near roads for fear they'll blow over in the next wind storm.

By now, there's good restorations of former Australian pine thickets all the way from Longboat Key to the Florida Keys. Cape Florida State Park (Key Biscayne) was restored kind of crudely after Andrew blew down the pines (it would be done better today), but the place has become a magnet for migrating and resident birds.

By the way, the worst hurricane winds don't just blow down Australian pines. Castellow Hammock park in southern Miami-Dade County suffered 70% mortality of its native trees.

Check the Joan Durante Community Park.

Posted by: Dave of the coonties | April 24, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha, anonny-mouse, whoever you are. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Dave of the Coonties writes:

'On the other hand, Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) can blanket vegetation, burns enthusiastically, and returns post-fire. A nightmare.'

I went to Florida a few years back and did a story about that nasty stuff. Hang on, let me rummage around my filing cabinet. I was on the Invasive Species beat for a while. I kind of agree with kbertocci that I miss the australian pines, invaders though they might have been. It's not an ecologically correct opinion but there you have it.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 24, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Ah, what a lovely afternoon. It's so nice out doors that, well, I just feel like...singing

Posted by: jack | April 24, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

No singing!

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

July 30, 2000:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Cruising westward at 300 feet, the helicopter is heading straight for the end of civilization. You can see it just ahead. It's a line across the surface of the Earth--a levee, built years ago to hold back the swamp. Now it works in reverse, restraining the developers. Beyond the levee there are no shopping malls, no houses, no roads, just a wet prairie full of alligators, lily pads and saw grass.

And there's something new, something growing, spreading--a pale-green substance that seems to be crawling all over the tree islands that speckle this portion of the Everglades. The pilot takes the chopper down for a closer look. You can see it, sure enough: lygodium. OldWorldclimbingfern.

It has gone berserk. It's like the Blob. The islands are caving in at the center, crushed by the dense, matted blanket of vegetation. The willows, the hollies, the cabbage palms--they're being buried alive.


What exactly is this virulent organism? It's a houseplant. In the right context, it's a lovely little fern.

Lygodium is the classic invasive species: an organism that's been transported by human beings to habitats where it has no natural enemies. The counterattack against this intruder is just one isolated battle in what is becoming a major war from the Everglades to Rock Creek Park, from Hawaii to your own back yard. The scale of the conflict is planetary...

There have always been invasive species, but ecologists and government officials say the situation has become riotous. One recent study estimated that exotic species, including diseases, cost the nation more than $130 billion a year. There is an emerging sentiment that this could be the next great environmental crisis, that without serious countermeasures we will find ourselves living in what the nature writer David Quammen has called the "Planet of Weeds."

Last year President Clinton signed an executive order requiring all federal agencies to address the problem of invasives. The order created a new entity called the Invasive Species Council. The council's executive director takes office tomorrow. But for all the bureaucratic sparks, there are no platoons of weed-whacking commandos taking to the hills with machetes.

For the general public the issue remains relatively obscure. People grasp the dangers posed by bulldozers and acid rain. It's not as easy to understand the menace of, say, Eurasian milfoil.

The issue also suffers from its scattered nature. The invaders range from bacteria to vines to feral pigs. Broadly defined, invasive species come from every kingdom of life. A few examples:

* Domestic honeybees are under attack from the invasive Varroa mite and from aggressive "killer" bees that have arrived from South America.

* West Nile virus, blamed for seven deaths last year, has reappeared among birds and mosquitoes in New York. Central Park was closed one night this past week to allow aerial spraying of pesticide.

* The Asian tiger mosquito arrived in the United States in the mid-1980s and now plagues the Washington area. It bites all day long.

* The fabled sagebrush of Nevada is being replaced by cheat grass, an invader from Europe that is explosively flammable.

* Miconia, a plant with razor-edged leaves, has arrived in Hawaii and formed impenetrable stands over thousands of acres.

* More than 5,000 prize maple trees in New York and Chicago have been cut down after infestations by the Asian longhorn beetle.

* The Asian swamp eel has turned up in canals in South Florida and may soon start devouring small fish in the Everglades.

The invaders are characterized not so much by their exotic origins as by their virulent behavior, the way they overrun natural defenses. They are, by nature, insidious. When they get loose, they tend to have perfect camouflage. Weeds are green.

etc. etc...

Posted by: Achenbach | April 24, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I don't have a recipe. But I love crab cakes, and now that I have a reliable source for canned crab, I need a recipe. That's where you come in.

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous, thanks for identifying yourself.

(P.S.: I've been a big fan of your work for many, many years. Especially some of the early poetry and maybe some of the 19th century erotica.

(Come to think of it, Anon, you may be the only boodler older than me, even.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, thanks for the Don Graham link. I love this part:

'No newspaper has been exempt from the economic challenges of recent years. Yet I would guess that in each of the last few years the Times has published the highest-profit newspaper in the United States. And going forward into the Internet age, what large newspaper holds cards as good as the New York Times and (I can only think of one.)'

Posted by: Achenbach | April 24, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Don really bringin' it. Love this:

'But what can we say of Institutional Shareholder Services, the supposedly public-minded research firm which has recommended following the money-manager's lead?

Three years ago, ISS was responsible for perhaps the single silliest recommendation ever made to shareholders: that they vote against Warren Buffett's re-election to the Coca-Cola board because (I'm not kidding) Dairy Queen and some other Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries did business with Coca-Cola. This created a "conflict." ISS was displeased because Mr. Buffett served on Coke's audit committee and it recommended a vote against his re-election. Presumably his $10-billion investment in Coca-Cola was not enough to ensure that he would act in its interests.

I am in a position to testify to Mr. Buffett's value on a board of directors, since our board is now the only one he serves on outside of Berkshire Hathaway's. Our market capitalization is just over $7 billion; Mr. Buffett's recommendations to management have been worth -- no question -- billions. His value to any company's board is incalculable. (ISS later explained that although it recommended a vote against Mr. Buffett for director, it didn't really want him off the board. Presumably they counted on a majority of shareholders being too sane to follow their advice.)

ISS now follows up its Buffett recommendation with support for a proposal which, if adopted, would lead to the New York Times Co. being auctioned off like a side of beef. After two such demonstrations of devotion to its rules regardless of practical effects, ISS has shown the need for a management change in at least one institution.'

[We need this guy writing for us in the newsroom.]

Posted by: Achenbach | April 24, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

  CP, I got the 'MS as in Martha Stewart' part, it was the I'm not 'the convicted felon/domestic diva/OCD unbound/makes-her-neurosis- work-for-her.....' part that eluded me. Thanks.

  Though a friend once told me that I do have OCD. The reason: I alphabetized my spice rack.

Posted by: omni | April 24, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Joel's story includes:

"It has gone berserk. It's like the Blob. The islands are caving in at the center, crushed by the dense, matted blanket of vegetation. The willows, the hollies, the cabbage palms--they're being buried alive."

Perfect. I'd add a mention of the cocoplums (Chrysobalanus icaco). Tough as nails, super yard bush/hedge plant for south Florida, and helpless before the Blob.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 24, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

re invasive species cited by JA

From the "etc" department - the mountain pine beetle. New to Alberta, feared that it will destroy a huge swath of the boreal forest between BC and Hudson's Bay. Here's a BC forest post-pine beetle (note to viewer - the trees ain't supposed to be red)

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 24, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

In hindsight, I'm sure that First Nations, American Indians, Incas and Mayas regret of not having founded the "Invasive Species Council".

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 24, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The Americans were about as vulnerable to European diseases as American chestnuts were to the Blight. Same with Hawaiians.

Troubling to hear of the pine beetles.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 24, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I'd bet he would write for the newsroom in a pinch, if it came to that.

I love that the piece was published in the Wall Street Journal. How's that for covering your bases?

Posted by: Slyness | April 24, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm on it, Yoki. Tonight I shall cull the best ones.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the invasive species citation, Joel. Let's just admit it: weeding IS my life.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 24, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm convinced there's a new invasive species rampaging through my lawn. The twerpy little ground-coverish thing with all the seeds. Basically it's just a seed machine. Anyone know what that is? Those of you in the Mid-Atlantic? Zone 9 or whatever we are?

Posted by: Achenbach | April 24, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I believe we are in Zone 7a

I think that means we're the last to board the airplane.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Chickweed, Joel? Rapid spreading, white flower, gazillion seedheads? Know it well.

Posted by: Slyness | April 24, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse


Shepherd's purse, if it is tall with tiny heart-shaped seeds.

I need a pic or more text.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

One of my fondest memories of my teenage years in Florida is going out every morning and picking either a yellow or pink grapefruit off our citrus trees for breakfast. We also had an orange tree, a taTo lose those trees to overzealous Ag agents would have broken my heart.

Stripping the trees at the end of the season was always one of the chores I dreaded.

I have to make some rejoinders to the Weingarten chat. Being stuck in granny panties while being seduced is a major scene in "Bridget Jones's Diary" so the phenomena is common enough to be immortalized on film.

He is completely wrong about the joke. It is only funny if the guy silently pulls the vaseline out of his pocket and the dad cracks. The way he told it is completely wrong.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 24, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

My hometown was in Zone 1b!

Yellojkt, I agree on the joke. Either he writes it out and the dad cracks or he pulls out a jar.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 24, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Omni, that OCD charge is silly. I mean, how else would you organize your spices? By color? By country of origin? By size?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 24, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Now if I did *have* OCD and I was allowed to organize spices... their tops would be unscrewed, and the spices would be all over the carpet and I'd be rolling on every spice possible.

But then, I'm just a wild animal, Omni. I finally got the gnome distracted from the PC by faking an urgent doorbell, so glad to be back on the Achenblog and wags to you all.

And I like the new decor in the bunker. It just needs more food, preferably on very, very lowset tables to make it perfect.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 24, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Why are the redwoods billed as the oldest living thing? Are they? What in their DNA makes their bark so resistent to fire? Why is the bark so red? Why did the men involved with ancient bones and ancient earth deposits recognize the redwoods as ancient beings and therefore worthy of protection -- tourists notwithstanding?

What hath George Eastman wrought? Not to mention Henry Ford on the forests of California?

Posted by: Loomis | April 24, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, they burnt the painting of "Dogs Playing Poker." I know that painting meant almost as much to you as it did to me. You used to stare lovingly at it for hours. (I know others think it was only because you're a mindless dog and you'll stare at anything, but you and I know different.) And they burnt it. So think twice before you think well of the decorating scheme of the cruel vandals who perpetrated this. And remember, with the &%$# toilet seat always falling down your quick and easy access to water has been cut off.

Just think about it, Dawg.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt's wife left a box of flavored Mentos in her computer bag on the floor about nose level. I ate about three before I decided I didn't like cinnamon.

Posted by: yellojktdog | April 24, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Why have I never peed on a redwood?

And why am I not allowed to adopt kids like those dogs did?
Is it because I'm black?

And why has nobody ever heard of ancient bristlecone pines being, in fact, the oldest trees in the world?

So many questions keep biting me like fleas.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 24, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

And if you do drink from the toilet bowl, watch that lid. It'll drop on ya when ya least expect it.

Take my word for it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I concur on the bristlecone pines. ScienceKid #1 has recently reminded me of this.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 24, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I don't drink from toilet bowls, Mudge, as long as they keep pouring pure filtered water in my dogbowl ever few hours in apology.

And the dogs playing poker was interesting, but I was staring at it because I was jealous-- how COULD they deal cards when I couldn't?

That's kind of like having photos of male gymnasts just showing off when you can't even do a clean dismount from your sofa. You know what I'm talking about, CURmudgeon. I saw you ripping apart those pictures out of Sports Illustrated once with lots of oaths about double-jointed young punks.

Anyway, it's FUN to have all those bunnies and kitten to sniff and chase around the house. I don't even have to break a walk to see lots of action going on.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 24, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Heck, I'm being used as a log by 10 tiny kittens right now. Life is good.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 24, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

TBG, so sweet of you to notice I was missing! Actually, my hard drive crashed this morning, so I was computerless until a couple of hours ago. So I haven't even gotten to read Gene's chat.

Big hugs to all! Must go back to catching up on my real work!

Posted by: Raysmom | April 24, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Hmmph. You guys are right; learn somethin' new every day:

Wilbrodog, I was indeed tearing pictures out of Sports Illustrated, but it wasn't of gymnasts (they might have been showjn on the reverse side). And those weren''t oaths of anger but rather of appreciation and amazement. But then, I just realized we've never let you see the swimsuit issue, so you'll just have to trust me on this. There's hardly any sports in it, anyway. Really. Not even swimming. Don't ask me why they keep publishing the damn thing, but they do. (Look in the botrtom lefthand drawer of scotty's desk if you don't believe me. I believe he has them filed chronologically, except for the personally autographed Kathy Ireland issue, which he has in his safe deposit box.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Joel - do your invaders resemble this?:

This is chickweed of which Slyness spoke. As I posted over the weekend, my yard has been attacked by it, although I didn't know what it was until Slyness made her suggestion.

I also discovered it is sold formulated into a medicinal balm. If only I had known this before I started weeding I could be driving a Tesla by now.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Chickweed. Figures. Story of my life.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 24, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Joel, it could be worse - dudeweed.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 24, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

And speaking of dogs, did anybody see this?:

As soon as I got home I checked out the wagging of my own dog.

The effect documented is subtle. Also difficult to detect when a dog is airborne.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Bottom RIGHT drawer, 'Mudge...

And I already moved the KI issue.


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 24, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Chickweed is also edible-- not just by birds. You can have them in salad, make pesto or tea (no guarantee on taste regarding tea), and put the seeds in bread or in soups.

Presumably, you're supposed to weed it with your teeth.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 24, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

LOL! Error's joke is just an example of one of the many reasons I really like guys.

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Joel, one could always make the argument that chick weed should be weeded by chicks.

I am not responsible for what happens to you if you are foolish enough to take this advice, however.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Chickweed! Pshaw! Why, in my zone (I dunno, 3 or 4) I've got some kind of wild cabbage kind of weed that seems to grow an inch a day. It's even frightening the marauding gangs of squirrels. They keep whispering, "Feed me, Seymour!"

Posted by: CowTown | April 24, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Is it a skunk cabbage?

Posted by: Yoki | April 24, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Clarification: The squirrels do not whisper, "Feed me, Seymour." The weeds do. The squirrels are clever as they are rapacious, but they do not whisper.

Posted by: CowTown | April 24, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes, sounds like skunk cabbage. You can chose bbetween the western variety
or the eastern variety

(There's an Asian version, too, but ya pretty much gotta live in Asia, I suspect, which rules it out for Cow Town.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Yoki: No, it's not skunk cabbage. The leaves are much smaller. When they grow out fully they're actually more like violets in appearance (they survive largely by hiding among my violets). All I know is, they're evil.

Posted by: CowTown | April 24, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

That is interesting! I'm familiar with lateralization.

In most people, they stare to your upper left during recall, and to their upper right when you're trying to make up something... cues commonly used by trained lie detectors. Some people have this reversed, but it's not always related to lefthandedness.[print]

I noticed Wilbrodog had no problems picking up right or left, and I noticed he will stare off to space when asked to do something he has problems recalling.

Wilbrodog isn't a big wagger-- he likes that poker face/tail (thanks, Mudge, for corrupting him with that picture), so it'll be a challenge to see if his tail goes anywhere when he's thinking.

But it'd be interesting to see a dog ID suspects from a lineup by videotaping that tail wag.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 24, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon: Thanks for the links. The skunk cabbages have nice flowers. I'd take those over the evil whatever weeds any day.

Posted by: CowTown | April 24, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Kudzu, Cowtown?

Posted by: Slyness | April 24, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Gimme a break, Wilbrod--at least I didn't let him see the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. I hadda keep him occupied with SOMEthing. (And he's right: he can't shuffle worth a damn. But don't EVER play Texas Hold'em with him. He seems to have this uncanny knack for holding pocket jacks. Cost me a small fortune.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Although maybe it's time he DID start looking at SI. I think he may be spending a little too much time trying to nurse kittens, if ya know what I mean.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 24, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, give him a break. Wilbrodog has to be who he is.

If he starts dressing up in drag and insisting he be called Wilbrodogette, hey, I still love him anyway. Besides, he IS pretty in pink.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 24, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

hey, RD, did you like The Prestige as much as I did? That's my favorite Netflix rental for the month. David Bowie did do a good job as Tesla. However, I paid much more attention to Christian Bale. He's so sexy. I've loved him since Empire of the Sun.

And now, we're having dinner. I made lentil soup. Yes, legumes and rice it is.

Posted by: a bea c | April 24, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Plantain, CowTown? Longitudinal striations from base to tip? Does it eventually send up a thin cylinder?

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

RDP's link about chickweed is a mother lode or treasure trove of weeds. Let the knowledge comfort you in weeding chores.

CowTown -- here is broadleaf plantain:

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

a bea c - I really liked "The Prestige." Even though the scifi gimmick seemed kind of a cheat, it still really kept me engrossed. And I thought Bowie just stole every scene he was in. Such a presence. I'll have to take your word on Christian Bale. Now Scarlett Johansson, although not outstanding in her role, did catch my attention.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

> I made lentil soup.

Every time I hear that I think of "The Young Ones". Neil was forever making some sort of legumes and the whole kitchen would end up covered with them.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 24, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

CP, I always thought that weed was called "mullein," although I never did know how to pronounce that. Plaintain is easier. I thought those were tropical non-sweet bananas, though. So confused.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 24, 2007 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Another interesting bit about "The Prestige." Andy Serkis, who played Tesla's assistant, also played Gollum in "Lord of the Rings."

Don't you just love the Internet Movie Data Base?

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 24, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I have an island in my driveway, where every year I have tried planting something else to cover it. I live in the woods so sun is at a premium. I have tried ivy, perriwinkle, wild flowers,blue bells and moss. Only the moss has grown somewhat. I think I have problems due to lack of sun, lack of moisture and a ever expanding deer population that eats everything in sight.

Perhaps I will try planting some weeds in there, maybe that will do the trick.

Thanks for *Planting* a good idea in my head.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 24, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Tesla, yes. Used to scoot on Tesla Ave., the backdoor route, into Livermore.

One of the three principal federal nuclear labs, Lawrence Livermore National Lab is a complex of diverse facilities on a cramped 821 acres, at the edge of the suburban community of Livermore, California. The square plot of arid land (a former WWII airfield) is adjacent to a range of bare, rolling hills, where the Lab's field test facility, Area 300, is located (down the road from the town of Tesla). The Lab, along with its sister facility, New Mexico's Los Alamos National Lab, also has many facilities at the Nevada Test Site. Lawrence Livermore, like Los Alamos, is operated by the University of California, and employs over 7,000 people. It has an annual budget over $1 billion. It was founded by Edward Teller.

Posted by: Loomis | April 24, 2007 8:20 PM | Report abuse deerproof

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy, Mullein, also known as bandage plant since the furry leaves were used as Band-Aides, is also the basis of some garden perennials.

I rather like the weed. The long tap root makes it difficult to transplant, but I like the feel of the grey leaves and the look of the tall spire of yellow blossoms. Bees like the pollen in these blooms. The spire is so strong that the bee-weight does not bend the wand. Bees on lamb's ears, bend and bobble on the stem, while gathering pollen from the purple flowers. Both plants are furry. Bees again. I hope the bee crisis is figured out soon, as it relates to food, so intricately.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2007 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Some doggone good pictures and tales!

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 24, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

heh heh

'Mudge, glad Weingarten was so in your camp with everything you said last week about NBC airing that Cho video. Thwwwppp!

Posted by: bill everything | April 24, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Now we really need to stop those illegal immigrants--they may bring extreme moral contamination with them:

Wilbrodog--an instructional video for dogs:

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | April 24, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

MOF, I love your handle. My son, who decides what resistance to dinner he will raise by asking what we are having is now being treated to your handle (usually along with snail bits, rutabaga parts and brussel sprouts). That usually shuts him up.

Posted by: bill everything | April 24, 2007 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Catching up on back Boodling.

Mudge, I totally dig the Tesla electric car. I've driven the Lotuses they're based on, and they're an absolute hoot. Now, with an electric car giving you 100% torque immediately, is should be a snappy little ride when you step on the throttle. Er, rheostat, I guess.

On another note, astronomers have detected what they think is the first earthlike extra solar planet; a small world in the right zone around a given star to be at the right temperature, likely to have water:

I can't help but think they named it after me: "Eventually astronomers will rack up discoveries of dozens, maybe even hundreds of planets considered habitable, the astronomers said. But this one _ simply called 'c' by its discoverers when they talk among themselves _ will go down in cosmic history as No. 1."

I think it's pretty cool, anyway.


Posted by: bc | April 24, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Not hearing from you,

'Mudge, please copy us when you inform Weingarten that his view on NBC and Cho is uninformed and worthless. Thank you.

Posted by: bill everything | April 24, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

bc, that is way nifty about the planet at Gliese 581. The designation 'c' indicates that another planet was previously known to be in orbit about that star, I believe.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 24, 2007 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, fear not all arrived safe and sound!! :-)

Chickweek has plagued my lawn for years, it is easily pulled by hand though. I also have plantain (sp), not as easy to remove.

Posted by: dmd | April 24, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Scientific American has an on-line article about Gliese 581c. The article notes that this makes 3 planets detected at that star. The Wikipedia page for Gliese 581 already has been updated and shows 3 planets. They are named in that table in order of orbital distance, so 581b is only 0.04 AU from the parent star (24 times closer than Earth-Sun), 581c is 0.073 AU from the parent (13.7 times closer), and 581d is 0.25 AU (4 times closer). Red dwarfs, of which Gliese 581 is one, are much dimmer than our Sun. That is why the planet has to be absurdly close to the parent star in order to be in the thermally habitable zone, which Gliese 581c is.

The letter designations are granted in order of discovery. Gliese 581c and 581d have both been discovered this year and presumably were announced at the same time, in order for their letter codes to match the orbital distance. More-massive planets (like 581d) are easier to discover than less-massive (like581c), although closer planets (like 581c) are easier to discover than long-period (like 581d), by the radial-velocity detection method.

I haven't been holding out on you about any of this, by the way. I just checked the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopeid, maintained by Jean Schneider at the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon (Paris Observatory, for you non-******phone individuals). If you'd like to keep up on all the extrasolar planetary news, just check at . Don't worry -- it's in English (and several other languages, as well).

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 24, 2007 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Tim, leggo my ego!


I'm aware of the star catalog naming conventions, I just choose to believe that a planet 20 light years away has something to do with me...

Still cool even if it does not.

A very amusing segment on the Daily Show, "Bush v. Bush," plus Stewart and John McCan going head to head over Iraq.


Posted by: bc | April 24, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's all chip in and buy bc a star. Martooni can make a nice display whatnot case for it.

With this discovery in my very own dishwasher universe (bc, some of us dream smaller dreams like a magically self-emptying machine, etc.) I will close up shop:
guitar pick, yellow, likely number 11 thickness.
How on earth did that migrate from fingers of CeePeeBoy into dishwasher! Since said pick is fine, I returned it to the stash. I am used to finding picks deep in the piano bowels and in the washing machine. But the dishwasher?

May you dream of objects other than weeds and invasive species.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 24, 2007 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Franc-ly [sic], I'm not a big fan of the ban on the F-word on this blog.
(Freedom fries, anyone?)

France, France, France, France, France.
French, French, French, French, French.

[Phew. I feel much better now.]

Posted by: Tom fan | April 24, 2007 11:51 PM | Report abuse

bc, CP's guitar-pick-in-dishwasher scenario sounds like the work of the Calabi-Yau aliens.

Posted by: Dreamer | April 24, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Might be, Dreamer.

I should drop some socks down the laundry chute with a note asking if the C-Y aliens have become interested in guitar picks.

I'll let you know if I hear something, CP and Dreamer.

It's late, and the alarm's going to go off in about 5 hours.

G'night, all.


Posted by: bc | April 25, 2007 12:03 AM | Report abuse

CP- To answer your peony query-You can pinch off the side buds to encourage larger blooms, or leave them on and extend the bloom period since they'll finish later than blooms on the primary stems.

I'll have to back boodle like crazy to catch up. The community leadership program has been productive and fun thus far. A bit surprising on both counts.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 25, 2007 12:16 AM | Report abuse

"The DNA of religious faith" (Dawkins and others)

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 25, 2007 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Maybe we should just follow the example of millions and keep our mouths shut about religion.
No two brains are exactly alike, and religion tends to tap into how we think about a lot of abstract stuff. It also provides a forum for group more instruction.
And group selection notwithstanding, it IS advantageous for a person to learn the complete mores of a group and tweak to his/her own advantage.

(Heading for the bunny bunker right now).

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 25, 2007 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. The DNA of religion, huh? Teaching children about God and Christ is considered abuse? Did not read all of that. I suspect it is much too deep for a silly, religious person like me.

It is Wednesday, a good day. How do I know that? I don't, but hoping that is the case. My father is not feeling well, so I will be out early this morning to check on him. I have two Bible studies and the work at the center. I hope I can do this.

I've always thought that truly religious people were good for the country, and for communities. I don't know, I am thinking doing good is better than doing nothing, and yet I understand it is not that simple.

Have a good day, folks. The weather here is so warm. It has started to cloud up a bit. I think we are in for some rain the next few days. Martooni, I hope the little Bean enjoyed her day, and you too. dmd, good thoughts your way.

Morning, Mudge, Slyness, Scotty, Raysmom, and all.*waving*

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 25, 2007 4:10 AM | Report abuse

Tom fan, I'm with you on the censorship issue. This blog is based in America, and aren't we the ones who coined the phrase "It's a free country"--? And isn't free speech guaranteed by the FIRST amendment to our constitution?

Oops, my free speech is limited by the fact that I have to get ready for work right now. See ya--

Posted by: kbertocci | April 25, 2007 6:05 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

From David Ignatius's column today:

"I spoke with a half-dozen prominent GOP operatives this past week, most of them high-level officials in the Reagan and Bush I and Bush II administrations, and I heard the same devastating critique: This White House is isolated and ineffective; the country has stopped listening to President Bush, just as it once tuned out the hapless Jimmy Carter; the president's misplaced sense of personal loyalty is hurting his party and the nation.

"This is the most incompetent White House I've seen since I came to Washington," said one GOP senator. "The White House legislative liaison team is incompetent, pitiful, embarrassing. My colleagues can't even tell you who the White House Senate liaison is. There is rank incompetence throughout the government. It's the weakest Cabinet I've seen." And remember, this is a Republican talking."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 25, 2007 6:31 AM | Report abuse

FROM LTL-CA's link, this is David Barash's closing line: "At the end of The Creation, E.O. Wilson observes to the Baptist pastor: "However the tensions eventually play out between our opposing worldviews, however science and religion wax and wane in the minds of men, there remains the earthborn, yet transcendental, obligation we are both morally bound to share." "
Long complex piece but I like the closing. When I eavedrop on the cosmology/higher math peeps, I am struck by the tone of the words and cast on the face, particularly the eyes. The look reflects encounter with awe and majesty. I find theological conversation similarly toned and cast.

Make that cast-ed? Can I get an editor? 'Mudge?

Enjoy the day.

Posted by: College Parking | April 25, 2007 6:31 AM | Report abuse

Hmm. More coffee. Check. More sleep. Not so easy to check. I bet I'll bike back mid-day to a fresh kit. Perhaps it will have vegetation in it:
*ode to the fleeting joy of peonies and viburnums?
*scree on turf perfection and monoculture!

Did I dream that scientists have found a substance that matches the definition of krypton? Please deliver that new here, with bells and whistles and citation other than wikiness.

I still cannot figure out the Tulip Library options. Each warm day will splay the tulips and wear them out. I hope that next year will hold the possibility of tulips, in a boodle-pack.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 25, 2007 6:38 AM | Report abuse

And by Canadians no less

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 25, 2007 6:47 AM | Report abuse

"Cast" is correct for both the present and past tense, CP.

Loomis, you guys OK? (Lots of tornados ripping through San Antonio and environs.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 25, 2007 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Only fitting Superman was created by a Canadian.

Morning all - need coffee.

Posted by: dnd | April 25, 2007 7:19 AM | Report abuse

dnd, we can tell! :-)

Posted by: dbG | April 25, 2007 7:31 AM | Report abuse

dbG, perhaps I should just change my handle permanently to dmd-need coffee! It would explain a lot :-)

Posted by: dmd | April 25, 2007 7:33 AM | Report abuse

It just took me this long to realize dbG was commenting that I spelt my name wrong, think I need the intravenous coffee this morning.

Posted by: dmd | April 25, 2007 7:41 AM | Report abuse

'Mudgie! I was wondering about the parallelism thingie

cast v. casted

Hey mathie peeps: word wranglers care about parallelism too. Another point of community in the word v. numbers wars.

Am early in the classroom....will wonders never cease.

Krypton: Brought to you by Kanadians, as a Kourtesy.

Mudgie -- I am so sorry. Nudgie.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 25, 2007 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! *waving*



*still waiting for caffeine to kick in*


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 25, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Good linkage, 'Mudge. I feel like the GOP insiders referred to in the article are sharp enough to see the reality of the perceptions and functioning of the administration because they have secret access to the pots of Navy coffee stashed in the Capitol.

Posted by: jack | April 25, 2007 7:48 AM | Report abuse

There's a signpost up ahead...

"Now Approaching 400 Comments"


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 25, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Happy Administrative Professionals' Day.

for Achenfan - remember ANZAC Day.

Posted by: omni | April 25, 2007 8:00 AM | Report abuse

I only started reading Ignatius last year, yet I have become a huge fan. His observations always seem to be meticulously thought out and profoundly rational. He clearly values reason over ideology. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give is that, in stark contrast to many other pundits, I can seldom predict his precise position on a given issue in advance. And although I don't always agree with his views, I always respect them.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 25, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Thanks omni! I almost forgot ANZAC Day.
(Over the past few days, pretty much every day has been a Day of sorts. Too many Days to keep track of!)

Posted by: Achenfan | April 25, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Re. cast [correct] versus casted [incorrect]:

It's not really a question of parallelism. Parallelism is something different. For example, the following sentence has parallel structure:

It is advisable to look, to listen, and to learn.

The following sentence does *not* have parallel structure:

It is important to look, to listen, and learning. [i.e., Wrong!!!!]

Posted by: Tom fan | April 25, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Morning, everybody! Hey, Cassandra.

Yeouch, Tom Fan, that sentence hurts.

Off to spend four hours staffing the home-away-from-home for out of town folks who have relatives in the local hospitals. I've just started volunteering and hope I can remember to do everything that needs to be done.

See y'all this afternoon!

Posted by: Slyness | April 25, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

400 comments is easy enough to get to when there's no new Kit in, like, forever. *ahem*

I think it must be on account of Joel's real tore up about Boris.

Posted by: byoolin | April 25, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

We must be patient. Right now he is probably sitting somewhere with his face in his hands muttering about weeds.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 25, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

But is it a Class M planet? Beam down a red shirt team to investigate.

The best planets are named after noble gases: Krypton, Xenon, Argon, Rayon, Akron, etc.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 25, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Think about what the only fitting tribute to Yeltsin would be and then try to figure out how long it would take to sober up from that.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 25, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Excellent point, yello.
And even excellenter planet names.

Posted by: byoolin | April 25, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

byoolin... i'm thinking Joel's stapler must be jammed.

Mornin' everybody...

No time to boodle this morning -- too much to do and only one of me to do it, so just a quick drive-by:

...Bean's b-day went off without a hitch. Much fun was had with the help of helium.

...I landed *both* (count'em, *both*) bids I delivered yesterday (which means I'm batting 1000 -- haven't had a single one rejected yet).

...and today makes 29.

Joel... if the stapler is being temperamental you can always resort to duct tape to piece together the new kit. I hear Ivansmom's Boy has a colorful stash of it.

Peace, my friends... hope you all have a great day.

Posted by: martooni | April 25, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

One of the finest examples of literary parallelism I ever encountered was in a sentence in a letter I received from my then 8-year old cousin.

"My dog is well; my cat is fine."

Posted by: Yoki | April 25, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I love you, you know that.

Nonetheless I take extreme umbrage at your assertion, in its context, that it is "better to do good than to do nothing," as it is predicated on the assumption that only the religiously-motivated do good. Lots of us secular humanists spend a tremendous amount of energy and time trying to first figure out what we can and should do that is good, and then doing it to the best of our abilities.

Obversely, all of us, including you, know many self-proclaimed religious people of any denomination who do harm right and left, and spend not one jot of available spirituality to do any good whatsoever.

Naturally, you are in neither camp, as you are genuinely good and genuinely religious, and I admire you for it.

Posted by: Yoki | April 25, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion on weeds. I have to say that "weeds" make-up most of the lawn on my large lot (1 1/4 acre), except in the shady spot under the white spruce edge where moss has taken over. Without plantain, crab grass, dandelion, assorted wild cereal grass and the beautiful hawkweed my lawn would be like, a dirt floor. The good thing is that it is draught as well as flood resistant and the Japanese beetle larvae problem that currently plagues the owners of civilized lawn is unknown in mi casa.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 25, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

su césped

Posted by: omni | April 25, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

omni, something about earth or soil?

Posted by: Yoki | April 25, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Gracias omni. su cesped it is.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 25, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Yoki - you touch upon a conundrum that has been bugging me a lot lately. How can we make statements about how others unlike ourselves think when, by definition, their thought processes are different than our own? This was triggered by the Cho video, but has lead to a more general question. How can we assert to understand the inner thoughts of a fundamentalist, or a secular humanist, or a far-right conservative, or a far-left liberal, or the member of any of the other groups that comprise our world, unless we happen to be one ourselves?

Yet we all seem eager to do so.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 25, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

For example, why do I always confuse "lead" with "led."

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 25, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

New kit. I may add a few things to it. The usual gibberish.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 25, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

>I am thinking doing good is better than doing nothing

Cassandra, quite true. The problem is in some people's idea of religion killing a young couple walking in public is "doing good". In others denying health care to a young woman is good.

Mr. Bush thinks God is on his side, and has unleashed a massive amount of killing to prove it.

That's not good.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 25, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I actually first looked up yard:yard=>yarda

then I thought lawn:lawn=>césped

Now I realize lawn was in SD's original post. Which proves again what a maroon I am. Time for a walk, be right back.

Posted by: omni | April 25, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

byoolin, I actually did spend some time yesterday stapling together a kit, but it didn't really have a lead item. Some of what I put together will make it onto the blog this week but my general thought -- and this could be crazy -- is that most blogs "water down" their quality by posting too often and too trivially.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 25, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

By that standard of "not watering down", my blog must be 180-proof whiskey, Joel.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 25, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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