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Tectonic Forces Speeding Up

I think I was just in Denver, but it was one of those very short trips where you can't be completely sure. I'm home now. I think it's Thursday. Yesterday I gave a talk to some nice folks who raise money for the University of Denver library. We were at the country club where Arnie drove the first hole for an eagle on his way to win the U.S. Open. You remember that one. Cherry Hills. My speech went fine but I could never get my slice under control. Lots of scrambling from the bunkers. Made some nifty up and downs for par. Onward.

Later did a hike at the Flatirons, which are getting taller every year, the trail steeper. The tectonic forces of the Rockies are out of control. The upward thrusting is unrelenting. I've hiked the same trail for many years, and now have abundant data on the geology of the Front Range. Mountains require contemplation of how the world changes in time and space. What I see is a lot of erosion. I see faults. The angle of repose just isn't what it used to be. I'm pretty sure it has gotten more acute.

But possibly obtuse, also.

I had just enough time to see my brother at his new pad in Longmont. He's gradually moving north along the Front Range. Those of you who have read previous reports about my brother will be shocked to hear that he had the grill fired up and was camped on the couch, smoking a stogie, drinking a beer and watching sports. Of course there were beans on the stove. He changes about as much as Long's Peak, which he can see from his deck (make sure you've read Von Drehle's story about his hike to the top to scatter his mother-in-law's ashes).

Bill the Elk Hunter was on hand, too. I was hoping the beans on the stove were the Elk Beans of legend. They weren't, but they were delicious, because Bill had brought some killer spices from the Santa Cruz Chili and Spice Co. of Tumacacori, Ariz. We agreed that I had to mention them in the blog:

Guajillo Powder.

Annatto Seed (ground).

The big news is that Kevin played a gig Sunday night at a club in Boulder. He backed up a singer named Carmen Dickerson. He's out of deep, deep retirement. It was his first live gig since Rox Diamond ruled the world in the early 90s.

"I'm back in the game," he says.

The only tricky part was when a highly attractive woman stood right in front of him, making unusual hand gestures as he was performing. It looked like she was doing a pantomime of his guitar licks. What should he do? Clearly some kind of response or acknowledgement was called for. So he did the only thing that came to mind: He offered her a pick. She declined with a violent shaking of her head. She wanted something else! But what? He couldn't read her.

His fingers knew what to do on stage, but he'd lost the ability to handle the guitar-hero intangibles of a live performance. What if human gestures had changed during his retirement? What if this was a whole new nonverbal language that had swept the clubs while he'd been watching sports?

Nothing stays the same in life, despite our best efforts. We live on slippery slopes. The important thing is to keep going upward as long as possible. And don't look back.

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 3, 2007; 10:19 AM ET
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Next: The Republicans: Who Are Those Guys?


Or whatever.

The ground annatto seed will be useful if you own the DVD of "Once Upon A Time In Mexico". One of the extras is a great recipe for puerco pibil, Depp's character's favourite food.

Posted by: byoolin | May 3, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I, like, feel your pain, regarding the ever increasing grade of those mountain trails. I have some old weights that are much heavier than they were in my youth.

And the yard is getting larger each time I mow it.

Also - is "stoge" a hipster term for "stogie"?

I like to get down with all the new street slang.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The last time an attractive woman made unusual hand gestures around me it was because I had accidentally cut her off in traffic.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I called it. Joel WAS visiting the Achenbro. And manfood was served.

Speaking of obtuse, Achenbro should be a little better at translating groupie. She probably was a member of the local chapter of the plaster casters wanting to memorialize Achenbro's return to form as a Rock Legend.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 3, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

My geography teacher in HS -- back before History, Civics, and geo morphed into S.S. -- taught us about tectonics and earthquakes by singing the Carole King classic:

Cue: Intro of jumpy-bass line piano:
"I feel the earth move under my feet"

I also at least twice awoke in a cold sweat about living on the Pacific Rim of Fire. I dreamt of earthquakes, Tsunamis, and that LA and SF would collide or be lifted up six feet....give me the blizzards of MT and the Alberta Clipper any rattlesnakes.

Rattlesnakes are a kind of exotic manfood. Double Kit-connect! 1000 pts points, in the manner of Drew Carey. PS: I like his 50s-pointy-NASA-Buddy Holley specs.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 3, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

The recent earthquake that sent the tsunami into the Solomon islands raised one of the islands in the vicinity 10 feet above its previous elevation.

Stoge would be an aceptable spelling for many of my students hat know what is but can't conjure up the correct spelling. Familiarity breeds contempt for spelling...they smoke 'em all the time.

Posted by: jack | May 3, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

After much googling I found this on

For anybody interested in reading 'Sandkings'. It's only 10.88 plus shipping. I just ordered a copy. Looking forward to reading that gem a third time.

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

RD, maybe it's the German spelling of stogie?

There once was a god named Loge
Whose reputation was once rogue-y
But now that he is old
His tricks are much less bold
Such as in the office smoking his stoge

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 3, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

That should read-after much googling searching for a free online copy I gave up and went to

Must go for walk now...

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

The German spelling of 'stogie' would be miles long and translate back to "a slang word for cigar derived from the Conestoga wagon of the American West".

(Which, incidentally, Google translate says comes out as "ein Jargonwort für Zigarre leitete vom Conestoga Lastwagen des amerikanischen Westens ab".)

Posted by: byoolin | May 3, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

RIP to Wally Shirra, 84, third American to orbit the earth (5th Mercury flight), and the only original Mercury astronaut to fly in all three Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. (Of the Mercury group, only Glenn and Scott Carpenter are now still alive.) Shirra was a Navy man, Annapolis grad--and a sailboater. Flew 90 missions in Korea, shot down one MiG and maybe a second. A hero in every way.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

RIP Wally.

Posted by: dr | May 3, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

according to the urban dictionary-stoge is slang for cigarette

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I use "stoge" often but looking at the dictionary I guess that can be applied to cigarettes instead of cigars. So I changed it to stogie.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 3, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, I am so laughing at that comment you made in the last kit. Doctors doing things to you that require a wedding ring. Same thing here, and this morning was the worst. It felt like the equipment the technician was using this morning was trying to get inside me without breaking the skin. This young person when she finished, got her supervisor, and she tried to do the same thing. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper, and both of them were smiling back. Teeth everywhere.

Have to get ready for the center, and I have the math and reading program, then missionary meeting. And I am so sleepy.

dr, you had me laughing too. I hope the test results don't show anything. I am really tired of these folks. I need a break here. Have to see my regular doctor this month too. I am hoping to get back to walking. The police captain says we need to walk in groups of two's, not walk alone, and that threw me off my walk. Don't want to get knucked in the head just to get a bit of exercise. Gee, that would defeat the purpose. The thing for me is that I can't hear people coming up behind me because of all the traffic noise. I want to learn how to swim, that's what I would really love to do.

Is anyone here going to see the Queen? I like the movie with Helen Mirren(sp). I think the movie is a bit more lively than the real thing?

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 3, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

This crowdsourcing of the editing process is harsh. Hal The Butcher must be gentle in comparison.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 3, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Coming in from the yard...

You pay attention to Novak? It was an awful column, the way he tried to link the two--Romney and the Massacre, I agree (just like I agree with you, Mudge,about the NBC decision about Cho). The start of McCullough's book about Truman--to my great surprise when I was perusing it several months ago--talks about the early persecution of the Mormons in Missouri.

You want me to weigh in on the Burns brouhaha? (Expect some disagreement--reasons to come.) I will perhaps late tonight, but much on MY plate today--including fun stuff while Loomispouse is away, Away, AWAY such as stopping by three bookstores this afternoon or this evening!

And you want to stand corrected, SoC? It wasn't that the Navajos used substitutions or code words, but the way their language sounded and couldn't be figured out by almost everyone, that the number of Native Dineh speakers was small and confined to a limited geographic area, and there were no published Navajo dictionaries or pronunciation guides. To find a source(s) to back me up will take some time, and the book I read about the code talkers (and which fascinated me) in the early 90s is back home in the Tracy, Calif. library! Of course, don't know if I want to be a reference librarian. However, if I see something about the code talkers at another (not our local neighborhood) store in our city's chain of used bookstores, that's a another matter.

I wonder how the El Paso Chili Company compares to that Arizona outfit? Where in the heck is Tumacori? What IS a Tumacori, by the way, besides a mission? I know you're not supposed to do promos here, but I'm not the one who started it. *l*

Santa Cruz (Tumacori) chili genetics--everyone's getting into the act it seems!

Posted by: Loomis | May 3, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Check out this month's Astronomy magazine- possible tectonic activity on Saturn's moon Titan. Wow.

Posted by: Gomer | May 3, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

This will wear out my pockets a heck of a lot faster than $13 bucks in loonies and toonies will.

Posted by: byoolin | May 3, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

*struggling with office-level tetonic forces*

*weak waving*


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 3, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

You all do know that the Navajo Code Talker's dictionary has been declassified right:

And an excerpt from another faq:

When a Navajo code talker received a message, what he heard was a string of seemingly unrelated Navajo words. The code talker first had to translate each Navajo word into its English equivalent. Then he used only the first letter of the English equivalent in spelling an English word. Thus, the Navajo words "wol-la-chee" (ant), "be-la-sana" (apple) and "tse-nill" (axe) all stood for the letter "a." One way to say the word "Navy" in Navajo code would be "tsah (needle) wol-la-chee (ant) ah-keh-di- glini (victor) tsah-ah-dzoh (yucca)."

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

SN -- I can't resist, but do your office forces resemble or arise from the Teton Mountains in Colorado? You do connect-to-kit, doubly in a punning way.

Sorry that you are not experiencing the Carole King tectonic forces, as it the earth gives way and everyone is willing....But that only happens at the office in the movies.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 3, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, are you sure it isn't just gas?

Posted by: Raysmom | May 3, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Additioinally it has been said by a number of high ranking military officers that the United States would never have won the Battle of Iwo Jima without the secrecy afforded by the code talkers.

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

That's OK, Loomis. You can disagree with me. I can take it.

SofC, Loomis is right about the Navaho codetalkers, BTW. You are right about the substitution question--but you have to have something to insert into the original, and as Loomis points out, they had nothing to use as the primary code--it was phonetic gibberish to them. And even if they transliterated it into some sort of syllables, they still had nothing to work with. That was the beauty of it.

The other thing to realize is that codebreaking is vastly labor-intensive and time-consuming. You raise the example of Joe Rochefort and his boys laying the trap with the Midway "AQ" chypher. That's true--but it tooks weeks to accomplish and his team spent months building a database of small pieces of the Japanese code--and in the end they only had about 10 percent of it, which happened to be just enough. In the case of the Navaho Codetalkers, they were using it in real-time communications "in the field," and it would have been impossible to use real-time codebreakers on the Japanese side to eavesdrop on radio transmissions and figure out in a useful time period what was being said. Very often they were saying things like "Shift your naval gunfire to target XYZ in Grid ABC" or "send reinforcements NOW to the left flank," etc. So even if the Japanese had been able to break that traffic even in an hour or two, it wouldn't have done them any good.

On the larger question, though, you are quite right: the role of the Codetalkers has been somewhat overrated. They were used only in a few battles toward the end of the war. That isn't to say they weren't incredibly brave and very useful--they were. But their utility has been a bit glorified beyond what it probably deserves. Anyway, everybody knows John Wayne won the war in the Pacific, not Adam Beach.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

That coin is something like twelve inches (37 centimeters) across and weighs about 64 pounds (31 kilograms) so even if you could get it into your pocket I think it would hit the ground a few seconds later.

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Translate the code I gave for my handle yields:


The code could have been such that the last letter is used, or the second, or the second to last, or...omni itself could be a code...could mean everything...could mean anything...

Is this giving anyone a headache...I'm off for another walk...its really nice out right now.

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

omni, the 37kg coin is the Austrian 100 000 euro coin. The Canadian $1 000 000 weighs in at 100kg (220lbs) or approx 3220 tr. oz. It's not pocket change.
5 of them are already sold, as vanity piece probably. Some people have too much money
Canada's new slogan: our balls and coins are bigger.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | May 3, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

> Tumacori, Ariz

Tumacacori, that is. A nice if somewhat touristy stop on I-19 about half-way between Tucson and Nogales. If you're nostalgic for the Cold War, check out the Titan Missile Museum on the way.

Posted by: Former Tucsonite | May 3, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

A darn shame about Schirra, RIP indeed. He had courage and was a hell of a pilot, no question about it.

Caught up on the "Sandkings" thread from the previous Boodle. That story was the best I'd *ever* read in a magazine to that time, and clearly put Omni on the map as more than just something Bob Guccione was spending some extra money on...

George RR Martin's "The Way of Cross and Dragon" in Omni a couple of years later was a very nice piece of work as well.

I think Kool Kev should have smashed his guitar to bits in front of MiLady at the end of a set, and offered her his neck.


Posted by: bc | May 3, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse


Ye Gods, I feel better!

*faxin' yellow roses to Raysmom*


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 3, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

And of course, RIP Wally.


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 3, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

We used to call cigars, Old Fogie Stogies.

RD, your 11:42 post made me spit out my drink....Thanks

Everything is Very *Green* around here, a nice change from the Gray

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 3, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

My mistake SD, I sit corrected. I blame it on all this code talk...yeah, that's it.

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I'm glad you're back from the hospital in one piece.


Posted by: bc | May 3, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I would like to announce the bleeding obvious in the metro DC area: pollen worms have commenced their dance.

In addition to the fine green dust of nuclear-power pollen silted on to all outdoor surfaces, you may now track in tree catkins caked in pollen, delivering these particles of doom on your shoes and doggy fur, to innocent victims inside.

Scotty: Beam me up. Take progeny and small dog with. Thanks.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 3, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

The mention of those spices reminds me of a strange and confused period in my life when I believed that I could cook. In order to facilitate this delusion I purchased a number of fairly expensive spices. (This is like a colorblind person purchasing an expensive set of pastels.) I created many culinary abominations with those spices. I sought to be the Fellini of flavors, but I ended up being Alan Smithee.

Perhaps if I had scored some of the primo Guajillo Powder that Joel mentioned it would have made all the difference.

But who am I kidding. I could never figure how to cook with something like that.

Heck, I can't even pronounce it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I second that, CP. A pox on the pollen. Yuck to the yellow stuff. Feh on the flower dust. Boo to the bee bacon.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 3, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

omni, it's a nice day for a walk here too--I just got back. Sky report: blue with towering thunderheads that nevertheless do not seem threatening. They are sculptural, like stalagmites, thick on the bottom and more decorative at the higher altitudes.

My route took me along the golf course, not a lot of golfing in evidence there but lots of wildlife--land crabs, ducks, egrets, and a stork that I saw for the first time earlier this week, that is kind of a thrill.

Thank goodness for golf; sometimes I think it's the only reason that every square inch of Palm Beach County isn't covered with concrete.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 3, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Omni, at the school I used to work at, the entire middle school did a three-day project on WWII--set up a USO joint, had a ration book system and ration coupons to buy Hershey Bars, hot dogs and Coke in the smaller authentic real-glass bottles, etc. There were lots of specific classes, such as Women in WWII, etc., and I used that link you gave to teach a class on the Codetalkers, and we used that code to create and decode messages that were passed around. (In another class I taught them a simple substitution cypher system, and used the authentic code message that authorized the shooting down of Yamamoto as the final test question, which they were supposed to "break." [They all did fine.])

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the Tectonic Forces of Time. As I mentioned some days ago, I recently tore down our old swingset. Last night my daughter asked me why. I told her that it was because the swingset had become too old and rickety. Besides, I reminded her, she had gotten so big that she never played with it anymore.

She paused, and a look of sadness came over her face for just a moment. I think it was the first time in her life that she really comprehended that time is a one-way street.

It's a tough lesson to get down. I'm still struggling with it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Tumacacori it is. Thank you.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 3, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

BTW yellojkt; "She probably was a member of the local chapter of the plaster casters wanting to memorialize Achenbro's return to form as a Rock Legend."

Nice puns, and funny. I think Plaster Casters is a proper name for grope, er, *group* now, isn't it?
Like New York Yankees.


Posted by: bc | May 3, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I managed to climb the Flatirons easily enough in 1973, but was excruciatingly sore for about 3 days thereafter.

In much of Wyoming, the mountains have emerged through a process of general uplift that allows the softer stuff to wash down the Missouri, leaving the complex old structures with harder rock to emerge. As a result, the Big Horn River wanders aimlessly through a mountain range, as does the Shoshone. The Tetons, by contrast, are caused by a very busy fault.

The town of Mount Angel, Oregon, is at a hill by that name. It turns out to be sort of a baby Teton--it's a hill because a fault is raising it. So the Benedictine monastary on top is presumably rising toward heaven.

Mount Angel is the opposite of Florida's sinkholes, where voids in the limestone cause collapses. One of these inverted hills in Gainesville is called the Devil's Millhopper. Little waterfalls emerge from the walls, with the water disappearing into some kind of hole at the bottom. The whole thing's full of trees and ferns.

BTW, the rather odd-looking old Colonial red-brick buildings at Penn State tend to be cheapened-down versions of the stone Italian Village buildings at the University of Colorado.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | May 3, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

One day long ago, before the arrival of the boodle I was experiencing a slow day and decide to work on my VBasic skills. I wrote an encryption program that utilizes a random number generator, a key code, and a password. You could pass the same text through encryption twice and the encrypted output would be completely different. Send those same two outputs through decryption with the key code and password and both results would be your original text. I showed it to a colleague who said there must be some kind of trick to it.

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I hadn't known about the Code-Talkers using a word-for-letter substitution code. When, exactly, was all this declassified? I wonder if gradual declassification accounts for the conflicting stories I have heard about how the Code Talkers did their job.

I remember an article about the Code-Talkers that I read in Smithsonian magazine about 10 years ago. The surviving code talkers that they interviewed, in that case, did not mention spelling out English words. They described using simple substitutions of Navajo words for somewhat similar military concepts, such as "bird" for "bomber" and "eggs" for "bombs." What they mentioned in this article was that the Code Talkers substantially elaborated upon the substitution code by using jokes and puns and references-to-references-to the original substitution code. Thus, even a captured code talker, if he held out against interrogation for a relatively short time, could take comfort that he would no longer understand the code by the time he might crack. Similar to one of us saying "SCC: BOoO" (note: I have never formally used the phrasing "SCC:". A little factoid for the historical record.).

I think there's a lot of interest in the code talkers because
(1) It's a great story, without any other facts introduced.
(2) It's a great irony, that ordinary human communication can be impenetrable if done right.
(3) It's a great example of choosing the right tool for a job.
(4) It shames us (nothing great about that). We treated/treat the Navajo and other Native Americans/American Indians like garbage. Maybe worse than garbage, because our policies were pretty darned genocidal for a long time. We've gotten all the way up to benign indifference most of the time, now. Yet these guys served the military of the whole nation with honor, distinction, and bravery. We give them credit, because they made a contribution far in excess of their tiny fraction of the population.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | May 3, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I should note that the encrypted text is just a string of random binary numbers. It's not even a text file. I think I just raised my geek score on the boodle a few more points...

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I believe de-classification occurred around 1968, just after the codetalkers were phased out of the Vietnam War.

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse


I've been from Tuscon to Tucomcari
Tehachape to Tonahpa
I've driven every kind of rig that's ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn't get weighed

And if you give me...
Weed, whites and wine
And you show me a sign
Then I'll be willin'
To keep on movin'

Little Feat "Willin"

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 3, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Also, it wasn't always word for letter, for instance: the code for Marine Corps was the Navajo word for clan (DIN-NEH-IH).

Posted by: omni | May 3, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Navajo is an heavily inflected language with tonal grammar, which is almost totally unique. So, they wouldn't have been getting "Din-ne-ih" the same way every time. Japanese fluent in Chinese trying to decipher this would have been surmising those tonal inflections would be entirely different words altogether, since tone in Chinese marks not grammar, but meaning.

Without a Navajo grammar, they would have had to crack the language's structure which is pretty distinct-- on the fly while trying to decipher what was being said-- without a Rosetta stone.

Once they did have a Navajo grammar, it'd be easier, but still challenging if they lacked any fluent speakers or semi-fluent speakers of Navajo.

It's nice to have a cornerstone story that reflect the military service and use of American Indians in WWII, that also ties in to their unique heritage and language that they hadn't abandoned completely.

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

From Froomkin's column:

"Time magazine is out with its list of the 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world. Osama bin Laden, Queen Elizabeth, Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake are on the list. Bush isn't."

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

Oops. 3:18 was moi.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Tom Wolfe, writing about Wally Schirra:

Wally was quite popular. He was a stocky fellow with a big wide open face who was given to pranks, cosmic winks, fast cars, and all other ways of "maintaining an even strain," to use a Schirraism. He was a practical joker of the amiable sort. He would call up and say, "hey, you gotta come over here! You'll never guess what I caught in the woods...A mongoose! I'm not kidding--a mongoose! You gotta see this thing!" And it would sound so incredible, you'd go over and take a look. Up on a table Wally would have a box that looked as if it had been converted into a cage, and he'd say: "Here, I'll open the top a little, so you can see him. But don't put your hand in, because he'll take it off for you. This baby is vicious." You'd lean down to take a look and--bango!--the lid flies open and this huge gray steak springs toward your fact--and, well, my God, veteran aviators would recoil in terror, dive for the deck-and only then realize that the gray streak was some sort of foxtail rig and the whole thing was a jack-in-the-box, Schirra-style. It was a broad joke, strictly speaking, but the delight Wally took in such things came in a wave, a wave so big that it swept you along in spite of yourself. A smile about a foot wide would spread over his face and his cheekbones would well up into a pair of cherub bellies, St. Nicholas-style, and an incredible rocking-druid laugh would come shaking and rumbling up from his rib cage, and he'd say: "Gotcha!" Schirra's "gotchas" were famous. Wally was one of those people who didn't mind showing their emotions, happiness, rage, frustration, whatever. But in the air he was as cool as they made them. His father had been an ace in the First World War, shooting down five German planes, and both his father and his mother had done barnstorm stunt flying after the war. For all his cutting up, Wally was absolutely serious about his career.

The Right Stuff, p. 64

Posted by: kbertocci | May 3, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Well, of course Bush isn't on the list. Osama bin Laden is writing the story. Bush is just a character in bin Laden's story. Osama is evil, but there's certainly no doubt that he is significant and that he is transforming the world.

Tina Fey, sure. Real respect for a woman for being smart and funny and talented and creative, even though she also commits the sin of being attractive, which is supposed to disqualify her from having the other traits, right? That's a definite step forward.

Heck, for my money, I'd go so far as to say "enormously attractive." But too young for me.

Queen Elizabeth? Maybe, for her past display of character, more than anything she's doing now -- unless you accept the conclusions of Lyndon LaRouche, in which case her international drug dealings are of vast importance.

Justin Timberlake? Really? I thought the emerging consensus was merely that he isn't as worthless as his background might have led us to believe. Not that I, personally, have ever heard him sing a single word. I'm not sure that I've ever heard him speak a single word. I'm not sure that he's not a Disney Animatronic.

Posted by: Tim | May 3, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, y'all have been busy. It has taken me a whole day just to catch up. I'm sorry I missed Mo. Glad Cassandra's tests went okay or are at least over. Pleased for Martooni. But there is no answer to the most important question raised by the Kit: what DID that woman want of Joel's brother??? Surely he took some steps to find out.

The Code Talkers question has been well answered here; I will add two comments (I have lots of books on the Code Talkers and the Navajo in general). First, they actually participated in battles throughout the last couple of years of the war. Second, they had a real hard time in the Pacific theater. Because there are so few Navajo, comparatively speaking, and because so few people knew about the program, Code talkers were often mistaken for enemy soldiers who spoke English really well. While the confusion was always worked out, there were some awkward hours.

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

I too have noticed the acceleration of tectonic forces. This is true when we go hiking in Colorado each summer. It is also, less understandably, true of the relatively flat expanse we optimistically call a yard and garden. One would not have thought that geological change would rear its head here, but it seems to take more effort to do simple caretaking yard work than it did just a few years ago. Ah, the mysteries of Nature, the primacy of Science.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 3, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

At the time of WWII, the Navajo language was basically unwritten--so possession of a theoretical book of grammar didn't exist. And it was said only about 30 people in the world (and none obviously in or close to Japan) even understood Navajo, outside of the Navajos themselves. So it was virtually a closed, sealed system--that was one of its advantages.

FYI, 14 Choctaw Indians were used as codetalkers with the AEF in France during WWI. They generally used written communications, which, even if intercepted, were impentrable. They did speak on field telephones, but these necessarily depending on wires (not thransmission through air), which were often cut or broken by artillery fire. So runners carrying written messages were more common. The Choctaws were discovered "by accident" by their CO, who happened to overhear two of his men talking in their native language. He got the bright idea, and did a quick survey, discovering he had 8 Choctaws in his unit. They were quickly formed into the code unit, but this happened in October, 1918, with only one more month in the war, so they got limited use. But the idea was born then. See

In WWII, in addition to Navajos, Hopi, Choctaw, Comanche, Kiowa, Winnebago, Seminole, and Cherokee Indians were also used as codetalkers. 17 Commanches went into the Army Signal Corps (its own separate unit). They had a word for airplane, but not for "bomber," so they used "pregnant airplane" as the code word for bomber. And since they had no way to say "Adolph Hitler," they used the phrase, "crazy white man." Pretty hard to argue with that logic.

This entire field (other than the Navajos) has been totally ignored by historians, and is crying out for somebody to do some basic research in primary sources. And they damn well better hurry up, because these guys are dying off rapidly.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Also: Chippewa/Oneida, Menominee, Sac and Fox, Sioux, Crow, Mississauga, and Cree Indians.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I wrote:
"It wasn't that the Navajos used substitutions or code words..."

Bit of haste on my part. What I meant to say (and know better) is: "The linguistic importance of the issue isn't so much that the Navajos used substitutions or code words (which they did)...but--the other reasons I gave. And "crucial" may have been a bit strong as an adjective.

omni and Wilbrod to the rescue!

Remember, the teachers at the missionary schools that many Navajos attended, often under duress and unwillingly, tried very hard and used some despicable techniques to apply great pressure on the Navajo to up their native language AND customs. Now that source I strongly believe is in my own home library.

Another big error: I laid down with the book I acquired Monday about the Smithsonian as well as Doug Richardson's Plantagenet ancestry last night. Suffice it to say, Hotspur is one of my antecedents. This genealogy stuff is work -- like unraveling a tangled ball of cooked spaghetti!

Now off for the fun part of the day!

Posted by: Loomis | May 3, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, exactly. The complete impenetrability of Navajo at that time is perhaps why the Navajo aspect has captured imaginations. Ironically, Navajo is one of the fast-growing American Indian language in terms of speakers, thanks to Tony Hillerman. Hillerman wrote that he chose to focus on the Navajo because in his research, he was impressed that the Navajo language (likely because of its particular structure) refused English loanwords and made up their own words for such items as "carbonteur" or however the heck you spell that car whachamacallit.

I was aware other Indian languages were used, but not the details you narrated. Thank you.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 3, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

De nada, Wilbrod. And as ivansmom says (I love this), "viya con queso."

Two other rather fascinating (well, to me) factoids: Hitler was aware of the use of Indian codetalkers in WWI (perhaps from being a courrier/runner himself) and prior to U.S. entry into WWII anticipated use of Indians. So he sent some German linguists to America to try to learn some Indian languages, but there were too many of them and too little time, and too much complexity, so the effort failed. However, the U.S. was aware of this, and therefore didn't use codetalkers much or at all in Europe.

The Japanese, on the other hand, captured an American Navajo early in the war, and tortured him into helping them break the code. But this man himself was not a trained codetalker, so even though he was able to decypher some words, he didn't know the code equivalent. So when he told the Japanese he couldn't figure out the code (because it was just a random collection of words as far as he could tell), they just tortured him some more. (I don't know what happened to him, though).

(For anybody interested in codes, two of my all-time favorite books are Barbara Tuchman's terrific "The Zimmerman Telegram" about the famous code fracas in WWI about Germany urging Mexico to attack the U.S. and reclaim Calif, New Mexico, Ariz., and Texas, etc., and "Room 40: British Naval Intelligence, 1914-1918," by the late Patrick Beesly, about one of my heroes, Brit. Adm. "Blinker" Hall, whose code team broke the Zimmerman Telegram. (When I was doing some long-distance research a decade ago, I hired a woman in England who was a professional researcher in Brit. naval archives, who very proudly informed me that she was also Beesly's researcher. And she turned up for me a key top secret telegram from Jackie Fisher to Winston Churchill that is central to my book project, and so far as I'm aware was never seen before. It had very far-reaching consequences.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"(Which, incidentally, Google translate says comes out as "ein Jargonwort für Zigarre leitete vom Conestoga Lastwagen des amerikanischen Westens ab".)"

My, that is long.

Posted by: oh the humanity | May 3, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Interesting points on Codetalkers.

First and foremost, I don't mean to denigrate the Navajo contribution. I just take exception to statements that any given battle such as Iwo Jima was somehow unwinnable without the Codetalkers. What drove me to comment on this point was a disagreement with the phenomenon as seen with this Burns documentary that any discussion of the war effort is incomplete without specifically mentioning the contribution of ethnic group X.

We should be able to laud the sacrifices made during the Allied war effort without having to parcel out thanks to every ethnic group. I'm aware of the irony that a few days ago I was adorned in faux-umbrage over Canada not being mentioned by Obama.

On the specifics, I wasn't aware that the Codetalkers' coding used words in the manner as cited by omni, so I found that very interesting.

I disagree, however, that just because the pronunciation is difficult that the code would be "unbreakable". All substitution codes are fairly easily decoded by professionals given some time and effort. The fact that they are coded, even on a basic level, means that unless an opposing interceptor has a code book immediately at hand, any intelligence that could have been gained is useless by the time it could be decoded.

One unique aspect about Navajos, or anyone else using an obscure language, is that they don't have to carry around a code book, so that's one true advantage. An associated disadvantage is that if your signaler is incapacitated he can't just hand over his temporary code book - you would be forced to send your message "in clear".

Here's an example of a substitution code. A simple code used for numbers transmitted on patrols is "Black Horse". Prior to a patrol, the patrol leader assigns the temporary code eg Black Horse 1. This is a ready to use code book which then assigns each of the letters of "Black Horse" to numerals 1 to 0. Black Horse 1 means that you assign 1=B, 2=L and so on for communications usually referring to map grid references.

For all intents and purposes, this code is also effectively "unbreakable" or at least unusable by anyone intercepting it on a local level.

So I say: hats off to the Navajos, and everyone else that contributed to the Allied war effort.

My recommendation for further reading is Keegan's Intelligence in War. Factoid: because of the Enigma decryption, the Brits knew not only that basic time and objectives of Operation Mercury (the German assault on Crete) but also the landing zones.

Posted by: SonofCarl | May 3, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Everybody straighten up their cubbies and look sharp--the Queen's here! Maybe she'll show up tomorrow at the Montpelier Wine Festival! I wonder if she can stick around for the BPH next week?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Do any of you Canuckistanis know if I should run into the Queen whether I'm supposed to address her as "Ma'am" or "Mum"? Or "Mrs. Q," or what? I'm guessing my beloved, tried-and-true handshake buzzer would be in poor taste. How do I look? Do I have any dandruff on my collar? Oh, I'm all in such a tizzy! (So says the Post, anyway.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, it is either "Your Majesty" or "Ma'am."

Save the "Hey Liz" until she's been loosened up with a few G&T's

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

What if she puts her hand on my knee? (I'm irresistable to women, you know.) Or tries to give me a noogie?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | May 3, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Then just say Americans aren't allowed to salute Her Majesty in THAT way.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 3, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I think the time-honored response is, "Close your eyes and think of England."

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 3, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the Ken Burns Controversy.

Each week I send an email to my family back west on some particular topic such as my son, my job, or this annoying recurring rash. Although the narrow scope of any individual missive might cause umbrage, when looked at collectively I believe that a fairly complete description of my life emerges.

I assert that the same thinking should apply to the issue of this documentary. Ken Burns has chosen not to include all possible stories for the same reason that I choose not to cover all relevant topics in my weekly letter - to do so would reduce both to little more than a dreary Christmas letter.

This is not the last documentary on WWII that will be produced. If worthy stories remain untold, then I am sure that there are people, including, perhaps, Ken Burns, who would be eager to tell them. But to pick on this particular documentary is unfair and, I suspect, counterproductive.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey - did anyone read Liz Kelly's chat?

This good Irish lass has some serious Queen issues.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Cryptology or cryptography?

I read somewhere that during WWII various university libraries had their obscure and limited copies of books about various Indian languages quietly removed. I think in "Crypto" by Steven Levy.

I just noticed Wikipedia has an interesting-looking entry on cryptology.

Posted by: Jumper | May 3, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Mr. F puts most of the "I love me" stuff he accumulates through work in a box. As a Signal type he has chosen to display just one gift at Chez Frostbitten North. It is a lovely wool trade blanket with Choctaw code talker symbols.

I'm surprised PETA et al haven't jumped on Burns for leaving out the contribution of animals to the war effort, most notably dogs and pigeons (Though I'll give him a pass on the birds, they were primarily Australian and British in WWII with many pressed into service in Papua and New Guinea. Pressed might be too strong a word. Courageous and social as they are, they probably volunteered.)

Posted by: frostbitten | May 3, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of cryptic, I know Kevin is not incapable of interpreting the usual normal female gestures of one sort or another. From the description Joel has given, this sounds odd. It's a puzzle.

Posted by: Jumper | May 3, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the woman had some hearing loss and just wanted to feel the music by doing the guitar licks, to rekindle muscle/auditory memory. Just groovin' to the beat.

He should have tossed her his underwear, OF course.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 3, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

This just in through official channels:

"The Director of the Army Staff (DAS) recently sent a message requesting widest dissemination. In the message, the DAS stated that in recognition of the fact that Army Families are a key component of readiness, and shoulder a great burden of sacrifice, supporting their Soldier and often enduring long periods of separation from their loved ones, effective immediately, the word "Families" will be capitalized in all Army correspondence."

I cannot speak for every Army Family member, but I'm thinking being honored with capitalization is like the time Woody gets a title instead of a raise on Cheers.

Posted by: frostbitten | May 3, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, as a former Navy wife, I will say that you are exactly right. After 28 years I got a CERTIFICATE when my husband retired, saying a wife was more valuable than rubies and all that sort of thing. I couldn't believe someone -- anyone -- really thought women were dumb enough to think that was a proper commendation.

Posted by: nellie | May 3, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

If you stayed married for most of those 28 years, you need something concrete-- and valuable. But maybe not an golden or ivory-inlaid pistol, because hello retired military husband... not good news.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 3, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Achenbro has a new place? Is it still a Guy Heaven? Or did he decide on a dining table? What about drapes?

"...a highly attractive woman stood right in front of him...." It seems to me this is generally where men begin to become confused. Shoot, you can take out 'highly' and 'attractive', and you'd still be at the trouble-spot.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 3, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, from what, (if I have the correct location),I saw the Queen will be mere few blocks from the BPH site on Tuesday (not sure of the timing though).

Posted by: dmd | May 3, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse


"begin to become confused"


BEGIN TO??? When did I ever stop????


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 3, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

We'll obviously have to raise at least a glass or three to HRH QEII come Tuesday evening...

And just let me say: This has been one of those weeks where I wish I drank.



Posted by: Scottynuke | May 3, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

No offense intended, martooni.


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 3, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Fax machine test: rhubarb sauce.

Takes the place of liquor, without the kicker.

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

OMG -- the queen is wearing lavender with reddish (rhubarb, actually) trim. She has a cranberry hat, with a purple wand-plume in it. Did she get the memo about women of a certain age decked out in red hats and purple dresses?

Remind me to never to follow that memo.

And, the WaPo home section features the lusciousness of lavender....
conspiracy theories are real.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 3, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Excellent substitution, CP...

But are you suggesting I should...

fax myself?????


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 3, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

CP the Queen has always had, shall we say an interesting manner of dress. Constant amusement in my household growing up.

Posted by: dmd | May 3, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

More catch up military reading-

The new Omar Bradley Professor of Strategic Leadership at the Army War College is Dr. Richard Kohn who was mentioned in a Dec. '06 McClatchy Washington Bureau piece entitled "Bush Living LBJ's Lesson."

"Kohn, the historian, said Bush's resilience in the face of stress is a striking contrast to previous presidents. While Bush's friends praise his steely resolve, Kohn sees it as stubborn rigidity and shallow thinking."

More here:

Posted by: frostbitten | May 3, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Here, so we can start staking out good spots.

Yes but one must admit that Her Majesty does pull the look off fairly well.

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

I must say it is ironic, the Royal family have visited Canada countless times in my lifetime and I have never been close, I go away and end up mere blocks from events!

Posted by: dmd | May 3, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Silly Scotty, I faxed you part of my precious pint of rhubarb sauce, because if you cannot lift a pint of the hard stuff after such a day, rhubarb is good.

RD -- The Queen is the Queen. But the rest of us will not go purple into that good night.

DMD -- I sorta thought the Queen was partly mine, living in MT, and hording as I did, Canadian dimes and pennies. And neighbors had Corgis who worked, like, well, dogs. Corgis can be quiet handy with cattle. I don't think the QE dogs round up cattle too often. Polo ponies, maybe. Cattle, not so much.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 3, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse


See how wiped out I am? I can't even read properly...

'Night all.

*slinking off to bed*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 3, 2007 7:55 PM | Report abuse

My little sister loves this poem:


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandlas, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

When I find myself wishing I drank... which has been 2 times in my life (sorry, Martooni)...
It's generally because my blood pressure is acting up, like it's constantly hitting a high note and I'm really tense, and hey, I hear alcohol is supposed to relax that?

There are other ways to relieve tensions other than rhubarb sauce, (or "the" sauce though.)

Like having fun for a change ;). I'm sure S'nuke can think of a few if he takes a deep, long breath, and steps away from the PC into the dead man's position.

Good night, all.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 3, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

BTW, you wonder if the headline writer was DYING for a piece like this....

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 3, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

OK, madly back-boodling for not more than 1 moment:

If you are somehow forced to address the Queen before she addresses you (as in, saying your name on presentation), protocol would have your address her as Your Majesty. So you walk up to within 5 feet (or whatever the protocol officer has instructed you is the optimal distance) of her royalness, bow (or curtsy) and, eyes still cast down, say, "Scottynuke, Your Majesty."

At which point she feigns interest with a question. "Mr. Nuke, I think you are a physicist?"

And then you switch to speaking-when-you-are-spoken-to mode and reply, "Yes, Ma'am." And then you back up and let the next victim take HM's interest.

And that is it. Sum total of your interaction with Her Magnificence.

I must say, though I am a republican Canadian, I appreciated dr's "respect" post the other day. HM in person is really wonderfully royal and she really has dedicated her life to her subjects and citizens. I liked her, when I was presented, as she kept a bunch of details about all 700 people at the gala in mind. She knew I worked with the homeless and with the arts, and her one comment, after I had been presented was, "I think you do your best to give back to your community. So do I." And I replied, "Yes, Ma'am."

So Your Majesty and then Ma'am. Easy!

Posted by: Yoki | May 3, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I am similar, I do not have anything against her personally, it is the whole "royalty" issue I have problems with, and for that matter nobility in general and elitism.

Posted by: dmd | May 3, 2007 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but one reason why I have a bit of a soft spot for The Royals is because of my British grandmother.

My grandmother was born in 1900, the same year as the Queen Mother. So a few months before my grandmother turned 92 I wrote to the QM's private secretary and cheekily asked if the QM might send my grandmother a card.

Indeed, the QM wrote out a very heartfelt short note in her own hand stating that there weren't too many 92 year old ladies around and that they needed to watch out for each other.

This made my grandmother so happy that she actually started to cry.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

RD that is lovely, I do not deny the Royal family do a lot of good, but it is their job. I am personally not comfortable with the inherited title(s).

Posted by: dmd | May 3, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, you have been misled. I am finding my way through the thicket of information about hypertension since my diagnosis, but I can tell you that drinking alcohol makes it much much worse (eventually), and then you feel sick and tired (I'm sick and tired of this!) for days afterward. No drinking is better than drinking. As though you needed another reason not to drink, if it disagrees with your constitution.

Posted by: Yoki | May 3, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey, RD, hope you kept that note!

I'm finally caught up on today's Boodle.

TBG and I entered the lottery for tickets to witness Her Majesty's walkabout this afternoon in Richmond but, alas, neither of us was chosen.

I was a little disappointed, but it's my husband's birthday so it's just as well that we didn't. A trip to Richmond wouldn't have been nearly as productive as planting 53 lamiums, mulching the bank around them, and putting topsoil in the one small area along the driveway that gets sun.

After moving almost all of three cubic yards of mulch and about 60 percent of a cubic yard of topsoil, I think I will sleep well tonight. I just hope I can move tomorrow.

I did take him out to dinner. I had tuna, he had ostrich and said it was very good.

Posted by: Slyness | May 3, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately Slyness, when my Grandmother passed away my Father got weird and tossed out nearly a century of history.

I do have the letter from the QM's private secretary informing me that the note would be sent, so that's something.

dmd - I agree in principle about the inherited titles. But to me, and this may just be an American perspective, it is such a cutely anachronistic tradition that I simply don't get too worked up over it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

If the British royalty really had some power, like the royalty in Saudi Arabia, and were some sort of impediment to democracy I would feel differently, of course. But I just find it all a charmingly eccentric tradition as befits a charmingly eccentric nation.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I can understand the RD, I get less worked up about royalty in other democracies as they don't have any impact our daily life in my country. The fact that she is head of state of Canada bothers me, but not that she is head of Britian.

Life has changed so much in my lifetime and a British monarch seems quite out of place where I live, although there is still a strong percentage of people who devotely follow the monarchy. I am very careful most of the time in my comments around my in-laws, but since I am generally outspoken I have let a few snide remarks out - its a good thing I have some redeming traits so they still love me.

Posted by: dmd | May 3, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

dmd, you have me chortling. I *so* don't think we need a Monarch. Not at all. But I do appreciate the fact that our Head of Government is separated from our Head of State (and Commander in Chief) (and her proxy). It allows us to say, "I dislike the current Prime Minister deeply, and I am not a traitor therefore." I think some republics could learn a thing or two about the difference between democratic criticism and sedition.

Posted by: Yoki | May 3, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

The Queen, like many of us, has family members that disapoint. She -- and they -- have no privacy. I am sad for them, regarding that.

I did not know that purple had a poem. I have received in the mail, through the wonder of marketing, women's catalogues devoted to all things of red hats and purpleness. And the Red Hat stuff ain't open source Linux software.

Glad that Friday is nearly here.

Posted by: College Parkian | May 3, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

dmd - I see your point. As an American it is all fun and games. As a Canadian, I can appreciate that you have a different perception.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 3, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Yoki: //"I think you do your best to give back to your community. . ."//

We don't tell you enough how glad we are you're part of our community, Yoki! How can we help you get this hypertension thing under control?

As a dog peep, did you see the story about the Jack Russell Terrier who protected his children from 2 raging pit bulls? I cried.

Posted by: dbG | May 3, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: dbG | May 3, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute Yoki, are you telling me because we have a monarch I am free to express my feelings about our current PM freely. LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!!

You are correct CP there is not enough money in the world for me to want to trade places with the Queen, it must be a very lonely isolating life, outside of family no one to relate to on equal terms.

Posted by: dmd | May 3, 2007 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Well there's always Loomis!

Posted by: dbG | May 3, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I posted before adding the :-).

Posted by: dbG | May 3, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

yes, dmd, there is a head of state. As one of the 15 Liberal Party members in southern Alberta, I can tell you (confidentially) that we all get together every first Thursday, go to an art gallery, drink wine, and *criticize* Canada's New Government TM. You should join us.

Long live the Queen!

Posted by: Yoki | May 3, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Red Hats and purple dresses abound. My sister-in-law is currently in Nashville at a Red Hat convention. I think all you need to become a member is the clothes.

Posted by: nellie | May 3, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

You already do, dbG. More than you know. All of you.

I am not at all surprised by the terrier story. I had a part-spaniel/ part-underachiever X-breed (the wonderful Tod) who never found his place in the world until we moved to Revelstoke in interior BC. And then his life purpose became clear. He was an excellent bear-dog. He could sense a bear in the backyard or the woods long before it manifested itself. And then he threw himself between me/us and the black bear, and barked his fool head off, and showed his teeth, and took up a 'big dog' stance, and generally told us to run into the house before the big adolescent bear hove over the bank. Tod was a good dog. He was a medium mutt, so I can see a terrier/terror dog being equally useful. And proud of it.

Posted by: Yoki | May 3, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

The Queen of course is going to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. I always have had a soft spot for her because she loves horses. The movie The Queen is out on DVD now - I thought it was fascinating, and really is a wonderful portrait of her, her family, and the times. Not always flattering, but in the end it's quite sympathetic towards her. I'll probably rent it this weekend. And remember, if you have to, er, use the facilities, say "loo" not "toilet"!

So there's a BPH next Tuesday? With dmd? Oh wait, I can't make it - dang! Don't forget the cameras...

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 3, 2007 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Otherwise, she might make her grandson break up with you!

Posted by: Yoki | May 3, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I just had this vision of dmd sitting at a BPH. How wonderful is that? Very.

Posted by: Yoki | May 3, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

My wife and I were at Ladew Topiary Gardens when a Red Hat Ladies group showed up and they were very hilarious to watch. I do believe that you have to be a certain age to belong. Women below the threshold can only be in the auxillary.

I'm convinced my mother is a red hat lady and just doesn't realize it.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 3, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Anybody watch the next president of the USofA the last hour and a half?

Posted by: bh | May 3, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I hope not!

I just read Chris Cillizza's quick take on it - may watch a bit if they rebroadcast it. Did you watch it, bh? What did you think?

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 3, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Biggest bunch of practiced sound bites ever. McCain was like a windup doll. Mitt was like a polilshed Hollywood performer. The other guys nobody knows and their positions don't mean much,

Posted by: bh | May 3, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

my mother does the red hat thing. dad accuses her of being in a cult. if you're under 50, you're an associate and wear lavendar instead of purple, iirc.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | May 3, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I had always thought the Red Hat ladies were some sort of urban legend until I witnessed one of their gatherings last week. The AA meeting I usually go to that night was moved to a semi-private dining room at a nearby Denny's because of a church function. Turned out that the local chapter of the Red Hat ladies had booked the room next to us.

Talk about a made-for-TV moment... A dozen drunks in one room talking about all the crazy things they've done over the years while 10 feet away is a room full of grandmothers with fripperies on their heads carrying on like they had a stripper in there. The best part was that they ended their meeting just before ours and had to walk through our area to reach the exit -- right at the time we were all holding hands and saying the Lord's Prayer. I don't know which group thought which was more insane.

Worlds collide. :-)

btw... references to booze and drinking don't bother me one bit, so no need to walk on eggshells. I actually find it interesting to hear/read/see how normal people handle the stuff (not that I'm accusing any of you of normalcy).

I'm one pooped hippie, so off to bed.

Peace, my friends...

Posted by: martooni | May 3, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I found the story... it happened in New Zealand. I've always liked the JRTs I've seen. They seem to be like labs boiled down. All the exuberance and motion of a 90 lb dog in 15 pounds or less. Wilbrodog loves them, too!

Since the kids were unhurt, it's not entirely clear if the pit bulls were in fact

1) pit bulls (i.e AmStaffs or American Bulldog or mix therefor)
2) going for the kids or the dog. The kids were convinced, though, the dogs were attacking them.

Nevertheless, it's a story to make one cry. Too many breeders and owners minimize aggression to dogs as an issue-- for big and small dogs alike. The fact is, dogs that will attack strange dogs may also attack children in similar circumstances.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 3, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Mostly I promise to fit gardening and horses into the conversation in your honour!

Posted by: dmd | May 3, 2007 11:08 PM | Report abuse

BTW, thanks for the tip on hypertension, Yoki. I figured something of the sort was true concerning alcohol, but what you get fed is this idea that alcohol is this sort of relaxant and destressor.

That reminds me of a funny story by a friend who is an ex-alcoholic. At a party they served punch and the young adults got the idea it was spiked (I think she fostered that idea). Pretty soon they were all acting silly, you know, loosened up, even staggering a bit.

They refused to believe her when she told them it was non-alcoholic punch. She said it was the funniest example of the placebo effect she'd ever seen.

Too bad she didn't ask them to bawk like chickens. :).

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 3, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Mentally ready but physically drained at this late hour to launch into Burns. Hasta manana.

Posted by: Loomis | May 3, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

The Queen's speech today in Richmond is a good one...

And YES! There will be another Canadian boodler sighting at M&S on K Street on Tuesday night. It seems that dmd will be traveling to our fair city and we're all in a tizzy over it.

BPH Details:

5:00 or so (dmd will probably be later)
McCormick & Schmick's
1652 K Street NW
Washington, D.C.

Sure would be nice to see everyone, including newcomers (always welcome!).

G'night all!

Posted by: TBG | May 3, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

BTW Mostly & Nellie. House Wren update report. You guys were correct the birds were house wrens. I skipped right over them in my field guide. They have always been around here and I always thought of them as some kind of sparrows and when I didn't see sparrow on the plate I skipped right over them. When you guys suggested house wrens I went to the index and sure enough there were perfect plates of both of the and female and male.
For two weeks they were perched on the top of our unbrella shaped crab apple tree right at eye level over the top of my monitor about 15 feet from the window. They checked out the site in the honeysuckle treslle just to the left of the window for a couple of weeks. You know to see what the neighbors were like. Did the roof leek, that kind of thing. Then the male started bringing in stiff 3 or 4 inch weed stems and sit on the apple tree top branches while the female stood by and approved before he flew into the honeysuckle to place them. I guess to start the foundation of the nest. Then after a week or so the both started bringing building materials. Then after a week of building a major disaster! Late one evening there was a home invasion by a pair of scrub jays. The poor house wrens hovered over the top of the honeysuckle vine like a pair of helicopters over a sinking ship until dark.
They were gone for about another week or so then the they showed up on the apple tree in my line of sight over the top of the monitor with the female with soft stuff in her beak and the male standing by while she flew in and out of the honeysuckle. They finally built the nest and have four eggs. The male stands by on top of the apple tree but the are two other male interlopers he has to defend aganist.

Posted by: bh | May 3, 2007 11:33 PM | Report abuse

bh, did you ever think you would be the "sidewalk supervisor" for a pair of wrens? Hope they can raise their babies in peace.

Posted by: nellie | May 3, 2007 11:39 PM | Report abuse

But... but... but Yoki, some of us know the difference between democratic criticism and sedition. Regrettably, the current administration and their apologists do not. Hopefully, the next administration can repair some of the damage, both nationally and internationally.

dbG - I felt so badly for George. It makes me cringe to picture the scene.
Did you happen to read the story in that link about the guy being superglued to his bike during a robbery, I think it was...? Geez, what will they think of next....?

mostlylurking...I'm with you...I hope we didn't see the next president in action this evening!

I wish I could make the BPH next week...hopefully I'll make the Montpelier wine festival, though...still not sure. I hope Scotty and Mudge can stand the suspense....

Posted by: Kim | May 3, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying to catch up with all of you! It's hard!

Last first - bh - aren't wrens wonderful? In the late '80s, early '90s we were in a house with wrens and they would sing incredible warbles to us all day. It was wonderful. What you really need, if yours are having troubles as you describe, is to find a middle schooler in shop ("Industrial Tech" - sorry) and have them make you a wren house. I had one from my nephew when we were in that house, and it really brings the wrens. I once watched a male and female chickadee trying out the wren house in early Spring. They landed on the perch and he said "here's a nice place!" He put his head in, but that was it - the rest of him wouldn't fit. Then she tried. And again - he tried, she tried. These are not large birds. Finally they gave up and wrens came - houses made especially for the very very small and melodious! If you're very lucky, you can have your wren house outside your bath, as I did, and they will sing to you while you bathe - what luxury!

Bunny update - all of our bunnies have graduated from the nest to adolescent/young adult housing. Yesterday evening my aggressive dog actually CAUGHT one of my baby bunnies before my eyes and caused it to yelp in that awful way baby bunnies do. My dog very shortly dropped it when I screamed at her and I put baby in the nest - physically unharmed. After the BAD DOG was put inside I checked the nest - baby gone. Dogs have been on leash all day and are extremely mortified. Aggressive dog won't even eliminate - too embarrassed, I think.

I'm tired and semi-inebriated and sentimental - I love you all. dbG, that story made me cry, too. And I remember your story and that makes me cry more. Fond wishes to Martooni, Cassandra, Yoki, man ... this is going to go on too long. Sorry. Good night.

Posted by: Wheezy | May 3, 2007 11:49 PM | Report abuse

I love that, Wheezy, the whole post.... but semi-inebriated is the best description. Is there a better way to meditate upon birds and bunnies?

Posted by: Kim | May 3, 2007 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Great bird story, bh. Hope they do ok.

I thought the Queen's speech was good too. I like this:
"Friendship is a complex concept. It means being able to debate openly, disagree on occasion, surmount both good times and bad, safe in the knowledge that the bonds that draw us together, of history, understanding and warm regard are far stronger than any temporary differences of opinion."

I think she'd fit in fine here, don't you? Also the Red Hat Ladies:
"We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life and, since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together. Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next."

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 4, 2007 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Update on the law in California: even the police in California don't like this mandatory spay-neuter law for a very good reason: no Police dogs, which are normally never altered in order to mature fully and have their edge, and must be bred and trained from a young age.

The wording is as forth:

(3) The owner provides proof to the
local jurisdiction or its authorized local animal control agency that
the dog is being trained or is documented as having been appropriately trained and meets the definition of guide dog,
service dog, or signal dog, as set forth in subdivisions (d), (e),
and (f) of Section 365.5 of the Penal Code.
(4) The owner provides proof to the
local jurisdiction or its authorized local animal control agency that the dog is being trained, or is documented as having been appropriately trained , and actively used by law enforcement agencies for law enforcement and or rescue activities."

But you can't establish this "proof" for most puppies 4-12 months old that are in fact potential candidates for such work.

Pure and simple. The proof is also not detailed at all. How do you prove this?

There are pros in this law, but I think the reckless wording, like in the "No Child Left Behind Act" should make it an automatic fail to pass.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 4, 2007 12:39 AM | Report abuse

The precise legal wording is within this bill link:

For anybody who is interested in why this bill is disputed, other than that people apparently want dogs and cats to keep reproducing and overwhelming shelters and being put to sleep, the big baddies people are.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 4, 2007 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Oh my, Wheezy, those bunnies do get themselves into some fixes, don't they?

If any Boodlers are betting on the Derby, may I suggest Curlin or Cowtown Cat? Hope everything goes ok Saturday.

dmd, have a safe trip. I know you'll have lots of fun at the BPH.

Posted by: mostlylurking | May 4, 2007 12:44 AM | Report abuse

From the NY times: Melamine has been added to pet food for YEARS in China as a fake protein.

(The FDA thinks the melamine reacted with something else to cause the toxins).

Welcome to globalization of your food supply. I want to see some concrete concern about this from our politicans PDQ.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 4, 2007 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Re the Queen, IMHO it comes down to this: in US we are citizens; in UK they are subjects. Which would you rather be? (What's the relationship in Canuckistan?)

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 4, 2007 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Just to finish that thought, GWB is our president, and in theory we can toss him in the dumpster and get someone else. In UK, the people are her subjects, and that's that. Next it looks like they'll have Charles, hahaha.

Posted by: LTL-CA | May 4, 2007 1:17 AM | Report abuse

Well, the traditional method of getting rid of royalty tends to be messy. Imprisonment, execution, forced abdication, open civil war...

Hmm. I guess we should never vote any "heirs" into office again.

Posted by: Wilbrod | May 4, 2007 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. The test at the hospital was for the gall bladder, an ultra sound. Don't have the results yet, but hoping for a good outcome. Thanks everyone for your expressions of concern. Will keep you posted.

So tired when I finally got in, just went to bed. I have laundry detail this morning, plus we have inspections next week, so have to do a bit of cleaning. Not doing much of that. I don't feel that good.

I read Eugene Robinson this morning, and had to laugh at his take on the President's take on "chicken factories". As I've said on here many times, I used to work at a chicken factory, and the President isn't the only one that has made comments in that regard. And people usually say the wrong thing about chicken factories because they don't know anything about them. Of course, Robinson's point was whether he should still call the President the Decider or the Commander Guy.

I wanted to read Charles K, but it's just too early for that kind of reading, and I haven't had my coffee yet. And "betchagollywow(sp)", what can one say about George Tenet that hasn't been said on the talk show circuit?

I hope you don't mind, but I've prayed for each of you this morning. My prayer was that each of you would come to know God through Christ, and that blessings abound.

Did anyone see the Queen? dmd, I'm sort of in your camp about royalty, yet the Queen has been around for a long time, and I find that interesting.

My day is set up to be busy, and the weekend even more so. I hope I am up to the challenge. I also hope your weekend is great and you enjoy it immensely.

Morning, Mudge, Scotty, Slyness, and all.*waving*. Martooni, you sound good, hang in there. Prayers really work.

Mudge you and the noogie, great.

From the news, I understand Obama has Secret Service detail. Only in America, and some of us are still professing that race is not an issue. Please.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | May 4, 2007 4:58 AM | Report abuse

*yawning and having a Blazing Saddles moment*

I feew we-fweshed!


And Chez Nuke already has hummingbirds! One confident dominant male who sips leisurely, and one interloping male who barely touches the feeder before pulling back and checking for the other one. The cats almost get whiplash trying to follow the dogfights when both males show up.


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 4, 2007 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everyone.

Cassandra, I would add that I'm fairly sure Hillary Clinton has a Secret Service detail as well (I didn't read the article yet, so if it mentions that item, please forgive me).

Of course Mr. Obama requires a Secret Service detail, anyone in the public eye on that level who appears to be a leader ot bringer of change or hope or is simply different than the the normal establishment is at risk of physical harm. Every how many US presidents have been assasinated or have experienced attempted assasinations? It's been going on as long as there have been people. If you're infront of a group of people, someone should be looking behind you.

Has anyone here
seen my old friend John?


Posted by: bc | May 4, 2007 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Morning Cassandra!! *hugs*

Hey bc, everyone!! *catch-up waves*

And don't bother reading Krauthammer, he's displaying multiple personality disorder again. Takes two paragraphs to criticize Tenet for attempting to rewrite history and the rest of the column describing how everyone wanted to invade Iraq at the time. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 4, 2007 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Morning, everybody! Hey, Cassandra.

Scotty, you made me giggle with the whiplash reference.

We have a nest of robins in the Lady Banks rose, as well as another pair of small brown birds I haven't identified yet. Maybe wrens? I need to get a bird book...and learn how to work outside without disturbing them. I moved the birdbath close to the sunroom windows so I can enjoy the antics. That makes me a voyeur, no? Of course, my major raison d'etre these days is to keep the birdbath full of clean water.

Posted by: Slyness | May 4, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Here's a link to the Chili company Joel mentioned.

They talk about genetics and stuff.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 4, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

A morning of intoxicating coolness tinged with the promise of heat. It reminds me of the feeling you get right when you climb out of a pool on a blistering hot day. I decided to finally break out my Hawaiian shirts and start holding the lab to its promise of Casual Fridays. And in honor of the Kit, I am wearing my world famous "Big Dogs" shirt festooned with garish images of brightly-colored peppers.

Thus guaranteeing that, at any moment, I shall be asked to brief someone who can fire me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 4, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

>The test at the hospital was for the gall bladder, an ultra sound.

Good luck Cassandra.

RD, I'm going Hawaiian today too. Gotta do it.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 4, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

The article does mention that Hillary already has a secret service detail for being a First Lady. Any candidate that requests protection is considered but it is up to the campaign to make the first move.

I was watching FoxNewsSunday and Bill Kristol was nit-picking Tenet's book over a lot of minor details. How about the big details, Bill? THERE WERE NO WMDs!!!! You were the parade leader of the war march and to now to slam Tenet for doing your bidding poorly is gross hypocrisy.

Somebody let me know if any of the Republicans in the dabate last night didn't come off as drooling neanderthal panderers. I may have to vote for one of them in the primaries eventually and so far none have excited me. In the past I have gone ga-ga over the likes of Dan Quayle and Jack Kemp, so my standards are none too high.

Right now I am trying to weed out religious right jihadists and neo-con warmongers. Let me know if there is anyone left in the GOP that doesn't fall into one of those two categories.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 4, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

...the red hat ladies are a cult...HA

Cassandra, I hope your test results eliminate surgery as an option. Take care of youself.

Y'all mind your manners around the Queen.

What's on the telly??? ...Hmmm, looks like a penguin...

Posted by: jack | May 4, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Duck and cover jack. Duck and cover.

Posted by: RD Padouk | May 4, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Similar to the Red Hat Ladies are the Sweet Potato Queens. They refer to any woman under 40 as still in her "larval state" and have four basic food groups: sweet, salty, fried and au gratin. One of their best bits of advice for a larval woman is to not spend all kinds of money on beauty products, because you're cute enough as it is. Instead, save all that money for cosmetic surgery when you hit your 50's.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 4, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning everyone!!

My sky report this morning, partly sunny and a little cooler. Seems like a good day to work in the yard.

I am happy the queen is here, I wonder if she travels around with a band?

When I think about the Queen, I can't help to think about the movie *Naked Gun*. When they are at the Baseball game and a bunch of rednecks are sitting in her "box" seats, and when she has to pass the beers down the the row.

That just cracks me up so, but then again I am easily amused.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 4, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

*faxing Scotty a schnitzengruben*

Wheezy, I'm glad you were able to rescue the baby bunny from your dog. I had a similar experience with The Wonder Dog and a chipmunk. One minute the 'munk was there, the next there was only muffled squeals from inside TWD's lips. I pried his jaws open, releasing the rodent, who staggered away. What stories he must have had for the wife and kids that night!

Posted by: Raysmom | May 4, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I find that incredibly depressing, Raysmom.

Posted by: Yoki | May 4, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Morning all.... *passing raised hand back and forth, palm facing me, in honor of The Queen*

Cassandra, Slyness, jack... I'm heading to your state today, albeit the other direction. We're going to Wilmington for a wedding. Looking forward to a family road trip; it's been a long time. Sorry to miss the Montpelier shindig. My niece used to work at Prince Michel winery and loved working those wine festivals.

Cassandra... I hope your tests come out the way you want. If you're feeling bad, I hope it can be fixed easily, comfortably and safely. Let us know what we can do to help, OK?

Have a great weekend, y'all! (I know.. but it's starting early for those of us heading down I-95).

Posted by: TBG | May 4, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Have a safe and fun trip, TBG! I hope the weather's better in Wilmington than it is in Boone right a cloudy.

Hey Cassandra, what do you think about this? Are we making progress?

Posted by: Slyness | May 4, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Have a wonderful trip TBG.

Posted by: dmd | May 4, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Good luck with the docs. Hope everything goes well.

Those Sweet Potato Queens are a publishing juggernaut. They have a delightfully tacky website and tons of merch. Nothing like milking that self-mockery for all it's worth.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 4, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse


While in NC, have a Cheerwine for me. I always buy a case when I drive through.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 4, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Re "From the NY times: Melamine has been added to pet food for YEARS in China as a fake protein." Melamine is added to mask the protein detection method for real protein content from gluten and other source. How clever!

Posted by: daiwanlan | May 4, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

The world is ending here is Edmonton this morning. Our building is out of coffee.

I am sending someone over to the grocery store after 9:00 to correct this grievous problem.

Ok, someone found some decaf. Sweet heaven, that might just hold us till the stores open.

Posted by: dr | May 4, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse


Bitte, bayyy-bee!


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 4, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

dr, at times like that don't you wish Tim's had a delivery service? :-)

Posted by: dmd | May 4, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

A wed wose. How owdinawy!

Posted by: Raysmom | May 4, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I am NOT from Havana!


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 4, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

It feels like a Jethro Tull type of day!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 4, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

First, a repeat of some comments, that I have pared down, by filmmaker Ken Burns from his Chris Lloyd interview:

This is a group of people who have been marginalized in American history for hundreds and hundreds of years. ...(Note: the U.S. Census did not separate Hispanics from Caucasians until 1970.)

We've spent a lot of time in each of the towns. We weren't seeking any particular people, with the exception of Japanese-Americans and to a lesser extent African-Americans, both of whom had completely un-American experiences -- forced to fight in segregated regiments, and forced into internment camps and then later offered up as cannon fodder as frontline troops. So their experiences were so radically different.

There were more than 375,000 Mexican Americans who saw active duty in the U.S. armed forces during WWII, many in critical combat roles. (Source: "A History of Latinos in America: Harvest of Empire," Juan Gonzales, 2000, Viking Press, New York--from my own library). Because the 1940 census considered them white, they were not segregrated like Black troops.

I do not have more than a handful of stories of individual service, yet I know that they exist--some of which have run in our local paper in the last decade, and the journalism professor at UT Austin, mentioned in yesterday's Washington Post article about Burns, is involved in an effort to collect them. Mexican-American soldiers were on the front lines and took bullets just like other WWII soldiers. In the Battle of Bataan, for example, as many as a quarter of the wounded were Mexican Americans.

But I do have other knowledge, information about how Mexican and Latino servicemen were subject to some of the same prejudices as African-Americans, before leaving, as well as when they went back home following the war.

Essentially, the thousands of Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans who served their country in WWII returned from the battlefield with a new confidence of their rights as Americans. These veterans refused to accept the blatant anti-Hispanic segregation that had been the rule for generations, especially in the Southwest.

In 1949, for instance, when a funeral home in Three Rivers, Texas, refused to bury war veteran Felix Longoria, Hispanic civic leaders and other veterans founded the American G.I. Forum, that won a wide following among many Mexican Americans.

Then there was the controversy over Sergeant Jose Mendoza Lopez, the Congressional Medal of Honor winner from Brownsville, Texas. Lopez, like Manuel Garza of Kingsville, who served in a field artillery unit with the Special Forces in Europe, were both denied service at local restaurants in their hometowns. From Texas, five mexicanos were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

San Antonio Express-News Metro columnist Carlos Guerra wrote about the seminal Peter Hernandez v. Texas decision, issued two weeks before the Warren Court's May 1954 Brown v. Board case, both unanimous rulings. In the Hernandez case, the Court found ample proof that the political system of the county discriminated against Mexicans as a distinct class from either whites or blacks.

What Guerra didn't report (but which author Gonzales writes) is that a restaurant in Hernandez's town, Chief Justice Warren noted, had signs saying: NO MEXICANS SERVED, toilets in the local courthouse were segregated, with one men's toilet marked COLORED MEN and HOMBRES AQUI (MEN HERE) and "until very recent times, children of Mexican descent were required to attend a segregated school for the first four grades." You can't tell me that the living and cultural conditions back home were the same for Italian-American of Jewish-American soldiers returning from WWII.

What occurred was that the newly formed American GI forum pointed with pride to the war records of their members and demanded equal treatment. So if Ken Burns should cover the WWII treatment of Japanese Americans who were placed in internment camps and Blacks who were segregated--both groups like Mexicans who don't become accepted into the mainstream as quickly because they are visually racially different, then I think he is missing the stories of the Hispanic soldiers.

It's probably too late for Burns to tinker with his 17-hour documentary. It is probably too far "in the can." But rather than relegate the Mexican American soldiers' stories to commercial breaks, it would be better, in my opinion, for Burns to perhaps develop an hour or two-hour program to these stories that he glossed over. How much better it would have been if he had sought the Mexican-American stories at his project's inception.

I can end only with a short story that I know, "A Fistful of Alamo Heroes" that comes from the 1971 book, "The Chicano: From Caricature to Self-Portrait: The Pain and Promise of the Mexican-American Experience--Portrayed in a Unique Comprehensive Collection of Stories," a book I bought during my Teacher Corps days. Three-quarters of the stories are written by Anglos until the last qurter of the book turns to Hispanic authors who are writing from 1947 onward--self-portraits of an awakening minority.

The story I refer to, "A Fistful of Alamo Heroes" was written by Anglo Sylvan Karchmer in 1954. It tells the story of an author, presumably Karchmer, who wants to write a bestseller. He writes his war stories which really involve his best friend, De Leon from south Texas, but his editor, Mr. Robinson, keeps editing them out because tales featuring a Mexican soldier won't sell. Eventually Robinson makes Jack from Nebraska the hero, although Jack, the fearful soldier on the battlefield, in truth, died from pneumonia hours after the three escaped from a POW camp.

Two excerpts:

And then when we got to France De Leon found his pal--a lanky taciturn guy from Nebraska, named John, who'd never seen a Mexican before. John taught him slang; how to deal with the French girls; and where to sell his cigarettes. De Leon was a fast learner; he even did John one better and fell for the I&E stuff they dished out to us; he learned to hate the Nazis, though down in that border town of his where he had been drafted, it wasn't the Nazis who had kept his people out of drug stores, off the buses, and segregated the boys and girls of his race in the classrooms of the public schools. De Leon was willing to learn anything if it meant acceptance...

When the army finally relinquished De Leon, he was a hardened veteran. We were discharged the same day. I came back to the Transcontinental Oil Company and he returned to the little border town he had left four years ago, a shy, virgina1 boy, who wore a St. Christopher medallion around his neck. His war, it seemed, wasn't over. He got mixed up in the segregation squabble, worked to get the boys and girls of his people accepted in the public schools on an equal footing with the American children, failed, started again with petitions, letters to the press, protest meetings. I remember hearing him talk over the radio; he sounded angry and determined, and when he talked about fair play, I could feel myself cringe. It was hard to believe he was the same boy I had known in the army. Well anyway one night a gang of hoodlums ambushed him. The paers said there were sixteen bullet holes in his body. His death made the headlines and in three days he was forgotten.

At the end of the story, the author's editor, Mr. Robinson, encourages the writer to start his second book--about the heroes of the Alamo and the author thinks that he will work Bowie, Fannin and Crockett into the costume novel.

It's unfortunate that in 1954, the author doesn't think about including my friend Tony Seguin's great-grandfather into his dreams for a genuine bestseller. Juan Seguin was dispatched from the Alamo fort with a message to Sam Houston before the shooting began and thus escaped the massacre. Seguin went on to fight with Houston's army at the Battle of San Jacinto, was later elected a senator of the Texas Republic and served several terms as mayor of San Antonio. In 1842, Anglo newcomers chased him from office at gunpoint, seized his land, and forced him to flee to Mexcio, making him the last Hispanic mayor of San Antonio until Henry Cisneros took office 140 years later.

Ken Burns freely admits he's no historian--as he did when spoke at our local Trinity University last November. He acknowledges he is a filmmaker, but he should read Karchmer's short story. And he should unearth the Mexican-American WWII stories and present them. I think we'll all be richer for them.

Posted by: Loomis | May 4, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Whew, that's the pared down version?

But very interesting stuff, I sure learn a lot from reading here.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 4, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

>It feels like a Jethro Tull type of day!!

I'm right with ya greenwithenvy! Starting with "My Sunday Feeling" and going right on through. I've got an iPod playlist with everything in there.

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 4, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Error, greenwithenvy;

I thought you guys were making a pollen reference via "Aqualung."

*confused head tilt*


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 4, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Mother Goose is the current selection.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 4, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I am slow today! I couldn't figure out why Yoki thought Raysmom saving a chipmunk was depressing. Finally figured out the reference was to the Sweet Potato Queens and plastic surgery. Whew!

Posted by: Wheezy | May 4, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse


"Sitting on a park bench --
Eyeing little girls with bad intent.
Snot running down his nose --
Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes.
Drying in the cold sun --
Watching as the frilly panties run."

No thanks, I'll take a pass. Plenty of aging rockers I know get creeped out when I explain the lyrics.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 4, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

schnitzengruben = carve dug ????
wed wose ????
Jethro Tull day ????
Mother Goose ????

I'm so confused

Posted by: omni | May 4, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Happy International Firefighters Day

Its also 'No Pants Day', who knew.

Posted by: omni | May 4, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

No Pants Day, isn't that everyday?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 4, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt, try these then:

Jethro Tull "We Used to Know":

"Nights of winter turn me cold
Fears of dying getting old
We ran the race the race was won
By running slowly

Could be soon we'll cease to sound
Slowly upstairs faster down
Then to re-visit stony grounds
We Used To Know

When every boring shilling spent
Made no sense to leave the bed
Bad old days they came and went
Giving way to fruitful years

Sailing up the virgin hand
One in the bush the others land
Take what we can before the man
says it's time to go

Each to his own way I'll go mine
Best of luck with what you find
But for your own sake remember times
We Used To Know"

Posted by: Error Flynn | May 4, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

...(Note: the U.S. Census did not separate Hispanics from Caucasians until 1970.)

When did Spain seperate itself from Europe?
As if the States didn't have have enough problems with "race". Did you really have to make one up?

Posted by: Boko999 | May 4, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I believe it was the 1980 census that first included Hispanic. Hispanic is not a "race", but an ethnicity.

Posted by: omni | May 4, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

omni, Scotty and I were indulging in Blazing Saddles Trivia with the schnitzengruben and wed wose. I'm puzzled about Jethro Tull and Mother Goose myself.

You should let Liz the Chatwoman know about No Pants Day.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 4, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Upon reflection, I should be fair and disclose that Canadians have invented a phony race called the Metis. These folk are the offspring of prairie First Nations people and French Courier de Bois.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 4, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

...Lili Von kind of gal...

Posted by: jack | May 4, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse


That's HEDLEY...


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 4, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Isn't anybody going to help that poor man?

Posted by: Raysmom | May 4, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Jethro Tull invented the seed drill. Mother Goose was a famous writer of childrens verse.
Glad I could clear that up.

Posted by: Boko999 | May 4, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Scottynuke | May 4, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: dmd | May 4, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

> I believe it was the 1980 census that first included Hispanic. Hispanic is not a "race", but an ethnicity.

Heh. We had a bit of fun with that the last time a census taker came around.

At the time, we were living in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and my wife -- who is Puerto Rican, fully bilingual, has totally Hispanic ancestry going back probably to the Visigoths and is as pale as any Celt -- had a hard time convincing the c.t. (who was also Hispanic) that yes, she really was Hispanic.

Posted by: Baja Tejas | May 4, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

A minor correction. Your brother actually backed up a singer/songwriter named Carmen Nickerson not Dickerson. She's based in Milwaukee and was brought to Boulder for that one show. Her web site is I heard your brother did a great job as did the other backup musicians.

Posted by: Tom | May 7, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

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