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Culture Climbing

Transitioning out of vacation. Went to the Elephant & Castle at 12th and Penn and had dinner with a gaggle of academics and literati. Michael Dirda had the best line: He said he reads a lot of science fiction and genre literature "to avoid having to read another novel about adultery in Connecticut."

Then, off to a book party for Dana Thomas, a Newsweek writer and former colleague at the Style section, who is getting raves for her book on the commodification of luxury goods. I scrupulously avoided looking for bloggable material -- I was in civilian clothes, in other words -- but I did talk to a fellow blogger about blogging. Shop talk. The page view thing. And now have mentioned it. It's a sickness.

But I have to be honest: My head is still in summer mode, which means it takes all of my psychic strength simply to wear long pants.

Here's my current obsession: I need to stage a major surge to overcome this menace. I'm told that the late Henry Mitchell, when asked what to do when a garden gets infested with bindweed, advised, "Move."

But in fact we just adapt, and learn to find beauty amid disorder:

He had little patience for people who want their flowers to be foolproof and in continuous bloom. A foolproof flower, such as the stiff, relentless black-eyed Susan, can never break your heart. Henry liked flowers that could "make a lady squeal." He loved his bearded irises, old roses, and peonies. He thought they bloomed for just the right length of time, smartly disappearing before you can tire of them. If you bemoaned that a particular rose only flowered once a year and for such a short period, he would advise you to take a vacation from work in order to stay at home and watch it bloom. He did.

--

Uh-oh. This can't be good:

Astronomers have found an enormous hole in the Universe, nearly
a billion light-years across, empty of both normal matter such as
stars, galaxies, and gas, and the mysterious, unseen "dark matter."
While earlier studies have shown holes, or voids, in the large-scale
structure of the Universe, this new discovery dwarfs them all.

"Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even
expected to find one this size," said Lawrence Rudnick of the
University of Minnesota.

[Update: I've been thinking about this all morning and have two rather obvious thoughts:

First, if we could penetrate this enormous void, we might not find ordinary matter or dark matter, but we would discover billions and billions of unmatched socks.

Second, the void was surely created by a technologically advanced civilization in which someone at an "open house" saw a mysterious switch on the wall and flipped it.]

--

Here's the L.A. Times story on Pace preparing to recommend a cut in the number of American soldiers in Iraq.


Any discord among the top U.S. generals could be awkward for Bush, who professes to rely heavily on advice from military leaders. But there also is tremendous pressure for military officers to speak with one voice and defer to Petraeus and other field commanders. It remains possible that the Joint Chiefs may opt to weaken their stance before approaching Bush.

According to a senior administration official, the Joint Chiefs in recent weeks have pressed concerns that the Iraq war has degraded the U.S. military's ability to respond, if needed, to other threats, such as Iran.

The chiefs are pushing for a significant decrease in troop levels once the current buildup comes to an end -- perhaps to about half of the 20 combat brigades now in Iraq. Along with support units, that would lower the U.S. presence.

--

Good NPR piece on Michael Connelly, where he says straight-out that Harry Bosch is based on Philip Marlowe.

--

The next president probably won't be a veteran, reports our Peter Baker:

Jackson, the military historian, said he thinks the change in leadership makes a difference in terms of policy if not politics. "When you have leaders who haven't gone [to war], I do think it changes the equation a little bit," he said. "It's a little bit worrisome. People who have actually been to war ... are actually a little less inclined to go to war. Generals know what war's about and they're less enthusiastic to go rocketing off than civilians." On the other hand, many former Clinton aides say he was so sensitive about his lack of service that for years he deferred to the Pentagon until he finally grew confident enough to make his own judgments.

--

Chinese deaths in coal mines rival the toll of a war:

"More than 4,700 miners were killed last year and more than 2,000 have been killed this year, making China's coal

mines the deadliest in the world. In the United States, 47 coal miners died on the job in 2006."

--

Got a nice email from Howard Altman of The Tampa Tribune, regarding the Outlook story on page views:

'Joel, as an editor on our newly formed (two weeks old) Continuous News Desk, there is, sadly, a lot of truth to what you write. When I was an editor with the Philadelphia City Paper, I used to spend six months working on a 5,000-word piece that would put someone in jail. Now I work on 5,000 six-sentence blurbs about people too stupid to stay out of jail - to whit people having sex with dogs, crack heads wrestling with alligators and peg-legged samurai swordsmen who kill the sex-offending boyfriends of their ex-stripper ex-wives.
The internet, I have come to believe, was invented for Florida news.

'As much fun as it is to watch the eyeball count spin like the numbers at a gas pump, the key to success - of the online product as well as the future of our society - is to ... [avoid being blinded by] ... such dancing numbers and keep our eyeballs on the prize. Good, solid, watchdog, spotlight, enterprising journalism.
In the old days, editors used to rely on their guts. In the new days, we editors need to have the guts to remember that.

'I am hopeful that, as much as dog sex stories are here to stay, our web sites will reflect the Constitutional responsibilities that come with our Constitutional privileges.'


By Joel Achenbach  |  August 24, 2007; 10:40 AM ET
 
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Comments

first?

Posted by: jack | August 24, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"...an enormous hole in the universe..." Sheesh. That's understating it. I wonder what passes through the hole? Is it an innie or an outie? Such are the great questions of science.

Posted by: jack | August 24, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

What Dorothy Parker would say about Dr. Rudnick's discovery:

"There's no there, there."

Posted by: byoolin | August 24, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Of course nobody wants to read about adultery in Connecticut. Everybody knows all the hot action is in New Hampshire.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 24, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Mudge,

Good news about getting older. You can still stay plenty active:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/22/AR2007082202000.html

I'm not sure there is a statistically large enough sample for valid conclusions about 900 year olds.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

yes, yes, but if it weren't for my black-eyed susans in this brown summer, my garden would be awfully depressing.

Posted by: hoosier | August 24, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

BTW, laL: many happy returns on the morrow, your birthday.

Posted by: jack | August 24, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

byoolin -- wasn't that Gertrude Stein who said that? Although Ms. Stein was very funny, I do prefer Dorothy Parker in my heart of hearts. Each of their deliberately non-funny writing was really quite dark, and I think revealed a great deal about them. Good writers, both of them.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | August 24, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Good stuff, Joel. Great name dropping, too. Really!

What are those tiny dotted gray lines that appear where Howard Altman's email is supposed to be quoted?

In other words, can you increase the type a bit?

Posted by: TBG | August 24, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I like this piece of advice from the field bindweed entry: "Keeping bindweed out of your fields or garden is the best way to prevent problems with this weed." Gosh, that's helpful. At least it is honest. Joel, you have to admit the flowers are pretty. Just pretend you planted it on purpose. Add some oregano and mint and you'll never see the ground in your backyard again.

Or wait until it gets sucked into the giant hole in the universe. Is this some vindication for everyone who's said there's nothing out there?

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 24, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Two words: Rudbeckia hirta, a lovely flower.

Posted by: jack | August 24, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

>EF - My assertion about lottery tickets is based on the marginal benefit of the second ticket.

Thanks for the analysis on that RD. I should've stuck with with a soldering iron.

Posted by: Error Flynn | August 24, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Hey boys and girls...

If you believe hard enough, the tomato fairy will visit you in the wee hours of the morning and leave delicious red fruit on your doorstep!

Woo hoo!

Posted by: TBG | August 24, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

>The internet, I have come to believe, was invented for Florida news.
Now, that's funny!

Posted by: Kim | August 24, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Thinking of Florida news, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting an apparent double murder and suicide at the home of a (now-late) Republican political consultant. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orange/orl-mmurder2407aug24,0,363547.story?coll=orl_tab01_layout

But that isn't the lead story. That's Lisa Nowak.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 24, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Bindweed? The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew once put up a sign explaining that a bed had a bad infestation of bindweed or something similar. So the vines were given sticks to climb up, then were individually wiped with herbicide.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 24, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

And yes, the booming African oregano plants are busy smothering weeds! I could season spaghetti sauce for 500 or so with a single plant.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 24, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

My favorite bit of horticultural info- "Flame weeding serves the same purpose as hand-pulling or clipping. A flame weeder is a device that uses propane gas and a wand or other structure to deliver heat (130º F) to a plant's cell walls, causing them to rupture. If you choose this control method, follow the manufacturer's instructions and be careful that you do not ignite dry materials and start a fire." But does this work on bushes (and Bushes) as well as weeds? And should you have the Doors "The End" playing at high volume in the background?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 24, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The bindweed link suggests my favorite weed control, the flame thrower treatment. It's the perfect channeling of my sometimes violently destructive gardening impulses. I've also had success with burying the stuff with guinea pig urine soaked newspaper and wood shavings. As noted in the link, such organic mulching must be quite thick. On the bright side, guinea pig poo doesn't stink.

The Tampa Trib's "TBO" web site is my home page. Today's serious FL news is the divorce announcement of two local famous/infamous evangelists. The Trib did a nice job of breaking the story on some shady financial dealings in their church, forcing them to cough up some $ for people they cheated, so I guess they deserve the page view bumps that will come with the divorce details.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 24, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"It remains possible that the Joint Chiefs may opt to weaken their stance before approaching Bush." How is that possible? I mean, I thought that approaching on their knees and genuflecting was as weak as it could get.

Posted by: crc | August 24, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I would give almost anything for the taste of a vine-ripe deep red Maryland countryside tomato about now. I miss them! The tomatoes here really are just okay. Oh well. I could always catch a flight to visit my son who lives and loves Maryland. That would be one expensive tomato.

Posted by: birdie | August 24, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Kguy-this is what you play when using the horticultural flamethrower. Yeah, I always make sure all I do is heat the little plant cells to 130.

crc-good point. But the question "how is that possible?" followed by the "on the knees" description leads to some very sick images. Beret wearers in the oval office haven't fared so well in the past.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 24, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

SCC

This is the link to the plant destruction soundtrack:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itIDg6sXgbo&mode=related&search=

Posted by: frostbitten | August 24, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"...There's ony two things that money can't buy, that's true love and home grown tomatoes..." Guy Clark

Posted by: jack | August 24, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

The front page news where I am is a little girl in a custody dispute. The mother lost custody and the girl was put in foster care. The foster parents have adopted her half brother and want to adopt her, too. But the girl's mother and father both want her to go to live with her father. In most cases, this would not go to court. But in this case, the father happens to be a Cuban citizen who is happy living in Cuba and does not want to move to the U.S. So the Miami-Cuban community will probably mobilize and make a huge case out of this like they did with Elian. Local politicians will all try to figure out how they can use the situation for their own gain. And it will be a big mess. In other words, business as usual.

Whenever I get tired of living in the Weird Zone, I just remember that it's this kind of stuff that keeps Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen at the Miami Herald. If it were boring here, they'd probably be at the Washington Post with all their former co-workers.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 24, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

It's Friday which means that another DoJ lawyer is stepping down.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/23/AR2007082302072.html

Just not Torqueberto. Dang!

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

fb,

I remember reading about those Without Walls hucksters. The BET connection is the part that baffles me.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 24, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

My personal all time favorite flamethrower scene (and don't we all have one!) is near the end of "Aliens" when Sigourney Weaver has stumbled into the alien nursery and strikes a bargain with the alien Queen Mother (in dumbshow) that she will spare the alien eggs in exchange for safe passage out of the hive. She takes a couple of steps back and then pauses, cocks her head, and you can just see the thought going through Weaver's mind "What the hell, roast 'em!" and so she does. When I first saw this in the theater the audience burst into cheers.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 24, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

bc: You must've seen this by now. It seems as if patina on collectable cars is desireable. There is plenty of patina on our Ford work truck.

Posted by: jack | August 24, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, I'm stickin' with Jim and "The End". Watch the opening scene from the same flick.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 24, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

As much as I prefer having a shiny new (QUIET!!!!) garage door opener, I would have preferred having a WiFi laptop available to Boodle while I oversaw [watched] the professionals.

*belated but very TGIF enthusiastic Grover waves*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 24, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I was a little surprised that Regent University was not mentioned in Washington Monthly's ranking of schools based on their graduates service to the country. After all, don't they have a ton of grads in the government?

Posted by: crc | August 24, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised Joel passed up an opportunity to use the phrase "in mufti"--that would have been a sure-fire word of the day:

---
mufti - civilian dress worn by a person who is entitled to wear a military uniform
civilian clothing, civilian dress, civilian garb, plain clothes - ordinary clothing as distinguished from uniforms, work clothes, clerical garb, etc.
---

Posted by: kbertocci | August 24, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

D'oh! here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/automobiles/collectibles/19RESTO.html

Posted by: jack | August 24, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I read this-
'Astronomers have found an enormous hole in the Universe, nearly a billion light-years across, empty of both normal matter such as stars, galaxies, and gas, and the mysterious, unseen "dark matter."'
And immediately thought of this-
"We've got to risk implosion - it's our only chance!"
"It's never been done."
"Don't tell me that again, science officer; it's a theory, it's possible! We may go up in the biggest ball of fire since the last sun in these parts exploded, but we've got to take that one-in-ten-thousand chance!"

Go figure.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 24, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Mudge

A question for the mechanically minded.
I used to able to push my lawn tractor in gear but since it quit, I can't. It won't turn over using the key, it just goes 'clunk' though there is some play (90 degreeish) when I hand turn the pulley attached to the shaft coming out of the engine. Is the engine siezed or could it be something else?
Something tells me I'm not going to like the answer.

Posted by: Boko999 | August 24, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Boko, there should be a release somewhere near the tranny to let it freewheel if the thing is stuck for some reason. I ran over an extension cord last year and had the whole thing wrapped around the shaft. Pulling the release in back let it move so I could push it up to the driveway.

At that point I call for experts. :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | August 24, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

All that Bakersfield sound talk last night didn't get a rise from Loomas.

I wonder what happened to her?

Drowned in the Texas rain (wasn't she recently complaining about the drought?),

House burn down due to 40 amp breakers.

Hospitalized when presented with the quote for a new upstairs AC

Posted by: bh | August 24, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Error. I can push it in neutral so I know there's nothing wrong at that end of the system.

I can picture Frosti holding a wand spouting a great honking flame while she takes the internal temperature of a tiny plant. "Mmm. But this one is just right."

Posted by: Boko999 | August 24, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I love Henry Mitchell. And Mudge, sorry to say this on your birthday and all, but see what himself, Gardener Mitchell, says about Black-eyed Susans. They will do, but will never break your heart the way a perfect Madam Hardy rose with her tiny green button of perfection at the center of her many-petalled universe of soft white.

Oh, Frosti, just once for a flame thrower!

Posted by: College Parkian | August 24, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

It's somebody's birthday? I thought calendars hadn't been made yet when Mudge was born.

Time to bring out an golden oldie in honor of our golden oldie. I think everybody will recognize the original, especially writers.

"Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of grumpy taste
Ive been around for a long, long year
Mark'd many a typo in blue
So I was round when Egyptians
Had their moment of papyrus
Made damn sure that Seoul
Alphabetized and sealed its scrolls
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Cyrillic, da, and for Roman, nyet
Tradition screamed in vain
I walked a plank
Held a critique quite frank
When diacritics raged
And the scribes stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While French academies
Fought for ten decades
Over words they made
I shouted out,
Who killed your fine tongue?
When after all
It was you and me
Let me please introduce myself
I'm a man of grumpy taste
And I made stew of troubadours
Who got killed before they reached newspapers
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But whats confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me editor
cause I'm in need of fewer ain'ts
So if you meet me
Have some glamour
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned grammar
Or I'll lay your soul to waste in ink
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, hammer it, get down
Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
Tell me baby, whats my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, whats my name
I tell you one time, you're to blame
Ooo, who
Ooo, who
Ooo, who
Cur- moo- jhoon
Ooo, who, who
Cur- moo- jhoon
Ooo, who, who
Oh, yeah
Whats me name
Tell me, baby, whats my name
Tell me, sweetie, whats my name
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Cur- moo- jhoon
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Cur- moo- jhoon
Ooo, who, who
Oh, yeah....

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Boko-if you define taking the internal temperature as watching for a pile of gray ash while I cackle my head off, you have the picture right.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 24, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

jack - yes, displaying cars with hard-earned patina had become fashionable.

However, "patina" is dirt, grime, scratches, stone chips, etc., and Pebble Beach concours judges would rate "patina" as being different from "rust."

Boko, can't you put your mower in neutral to move it? If you have a John Deere with an automatic trans, sometimes they have a differential lock in the rear that you need to pull out in order to get it to freewheel. Look on the back of the mower for a pin or a rod to pull out to disengage the diff. Then it will freewheel forward or backward.

As far as the Hole in the Universe goes, I think that could be the location of the Dimension of Lost Socks I've written about in my blog over the past couple of years...

http://www.10thcircle.com/10/?cat=14

bc

Posted by: bc | August 24, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Did someone say lost socks?

Here are two funnyisms about matching socks.

Oh the horror!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/89858699@N00/357410154/

Inner life of mothers on some days:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/89858699@N00/360496781/

Posted by: College Parkian | August 24, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

For animal lovers http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/gallery/070823/GAL-07Aug23-85520/index.html?hpid=multimedia1&hpv=national

mo will particularly like pix 6 and 13

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

That's certainly possible, bc. Don't forget that same dimension is hypothesized to breed tangled coat hangers, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

CP, very funny. It makes me grateful for women's lib.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

bc It rolls fine in neutral but not in gear which is why I fear that the engine is seized (there is plenty of oil). The drive and PTO are belt driven.
My buddy just bought a 22 hp John Deere with an auto transmission. Sweet but expensive.

I wonder how many galaxies would ususally occupy a billion light year expanse.

Posted by: Boko999 | August 24, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree with Dirda about his reasons for reading SF and fanasty.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Two of my all time favourites, bc.

I'm fairly certain that even with the commodification of luxury goods, it has not changed my personal style a single bit. The fact that my personal style looks a lot more like something from the DoLS than anything remotely connected with fashion, doesn't mean I don't care.

Posted by: dr | August 24, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

On kit comment: "adultery in Connecticut". Oh yes, we are so tired of those novels. Just for a moment, give me a novel about adultery in Kalamazoo, MI or Ponca City, OK or Bug Tussle, TX.

I laughed and forward this great camouflage to others who are sheepish about their sci-fi reading lists.

Posted by: College Parkian | August 24, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

*pant pant pant*

Just walked in the door from my doctor check-up, finally got my *&%$#@&^$ PICC line removed from my arm.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, one and all, for all the birthday wishes--all except Wilbrod, with whom I must express umbrage for suggesting calendars weren't around when I was born. Wilbrod, what the heck do you think me and Ug and Big Onk from Wemsley laid out Stonehenge for? We spent YEARS getting that thing pointed in all the right directions. Of course, I wanted to put pictures of nude women at the top of each month, but Big Onk thought it was tacky (he went to Oxford and always thought he was better than the rest of us) and Ug, well, Ug was more into interior decorating and Broadway musicals, if ya know what I mean, so they both outvoted me. (While all the rest of us druids were running around with blue faces, Ug insisted on a tasteful periwinkle, which should have been our first clue.) So that's why Stonehenge to this day is purely PG-rated. (Now, you take some of those Indian joints I worked on...they know how to do a freakin' wall tapestry.)

Regarding the discovery of a giant hole at the center of the universe, I am not at all surprised; it merely proves what I've thought all along: the universe is a giant dutch crumb donut--or possibly a hemmorhoid pillow, I'm not sure. But at any rate I'm glad this discovery finally puts to rest the competing "Bavarian-creme-filled universe" theory as well as the "jelly cruller theory."

Finally, you think Florida news is funky? Bah. Amateurs, all of them. There's this just in from Reuters, from the country that brought you REAL Crime and Punishment, from Russia with love:

Woman sets fire to ex-husband's pen-s
Wed Aug 22, 2007 10:53AM EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A woman set fire to her ex-husband's pen-s as he sat naked watching television and drinking vodka, Moscow police said Wednesday.

Asked if the man would make a full recovery, a police spokeswoman said it was "difficult to predict."

The attack climaxed three years of acrimonious enforced co-habitation. {I like the ironic use of the word "climaxed" here.]

The couple divorced three years ago but continued to share a small flat, something common in Russia where property costs are very high.

"It was monstrously painful," the wounded ex-husband told Tvoi Den newspaper. "I was burning like a torch. I don't know what I did to deserve this."

Now if that ain't the basis of a country-and-western ballad that'd rip yer heart out, I don't know what is.


Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 24, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Hi Wilbrod...yes, the sock problem continues and I wish the RD and his physics compadres would really look at this entropy problem. But, I guess that women do not feel defeeted (ah!) if the sock pile grows exponentially. Progress!

We used to make sock puppets out of the detritus, but that no longer charms any here at Chez CeePee-ian. By making them, I mean the use of a Sharpie pen on white tube socks.....

I don't think that the sock problem enters to much into the minds of modern dads...but I could be wrong here.

Posted by: College Parkian | August 24, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

My belated Happy Birthday wishes to 'Mudge can be explained...

Babelfish wouldn't translate "Happy Birthday" into Sumerian, demmit.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 24, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Let the suggestions for song titles (and hey, what the heck, all the lyrics, too) begin:

"Honey, When You Torched My Johnson, You Burned a Hole in My Heart."

"Was It Good For You, Too, Baby (Now That the Fire's Out)?

"Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Lorena Bobbits."

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"

"I'd Much Rather Have Left My Heart in San Francisco."

"I Should Have Listened When She Told Me to Put Down the Channel-Changer."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 24, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

CP, I will have you know that the modern man is tormented, tormented I say, by the crisis of missing socks. For in the absence of a clear-cut mate, an inexact match may be attempted by said modern man. And oh, the ridicule when such mismatched hoisery is observed by the woman of the house.

The shame. The boundless shame.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 24, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Great Mudge. Now you've gone and ruined "Ring of Fire" for me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 24, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, Mudge!

And because I may not drop by tomorrow....

Happy birthday, L.A. Lurker and GreenWithEnvy!

Posted by: Moose | August 24, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

>>or possibly a hemmorhoid pillow

I love my Taurus. It's a wagon!
Did I ever tell you guys about the time I fell for a nun? I was in hospital for hemmoroidectomy and.....

Posted by: Boko999 | August 24, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm speechless.


Okay, not about socks. I purchase the Boy crew socks which are all exactly alike, and do not pair them. He just pulls two off the pile. When one wears out, it goes in the rags, but leaves no orphan. Ivansdad apparently grasped the letter but not the spirit of this. He bought himself exactly matching socks, then carefully marked each pair with a corresponding symbol, so they will wear evenly. I really was speechless.

Posted by: Ivansmom | August 24, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I have attempted many times to explain to my wife that my existence would be so much easier if all my work socks were identical. But no. They have to have these subtle differences in hue and weave that I am far, far too uncouth to detect. I'm telling you, if she rolls her eyes once more when I ask "do these match" I'm just gonna chuck 'em all and tattoo my ankles blue.

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

Boko -- I love my Sable Wagon.

RD, get the physics peeps on this. It must violated mass/energy conservation, etc.

Ivansmom -- we sort of do that system but when you have more than child...tricky. Ivansdad's solution cracks me up!

Mudge, you are hysterical everyday and not just on your b-day.

Hya Moose, finally our weather is normal, isn't it?

Posted by: College Parkian | August 24, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Boko, The Great Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda is about 2.9 million light-years away. At that spacing you could put in about 345 galaxies.

(Give or take, of course.)

Posted by: byoolin | August 24, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

RD, your problem is that you "have attempted many times to explain to [your] wife that [YOUR] existence would be so much easier if all [your] work socks were identical."

She needs to understand that HER life would be easier.

(I'm not advocating direct civil disobedience, of course. The last thing I want is Padouk marital discord - it shows up in your postings...)

Posted by: byoolin | August 24, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks byoolin.

Sables are nice CP but I wouldn't sit on one to ease the pain of hemmoroids. What with the sharp teeth and claws. I sat on a ferret once and she didn't like it one bit.

Posted by: Boko999 | August 24, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

My sock bucket, which Mr. F refuses to claim as ours, is a constant source of irritation to Mr. F. He believes it should be sorted periodically with suitable matches made and singletons tossed after a couple mateless weeks. I do not share this view. Early in our courtship he thought he could shame me into more frequent sorting by accusing me of going to the sock bucket "only when you can't make a single pair out of the socks that just came out of the dryer." For crying in the night, why else would I worry about pairing up socks?

RD-I will blame you for mentioning Ring of Fire, now a formerly favorite song on my running/workout play list.

Posted by: frostbitten | August 24, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Your socks are supposed to match? How long has that rule been in effect? I never get the d@mn memos...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 24, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

That rule was in effect after women figured out how to make socks that match, Mudge, and was enforced only in households that had such women at first.

And I'm all confused now. If you had calendars, why did you have to build stonehenge?

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only person who matches socks before they go back in the drawer?

Mudge if you want bizarre overseas news there is a story about an Australian women killed by her camel. There is more to the story but not sure it word make it through the filter.

Posted by: dmd | August 24, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh jeez, dmd, ya gotta gimme the link to that story. I'm getting a brain cramp trying to figure out what about a woman killed by a camel would be so bad the wirty dird filter would scotch it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 24, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

dmd, let's just say the big question they'll ask at the autopsy is, "one hump or two?"

Posted by: byoolin | August 24, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

My only question is, why would ANYBODY keep playing this game once the shocks started?
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070823/sc_nm/brain_fear_dc

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, that one earned a laugh.

Boko, I estimate 500 or so galaxies would fit in that void, perhaps up to 1500 if we include the dinky little dudes like the dwarf irregular galaxies that are in orbit about, or colliding with, the Milky Way.

"I don't know what I did to deserve this."
Well, let's see: inflicting his naked self on a woman who would like to be rid of him while watching TV and getting drunk on Vodka. Nope, can't imagine what it was that ticked her off. Some dames are just brittle and flakey, y'know?

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 24, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh. One hump or two?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 24, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

My brother-in-law solved the problem one day. He discarded every single pair of socks he owned. He went to the store and bought 21 pairs of identical socks. Problem solved. My estimation of him, already high, went up considerably at that time.

Nobody mentioned Roy Buchanan. Sigh.

Posted by: Jumper | August 24, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

&^%$*^#$#@ byoolin beat me to it.

Jeez, ya gotta be quick around here.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 24, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm just honoured that Mudge figured out my first name. :-)

Posted by: byoolin | August 24, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Mudge to put it politely the camel took a "shine" to her, if you catch my drift. Yahoo news (Canadian Version for sure) has the story under odd news.

Posted by: dmd | August 24, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Willbrod, they usually use psych major underclassmen to "volunteer" in the experiments. They fear the disapproval of the Psychology Department as much as the shocks.

Posted by: Jumper | August 24, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I remember somebody linking to that story in a previous boodle, Mudge. Apparently male camels are like dogs, you have to teach them not to hump you-- before they get to 330 pounds.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/19/world/main3181944.shtml?source=mostpop_story

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Oops, byoolin has reminded me that I was incorrect on the distance to M31 by about a factor of 100. However, I think that byoolin's calculation is incorrect. 2.9E6/1.0E9/2 is the radius surrounding an individual galaxy (divide distance to Andromeda by 2) in units of the size of the void region. Need to cube it, to compare the size of the volumes, then take the reciprocal to convert the relative volume into a relative density, and we get... (2*1.0E9/2.9E6)^3 = 328 million. Yeah, that's more like it. Triple it to accommodate the dinky little galaxies, and we get about a billion galaxies of various sizes would fit into that void. Yes, that's more like it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 24, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I was just lining 'em up across the front of the billion-LY-wide hole. If we're going to try to fill the thing in, I'd be inclined to accept your number as close enough for the girls I go out with.

But, where are we gonna get a billion galaxies? (And what's THAT mortgage going to look like?)

Posted by: byoolin | August 24, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I still want to know if this gaping hole is an innie or an outie.

Posted by: jack | August 24, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Before the camel killed that woman, it tried to have sex with a goat. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 24, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Note, of course, it was a MALE camel. Female camels aren't into kinky games like that.

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Then suddenly a clue turned up in Scotland. Mr Angus Podgorny, owner of a Dunbar menswear shop, received an order for 48,000,000 kilts from the planet Skyron in the Galaxy of Andromeda.

Mrs Podgorny Angus how are y'going to get 48,000,000 kilts into the van?
Angus I'll have t'do it in two goes.
Mrs Podgorny D'you not ken that the Galaxy of Andromeda is two million, two hundred thousand light years away?
Angus Is that so?
Mrs Podgorny Aye ... and you've never been further than Berwick-on-Tweed...
Angus Aye ... but think o' the money dear ... £18.10.0d a kilt ...that's ... (calculates with abacus) £900,000,000 - and that's without sporrans!
Mrs Podgorny Aye ... I think you ought not to go, Angus.
Angus Aye ... we'd be able to afford writing paper with our names on it... We'd be able to buy that extension to the toilet...
Mrs Podgorny Aye ... but he hasn't signed the order yet, has he?
Angus Who?
Mrs Podgorny Ach ... the man from Andromeda.
Angus Och ... well ... he wasna really a man, d'you ken ...
Mrs Podgorny Not really a man?
Angus He was as strange a thing as ever I saw, or ever I hope to see, God willing. He was a strange unearthly creature - a quivering, glistening mass...
Mrs Podgorny Angus Podgorny, what do y'mean?
Angus He wasna so much a man as... a blancmange!

Posted by: McKurosawaguy | August 24, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

What a camel story and still no Loomas?

Posted by: bh | August 24, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

K-guy, it's really good to have you back in the fold.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 24, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Many thanks, McK-guy... It's been one of those months at work and I need all the laughs I can get.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 24, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Since when does rust not equal "patina"?

I know this brings up the whole lipstick on a pig thing -- not to mention the debate over fake boobs, nip-tucks, liposuction and "form vs. function" -- but "patina" is all that holds Stella the Bus together. If I were to scrub her clean of patina, I'd be left with four bald tires, a cracked windshield and two very large blown speakers.

As for the huge gaping hole in the universe... how in the heck did those astronomers figure out the password to my bank account?

Posted by: martooni | August 24, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Patina is just oxidation with a highly paid image consultant.

TBG - Remember the Tomato Fairy only visits those who are pure of heart. Normally.

Have a great weekend folks.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 24, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to hear more of these "fake boobs" of which Martooni speaks.

Posted by: byoolin | August 24, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I thought Patina was one of the "Fastrack" kids"...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 24, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm kinda surprised that one made it through the Wirty Dord filter.

Posted by: martooni | August 24, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Time magazine has a story on the late Mother Teresa's letters, which are being published soon. I don't think it was any secret that for much of her life, she didn't feel Christ's presence, but it's perhaps a bit remarkable that her letters are being published, not burned.

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1655415,00.html

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 24, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Fellow 'nucks: the mayor of Quebec died today of a heart attack. She was 70.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070824.wquebecmayor0824/BNStory/National/home

Posted by: byoolin | August 24, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

What's really remarkable about the Mother Teresa letters is how they seem to show that she spent 40-odd years trying to talk herself into believing in God again.

Posted by: byoolin | August 24, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

byoolin... I've not had much first hand experience with them. However, my second hand thinks that though they're just a little overrated, they're still conducive to a good time if properly installed and you happen to find yourself in a comped suite in Las Vegas.

Posted by: martooni | August 24, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I just picked about 5 lbs of greenbeans. It is the one crop that really thrives out here in WV. And I am sure I left another 5 lbs on the plants, just too darn hot.

Off to the river for a dip and maybe a kayak ride,maybe some fishing?

Grilled shrimp and greenbeans for dinner.

Stay cool everyone.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | August 24, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Here I am posting silly comments about fake boobs and DotC just had to go and bring up Mother Theresa.

If I were still a practicing Catholic, that would have cost me about six thousand Hail Mary's and at least three thousand Our Father's.

I guess agnosticism has it's benefits.

But I still feel dirty.

Posted by: martooni | August 24, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Why feel dirty, martooni? You didn't say that Mother Teresa's were fake.

Posted by: crc | August 24, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Mother Theresa had fake boobs? Why do I think I just coined Weingarten's Googlenope of the week winner?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 24, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I'd be suspicious of Mother Theresa if he letters were stuffed with warm fuzzies.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 24, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm feeling a little giddy today. "Ace in the Hole" has come out on DVD and Netflix is sending it to me in the next day or two. I haven't seen the film in years and I can't wait. Kirk Douglas as a slimy reporter manipulating events and orchestrating a media circus around a man trapped by a mine collapse. A film by Billy Wilder at his cynical best. Newspapers HATED this flick when it came out in the early 50's for the way it portrayed journalists. Jan Sterling plays the wife of the trapped man and at one point Douglas asks her if she has prayed for her husband. She says she gave up church going because "kneeling makes my nylons sag at the knees."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | August 24, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Easing out of vacation my eye. New kit!!

Posted by: frostbitten | August 24, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

We drove through funny country last week. The wilds of Alberta, on the way home from a wedding. It made me think of you Mudge.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62628983@N00/sets/72157601634405606/detail/

Posted by: dr | August 24, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

We also have a sock pile consisting of all matching black socks. These are shared by the entire family all winter (and only the males in the summer).

I had even more respect for Mother Theresa when I found out she had lost her faith shortly after arriving in Calcutta. She had been having visions before then that left her euphoric and convinced of her need to pursue her life of good deeds.

But once she arrived, the visions stopped and she began to question her belief and faith. And she disliked her life there and her work. But she did it anyway... because it was the right thing to do, not because she thought God wanted her to.

Now that's dedication.

Posted by: TBG | August 24, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

What the holy zark do atheists know about the psychology involved here?

A more valid counter-view might be from religious leaders from other religions extant in India as to the source of her struggle.

Buddhists would say she was struggling with the illusion of her ego as separate, her desire.
Hindus would says she was still struggling with avidya (ignorance of her true self), all as her final stumbling block to the path of enlightenment.

Somebody familiar with cultural shock might also see this as a form of continual estrangement between her old, pre-India self, and her new India-centric self as she worked to adapt herself to a life in a new land.

So many perspectives, you don't need to even interview "pop psychologists" with very little actual concrete study of the topics involved (cultural shock; caretaker fatigue; depression; being a professional religious).

Here's news in 21st century. To provide you with a fair and balanced viewpoint, we will find some people sitting in comfortable apartments in Podunk ready to give their 5 cent contrary opinions on anything to advance their agendas.

Never mind polling people who may be expert on the practice of faith in India.


Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

new kit

Posted by: Wilbrod | August 24, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Toes?

Posted by: Jumper | August 24, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse


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