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Weird Science Getting Weirder

lava tube.jpg

[Lava tube in Hawaii. Photo by ScienceTim.]

Years ago I had to give a talk at a gathering of physicists in Minneapolis -- this is when my aliens book came out -- and the science editor here at The Post told me to cover a news conference involving a new property of light. Several scientists were going to discuss their new paper, titled "A Composite Medium with Simultaneously Negative Permeability and Permittivity."

My assignment, it turned out, was the equivalent of being told to run out onto a football field and tackle Ladanian Tomlinson. The story pancaked me. I had no idea what they were talking about. My story was incomprehensible. Here's a sample:

' When microwaves are beamed through the material they become focused rather than diverging, as they normally would, the researchers said.

' It is the combination of the specially designed copper rings arranged against the copper wires that gives the material the property of reversing the normal response to energy, the researchers said...

'Smith, combing through scientific papers on "negative permeability," came across an obscure paper from 1968 written by a Russian theorist, V.G. Veselago. Veselago predicted that a material with electric and magnetic response to electromagnetic radiation that is the opposite to the norm, if such a thing were ever found or invented, would reverse the manner in which the energy traveled through it....'

(Why is there always an obscure Russian theorist involved in all these things?)

I am pretty sure -- and would be curious if anyone out there could confirm this -- that the Minneapolis announcement was connected to the research that has led to the new cloaking technologies, as described this morning by Rick Weiss in his story that says that blacker is the new black.

As a science, physics has already had a cloaking device, insofar as it is impossible for most of us to understand what the physicists are saying. I'm still trying to find out the precise size of a smithereen.

A while back I went to Switzerland to see the Large Hadron Collider under construction at CERN. The story is now published, in National Geographic. Check it out. The LHC is probably going to find a thingamajig called the Higgs boson.

What a Higgs boson will be good for, no one knows. But you can bet scientists will find some kind of nifty use for it.

'The cynic might say that there's no practical use for any of this, that there might be other uses for all the money and brainpower going into these particle guns. But we live in a civilization shaped by physics. We know that the forces within an atom are so powerful that, unleashed and directed against humanity, they can obliterate cities in an instant. The laptop computer on which I'm writing uses microprocessors that would not exist had we not discovered quantum physics and the quirky behavior of electrons. This story will be posted on the World Wide Web--invented, in case you hadn't heard, at CERN, by computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee. Maybe you're reading it while listening to your iPod, which wouldn't exist but for something called "giant magnetoresistance." Two physicists discovered it independently in the late 1980s, with not much thought of how it might eventually be used. It became crucial to making tiny consumer electronics that used magnetized hard disks. The physicists won a Nobel Prize in 2007, and you got a nifty sound system that's smaller than a Hershey bar.'

[By the way, I understand you can work on the LHC experiment in your own home. See this and this. ]


I think a gap year is a good idea.

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 20, 2008; 11:27 AM ET
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Next: What McCain Should Have Said


first? When scientists finally harness the energy posessed by the Higgs boson, I hope it's in the form af a blaster. I'd even be willing to wait in line for one.

Posted by: jack | February 20, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Repost from last kit:

Welcome back, RD, and sorry to hear about your loss.

About the missile and our satellite--

I find it ironic that we were so teed off at China for using a ballistic missile to shoot down their satellite just a few short months ago. The US gummint cited concerns such as orbital debris that could affect our satellites and space station as well as the worry that China could go on the offensive and shoot down others' satellites. But all of that stuff is no concern if we want to do it. And we are left saying, "What's your problem, world?"

Posted by: Gomer | February 20, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I had a cat called Boson for a short while. Everybody said it was the stoopidest name ever. The cat was named Mockmock for the rest of its long natural life. Like that's much better, right?

I have serious chowder umbrage to take, maybe later if time permits.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Just don't call the cat Schroedinger...


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 20, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

My son cleans glassware for a scientist studying nanotubes which didn't even exist when I was in college. I expect that by the time his kids are in college, life without nanotech will be unimaginably primitive. Down the rabbit hole weird is right.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 20, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

All RIIIIGHT - subatomic physics!

C'mon now, don't we all remember that the size of the Higgs boson (that particle which determines how matter manages to actually have mass) will determine of the Standard Model holds up or not? I did Boodle that last week, IIRC.

As you slyly point out, Joel, *everything* depends on the Higgs boson.

Now, to try to work and read all this great stuff...


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Cleaning nanotubes would require nanotube cleaners. Detail work. I think that I read somewhere that nanobots could deliver medicines to a specifically targeted cells in the body.

Posted by: jack | February 20, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'm not offering to go up the mast on the higgs boson chair, that's for sure.

Posted by: Yoki | February 20, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I believe you'd need picoscale cleaners to clean nanotubes...

And bc, you're saying that if the crew on "Lost" found the Higgs, everything would make sense?



Posted by: Scottynuke | February 20, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Omni, just so's you know, I didn't take any umbrage, and I finished up that discussion at the bottom of the previous boodle.

Posted by: kbertocci | February 20, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

So maybe there's an explanation for what Pegorano calls "Windows Rot", a sort of prostate enlargement of the operating system, which grows increasingly slow and incompetent with age. I think his conclusion was that by the time it gets really bad, it's probably time to cashier the hardware, too.

So should I switch to a Mac Mini?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 20, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I can't see the logic in the argument that kids are entering college too young, so let's send them overseas for community service. The article does go on to say that not all countries are safe, that usually students go overseas after a year or two in college, etc. If the Princeton program were organized this way, I can definitely see the benefit. But sending kids who are unprepared for college overseas may ensure that they never come back. I know I would have been hard-pressed as an 18-19-year-old to come back to hard work, school, and drinking laws that excluded me.

Posted by: Gomer | February 20, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Hi kber, I knew there was no umbrage. Just wanted to give credit where credit was due (or should that be debit).

The part of this kit that amused me was 'got a nifty sound system that's smaller than a Hershey bar.'

Ha ha, sound systems do get smaller. But candy bars have been getting bigger. I've seen Snickers® that if cut in half and laid side to side would be just about as big as the original Sony Walkman®.

I wonder if that meteorite wasn't actually a spaceship from the planet Krypton?

Posted by: omni | February 20, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, I prefer to think of it as capital "E" Everything.

And some things would still not make sense (and I'm not thinking of anyone in particular here), but Cosmically speaking, think of it as doing an inventory of God's Kitchen, and we know that there's a particular spice used in the Recipe of Creation (aka God's Soufflé), but we need to find it to determine how strong that spice is, and how much would be needed.

We humans can see and taste the Soufflé of Creation and we have a lot of the Ingredients spread out on the Kitchen Counter, but we're having a hard time reverse-engineering the Recipe (for example, we know how hot to make it, how long it's been baking, and most of the major ingredients). Finding the Higgs spice will help, but I suspect that our palate isn't nearly sophisticated enough to taste the entire Soufflé to begin with, so our attempts to figure out the Recipe will continue to keep falling flat. But Everything tastes so wonderful - so rich, and varied, and subltle, and strong, and fulFilling, and *real* - that we want the Recipe for ourselves, so we can make it whenever we want, and maybe change the Recipe around a bit to Make it the Way We Like It. It's in our nature to tinker and do a little home cookin', if you know what I mean (caution: Sports metaphor). I love reading cookbooks and learning how to make things for myself.

Personally, I think someone will figure the Recipe out at some point, but the folks that do Get to the Bottom of the Soufflé might not be what we'd consider People.

In the meantime, let's gather 'round the table and enjoy this fabulous meal together, speak of food and families and love and Everything.

Bon Appétit everyone.


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Jasper White is regarded as a demi-god in Boston food circles. His chowder is outstanding, perhaps almost as good as Mudge's.

Here's his Fish Chowder, as posted on

new england fish chowder

50 Chowders: One-Pot Meals -- Clam, Corn & Beyond | August 2000

Jasper White

reviews (69)
my notes

To me, this is the most authentic and most important recipe in this book. It is the gold standard for chowder: a hearty main course with deep flavors, luxurious texture, and generous chunks of fish, onion, and potato. New England Fish Chowder is easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and doesn'2equire you to be fussy or exact. After making this chowder a few times, you will begin to understand the Zen of chowder.

Servings: Makes about 14 cups; serves 8 as a main course.
subscribe to Bon Appétit
4 ounces meaty salt pork, rind removed and cut into 1/3-inch dice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions (14 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch dice
6 to 8 sprigs fresh summer savory or thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1 tablespoon)
2 dried bay leaves
2 pounds Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3-inch thick
5 cups Strong Fish Stock, Traditional Fish Stock, Chicken Stock, or water (as a last resort)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds skinless haddock or cod fillets, preferably over 1 inch thick, pinbones removed
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or up to 2 cups if desired)

For garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1. Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over low heat and add the diced salt pork. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase the heat to medium and cook until the pork is a crisp golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cracklings to a small ovenproof dish, leaving the fat in the pot, and reserve until later.

2. Add the butter, onions, savory or thyme, and bay leaves to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, until the onions and softened but not browned.

3. Add the potatoes and stock. If the stock doesn'#over the potatoes, add just enough water to cover them. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously for about 10 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center. If the stock hasn'4hickened lightly, smash a few of the potato slices against the side of the pot and cook for a minute or two longer to release their starch. Reduce the heat to low and season assertively with salt and pepper (you want to almost overseason the chowder at this point to avoid having to stir it much once the fish is added). Add the fish fillets and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and allow the chowder to sit for 10 minutes (the fish will finish cooking during this time).

4. Gently stir in the cream and taste for salt and pepper. If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit for up to an hour at room temperature, allowing the flavors to meld.

5. When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat; don',et it boil. Warm the cracklings in a low oven (200 °F) for a few minutes.

6. Use a slotted spoon to mound the chunks of fish, the onions, and potatoes in the center of large soup plates or shallow bowls, and ladle the creamy broth around. Scatter the cracklings over the individual servings and finish each with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and minced chives.

Cod and haddock are very similar, but large haddock is just a little firmer and doesn'"reak up quite as much as cod, making it easier to produce a chowder with large chunks of fish. But even more important than the type of fish is the way you prepare it. Both cod and haddock, and their cousins pollack and hake, all flake apart naturally. Therefore, it isn'.ecessary to cut them into pieces. Simply add the whole fillets to the chowder, cook it a few minutes longer, and remove it from the heat, without stirring it again. When you reheat the chowder, the fillets will break into lovely big chunks of tender white fish. Most fish can be used for New England Fish Chowder, but if the fish you choose is not native to New England, then your chowder should be called "New England style." Depending on their tendency to break up naturally, some fish need to be cut into pieces.

Strong Fish Stock made with the heads and bones from the cod or haddock you buy for chowder is by far the best choice for this recipe. I urge you to make it, but if you can'4here are alternatives listed in the recipe.

For equipment, you will need a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot with a lid, a slotted spoon, a wooden spoon, and a ladle.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | February 20, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

At the other end of the university financial spectrum from Princeton, the Florida governor doesn't like whining about finances:

Don't Princeton students tend to become Financial Engineers? If so, do they mainly need to learn Chinese or an Indian language? Or is financial engineering suddenly so discredited that they'll find some other line of work?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 20, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Just responding to something I saw in Mudge's post at the bottom of the old Kit--and that I see all over the place.

John McCain, like GW Bush before him, never said he wouldn't raise taxes. He said "no new taxes." There's a big difference.

The taxes I pay anyway may be go up, but thank the FSM I won't have to pay a Sweet Potato Tax.

Posted by: TBG | February 20, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to mention that I resent the idea that students are entering college too young. They are entering college at the same age as their parents and grandparents, who usually had to work to put themselves through school. Myself included, a large percentage of college students have their tuition, room and board paid for. They are going to college at the same age that many of their peers are going to war. To say that they are too young for college is inaccurate. To say that some 18-year-olds are not ready for college is more accurate. To say that many of these kids have been babied a bit too much would be even more accurate.

Posted by: Gomer | February 20, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

BC! Huzzah, etc.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The work on the compound copper material was partly funded by DARPA. Back in the day I used to haunt those halls (although after they asked I stopped the wailing) and can report that, indeed, they were going for stealth. One of the folks involved was massively influenced by the Romulan cloaking device. I'm not sure what happened to that effort. It's like it disappeared! Haha..ha..ha

Anyway, I was fascinated by the new uber-black material. I can see how it could easily lead to radar absorption materials. But neither of these are "stealth" in the fine Romulan tradition. For absorbers just create a big void. What you really need is a technology that bends light around something. This is true invisibility. But Spock said so much better in "Balance of Terror."

I am interested in this ultra black stuff as a way of enhancing solar efficiency.

Plus, I hear it is really, really slimming.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 20, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

A gap year may be nice, but what about the poor kids who can't afford to go overseas, and maybe not even live on a low income in Americorps because their talents aren't necessarily for direct social service?

I entered college at age 17 and I was so mature, I got mistaken for a grad student (I hung out with a few).

On the other hand, my brother hated high school so much that he took a gap year and worked in construction and then was fully motivated and got summa cum laude in college and has a master's now. For him it was the right choice.

For me, it wouldn't have been the right choice unless I had found something that was really as enriching as college would have been. Sometimes I regret I didn't think of taking 5 years for college instead of 4, but not too much.

I have a cousin who joined the marines out of high school. By age 22 he felt very world-weary and sad at how hated Americans could be in other countries. He got the work skills he wanted and is now a happy civilian with a family.

I'm starting to think that you shouldn't hold people back when they're ready NOW.

The real question is to give them more than one opportunity and let them defer admission or balance work/internships/opportunities and school. Part-time students should have scholarship opportunities like full-time students.

Gomer, my cousin eventually came back when his tour of duty was up. It's not all beer and skittles aboard.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 20, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I think a gap year is a good idea too. We flirted with the concept because my daughter, although she was a good student in high school, wasn't especially successful in her college application process. She was accepted to her first choice school, but they didn't offer enough financial aid to make it a realistic scenario. She was unwilling to "settle" on an in-state school, so we were in a kind of stalemate situation, and considering that she was one of the youngest students in her graduating class, I thought it would be good to let her have a year off to develop her portfolio, since that's a major criterion for admission to art college.

Well, you would have thought I was suggesting that she should join a motorcycle gang and shoot heroin, or something. NOBODY else thought it would be a good idea; they were all scared to death that she would NEVER go to college if she took a year off.

I sent her off to a "pre-college" program the summer after she graduated. The faculty and admissions staff at that college--one she had not applied to--were very impressed with her and also mortified at the "gap year" idea. Bottom line, they recruited her, gave her a scholarship, and she's very happy there, in the second half of her junior year now. And we'll never know how that gap year would have turned out.

Posted by: kbertocci | February 20, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Agree with Gomer. You do not have to go far afield to get some of the stuffin' you need to do well in college.

Some kids to college; some kids to war; some kids lost in their parent's basement, high Halo scores amid pizza boxes and Mountain Dew cans......

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Agree with Gomer with this to add: If they're not ready for college, they're probably not ready for a year abroad.

Posted by: omni | February 20, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

A guy my wife dated before me enlisted in the Navy for a year before enrolling at Emory. He claims it was a great experience for him. The Princeton volunteer work sounds like an extended summer camp/Grand Tour scam though.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 20, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I muffed my last post; meant to say the gap year is fine but it does not (should not?) be only the idea of heading off to save the world on your parent's nickel.....

KB is right about the gap-year fear. I guess the basement scenario is one case for fear. However, I know plenty of kids who went off to college and returned to the basement....

Under-appreciated also is a good trade or artisan school option. I know a young man who is now, a full-fledged piano tuner and luthier (guitar maker); he has two small businesses and as happy as a clam.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

RD, thanks for sharing your father's funeral with us. Your description brought back some beautifully poignant memories for me.

May he rest in peace.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | February 20, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

wow, yello... I thought you and your wife started dating in middle school.

Oh.. wait... he joined the navy after she dated him. Whew.

Posted by: TBG | February 20, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm okay with the concept of a gap year, but what gets me is the study abroad programs. The son of a good friend is in Venice this semester, daughter of another is in Copenhagen and another in Florence. Friends of my daughter have done a semester in London. Where did I go wrong?

Posted by: Slyness | February 20, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Regarding a gap year. I think it is a super idea in principle, but hard to implement in reality.

Kids in many high schools are being worked much more than in years past because colleges are becoming increasingly competitive. It is a nasty cycle that neither the high schools nor the colleges seem willing to break.

For example, to have any hope of getting into the Virginia schools my son covets, he is working far more than I ever had to. I fear the lad may graduate in a catatonic state.

Therefore, I think a gap year, when he is able to relax and catch his breath a little before jumping into his freshman year, makes a lot of sense.

Alas, it isn't gonna happen. When I discuss this with him he recoils in horror.

High achieving college-bound kids do not take kindly to being held back a year. College is the goal. To push that goal back is perceived by such kids (and more than a few adults) as falling behind. Kids like my son do not like to fall behind. They want the prestige of being college students. And they want it now.

I think to succeed a gap year would have to become accepted as the cultural norm. Which won't happen until more kids do it.

Talk about your vicious cycles.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 20, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"I'm still trying to find out the precise size of a smithereen." --The Boss

A smithereen cannot have "a precise size" until an acceptable definition of a unit of metaphor is developed and a mathematics to manipulate these units is created. Unfortunately, writers--even scientific writers--all have undefined parochial interests that prevent agreement on any definition, in part because clear definitions would make them more accountable for the drivel they often pass off onto the public as interesting thought, in part because Real Men go to Tehran.

I thought everyone knew that.

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | February 20, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand all this fuss about finding the Higgs boson. Didn't anybody think of asking Higgs where he put it? Did anybody look on top of his dresser? Maybe he left it on the shelf over the bathroom sink when he put in his dentures in the morning and left for work.

*continued grumbling about having to do all the intellectual heavy lifting around here*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 20, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

The kit reminded me of A. Manette Ansay's book of short stories. Its title is "Read This and Tell Me What It Says."


Mudge, do you have time to critique Jasper White's Fish Chowder recipe?

Posted by: Maggie O'D | February 20, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Mudge.. my mom would have asked him, "Did you look under your bed?"

Posted by: TBG | February 20, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I took a gap year, one and a half of them actually. I spent half of it in Vancouver BC to learn to speak English, so you might say it was lost time for me...
I think a mature teen can do worse than spending some time abroad learning another language and broadening his/her horizons somewhat.
New England fish/clam chowder is great but Manhattan chowder, the tomato-based one, is purty darn good too. In my mind it's chowder.
Now the umbrage. I've read in two different places (including the WaPo) that chowder may come from the French chaudière because fisherman cooked in a pail. This is beyond ridiculous.
A chaudrée, pronounced "show drey", is a traditional fish and shellfish soup of the Poitou-Charente region (i.e. Atlantic coast) usually containing potatoes and onion. Sounds familiar?
It is as common and varied on the Atlantic coast as bouillabaisse is on the Mediterranean coast. BTW a chaudrée is the content of a chaudron (cauldron). No flipping pail in sight.
A chaudrée recipe:

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

RD, welcome back.
The idea of a gap year to me is after graduation of college before deciding to enter the workforce or graduate school or other professional schools. But the one I saw here is for freshman class admitted into college. What can they do abroad for a year? I still remembered the panic to help my daughter (myself?) get acquainted with the idea of her leaving home for the first time.

Posted by: daiwanlan | February 20, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Zackly, TBG.

Maggie, I thought it looked terrific. Initially I wondered about putting in an entire fillet, but then it later made sense that it would break up itself into nice chunks. And I loved the phrase "the Zen of chowder." All in all, it had me salivating. I wondered about the relatively small amount of dairy: only 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Still...if it works, it works.

I know I'm gonna try it soon.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 20, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Chaudrée never contains cream or other liquid dairy product, so the NE version is really an original recipe. But it always contain butter and , you'll all be flabbergasted, white wine. Yes, white wine in a French recipe. I know. Pretty unbelievable.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Woodstock: What's the password?
Ace Ventura: New England clam chowder.
Woodstock: Is that the red or the white?
Ace Ventura: Ah, I can never remember that. White.
[door opens]
Ace Ventura: Yes.

Posted by: omni | February 20, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"Who put the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder?/Nobody answered so we asked a little louder."

Posted by: omni | February 20, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Bonus points for paying attention. I "stole" my future wife from this guy in our junior/his senior year. He did his year in the navy and enrolled at Emory which is across town from my alma mater. He called me my first week in the dorms and all three of us got together for one awkward meeting that fall. Haven't seen him since.

His gap year came with a price. He still had five years of reserve duty to complete. For most kids a year before college is just going to chew up their or their parents savings as they "volunteer" on some program of dubious value. Not going to college immediately after high school also has serious health insurance coverage issues once kids turn 18. Still haven't figured out the intended value of this.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 20, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The boson will turn up in the last place Higgs looks for it.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 20, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

In the Chowder that Is the Universe, the Higgs boson is the cream, mais non?


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 20, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Now, let's hear it for the Higgs Boson.

Since the sneaky thing is a prime suspect for being responsible for mass (whatever that is) and mass is very involved with momentum, and trying to change momentum is a large part of what makes the world such a difficult place to get around, then VIOLA, A Harnessed Higgs may put an end (or at least a controlled reduction) to all that difficulty and resistence, opening a new world where FREEDOM has real meaning.

But, first, the little booger must be found.

Posted by: lowen | February 20, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Seen on NY Times (please to be noting last sentance)...

"Roger Clemens withdrew Wednesday from a scheduled appearance at an upcoming ESPN event at Disney World because, he said in a statement, 'I believe my current participation could be a distraction.'
Clemens had confirmed on Feb. 7 or 8 that he would participate, said an ESPN spokesman, Josh Krulewitz, but that was before he testified last week before the House oversight committee about accusations made by his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, that he used steroids and human growth hormone.
Clemens's name remains on the 'ESPN the Weekend' Web site along with a photograph of him posing with Goofy."

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 20, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

But even with all this weird science we are no closer to getting pouty lipped supermodels to appear just by wearing bras on our head.

Not to mention the flying car and meal in a pill I was promised.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 20, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"Clemens's name remains on the 'ESPN the Weekend' Web site along with a photograph of him posing with Goofy."

I thought that was a picture of him with Arlen Spector.

Posted by: TBG | February 20, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking, that definition is indeed beyond the pail.

Maybe that chowderhead thought a cauldron was just french for "stew bucket."

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 20, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, LOL.

Though with that talk of flying cars and meals in a pill I thought we were talking about Lindsey Lohan again.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 20, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

In an attempt to lure ScienceTim into the discussion I have posted a ScienceTim photo at the top of this kit.

Posted by: Achenbach | February 20, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

The size of the Smithereens is 4: a singer/guitarist, lead guitarist, drummer, and a bass player.

You're welcome.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 20, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"But, first, the little booger must be found."

Underneath the desk is the traditional place to hide these.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 20, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the lessons on chowder. I grew up on boiled dinner, which is corned beef plus cabbage plus your-what-have-you-handy root vegetables, especially potatoes.

Tis not stew;tis not chowder.

Tis yummy and satisfying. We, out West, typically made do with brisket because corned beef is rather an East Coast Jewish deli item.

We would send away to Omaha and Iowas City to get the corned beef for special occasions.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, among other monikers, is ShutterbugTim.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Snowing pretty good here on the west bank of the mighty Anacostia River. That sound you probably hear is the sound of sphincters tightening all over the region as traffic comes to a fullbore rush hour snarl.

Wilbrod, loved "beyond the pail."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 20, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

No snow, here, Mudge, in College Park (Southern exposure). However, all school activities are, off to pick up CPBoy. Baked ziti in the oven, Alfredo-style....

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I would love to enter the discussion, except that:
(a) particle physics is not my bag, at all; and
(b) I am about to traipse up the mountain for an 18-hour work day, getting our instrument onto the telescope and starting observations of planets & stuff. So I expect to be a little busy.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 20, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse


NukeSpouse and I watched an HD program on "The End of the Universe" (red giants, black holes, colliding galaxies, etc) and they had a lot of footage from the Mauna Kea facility. We watched very closely for you, but were denied the pleasure of shouting, "Hey, there's SciTim!"

Travel safely.


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 20, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I, too, would love to enter the discussion, except that:

(a) particle physics is not my bag, at all; and

(b) see (a) above.

Posted by: nonScienceTBG | February 20, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

So true with me also, TBG, but think about how much we learn from those who do know something!

Posted by: Slyness | February 20, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Hi yello, Scotty, CP, Mudge and all!

Here I am with a few minutes to boodle, and what are the topics?
Higgs Boson--I got nuttin'
Chowder--Other than liking to say "chowdah" I got nuttin'
Gap year--I'm probably the poster girl for why kids need to go to college immediately after high school, lest they wait 7 years to do so.

Posted by: Raysmom | February 20, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Now Slyness, there's the tricky part. I *want* to learn this stuff. I know there are folks here who can impart this knowledge. I even tried to read the "Blacker Than Black" article this morning. But try as I might, it all sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher to me.

Posted by: Raysmom | February 20, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Loved Gunther's photo in the mag, Joel; certainly makes the particle accelerator look like a menancing Borg tunnel, only more colorful.

My understanding of why they have miles and miles of tunnel for such tiny particle came when I was trying to do Gaileo's experiment-- the faster the balls moved, the more margin of error in timing the acceleration.

At speeds nearly the speed of light, maybe the real surprise is that we don't need a tunnel hundreds of miles long to be sure our calculations are reliable.

Joel, have you talked to anybody about the gravitional wave detector NASA's launching? Two probes pretty far apart will attempt to detect any distortions caused by gravity waves (which would be pretty big to start with). Sounds good if it works. SciTim probably knows the name of that gizmo whachamacallit... LISA-- Laser interferometer Space Antenna.

Thus ends the extent of any "intelligent" discussion on the Higgs Boson from me. I'm still waiting for the real GUT of physics. I still suspect mass is related to electromagnetism somehow, just like a tree is related to leaves.

Wait, that made more sense inside my head than it did coming out. Bless my heart, I'm quitting now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 20, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

"There once was a Boson named Higgs from Nantucket..."

Much more, and I'll get zapped.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | February 20, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Bless your sweet little heart, Wilbrod, I do appreciate your trying to teach me and Raysmom about physics!

I'd like to understand, but I rather doubt I have it in me to make the effort to master the background information. So I'll just be impressed with what the rest of you say.

Posted by: Slyness | February 20, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Stealing blatantly from Winston Churchill (an old friend of mine; we trade phrases back and forth all the time):

Science to me is `A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma'

Particle Physics was invented waaay after my time.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | February 20, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I thought particle physics were people who could tell you all about the used furniture you were thinking of buying, where it's been, who used it, was there laughter in the house, etc. Oh wait, that's particle psychics.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 20, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

As an "Amen" to Slyness 5:18, I have quick story, then I gotta run. Maggie, thanks for the eggplant parmasian receipe. It was a huge hit.

My daughter had invited an AirForce buddy to spend the weekend with us. They are just "good friends", but I could see my wife using her mom's X-Ray husband detector to see if he cut the mustard in that department. As for me, I was impressed that he had saved up a bunch of money in the AF, enough to travel the world for a number of months. Europe, Asia, you name it. Among other things, he studied Kung Fu at a Xaolin, China temple. He spent some time in Japan. (He also enjoys classic movies. Do I have K-guy's attention?) My daughter was afraid that her ignorant dad was going to embarrass her, I think.

He's a vegan, so we discussed what I should fix for meals. I asked if he liked eggplant. "Yes, I love the dish that Iranian restaurants serve..." he was struggling to remember the name of the dish.
"Baba ganush?(sp?)" I said, confidently. "I can got a good receipe for that." My wife looked at me, startled, with an expression that said, "Who the h e 1 1 are you, and what did you do with my husband?"

Later that night, as conversation wandered on about where he had been, I asked him what he thought of Kurasawa's work. He lit up like I had just pushed a button. Again, "the look" from my wife.

Moral of the story, pay attention to the boodle, and you won't embarras yourself in front of your kids. Your spouse will also wonder just who you've been seeing on the side. :-)

Posted by: Don from I-270 | February 20, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

SCC "can got" fingers done got ahead o' de brain

Posted by: Don from I-270 | February 20, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Don, eggplant parm is SO non-vegan. Did you serve it to him as is, or did you make substitutes with non-dairy ingredients?

Speaking as an Alzheimer's Patient in training, I thought it was Cassandra who wanted eggplant recipes?

Posted by: Maggie O'D | February 20, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Oh oh, a war of words over wordless thoughts....

Temple Grandin isn't alone in processing memories visually or without thought, but I must disagree that animals do not have any communicative abilities akin to language, if less complex. Tim Friend's "Animal Talk" really brings things into perspective. Second, since when is language divorced from sensory memory?

How many of you remember a memory as "words" only, no sensory input? Temple is confusing implict and explicit memory, as well as episodic memory vs other forms of memory.

Procedural memory is knowing how to walk, tie, play music, without consciously remembering how you acquired that skill.

Other forms can be recognition of familiar, recalling facts, etc. without remembering a specific incident when you learned this information.

In addition, repetition of the information in multiple contexts reinforces a specific association and reduces the strength of other associations when recalled. This forms the basis of language and abstract knowledge... and habit.

Episodic memory is strongest for unique encounters-- one-time learning of fear or positive associations. The integrity of episodic memories decay when accessed repeatedly as new associations form every time, or when similar memories keep being formed, overlapping.

As far as I have garnered from autistic writers, especially those with Asperger's syndrome, they have problems with sensory processing and dampening them down, and literally, they cannot coherently pay attention and process a face as a whole, but as bits and pieces there in order. They may retain episodic memory much longer because they are not able to associate similar memories very well.

Animals may well resemble autism in this way more than neurotypical people do, but it does not mean they lack this mechanism.

My dog almost certainly doesn't access episodic memory every time he's told to sit; he's practiced that command thousands of times in various situations-- it becomes a procedural memory instead.

As for me, I do indeed have the occasional strong episodic recall of the first time I learned something new, but subsequent times blur in my mind.

This is probably a safety mechanism imposed by our brains, because otherwise we'd be musing through volumes of memories and associations like how Proust wrote 3,200 pages when triggered by a Madeline cookie.
Normally we don't have that luxury, so we filter this out. I do believe that animals have this ability as well.

It perhaps not as strongly developed in animals due to shorter lifespans, and also that they may have filters already in place on what they learn and memorize in the first place.

Honeybees, for instance, have good memory for flowers despite having brains the size of a pinhead. They do this by attention-- they will stay on a flower for 30 seconds after finishing, just memorizing it and uploading it in their brain.

They do not memorize other things nearly as well because they don't engage in attention. I used to catch bees mid-air, hold in my hands for the buzz and they'd never learn my hands meant darkness was coming-- I could catch them again and again, and they never learned.

However, once I interrupted a bee memorizing the flower, captured it, and let it go-- and when I reached for it, it immediately avoided my hands. That was the only bee that showed an ability to remember being caught, because I had interrupted it when it was busy memorizing what it had already visited.

It's wasteful for a honeybee to remember all the landings that didn't lead to food rewards, so turning on attention/learning in specific situations is a nifty way to economize learning and memory.

Sounds like the difference between short-term memory and long-term memory, right?

It is possible that a person with Asperger's with sensory processing issues could not learn the association of hands with flowers as effortlessly as that bee did. But then, bees have complex communication and can learn symbolic rules in tests.

Maybe the bee was muttering to himself, "gnome hands.. been there, done that," instead of having an vivid episodic memory that the bee then was able to symbolize for other bees, but I doubt it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 20, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I must step in and correct all of you. Clearly, the gap year should NOT be given to students, it should be given to their parents. You go to Europe, the students stay at home till you return, hold down jobs, pay all your bills, etc.

It seems fair to me though just a bit hard to put into action.

Posted by: dr | February 20, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I think that particle psychics can only work with furniture constructed of Medium (ahem) density board.

I seem to vaguely remember being in some sort of late-night TV dream state and hearing Dionne Warwick talking about Particle Psychics. Or maybe it was furniture... I'm not sure, but I blame it on that last glass of port.


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Don, that's priceless.

Since SD has l'umbrage, a limerick with a nod to him (and hey! on kit!)

Physics, you may know, has a Grail
"A bosun named Higgs" goes the tale
The French have a Collider
with which they hope they will find 'er
(when not making their soup in a pail)

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 20, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Don loved the story - I often get that "look" from my husband now when I come out with something I heard here. The science topics I can't even try to repeat - one has to understand a little to be able to retell a tidbit.

Posted by: dmd | February 20, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod and SoC, I wish I had wit.
You(se) do.

Funny thing, the only thing you can do with ombrage in French is to prendre (take) it. I suspect a Latin root somewhere.

Don, we are an eggplant friendly family. I've done a couple of Persian/Iranian eggplant recipes from Claudia Roden's "Cooking from the axis of Evil" books (Arabesque and Tamarind&Saffron). If the guy had a description I might be able to find it. Iranian "layered" cooking is very good but a little labour intensive for my taste. I'm more of a Lebanese & Moroccan kind of guy. But I do the salted cucumber in strained yogurt thing, can't get enough of it with BBQed meat.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse


I see a bumper sticker, a yard sign, magnets, and other promotional proppies; TBG, let's get Cafe Press a sizzling.

The boodle is eggplant-friendly. Feels political. And smacks of justice-seeking.

Onward. To the great Aubergine in the sky!

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

dr, bless your heart, your idea of a gap year for parents, not students, is absolutely brilliant. Now, to figure out the funding...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 20, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

DR -- let's plan a knitting gap year, where we head to the Andes to comb fibers from friendly Alpaca creatures.....etc.

Then, off to Kashmir -- damn the bombs and line of control and ages-old enmity -- where we can watch goats frolicking in the high fields of the Hindu Kush......

And, then to Japan for lessons in cute-crochet and kawaii-knitting.

Mudge, feel free to respond in nautical terms, etc. Macrame. Scrimshaw. Starboard. Hardtack.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Here is science news, from two trusty sources
1) (blog that Mo Mo Do knows about)
and a
2)buddy who edits for the National Academy of Sciences.

GIGANTIC, prehistoric FROG

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

SoC keeps his golden limerick laurels, again.

And, I get a raspberry for breaking the boodle.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Would a knitting gap year be a loop year?

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 20, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I think that'd have casting off months, SoC.

BTW, don't encourage the gap year idea.. Joel is about to send a daughter off to college, and he might be all too ready for a gap year after this campaign is done.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 20, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Great minds work together, CP. Here's the secondary source, along with an artist's rendering of the frog in question, a female 16' wide and an estimated 10 lbs/4.53kg:

Posted by: jack | February 20, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the CIA should waterboard Higgs to make him confess where he last put his boson. Much less onerous than the GHC.

CeePee, I like everything froggish, so I'm really happy to know we now have a "glimpse of the anuran assemblage that occupied Madagascar before the Tertiary radiation of mantellids and microhylids that now dominate the anuran fauna", whatever that means.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Spotted that a couple days ago. I love the genus name: /Beelzebufo/.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 20, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

SoC -- loop year, yes, but the other loopy year might be spent in bedlam.

Wilbrod, am contemplating your entry. Lots there. I have had three Aspy students so far, only one who told me that he is Aspy. Wow. Interesting to teach them. Metaphor and other visual ways of explaining concepts are sometimes hard because they want to take them literally.

For example, when I tried to explain "spin" -- the journalism kind, I launched into the 40s swing song of


(Johnny Mercer / Harold Arlen)

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

He decide to compare orbital spin in physics to journalism spin in a three-page comparison essay. He QUOTED me, thusly:

According to Professor MacGillicuddy-Parkian, "You've got to accentuate the positive,Eliminate the negative, Latch on to the affirmative, Don't mess with Mister In-Between."

But, in a footnote to me, he say, "I still don't get this Mr. Stuff."

Great kid; exhausting, though, because he would follow me out of class to keep talking about spin, orbitals, pi mesons, quarks, Einstein-Bose condensates, the probability that the Hadron Collider might explode and take us all to the great Aubergine in the sky......

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

SD: Means we have a peek at what kind of frogs lived THEN before we got the frogs that are there NOW.

C+ on the writing.
"Too wordy; revise. Either put lengthy Biospeak in direct quotes or simplify. (Check definitions and references and/or ask a second source to explain!)"

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 20, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

It says the male frog was smaller. Was that really true, or did her butt just *look* big in that outfit?

It also says she was "a lady PAC-man frog, on steroids". I guess that would explain the deep voice, but wouldn't she have a mustache?

Posted by: LostInThought | February 20, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Jack. I hope your students enjoyed that one. And, yes, a flabspenderous genus name!

Pardon the typos: VERY COLD IN HEAR, below 60. I shall not last long.

SD -- just for fun, tell us the Frenchie for spatchcock, again. Such a meal that Gi-huge-ic froggie would make.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Whenever I see news of giants like the frog, I always think of that giagundo, bus sized fossil croc that fellow from the U of Chicago found. And dragonflies with 6 foot wingspans. I imagine that the naiads from that species baited some pretty large fish.

Posted by: jack | February 20, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

LiT, your comment about the female-generosity-ness would suggest this fraction:

Y/X rather than X/Y

(I bet this gets through. Take that, Hal!)

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Don't mess with Missus Beelzebufo. You were warned here, in Achenblog land.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

You just reminded me of my father. Whenever someone came to visit after we were sent to bed but before we fell asleep, we heard them. The next day we asked him who was there the night before, and he always said it was Aloysius McGillicuddy. If we pressed further he said that he just arrived from Labbasheeby. We knew not to ask any more questions.

Good times. His grandchildren frequently quote him no matter how little they remember him.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | February 20, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Clearing out here in hagerstown

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 20, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

CP, Wilbrod, I saw this story earlier in the day. Last summer our office donated some obsolete computer equipment to a company that converts the equipment to bliss boards, keyboards similar to what I believe is used in this article.

The story is of a young autistic girl and how she learned to speak through the computer - quite amazing.

Posted by: dmd | February 20, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, MoD, Aloysius MacGillicuddy was also invoked that way in my house. Must be standard operating Irish procedure (SOIP).

I should call myself Anastasia Aloysia

Apologies to any real MG peeps. Wasn't Lucy Ricardo's maiden name MacGillicuddy? 1000 points to someone how knows without wiki-trip.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Jasuz, that Aloysius sure did visit a lot of our families! He was a darlin' man, that one. Grand.

Posted by: Yoki | February 20, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

En crapaudine CP, "toadlike".

I made Cornish hens (poussins i.e. chicks) en crapaudine then closed them around a mound of stuffing to present them in their natural position, as suggested in the WaPo recipe for turkey around X-mas. A grand meal if I can say so myself. I have now carpaudined turkey, chicken and Cornish hens. Duck should be the next step.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

En crapaudine CP, "toadlike".

I made Cornish hens (poussins i.e. chicks) en crapaudine then closed them around a mound of stuffing to present them in their natural position, as suggested in the WaPo recipe for turkey around X-mas. A grand meal if I can say so myself. I have now carpaudined turkey, chicken and Cornish hens. Duck should be the next step.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I swear I didn't double posted. The Puppy must have done it.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Things that happened at yesterday's Obama rally that weren't reported by Milbank or local reporter Greg Jefferson.

An older Hispanic woman who sat with the bigwigs in the shaded portion of Guadalupe Plaza was able to ask Obama a question during the town hall portion of his appearance about taxes, she having retired from a position with the Internal Revenue Service. Obama answered her and threw in a "Muchas Gracias," but when he started talking about earned income tax credits, young people left in droves. Apparently, they couldn't take a serious policy discussion from their "American Idol" candidate.

At the Clinton rally, giving personal information was voluntary. Several volunteers stood, each solo, at various spots along the length of the line, with clipboards for those so inclined.

At the Obama rally, giving personal information was mandatory. I balked and spoke with a campaign volunteer about it. She left me standing in the line and went back down Guadalupe St. to Plaza Guadalupe to check. Yes, it was required that the information portion of the "ticket" to get in be filled out. A number of volunteers handed out a ticket, with a stub to be torn off at the door, to each person who was standing in lone and who wanted to attend the rally.

I asked if someone from the campaign was going to check the information on the information portion of the ticket against a driver's license. This 30-something woman shrugged and walked off, muttering that she was just a local volunteer. You bet I filled out my card--with completely bogus information.

Is Obama that desperate to win in south central Texas that he requires personal information be mandatory?

Posted by: Loomis | February 20, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

SCC I didn't carpaudined anything either. I

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

The giant puppy would have trouble clicking that tiny Submit button with his enormous paws. Gosh, but he's cute.

Posted by: Yoki | February 20, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Love this pointy-headed Kit, Joel. Good to see you "back", and in top form. Politics junkie though I am, I rely on the Boodle for science and News of Weird. Like coming home.

2/3 way through Boodle. No time to catch up. Busy with special projects requiring actual deadline-type work. Working halfway from home; in at 7, out mid-morning, dropping in some afternoons, working whenever can during day. Email. Bah. [insert grumble about IT idiot director who thinks emailing confidential documents more secure than remote access] Ivansdad with flu, going to San Antonio tomorrow to "help" Ivansgramma get home from hospital (read: stay OUT OF WAY until no more flu). The Boy with god knows what, missed 3 days of school, seems better. If good, school tomorrow. If not, doctor. I will not be sick. No time.

Short-order cook for 3 days, tonight: grilled cheese sandwich. Fruit plate with ham. For me, ground beef with spinach, leeks, egg (bast**d Joe's Special, if you know that recipe from CA). 1/2 perfectly good bottle of chateau-neuf-du-pape gone, some into supper dish. Choir rehearsal maybe interesting. Family under orders, lights out at 9 even if I'm not home.

This too shall pass. Right?

Howdy RD. Welcome home.

Gomer, loved comment about "immature" college students. Cannot pinpoint it. Very nice.

I hope more later. Carry on, all.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 20, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Jaysus back at you, Yoki! Who knew that MacGillicuddy belonged to all of us Ol' Sod-ers. Funny times three, at least.

Gilla is from Giolla, which means servant of or devotee of. Often, this trims to Gil, as in

Gilbride (devotee of St. Brigid)

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Oooh great picture Joel. I missed a giant puppy? definitely be back for that.

did I mention 4 long tedious phone calls, 3 while trying to work from home, all on subjects infinitely tangential to anything I am actually involved in? They want to talk to me, not me to them. Advice to all, except 1 where I just put the phone down until the voice stopped then picked it up and said something soothing. Bad. Bad. Penance someday.

Time to sing. Very cold here now. Good nights to all.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 20, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

I know why that ancient giant frog went extinct: Because it tasted like chicken.

After the C-T event (whatever you choose to believe it was) 65 million years ago and the larger animals began dying off, everything was fair game.

Pangaea Fried Beelzebufo: It's what's for dinner.


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Yes, CP. I'm not completely correct on all the terminology I used, I believe, but I'm going by what I know of animal learning (which involves dog training).

If you train a complex command without the dog knowing what all the bits mean, it falls apart or the dog guesses at things. In some cases, the dog can really anticipate a predictable command so well they seem brilliant, but they're only latching onto some things, like most second-language learners would.

So the rule is to generalize so the dog knows what a word always mean, and keep it simple and use words which the dog understands fully and build up meaning.

As I said once, to somebody who insisted "fetch" was language enough for a dog, "If you're in the bathroom and you shout out FETCH, the dog has no idea what you want him to get. None. If he does fetch something, he's either guessing from familiar objects to fetch or you've only trained him to fetch one thing."

To me, pointing and other "nonverbal cues" is indeed part of language (as it is in ASL). It's not a perspective most people share of course, because they're called "nonverbal" cues. In ASL they're part of the overall grammar.

Autism, I think, is an argument for the opposite.

Some severely speechless autistic children can learn to read and write language just fine; even write poetry. They can learn and use words in order just fine; this isn't aphasia or the other language impairment disorders we know.

Instead, the problem comes from trouble with input to their language systems, whether sensory or cognitive (likely both) that affects their ability to engage with social contact/conversation with others.

Some deaf with significant language delay also tend to be literal when handling written language because they're working so hard to understand new words and alien concepts that they miss the nuances. The more complex the material is, their stress becomes such that they can be suspicious when others laugh, thinking perhaps the joke is on them somehow, as they lack so much context for judging others' social responses appropriately.

I have a friend who grew up lipreading and she's horrible at listening to jokes because she's so busy trying to guess and piece what is being said, that she misses the joke until others laugh. She does better with signed and written jokes, but signed jokes had better be short and simple so she doesn't miss nuances (as it's not her first language).

I suspect there are multiple autistic disorders myself, and that the common thread is lack of eye contact and impairment in social cognition; because people with autism can have very different cognitive talents and weaknesses.

They thought sign language would help autistic children learn language. It didn't (except in cases where the autistic child has hypersensitive hearing or hearing loss)... the problem isn't in HEARING words for most.

My response to your Aspie student would have been to explain personification to him, and that it may indicate a fictional component, and to ask him if he could rephrase what you had said differently (probably couldn't), according to how he understands it.
Since he wrote a 3 page essay, he apparently has an certain ability to rephrase linguistic information, which is promising.
Then I'd probably discuss positive reinforcement techniques (in autistic circles, a similar form is called "applied behavior analysis"... he might recognize this term), and explain that the objective of spin is to shape people's attitudes by using positive reinforcement and suppressing any stimuli that might be punitive, and avoiding any neutral or ambiguous stimuli that might drown out the positive reinforcement.

But I do like that song :).

In his case, he heard spin and it hooked up to information he loved and he couldn't separate "spin" from physics... just like a dog that's taught to fetch a ball on "fetch" so long will have problems understanding... "fetch sock;" the associative learning is so strong that it has to be partially erased first for other associations to form.

It would be interesting if he in fact knows "spin" as a verb as in "to spin a top." It is possible he does not.

I have a cousin who would probably characterize himself (once I told him about Asperger's and he read up on it) as having a very mild autistic-spectrum disorder, including problems with eye contact, social awkwardness and a literal tendency.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 20, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Hope many of you are able to get out and watch the lunar eclipse tonight, moon is so bright right now. I am trting to talk pictures as the younger child cannot stay up late enough to see the full eclipse.

Posted by: dmd | February 20, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Wilbrod. DMD, I appreciated hearing about the computer donations to make connection possible. E.M. Forster's best sentence ever?

Only connect. (Frontispiece to _Howard's End_)

I am hoping to catch a
glimpse of the

Snow petered out here; what about others in this zone?

Off to check the sky with perennial puppy Poodle-MacGillicuddy-Parkian.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

dmd - alas, we are overcast here in Northern Virginia. I am bitterly disappointed because I find Lunar Eclipses a delight to watch. I especially like that "blood red moon" bit. Gets the primordial memories stirring.

Plus, you can look at a Lunar Eclipse and not fall down in blinding pain.

Oh well.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 20, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse


Autism is an argument for the opposite point of view to the idea that "nonverbal language" is separate from verbal language.

"Nonverbal gesture" fluency (whether heard or seen) are key for building up reception and conversational skills in any language.

Such "nonverbal" gestures have been found in speech-- an study that I was drafting a blog entry on. Guess I should finish it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 20, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

LOL, Don, yes indeedy, the things we learn on the boodle!

Ivansmom, life will get better. We promise.

I'm charging up the camera battery so I can take pictures of the eclipse. I hope I can get it to work.

Mr. T is in better shape now, Carolina is out front of NC State.

Posted by: Slyness | February 20, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Ooh wait! I stand corrected! (That happens a lot.) The skies have opened to reveal a glorious full moon. Perhaps I shall have my moment of primal memory after all.

Now, where *did* I put those ceremonial robes?

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 20, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Now if only I could explain to a very excited 7 year old that the moon takes its time turning red. One of our kitchen windows looks right out at the moon right now - the little one doesn't understand why I don't just sit there and watch - non-stop!

Posted by: dmd | February 20, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

eggxactly bc, beezelbufo legs fried in garlic butter andd served with a nice crusty baguette, hummmmmm, the breakfast of champion.

Right Yoki, and there is the brain thing too. As often commented in Dogue de Bordeaux circles the guy who named English bulldog the stupidest dog was not Dogue savvy. They are cute, friendly, the nicest dogs to handle and bury your hands in but clever they aren't.
Mrs Denizen's grand-mother, in her middle 90s, almost blind, almost deaf, loves the puppy for the tactile experience. The DdB really are like nothing else as a touchy-feely experience. But we have to be careful, the stupid thing is now quite a bit heavier than the old lady.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

ivansmom, i felt an asthma attack coming on while reading your comment. It made me breathless to read it.

that was me for the eggplant recipes.

this kit is too high for me. not. one. idea. about. the. subject. not. one. but I'm sure JA knows what he's talking aobut.

time for bed. I am sleepy and tired. have a good night, boodle. sweet dreams.

I hope you guys will listen to the radio program. We need the support. It's and click on Live Feed. In Hamlet, North Carolina. Thanks a bunch. Every Wednesday from eleven until eleven fifteen.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 20, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

We have crystal clear skies thanks to the -16C/4F temperature so a Puppy walk is scheduled in the 21:30-10:00 time slot.
Thee moon is simply spectacular right now.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

SCC I manage to even screw up numbers now. 21:30-22:00.

*furiously looking for fleece-lined ceremonial robes for RDP and myself*

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the sky's clear and I can see the lunar eclipse starting from my bedroom window.



Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Clear here, too, with mysterious clouds whisking past. Chilly now. So, will head out again in 15.

BC has the best room in the house.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm running out to take pictures every four or five minutes, I should go dig out a lawn chair and just sit down out there. I also need a tripod but the pictures are turning out okay. At least I'm only deleting about half of them.

The sky is clear and the eclipse is spectacular.

Posted by: Slyness | February 20, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Very cool. Nice of the weather to cooperate by providing perfect viewing conditions in the D.C. area. Fifteen or twenty degrees warmer wouldn't have hurt my feelings, but I guess you can't have everything!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 20, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Went outside with my binoculars, I can just barely see the shadow moving across the mountains of the moon.

Very cool.

View's still nice from my bedroom, and it's a good 35 deg F warmer there, too.


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Moon is about halfway eclipsed, the obscured half is starting to turn red.

I love this stuff.


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Been checking out the eclispe and it's awesome,I have to remind myself to not watch it on my way home. Also been telling guests to check it out. Our european guests are heading home tomorrow and are enjoying their last night in America.

Is it bon jour, or bon soir?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 20, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

gwe, bonsoir is goodnight, either arriving or leaving.
Bonjour is hello (greeting upon meeting) or have a good day (greeting upon leaving).
Adieux is farewell (do not expect to see them again).
On se revoit? (Should we see again?) is popular these days.
Off to a walk with the Puppy to look at the PURPLE moon.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

gwe, bonsoir is at night (say later than 16:00), bonjour during daylight.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

About 3/4 of the moon in shadow.

Thinking about baying at it.

Wha- hair growing on the back of my hands and my teeth hurt... feel strange.

Notice i need haircut *bad*.
Something happening.


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

It is beautiful out there. Nearing totality. Is it any wonder that the evening sky and the glowing objects contained within have prompted such wonder?

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 20, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse



Feels good to talk to bloody moon
i notice i need shave now

my hair is definitely NOT perfect


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Pome by Canadian P.K. Page, perfect for this eve.


The very stars are justified,
The galaxy italicized.
I have proofread and
proofread the beautiful script,
There are no errors

Posted by: College Parkian | February 20, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I miss Warren Zevon.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 20, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse


me 2 rd grr
red moon with white edge
i think of mars turned on side

and me turning inside out


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

bc - I thought about the mars bit too. The last little bit looks just like the polar ice cap.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 20, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Warren Zevon. Me too. Waaa Hoooo - even though all clouds here. No moon.

Time for bed. Tomorrow is another day. Fondue, all, vaya con queso.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 20, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse


run and play in snow now
hunt for dinner

howl at beautiful red moon


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Bioutifool moon. Even the stars pitched in here, in this perfectly clear night.
A very good lunar elipse it is, although the Puppy wasn't impressed. The little (purebred) b@stard managed to steal a bit of birdfood though. Little gourmet that he is he likes the lard/suet/peanut butter/seed mix.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Pretty cool how a few stars became visible after the moon was engulfed.

Could we use engulfed and devoured?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 20, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow! We lucked out here too. Sky cleared and we watched through "S" 's new telescope. It was beautiful and eerie. We also saw Saturn!! We could see the rings. Now that was incredibly cool! Had to come in to get warm, can't watch to the end as we have to get up in the morning. But it was a sight worth remembering. How fortunate we all are that the weather cleared.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | February 20, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Can I come and run and play with you bc?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 20, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse




Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Calm down bc, I hear silver bullets sliding down Winchester 94's tubular magazines...

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Story of alleged, rumored McCain affair broke a couple of hours ago at the NYT online, will run in tomorrow's paper.

Larry King and Jon Stewart discussed the story 10 minutes into King's interview with Stewart on CNN. The story consuming the first 15 minutes of the Anderson Cooper show with a talking head, Capeheart, IIRC, from the Washington Post--much talk about the timing of the NYT article.

Posted by: Loomis | February 20, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

"Man has sex with woman" headline Linda. Thanks. That's rare.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

The eclipse was so cool I had to come in and take a shower to warm up my feet.

I took lots of pictures, but it was hard to get the moon in view and snap and keep it in the field of view. (Idea for birthday: tripod.) I'll download the photos tomorrow. If any are good, I may upload them to Flickr.

Posted by: Slyness | February 20, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse


greenie come run with the pack

not scared of silver bullets
you have to hit me to hurt me



Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

McCain's alleged paramour (or power mower as we call them in the Frostfam)graduated from IUP the same year as a close friend. If Ms. Iseman was a synchronized swimmer then they surely knew each other. If I can unearth anything substantive, or even speculative, I'll be sure to let y'all know.

Off to back boodle skim.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 20, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

We just went outside to see if we could see anything from the missile shoot-down attempt. Nothing yet. We'll check after sunset to see if there's any visible debris -- actually what we might expect to see would be the cloud of hydrazine. Of course, maybe they didn't launch.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 20, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

"I saw the new moon late yestreen
With the old moon in her arm;
And if we go to sea, master,
I fear we'll come to harm."

Posted by: Kay | February 20, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I went out and took some pictures of the lunar eclipse, but I'm not sure how well they will come out since I had two glasses of wine and five shots of amaretto while celebrating my birthday. Something tells me Edwin Hubble has nothing to worry about.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 20, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Sciece Tim, I hope your tracking is better than what we had back then. Kosmos whatever was mostly lost in the background.
I would really like to se a sketch of the satellite to verify that the hydrazine issue was really an item or just, as usual with this admin, a distraction. But they won't of course, the secrecy freaks.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | February 20, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Beautiful eclipse, right outside the back door. Thanks to the boodle for alerting me about it yesterday and reminding me tonight.

Posted by: TBG | February 20, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

"truckin I'm a goin home,oh wo baby where I belong"

Happy Birthday Yellow

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 20, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's some more wonderful moonlight to end the evening, from Debussy

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 20, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Oooooooh- man.

I just had the *weirdest* dream.

My throat's sore, I've got some sort of lint or hair in my teeth, and -- hey, where are my clothes?

Looks like the neighbor's dog got loose again, too. There are tracks in the snow all over the yard, and they weren't there a couple of hours ago.

Hey, it looks like the eclipse is almost over -- did I miss it?


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Out here in Colorado the lunar eclipse has been spectacular. Still is.

Chocolate and milk.

Couldn't have asked for better.


Posted by: eidrib | February 20, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday yellojkt.

Tomorrow, I'm going to talk psychics, er, I mean physics, waves in the Higgs ocean, Observers, dark matter and dark energy, GUT feelings, thought experiments, Copenhagen, Cosmology, Uncertainty, string and Many Worlds theories, Calibi-Yau spaces, sock-eating aliens, Relativity and Reality.

But first, I need some sleep.
I feel awfully tired, like I've been on a long run.

G'night, all.


Posted by: bc | February 20, 2008 11:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm hiding sister and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile
I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

Even saw the eclipse out here - looked cloudy earlier, but cleared up in time.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 20, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: eidrib | February 20, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

The scary blood red moon had the coyotes howling so buddy and I howled right back.
I imagine the colour is a result of the shorter wavelengths getting caught up in the earth's atmosphere rather than from pollution. Both?
The shadow on the moon during the last eclipse was bright blue so I'm looking forward to the net one in 3 years. Maybe it'll be a nice purple or stripes.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 21, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

bc, you're a nut. i mean that in an affectionate way.

i has a good view of the lunar eclipse around 7:15 our time.
it was around 2/3 blocked, maybe a little more.

rd, welcome back.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 21, 2008 12:02 AM | Report abuse

bc, those dog tracks were mine.. I uh, had to escort a friend back home before he broke into the wrong yard and got shot with silver.

Sorry to muss up your nice and soft snow, but hope you understand.

P.S. I borrowed some froze steak from your freezer as a lure. One of those nights where I sure feel Siriusly Black.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | February 21, 2008 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Long night. My MIL was fairly mobile and relatively sharp until she broke her arm a couple of weeks ago. She's taken about 10 giant steps back on both counts and is very slow to answer simple questions, or be conversational, and has adopted a stooped, shuffling gait. My wife is going to start inquiring about the possibility that her mom has Parkinsons. Kind of tough, as we had a dear friend succumb to that condition on Valentines Day. My wife had to go over to help with Mom earlier as she has a lot of pain in her left leg. On the optimistic side the pain could be due to the fall, but it could be as bad as metastasis. Looks like x-rays and possibly a bone scan. Observing the eclipse with the kids provided some respite from the pressures of the evening. Pretty cool.

Posted by: jack | February 21, 2008 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, please tell me the confidential e-mail is encrypted. The VPN? Depends on what security he's put there.

Shrieking, :-) and :-). Also, is it *en crapaudine* or *carpaudined?* The first sounds like, well, that little place in CT.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 2:39 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, RD. Thanks for the description of your father's funeral service. My knowledge of mass is whatever Hollywood tells me.

There is no gap year thingy thing over here. If you are able to secure a place at the university, don't dilly dally about it, just hurry up and finish. Then go get a job and earn some money.

Jack, I hope your MIL will get better and not have Parkinsons.

Posted by: rainforest | February 21, 2008 3:16 AM | Report abuse

Beezlebufo!!! *ROFLPMPGETE* :-)

Spatchcocked Beezlebufo? Beezlebufo en crapaudine?

Wait, I know! Beezlebufo with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy with a fried egg on top and spam! :-))))

Coverage of the satellite shootdown all seems to be based on the same unnamed sources, I'm shocked...

It was sure tough to sleep last night, all that howling and odd lights. Hmmmm.

*one-last-jam-packed-day-of-a-short-workweek Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 21, 2008 5:08 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. Nice of you to join me. 5 more hours in the work day, today. Having some telescope and instrument problems (our fault), but we think we have them sorted out. Ms. Hotel Mauna Kea is singing along with James Taylor here. We're working on the photography for three different future videos, in between doing astronomy.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 21, 2008 5:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Nice to see you here so early Science Tim. And Ivansmom, I hope everyone is feeling better this morning at your home. Yello, happy birthday, and may you have many more.

I did not see the moon thing last night, just too, too, tired and sleepy. I hope we get some pictures.

Scotty, Slyness, Mudge, Martooni, good, good morning to you, and all.*waving*

Well, it's getting down and dirty. The talking heads were on a rant about the McCain deal, wonder is it true? And tonight is the debate with Clinton and Obama, correct? That might be testy. If I can just keep my eyes open long enough to watch.

I have my coffee here, and I'm talking to my imaginary friends on the computer. At a real early hour in the morning, before the sun comes up. And looking at fingers that remind me of twinkies. And they have the nerve to hurt.

I'm going to offer this, and I probably should not, but I think some of us are holding our breath concerning Obama. The reason: Fear. Why? This is a country that race impacts deeply, perhaps not as much as before, but it is still there, and that may not be good. I don't want it to be so. I pray we have gotten beyond that. That we judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. I believe this is one of the most fascinating election I've ever had the pleasure to witness during my short lifetime. History in the making, and I hope it is all good.

Have a great day, folks. I hope the weather where you are adds to that statement.

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

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 6:05 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, daiwanlan.

And if you're listening this morning, hello Nani, and we miss your stories.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 6:08 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. I see Scotty's already up. Yes, all that howling last night made it difficult to sleep. I had a strange dream of a very hair man with a Chinese menu in his hand dancing with Queen Elizabeth -- no idea why. His hair was perfect, though, I seem to recall. Most odd.

Well, there's big news this morning, though you won't read it in the Post. The NYT has a big story about McCain having a "romantic relationship" with a lobbyist 8 years ago, and nhis staff took pains to isolate her from his office. The Post picked up the NYT story and repeats a lot of it-- but omits any and all references to their relationship possibly/allegedly being "romantic" as well as professional.

It's too early to tell whether the story is gonna get "legs" or not.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 21, 2008 6:12 AM | Report abuse

Because we know that any "romantic" relationship disqualifies a person from public office because it demonstrates "bad judgment". Presidents from certain unnamed European countries can squire their pregnant girlfriend around on official business, but any hint of hanky-panky in America throws the wheels off the bus.

Gonna be a fun election. Let's hope that Obama guy is a squeaky clean boy scout.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 21, 2008 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everybody! Cassandra, I hope the fingers aren't bothering you.

bc, you and Wilbrodog, too funny and punny. Siriusly Black, indeed!

I wish I had had the energy to see the eclipse all the way through, but I gave up when it was full and went to bed. The last time I watched an eclipse, I was at the beach with friends and we sat on the porch of the beach-front house till it was all over. Alas, I don't have that energy any longer.

Posted by: Slyness | February 21, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

SciTim's position at Mauna Kea is safe from me. Here are my pictures of the eclipse last night:

That portfolio isn't getting me any astronomy (or photography) jobs.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 21, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

well, yello, considering that Obama has said certain thing concerning his life, we can go from that information, that his is not a squeaky clean boy scout life. you think?

the story had legs last night at some point, mudge.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Yello.

RD, that was a wonderful piece about your Dad's funeral. As a lapsed Catholic I can agree about the soothing quality of the Mass.

Hope everyone has recovered from the effects of the eclipse. It was so much fun to watch, I can't wait for the next one.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | February 21, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse


the fingers do hurt but that's because I cut the nails too deep. In their swollen state, they're just stiff and hard to move.

I wish I could walk again. That would help a lot. The police chief here told us not to walk alone in this area. And I was walking early and alone. People would walk up behind me,and I would not hear them and it was frightening. Anyway, the leg got bad too. Just a bunch of stuff, but I miss walking terribly.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Obama has never hidden many things in his past, but there is an odd randomness to what sticks in the public's mind as scandalous. Something he may never have thought of as significant could turn out to be bigger than he thought. That is why Hillary crows that she is fully vetted. There isn't much of her life that hasn't been hashed and rehashed endlessly.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 21, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, walking is such a pleasure; sorry this is not possible now.

Kay, welcome or nice to see you. I saw your moon pome last night.

Chilly. Chilly.

Friday looks to be slippy, slidey around these parts. So, enjoy your Thursday.

Night summary: Moon eclipsed; satellite blitzed; Hillary miffed; McCain p!ssed; what else have we today?

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

CP, brilliant!

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | February 21, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Boko999 - the red color is indeed because of light being scattered by the earth's atmosphere as it travels to the moon. The blue light is scattered from the main path of the light leaving the red light behind. This is Rayleigh scattering and explains why sunsets and sunrises are red, while the daytime sky is blue. It's physics in action.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 21, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

And more physics in action...

*paging bc*

With apologies to Arte Johnson, this iz vellllllllllllllllly eeeeenteresting...


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 21, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

The end of the satellite is just the final chapter in a long weird tale.

Of course, we like the new lunch room.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 21, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, yello!

Posted by: jack | February 21, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Yello aged (gracefully); McCain first-paged; Britney raged; Moon amazed;

Hiya, Bad Sneakers; and no, my internet is not out.

Just practicing for the Gary Cooper Olympics.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I finally got the chance to read Joel's article. It is brilliantly insightful and charmingly witty. He's kinda predictable that way.

I was trained as a solid state physicist who meandered over to electromagnetic signals as kind of a diversion. My understanding of high-energy physics is much like that of a casual biker watching the Tour d' France. I understand what they are trying to do. I get the underlying concepts. But I stand in awe at the sheer intellectual stamina of those in this field.

The rock-star physicist Richard Feynman once claimed that the most important idea in science is that we are made up of little particles. What the High Energy Physicists are doing is finding what the particles that make up the particles that make up the particles are. Some suggest this is a futile effort, but I think it is a noble one for the reasons Joel so eloquently describes.

What more fundamental question in science is there than "What are we made of"? For if one really understands the fundamental underpinnings of the universe, everything else should follow.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 21, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Psst, RD

Love and stardust

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Semicolon is the word of day. Happy birthday, Yello.

Posted by: daiwanlan | February 21, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

We are also million-year-old carbon, CP.


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 21, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, maybe we could meet halfway and walk together. Wouldn't that be fun?

Sounds like a happy birthday, yello, hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for that explanation, RD, physics in plain English. I love this place.

Posted by: Slyness | February 21, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

LOVE the semicolon;
FEAR the colon.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

RD, glad you're home safe and I'd like to add my condolences. Thank you for sharing everything with us.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

CP, you would be surprised at the number of people that aren't able to walk either because of a physical ailment or because of safety reasons.

As one gets older safety becomes a serious issue. The older person can't run and more than likely can't fight either. As for me, I depise guns.

Yello, I suppose your take on this is correct. I think anytime an affair is mentioned and the person involved is an older man, it just seems kind of humorous to me. And I've dated older men in the past. That could possibly be the reason for my perspective on the issue. Anyway, Americans are kind of conservative on sexual issues. I don't know, we can perhaps see a younger person falling in that trap, and be more forgiving, but for older folks, we don't apply that same line of thinking.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a sciency type and have much to learn. And, maybe, I'm not understanding the material I read correctly. I've read articles saying that we, on a daily basis, are being bathe by electromagnetic waves that have a negative impact on our health, and there really isn't much we can do about that. Kind of sad.

Posted by: rainforest | February 21, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I'm feeling a bit hung over this morning, with a weird taste in my mouth but only had a single pina colada last night, then... I guess I fell asleep.

Anyway, I'm not surprised that the Navy nailed the spysat right in the tanks, no warhead necessary. Gotta love kinetics. Glad I remembered to bring my umbrella today, might need it if that hydrazine seeds some storm clouds and causes a big snowstorm in the Mid-Atlantic...

CP, I'd suggest that not only are we made of love, propagating it - and ourselves - is why we're here. Interestingly, humans have enough capacity for Burnin' Love that the whole planet's one big honeymoon suite (except for the lovers' spats involving weapons, explosives, warrants, briefs and subpoenas).

RD, you beat me to recommending Joel's Natty Geo article Most Highly. It's very well-written, and occasionally snortworthy, though I was disappointed in his use of the old Heisenberg accounting bit. Dead cats are a *lot* funnier IMO.


Posted by: bc | February 21, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I see McCain is taking the bull by the horns, and giving a news conference, even answering questions. His wife is by his side, smiling. I've always wondered what might be running through the wife's mind while husband standing there denying every thing. I'll bet some of them are saying, just wait until we get home.

Have not read the Times' article. Anyone got a link? The reporter are saying employees of McCain advised him against this, I don't know what to call it.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse


That sounds like a lovely idea, but the problem for me would getting to the half way mark. Where would half way be? I'm not sure.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Here's a little something from crimson-haired Irish-born sprite Kate Nash.


Enjoy. I especially like that she hasn't Americanized her english. The Irish sings through. Such a lovely voice too.

Posted by: omni | February 21, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

NYT link:

Posted by: daiwanlan | February 21, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse


I don't know where you are, but here we areas that have huge steel poles and utility lines that run for miles. And near these places and the land they sit on, there is nothing. It looks like a field, and people don't live in those area. There may be one or two houses, but never close to these lines.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, yello.

Kay, loved your moon pome last night.

We had a beautifully clear night for the eclipse, and I was lucky that the whole thing happened before my bed time, here in the west. Himself set up the giant binoculars (useless for anything except astronomy, being too heavy to lift and too powerful to view anything closer) on a tripod and we went out every 5 or so minutes for the show. Quite wonderful. #2 fascinated; nice to see in a 19-year-old. Good evening for the family.

Posted by: Yoki | February 21, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Kate Nash is fantastic omni, and I particluarly like the Starlight Express tribute. A seriously overlooked bad Andrew Lloyd Weber disaster.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 21, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Love and carbon (stardust, right SN?): bc, you are right -- good theology, there.

Time for a Robert Frost moment.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Frost is said to have said this:
I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover's quarrel with the world." AND perhaps this:
"I never take my side in a quarrel."

I read 'fire' as 'love.' So did Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

"Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and the gravity, we shall harness for God, the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, humans will have discovered fire."
- Hymn of the Universe

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Alamomania has broken out on the front page of the San Antonio Express-News this morning. Why?

Mike Huckabee has decided to make two campaign stops here today--the first at 4 p.m. in Alamo Plaza, the second at St. Mary's at 7:30 p.m. The front page is filled with photos of candidates who have made the Alamo a backdrop for their political aspirations:

1976: Gerald Ford: Lost
1980: Ronald Reagan: Won
1992: Pat Buchanan: Lost
1996: Bill Clinton: Won

Buried deep within the feature story that accompanies these photos are the words of state historian (and Cuban/Yankee, if you remember me blogging about my January dinner event with the San Antonio Historical Society at The Barn Door) Frank de la Teja:

Well, O.K. But when painting political metaphors about one's own fate, said Fank de la Teja, the state of Texas' official historian, that might not be the wisest brushstroke [the Alamo] to start with.

"Why would you want to associate yourself with defeat, even if it's glorious defeat?" de la Teja wondered.

Sam Houston, who defeated Santa Anna-I'm throwing this in as a footnote to history--was the governor of two states--Tennessee and Texas, and made a presidential bid of sorts. Houston met with Loomis descendant Gideon Welles, who really warmed to Houston, until Houston's political leanings were eventually uncovered. Welles went on to become Lincoln's secretary of the navy. Houston's story is one for the history books. *l*

If I felt full of stamina today, I could see Teddy at 12:30 at Trinity, take a short hop to the heart of downtown for Huck, then bound a mile east for Bill at 8:30. So many men, so little time. *w*

Intereting to note, too, that the woman who led the war cry of "Yes, we can!" at the Obama rally at Guadalupe Plaza on Tuesday is part of Obama's Iowa political machine and hails from Spencer, Iowa. Bess Evans, who wore no hosiery and was limping severely in her extremely high heels at day's end, has a page at Obama's website:

Posted by: Loomis | February 21, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I guess halfway would be somewhere around Monroe, but I don't have a clue where we could walk safely there...

Posted by: Slyness | February 21, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Did y'all know about the Democrats Abroad Primary?

Posted by: TBG | February 21, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

thanks, daiwanlan for the link.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

This is a small country. There are very few places you can live where there are no large utility lines criss-crossing the sky. Within the 2 km where I am now, there are phone masts, a huge power station, huge power lines running from the power station to don't know where and there a sub-station just across the road from my house.

These are just the known ones. There are those unknowns, experiments done by different countries. The Schumann Resonance is foreign to our body now.

Posted by: rainforest | February 21, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who wears heels with no hosiery is obviously a deranged lunatic groupie. I couldn't possibly back any politician with such fashion impaired followers. Thanks for that revealing vignette that finally made me realize what a risk Obama is to America.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 21, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse


Is Monroe really half way? I thought perhaps further down. I don't know. And not sure about a safe place to walk in Monroe either.

I meant to ask if they found the shooter of the little twelve year old yet? I hope your house wasn't in that line of fire yesterday, Slyness?

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

And I hate to be such a grouchy contrarian but Kurt Vonnegut said:

"First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are trans-vestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."

Kurt said it; I believe it. So it goes.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 21, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I don't know, rainforest, but I'll take your word for it. I think the thing for me is that here we have so many trees and then there is farm land. And to see such huge areas of land kind of dry and dead looking is odd. It really sticks out in a not so good way.

Time to go.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

On a side note, I personally could care less about McCain's alleged activities, though I am amused that the other person in the alleged relationship is a lobbyist.


Posted by: bc | February 21, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Just got caught up and realized no one answered CP's question. I think anyone above a certain age knows the answer, but for the misspelling. No a in Mac, just Mc.

The real trivia quiz would be does anyone know her middle name?

Posted by: omni | February 21, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

You're probably right about the distance, Cassandra, I'll have to check it out.

Story this morning said the mother of the slain 12-year-old had a couple of names for police. We'll see how it evolves today.

Thankfully, we were not close to the fire yesterday. (FYI, everybody else, we had a three alarm fire in a neighbhorhood in south Charlotte that started in dry brush.) As Mr. T put it:

Density + brush + low humidity + dry conditions + high winds + vinyl siding + dormant Bermuda grass = big fire potential

The house that burned completely was on a lot only .14 acre.

Posted by: Slyness | February 21, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm so forgetfull: welcome back RD. And HBD yello.

Posted by: omni | February 21, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Esmeralda!! To omni, who wrangles such weird and wonderful information!

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

TBG, there was an article the other day profiling the two Canadian Democrats Abroad - both live in Toronto and quite possibly one may have worked with one of my brothers (same firm not sure of the timing).

Posted by: dmd | February 21, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Let's look at Maureen Dowd's column from last Sunday, "Captive to History's Caprice":

Midway through her op-ed, Dowd writes:

"And you never know who they will become once they move into the insular, heady womb of the White House -- or how they will be buffeted by the caprice of history, and the randomness of crises."

Now I've seen Froomkin refer to the Oval Office as a bubble. Some writers have referred to it as a cocoon. Never have I see the White House referred to metaphorically as a womb. Which is fascinating in and of itself because the White House has been the residence of many First Ladies, but never has a womb occupied the chair behind the presidential desk in the Oval Office.

And if the White House is a womb, then, according to Dowd, it is a malevolent one. After the statement above, Dowd paints all te presidential failures and defects--JFK and Cuba, LBJ and Vietman, Nixon and his political crime, GWB and Iraq and Katrina, and (out of order) Bill Clinton and his self-destrictive impulses, then GWB's alcoholism and political makeover.

The Dowd proceeds to list Hillary's faults, even though she is not yet a member of the august, or disgust--depending on your viewpoint, Oval Office fraternity. Not one mention by Dowd of any negative traits of her blank-slate candidate, Obama, her tawny golden boy with the perpetual halo.

Dowd concludes her editorializing on a fearful note, scaremongering about what Hillary would be like on Day Two in the Oval Office. She makes no mention of the scenario if Obama becomes president and what his presidency might look like on Day Thirty or Day Three Hundred and Sixty-Five.

And, while we're on the subject of wombs, no one--except Bernstein--talks about Hillary's womb and her battle with endometriosis and what a miracle baby Chelsea Clinton (who may be in Alamo City on Friday) truly is. As Bernstein correctly observes in his Clinton autobiography, most women don't know they have endometriosis until they try to conceive, and 30 to 40 percent of woman who have it can't bear children. It is the story of my cousin who adopted two children. I bear a hot pink, ugly, wide swath of a scar below and connected to my belly button where the ob-gyn went looking for endometriosis but didn't find any. The other, smaller scar further south healed and disappeared.

Posted by: Loomis | February 21, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Loomis Hillary's battle with endometriosis, much less her womb, should NOT be in the public forum unless she chooses to discuss it.

My two are miracles as well - that does not in the least add to my qualifications or lack there of to run for political office.

Posted by: dmd | February 21, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Linda - for someone who professes indignation at the lack of weighty discussions of the issues, you are throwing out a lot of trivia in your obvious attempt to sanctify Hillary and demonize Obama.

This is your right, of course. But as a matter of strategy all you are doing is driving people into the Obama camp.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 21, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse


Your 10:07 comment is exactly what was missing the last couple of days. So glad your're back!

Now I'm really gone.

Posted by: cassandra s | February 21, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

One last post before I'm off on a break to do my morning Sudoku:

I didn't watch the eclipse last night. Not because I forgot, but because I had no intention to do so because urban/suburban lunar eclipses are eternally ruined for me.

First lunar eclipse I ever saw was a total lunar eclipse was about 30 years ago (forget the actual year and date). This was observed along with about fifteen family members atop Stone Mountain (upstate PA, mentioned in a previous boodle), far, far away from any light polution. The Milky Way stood out so bright, it was almost a white band stretching from horizon to horizon.

Ever since, lunar eclipse, hohum.

However, the next total will be visible in North and South America just after midnight on Dec., 21. So if you really want to see an eclipse you now have 2 years and 10 months to plan a little trip to that romantic little B&B getaway.

Posted by: omni | February 21, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding: CP wins the 50's TV Trivia Award.

Next up: 60's TV Trivia: Name the show that had three sisters with the same middle name.

Posted by: omni | February 21, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Getting back to the LHC for a minute:

Joel, did you talk to Brian Greene about the LHC (I guess you did, or at least remembered his uses of terms like "squarks")? Seems to me that string theorists like Greene have a lot riding on supersymmetry, it lets them know they're on the right track. If the Higgs particle fits the models, then there's a good change that the Higgs ocean *is* a fabric of the universe, and that theorists and experimenters can proceed further from there.

Now, I have a question about supersymmetry, Joel. In your article, you state that supersymmetry theory states that every fundamental particle had a more massive counterpart in the early universe, and that those partners are referred to as "squarks," "selectrons," and so on, but that only one kind was stable enough to have survived until now.

I thought that in ss theory "squarks," etc. were in fact the ss partners to those particles but were different by 1/2 "spin", and that a lot of those particles still exist. Heck, if they're dark matter/dark energy/dark "fluid" (theories that combine the dark components), a *lot* of them still exist - takes a lot of selectrons, sprotons, sneutrons, etc. to hold galaxies together, as well as - maybe - provide the energy to accelerate the universe's accelerating expansion. If there's one kind od ss particle that's thought to still exist - what kind do these theorists think it is? I'd think it'd be easier to find if there were only one kind to look for...

Yea, it's all theoretical, and way beyond my Kitchen skillz.


Posted by: bc | February 21, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

omni--Petticoat Junction: Betty Jo, Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo

Posted by: Raysmom | February 21, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

SCC: :...provide the energy to accelerate the universe's accelerating expansion..."

How about "provide the energy for the universe's accelerating expansion?"

Sheesh, I'm *so* dense.


Posted by: bc | February 21, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I followed bc's lesson, but don't make me take an essay test. Gimme a multiple choice bubble test.

Pairs and patterns and a waltzing of sorts.

Very NON entropy-like.

(Enter RD and others with good metaphors on entropy, which seems right but like quicksilver, escapes easy understanding.)

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

The TV tiara is passed to Raysmom. CP gets a chance at the three doors where Carol Merrill is now standing.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Not Googling here, in order to follow CP's rules, but if I remember correctly, Lucille Ball's real name was McGillicutty... it was not Lucy Ricardo's maiden name.

Mrs. McGillicutty was, however, the name of the character who lived in the Ricardo's building and babysat Little Ricky.

(And for the record.. I knew the Petticoat Junction answer too.)

Posted by: TBG | February 21, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding: and Raysmom wins the 60's TV Trivia Award.
I've been reliving my youth and have been watching a couple of Petticoat Junction episodes each of the the past three nights. This show still cracks me up all these years later. Loving it.

Posted by: omni | February 21, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Headline under Business on home page: "Fed Reigns in Economic Forecast." Did I miss the coronation of Bernanke?

Posted by: Raysmom | February 21, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Info I have say Lucy's birth name is Lucille Désirée Ball. On the TV show "I Love Lucy" she was Lucy Esmeralda McGillicuddy Ricardo.

Posted by: omni | February 21, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I'm Still catching up on the Boodle. Looking forward to eludication of beezelbufo.

RD,thanks for the physics. bc, thanks for the sciency speculations. Also, howdy to that werewolf who drifted through last night. Cassandra, hope the fingers are better and sorry about the walking.

Re: email, dbG, nope no encryption. Read it & weep. Remember, we can't use remote access because it might pose a security risk, so we have to email in the open instead. Wotta maroon.

I eschew hosiery, meaning pantyhose, when the temperature is above about 80 F. I did wear ankle socks with heels until a couple of years ago, when my family rose up in rebellion. I still have the socks.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 21, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

More catching up later. Must take Boy to the doctor. Ivansdad went yesterday, has the flu. Very bad today. I told him good thing he's paying attention, people have died of it here this year.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 21, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom! Let's meet up and wear anklets with heels just slightly above sensible. We can don rhinestone sunpeepers, too.

Pedal pushers? I'm in.

TBG -- hush on the cutty spelling. You'll get Mudge and others going on an all-ships-salted-seas JAG.

Imagine if we could knit or crochet the wakes of all these particles in their gyrational voyages. I bet it would rival the best spider webs out there.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

What RD said.

And TMI in the last graph, Loomis.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

RD, welcome back. You were missed.

I think I've dated a few werewolves. Fun, but then there's such a mess to clean up the next morning.

I wear cable-knit tights with Uggs, men's gym socks with sneakers, but no hosiery of any kind with FMPs.

Ivansmom, that flu is a bad one. Hope everyone is well soon. Pedialyte pops aren't a bad idea.

Off to load up the car and get off of this mountain while I can (if they get the roads plowed before the next storm tonight). Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 21, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, here's hoping your family feels better soon!

My biggest problem here today is a lab who keeps dropping her squeaky toy in places she can't reach and bringing a new system online (over VPN).

Is there not a governing-type body that mandates privacy standards for your organization? No audits? Due to the SEC, all our transmitted data is encrypted or pushed/pulled via verified secure transmission. It has happened that an employee here mentions a problem to someone doing a relatively unimportant audit (like, not a SAS-70 one). Then, ta-da, quick fix!

If you ever want to make a real point, I know of an excellent company (no relationship) which will hack your systems and hand over the results and solutions.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | February 21, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Once again, Yoki, I am rendered speechless by your ability to express exactly what I was thinking!

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

LiT, take care. If the weather bands hit us just wrong tomorrow, we will have the ice debacle, which is way worser than snow.

Ditto on your sock strategies, although cable tights with cables on the feet pinch!!!!!

I will reveal that I almost never wear socks in the shoes that double as bike shoes. Long story (YK might understand) but what makes them good for biking, means that if I wear socks, I can slip in the shoes (heels tend to pop out of shoes anyway), no socks works. On really cold days, I wear my cowboy boots, hitching the heel against the pedal. Works. But, also tends to make me look eccentric. But, that is a style I don't mind!

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

And I can't believe you are wasting so much of the government's time Boodling, RD--and that you got your supervisor's permission, as you mentioned not too long ago. Is that person working with a full deck?

For those of us in Flyover Land, this kind of government waste and misuse is entirely what's wrong with Washington, D.C. My husband works hours that are as long as yours allegedly are. Do you think for a Washington. D.C. moment he could go to his supervisor in the private sector and ask permission to hang out on the Boodle day and night--during his working hours?

One person recently tried using the Internet from Loomispouse's workplace. He was caught, and reprimanded. He was trilingual and went to a foreign language website that ended up introducing a bad virus into the company software. He was canned--faster than burning rocket fuel.

But for those who Boodle--government workers or contract employees or subcontractors--who fritter away their days here--all you're doing, as is so evident to those beyond the Beltway, is making plenty of folks hopping mad at our government taxes being so badly squandered. I will vote for anyone who promises to clean up this type of government waste and fraud.

I suppose your daughter's disability is just trivia?

Posted by: Loomis | February 21, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

In age, weren't they Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Billie Jo? It's amazing what useless trivia one remembers, and then forgets important stuff.

CP, socks are must-have for me in the winter. My feet get cold if the temperature is below 80. Thorlo socks are made in the county just north of here, so we can get them at the factory store. But my favorites are Balegas. The company is based in North Carolina, but the socks are manufactured in South Africa. They are wonderful to wear. In fact, I have on a pair right now.

Amazing the technology that goes into a humble sock.

Posted by: Slyness | February 21, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Please, just nobody sing the Petticoat Junction song--I don't need that tune cootie...

Posted by: kbertocci | February 21, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, I work for exactly the same kind of organization as your husband, in much the same capacity. Well, probably higher.

You're greatly overstating the intolerance companies have towards recreational use of the Internet, especially for those of us who think for a living.

And now I will return to my occasional coding, reserving the right to future breaks to let problems work themselves out.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

//I will vote for anyone who promises to clean up this type of government waste and fraud.//

Isn't this part of Huckabee's platform? :-)

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Too late. Shouldn't that be "Fed Reins in..." (without the G)? *sigh*

Bless your heart, Bertooch.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 21, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

dbG, that is one talented lab! If all I needed to do to bring a new system online was drop a squeaky toy, I'd be rich. Though I dislike dropping my squeaky toys, because they are mine.

Posted by: Yoki | February 21, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I hear ya, Slyness. Maryland is not Montana and after all these years, my set point on cold is still closer to Yoki-land than your Southland.

Nice brands of socks. One can dress quite well out of the thrifts store, however,nice socks and good shoes are the warm puppies of clothing....segue theme from any Charlie Brown special.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I hear you, Yoki, about the squeaky toys.

It's a good thing Emma is so talented at doing my job. Leaves me more time to boodle.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Can't resist. On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I feel like maybe the mean-spirited and ignorant should stop posting on here. But what do I know?

Posted by: NoMoLL | February 21, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I keep looking at Tim's eerie picture each time I refresh, but this is the first time I've seen the person in it!

So cool.

Posted by: TBG | February 21, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I didn't know *Tim did photography for those new Sprint commercials on the side...


Posted by: Scottynuke | February 21, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Unless, dbG, the barking gets incessant and annoying to the point of being a pain in the hiney.

Posted by: jack | February 21, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

For ScTim's homecoming, some of us are knitting lava tube models. The directions are in Japanese, though. Still, fun, in my spare time.

Send me money for yarn, if you like.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Grins, jack! That's where the keyboard comes in handy.

If Wilbrodog can handle it, so can she.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Boy, what's with the nastiness?

The rules on civility, it would seem to me, include an injunction against bringing someone's child into a discussion as part of an attempt to score a rhetorical point.

I'm going to post a new item soon and perhaps the tone can improve.

Posted by: Achenbach | February 21, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Popped back in for a minute while waiting for the weather page to re-load, to see this. Sheeze Louise.

Endimetriosis is a condition, not a disability. But you know that. You just like going after people's children when you have no real argument to make. Everyone sees that.

We've also been through the whole "What are you being paid to do" discussion, and that there's a wide range of employment scenarios: some are paid by the time, others by the task. Some are paid to sit around and do nothing, other than be on-hand in an emergency. It happens. That your life doesn't involve an employer isn't anyone else's fault. Quit lashing out at others about it.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 21, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

CP, can you knit some entropy models?

Posted by: daiwanlan | February 21, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Linda - I think it is obvious to everyone that you are throwing out spiteful non-sequitors.

Actually, I really was trying to take your posts seriously. I actually read them. You are clearly a very intelligent and shockingly well-informed individual. I just hate to see you being so counter-productive. I mean, I am not exactly a Obama maniac. But you are turning me into one. Is that really your intent?

And regards my daughter. I certainly hope that when I run for President nobody discusses her as a way of making points either for or against me.

That would just be mean.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 21, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Once RD and bc and others really drill entropy into my head -- and for DR and Mostly -- sure, piece of cake to

knit entropy models....

wait, any unraveling sweater is an entropy model....

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Can we knit worm holes? Or at least worms?

Posted by: Yoki | February 21, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing we'd need one of those oversized spools with nails around one end, like we used to have as kids. I can't remember what we called them. A knitting machine?

Posted by: Yoki | February 21, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse


Knitting nancy or knitting toadstool. We did this in kindergarten AND in 4-h.

My children called this outcome,the never-ending worm. I believe it is folded up in a box of treasures.

It is also possible to knit off your fingers, another way to generate a worm.

Worm holes.....can we get a physicist in the house to comment?

Posted by: College Parkian | February 21, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I remember having those spool things, Yoki, but I don't remember doing much with them. I do recall the potholder looms and making lots of potholders. That was fun.

Did anyone else's mother teach embroidery? I have a sampler I did when I finished college. I've done counted cross-stitch and silk ribbon embroidery but I think I like regular embroidery best.

Posted by: Slyness | February 21, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

OK, new kit. Let's start anew.

Posted by: Achenbach | February 21, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, when we lived in Switzerland (3rd through 6th grade, for me) we girls were taught all forms of handwork in school, including intricate embroidery and how to change colours, tidy up the back of the piece, etc. I think the boys studied animal husbandry, or woodwork, or something. Very traditional society there in the 60s. When I look at samples of my work in my sentimental keepsake box, I can hardly believe I did all that, and so young.

The only thing that has really stayed with me over the years is the fine art of hand-hemming, something I use frequently (and I find family members mail me their hemming, too, which is a bit much).

Posted by: Yoki | February 21, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

i'm not mean spirited at all. but i am ignorant. that's why i lurk here. to learn stuff. you know, science stuff and political stuff and poems and songs and such. I was told that ignorance can fixed. Stupidity you're stuck with. so can i stay and play? i like you people.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

12:32, I think we like you back. Stick around the sandbox.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

SCC: stick around the sandbox with us.

Posted by: dbG | February 21, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

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