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Indignities Across America

If I had to pick one word that sums up everything I believe and everything I'm about, personally, ethically and pheromonally, it would be "dignity." If I had a son, that would be his name, with a capital D. Yes indeed: Dignity Jethro Achenbach (my line has a lot of Clampett in it).

Dignity of comportment at all times is the highest commandment in my universe. This is why I don't like it when I have to blog at the Blue Carpet Club. The Blue Carpet Club is the blue-carpeted floor of the concourse right outside the Red Carpet Club at Dulles.

When you're a member of the BCC you have to plop down on the floor like a vagrant, and then steal the wireless signal that emanates from inside the RCC. Which insults my "d," and makes me feel cheap and pitiful, and incites my worsening craving for class warfare.

I'm told I can soon get some kind of "aircard" or some such high-tech thingee that will let me file from anywhere at anytime. It bounces the signal off a satellite, or off reflectors on the moon, or something like that. Strangely, though, the thought of being online anywhere doesn't excite me. Modern technology is designed to prevent people from being off work. As it is, I already spend WAY too much time blogging when I'm literally unconscious. (Please tell me it doesn't show.)

All travelers today must endure the indignities of the security checkpoint. What drives me crazy is not just the removal of the shoes and the laptop and the last-minute rummaging through the luggage to bag up the 3-ounce tube of toothpaste that somehow is a grave security threat. It's the very premise of being suspected of something. I'm affronted. Not only am I not a terrorist, I don't even like coarse language. There should be a special line for nice people who don't like to be hassled.

On the left: People Who Can't Be Bothered
On the right: All Other Passengers

A major problem with flying on business is that you always have to take an early flight, which means dressing in the dark, which in turn means a high likelihood that you'll suffer a dreadful color coordination issue. In middle age a man can forget for years to go shopping, and one day can wake up with no clothes that fit. The rest are full of holes. Also there is the rampaging khaki issue: That beige and beiger problem. Now add a general lack of fashion sense, and try dressing at 5 in the morning in the dark when you don't want to wake anyone else in the house. Result: You arrive at the airport looking like laundry.

[Bulletin: I just changed planes at O'Hare. I had to hike to Wisconsin to find my gate. Am now trying to get online from the JET, if you can imagine. Didn't work.]

Anyway, on the flight from DC, I sat next to a Tibetan monk. He'd been at the Dalai Lama gig in Washington. Our conversation was limited, because my Tibetan is so rusty, but he seemed like a swell chap, and his presence gave me a sense of inner peace as the plane took off. If anything went wrong during the flight and we went into a vertical plunge, I knew I could count on him to help me achieve one final moment of Total Awareness. Like what the DL told Bill Murray in Caddyshack.

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 18, 2007; 12:34 PM ET
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The last time I flew, I went through the security thingie barefoot holding up my britches because I have no butt and I need a belt to keep my self together.

Posted by: jack | October 18, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Shocked, shocked am I at the notion that somebody would ever try to steal a wireless connection.


For complicated reasons I sometimes fly on one-way tickets. These always have this "SSSS" marking on them, a sure flag to be pulled over and frisked. After a while you get used to this. Once or twice I was tempted to indignantly pull out my govie ID, but wisely thought better of it. That's a good way to get in real big trouble.

I am convinced that the only way to get through the line quickly would be if I were to show up wearing totally transparent clothing.

Of course, then I really would be considered a terrorist.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 18, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Tampa International has FREE wi-fi. Fly in and out of there from now on.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 18, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse


You raise a good point: the failure of our school system to teach Tibetan.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

//On the left: People Who Can't Be Bothered//

Um, Mr. Achenbach, could you please set up that other line for everything in life?

Posted by: dbG | October 18, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Clap, clap, clap. JA, they really should give you two columns.

One for profundity, and one for genius. I'm not sure which this is, but...

Wait, what am I saying? 2 columns? You'd never get any rest.

Posted by: dr | October 18, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

When we were in Nantucket two weeks ago, we were walking back to our hotel after dinner one evening, and passing the library in town. It is a great old building, Greek Revival, probably a hundred or 150 years old. And along the side of the building there is a bench, and on it sat a guy in his 20s, with a laptop, reading away and typing, his face illuminated by the glow from the screen. And it suddenly occured to me: he'd snuggled up to the library building to steal its Internet signal, because otherwise there was no reason to be sitting on a bench in the dark on a street in Nantucket.

Hadda admire his New England thriftiness and resourcefulness.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Try flying with artificial knees. Full body scan and pat down every single time.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 18, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

You know it strikes me that at 5 in the morning at airports, everyone should look like laundry. If you looked pressed and crisp looking, they'd all think you were some official and you'd be swamped in complaints.

I wonder if we should start a movement, and insist airports serve free, decent coffee between 4 and 7 a.m. It would do a lot to help earn goodwill among the early risers.

Just trying to send a little comfort to the weary trvelers of the world, like Dooley and yourself.

Posted by: dr | October 18, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

With David Ignatius ruminating on Al Qaeda wanting nukes, maybe airports are harbingers of our security future. Might Big Boxes huddle together in their own Green Zones? Would illegal aliens be admitted? Would wireless access be allowed?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 18, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I just read that piece by Mr. Ignatius, Dave. It made me wonder how safe our ports and rail systems are. Not too comes to mind.

Posted by: jack | October 18, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Several outloud guffaws, Joel. Thanks.

A couple of notes from the last boodle... Frosti... my husband and I were on a camping trip when we were visited by a skunk. Mr G surprised me when he threw his corn cob toward the skunk but way past it. The skunk quickly turned around and ran after it, leaving us behind. Genius. That's why I married the guy.

College Parkian... I need to share an important line from my son: "I'm really enjoying my American Politics class now that I've started visiting the professor during her office hours. I'm doing great in the class, too!"

Woo hoo!

Posted by: TBG | October 18, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

That beige and beiger problem, writes JA regarding his pants, I believe. Although he may be making a global sartorial comment about his business-traveler look (is Dive-Doctor Givhan in the house?)

JA, beiger, or the more dignified moniker of Cosmic Latte, is the color of the universe.

Very dignified, I say. Check out the coloura interruptus version of electric teal first sent up as the color of the universe.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 18, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

This is a very funny, and very accurate, kit. I like it!

Joel, at least you changed in Chicago. The last six times I've been through O'Hare, my connecting flight has been cancelled, rerouted or delayed by hours, sometimes days. I *beg* ticket agents to send me anywhere but O'Hare. It is bad medicine.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't travel a lot, which is good because I find the process profoundly stressful. To me, a trip is nothing but a non-ending sequence of things that could go wrong.

The taxi might not show up. Or, if I drive, I might not be able to park. Or I might lock my keys in the car. I might go to the wrong airport (This almost happened.) I might miss my flight (This did.) I might forget to pack something important, like money. I might forget to remove my little knife keychain and have it confiscated. I might suddenly have a mental event resulting in a spontaneous utterance of a comical statement while being searched. I might end up sitting between people with questionable personal hygiene. Or those who want to share their personal experiences with Scientology. I might forget something on the plane. I might not be able to find the rental car place. I might accidentally back up and induce severe tire damage. I might not be able to find my hotel. I might get lost, robbed, and end-up bleeding by the roadside left for dead. I might exceed my per diem. I might accidentally bring fruits and vegetables into California. Really, the anxiety level is truly overwhelming.

Which is why, whenever possible, I insist on taking the black helicopter.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 18, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

TBG -- so glad to hear this. If other studentals only know how much we professorials are powerless before the student who shows up in office hours.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 18, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

RD, in 1978, in a large beige-woodtone trim Ford Econoline Van, we were stopped at the border to CA from NV with this contraband:

three bunches of ready-to-eat bananas and

three very cute hamsters.


Can you imagine the sobs of seven children, moving from Montana to CA? We had left our ranging, cow-hand dogs behind; Spammy and Sammy and Whitey were the consolation prize for leaving Boots behind. Snoopy had the dignity to die before we left. I believe that Snoopy saw the memo about being left behind.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 18, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

My goodness RD it sounds like you must have travelled with my mom when you were young. Her history included not getting off the plane when we were to change planes in Atlanta (which resulted in a fun detour in Boston). Getting lost crossing the border and having no ability to call my Dad as she didn't know where he was or his liscense number (separate cars).

She once fell asleep on a beach resulting in a very bad sunburn and sunstroke.

Mom drove us to most of our swim meets out of town - it was always and "interesting" adventure.

Posted by: dmd | October 18, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Maggie said: "Try flying with artificial knees. Full body scan and pat down every single time." My wife had to go down to FL to see her dad a couple of years ago. She drove down in the car we bought for him, so only needed a one-way ticket back, with only a small carry-on bag. Of course, they pulled her out of line and scanned her. The device kept beeping, so they took her into a room with an TSA attendent to undress. The cause of the problem--underwire bra!

Posted by: ebtnut | October 18, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

*grumbling because every time I wanna borrow the black helicopter the motor pool always tells me its already checked out to somebody else, who uses the codename "Mr. Rabbit."*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I've been to O'Hare exactly five times. All five times my arrival and departure gates were at opposite ends. Yep, a hike to Wisconsin is an apt description. The fifth time was the charm...not. I missed my connection by seconds (stupid tourist slowpokes) and had to way two hours for the next flight. But at least it wasn't the next day like that trip the year before. Ooh, what a nightmare that was.

Posted by: omni | October 18, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

CP, condolences on your hamster loss. I'm trying to imagine what the border guards did with them. Do you think they had a hamster policy? Were they just seizing the opportunity to get new pets for their kids? Or did they set them loose to run through the desert? It's just so sad!

Posted by: bia | October 18, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I travel a fair amount. With Dear Child in tow. She used to think security people were really magicians in training, and that they were trying to make her disappear with the wand. Which explains a lot about her early flying experiences.

She still discusses the merits of Dora shoes with the security people (they're the best, because you can run REALLY FAST in them).

Always fun is pulling carry-on luggage with one hand (we need stories and coloring books on the plane, maybe a tea set), holding DCs hand while juggling boarding passes, passports (that apparently everyone at the airport needs to see) and singing We're Off to See the Wizard to keep DC entertained while in line. We make quite the picture, I'm sure.

I suspect fellow travelers in the boarding area silently wish they're not seated near us.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 18, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh Bia, how kind. The trauma re-emerged later when youngest sister read about guinea pigs -- a Cavy species -- as a food dish in Peru.

She remains convinced that the Hamsters were eaten at the border, by those sub-human gourmands.

LIT -- I'll sit with you and Dear Child. I may know the entire Wizard of Oz sound track by heart; those parts that lapse I can fake.

Where are we going?

Posted by: College Parkian | October 18, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

We flew to California last week, as you know. I have to admit that I had not flown since about a month before 9/11, when I flew from Louisville to San Antonio (and back) for a three-day house-hunting adventure here. I don't know what I would have done without my husband accompanying me last week. Wander about in utter bewilderment, I suppose, even though I'm regaled with his frustrations with airline travel after every business trip he makes.

He said, "Here's the point where you have to show your computerized boarding pass with your driver's license." "Now, you have to pull out all your toiletries (he had both of ours in a small see-through plastic pouch), take off your watch, remove your shoes and stick them in one of these plastic tubs." Loomispouse had to dig out his laptop as well.

At the boarding gate, we had to line up at certain posts with a given range of numbers, according to our computerized boarding passes, the system at Southwest Airlines. We had tried to book Continental about two-plus weeks in advance, only to learn that the flights were sold out on the days we wanted to, or needed to, fly.

On Friday morning when we returned, I walked through the body-scanner-thingamadoo, only to lose my balance slightly (deep fatigue), my shoulder brushing the side of the thingamadoo, and goof up the machine. So I was told, not too politely, what I had done, and had to take a few steps back, which wasn't back far enough, it turns out, so the machine would reset itself. Then the woman who scans luggage yelled out, "What's that lumpy metal thing next to the plate?" My sister had passed on a heirloom plate form my late LAPD aunt, my mother's sister. Incredible (to me) that the woman knew that I had a plate, securely boxed by us and encased in a yard or so of bubble wrap. The lump was an antique silverplated jewelry box, also encased in styrofoam and bubble wrap. I explained that my mother had just passed, and this was a treasure I was bringing home.

For all the hassle, the draw of California overshadowed everything. I was surprised when my husband revealed to me, on the drive to the San Diego Airport for our return flight, that he really deeply missed California (too).

As luck would have it (possibly word of the problems that we experienced with the Oceanside Marriott?) the marketing arm of Marriott called the day after we returned to offer us a sweet deal at the Marriott South Lake Tahoe. I listened to the pitch and urged Loomispouse to jump at it--the chance to really "go home" sometime in the next year. TAHOE! Where I worked, where we were married! Airport hassles be d@mned.

Posted by: Loomis | October 18, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

No, LiT.. They're hoping to be far away from the mom or dad who DIDN'T bring the stories, coloring books and tea set for the kid.

College Parkian,.. it was your advice that prompted Son of G to take advantage of the office hours. Yay!

Posted by: TBG | October 18, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong with being undressed and patted down by TSA agents? I love going commando through security. I always get wanded too. Dogs and sticks, a natural combo, but I know to keep my mouth shut and in a snooty show dog stack.

I must say some of those women are quite attractive, if you get me. One of those lovely female agents was a bit too frisky with me once, and I had to give her a hug. The gnome wasn't pleased.

I LOVE going through security. I'm still waiting for my first body cavity exam. Oh boy!

I don't get why the gnome gets grumpy about shoes and such things.

Posted by: WIlbrodog | October 18, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Last year, on an overnight flight from London, I woke to find DC having a tea party with my sister, a flight attendant, and some man who was saying "this is the best tea ever! Did you use honey or sugar?"

Another thought...people with children are allowed/encouraged to board the plane first. Trust me, you want us to be the *very* last people on the plane, and the first off.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 18, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, its just part of her gnomenclature.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

It just occured to me, Wilbrodog: are you, or are you not, a gnomonic aide?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

LiT, you last couple of posts have me smiling I too am a parent of a child with shoes that me her go really fast.

Younger daughters first flight was across the country with her sister, part of the cost was their prepayed meal - what we didn't know was this included snacks for the kids - it seems unlimited snacks - then at five this child spent 4.5 hours on a flight snacking on chocolate. I can only imagine how wired she was as at her calmest, unless she is sleeping, restless is a good as it gets.

Posted by: dmd | October 18, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Joey Bishop, the last member of the Rat Pack, has died at 89. RIP [maybe the jury's still out of this] to the guy who brought you Regis Philbin.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Well I do have a lot of style when it comes to casting shadows, and I'm a very good navigation aide.

See, I have a great sense of direction. Didn't you see Wilbrod's earlier offering my services to Joel to help him navigate straight* to the nearest Starbucks in New Hampshire?

I am also a good sound-gnomon in the classical greek style.

So your question, well, it goes without saying that of course I am a gnomonic aide.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 18, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I used to be the parent of children whose shoes made me go really broke.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

It seems our sometimes boodler byoolin is a Celebritology groupie. He comments on the blog and goes to the chats and everything. Liz has a chat this afternoon right now as a matter of fact.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 18, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Going through my spam folder, I came across a phishing email purportedly from the IRS. The message tells me to click some link and find out about my "tax refund."

It warns me in bold red type:

Note: For security reasons, we will record your ip-adress, the date and time.
Deliberate wrong inputs will be persecuted by law.

Posted by: TBG | October 18, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

YJ -- Byoolian is a prize winning captioneer at Celeb---blog.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 18, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Among them, TSA and the airlines have convinced me never to fly unless I absolutely must. An 8-10 hour drive wins every time, barring scheduling nightmares. I don't really object to the lines and security measures (when they're well-run, cough cough) for their own sakes; it is the pointlessness of so much of it I find annoying. That and the clear proof of all those studies suggesting how unpleasant and officious persons with a little authority can be. All this plus, as RD so compellingly shows, the everyday perils with which air travel may be fraught. I wish I could commandeer the black helicopter too.

"Persons with a little authority" - hey that sort of works as a joke on two levels, screeners and the TSA itself. Right? Oh never mind.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 18, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

That's a lot of annoyance to live with, Ivansmom. Humans are pointless ALL the time.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 18, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

U.S. Quarter
Mass: 5.670 g
Diameter: 24.26 mm
Thickness: 1.75 mm

British 10 pence
Mass: 6.5 g
Diameter: 24.5 mm
Thickness: 1.85 mm

These things are so close in size and weight. I almost didn't realize I had one...

Posted by: omni | October 18, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

FPA: mind your p's and q's. *running off to drive the band bus*

Posted by: jack | October 18, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Person with a Little Authority might become a new Boodle handle, if I ever need one.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

one more state quarter to be released this year: Utah. Next year five more Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii. Then in 2009 DC...not!

Imagine we could get our quarter. On the reverse instead 'E Pluribus Unum' we could put:

Justitia omnibus
"Taxation without Representation is Tyranny!"

Posted by: omni | October 18, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Of course that would be against the law...

Posted by: omni | October 18, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

DC will be lucky to get a dime. Puerto Rico might get a penny. Yo, Treasury folks?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 18, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

But, Yoki, you have all that *personal authority.*

Posted by: dbG | October 18, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Only when I'm carrying a clicker and treats, dbG!

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it turns out I am "famous" in more than just my own mind.

Please don't treat me any differently; I'm just a regular person like you or God or Oprah.

Posted by: Celebritology "Comment Of The Week" Award-Winner byoolin | October 18, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not great with managing many bits of paper and things. Forget the cavity search; for me, the scariest part of security is the fear that something essential gets Left Behind: boarding pass, laptop, passport, child...

The summer before last I was responsible for putting my 9 and 12-year-old nephews on a nonstop cross country flight back to their parents. I had 4 passports (mine, the nephews', my own 11-year-old's), the boarding passes, my son's and my gate papers, the itinerary, some dismembered action figure parts, etc.

We got through security. It took forever. 5 minutes till boarding. The gate loomed before us, the next thing after security. By some evil magic, I had everything but my own gate pass, the thing that let me walk up to the gate and hand the kids over.

"I just had it at the beginning of the can call the ticket counter..." I explained to security.

No matter, I couldn't proceed one step further. I would have to go back to the ticket counter and get a new one. The twelve year old was allowed to walk that fifty feet over to the gate and board by himself, but the nine-year-old wasn't. That was that. No amount of reasoning was going to get both kids back to their parents any more than it was going to cause broccoli to sprout on the moon. Oh yeah, did I mention that the airport was a four hour drive from my house?

Then the twelve-year-old, always the Drama King, committed an act of genius. He burst into tears and wailed pathetically, something about breaking up the family, I don't even know what all, but security flew into action, producing tissues, running around. His tears were squirting out horizontally, I kid you not, it was like that species of Mexican toad that shoots poison out of its eyes. Within a minute they had found my gate pass, which had slipped through my fingers--where else?--right before the security table, in that chaos where people pull out the gray boxes and stuff their personal lives in.

Kids on the plane with seconds to spare.

We went back out to the pre-security part so I could find a defibrillator. With a sly smile, my son opened his jacket. Somehow he had absconded with about thirty straws and had them lined up, like bullet cartridges, in the inside pocket. He had gotten through security like that.

Never in my life have I needed a margarita more.

Posted by: floomby | October 18, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

If Benizir Bhutto gets her old job back as prime minitser of Pakistant, would that consitute a "rebhuttol"?

Lord Byoolin, may we have a sample of your prize-winning captioneering prowess?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

floomby... that's a GREAT story. I love the image of the Mexican toad squirting.

Kids *are* geniuses, aren't they?

Posted by: TBG | October 18, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Great story, floomby.

And where can we find that Comment Of The Week, byoolin?

I once made the Gold Star Motel at Gawker, but that and four bucks gets me an overpriced caffeinated milkshake.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 18, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Now here is a tough way to fly, Boko what is with kids in your area???

Posted by: dmd | October 18, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

There is no doubt traveling isn't as fun as it used to be. I remember, in my teens, wearing a Sunday dress, heels, hat and little white gloves. Seriously.

That part of traveling has improved.

Now the rest of it, not so good. The real question is, is TSA better than the minimum wage contractors who used to do the job? I really don't know the answer to that question, but I will say that I wouldn't want a child of mine to work for TSA. The pay is abysmal.

Recently, I came across a paragraph I had saved from a Post chat, dated 9/11/02:

One thing you shouldn't really worry about, in my opinion, is airline security. 9-11 was not a failure of security so much as a failure of doctrine. Let me explain. The passengers and crew of the first three flights did exactly what our security doctrine told them. When confronted by hijackers (even ones merely armed with box cutters) you do what they tell you. Everyone surely expected to land in Cuba, or Libya, or Afghanistan, and for negotiations to commence. By the time the 4th plane's passengers figured it out, the tactics of 9-11 were already outmoded, and a new doctrine was born - fight to preserve the cockpit. Even against terrorists armed with handguns, 80 passengers are not going to allow another plane to be turned into a missle. Thus, a lot of the billions we are spending on airline security is a waste (and those big piles of nail files and swiss army knives are a tribute to our desire to fight the last war). Rmember, Al Qaeda has a pattern - they don't attack the same way twice. The next attack will be different.

I didn't save the author's name, I'm sorry to say. But the point still makes sense to me.

Posted by: Slyness | October 18, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

It hurts to read all the TSA-hatin' here. After all, these people are x-raying you, pouring out your $8 airport bottle of water, sniffing your feet and shining lasers up your arses, to keep us all safe!

I'm sure that story in USA Today about them missing 60% of the test bombs at O'Hare and 75% at LAX is somehow just a big ol' misunderstanding.

A statistically-minded friend suggests that the safest way to fly is *with* a bomb in one's luggage. The odds of there being two bombs on any given flight is vanishingly small.

Posted by: byoolin | October 18, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

And the best part was that later, the twelve year old confirmed, proudly, that the weeping was on cue.

This boy will be scary the day he discovers girls. He has no idea.

Actually, six months later, the same kid possibly saved his and his mother's lives. They were riding on the metro in Paris and passing through some stations in a skeezy part of town. His mother suddenly realized that the entire car was full of men, who were staring at them in not a good way, apparantly having figured out that they were foreigners.

She hadn't said a word to the boy, but he somehow picked up on it immediately. He started rolling his head around, waving his limbs, and talking incoherently in a gutteral voice. His mother, more nervous than ever, asked him what he was doing and tried to get him to stop. He acted weirder and weirder. Then she realized that the men were averting their eyes and getting as far away as they could. He had actually frightened them, and her efforts to quiet him made the act all the more convincing.

They got off at the next stop, safe and sound.

Extraordinary kid.

Posted by: Floomby | October 18, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

After this, no more self-aggrandizement, I promise.

Ms. Liz crowned me the Celebritologist Commenter Of The [previous] Week on August 27th and May 14th.

"I miss the celebrities of the good old days. Remember when Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?" -- Byoolin on Breaking News: Lindsay Lohan Gets One Day in Jail

I think it's admirable that Ms. Blanchett is able to keep acting post-mummification. -- Byoolin comments on Cate Blanchett's Costume Institute look in Morning Mix: Paris's Rival Petitions

Posted by: byoolin | October 18, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

floomby, I'm really enjoying your posts.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse


Today's quiz:


Guess I need to get to the movies more often...


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 18, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

*blushing* first of all, I'd like to thank my parents...

Posted by: Floomby | October 18, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Two years ago the Kurosawachick was driving her boyfriend up to Dulles to fly to his home in Boston and her car burst into flames on I-66 near Chantilly. By the time the Fairfax FD got there, the vehicle was charcorolla, total loss. The young persons literally had nothing left but their clothes and a few soggy, sooty odds and ends. Among these were the BF's ID and E-ticket, both of which were damp and smokey smelling. When we got him to the airport and they asked him for his luggage, he held up a Ziplock bag of damp debris. A certain amount of hilarity ensued, but he did make the flight.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 18, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, byoolin, both comments are award-worthy. The Johnny Cash observation made me laugh out loud.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 18, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse


I'm very sorry to say this doesn't even resemble a surprise...


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 18, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

9/10, S'Nuke. Best results I've gotten for weeks.

Yoki, Ms. Emma is still behaving yourself, so some of your authority must've rubbed off on me. Did you get the clicker on the plane? :-)

My dentist, whom I realizing isn't any better than okay, has been sending me e-mail requesting I take a survey about my last visit. Since that visit confirmed an upcoming $5K bill between her and (70%) a specialist and I believe the bill is her fault (long story), I'm kind of torn. I wonder if *I rue the day* is one of the options to pick. Off to see the specialist tonight, will see if there are options other than the most expensive available.

Posted by: dbG | October 18, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Emma is behaving herself.

Posted by: dbG | October 18, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

floomby, great stories.

years of travel between coasts have taught me the two following cardinal rules of air travel:
1) never have a stop over anywhere cold when flying home for christmas and
2) never have a stop over at o'hare at any time of the year, under any circumstances whatsoever.

the only thing i like about o'hare is the funky colored lights in the underground walkways when you are hiking (or taking the moving walkway) to wisconsin. because they are so bizarre.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 18, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Ultimately, I guess it's my fault. I didn't switch dentists when I started thinking this way.

Posted by: dbG | October 18, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

byoolin, genius. Linking to the Cate Blanchett picture could be considered a form of cruelty. Sort of like really bad phot id.

Floomby, make sure that kid takes drama classes. He already should have awards. Nice.

Posted by: dr | October 18, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

9/10 on the flix quiz and a quibble. The notion that Marilyn Monroe was just beginning to be popular in 1953 is absurd. She had solid credits in "Asphalt Jungle" and "Niagra" (among others) and was playing opposite stars like Richard Widmark and Cary Grant by 1953.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 18, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The clicker should be on the dresser between the kitchen and dining area, with the treats, at your house.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

OK, here's your third one: Adm William Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, dead at 82. He was a good 'un. RIP, Admiral.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Floomby enjoyed your story, hope you visit often.

byoolin you should tag team with Scott Feschuk!

Posted by: dmd | October 18, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The bomb joke, while an old one, is worth comment of the week.

And the statistics part is true. There are so few bombs (one might guess a number approaching zero) and so many things that resemble bombs (like bottled water and frozen crab meat) that in order to get the false negative rate within tolerance the false positive rate would become astronomical.

Someone with real knowledge of quality control analysis needs to run some serious sanity checks on our ridiculous air safety system.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 18, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

8/10 on the movie trivia quiz mostly through judicious application of the BS meter.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 18, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Isaac Asimov once said there were few adults who could top a reasonably bright 12-year-old kid.

They're kind of scary because they're nearly adult mentally, the hormonal confusion of teenagedom hasn't quite kicked in yet.

Still brilliant, Floomby.

I suspect he's a born practical joker, which will actually hurt him with the girls for a while once he gets into the hormonal addle of puberty and trying to impress girls.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 18, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I had the privilege of meeting Admiral Crowe at a "thinky" weekend (like the Renaissance Weekend but state-oriented) here a few years ago. He was a gentleman, a scholar, a sharp cookie, and an excellent raconteur, and possessed of both knowledge and common sense. He'll be missed.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 18, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

7/10 - not bad since I had to guess on every questions but the last one and the Three Men and a Baby question.

Posted by: dmd | October 18, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Say, floomby, is that kid for rent? What great instincts! Of course, 12-year-olds haven't yet got the hang of being self conscious (well, maybe 12-year-old girls do, but boys -- never!), so they can get away with a great deal.

Great stories. Keep 'em comin'!

Sad about Joey Bishop, too. I remember him fondly -- really. I always thought he was the one who was sort of out of place in the Rat Pack. Seems that he was the glue. Cool.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 18, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I got 4/10 on the quiz. I didn't know any of the answers, so it was sort of like playing whack-a-mole. Randomly bashing in the hope of hitting something.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

That is how I generally feel when answering the quiz of the day Yoki. Just saw the terrible news out of Calgary.

Posted by: dmd | October 18, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I expected better of you. All the latest research shows that adolescent insanity is really not caused hormome storms, but actual reoganization of brain cells. I'm sure the hormone disruption doesn't help the situation any, but it plays a minor role. I think adults always blame the endocrines beause deep down, they are threatened and terrified by the sexuality of children.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

What news out of Calgary?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I felt physically sick when I read the news, dmd. Heartbreaking. Especially as we all, or have, send our kids off on the bus every school day.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

It was a school bus accident, one child has died, just awful.

Posted by: dmd | October 18, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Got 7 of 10 on the quiz, generally following yello's method. Gotta head out-mom's in the hospital (not too serious) and dad's just had 3 teeth pulled, so gotta go check in on how they're doing.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 18, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I'm raining on the hate-travel parade here, and maybe it's because I'm not a regular traveler (couple times a year) but I like to fly. Even with the cramped quarters (I'm 6' and 230 lbs), lack of headroom (and footroom and sideroom), and dearth of foodstuffs, I get the old childlike exhilaration I always have when the plane takes off and punches through the clouds. It never ceases to amaze be how something bigger than a bus can thrust itself off the ground and fly, again and again, thousands of times. Marvels of engineering, all the way back to Icarus and Daedelus, with wings of wax and feather. It's probably sacrilege to say this in present company, but I've never had a problem at O'Hare. The only time I've ever been freaked out on a plane was two weeks ago, actually, when I flew into Midway. We did some kind of crazy combat landing with a 180-degree banking turn and I looked around at all the other passengers sleeping and reading and realized I was the only one who was scared. And I've flown a lot. I'd take O'Hare over that any day.

Posted by: Gomer | October 18, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

8/10, and I guessed at every one of them.

Tonight's baseball game. To watch or not, that is the question.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 18, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse


Once past security, I actually like the flying part.

My favorite thing to do is looking out the window and trying to find my house. Depending on what runway they are using at BWI, it's pretty easy to spot.

Then I read or fall asleep and wake up fifteen minutes before the plane lands. It's like being on a teleporter. I have no actual memory of the flight time.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 18, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Add to Tampa's wonderful free airport wide wireless the fabulous free high speed wireless service provided by the Paul Bunyan Telephone Cooperative at the Bemidji, MN airport. (This is for Floomby and other new boodlers, everyone else has read me go on and on about this before.)

When Frostson was 12 he discovered airport fun with his great grandmother. He went through the scanner ahead of her and pretended he was being electrocuted, or having a bad Star Trek transporter experience, then fell face first to the floor. He sprang to his feet safe and sound, but it took quite some time to convince her it was ok to go through herself. The problem with 12 year olds is they can use their powers for evil as well as good.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 18, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, are you suggesting adolescents have organized brain cells? lord help us all.

I also am enjoying floomby's stories. Interesting kid.

Gomer, I object to the attendant and incident hassles generated by the terrorism & travel industries. I don't mind the actual flying time in the air. Unless you count that nagging knowledge that there is no good reason for an airplane to stay in the air, ever. I try to ignore that little voice until I get on the ground again.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 18, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Don't do it Maggie. You know what happens.

I was just reading about that bus crash. Sounds like one other in very critical condition.

Posted by: dr | October 18, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I gotta admit, the hassles caused by 9-11 can be annoying, but it's worth it to me to have the experience of flight, even if it is in a pressurized tube 6 miles high.

Yello- I like the teleporter simile. I also try to find my house from the air, but I live too far from the airport to be low enough to find it. I know it's there, though, because from the ground I know I'm in the flight path. It's also fun to look for the interstate and the river and the UT tower from the plane. I always wonder if Charles Whitman could hit my plane.

Good evening, all, I'm off to take my beautiful wife out to eat. It's our fourth anniversary, and we deserve some fine dining!

Posted by: Gomer | October 18, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary Gomer.

I too enjoy flying, once the plane leaves the gate. I tend to gaze out the window the entire time, especially take offs and landings.

Posted by: dmd | October 18, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

When I saw the frontpage teaser - dignity and flying - I thought you were going to be writing about the new scanner that basically takes a nude picture of the passenger. This will prevent me from ever flying again.

Posted by: Vulture Breath | October 18, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

This site has a list of US airports with free wi-fi. I'd like to point out that Grand Forks, Fargo, and Bismarck, all have it.

Bemidji has the added benefit of free parking, though if you are leaving your car over 60 days they ask you to park across the street from the short term lot. In the winter keep a snow shovel in your vehicle. They may plow the lot while you're gone.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 18, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary, Gomer.

Just read that the veto override to Bush's veto of SCHIP didn't quite make it. For someone who professes to be "pro-life" it's just one more (of oh, so many) contradictions from "little boy."


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 18, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Have not flown in years. Rumor has it Amtrak is a nightmare too but a different sort. Perhaps rent a car, pick up a hitchhiker, tell HIM to drive, and sit in the back seat, on the right, with access to a gun hid back there. These options don't sound too good.

What would be best is to pack one clean pair of underwear, one toothbrush, one credit card, buy everything else when you get there, take a melatonin right before the security stuff, and sleep through the madness of the sardine flight itself.

Posted by: Jumper | October 18, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I'd enjoy flying a lot more if it weren't for that whole motion sickness thing. My mother found the solution for me in a newspaper article a few years ago: ginger. I take it ground in capsules from GNC. It's magic. But that wasn't until after 20-some years of nauseated flying, so I'm irreversibly conditioned to gag at my first whiff of stuffy airplane air. Yuck. But I live way far away from family, plus there are those conferences I have go to, so I fly.

Posted by: bia | October 18, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of schip, Congress continually annoys me by tying various sorts of legislation together that have no business on the same bill. "Let's have a law," they concoct, "that ties cruise ship gambling legislation to peanut price supports. And throw in funding for free needles for drug addicts. And we simply must include this new law controlling silt in our streams and rivers." Then, and only then, they vote on it.

Posted by: Jumper | October 18, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom - no good reason, for an aircraft to stay aloft? Why you are overlooking Bernoulli's principle, see the..

Oh, skip it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 18, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Vulture Breath is referring to terahertz illumination. This is electromagnetic energy in the THz range, somewhere in frequency between radar and visible light, which passes through clothing - but not skin or metal. So you can see any hidden metal. And naked bits.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 18, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

There is fabric that contains carbon fibres. That conducts heat from the inside to the outside. Sold as golf shirts. Will they ignite?

Posted by: Jumper | October 18, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Bunch a whiners and wusses. Conestoga wagons. Stagecoaches. Steerage. Model T's on rutted roads. Hot-air balloons. Rounding the Horn. Indians. Pirates. Tumbrils. Chariots. Mongols. Barbarians.

Walking. Sabertooth tigers. Wooly Mammouths.

Ah, the good old days!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Not that anyone really cares, but THz can also see some kinds of plastics and ceramics. Also, it is "non-ionizing" which means it is safe.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 18, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Jumper - didn't see your question. The answer is no. THz is low power, it is as safe as being illuminated with a spotlight. The problems are technical (THz is hard to make) and privacy (naked bits.) There are lots of people working with THz as a way to detect IEDs, which is why I am kinda familiar with the technology.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 18, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

"Take a melatonin right before the security stuff, and sleep through the madness of the sardine flight itself."

That's exactly how I travel. The Xanax works wonders for the air sickness, too. I get that "airplane smell" trigger, too, bia. Ugh.

Posted by: TBG | October 18, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't know that I want to have a job as an airport screener person if they have 'that' kind of technology.

For each individual its one embarassing moment, but for the person manning the scanner, its sheer...Well I don't know what, but I'm pretty sure it would put them off thier vittles.

Posted by: dr | October 18, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Mudge, I would have gone steerage if I'd had to. Good enough for my great-grandparents, good enough for me. I just would have been a lot lighter at the end of the trip.

Posted by: bia | October 18, 2007 7:04 PM | Report abuse

First serious attempt to estimate costs of warming climate in US.

Posted by: Jumper | October 18, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Tumbrils, ey? Perhaps a skimmington ride for Muster Mudge, usin' all thet fancy finery.

Posted by: Jumper | October 18, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

When I was a little kid, we would all get dressed up to go to the airport. I'm not exactly sure why. I didn't actually get on an airplane until I was sixteen and needed to fly to Chicago for something called the National 4H Congress. This was considered quite a big deal, you know. I think I was more excited about the airplane trip than the actual Congress, of which I recall blissfully little.

I do recall that my father, who worked for Boeing, expressed grave concerns that the aircraft was made by McDonnell Douglas. And yet, to the best of my knowledge, we made it without anything significant falling off. I sat in a window seat and chatted with manic intensity to an elderly woman. I imagine that she thought me a bit odd.

An airplane trip remained a huge deal all through college, when I used to take Alaska Airline's "Gold Coast Service" from Seattle to Ontario, California. Gold Coast Service was notable for serving complimentary glasses of Chateau St Michelle wines. And they never carded. Gosh I loved those trips.

It is only in later years that airplane trips lost their magic. I stopped worrying about getting a window seat. The experience gradually morphed into something akin to riding on a cramped bus. The last bubble of wonderment popped for me when they stopped serving those little bags of peanuts.

And I long ago stopped getting dressed up.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 18, 2007 7:36 PM | Report abuse

The flight from Cleveland back to Texas years ago: four Texans board, seated in the rear. Once in the air, they cajoled a deck of cards from the stewardette, commenced ordering beers, and a raucous poker game ensued. I actually heard gasps from the rest of the passengers at these goings-on. I just smiled and leaned back. I was home before I even arrived.

Posted by: Jumper | October 18, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

You're right, Yoki. Hidden by the big bag o'liver treats. Got 'em both to do "touch."

Posted by: dbG | October 18, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't you love the US.

When flying from New Zealand to England (24 hour flight) you have the choice of stopping in L.A. or Asia. If you choose the Asia option you spend a couple of hours stretching your legs in the transit lounge, doing a little duty-free shopping, having a massage and shower or, my personal favourite in Singapore, taking a swim. Fly through the US and you get treated like you're trying to illegally immigrate. Off one plane, queue for absolutely ages, go through security (what's with taking off the shoes?) and then on to another plane.

No need to mention which route I take!

Posted by: Contrary Mary | October 18, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

5/10 on the movie quiz. I can count the times I've been to the movies on one hand since 1992, thus a low movie quotient.

Growign up in chicago, my scheme for airports was O'Hare. When we moved to Ohio, cleveland Municipal airport seemed small, but still matched my scheme for an airport. Before we moved to Syracuse, we landed in Rochester, as that was the first place Mom and dad chose to look for a homeplace. We deplaned via a staircase and WALKED to the terminal. Airport? Feh. I was looking for a DC-3.

Posted by: jack | October 18, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Maggie and S'nuke: The BoSox ust jumped all over the Indians' pitcher: 1, nil. I should sit this one out and hope the tribe can muster a victory. OTOH, I've assumed the moth persona and am drown to the irresistible flame and warmth of the telly. I might just as well stick my finger in a socket and get it over with. This is a 50/50 at best. May the best squad win.

Posted by: jack | October 18, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Yoki: We have 7 Havanese pups and will post pix soon on our web site. I'll link when we post. Puppies are the cure for any rough day.

Posted by: jack | October 18, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Frostdaddy is here for a visit and upon deplaning said "I don't know if flying is an adventure or an ordeal any more." He had passed on taking a bump to a later flight, and free ticket, fearing a missed connection in Minneapolis. Alas, the later flight arrived earlier than his scheduled flight and he didn't even have time to see the Larry Craig stall in his cross terminal race.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 18, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

10/10 on the movie quiz. This proves I am a good guesser, and why I did well on the SAT. The only answer I knew for sure was the one about Fargo, natch.

Oooh, jack, puppies! Can't wait to see the pics.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 18, 2007 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Canadian CC to be inserted in my previous post:

Read "Hormone-triggered brain-reorganizating storms" for "hormone storms." Stet all other items.

Roger. Over and out to Wilbrodog now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 18, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Just back from dinner. Somehow the television had turned itself on while I was away, tuned itself to Fox, and now

Here I am again
Wasting away again in Angs-taville.
Some people say that there's a play-off game to blame.
I say it's my own damned fault.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 18, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Angst-aville

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 18, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Puppies?! Oh, puppy pictures. Pfft. Mail me one, and I'll get excited then.

L.A. Lurker, you don't like O'Hare? I love O'Hare. It's first class.

Not only can you have a long walk indoors between flights, their service dog facilities are first-rate. Not only is there a huge grassy field right across the road to sniff and take humble tinkles in luxury...
They have RABBITS at O'Hare to entertain you while you sniff!!!

MSP has a very small patch of grass and lots of rocky gravel for business. Bo-ring. On the other hand, they have an awesome monorail and some aMAZing-smelling fooderies. Mmmm.

Denver sucks, they just have tons of dead pigeons collasped on a rocky, grassless field next the parking garage and insanely hot temperatures. Who turned on the heat in winter?! Boo.

BWI, I don't like at all-- too many roads and smog, not enough grass. The only amusement is some sparrows, and you wait forever for the shuttle.

National is a bit of all right. For one thing, there's the metro, easy step-off, and it's not too hard to find good grassy strip outside on the way to the correct terminal, and there's a nice little bus ride if you want it.

I could rate more airports if I so chose, but that's enough to give you a taste of what REALLY matters in airports.

Humans are so odd. I should post this on my blog; I thought EVERYBODY knew O'Hare rocked.
MSP always has the longest walks to get out and then back in again to catch our next flight. Seriously.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 18, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

How very excellent are your dogz, dbG? Give kisses and hugs to Cutter and Emma-Rose from Auntie. Beloved black dogs.


Also, don't forget, paw-touches. When you click-and-treat the paws, remember to vary the rewards. Touch them, and then just *skim* them, or blow on the paw-fur. Variation is the way to desensitize.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Cutter hugs.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I love paw massages. The gnome recently wanted me to let me have my nails filed. I started flinching and I was able to pull paws out of these hands. It got to be a really fun game to see the gnome irked!

I got a little silly and ran off and growled and went into a play bow and tried to initate a chase. The gnome recognized this as the same goof-off game I did whenever I was to have my ears cleaned before.

The remedy was the same-- leash me and talk at me. The gnome even said "this is no ZARKING WAY this can hurt you, silly", and demostrated on gnome skin, nails, even lips. I also was told that I had a very easy choice--accept the file or visit the v-e-t.

That quieted me down, but I still didn't like the angles my paw was held, so we worked that out, and sometimes I had to flip over.

Actually the pedicure felt pretty good, I was snoozing a bit during it once the paws were in a comfortable position, and I did get treats.

I would do it again, especially if I get more paw massages after. Mmmmm.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 18, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Please don't, jack.

I'm a sucker for puppies. And I really can't deal with more than 3 big senior dogs.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

I have asked, and there are no internal webcams at this observatory. At least, none that they are willing to tell me about. There are external webcams, however, and you may occasionally see me on one of them.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 18, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Well, of course, Wilbrodog! We hate the cutting of nails, but Yoki says, "Wait!" and she really means it. She rewards us for waiting and relaxing whilst she clips or grinds (with a dremel tool) off important parts.

Fortunately, we have Himself who commiserates with us. And then we go outside. Kind of pitiful, if you think about it.

Posted by: Yokisdogs | October 18, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh, yeah I know that EYE you're talking about. Oooh. Brr.
Was Wilbrod a border collie in a past life, or what?

Paw touches are good. I do high-fives, shake hands, put both paws in hands, do doorbells and switches, and so on. Wilbrod likes a dog that's kind of "handy".

While I never "officially" learned how to do the doorbell, I recently rang it to get back in, and the folks who hear... CAME! Doggone devious of me! Whoo!

So I did it again today when I was ready to come in out of the rain. Heh heh. They're still not sure if it's real or if they're losing their minds.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 18, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

wilbrodog, let me start by saying, that i respect your opinion.

on the other hand, my opinion about o'hare is shared by a lot of people.

never been to detroit, which is "#1", but my last memory of o'hare was our plane being de-iced during the beginning of a blizzard. we were one of the last planes to make it out for the next couple of days. i won't go into all the other times i've been delayed at o'hare, or the time when i was a kid and my family ended up sleeping overnight in o'hare.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 18, 2007 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Awesome, Wilbrodog! We don't know how to ring the doorbell, but we know how to twist their minds. We are very good at it.

Broc, Yeoman, Libby

Posted by: Yokisdogs | October 18, 2007 10:52 PM | Report abuse

dmd, re: "because I said so"

I forgot to mention your abbreviation which also fits!:
dmd = demand

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 18, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Completely off topic, but now that Musharraf will have to squash Bhutto with extreme prejudice, we know Pakistan is about to go beserkistan (with Al Q a major player).

What is our mission in Afghanistan and can 43 explain how long we need to be there?

Posted by: bill everything | October 18, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Were those all around the holidays?

Well, when we travel, we always make sure to schedule a long layover at O'Hare so we can get into all the bunnies, so delays on arrivals don't matter as much.

If we have another connection to make, we also schedule time. Only once or twice had we had to skip planned potty break because of late departure from O'Hare.

So planning for furry-lined bladder factor means we absorb more scheduled time on layovers for a lower risk of missing a flight and being stranded.

And of course, NO holiday travel. I told Wilbrod I'd start biting people if I had to sit next to drunks singing holiday songs and little kids vomiting eggnog, and people being really cranky about holiday cheer.

So you see, we have it all planned out, down to the emergency kibble and puppy eyes.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 18, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Bill Everything, we have to keep the russkies out of Afghanistan and prevent the Evil Empire from taking over the world. It's the same memo as twenty years ago.

Wait, forget the russkies part. Everything else is the same.

Plus ca change....

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 18, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

I know I'm being kind of sentimental, but I must say how much I enjoy SonofCarl's comments. Always so witty and clever. He makes me guffaw. Which girls really shouldn't do, much.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

It is the "Great Game." The Russians and the other Imperial powers were fighting over Afghanistan in the 19th century because it was the road to the Jewel in the Crown. The Charge of the Light Brigade was written about the Pashtun lands and the ignominious retreat of the Brits (and simply mirrored the latest sending-off of the invaders).

Have you all read James (Jane) Morris's "The Great Parade"? He (as he then was) writes about an Afghani Pashtun tribesman, who, when asked whether an invading force would succeed in his country, said, whistling through his teeth, "No."

Most Western powers fail to learn the lessons of history. It is sad. Anyone who thinks that they can defeat the Afghans in their own territory learns, even if it takes years, that they are mislead.

Posted by: Yoki | October 18, 2007 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod -- or Wilbrodog -- you should write a children's book about service dogs. You have lots of good stuff already done in Wilbrodog's blog and comments on this blog.

It would be good for young kids to find out about the dogs, the training, the jobs they do. I never knew about service dogs (except for seeing eye dogs) until about 15 years ago when we had a really nice Golden training in our office. He could call for the elevator by the time he left us for the next step in his life.

I think it would be a great book for about 10 - 12 year olds.

Posted by: nellie | October 18, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Girls should guffaw more. And agreed on SoC.

And praise your dogs for being mind-twisters. It is important that dogs daily inject the fun of unexpected playfulness in life :).

Have you ever read Pawprints in History by Stanley Coren? It's a very amusing historical read, and actually mentions MacKenzie King, who apparently was the Canadian PM during WWII.

I checked, and the author is Canadian. Sly, slipping some Canadian pride into the book. This may also account for the excess of Newfoundlands in the book. Apparently one saved Napoleon's life.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 18, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, Maggie, you can resume breathing. Sox won, 7-1.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 18, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

No, no, that dog did not CALL for the elevator, he stood up and pressed the button.

Thinking about it, it was pretty easy, because we were on the basement level and there was only one button, for "up."

Posted by: nellie | October 18, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey Wilbrod

The Current Idiot went to A-stan to show we weren't gonna take 9/11 sitting down.

Like everything else he turned his hand to, it will take take the next admimistration to show any benefit.

Posted by: bill everything | October 18, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

i've been through o'hare at all times of year. the underlying problems is not the holidays, but a little thing called winter and another little thing called weather and a third little thing called "too many @#$% flights."

i'm not complaining about flying, post-9/11 security checks, or fears of whatever. after years of flying internationally, those things don't even register.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 18, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, Be Careful! It's only the ninth inning!!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 18, 2007 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Nellie. You're not the first to say so, but you know, writhing on the floor and writing on paper are two different things.

Sad to say, this was actually my first writing effort when I was a pup. Allow me to quote.

"Me dog. You read. You see me work. Me work good write. Good boy to me! Happy and food all around? Feed me NOW "
(reconstructed from a piece of paper ripped up, chewed,and smudged with drool).

Not exactly bestselling stuff, huh? So I practiced some more. And I want to grow up a bit more.

I'm still too young at heart to "repent" all my puppy mistakes that make for majorly amusing stories and strike the proper somber and mature tone required for such a responsible dog as I am supposed to be.

Ah who am I kidding?

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 18, 2007 11:57 PM | Report abuse

As someone who flew out of O'Hare for 25 years, I know that 'weather' is the No. 1 reason for delays and other screw-ups there. Of course, when they said, for example, 'weather in Boston, I called friends there and found that the weather was just fine.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 18, 2007 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Okay, NOW we can say it


Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 19, 2007 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I'm so excited to travel, I'd be glad to be chained to a galley oar to get to my Destination of Choice.

Plus, it give me an excuse to wear my Gladiator outfit on a Travel Day [don't Gummint regs say you have to dress appropriately when travelling on Gummint Bizzness?]

When airships come back in vogue during the latter half of the 21st century (should petroleum reserves run down as some doomsayers keep telling me), I expect that advertising for Coach seats on Jet Bruise will involve some tagline along the lines of "Oar seats are aggressively priced for a reason."

And when you ask a flight attendant to give you something from the galley, it more than likely will involve a taste of the whip.


Posted by: bc | October 19, 2007 12:43 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if we could do this on a plane:

(Link directly to 7.0 mb video:)

You might want to bulk up for the lifts before we practice though. I'm a little heavy now.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 19, 2007 1:07 AM | Report abuse

That comment was for bc, by the way.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 19, 2007 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I'll grant you, Wilbrod, that Gladiator and Best Friend are dignified, but the Gladiator's in his dress uniform, not really the Active Duty leathers (hint: there's far less of it).

I wonder if the Red Sox can pull the series out...

I also note that Yankess manager Joe Torre turned down the team's offer for a 1-year contract extension (with a 1-year option).

A question of the day: did Musharraf have any knowledge of or involvement in the attempted bombing of the Bhutto convoy?

Also, some pretty nervous days in Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools, with the staph infections that appear to be spreading through the use of gym equipment.


Posted by: bc | October 19, 2007 7:15 AM | Report abuse

It's raining, it's raining! Hard enough to be wet under the trees!

I sat on one of the front porch rockers and just took it in, the smell and the humidity and the sight of drops hitting the pavement.

This IS a good morning!

Posted by: Slyness | October 19, 2007 7:22 AM | Report abuse

*postponing BackBoodling for a well-deserved set of "we're not worthy" bows in the general direction of Mr. Beckett*


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 19, 2007 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Number 2 daughter just called to ask who won last night. She said, if the Sox lost, she would only wanted to hear it from me. Luckily, I had seen enough of the game to know they were ahead and had seen the news this morning. I do think that ball Manny hit was a home run tho.'

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 19, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

SCC: would have only wanted to hear it... Ugh, need more coffee fast.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 19, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Sneaks, MaggieO'D, 'Mudge...

Am I alone in thinking McCarver needs early retirement? As in last year, perhaps?

Manny does need some practice sliding though, yeesh!!! I never knew A.J. Piersynski used Kenny Lofton as his model for "most annoying player."


And as I said yesterday, the car bombing in the general vicinity (he said "general," hah!) of Ms. Bhutto ranks right up there with a sunrise on the "no surprise" scale.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 19, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 19, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

call me bad at guessing


the three I got right I knew

the seven I got wrong i guessed

nneeeed mooore cafcafeineine

Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

oops, 8:22 is longest place name in an English speaking country. the name of a hill in NZ

Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

The ubiquity of those rolling tunnels to board plane gets us spoiled. I've had to either board or deplane on stairs in the following places: Beijing, Narita, Hue, and Kennedy. For some reason, places like Charlotte, Nashville, and Louisville are able to keep you indoors at all times.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Okay, I'm going to probably be out of step here, but I assert that there was a very legitimate reason to go into Afghanistan, and there is still a very legitimate reason for staying there.

Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban, who, in addition to harboring Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, was also sponsoring efforts to bring about a Taliban-like regime in Pakistan. That Al-Qaeda represents a legitimate threat has pretty much been established. That a fundamentalist controlled Pakistan would be worse is a reasonable position because they already have nukes. Al-Qaeda with nuclear weapons is generally accepted as being scary.

And, of course, the Taliban really was a nightmare for most of the population of the Afghanistan. Especially women.

The problem with Afghanistan is that the administration declared "Mission Accomplished" way back in 2002 and diverted funds, troops, and attention to Iraq. As a result, the Taliban is slowly returning to power.

I know that it is fashionable to denigrate any application of American force, but in Afghanistan, I assert, there was, and still is, a legitimate need.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Last panel

GW: " the source of the quote is even MORE apparent"

yeah right...and I'm just dumb

Anybody know who this apparent is?

Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, all. I'm wary of commenting on last night's baseball match, except to say that the replay of Ramirez's shot off the wall showed that it bounced off the yellow stuff and back into the field of play. The call was correct and didn't affect the outcome of the match. I kind of knew the Tribe was in trouble when Sabathia kept loading up the bases. One can only pitch out of so many situations before the statistical advantage swings to the other team.

Posted by: jack | October 19, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Dagnabit, I hate when the Comment Hog eats a perfectly good SCC!!!

Gesundheit, of course.


7/10, tripped up by another movie question...

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 19, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

When the G family flew to Tulsa in January, we went through Minneapolis for one flight and through Detroit for the other. We had so little time between the flights and we had to run so far, so fast, I honestly don't know which was which.

Which airport has the psychedelic lights above the walking sidewalks? We were disappointed we couldn't spend more time enjoying them.

We made it to Tulsa on time, but of course our luggage did not.

Posted by: TBG | October 19, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse


I have the impression that GW is saying the voice is coming from an unexpected body part...


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 19, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

6/10 - I am on a roll for guessing aided by just a smidgeon of knowledge.

RD I agree about Afganistan, although probably with a heavier weight to helping the women of that country. The current situation saddens me. The desire by Canadians to pull our troops out in 2009 I think stems in large part to a) the loss of life by our troops and b) no sign of lasting change in the country.

Posted by: dmd | October 19, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I add the following to yello's list:

Calgary, Toronto, Kai Tak, Chennai, Ninoy Aquino, Reagan National, Guarulhos, El Alto and Liege.

In the old Kai Tak, there were no boarding announcements. If you didn't find the right gate at the right time, tough. Don't know if that has changed in the new facility.

Posted by: Yoki | October 19, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

TBG - my favorite airport incident was in Tennessee, when they cancelled my flight at the last minute because of mechanical problems. They transferred me to another flight at the other end of the terminal. Scheduled to shut its doors in about 90 seconds.

I still vividly recall the woman at the counter, with her profound Tennessee accent, telling me that I could still make it if I, and I quote, "Hop over like a little bunny."

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Ooooh! Just read that Beckett blew off Fox's pleas for a postgame interview.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 19, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh, omin. THAT hill.

Know know know knowknowknowknowknow knowknowknow knowknowknow know your current events!

Posted by: jack | October 19, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

TBG - I think the psychedelic lights are at the Phoenix airport.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, please... we call it just National Airport.

Posted by: TBG | October 19, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

once in Rio awaiting a flight to Brasilia I almost missed it. The announcement was of course made in Portugeuse. But I saw people going through to board and thought uh,what. then my nervousness go the better of me and I went to check it out. It was my flight leaving an hour early. Oh wait, time zone difference. Rio is an hour ahead of WDC. D'oh. and Whew.

Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I love that, TBG! About 30 years ago the municipal government of Edmonton changed the name of a landmark park, from a colonial reference to the name of a local politician. I can pretty accurately judge the age of Edmontonians by which name they use, to this day.

Posted by: Yoki | October 19, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Not unlike Dorval Airport in Montreal or the O'Keefe Centre or New "Massey Hall" in Toronto Yoki, where I stand on this issue is obvious.

Posted by: dmd | October 19, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

got more caffeine, but apparently that isn't really my problem: 3/10

Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

8/10 on the quiz. Does this make me a "made man"? 'Course my nitpicking over Marilyn Monroe yesterday probably makes me a "maid man".

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 19, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Detroit airport has the psychedelic lights as well, in the underground passageway between the two almost vertical escalators.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | October 19, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

K-guy, you're just showing off.

6/10, changed my answer on the Volstead Act from correct to incorrect.

Add Long Beach to the list of airports one goes outside and up and down the stairs to the plane. The last time I was there, I walked to the plane while it was raining. Fun.

Yello, I hope you understand and appreciate the reason you don't go outside at the Charlotte airport. Have you ever gotten to sit in one of the rocking chairs?

Posted by: Slyness | October 19, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse


That counter person had you pegged as a bunny person from a mile away...


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 19, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I love the Long Beach airport! You even pick up your luggage outside. I didn't think it rained there, Slyness. Oops.

Shrieking.. thanks.. it was the Detroit airport on the way to Tulsa then.

The last time I picked someone up from Dulles, I parked in the parking lot and took the underground passage from way out there into the terminal. The walking sidewalk and underground tunnel are pretty much deserted and it looks like the futuristic place I'm sure Saarinen imagined when he designed the airport.

Son of G kept saying, "Dave... I don't believe I can do that."

Posted by: TBG | October 19, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Caution, the moving walkway is ending.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

And does anyone else remember when the tram announcements at the Atlanta airport sounded like the Ceylons from the original Battlestar Galactica?

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Wow - colored lights in Detroit too?

They're spreading...

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

The coolest airport I've ever been through is the one at Kona, Hawaii. Four gates, modeled on picnic shelters, with a covered walkway to the tiny terminal, and a runway long enough to accomodate an L1011. Which we saw on the tarmac.

Posted by: Slyness | October 19, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

The scariest landings on the East coast should include LaGuardia and National Airports. I've heard that the old Denver airport provided quite the ride as well.

Posted by: jack | October 19, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Heck, Slyness, the city of Portsmouth, N.H., and the state have been trying to make an airport out of the former SAC base in the city; its runway's long enough to have been considered an alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle!

No picnic shelters, though.


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 19, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Jack I would take landing at National over LaGuardia any day, the first time I flew into National was with a nervous flier, she would attest that it can be scary - I thought it was fun and the view fantastic. In bad weather I can see where white knuckles may be involved.

Posted by: dmd | October 19, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

The best part of landing at National is when you get to wave at the people in the Rosslyn Towers as you fly by.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

7/10 on the gangster quiz. I worked with a guy that followed mobsters like other people follow baseball. He wanted the day off to go to Gotti's funeral.

Tell me more about Charlotte. I do know that the airport is very close to the appropriately named Trade Street.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm always surprised to find that no stoner is "caught" in the Detroit tunnel. Maybe it's that potheads don't travel. Detroit International is an airport for passengers in good shape. I bet there is more than a mile and a half between the F and A terminal.
Nearly as good as being there.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | October 19, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I used to work on the tenth and top floor of an office building due south of the main runway at Tampa International. One coworker would see planes taking off at an angle not quite steep enough and he would huff at the window and windmill his arms to help the planes up.

It must have worked because we never had a front wheel come through the window.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Trivia: The ell-ten-eleven is the plane on "Lost".

Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Piggybacking off Padouk's 8:45 a.m. post (Iraq) and on-topic (Joel's mention of the Dalai Lama gig in D.C.).

I mentioned that I recently bought a book, "The Wisdom of Foregiveness: Intimate Journeys and Conversations," by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan. (Joel ended this Kit by explaining that he was seated next to a Tibetan monk on his flight.) Quickly perusing this book that I now own, it was some of these passages, pp. 123-125 in the chapter titled "Rifle in the Bedroom" on the subject of interdependence, that prompted my decision to purchase:

"For example, Saddam Hussein," the Dalai Lama continued. "I get the feeling in the eyes of President [George W.] Bush, Saddam is one hundred percent negative, solidly negative. Only way is elimination. But reality not like that."

"What is the reality?" I asked.

"I think two levels. In conventional level, Saddam Hussein not one hundred percent wicked from birth--not something unchangingly bad." The Dalai Lama's hands circled each other, shaping an invisible sphere. "That wickedness comes from many other factors, not only from him. Therefore not independent. It is dependent on many other factors, including Americans themselves. During the Gulf Wars, everybody blamed Saddam Hussein. That I felt unfair, and my heart went out to him."

The Dalai Lama's heart went out to Saddam Hussein? To someone who had brought disaster to millions of people? This highlighted a singular truth about the Dalai Lama. His worldview, the way his mind works--however rational and inspiring they may be--is very different from mine [Chan's].

"Saddam Hussein's dictatorship did not come out of the sky by itself," the Dalai Lama explained. "Saddam Hussein: dictator, invader, bad." He ticked off the points on his fingers, his expression grave. "But bad things happened because of his army. Without his army, without his weapons, he cannot be that kind of aggressor. These weapons not produced by Iraqis themselves, but come from West. Western companies helped to produce this aggressor. They did it, but afterward they blame on that person. Unfair."

[Was Bush aware of the Dalai Lama's stance on the Gulf Wars when Bush invited the Dalai Lama to visit the White House?]

The chapter ends with the Dalai Lama explaining why he keeps a rifle hung by a leather strap above his bed--the rifle in the bedroom--the Dalai Lama very nervous about having it photographed and people getting the wrong impression of him:

The Dalai Lama went on to tell me that he had had the air rifle for decades. "I often feed small birds, but when they come, hawks come also. This I don't like. Big hawks eating small birds. So, to protect these small living things, I keep the air rifle. Not to hurt, but just to scare them away."

Posted by: Loomis | October 19, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

RD, I agree with what you said about Afghanistan. There are still a lot of reasons to be there.

Posted by: dr | October 19, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

loomis - my post was on Afghanistan.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

some photos:

Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

One of Charlotte's nicknames is the Hornet's Nest. The city earned the moniker during the WBTS when the Union troops were trying to vanquish the Confederate troops from the area now known as Myers Park. Many of the roads took a winding path and intersected many other paths. There were so many places for the Greys to hide and take pot shots at the Blues that the Union officers likened conflict in Charlotte to walking into a hornet's nest. The CPD shoulder patch has an embroidered hornet's nest, the badge is a stylized hornet's nest and our former NBA team chose the moniker.

Posted by: jack | October 19, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

The Afghanistan/Iraq situations are not analogous. Having Republicans in office on 9/11 insured a strong reaction against the true culprits. Wimpy military reactions to previous attacks under Democratic leaders had emboldened the terrorists.

My one worry if Gore had been elected (well, not that he wasn't) was if we would have reacted strongly enough against the Taliban government to put al Qaeda out of business and bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.

What's that? Oh, never mind.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Wrong again, it was the Revolutionary war, not the WBTS. *putting on my dunce cap*

Posted by: jack | October 19, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

MSP has the lights too, but only between the newest concourse where the little puddle jumpers park and the main part of the Lindbergh terminal. A hint for making quick connections there-don't take the tram, go up a level to cut across on the moving walkway. All the flight attendants know this trick and can direct you.

RD is right. We had a valid reason to be in Afghanistan, and would be a lot farther along in the GWOT if we'd kept our eyes on legitimate military action.

Yoki-do bite your tongue and never use the R name in reference to National.

Watching Pakistan with great interest and if it were possible holding my breath until this administration is over. Time to post that Backwards Bush clock link again:

I was not aware of the absolute depth of my disdain for W until I heard him on the radio last week and he said a phrase that ended in "Burma's military junta." My immediate response was to think "I wonder who taught him to pronounce 'junta' correctly."

Posted by: frostbitten | October 19, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I unexpectedly got to use the new Hong Kong airport in February. Lots of shopping, affordable food (and lots of happy eaters), and utterly non-claustrophobic. Lord Foster's architecture firm (which should have been contracted to rebuild the World Trade Center).

The old Key West airport of a decade ago was a small but well-preserved 1950s modern building with vintage acoustic tile ceilings. They were planning to tear it down and put up a "Key West Style" replacement that would look like something out of a strip mall.

Orlando Airport incorporates an old SAC base (McCoy), so its acronym remains MCO. The terminal's unusual design won't be replicated when a proposed new terminal is built. If my memory's correct, the terminal once had ground-level parking so hurried customers could drive in and take the elevator up to the departure or baggage claim areas.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 19, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

RD, I *know* your 8:45 a.m. post was about Afghanistan, but you did write the following, mentioning Iraq.:

"The problem with Afghanistan is that the administration declared 'Mission Accomplished' way back in 2002 and diverted funds, troops, and attention to Iraq."

Padouk, if you'll check your dates, the "Mission Accomplished" speech was given by President Bush on May 1, 2003. The fact that Bush chose to deliver his victory address aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln raises my hackles no end, given the number of Loomis descendenst who were close to President Lincoln in some many ways, large and small.

Paul Krugman has an interesting column today at the NYT, and uses the trademark symbol for the term "War on Terror." Since when is the term under trade or copyright protection?

Since the Champagne Rudy Kit is history, Krugman does raise an interesting point in his last two grafs about the question, "Who pays for the party?"

Here's an example of the sort of thing that makes you wonder: yesterday ABC News reported on its Web site that the Clinton campaign is holding a "Rural Americans for Hillary" lunch and campaign briefing -- at the offices of the Troutman Sanders Public Affairs Group, which lobbies for the agribusiness and biotech giant Monsanto. You don't have to be a Naderite to feel uncomfortable about the implied closeness.

I'd put it this way: many progressives, myself included, hope that the next president will be another F.D.R. But we worry that he or she will turn out to be another Grover Cleveland instead -- better-intentioned and much more competent than the current occupant of the White House, but too dependent on lobbyists' money to seriously confront the excesses of our new Gilded Age.

yello: I have to agree with you in part--the Democratic or Clinton response to bin Laden was poor. Yet, I have to disagree with you in part about Republicans chasing the real culprit. Given Tora Bora and the mistakes made in the initial campaign in Afghanistan, I would venture to say that the Republican response was pretty wobbly.

Posted by: Loomis | October 19, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Jeepers Linda, I was referring to the ill-advised concept of premature "mission accomplished" not the infamous Iraq speech.

By referencing that specific language I was being, you know, ironic. I thought that was pretty clear from the context.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

DotC's comment about MCO reminds me that my favorite part of National remains the old terminal. Though the new terminal is beautiful, pulling up to the old one and watching people tumble out of taxis accompanied by a cacophony of horns just feels like the beginning of a real journey.

Mr. F has often voiced Yello's concern that if Gore had been inaugurated he might not have taken such swift action in Afghanistan. I remind him that not every liberal, Democrat, non-neocon (however you want to describe the anti-W) is reluctant to use force. Using myself as an example, I would have gone in before the Taliban destroyed the giant Buddhas. Perhaps it wouldn't have prevented the 9-11 tragedy, but AQ wouldn't have been comfortable in a frostbitten Aghanistan.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 19, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Linda, I think our yello should have invoked one of his kop soppets on this one.

Frosti, I know about the lights (and sound!) at the MSP as I did take a puddle jumper from there. One of my worst mistake ever. Should have rented a car and drive the few hours. The flight had been concelled days before. (what, you didn't get our e-mail? No. Oh, we are so sorry about that. Why haven't you phone me? Not our policy). The flight out the small town (can't remember which one)was delayed something like 6 hours, missed the connection in MSP as a result and had to sleep, again, near MSP. grrrrr

Posted by: shrieking denizen | October 19, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. I agree with RD's view of our initial military involvement in Afghanistan, and with his & yellojkt's view that it quickly became yet another example of the Adminstration's incompetence and inattention. Feh.

Airports where I've walked down a staircase: Durango, Colorado; Santa Barbara, California; somewhere in Hawaii.

Great Parenting Moment: Yesterday the Boy called me at work to ask what I'd done with his English homework packet. Nothing, as I hadn't seen it. I recommended he look through every piece of paper in that backpack (classes on alternating days means two backpacks). But he had!!! I get home from work, go to pile of papers on floor. The second paper I touch is the homework packet. That was both amusing & annoying. The great part of it was the ability, all evening, to say, "Did you ever find your homework? Oh, that's right...." [snicker]

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 19, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

My reactions are sincere. I WAS glad we had a Republican in office to take firm quick and decisive military action against a rogue state that was sponsoring terrorism. When I saw the handwriting on the wall in late 2002 that an invasion of Iraq was going to be part of the package, I did an immediate about face. I have several witnesses that heard me predict a complete fiasco and disaster if we invaded Iraq. I am very sad to have been proven right.

I can't say for certain that Gore's reaction to the Taliban would have been sufficient, but then I was not clearly ironic enough in pointing out that Dubya's hasn't been either. UBL is still on the loose and our nation is more vulnerable to a terrorist attack than we were six years ago and more likely to be subjected to another one because we have stirred a hornet's nest we didn't need to.

In toto, we as a nation are worse off with the ill-conceived Saddam whacking than we would have been with a Taliban wrist-slapping, but that thesis can never be proved or disproved.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Wednesday was PSAT day at my son's school. The seniors are given busy work so we let him skip school for the day. He slept in late and then went to his old elementary school to mentor a fifth grader that has exhausted the GT elementary math program.

The next morning he called from the school asking me to find the "sick note" from my wife that he needed to be let back into class. If it had been in the backpack, he would have been fine, but he claimed it would have just gotten lost in there.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

When I used to place Dungeons and Dragons, a very much in demand magical item was called a "foldable hole" that had unlimited storage capacity. I think modern backpacks are similar devices.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse


Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy -- "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a prince of the Rohirrim!"


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 19, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

What? No "Joel's 2-cents" on "The Trail"?

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I could use one of those 'foldable holes' to take care of the file room.

Posted by: dr | October 19, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

OK, it has been making me crazy. What did the DL tell Bill Murray in Caddyshack?

Posted by: Yoki | October 19, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Chris Pine looks Shatnerish, but can he talk...LIKE...this?

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

This A-blog thing is so weird. I try to stay away (Have so much going on at work and home. Officially do not have time to boodle.) but then stuff comes up and I'm like, I just have to post that on the blog.

I was talking to my daughter at college, she said she found a cute webcomic that reminds her of me. She said, "I think this guy's mother was like you." That's a little scary. But I looked at it and sure enough it is clever and funny (that's not what reminded her of me; it was the language/math/nerd factor that did it). But as I looked at it further, I realized that I had already been at the site--it was linked from the boodle about three days ago (!) The way she came upon the site was, she typed in "iambic pentameter" to Google Images (don't ask why--she's an art student. 'nuff said.)

Anyway, funny site:

Best to all, now wish me luck in continued attempts to stay in the real world and out of the boodle for a while!

Posted by: kbertocci | October 19, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Yello: It's very cool that you son took the day away from busy work to mentor another child. Good work, Dad.

This fits my scheme for an interesting college course:

Posted by: jack | October 19, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Sure Karen. We've all said that. We all believe that we can stay away, and then whoops here we are again.

Besides, this IS the real world.

The real question should be can Cris Pine overact to that extent?

Posted by: dr | October 19, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

jack, I'm aghast at your telling of the story. At least you SCC'ed the war and got the right one!

General Cornwallis remarked that the Mecklenburg County area was a hornets nest of sedition, on his way from Camden to Yorktown. The battle of Charlotte occurred on September 26, 1780, when Cornwallis' troops skirmished with militia under the command of Col. William R. Davie at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, located at the intersection of Trade Street and Tryon Street.

Posted by: Slyness | October 19, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

(Stolen from a fansite.)

Carl: So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one---big hitter, the Lama---long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, folks. I wrote morning, and realized it is twelve o'clock. I've had my date with the washroom, and now getting ready to do some serious cleaning.

Thanks for the link to the Pitts' article. Boy, was that a hard read. But he's right about what's going on now. We need to get a handle on the changing attitude in this country. No one wants to rein in these folks that do "nooses". That was the problem when there was more of it.

I can't add anything to the kit concerning flying. Don't fly, and don't travel much. I used to ride the train, but like one poster noted, Amtrak can be a nightmare too.

More meds to take after the doctor visit yesterday, so if I seem a little bit more "loopey" than usual, it's the medicine.

Slyness, it's wet here too. This morning I got wet going to the laundry room, and I didn't try not to. The water felt good, and I am so thankful for it. It has been like a tinderbox here.

What's up, Mudge, Scotty, and all?*waving*

I would love to go somewhere that I've never seen. To have enough money to ramble and see, and not hurry. To stay where I want, and to stay as long as I want. Just get away. It sounds nice.

Have a great day, all. And I do hope your weekend is grand.

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

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 19, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, RD. I'm laughing.

Posted by: Yoki | October 19, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm with RD on the necessity of the war in Afghanistan. I also agree with yellojkt that the response to the escalation of terror directed at the US was too weak during the '90's, but I don't think Gore would have allowed 9/11 to go unanswered. We'll never know, but there's no getting around the utter incompetence of this administration and I'm hard pressed to believe that we would be in worse shape if Gore had been elected. (Not that yello said that.

I'm also struck lately by Putin strutting across the world stage and regularly cr@pping all over US interests. (Sorry, I hate crudity, but that's what it reminds me of...) I read an interesting article on Putin and his KGB training and how it allowed him to size up GWB and pretty much play him for a fool. Which GWB promptly proved with his "I can see into his soul" you think GWB ever has a moment when he realizes what a fool Putin has made of him? When he thinks, "Geez, he has made me look like an idiot- wait- I am an idiot?"

Posted by: Kim | October 19, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Joel's post is up at "The Trail"

Remember: set up a handle-friendly profile, sign on, post, sign off.

It's, you know, like all zenish.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 19, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Slyness. My selective memory has a way of not getting the story quite straight. Don't know much about history. All I know is that I wouldn't want to be an unwelcome guest in Charlotte at that time. Please don't be aghast with me. Understand that the story was recounted from a da*n Yankee's POV.

Posted by: jack | October 19, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

After reading Joel's $.02, I still think I'm supporting...

Error in '08!

Posted by: TBG | October 19, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

After the error in '00 and again in '04, do you think that's wise?

Posted by: byoolin | October 19, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, that is a universal parental experience. I used to say (until my wife and daughter could chant along in chorus with me) "There's nothing like really looking for finding stuff." I call this irritation therapy- you create an intense desire in the kid to do things for herself so she doesn't have to hear that phrase.
As far as speculating on Gore and 9/11, I can't help thinking that it's unfair to characterize the actions of the Clinton administration as "what Gore would have done" or even "what any Democratic president would have done." GWB had a couple of big things going for him that Clinton did not- Congress and the Pentagon. Try to imagine Clinton (with all his baggage) proposing to start a preemptive war and what the reaction would have been.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 19, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

whoo-hooo, I might actually finish work today. Then there'll be nothing stopping me.

Posted by: omni | October 19, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

k-guy brings up a very good point. With a Republican congress, Gore would have been severely criticized and second-guessed on all his military decisions no matter how aggressive. Dubya and the neo-cons obviously got a pass on this check and balance and ran the ball as far as they could before anyone noticed they were out of bounds.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Boodle. Checking in late after spending the morning at Georgetown having blood drawn. Took 'em a heat pack and three pokes to find some.

With reference to: "Wimpy military reactions to previous attacks under Democratic leaders had emboldened the terrorists": horse hockey, as Col. Potter used to say. (1) AQ and OBL were gonna do what they were gonna do with complete and utter disregard to any American response. (2) For the past seven years, the [alleged] administration has been highly, highly "tough-minded" and militaristic (enough to suit all you Concerves and Republicans?)--but has that deterred the Insurgency? Did it stop the bombings and bombing attempts in London? Did it deter the two dozens plot Bush claims to have foiled? Face it: there's NO linkage between what OBL wants to do and our response to this or that or any other previous incident. In fact, we invaded their country (Afghanistan)--and THAT doesn't seem to have slowed them down much.

If just doesn't suit the Republican mindset, but the fact is this: the terrorists just don't really give a flying you-knoow-what what we do or how "weak" or how "strong" our response is. But the GOP just won't admit that, because it doesn't suit their propaganda narrative. OBL isn't even paying attention to our responses--they are irrelevant to his game plan.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 19, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Daughter is going away for the weekend with a friend and last night, realizing we will be childless for the weekend Mr G and I looked at each other and said "Road trip!"

So we're off in a few minutes for a quick getaway to West Virginia. I believe it was 25 years ago this weekend we went to the same place for our very first weekend getaway together (but we didn't even make that connection until today!).

Might pop in tonight to say "hey." Y'all have a nice Friday afternoon, ya hear?

Posted by: TBG | October 19, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"flying you-know what"...saucer? Wallendas?

Posted by: LostInThought | October 19, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Saucer. You got it in one, Lost.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 19, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Yello, you may be right, but I think a Democratic president would have gotten Republican support for military action in the wake of 9/11. IIRC, Dubya's ratings were around 90 at that point, so he pretty much had everybody behind him. As my daddy used to say, hindsight's 20/20.

Posted by: Slyness | October 19, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Calm down. Have another cookie. I agree that terrorists do not take cues from our domestic politics. We are all the Great Satan to them no matter who has their finger on the trigger.

I'm not buying into any neo-con timeline, but UBL was hardly a household name until he found a way to get some really good publicity. Richard Clarke is probably about the only person really clued into how dangerous he was.

UBL was (and still is) one slippery fella. Still, I have a hard time picturing Earth Tone Al implementing a response resulting in the complete overthrow of the Taliban government. I would have expected something more surgical aimed at the al Qaeda infrastructure without any regime change.

Perhaps Gore would have done exactly what we did do since I am sure there was an off-the-shelf contingency for dealing with those guys. Perhaps not.

What I will state with absolute certainty is that we would not have postured and dis-informationed (and I do mean for that to be a verb) for months in order to drum up war fever over Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11 but was a persistent burr under the dude ranch pony saddle of the neo-cons.

Bin Laden's timing on his most successful attack was very unfortunate for Saddam Hussein who got caught in the blowback. It also seems increasingly obvious that we as a country are part of the collateral damage as well.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Airborne sheep=a flying flock!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 19, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, yello--but I think it is pretty much slanderous as well as moronic to think that "Earth Tone Al" (as you call him) would have responded to 9-11 in less than a fully satisfactory way. No, he wouldn't have attacked Iraq to satisfy his Oedipal urges and competition with Dad fixation. But I'm pretty d@man sick of listening to this crap about what weak sisters Democrats are supposed to be. As I recollect, one of that bred kicjed some butt in WWII -- when a bunch of lilly-livered Republicans wanted to stay out of it. And it was the GOP who hamstrung Clinton--and if he HAD tried to be more agressive those mealy-mouthed Gingrichites would have accused him of trying to deflect attention from Monica, or some such crap.

And since Earth Tone Al actually HAD some military experience, maybe he'd have responded much better in the first instance than the moron you voted for, and whom you were glad was in office, so he could freeze for 7 minutes while some kid read Pat the Goat when they told him America was under attack. Yeah, thank god for those tough-minded Republicans. They've done real well for themselves.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 19, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse


Uh, I think I said exactly what you said in your first paragaraph. Al would have retaliated. Anyone would have. I have no idea what level of force that would have involved. Nobody does, but Gore would have been second-guessed for political gain no matter what he did. Gore also would not have attacked Iraq for completely disingenuous reasons. Where are we disagreeing?

And we work our way back to my initial point exactly. Under Dubya we have spent over $800 million and nearly 4000 American lives and Osama is still sitting in a cave scheming.

There is a rule that while your enemies are self-destructing stay out of the way and let them. That may be what UBL is up to right now.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Take a flying flock at a rolling donut.

Posted by: Kilgore Sheep | October 19, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

And here I was thinking Flying Figs or Spaghetti Monsters.


Posted by: bc | October 19, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Watch more Monty Python, bc. It may take a while, but you'll catch up.
"Harold is that most dangerous of animals, a clever sheep."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 19, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"Et voici maintenant le mouton Anglo-Francais avec le propeller dans le nez..."

Posted by: byoolin | October 19, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

What we are arguing about: you wrote: "I WAS glad we had a Republican in office to take firm quick and decisive military action..."

That's all, but that's enough: you were glad we had a Republican in office, blah blah, blah. You apparently don't seem to understand the implications of this, which are that a Republican (any Republican, take your pick) would have handled the situation well, whereas a Democrat, *simply by virtue of being a Democrat* wouldn't. That's all. And that's enough. You were glad a Republican was in office on that day. And that's the crap I've heard over and over again, and am sick of.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 19, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

It's raining!
It's pouring!
The old man is dancing
in delight!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 19, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey folks. I posted my Trail item as a new kit.

Guess who I met today: Norman Borlaug!!!

Posted by: Achenbach | October 19, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I don't apologize for saying it. I was glad at the time. So were many people. I have since come to regret that opinion. I would think you would be glad for my Road to Damascus revelation.

Dems do have a soft and squishy rep whether it is deserved or not. I didn't invent the term "Earth Tone Al". My beloved Maureen Dowd had a hand in spreading that meme. Like "Dukakis In A Tank", those images stick because they reinforce an existing stereotype.

WWII was a long time ago and no politician since Bob Dole has a direct link to that era. Modern Democrats come out of the 60s where issues like civil rights and the Vietnam War were the defining experiences.

You are attacking a straw man. We are fighting the wrong war for the wrong reasons and I have never said otherwise.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 19, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Hi,Yoki. I meant to say hello earlier, but I kept forgetting.

Mudge, your response to that Republican myth is right on time. Republicans aren't the only men in this world, and I mean here in our country. And I wouldn't be touting that horn so loud with all the mess we're embroiled in now.

I also like your speech unknown.

The people of this country would have stuck with the person that was in the that office, the office of the President. There was unity and togetherness during 9/11, and people weren't thinking of Republicans or Democrats, just thinking about our loss and the hurt that 9/11 had brought into our families' and friends' lives. And that was the glue that held all of it together.

I get so tired of people trying to make political "gods" of these folks. They're men, people, men. MEN. That's all.

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