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Farmer's Almanac

Got the tomatoes in. Sixteen heirlooms, including the usual suspects, such as Better Boy and Big Girl and Brandywine and Yellow Stuffer, and also some newbies -- Brandy Boy, Kellogg's Breakfast, and Cherokee Purple. We get these great tomato plants every year from DeBaggio's. But I'm a bit worried that we're getting too exotic, too heirloomy. I may have to plant a few more basic tomatoes. The kind that say, on the tag jammed into the little pot, "Tomato," with no fussy yuppie elaboration.

And when people ask, I can say, "That one's just a mayter."

Meanwhile I have azaleas on the brain like a bad song that won't go away. I see azaleas in my dreams. Conceivably I need to concentrate on a different flowering plant, such as camelias, to "clear" the azaleas from my head -- in the same way that "Light My Fire" is known to be a clearing song for when you have something like "The Candy Man" stuck in the cranium.

But I don't know what the empirical evidence shows on this. Maybe camelias get stuck in the head, too.


Politics dept.:

Rough times for Republicans. They had 10 people on stage the other night, but we're told that the guy everyone really likes was elsewhere. That would be Fred Thompson. Except now Novak says Thompson was a dud at a Lincoln Day Dinner gig. Here's more GOP fretting, with a video. (T.J. Walker says Romney clearly won the GOP debate: "Romney's only major stumble was his ridiculous description of his conversion to the pro-life camp a mere two years ago because of advances in cloning.")

Just watch: At the GOP convention in 2008 the theme song is going to be that Crosby, Stills & Nash tune: "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."

More politics: Kevin Drum says he knew even less about Obama after reading his autobiography, "Dreams From My Father."

'...for all the overwrought language that Obama employs on page after page, there's very little insight into what he believes and what really makes him tick.'


Interesting profile of superstar historian/empire apologist/accused neocon Niall Ferguson, in which he says Britain erred by getting into World War I. Hmmmmm....dunno about that.

Speaking of Alternative History: The new Michael Chabon novel "revolves around a population of Jews living among Indians in Alaska because they didn't get Israel after the war." Odd. But loved Kavalier & Clay, so I bought it. From the Amazon site we get this Publisher's Weekly assessment: "It is--deep breath now--a murder-mystery speculative-history Jewish-identity noir chess thriller, so perhaps it's no surprise that, in the back half of the book, the moving parts become unwieldy; Chabon is juggling narrative chainsaws here."


Following up on Dr. Evil buying Dow Jones, here's Allan Sloan in Newsweek writing about another family-owned newspaper company: "If the Times Co. doesn't get its act together--which it may actually be doing--sooner or later enough Sulzbergers will grow sufficiently frustrated to seize control of the dominant family trust and sell the company to some trophy hunter." [Via Romenesko.]

Also from Romenesko, we see that they're killing the Lileks column and making him write straight local news -- which is insane. Dave Barry writes: "This is like the Miami Heat deciding to relieve Dwyane Wade of his basketball-playing obligations so he can keep stats."

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 7, 2007; 7:57 AM ET
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Next: Gainesville the Best City?


Are comments being accepted? It's 3.5 hours later and looks like I'm first!

Posted by: dbG | May 7, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

ddG - I'm pretty sure that time is when Joel started the kit.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Its Achenblog, Time is irrelevant here.

Posted by: dr | May 7, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

The time stamp is goofy. It stamps the item at the moment I first save text to it. But in reality this got published about 11:20 a.m.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 7, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link to that cool nursery. It looks more fun than buying 'maters from a BigBox Store or the local hardware emporium. Or from some guy named "Bud" near the on-ramp to 495.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

And check out the hot peppers! Imagine the looks of new-found respect you will get from your coworkers when you casually announce that you are growing some 'Bolivian Rainbow' in your home garden.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Padouk, you raising any more Mr. Stripeys?

Joel, I gave up on Niall Ferguson a long, long time ago; I really disliked his WWI book, "The Pity of War." Way too revisionist for my tastes. (I don't like most revisionists anyway.) I read the whole damn book wondering which war he was talking about, cuz it didn't sound much like the one I was familiar with. Much better to stick with John Keegan. ("Saint" John Keegan, in my view; the man can do no wrong and ought to be cannonized. Cannonized, two n's. Get it? That's, like, an artillery joke, not my usual bad spelling.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, thanks for the wine festival report on the last kit. Sounds like some excellent finds. Haven't been to Stone Mountain; will give it a shot when we're in the area.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 7, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps this week I will get to plant some vegetables myself. I've been avoiding all garden shops, nurseries, even BigBoxo'Plants, lest the temptation be too great. I miss Mr. Stripey among Joel's choices, but there are intriguing possibilities. I see Better Boy and Brandy Boy vying for Big Girl's affection. Hoping for an advantange, Better Boy steers Brandy Boy to Brandywine. After a heap of Kellogg's Breakfast, Brandy Boy is in the running again. Will an altercation, involving Yellow Stuffer, lead to an outpouring of Cherokee Purple? A story of love lost and won in the garden, coming to a Kit near you.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 7, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the 'mater link, Joel. Was reading what they have and then came to this:

It is too early to plant Tomatoes, Basil, Peppers, and Eggplant. Night time temperatures are still too low for these plants to thrive. Basil, Peppers and Eggplant may be stunted or produce poorly when exposed for too long to temperatures below 50-55ºF. Tomatoes will slow down or produce poorly when exposed to too many nights below 40-45ºF.

Oh, crud. Guess what we planted yesterday?

Posted by: Raysmom | May 7, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm working on Ferguson's "War of the World," or maybe more accurately, taking care to put it down before bedtime. His columns appear in the LA Times, so I'm not sure why he isn't more of a celebrity in the US. His brisk assessment of anti-Jewish sentiment in the 1930s is utterly creepy. The Catholic Church in Poland seems to have been on the same page as Hitler.

And what about the British mis-assessment of Hitler's military capabilities and intentions? If the Brits couldn't read Hitler in the 30's, why should we expect our intelligence people to have made any sense of Saddam? At least we have some wonderful scholars (e.g. Vali Nasr) to tell us what we've done wrong. A link:

Anyway, down here, the beach sunflowers are seizing territory adjacent to their bed (a case of aggression?), gardenias are out and the Simpson stoppers' buds are growing. Now to divide the bromeliads and find places for the pups, plus places for a new coontie bed, two sasanqua camellias, another Simpson stopper, a couple of little soft-leaved yuccas, and a thriving young Copernicia palm from the Dominican Republic while reserving space for three baby cycads from Chiapas.

Thinking of Hitler and beach sunflowers, how about Putin's treatment of Estonia? Would I be surprised to see an incursion by Russian troops?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 7, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom, now you tell me. I planted mayters and basil a week ago.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I started two Mr. Stripeys earlier in the year from some seeds I kept. Since I am to gardening what Alan Smithee is to cinema, the seedlings are not the best. Yet, given the will to live for which the variety is famous, I stuck them into the garden along with a couple Better Boys and a Roma.

We will see.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I noted that warning too. Alas, yesterday was plantin' day for me as well. But I suspect, based upon the temps that they quote, that it will probably be okay.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

May 10 is when you should plant tomatoes. BUT...crimminy, it was gorgeous this weekend...and we go on vacation ANYWAY when the tomatoes come in, so the whole point is really just to dig holes and play in the dirt. Right????

Posted by: Achenbach | May 7, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Dave, there was at least one Brit who had a good handle on Hitler, his intenetions, and his military machine: Churchill. Of course, until May, 1940, nobody listened to him.

Polish antisemitism before and during WWII was legendary--and contributed mightily toward the failure of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

My father, the best tomato-grower I ever knew, had a hard and fast rule: no planting before May 15. We're almost there, dudes.

Kellogg's Breakfast? Do you pour milk on them?

About Michael Chabon... I got that same "back half of the book" feeling about Kavalier & Clay.

Posted by: TBG | May 7, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Mudge - Sometimes I think historians are driven to revisionist interpretations as a way to make a name for themselves. I'm not suggesting they are being dishonest, but clearly the desire for notoriety provides a a strong motivation to find a new "angle."

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I had that feeling about Ferguson, Padouk. Kinda "What can I do to be a bad boy?" thing. David Irving, on the other hand, is just a plain ol' wacked-out neo-Nazi apologist.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

If I were hanging around the Balboa Bay Club at Newport Beach, the *last* thing I would pay attention to is Fred Thompson. A lotta yacht-a (yacht-a, yacht-a, yacht-a) going on in those parts.

Camellias. Three bushes--red, pink, and white spanning our Bakersfield front porch--the one that sagged and drooped and slanted and that Dad would never fix up. Getting down the front steps of our bungalow was always tricky because the boards were so bowed. The only things the camellias didn't eventually cover were the steps. By the time we were grown up, so were the camellias. Almost tree height. Camellias cover a lot of sins.

I tried to get camellias out of my head years ago. Of course, to get camellias into your head, it would probably help to use the correct, yuppie spelling.

Felt heirloomy (or would historical be a better term?) yesterday. Fell into the lives of two of the Secret Six and am trying to acquire The Black Hearts of Men.

Mudge: Never saw Shakespeare's Henry IV, so know little of Owen Glendower. In Philly, if you can remember back that far, were you taught, as a kid, about the the three-day history of the Quaker's Pennsylvania Hall?

Posted by: Loomis | May 7, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Don't know if any of you saw the Pixar/Disney movie "Cars", but this kit just reminded me of the beat up old tow-truck in it: "Tow Mater". I sat through over half the movie before the pun finally hit me.

Posted by: martooni | May 7, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I wait til May 15th to plant my garden. This year I may wait a little longer.

The Master Gardeners have a plant sale here next weekend. I usually get most of my plants from them and then do seeds for whatever they don't have.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 7, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Cool nurseruy indeed. Pretty fancy schmancy gardeners out there in the other nation's capital to keep that guy in business with heirloom tomatoes. This year I've got a mixture of heirloom and Franken tomatoes. Brandywine, Legend, Tomande, Juliet, Costoluto Genovese and Italian Gold. Everyone should try Juliet, it's an indeterminate (read: at least 7 ft tall) that gives small oblong tomatoes (saladette size: 2 bites) in profusion. And of course I have to start them from seed.
Traditional planting time is Victoria day week-end, that is around May 21.
The lagomorphs are not winning the war around here Yvansmom. Yesterday I found enough tufts of rabbit hair to outfit a rabbit behind a spruce but no rabbit. An owl, hawck or coyote did not go hungry that day.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | May 7, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

...movin' to Montana soon...gonna be a dental floss tycoon...

Posted by: jack | May 7, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Revisionist history seems to dwell heavily on "What do the data permit?" versus "What do the data imply is most probable?" This is not necessarily a bad way to work, so long as one treats it as a thought-experiment, as a way to appreciate the value of data that were previously ignored but that turn out to be important for restricting the range of possible interpretations. This is the scientist's stock-in-trade. So long as you avoid getting fanatically married to unconventional notions, it can be productive. Historians seem to be prone to becoming over-enamored of peculiar notions, enough to commit themselves in print and begin life-long crusades.

Still, revisionist history is a relatively harmless affectation of a wealthy society. I remain more concerned about the revisionist present, which seems to be how our present administration came to be convinced that they could find evidence of Saddam Hussein's infinite perfidy following an easy invasion, because that's what the data permitted. Never mind that the probability of the necon interpretation was low, it was permitted. And after all, how could such perceptive persons be wrong?

From tomatoes to government incompetence. My, that was quick.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 7, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

To quote a brilliant source, Jeezy Peezy. You could start your tomatoes earlier if you used these.

Or if you used the time honoured Milk carton to cover over nite, or if you used the even more time honoured two shingles to a plant, anything to give them a wee bit of shelter.

Posted by: dr | May 7, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

SCC a hawck is a hack hawk.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | May 7, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

dr, what's the safe date to plant tomtoes in Edmonton ? Canada day?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | May 7, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Of course Ferguson admires Churchill. Yet before the war, he was severely marginalized. I'd hate to see what today's columnists and bloggers would have done to him.

I need to reread to see if even Churchill appreciated that Germany's Luftwaffe didn't have the ability to turn London into an ash heap as of 1938. The experts thought the city was doomed. As bad as the real onslaught was (I think at least 50,000 fatalities, if my memory's correct), London was nowhere near obliterated, even allowing that the planned firestorm for the City failed only because German bombers for some reason didn't return to apply the second dose of incendiaries (this is again from memory).

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 7, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

If you (anyone) want azaleas (and rhodies), why not just jet off to Humboldt County?

Speaking of Humboldt County and Eureka-Arcata, I browsed Richard Preston's "Wild Trees" at our local bog-box-bookseller around 9 p.m. last night--and went "Hmmm."

Joel, why didn't you tell us that the author is THAT Ricard Preston--the Ebola and smallpox writer-guy? I thought he'd pretty much remain on the biohazard beat indefinitely and never connected him in my mind, after your mention of his newest book in a recent Kit, to being the author of the book on climbing redwoods and the redwoods' biosphere.

I din't make the Preston connection until yesterday morning when I read a reprint of the NYT book review of "Wild Trees" by Janet Maslin. She does mention that the trees' roots are disproportionately small for the trees' size--as I mentioned recently.

She also mentions that the sacred (sacred to me, at least) redwoods are not the world's largest living organism. (As you may recall, Wilbrod made a post about how bristlecone pines are the world's oldest living thing.) In the book, Preston points out that the honor for the world's largest living organism belongs to an edible fungus in Oregon that lives underground and measures three square miles.

I have interesting mulch news but will save for later as there are errands that come first.

Posted by: Loomis | May 7, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Jack - Loved the Montana article. That picture was priceless. Our favorite vacation ever was a week in Glacier Nat'l Park followed by a week on the Gallatin River near Big Sky, Montana. Nothing like golfing in the mountains and having a moose rise out of the bush on the 4TH hole. Or whitewatering down the Flathead. If it weren't for those winters....

Posted by: Kim | May 7, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Most garden seed is planted on the Victoria Day weekend, with safe planting for bedding plants being sometime late in the first week of June.

However, some hardy seeds can be planted a little sooner. You could plant lettuce, radishes, peas before the end of April if you had a cold frame,(in my neck of the woods, an old window mounted on a frame of 2 x 10's, placed somewhere in a sheltered area or against your house).

Way back, I kpet a garden journal of what I planted, the date, how it produced. Somewhere between diapers, I lost the urge, and just planted 10 50 foot rows of everything, and just found a way to deal with it all.

Picking 10 50 foot rows of peas is not fun, and shelling said produce from 10 50 foot rows of peas is a huge task. And after this, before you went to bed, you must get all 10,000 pounds of freshly shelled peas into the freezer before you go to bed. A big garden is really nice in theory, but a garden and its produce are stern task masters.

Posted by: dr | May 7, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I was taught, when we lived in Harrisburg, PA, that the planting date was Mother's Day. And used that date in Fairfax county, altho it gets warm earlier there than up in PA.

I have a Mr Stripey here in California. Reached for a cherry tomato plant, and there was Mr Stripey, so I brought him home. That was about three weeks ago. I think he is a very shy fellow --- the cherry tomato has blossoms, Mr Stripey is content to sit quiety and contemplate the view. And he is only half the size of the cherry tomato.

Posted by: nellie | May 7, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Thinking of fancy gardening, The Japanese Garden Society of Oregon will participate in a summer exhibit at the US Botanic Garden. It's a big deal for them.

The USBG's website seemed curiously uninformative.

By the way, public gardens have proliferated in recent years, so much so that we Americans sometimes don't quite appreciate what we have.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 7, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"interesting mulch news" = a phrase nearly unique to the Achenblog, I'd wager.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 7, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom -- Will like not make the BPH on Tuesday because CeePeeDude and pollen do not agree.

Perhaps JA has an update on Senior DeBaggio. I recall the sad, sad story about early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Looking at the website makes me long for costmary -- a flavoring for ale -- but with a piquant scent like nothing else.

My Community Supported Agriculture farmer may not be farming this year, so I may have lost my tomato sources. Cherokee Red was a favorite this year, along with so many yellow and orange tiny tomatoes! And a few anemic Mr. Stripey's and his relatives....somehow they did not flourish at MF's farm.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 7, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree, Joel, gardening works best as an excercise in zen.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm hearing that Mr. Stripeys, even those who were not forced to endure the vile arrows of fate, haven't provided especially good yields.

Fortunately, they make up for this with their rapier wit and endearing aura of insouciance.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr. StripeyS, as in more than one tomato plant called "Mr. Stripey."

I am so ashamed. I shall wilt.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 7, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

SciTim - I agree that contrary interpretations are essential to any good intellectual process. My concern is when historians present a revisionist view as being the "correct" view, and not just an "alternative" view.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

First week of June is not bad dr, it's the same date as in my home town of Quebec city.

Indeed Tim, the boodle could be renamed the Mulch Courier or the Mulch News & Events.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | May 7, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm disappointed, Boodle.

The correct plural is Mssrs. Stripey.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 7, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The garden theme inspired me to take a walk over to the US Botanic Garden. Looked like I missed the tulips by about a week, but the roses are fabulous! And lots of other plants I've never heard of. Of course, it all made me sneeze my head off. But it was for a good cause.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 7, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm...Love the One You're With was a Stephen Stills song, from his first solo album, I believe. But that's ok, it resonates better as Crosby, Stills & Nash. Last week, Sit Yourself Down, another Stills tune, kept running through my head, along with Bon Jovi (thanks, mo and AI).

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 7, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

SoCarl, you are likely right.

So, Mssrs. Stripey (as in more than one plant)

Perhaps Mr. Stripeys (as in the tomato fruits that come from such plants)

Mr. Stripey's pot (one plant in a pot)

Mssrs. Stripey's pots if you have 16, JA's magic tomato plant number.)

Mr. Stripey seeds (will work if you collect seeds from one tomato, or many tomatoes from one plant, or tomatoes from many plants).

I cannot say anything about what plant cloning might mean for this.

I am very confused. Can I get a Council of Biological Editors copygal? Copyboy will do.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 7, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Good call, Tim:

Google says:

"Your search - 'interesting mulch news' - did not match any documents."

And yet, most of us probably thought, hm, interesting mulch news, of course--lookin' forward to it!

We are weird.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 7, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

CP, I'm sure Wilbrodog could find you a Copydog, post-haste...


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 7, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse


Vive l'étrange!


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 7, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

kbert, I searched Interesting Mulch News and got this:

Nursing Degrees Online In 10 Months

Not sure how that's related...

Posted by: Raysmom | May 7, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse


It's not an anagram, izzit? *head tilt*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 7, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I think it would be interesting to choose an historical subject and collect alternative revisionist interpretations that are mutually exclusive. There would need to be an index that identifies features that are unique to a particular interpretation, or limited to a minority. Those would be the subjects on which to search for data in order to verify or deny correctness.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 7, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, all, for the tomato lore. I'm getting hungry just reading the DeBaggio's catalog, and will have to re-visit the nursery and get another one or two to go with the current four. I think there's room against the back wall behind the old-fashioned rose whose name I don't know.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 7, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Loomis made a pun! And a darn good one, too, I might add: Henceforth, yachta, yachta yachta has entered my lexicon for (my own) boring boat talk. *faxing you a gold star*

No--in Philly we studied ol' William Penn and the Quakers to death, but I don't recollect the 3-day Penna. Hall saga. I just Googled it and learned about it for the first time. But I'm not surprised: people in Philly will boo anybody. (Or in this case burn their building down three days after it opened.)

Dave, I'm a great admirer of Churchill, too--about the only thing Ferguson and I might agree on. But to answer your question, Churchill had an excellent appreciation of and fear of the Luftwaffe and what it might do. For a guy who started as an infantry officer in the Boer War, then gravitated to the Navy (as First Lord of the Admiralty), Churchill had a lifelong appreciation of flying and air power. I think I read somewhere that he was one of the first people in England to take an airplane ride, and also created the naval aviation wing of the Royal Navy. And then yes, indeed, he was marginalized like crazy and spent two decades sojourning in the Wilderness (as it were, becoming --horrors!! -- a newspaper correspondent and (not unlike our Joel) a lecturer/speaker).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I think it has to do with longer hours of sunlight and how many hours per day the ground recieves said sun heat. I checked Alaska, and found seed planting dates in the same range, late May to mid June. Of course we also use garden plant varities bred for cooler climates and shorter seasons.

mrdr had an elderly uncle who would shovel the snow off his garden, and then cover it with black plastic in February to help get the ground warm faster. From what I recall, it didn't make a whole lot of difference to how long his garden produced food.

Posted by: dr | May 7, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm still voting for "Mr. Stripeys," and this is why. The name of the vegetable is "Mr. Stripey." It isn't "Stripey" to which we have attached an honorific. Therefore simply adding an "s" seems to be appropriate.

Although I must admit "Mssrs. Stripey" does have a nice ring to it.

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

At work we refer to any anecdote related to Suburban Angst as a "mulch story."

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

RD -- psst. Rhubarb is a vegetable. Tomato is a fruit.

And, since I like rhubarb so much, even though rhubarb can be singular and plural, in my little universe, I may just say: more rhubarbS, please.

LTL-CA -- dig around the base of your rose and you may find a metal tag with the name on it. In my yard I found evidence of many rose missions around the foundation:

Chrysler Imperial
Mr. Lincoln
Double Delight
Just Joey

(Most from 50s and 60s, I think)
Electron is a personal fave, name-wise. I think that Monsieur Mudge and Madame Mudge grow Double Delight. I have two Cardinal Richelieu roses (old galicas) , New Dawn and White Dawn (climbers), and an energetic Ballerina Rose (Polyantha) that are fine.

Hybrid tea roses require administrations and ablutions. Not happening at this hose until kidlings are out of the house.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 7, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

One might posit that any history ever written would be an "alternate history" simply because there is no possible way to capture and record all of the events that led up to a particular event or point in history. And the historical texts that are written about a given event certainly differ to a greater or lesser degree from each other based on the writer him- or herself, and the source materials and research.

Granted, some histories are more fantastic than others and some are flat-out fiction (and sold as such). As usual, it is down to the reader to judge the writer's work as valid or not. By and large, writers do society a benefit by reinvestigating, rerecording, and reinterpreting history, and they typically do a good job. But even then, a book or document may or may not convey the truth of anything (since it is typically a description and explanation, rather than the events and people themselves), it may simply become an (note that I did not say *the*) accepted story of such-and-such an event. As some like to point out, there is much Bad Information out there, sometimes it ends up in newspapers and books (e.g. Armstrong and Aldrin never landed on the moon, the Holocaust never happened, etc.). It's important for our journalists, writers, and editors to be given adequate support and held to standards in doing the noble work of recording Our History as objectively as possible.

Ah, didn't mean to get philisophical tere.

I like reading history books, and I like some writers better than others, but I know those are *my* personal preferences rather than some stunningly objective appreciation and understanding of historical truth.


Posted by: bc | May 7, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

My wife's school won the BMI Theme Park Challenge. Her secret weapon is a dirty fingernails engineer parent that works somewhere in the bowels of the USDoT auto safety testing lab. The guy is a whiz with anything with gears.

Another parent was carting around "The Final Solution" by Michael Chabon. Mr AutoSafety said that he went to high school with Chabon in Columbia and it took him years to overcome the inferiority complex that being in the same class as that guy causes.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 7, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh don't start on that "fruit" vs. "vegetable" business. I get enough of that from my son.

Yes, the edible part of a tomato plant is, of course, a berry. And berries are clearly fruit.

My contention is that the plant, as a whole, is a vegetable in that it is, to quote from the American Heritage Dictionary "A plant cultivated for an edible part."

Wow, I'm just a hotbed of meaningless pedantic distinctions today.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

...pigs, on the wing...

Posted by: jack | May 7, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

It seems that something is Revisionist History (rather than revised or alternative history) when it seeks to radically re-interpret the meaning of accepted historical facts by imputing nefarious and villainous motives to those who have generally been judged well by previous histories. It's the hidden motive that matters, not the documented facts, because the mysterious motive allows for undocumented facts. Thus, revisionist history would have Franklin Roosevelt as worse than Hitler, manipulating the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor and killing his own citizens *so that* the U.S. could enter a war of global imperialism, destroying the Japanese military as a rival for Pacific hegemony, that sort of thing. I don't know whether Hitler also is supposed to have been a pawn of the wicked Roosevelt in that sort of plan. Unfortunately, I am not making this stuff up, I have actually seen material that claims this sort of thing. This nonsense does no service to anyone except those who choose to make a name or a buck off the craziness and gullibility of a small but vociferous audience.

This, of course, is the kind of thinking that gets people believing that the incompetence of the Bush Administration actually is a subterfuge to hide ruthless competence in quest of the U.S. owning all the oil of Iraq and on and on. Ignore the fact that it requires strict discipline from thousands of conspirators; it is just barely permissible within the bounds of documented fact. For a conspirator, this is practically the same as proof, the failure to publicly document the unimportant details that disprove this sort of insanity. And, of course, this is the same kind of idiotic neocon thinking that got us into this situation in the first place.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 7, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

bc - I think you nailed a very important truth. There are many different stories consistent with any given set of facts.

It's like if you come home after a trip and find a broken lamp. Perhaps your offspring had a wild party. Perhaps your offspring was attempting to rewire the lamp to increase its efficiency.

The story you believe is the one that makes most sense to you given your assumptions about your child.

This is why storytelling is the most valuable skill in a free society.

Those who can tell the more compelling stories consistent with the observable facts, be they lawyers, politicians, historians, intelligence officers, scientists, or educators, largely shape what we believe.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

CP, when I acquired this little backyard rose garden years ago, I poked around and found tags for Montezuma, Arizona, and Ivory Tower, and I recognized Mr Lincoln. But this other rose, alas, had no tag. I wish I knew its name -- it's nice and I would get another one. Montezuma has gone the way of roses that get too old, and I'd like to replace it, but have never seen one at the nursery.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 7, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I know technically a tomato is a fruit but at my house it is still a vegetable, unless it is in ketchup form.

Recently the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill or resolution or something making the watermelon the state vegetable. We have a powerful watermelon lobby.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 7, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Ahem. Curmudgeon's Rule: If you can make a pie out of it (or otherwise eat it for dessert) it's a fruit. If you make marinara sauce out of it, or put it in a hoagie [grinder, sub, zep, etc.] it's a vegetable. Didja ever hear of banana marinara? Huh Huh? Boston Cream Brussel Sprout Pie? I rest my case.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

My favourite rose: Reine de violettes. Dark, purple flowers. Great smell. Unfortunately we killed it and all that remains are the multiple stems. I'm not giving up, however, I know that the aerial portion of the pland dies off sometimes and is replaced by new growth from the root. Grafts, however, can yield aerial stems quite diffferent than what one first purchases, as horticulturists often graft fancy varieties on to hardy root stock to ensure the plants will survive.

Posted by: jack | May 7, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

My wife makes an excellent tomato pie with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil in a pie crust. I vote, though, that we make tomatoes homorary vegetables.

Posted by: Gomer | May 7, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

>My contention is that the plant, as a whole, is a vegetable

"Call any vegetable! Call it by name!
Call one today
When you get off the train ..

Call any vegetable And the chances are good
That the vegetable will respond to you!

Rutabaga, Rutabaga,
Rutabaga, Rutabaga,

- Frank Zappa

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 7, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

SCC: pland s/b plant...

If one eats rosehips, then roses meet the criteria for a vegetable. Cool.

Posted by: jack | May 7, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Never let it be said we don't discuss important topics here.

Next up, is it toMAYto or toMAWto?

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, I admit there are some transgendered comestibles such as your wife's tomato pie, but those are exceptions to the rule. (Quiches are French, so god only knows what category they might fall into.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Or should we just call the whole thing off?

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse


With regard to the evidence that wasn't found in Iraq, I somewhat disagree that the probability of the neocon interpretation was low. That's because the standard of evidence was low -- if they'd found one modest-size room with usable chemical artillery shells left over from the 1980s, that would have made their case. To this day, I'm pretty amazed that nothing like that was there if only because of poor Iraqi inventory control.

Of course, the administration would still have bungled the occupation, so the presence of soi-disant WMD probably is a thoroughly moot point.

Posted by: Mission Trace | May 7, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"Soi-disant"??????? Mission Trace, you have found a home here!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

soi-disant Belongs on the list of "that's my word and I'm sticking to it" words.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 7, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

jack - I think the question of whether a rosebush is a vegetable comes down to intent. According to the definition I quoted, a vegetable is cultivated *for* its edible parts. If there exist rosebushes raised just for the edible bits, then yes, said bushes would constitute a veggie. If, however, a rosebush is raised mostly because it looks so pretty, then it is probably not.

Which leads one, naturally, to the vexing philosophical conundrum that is the "decorative pepper plant."

But perhaps there are some questions that the human mind can simply not answer.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Does USDoT hire kids in 4th and 5th grade?

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 7, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the fly-bys (flies-by?) today:

Churchill was cavalry first and served with the Hussars in India. He was a war correspondent in the Sudan and in the Boer War. As a nominally serving officer he was what you might call Super-imbedded.

RD, we prefer to not call our work "storytelling", if only for the optics.

The BMI theme park challenge*? Isn't that what they hold at Walmart every Saturday?

CP, belated thanks for adding to my reading list. I will be searching out SU in the near future.

*explanatory note: I'm not sure what yellojkt's acronym is, but BMI is Body Mass Index

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 7, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

CP, I know you're right, but I believe a good response to a reminder that a tomato is a fruit is tphtpth! ;)

*now returning you to your regularly-scheduled adult conversation*

Posted by: Raysmom | May 7, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

And what about decorative cabbages? Ooh, la-la!

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 7, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

SoC I think it's Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Posted by: omni | May 7, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Only in upper management, LTL.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the French phrase for "decorative cabbage" decolletage? Or am I thinking of "Ma petit shoe"?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

EF, that's at least the second time that Call Any Vegetable has been quoted here in the boodle - because I know I did, once before. That's one of my favorite Zappa songs - along with Peaches in Regalia and Montana.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 7, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

True, SofC sometimes the term storytelling is equated with fibbing (It isn't nice to tell stories...) but that wasn't my intent. To me, the process of "telling a good story" is to devise a coherent and persuasive narrative consistent with the facts.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I can tell you, we storytelling guys (that's "to storytell" as a single verb) do not care for the equivalence drawn between fibbing and the crafting of a compelling vocal narrative. A good story, well told, is True, whether or not it is "true." It is my personal burden that I have difficulty deviating from mere factual "truth" in order to tell stories that are True.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 7, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

omni's right.

The kids (with their parent's help) have to design and build an operating theme park ride model that is based on a children's book. The winning entry was a roller coaster based on Harry Potter and The Something Or Other.

A windshield wiper motor connected to a bicycle chain takes a small car up to the top and then the car winds down the side of a coil of building siding. I have some video of it running and it's pretty ingenious.

Next month's competition is the safe racer challenge where the kids have to build out of recycled products a race car that rolls down a ramp and crashes into a barrier without crack the passenger egg.

Thanks to the parent of one of my wife's students who also works for DoT, her school has had a four year dynasty in this competition. Last year teams from her school took 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th. This was their first year finishing in the money for the theme park contest.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 7, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - only if the cabbage is being prepared by Giada.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

At last, talk turns to cabbage and I have the most tenuous of excuses to lead you all to this blog I discovered while searching for "not suing" material.

Read and enjoy Musings of a Highly Trained Monkey. This post mentions vegetables in general and cabbage in particular.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 7, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

décolletage: A machining/turning operation during which the workpiece is machined from a bar of material from which it is finally separated by a parting operation. Like round head bolts are "decolletted" from a bar.

ma petit shoe ??? My little soulier ???

Mon petit chou! ha!

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | May 7, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten - what an unusual blog. My lil' sister is an ER nurse, and they do develop an unusual view of reality.

Too many sucking chest wounds, horny drunks, and crabby old ladies.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

In concert Jimmy Buffet has a long shaggy dog story where he explains to his wife how he ended up coming home late reeking of booze with lipstick on his clothes. He ends the very implausible tale with "That's my story and I'm sticking to it." He then launches into this:

King of excuses
Sister Mary Mojo, so hard to trick
What can I say
The dog ate my homework
I could play the game
They love me anyway

Alibis, angles and tales from the tropics
Come to my mind, so easy and quick
Spacemen from Mars stole all of my money
I could play the game
The love me anyway

That's my story and I'm sticking to it
That's my life and all that I got
Call me a liar, call me a writer
Believe me or not
Believe me or not

Posted by: yellojkt | May 7, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget green tomatoe pie, and green tomatoe pickles.

Posted by: dr | May 7, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

RD-I particularly like this NASCAR reference from:

I Love New Docs Part 2

... It sounds (and smells) like the cheap seats at a NASCAR race, only I can't tell what the high pitched whine is, because there aren't any cars in the Code room. And then we all realize; it is the sound of a New Doc growing his testicles.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 7, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

>EF, that's at least the second time that Call Any Vegetable has been quoted here in the boodle

Well at least I'm in good company. You can hardly quote that enough!

>Which leads one, naturally, to the vexing philosophical conundrum that is the "decorative pepper plant."

In my misspent yout' I once had a long discussion with a vendor of hydroponic equipment about their benefits in producing "decorative pepper plants". It was hilarious to have two people completely waltz around the actual subject of the conversation for the better part of a half-hour.

I guess you had to be there...

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 7, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

This is funny:

Posted by: Achenbach | May 7, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Error- If you'd mentioned the true intent, at least in my state, he would have been prohibited from selling you anything. It amazes me on a daily basis that this wonderful bit of vegetation is illegal but I can purchase a deadly mix of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms without even a prescription.

Posted by: Gomer | May 7, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I grew Thai Hot Peppers one summer when they were still in the "decorative" category in the Burpee catalogue. Oh how tastes have changed. They are now firmly ensconced in the edible pepper section. I must say that one summer's bumper crop yielded a lifetime supply. Those little suckers haven't lost any of their punch in the years since I dried them.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 7, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

> Mission Trace, you have found a home here!

Merci beaucoup, mon vieux fromage!

Posted by: Mission Trace | May 7, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Word of the day:

Apercu \A`per`[,c]u"\ ([.a]`p[^a]r`s[.u]"), n.; pl. Aper[,c]us

1. A first view or glance, or the perception or estimation so obtained; an immediate apprehension or insight, appreciative rather than analytic.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 7, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

mostlylurking is right that "Love the One You're With" is a Stephen Stills song. I also think it is from his first solo album. It wouldn't surprise me if CS&N have performed it live, though. Maybe even CSN&Y.

Posted by: pj | May 7, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Joel, great link. I especially liked this:

With customary insight, Garrison Keillor once wrote: "A good newspaper is never quite good enough, but a lousy newspaper is a joy forever."

Posted by: Raysmom | May 7, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I've heard that Toledo Windowbox is a fine variety of decorative pepper plant.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 7, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh I agree, Raysmom. One of the delights of my adulthood was leaving home and no longer suffering exposure to our local paper, filled with such pithy prose as 'Mr.and Mrs. So and So motored to such and such...'. The scope of the reporter's ability was limited to the confines of her circle of friends and their travels, and the graduation ceremony at school.

Posted by: dr | May 7, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Joel, that was very funny. I'm glad he specifically mentioned "Bridges of Madison County." I hope I don't offend anyone but that was the worst book I have ever read and it did make me laugh. There was some quote where the protagonist started yapping about being a peregrine in flight or something like that...written seriously of course, I think perhaps during a tender moment between the photog and the housewife. Honestly, I laughed for 3 days.

Error - I went to the same high school as Frank Zappa. Many years later, well...not really that many years later. Everyone knew it, but I can't say anyone felt that we wouldn't be able to measure up. I'm not sure anyone did, though.

frostbitten - your blog is very interesting. You must be reading some unbelievable stories along the way.
Talk about making me burst out laughing! Highly trained monkey blog is great. I never cared for the ER in all my years of nursing, but as a critical care RN, I spend a lot of time with ER nurses...they are a special breed. I love the part where she defended the newbie doc from some pompous poster who criticized the doc's inexperience. RD - I would add pregnant 11 year olds and local celebrities and dignitaries with delusions of grandeur to the list of patients that create a reality that ER nurses are uniquely able to view.

Posted by: Kim | May 7, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely, dr! I forget how boringly good the WaPo is until I go out of town. Although in a pinch the wedding/engagement announcements can be good fun.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 7, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

There is a purveyor of tobacco accessories in Towson that has large signs indicating what the acceptable product names are. It infers that anyone using the vernacular terms will be directed out of the premises. This is a place where you buy "4:20 Dude" bumper stickers.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 7, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Kim, I could never quite bring myself to read "Bridges..." in part because of fear it might dislodge Erich Segal's monumentally bad "Love Story" as the alltime worst hilariously bad novel I've ever read.

Queenan cites "The DaVinci Code" as another stinker. The more I think about it, the more I tend to agree. The "offensive" part of its content was the least offensive part about it: the research was interesting; the writing was awful.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

The really special part Raysmom, is that the new reporter is not good but in a different way. Mostly she just has a larger cirlce of friends.

Posted by: dr | May 7, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

LindoLoo: Could you please contact me off-line re: Cornelius Kingsland Garrison?
Thanks, the NUT

Posted by: ebtnut | May 7, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

frosti, thanks for the link to the trained monkey. Her header could be my theme song: The vast majority of the things I do on a daily basis merely require opposable thumbs. But the sarcasm..... now THAT'S a gift!

Posted by: Raysmom | May 7, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

>Error- If you'd mentioned the true intent,

Gomer, don't underestimate my appreciate for decorative pepper plants. :-)

But yes, that's what made it so funny. And if anyone were standing around or bugging the place you'd be very certain I was just an avid gardener.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 7, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

In the hands of a really good writer, news that is limited to her personal friends and social circle could be quite good. Jeanne Marie Laskas (Post Magazine columnist) is getting a little precious, for my taste, but she shows one way to do it. Maybe I've just run my course of interest in what she has to say. It's somebody else's turn to read her columns. Garrison Keilor's "News from Lake Wobegon" is another example, although he has an unfair advantage in that he is not required to stick to any verifiable depiction of reality.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 7, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

That highly trained monkey is addictive, frostbitten. I like reading workplace tales from people whose jobs are nothing like mine. I also find the prevalence of workplace bloggers like her, and those to whom she links, reassuring. All these people are WRITING. For FUN.

You mean the stories of Lake Wobegon aren't true?

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 7, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

What is reality, anyway? Science tells us that our own personal realities are just what our brains make of the nerve signals relayed from our input sources. So my brain's interpretation of these signals may be toatlly different from any of yours, making all "reality" relative.

Posted by: Gomer | May 7, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

For real.

Posted by: Gomer | May 7, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I just scored organic rhubarb! And I come back to the veggie-fruiti wars. Funny.

SoC-are you Norwegian or Swedish or Danish? I think you will like Sigrid Undset's writing. Plenty of pathos, hard work, swashbucking and the bones of what would later become Bergman. Pardon my comment, but oh my, the Scandinavian outlook can be dreary: Salt-of-the-earth but dark in mood. (Garrison Keillor know this tribe well.)

Contgrats, YJ. Glad that BMI does not concern childhood obesity (a favorite topic for student papers)

All the links are work clicking. Thanks, all.

Frosti-- Fat Festiva Maxima buds about to plop open; covered, they are, in ants. Late lilac considering a blossom or two. This variety for the south, the stolid and demure "Miss Kim" continues to disappoin.

Reines de violettes! I know that old rose. Violet-aging-to-silver: and feels like rubbed velvet in a very old violin case.

LT-CA--Glad you know about rose dog tags. Loved hearing your name. Do you have a pix? I am pretty good at matching roses with ancestors.

Lovely but pollen-laden. Spring is the cruelest month for some, yet we forgive her the vageries because of all her fripperies.

Fripperies, RD. Spring wears them.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 7, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

More than funny, Joel.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 7, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

CP, I'll see if I can manage some pix.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 7, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I take no credit for the BMI events. I just go as an observer. My wife spends all year keeping the kids and parents focused. Like I said, one parent in particular is the real driving force.

The National Society of Professional Engineers sponsors a middle school math competition each year. Takoma Park always wins because all the professor's kids from UMCP mop the floor with everyone else.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 7, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

>Fripperies, RD. Spring wears them.

But does she make tape loops of them with Eno?

I think not.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 7, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

LTL-CA, you could probably take a bloom into a good nursery and get it id'd. Or maybe you've already tried that. I have mostly rugosa roses - also an eglanteria (with leaves that smell like apples) and a small noisette. We got tired of dealing with blackspot. But I have a Don Juan, which is lovely - deep, dark red and fragrant - and a Blaze in the side yard, where I can see it when I'm boodling (still small, though). Oh, and my Himalayan rose, which I got at the Arboretum plant sale here as a rooted cutting from K2. It has small white flowers, fragrant, and is very vigorous.

I spent the afternoon putting my gourd, tomato and zucchini plants into pots, lined up like soldiers on the driveway. Should get lots of sun and radiant heat there.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 7, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Sweet potato pie. Made from the finest fruit.

Just got off the internet researching how to grow tulips from seed. Actually, that's easy. When to pick the seed pod was worrying me, but that's easy too: when it's dried out. Okay. Wish me luck next year. But then again, I can't find my tiny orange morning glory seeds I painstakingly stored away last year... and to think I once vowed to only grow things I could eat.

In re vegetables, it's a crazy catchall word and I don't even know why we use it. We eat roots and tubers, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit and seeds. Looking at it that way, there is hardly any confusion whatever. (Fruit is a fleshy edible matter surrounding a seed, usually grown to attract animals which spread the seed by eating the fruit. So tomatoes and apples are fruit. We separate fruit into sweet and not sweet. And call fruit that is not sweet "vegetable." Such as cucumber which is practically a melon but is not sweet - so it's a "vegetable.")

Pumpkin pie.

Posted by: Jumper | May 7, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Remember *True* the man's magazine? Wonder what happened to it? No more true speaking men?

Posted by: bh | May 7, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

>Remember *True* the man's magazine?

Truthfully, no.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 7, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

JA, Hal, someone...

6:12 is blogspam.

Probably from someone who thinks the Boodle suffers from the same "comments" issues the news articles do. Please to be zapping. Thank you.


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 7, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Gack. I can't believe you, of all people, misquoted T.S. Eliot, CP. ("Spring [sic] is the cruelest month.")

bh, my dad used to subscribe to "True" for years (decades) back in the 50s and 60s, and I used to read it, too, mainly for the cartoons and once in a while for the articles (and, no it didn't have any of "those" photos). (Darn.) I remember once when I was about 12 reading an article about Bigfoot that scared the crap out of me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

JA, read the link about bad books, and laughed the whole time. I read whatever strikes my fancy, good and bad don't register with me. Sometime I just want to read, later for the pretension.

Test results were okay, but still have the pain. I have about three doctor's appointments this month, perhaps someone will hit the jackpot. Once one starts with these folks, there is no end.

It was cold here this morning, and still slightly chilly. I don't think I'm planting anything until I see a few more warm days.

Slyness, I saw a news story on one of the stations there in your city about a parent that went to her child's school and beat the child. They arrested her. I did not hear the story just saw the pictures. I thought this person has mental issues or she was high. They described the beating and it was not pretty, even kicking the child in the stomach.

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 7, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, there's a new version of that magazine and it sure ain't your daddy's.

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

Joel, thoroughly enjoyed the link. Now YOUR books do not fall into the bad category. But we all knew that...

I'm glad other people like roses. I have three, all of which I inherited from my mother. One is an old-fashioned pink bush descended from the one off which my grandmother picked blooms for her wedding bouquet. Then there is the fairy rose, also pink. The Lady Banks blooms in early spring, when it isn't killed by frost. It doesn't have thorns. The others scratch me all the time.

Cassandra, didn't see that story, will look it up.

Posted by: Slyness | May 7, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I have *True* air up here in west by god.

It comes in True one window and goes out True the other one.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 7, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, does it have ...those... kinda pictures? *Shudders with revulsion. Yeah, that's it: revulsion*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 7, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

I went out intending to photograph the anonymous rose. It's at the end of its first bloom, and it was 95 this afternoon on top of 87 yesterday, so the flowers didn't look very good. I ended up pruning them all off instead. But there are 4 buds that will be along sometime soon.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 7, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I went to the NASA briefing today. Good times. Here's the AP story:

Naturally I was most interested in whether or not any exploding stars might menace our own precious Earth. Apparently we shouldn't really worry about it. Though I might anyway, just out of habit.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 7, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I spent a wonderful afternoon today with dmd! We rode the Metro downtown and had lunch at the Hotel Washington's Sky Terrace. Then walked completely around the White House (I think we saw the Queen's motorcade), actually remembering to pose and have someone take our picture together.

The weather was simply perfect and we enjoyed the azaleas and all the wonderful trees in full leafy glory on the WH grounds.

Then my Canadian visitor took ME to the WWII memorial. I wasn't really sure where it was and she said, "I do! Let's go," and took me right there. Beautiful.

We then walked back past the Washington Monument and along the mall. Just a perfect day all around.

She's looking forward to meeting more boodlers tomorrow night at the BPH!

Posted by: TBG | May 7, 2007 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, a lot of what the government tells us these days is Something To Worry About or Something To Be Afraid Of, so why not NASA.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 7, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

CP, Swedish. I always thought any "characteristics" would have been lost along with the language two generations ago, but every now and then...

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 7, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I saw that "Brightest Supernova" item earlier today, and I seem to recall that it had actually been detected several months ago. Well, now's as good a time as any to put out a release and have a briefing on something you don't need to worry about.

Really, if there were a supernova of that size close enough to worry about, there would be no need to. Because there would be nothing at all to do about it other than review yesterday evening's Boodling about what we were going to do (or not do) if we knew the World Were Ending Tonight.

Taking my clothes off now, just in case of a surprise supernova.


Posted by: bc | May 7, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh goody! I didn't do the dishes. I'm ready.

Posted by: TBG | May 7, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I figure a nearby supernova is a lot like crabgrass. By the time you become aware of the problem, it's probably too late to do anything about it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Kind of like what bc said. But better dressed.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 7, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Re: Supernovas and worrying about them.

Eta Carinae is way too close for comfort.

Posted by: Mission Trace | May 7, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse


'The possible Eta Carinae hypernova could affect Earth nearly 7,500 light years away, but would not likely affect humans directly, who are protected from gamma rays by the atmosphere. The damage would likely be restricted to the upper atmosphere, the ozone layer, and spacecraft, including satellites, and any astronauts in space.'

As always, you wonder who wrote this and what it's based on. Mario Livio today said we shouldn't worry. More on this later this week.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 7, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I just finished "Napoleon of Notting Hill". by G.K. Chesteron. I downloaded it from Project Gutenberg. It's not that long, and well worth the read.

I couldn't shake the thought this sounded like a Monty Python script crossed with poetry and a touch of Hemingway.

I sense in this story the inspiration of "Repent, Harlequin! said the ticktockman" Interestingly, this novel supposedly also helped launch the Irish independence movement.

Speaking of future SF and politics...

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 7, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I promised interesting mulch news, and dad gum, I'm gonna deliver interesting mulch news before I head for bed.

As you may recall the close-by Helotes mulch fire "Mulchie" burned for three very long months, ending on or about March 25. Now, just six weeks later, the highlights of the story, as reported by our local paper on Saturday...

The Texas house and Senate last week passed similar bills that would regulate large mulch piles like the one that burned for 12 weeks in Helotes.

The legislation would give the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality authority to respond to such fires and recover expenses from the facility's owner. The bills would limit the size of the piles of combustible recyclable matter (noncombustible pile size exempt).

TCEQ could require a recycling facilty to grind, compost or recycle or transfer to another facility at least half of the combustible materials received within a year. Facilities would also have to create fire lanes between piles.

Helotes mayor (and scientist-AIDS researcher) Jon Allan testified in Austin for the bills--and pushed for more stringent statewide environmental protection measures.

The House bill would apply only to our county--Bexar, while the Senate bill would apply statewide. Each bill must now pass the other chamber. (Let's hope the House has the wisdom to amend its bill to apply to all of Texas.)

Posted by: Loomis | May 7, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

TBGl, first of all thank you, I had a wonderful time, you are a gracious host. I think it only fitting that I showed you the WWII memorial since you took me to my first sighting of my Queen, since I am not a monarchist that was the perfect outing for me to see the Queen, well sort of see her, or well guess that a mortcade might contain her - anyways it worked and I will delight my children with stories of how I saw the Queen, just need to come up with a reasonable excuse for the lack of photo!!

Posted by: dmd | May 7, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

According to a report on NPR tonight, a direct gush of gamma rays from Eta Carinae would be a big problem. Good news, according the report, is that the expected gush would not be directed, as of now, our way.

I think it would be unreasonably cruel of God to end our existence this close to living through the torture of 43's administration.

Surely we have suffered enough.

Posted by: bill everything | May 7, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Parochial good news about Eta Carinae: it's visible only from the southern hemisphere. As long as we can't see it, it can't kill us (at least, not directly). Unfortunately, that's not true for everyone, just for us self-centered Northerners.

Without doing any mental heavy lifting, I suspect that the massive gamma ray flux would not do much damage at the ground. The atmosphere is a pretty good shield for us. Although the gamma ray flux from nearby supernovas is often cited as a possible major influence on the history of life on Earth, so I think there is not universal agreement on the effectiveness of the atmosphere as a shield. The question is, who has done real work, and who is just waving his hands? I am just waving my hands, but I am cribbing from people who have done real work.

A petty note: In Marc Kaufman's article, he mentions that most massive stars, when they supernova, result in "dark holes." Was that Kaufman's fault, or an over-zealous copy editor?

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 7, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

How many high level officials in the DoJ have to be given immunity/on the verge of indictment before Alberto decides to pursue other opportunities?

Posted by: bill everything | May 7, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

bill e-12?

Flipping through channels and here's Condie Rice on Charlie Rose "...insurgents still killing Iraqi civilians and still killing our coalition soldiers..."

Ok, the insurgent thing I can see holding on to if you really don't want to admit we're in the middle of a civil war. But, am I missing the nightly reports of war dead from other countries? I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping track.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 7, 2007 11:27 PM | Report abuse

For some reason, Florida had gigantic mulch piles in 2004-2005, thanks to the hurricanes. Astonishingly, no huge fires.

Looks like Wolfowitz is on the plank. Could Alberto Gonzalez become the next World Bank president?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 7, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

DotC-Only if he can cut a rug like Wolfowitz

Posted by: frostbitten | May 8, 2007 12:07 AM | Report abuse

A back boodle comment to Shrieking Denizen: 25 years since Gilles' passing, wow. But if you want to do a Gilles Villeneuve "quick drive" salute right, you need to take a couple of corners in a full power-on opposite lock broadslide with the back tires in the grass. Extra credit if one of those tires is shredding itself on the rim. It was easy to see why Enzo loved that little guy so much; he never failed to wring everything possible (and then some) out of a Ferrari.

The hypernova (wasn't that a Robert Palmer album?) is interesting, but the universe seems to be a fairly unfriendly place for Earthlife anywhere other than here. A lot of bad things could happen that would wipe us all out in short order. And heck, if nature won't do it, we can take care of ourselves, right?

I'm going to ponder this a little while.


Posted by: bc | May 8, 2007 12:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm so glad I found this blog. You guys keep the homesickness at bay!

Posted by: AZbluehen | May 8, 2007 12:40 AM | Report abuse

on a random topic (as usual), a little latin humor:

bonus points for identifying the incorrect grammar explanation.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | May 8, 2007 12:52 AM | Report abuse

We're here to serve, AZbluehen. Well, actually, I'm going to bed, but there's usually *someone* here. Why are you homesick?

I'm trying to catch up on the posts here after getting my kids to go to bed - by the time I finish reading them all it's time for me to hit the hay.

Love those EMT and ER blogs, Frosti - my nefarious penchant for medporn is rearing its ugly head again. I've never thought to go looking for it on the Internet - silly me. So it's so long to getting any useful work done for a few weeks. Ah well, who really wants to get a lot of things done anyway?

Posted by: Wheezy | May 8, 2007 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Oh, L.A. lurker I love that part of Life of Brian - "HOW many Romans?" is a frequent line at our house when grammar is being pushed. I don't know any Latin myself, but from French class I thought that the imperative would always be plural, that it didn't matter how many pesky Romans. Latin was/is (I hear) several orders of magnitude harder, however.

Now off to bed.

Posted by: Wheezy | May 8, 2007 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Howdy all! I'm checking in & out real quick, 'cuz I'm up WAY past my bedtime. But I got to see a rare thing tonight. A recent acquaintence of mine (Wilbrod & others might remember him as the young deaf man with whom I got along so well a couple of weeks [or so] ago) bowled a 300 game tonight, while I was watching. That ain't messing around!

I've done (& watched) enough bowling to know that I won't get to see a perfect game very often. I felt a bit honored, actually!

Posted by: Bob S. | May 8, 2007 3:11 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning all!

I just saw a report on CNN saying that tornado in Kansas was 7 miles wide. That sure is a scarey thought. My heart goes out to all those people.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 8, 2007 5:13 AM | Report abuse

Palmer had an album called "Heavy Nova," so named because he claimed it was a cross between Heavy Metal and Bossa Nova. As he said himself, it's a stupid title. But fun music.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 8, 2007 6:23 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, boodle. L.A. Lurker, it should be "Romani, ite domum." But the locative is "domo." It ought to be accusative (go "to" the house, not "go (is at) the house.) So "domum" is correct, but it is (correctly) accusative, not locative.

Wheezy, in Latin the imperative can be either singular or plural. In the classic greeting (the first thing many Latin students learn), the phrase "Salve, magister," the word "salve" (hail) is imperative singular. ("Hail, teacher.")

I shall now bring down, fold, and put away my Latin geek flag.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 8, 2007 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Morning all!! *waving*

I think the hypernova explains why I-270 was so deserted this morning.


greenwithenvy, I think the tornado's track was 7 miles long. The funnel itself has been described as a mile wide, however. All relatively insignificant details compared to the overall toll... *SIGHHHH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 8, 2007 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Eta Carinae and it's gamma rays sure sounds like how the Fantastic Four got their powers. It could be a new era of superheroes.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 8, 2007 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Then again, if people are planting their mayters around this time, Eta Carinae might prompt a sequel of "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes."


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

Okay, but I got dibs on the stretchy gig.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 8, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, I'll break out my old 45 of "Puberty Love" just in case.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 8, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Talk about a deadly tune cootie!!!

*turning up the Van Halen to drive it out*


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 8, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' everyone...

Yet another beautiful day here -- will this madness never end? I know that if I wash the cars it will immediately begin to rain, but I'm powerwashing a house today. Does that mean we're in for a mile-wide tornado? Or maybe a blast of gamma rays?

Cassandra... glad to hear the tests came back okay. And sorry to hear you have three more doctors to go. Since you have insurance, chances are that at least one of them will find *something* requiring yet another series of tests and more visits.

btw... Tin foil deflects gamma rays, right?

On a sad note... my trusty little Black & Decker "Mouse" sander bit the dust for good yesterday after five years of exemplary service. His big brother (the B&D "Dragster" belt sander) is inconsolable and is currently parked on the workbench sniffing paint thinner and lacquer. After an appropriate period of mourning (about 10 more minutes) I plan to swing by Home Depot to find a replacement.

Peace out, my friends. Hope you all have a superb day.

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


After I heard the report, I kept saying to myself, seven miles wide how can that be. But then again I had been awake for 20+ hours and was a little bleary eyed. Maybe bleary eared too.

Thanks for the correction

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 8, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe it took a whole day before "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" showed up.

Cassandra... hope you're feeling better today and that your doctors figure out what's ailing you.

Martooni... glad to know you're a forty-something now (and still counting). We're here rooting for you!

The rest of you boodlers... have a great Tuesday!

Off now for a long day. See you all tonight!

Posted by: TBG | May 8, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

"Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," along with "Americathon" and "Rocky Horror Picture Show" top the list of films that should only be seen with a large crowd of slightly inebriated college students.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 8, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

martooni - so sorry to hear of your mouse. I have one too, and they are wonderful for getting into those tight corners.

I hope the belt sander finds the strength to go on.

Few things are as sad as grieving power tools.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 8, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

RD - Americathon, now there is a movie I have not thought about in a long time.

Posted by: dmd | May 8, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

dmd - How could anyone forget the classic film that brought us "Puke Rock," the "National Indian Knitting Enterprise," (NIKE) and the Hebrab republic?

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 8, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Cool and dry today. Everyone with a board ought to have been at a carefully-selected beach at dawn to take advantage of the surf generated by the strange subtropical storm to our northeast.

"Hot Fuzz" lacked tomatoes. So they must not be essential to having a perfect British village (the filming was done in Wells, which must be nearly perfect, anyway. The cathedral is reputedly one of the loveliest).

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 8, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Regarding yesterday's tomato topic, may I just say that the juicy beefsteak is my favorite. Just one thick slice makes a lovely BLT, along with bacon, a bit of lettuce and Hellman's mayonaise, of course. (toasted bread)

Being southern and all, I do the fried green tomatoes and the green tomato relish in the fall.

I'm here in the Vienna/Oakton area, recently covered in the droppings of the mighty Oak.

Posted by: Vintage Lady | May 8, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

*faxing Vintage Lady a leafblower*



Posted by: Scottynuke | May 8, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Scotty, blower received.

Funny how the birds never use the oak squiggles for nesting material. But they do love to peck away at the tomato plants.

Posted by: Vintage Lady | May 8, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Vintage Lady, isn't it amazing how the birds know when tomatoes are at peak ripeness? I always know that if I decide to leave one on the vine one more day, the next day it will be pecked.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 8, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning friends. Martooni, I don't have insurance, and therein may be the problem. I'm going to these folks with my hat in my hand, sort of. If I had the money I owe to doctors and hospitals, well you get my point.

I read Eugene Robinson this morning, and I laughed. It was funny. Of course, JA has already done his impression of this same subject.

It is cold here this morning. I don't know when we're going to get spring weather. I guess in June and July. The flowers seem to be scared to even try. I can't blame them, I'm wrapped up.

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

I do thank all for your concern and kind thoughts to me. Hopefully, I will work it out or the doctors will find out what is going on. I do not mean to burden my friends here, it seems there is always something on my plate. But that is life, but perhaps I can be quiet.

My favorite spot in my hometown, the lake was cleaned up over the weekend. I still go there sometimes during the day when it is warm. I like the lake a lot, just being there is calming for me. The water rippling, the ducks, the background scenery, all of it. A pill is no comparison.

Have a good day, folks. Better still have a great day. Not much on the radar today, but will check on my father.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 8, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, you do not burden us at all.

martooni, sorry to hear about the wee sander. I know how terrible it is for a man to lose one of his power tools. And tin foil hats deflect gamma rays IF you wear them shiny side out.

TBG, got your message. See you tonight.

Scotty, could you fax me some heavy-duty allergy drugs? The Botanic Garden trip yesterday just about did me in.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 8, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"Tin foil deflects gamma rays, right?"

Sadly, no. But, you can take solace in the idea that some of the gamma photons will Compton-scatter and produce a shower of lower-energy X-ray photons (from the Bremsstrahlung, don't ya know) that are more probable to be absorbed in the net cross-section of a human body. In other words, a lot of shielding is a good bet, but a little bit of shielding is your worst bet. It's often better to have none at all and face that mighty stream of gamma radiation as God intended: nekkid, and prepared to accept whatever superpower is conferred upon you. ("I... am... DeadGuy!")

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 8, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Tim, so the tin foil hat would be more of a fashion statement?

Posted by: Raysmom | May 8, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Well, I really should be raking the grass, but if I am going to be flooded with gamma radiation, I might as well get some really quality chocolate and sit down and savour it with a fine congnac to cleanse my palette.

Posted by: dr | May 8, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Eta is carnage???

Posted by: jack | May 8, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Read the WaPo article about the white-tie state dinner last night for the British royals and Robinson's op-ed. Looked at the comments for both.

I see the Post has a new and ridiculous feature--inserting litle head icons--a silhoutte--into each comment that's posted. And the shape of the silhoutte and its hairdo are (*gasp*) male.

Sigh, sigh, and double sigh. Dumb, dumb, dumb and a very offensive idea--graphically. You can't deny us women our voices, but you certainly can rob us, with the instant display of some pixels, of our gender. Wouldn't it be wiser to display a gender-neutral symbol, if you've got to display something? And why does the Washington Post have to display ANY graphic element with each comment? I'm doing some deep head-scratching this morning.

*Honesty is the best policy alert*
There was a little moment of truth on entertainment television last night. Bruno, the Italian judge, called Billy Ray Cryus' dancing routines on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" the C-word. His unexpurgated slip-up on live TV said as much about Cyrus' abilities as it did about the show's failures in establishing its structure and format, which essentially debases this form of dance by encouraging viewers, whom I beleive generally know little about ballroom dancing, to vote for the best dancers, not once, but multiple times. It won't give me an achy breaky heart to see the embarrassingly awkward and rhythmless Tennessee toe-tied dancer booted off from the finals.

Did anyone notice the ridiculous football sports parody of the dancing from last Tuesday's broadcast, during which Jerry Rice--who couldn't hold a candle to Stacy Keebler as far as dancing ability yet bested her two competitions ago--appeared as a commentator. And what's with the Jimmy Kimmel comedy routines? And they always stick a geriatric male into each show's line-up--Hamilton, Springer and Ratzenburger, yet no female over the age of 50--Leeza Gibbons most recently fitting that demographic. And in the idealized couple pairings, the women taller than their partners are the first to go.

The "audience vote" and by extension "grade inflation--if you will" turns the program into a nationwide popularity contest and increasing farce waged with televison sets, telephones and computers. Another loud bah, feh from me.

I'm tired of doing the tango with this program. This program is falling on its face faster than a partner who tripped over his or her partner's feet. It's time for this show to go off the air--as fast as the schedulers can waltz some replacement into its Monday and Tuesday time slots.

Posted by: Loomis | May 8, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I've finally realized there sort of aren't any "mayters". Nearly all the plants grown at home are products of intensive breeding. Those that aren't are heirlooms, which mean they've been carefully selected and handed down.

I wonder what the tomato situation is in Mexico. That's where they were domesticated, and where they're still most appreciated--world's highest per capita consumption. There was a national tomato crisis a while back when crop failures sent prices skyrocketing. Sort of how you hear of Italian or Spanish tomatoes, but the tomatoes doing duty in salsa are more or less anonymous, at least to us. I suspect that'll change as Mexican seeds make their way to backyards in the US.

Posted by: Dave of the coonties | May 8, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Geez, Tim really cleared that up for I know what to do if that mighty stream of gamma comes rollin' in...
What a *visual* when I read that.

I'm with dr...I thought perhaps I should go get a glass of wine and pick up a book instead of embark on the 1001 errands I need to do on my day off. But I guess it's not coming right now. You guys will let me know when it's coming, won't you?

I've been on the edge of *the strange subtropical storm* that Dave referenced earlier. It has been a crazy couple of days, albeit not as crazy as in Kansas, Thank God. Standing on field for 3 field hockey games in those gale winds actually made me sore the next day. We've had one pear tree split and an oak tree has been stripped of at least 30-40% of it's leaves. It's nutty!

Posted by: Kim | May 8, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Someone once told me that if the end of the world is nigh he is going to "break out the good stuff."

Note to self: Buy some "good stuff" just in case.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 8, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Linda, I'm with you on DWTC. For one brief instant of honesty, Bruno got repeated tongue-lashings and whining from Mr. Cyrus (in an obvious attempt for the sympathy vote). It's cheezy entertainment, so I don't expect much more than that.

Dave, when you're dealing with a planting medium like Virginia red clay, you realize that the tomato variety itself has relatively little impact on the final product. I'd put one of my Mom's Better Boys grown in loamy soil up against an heirloom grown in Virginia soil any day. (Soil amendments only ensure that the plant won't die in infancy).

Posted by: Raysmom | May 8, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

*catching up*

Raysmom, as long as you don't need epinephrine or something, I'll fax over a 55-gallon drum.


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

*preparing to receive fax*

Thanks, Scotty. Perhaps a bath in an Allegra solution will do the trick.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 8, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Any celestial phenomenon that illuminates the night sky in order that it's possible to read necessitates the good stuff as an accompaniment. come to think of it, insstead of painting our house Shetland Gray with blue trim, I may opt for aluminum paint. One can never be too careful. *looking for the instructions for making a family sized foil hat*

Posted by: jack | May 8, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

FYI, I'll post a new kit in the early afternoon. I'll tell you now what it will be about:

If you want you can comment BEFORE the kit. You can imagine what it will say and then disagree.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 8, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

re: future kit - ahhh, but the weather sucks in the summer.

mudge, i know you would know that!
you weren't ueber-geeky though, since you didn't talk about the prepositionless destinations yada yada. :-)

Posted by: L.A. lurker | May 8, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Hot, sticky summers and a high crime rated due to drugs. My kinda town. (I can stay right here and get all that.)

Anybody (beside me) wanna challenge the entire notion that "cities" (however they choose to define them) are necessarily the best places to live under ANY circumstances? What about deep 'burbs (say 45 minutes or an hour out of said city)? What about "the country," i.e. rural areas? What about Floyd's Knob? OK, forget Floyd's Knob. What about the classic "small-town America"? Grover's Corners? Didn't see no Grovah's Cornah's listed theyah, did ya?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 8, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Howdy, y'all. Martooni, congratulations, I'm glad you're so busy, and I need you to drop everything and come build me an ark. All you Boodlers with power tools or an affection (affectation?) for woodworking are invited to help. I'll provide the pizza and beer. Just hurry.

Really, it was pouring rain and flooding this morning as I got the Boy to school and myself, barely, to work. If this keeps up they'll have to say the drought is over. I'm glad I got some of the lawn mowed over the weekend but if it has this drastic effect, I may not ever mow again.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 8, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

L.A., I try to keep my uber-geekiness under control at all times. The world is not ready for such a superpower to be unleashed. Not until the massive gamma ray assult, anyway.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 8, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Wilmington Delaware in the top 50? Minneapolis/St. Paul drops over TWO HUNDRED PLACES IN THREE YEARS?

Indianapolis 19th? Oh, well, that sounds about right.


Posted by: bill everything | May 8, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Jeez...give a city a couple of national titles and they take a mile.

Posted by: jack | May 8, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Berkeley Breathed is on the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU (88.5 FM) right now.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 8, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Gainesville is a very nice city with horrific traffic. Not smart to have so many people on one campus. But buses seem to be proliferating. Need I mention that summers are decidedly hot? If you don't have air conditioning (a fairly normal situation a generation or two ago), that window fan gives you only a few hours of real cooling.

Bellingham? An acquaitance in Miami is probably panic-stricken to see it ranked so high. He already had his sights on the place, partly because it's so close to Vancouver. I'll redirect him to Olympia.

Portland's back near the top, but housing prices are pretty high. Except that the condo where I lived must have suffered some kind of problem--prices have scarcely kept up with inflation.

Dover? Not if you live near a salt marsh. You can build immunity to the mosquitoes, but the biting flies were awful.

A bit over a year ago, my internist fled to Sand Point, Idaho (he'd just sold one house and immediately discovered he couldn't afford anything comparable, thanks to a booming market). I presented him with a suitably alarming handbook on whitewater safety, although actually the big attraction there is the lake.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 8, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Editing issues there. The list is best cities, but the lede reads 'best place to live.' Unless Small-Town America and rural areas aren't really places anymore.

But hey, who am I to talk?

Posted by: LostInThought | May 8, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, lookit all those Northwest cities... My brother the perfesser will be insufferable now.

Then again, he might complain about "ONLY 14th???"


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

Regarding the potential new kit, I read that Top 50 list. I'd just note that anyone who'd put Santa Barbara/Santa Maria on that list has some very different standards than most of us. Understand, I used to live there and it is gorgeous. However, the two cities are 70 miles apart (I know, I commuted for a few months). Also, cost of living is high. Santa Barbara's median house price is around $600,000 or something equally ridiculous. Santa Maria is cheaper, but it is also an old cow town. Cows and strawberries.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 8, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

9. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.

32. Iowa City
San Luis is very nice and becoming quite the wine country. A very distant and estranged cousin is a vintner there. I cannot afford to drink his wine very often. The problem dates back to prohibition days.....I have whiskey rustlers in my family tree. Hey Yoki, they ran whiskey between Alberta and Sask. through the Dakotas and Iowa, connecting up with Capone in Chicago. Occasionally, the old storytellers called that windy city, "Shy Town."

Iowa City is one of the best undiscovered places. I would love to retire there, but by then, peeps would figure it out. Better plan on some odd place like Alzada, MT or Kickapoo, KS.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 8, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

That's an important observation, LostInThought.

It seems that "Atlanta" is spreading through much of northern Georgia, just as "New York" is popping up in the Poconos, where relatively cheap housing is attracting long-distance, lower-income commuters. Did someone spot Washington, D.C. popping up in Winchester, Virginia?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 8, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

The sad part is the way we seem to be unable to plan, and provide infrastructure -- when a city moves to the top of the list, it attracts so many people that it's no longer desirable. Portland seems to be an exception.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 8, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse


City? Suburb? Country? Isn't this question like asking what's the "best" college? Different people prefer different kinds of living environments.

That said, we live in a free society, with a free market economy, and it would seem to me that any place that was really head and shoulders "better" than any other as a liviing place would quickly price itself out of the reach of most people. Aha. Check Manhattan, the cultural and economic center of the universe, home of the best pizza, theater, art, public spectacles, and so on. Who can afford it? But I have no interest in living in New York. I bring this up to support my opinion that the best place to live in the United States is Key West. I can't afford to live there, either. I promised myself long ago that I would STOP trying to explain what is so great about it. But there's no question that the only time in my life that I ever felt completely "at home" was when I was living there.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 8, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I fail to understand how anyone can quantify the "best" of anything without asking for my opinion.

It's patently obvious that any sentence that begins "byoolin says..." carries the weight of cold, unalterable, pure fact.

Gaineville. HAH! byoolin says, "No higher than 283rd."

Posted by: byoolin | May 8, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

The original Key West residents are said to have moved to places like Ocala. These days, there are schemes to run commuter buses from the mainland for low-paid workers. Sort of like Aspen.

Portland has certainly grown, but it doesn't have such a hot economy. In many respects, it's an old industrial city that managed to survive better than some others.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 8, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

There seems to be a factor in the ranking that gives an advantage to college towns. College towns often ride the coat tails of the local university when it comes to factors like cultural events, public spaces, educational quality. Often these facilities and amenities are not always used by or accessible to townies.

1. Gainesville, Fla. University of Florida.
4. Colorado Springs -Air Force Academy
5. Ann Arbor, MI - University of Michigan
15. Durham, N.C. - Duke
17. Charlottesville, Va. -University of Virginia
29. Athens-Clarke County, Ga. - University of Georgia
36. Columbus, Ohio - The Ohio State University
49. State College, Pa. - Penn State

Not that I have anything against these towns, but these are the open field colleges I made a point of avoiding. Not my idea of best places to live.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 8, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I second your opinion. Not that it needs it.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 8, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

YJ -- U of Iowa, including the famed writer's, ta DAH

Iowa City.

(Others too, no doubt.)

Posted by: College Parkian | May 8, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Woods Hole, MA. Of course, my view may be skewed by the fact that I only ever lived there in the summers, so i never faced a Massachusetts winter, nor did I ever go to regular school while there (but I did go to the Woods Hole Children's Museum of Science). Beaches. Sailing. Scientists. Fishing. Bicycling.

Unfortunately, I was there a few years ago and it is much more packed. Tourists. The Marine Biological Lab (MBL) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have gift shops and visitors' centers. The ferry boat dock facility is HUGE, so most of the tourists are just waiting for the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. Big surprise: the Woods Hole that I recommend and that I love is the Woods Hole of 30 years ago.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 8, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

The median price in Santa Barbara County is over $860k, and $670k in Ventura County. Parts of Santa Barbara are a lot higher than the county average. That may say something about the target audience of "Cities Ranked & Rated."

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 8, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

DoC, not having such a hot economy may be just what the doctor ordered. Around here the mayor & governator are always touting how they're Personally Responsible for lots and lots of new jobs, while I'm thinking we need fewer that pay better -- too many people here already.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 8, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, Charlottesville drops from first to 17th because the median home price doubled. Yeah, to $312K!

Posted by: Raysmom | May 8, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

yellojacket -- also University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), supposedly among the elite of the UC system.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 8, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

This is a very interesting list. The authors clearly have a thing for medium sized college towns. For example, I seem to recall hearing that this "Gainsville" place has associated with it some manner of educational institution. And, as yellojkt points out, a quick look at the list confirms that many of the highly-ranked places (including Bellingham) have campuses nearby.

But what I really wonder about is the methodology. The article implies that the authors added various weighted scores for different characteristics and then compared the totals. While such an approach seems sensible, this really isn't how most people evaluate things.

People tend to evaluate things in a multiplicative way, not additive. That is, we mentally multiply the various scores together. Even one bad characteristic will do something in. For example, it doesn't matter how wonderful a town in the Pacific Northwest might be, my wife would never consider moving there because of the weather.

Trust me, I've asked.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 8, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

CP, I have a good friend who just moved OUT of Iowa City after maybe a dozen years there--was just in the middle of nowhere, she said. Said the corn as far as the eye could see was driving her crazy.(Admittedly, she was born and raised in the Philly burbs and went to college in Philly.)

Bertooch, that was exactly my point--different people want different things. Me, I'd want to live in Edgartown, Mass, half the year, and maybe Beaufort, SC the other half. Or Key West (money not withstanding). Or the Georgetown section of D.C. I suspect an overwhelming majority of people who now live in rural areas wouldn't move to a city or a burb at the point of a gun.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 8, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I live in the 'burbs for the quality "free" public schools, but I don't want to be here forever. My dream retirement home is a condo along Connecticut Avenue within walking distance of a Metro station.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 8, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Precisely, 'Mudge. My wife and I chose our small town because she has enough family here to keep what amounts to an extended eye on our children during the day and after school. It would be tough to move back to the big city.

Posted by: jack | May 8, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I think it was the Economist that reported something of a housing boom in central Tokyo as retirees move out of the boring burbs into the center of things.

I grew up on Air Force bases, and quickly realized that Penn State's main campus was rather like one.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 8, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Jeepers, what will there be left to say when Joel actually posts the kit? We might be forced to venture off topic, and nothing good can come of that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 8, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

The best town to live in is the one that makes you happy. Simple as that. And living in any town in a trade-off.

Modesto, Calif. may be on the bottom of the USA Today list Joel linked to because it has high crime and expensive housing--but it has a fantastic farmers' market and easy access to the Sierra and outdoor recreation--Tahoe, the 49er Highway, and Yosemite, as well as relatively easy access to the Bay Area. But never in my worst nightmares would I want to be a commuter from Modesto to the Bay Area, especially with gas prices being what they currently are.

Local Metro columnist Carlos Guerra, whom I've called out recently for his op-eds about Hernandez v. Texas and Ken Burns, in the last two months wrote several columns about the Lesser Chamber of Commerce--an idea he was trying to float and from which he was soliciting reader comments--his idea for negative opinions about San Antonio in order to discourage people from moving here. One yoyo wrote that the one thing to stop Californians from coming here would be to promote the fact that the area has scorpions and rattlesnakes. Sorry, I don't buy it.

The thing that discourages me as a resident is the fact that infrastructure so lags behind growth, planning is done for 15 months ahead rather than 15 years--particularly as it applies to major road projects, high dropout rates and violent crimes and low levels of academic achievement, and, as I've mentioned so many times before, the charming pictures of the city, primarily the River Walk and theme parks, come without humid-o-vision.

On a note about uber-growth and development here, Jaime Castillo, another of our Metro columnists, in the past week did a fine piece about the candidates for City Council in nearby Helotes. They are the Anti- Anti-WalMart Gang, (the latter who provided so much leadership during the Helotes mulch fire.) And who's financing almost exclusively the Anti-Antis? Yup. You guessed it! Developers.

Just beyond Helotes' southeastern city limit is San Antonio -- a living testament to unfettered growth, struggling-to-keep-up infrastructure and some powerful developers who like it just the way it is.

We've pretty much got it figured out for our near term. I was wrong when I said my husband has an interview with Wachovia. He has submitted his resume for two positions and is waiting for feedback. If he gets hired, we'll, in all likelihood, stay on here. If he doesn't, he'll look elsewhere, timing his job search so he gets the severance package in June '08. And one of our options is to take the severance package, sell about 75 percent of what we own and move to Oregon, my dream and also the one with the greatest risk because we don't know if there will be employment opportunities in his area of specialization. Imagine for a moment, after 13 years of being away from home, from California, the notion of living someplace that would make me happy.

Posted by: Loomis | May 8, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Whoops--on the homepage:
Post editor discusses "Reaping the Whirlwind," George Tenet's book on his years as CIA director.

Uh, Tenet's book is "At the Center of the Storm." Woodward's column about Tenet's book is titled "Reaping the Whirlwind." Clearly a little rewriting is needed.

Posted by: Loomis | May 8, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The best place to live is right where I am. Otherwise I wouldn't be living. That's my philosophy, and I'm sticking to it!

Posted by: omni | May 8, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt said "There seems to be a factor in the ranking that gives an advantage to college towns. College towns often ride the coat tails of the local university when it comes to factors like cultural events, public spaces, educational quality."

And that is exactly why we moved to San Luis Obispo 10 years ago. The city and college share an event center, college students work and live throughout the area. But don't try to follow us, the city is dedicated -- in all caps, italics and any other fancy typesetting -- to low-or-no growth.

Paso Robles is 30 miles away over a mountain range, with a completely different climate. Much hotter up there in the summer. That is where the majority of central coast winerys are located; grapes like the heat.

Posted by: nellie | May 8, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

The other day yellojkt said: 'Tom Sawyer is one of the worst songs ever recorded.'

But then we wouldn't have this jazz cover by Bad Plus:

Posted by: omni | May 8, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

For those who think watching paint dry is just a little too titillating...

Posted by: martooni | May 8, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

To add to yello's list:
39. Allentown-Bethlehem PA has Lehigh Univ.

I spent a good week there about 20 years ago. Very nice,leafy campus.

Ottawa would make good in that list today. Temperature in the low 70's, women in summer clothes and the place is crawling with tourists taking pictures of tulip beds.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | May 8, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

New kit.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 8, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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