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Fate of the Earth and Stuff Like That

I could easily work full time at not working at all. If you know what I mean. I'd be a professional hobbyist and gadabout. Sloth would be my industry. Uselessness would be my vocation.

But I give it too negative a spin: My enervation and torpor, as judged by society at large, would require much exertion on my part, as I maintained the various enterprises of a life unfettered by work. The lawn alone could take up much of the week. Not to mention nagging the kids to clean their room (or could I outsource that to some nice person in, say, Bangalore?).

I guess I should put on a pressed shirt or even a tie and try to get my head back in the game. Spring break is over. A good time was had by all, but it's back to the grindstone, which for me is a keyboard. Must start reading the paper and tracking the news (is Hillary still running??).

My kids' school has been in the news. Colby King wrote about it Saturday, and the school was mentioned prominently in a front-page piece Sunday. I'll try to get one of my girls to write their own thoughts about Wilson. I think they're getting a decent education and they really love the place, which is a perspective these stories don't include. But there's no question that something's wrong when a school brings in a bunch of 17-year-old and 18-year-old 9th graders from the detention center -- without, as far as I know, making sure the parents knew it was about to happen. More to come on this down the road.


I'm intrigued by the Gore initiative that's starting this week. But here's what I can't quite figure: With oil and coal prices rising, there's a mad scramble to mine and pump more and more fossil fuels and ship the stuff to other countries that are energy-hungry. See this story: "Freight cars in Appalachia are brimming with coal for export, and old coal mines in Japan have been reopened or expanded." How can government policy temper the ravenous nature of the free market? There is talk of an immaculate technological solution (carbon sequestration, for example), but a lot of what you hear about is the equivalent of vaporware (as they say in computerland). [More to come on this: Later today I'm going to interview Tim Flannery, author of "The Weather Makers."]


Hey, nice walk-off homer, Ryan Zimmerman! Even a baseball story, though, incites rancor in the comments section. Remind me to stop reading the comments.


Recessions aren't egalitarian: "Spending on schools is being slashed, after-school programs are being curtailed and teachers are being notified of potential layoffs. Health-care assistance is being cut for the elderly, the disabled and the poor...Some analysts worry that the impact is being felt disproportionately by the most needy."

And in the Times we read that there are now 28 million Americans on food stamps, the all-time record.

'Because they spend a higher share of their incomes on basic needs like food and fuel, low-income Americans have been hit hard by soaring gasoline and heating costs and jumps in the prices of staples like milk, eggs and bread. At the same time, average family incomes among the bottom fifth of the population have been stagnant or have declined in recent years at levels around $15,500, said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.'

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 31, 2008; 8:59 AM ET
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Next: My Excellent House


Hi, Martooni. Hi, Cassandra.

Posted by: daiwanlan | March 31, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Joel, you nailed exactly what it's like being retired. I'm happily staying here, regardless of the fact that prices are rising. Mr. T can make up the difference, if necessary.


Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Well, I feel it's obvious that what the less well-off among us need to do is to make some judicious investments in appropriate equipment to help them lead a more economical life. Use a bread machine to lower the cost of that important staple. Purchase modern fuel-efficient new autos to help reduce expenditures on fuel. Replace drafty old windows with modern triple-pane high-R factor insulated windows. Purchase healthful locally-grown vegetables in order to lower associated fuel costs and keep down weight, which has additional benefits in clothing and long term health costs. Yes, with just these few simple adjustments, the American poor-person could become a thing of the past, like the Passenger Pigeon and practical mass transportation.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Joel, when will you ever learn never to read comments anywhere but here in the Boodle? It's a mean, lousy world out there.

Welcome back.

Are we (read: Paris, and/or Paris and her parents) close to making a decision on schools yet? (I realize there hasn't been much time for her to reflect.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Howard County has a non-resident tuition rate. I think it is mostly used by teachers that live outside the county and want their kids to attend the school they teach at. It is also used on families that have fraudulently filed a Howard County address while still living in Baltimore City or Baltimore County.

When you factor in the increased mortgage payment and property taxes needed to live in the county, it may come out to be a reasonable deal. It amazes me how many people that live in HoCo where the public schools are Lake Wobegon quality still send their kids to private school.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Nobody has ever convinced me of the economics of home bread makers. Even before amortizing the equipment cost, I would guess the cost of raw ingredients approaches the price of second day outlet H&S or Wonder white. Not that those are healthier, just more short term affordable.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm just trying to get my brain wrapped around that $15,500.

Son of G was filling out a job application the other day and it asked for his past salaries in annual terms. Now, at one job he only worked part-time and on a short-term project, but even before he had graduated from high school, his "annual" salary on that project if he'd been full time would have been $30K. Even his lowest-paying job was at the equivalent of $17,500 per year.

It's true... you have to have money to make money... even if the money's not technically yours to begin with. I feel so fortunate to be able to give my children the opportunity to not have to live on the poverty level just because they didn't grow up at it.

There were times in my adult life that we did live well below the poverty level... but my parents were always nearby and we were only there because of Dr G being in school--so that doesn't even count.

What's my point? I don't have one, really. I'm just horrified that we live in a country with such disparities. That people in yellojkt's example are spending that $15,500 a year for their kids to go to private school in a county with some of the best schools in the nation.

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Shouldn't we be looking at the number of people on food stamps as a percentage of population for the real measure? In that case it looks like the the 80s were much worse. I'm not saying there's not a story there, but a little more context would help.

As for not working, I'm in a similar situation. I broke my ankle a few weeks ago, and the thing you realize about crutches is you can't carry anything when you're hobbling around on them. So, I could get used to sitting on the couch and having everything from my food to the newspaper to my laptop delivered to the coffee table in front of my. Unfortunately I lose the cast tomorrow.

Posted by: hoosier | March 31, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Besides fossil fuels, the pressure is also on those little nuekie thingies. Heard tell that there's a good livin' to be had, workn' for the NRC. But ya gotta know how to spel nucular first. I'm just an engeneer, I caent do that.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | March 31, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Hoosier, the percentage of people on food stamps was in fact higher in '94 according to the Times article and declined as that decade progressed. Has gone up lately.

Mudge, we'll look at colleges over the next few months and then in the fall comes the hard part of applications etc. She's a h.s. junior. And then we do it again two years later and then again two years after that. And then I'll be the one on food stamps.

Posted by: Achenbach | March 31, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Bill Clinton came to our burg yesterday. There was only 48 hours notice. It was billed as a two hours townhall meeting at a middle school gum but was changed in the morning to the N. Medford high school gym to get more people in. Clinton was an hour late. Bounced up on the stage with no introduction. He thanked the mayors of Medford, Jacksonville, Asland and the head of Oregon for Hillary committee.
Then he launched into an hour and twenty minute speach. No questions were taken. The speach was carried live on a local TV station. That guy can talk a long time without taking a breath. Nothing new was said except Hillary is not quitting.

Posted by: bh | March 31, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The high school tuition rate for the most popular private school within Howard County is $19,860. In-state tuition (excluding housing, food and books) at UMCP is $7,969.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

HBO's "The Wire" is one of the best things I've ever seen on TV, and season 4 of the show examines public education in way very rarely seen anywhere. I recommend it to everyone with the single caveat that (like reality) things are not always nice, i.e. violence, drug use, sex. Fine writing and acting and filmed in and around Bawlmer.

Good luck to Raysdad. I had disk surgery in "04, although lumbar rather than cervical, and enjoyed immediate relief. The nurses offered me morphine afterwards for the pain and I just laughed "Pain? This isn't pain. Yesterday was pain." Then I took the morphine because, well, they were nice enough to offer and it would have been rude to refuse. Seriously, I hope all goes well and Raysdad makes a full recovery.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 31, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Sigh, our fair city's median annual household income would have to climb $3,625 to hit $15,500.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 31, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Here's a preview of the next Total Quality Management meeting RD has to attend...

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Joel... can you find out for us if the linkage problem is a problem or just a new policy for WaPo blogs?

If it's a new policy, it's pretty dumb because I'd say the boodle is a great source for other WaPo articles I may miss otherwise.

So forget italics for now... we want links! (or is that the plan? Take away our links and we'll stop asking for italics?)

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

It always bugs me that municipal services in DC are so poor. As our nation's capitol, they should be a beacon and inspiration to the rest of the country. That goes for schools, roads, parks, and public transportation.

If schools aren't safe and well run under the noses of our national legislators, how can we expect better anywhere else?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Joel, it is to be hoped that after having been dragged along on the recent road trip (everyone went, right?), the younger Achendaughters will start their own college search processes with some of these schools already ruled in or out. That's how it worked for me, anyhow, with a sister three years older. Of course, nice as it may be to shorten the search, it doesn't help any with the tuition payments.

Posted by: bia | March 31, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I'll find out about the links.

Posted by: Achenbach | March 31, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

One of the things we must do since I blithely quit work, is cut down on the cost of food. Legumes here we come.

I am going to make bread today. We have been wondering if this is going to be cost effective. I think it will be, but I also think that the savings is going to be less than I hope. I have to buy flour, and fat, yeast (though I could make a sour dough starter) and sugar. The only way to make really cheap bread is to grow the wheat. Maybe we should all be digging up our lawns and planitng wheat.

Wheat prices are going through the roof (now in the 20 dollar range), but the cost of the wheat in your bread is still under 40 cents. In summer 2007 wheat was at about 5 dollars a bushel, and price to you for the wheat in your bread was well under 10 cents. If your bread prices rise, put the blame where it lies, with the rest of the food chain, not the growers.

A Fit Tim? Cool. I'm looking at one of those.

Posted by: dr | March 31, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I see that now. I can't be expected to read things that closely. I have a broken foot. (See, it works well this way, too.)

Posted by: hoosier | March 31, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Raysdad? whats happening with Raysdad? Backboodling, backboodling.

Oh my Raysmom, We are with both of you in spirit. Best of luck.

Posted by: dr | March 31, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I would think energy costs would be the biggest factor in keeping bread baking from being a true cost saver. (Perhaps saving enough on heat in the winter to make it wash, but paying more for AC in summer.) If all you want is to have soft white bread to make PB&J buying the store brand white air with crust is probably the cheapest way to go. If you want good crusty "artisanal" bread, becoming the artisan might indeed save significantly-assuming you enjoy the process enough to value your labor at $0.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 31, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom - good thoughts being sent to Raysdad and you from here in the Tidewater area.

I think a good rule of thumb is to say yes when a nurse offers morphine.

Posted by: Kim | March 31, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I decided to pass on being the person to break up school fights sometime ago, shortly after bloodborne pathogens became the rage. I have little desire to be at the recieving end of a stray punch in a way that would make me a statistic. In our building, such conflicts start in neighbourhoods and finish on the school grounds. We often hear rumblings about this stuff before it happens and take measures to ensure that counseling of some sort occurs before conflict enters the physical realm. IMO, if the offenders were arrested for assault and subject to expulsion, such matters would become less frequent. Back in the day, I remember that the vast majority of fights occurred off school grounds. Getting off the grounds also meant that you could play mumbledy peg. If this double posts, my apologies. The ethernet must be 'flicted by pollen clogs.

Posted by: jack | March 31, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

No need to dig up the lawn to plant wheat, dr; just make the bread dough out of grass (or in the case of my lawn, chickweed and dandylions).

Just don't let the dogs run loose in the yard.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget to add a side of termites or cowpie when you consume the bread for the added value of the cellulose digesting bacteria. A little dab will do ya.

Posted by: jack | March 31, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Careful what you ask for, TBG.

Ask for italics and they take away links, ask for links and they take away text.

And viola - no more silly questions or requests.

A cunning plan, I should say.
Doubleplusgood, in fact.


Posted by: bc | March 31, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

From previous comments "Lyssa! Nice to see you this morning. What did your son think of you turning to the boodle for help?"

thanks for the welcome, TBG. He was amazed. In fact, I had to keep telling him "this is not a homework site for you!"
I have shared some of JA's science related articles with him, and that fuels his passion too. As we all know, JA's style of writing has an ease about it, even with complex subjects. Some of the boodle's source suggestions took him deeper into the subject, which was great. And I agree that hard work will help his aptitude.

While I'm bravely here again, I'll just say in advance, I stink at spelling and grammar. Pretty much like science. So please bear with me and be kind. I'll try to get better, but it's kinda like that cast thing--I can't be expected to spell. I had a broken foot a few years ago.

thoughts going out to Raysdad (and the family) from the boodler newbie.

Posted by: Lyssa | March 31, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Lyssa, and don't worry. I'm among the most typing challenged in this corner of the world.

Posted by: jack | March 31, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Man I've never broken any bones. I have no excuse for bad grammar and poor spelling.

Curmudgeon, I would use the chickweed for bread, but then I would not have salad (some day I might be brave enough to try it), my dandelions will be wine and if I use the grass what will my virtual sheep eat? I need the sheep to spin yarn.

However, old wives tales from when I was a kid says I'll get liver flukes if I eat grass, so may I should be looking at grass consumption as a source of protein.

Posted by: dr | March 31, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I decided to pass on being the person to break up school fights sometime ago, shortly after bloodborne pathogens became the rage. I have little desire to be at the recieving end of a stray punch in a way that would make me a statistic. In our building, such conflicts start in neighbourhoods and finish on the school grounds. We often hear rumblings about this stuff before it happens and take measures to ensure that counseling of some sort occurs before conflict enters the physical realm. IMO, if the offenders were arrested for assault and subject to expulsion, such matters would become less frequent. Back in the day, I remember that the vast majority of fights occurred off school grounds. Getting off the grounds also meant that you could play mumbledy peg.

Posted by: jack | March 31, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

SCC: double post, as I suspected. Geek.

Posted by: jack | March 31, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Congrats on the most temporally disjointed double post to date. The WaPo server hamsters have definitely taken too much brown acid.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

*belated-greeting-style Grover waves for Lyssa* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Come for the biology homework help, stay for the F1 Nazi sex scandals. Welcome aboard.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Frostbite Falls must be barely hanging on.

As I mentioned yesterday (ahead of the Times), a city-manager friend who is not at all fond of excessive spending is red-faced furious at the Florida legislature's efforts to cut taxes at a time when low revenues are set to devastate essential law enforcement, the court system, ambulance services ("is the victim a resident of the City? If not, send the County amublance"), the already-impoverished schools and universities, etc. It's likely to be good times for those who get their way through violence and extortion. Not to mention that the first hurricane will flatten the state's insurance program. Presumably the legislators are counting on a huge federal bailout.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 31, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

It isn't just bread that's costing more -- milk and eggs are way up too, not to mention butter and cheese. The same groceries I bought last year at $50/week now cost around $80-$90, and we're even shopping at the discount places. Considering my income is way down and all of our expenses are up, we're tightening our belts here big time.

I have fun explaining that to creditors. They seem to think my credit rating should be more important than feeding my kid -- because that's what it's come down to in this neck of the woods. Pay the electric or eat. And we're already down to Ramen noodles one meal a day.

I'd move to an area with a more "vibrant" economy, but Mrs. M won't leave here (which means Bean would stay too). I just cross my fingers and hope my little international door business takes off because there aren't any real local opportunities that pay a living wage right now (at least that I'm qualified for, or not over-qualified for).

So thank you, housing bubble...

Thank you, barely-regulated investment banks and mortgage brokers...

Thank you, oilmen Bush/Cheney...

Thank you, CEOs making more in an hour than their average worker makes in a year -- yet have the balls to demand pay and benefit cuts (or worse) from those same workers...

And a special thank you to the entire Legislative Branch for promising us constituents a better world as they help their corporate sponsors/masters turn us all upside down to shake the last penny from our pockets.

[insert Deity here] bless America. It could sure use it.

{*sorry for the rant... not a good day*}

Posted by: martooni | March 31, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Maybe 15 or 20 years ago, shortly after they first became widely popular, our oldest daughter got a bread-making machines, a good one. And she made bread off and on for about six months, and then got tired of it and put it in a closet. A few mionths or a year later, we asked about it, and said we were interested in trying it, so she gave it to use. And for about six months my wife or I (mostly me) made bread from time to time. And we eventually got tired of it, and put it in the closet (where it still sits).

I can't exactly explain it...but I know it really doesn't have anything to do with money or affordability or the cost of bread. Nor about energy usage or savings, etc. It's just that after a while you get tired of the work, minimal as it is. Same with making a pie crust from scratch: it's just plain easier to buy a pre-made shell.

Some nights it's just easier to buy a bucket of chicken from Popeye's or the Colonel, and other nights you just want to do it yourself. What exactly the variable is I'm not sure: human energy versus weariness, would be my guess.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Joel gets to interview Tim Flannery. Could this lead to a field trip to the mountains of Papua New Guinea to visit the local mammals? Or to a story on the fate of New Zealand's moa birds?

Flannery doesn't approve trying to garden with non-native plants, so he'd disapprove of the Queensland palms in my back yard.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 31, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

It's been nice of the boss to share his travels with us. Wonder if he'll go so far as to share the joys of getting the Achenkids to fill out all of the endless financial aid applications, and do the tedious work of searching for scholarships. My oldest couldn't be bothered - dad just goes to the back yard and picks $$$ off the money tree, right?

Posted by: Don from I-270 | March 31, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Howdy again. Completely off-topic (but vaguely science-y) I want to deliver a paean to the Oklahoma television meteorologist cadre. I have mentioned before the astonishing precision of our thunderstorm and tornado information. Last night the tornado warning sirens (meaning "here it comes") went off at 1:30 a.m. We looked at the television map where the storm and its path were mapped by street and block, saw that the problem was several miles north of us and projected north and east, and went back to sleep. We were certain that the map information was accurate (almost to house number) and it was, too. I'm always startled when I visit elsewhere to discover that not every state has this technology.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 31, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Hawaii has one gigantic school district. The State runs the public schools and, as you might guess, does a less than mediocre job at best. There's been a huge flee to private schools after elementary school for the majority of families here. What used to be okay for us parents is now unthinkable for our kids. It's true, there is probably no one decent public middle or intermediate school in the islands and most people who have college plans for their kids scramble to get them into a private school before any damage is done.

It sounds like our private schools charge similar or less than those in the DC area. I think Punahou, Iolani and Mid Pacific (the three biggies) run from $16,000 to $17,000 a year. The Catholic schools are just a little over half as much but tend to have mixed results in test scores and college acceptances. What always blows my mind is to find out that parents who spend that kind of money from K-12 for their kids often have them end up at the University of Hawaii where tuition is much less than high school was.

I think paying to attend an out of district school is a good idea. It would certainly help our school district. Currently, if you want a kid to attend anywhere other than his/her home school, you need to get a geographic exception, which takes a lot of luck for some better performing schools. Our kids have gone to school on a GE, which required us to be intensely involved in the PTA. Not that I'm complaining, we'd have gotten involved in whatever school our kids attended regardless. Still, because we had the privilege of attending that school it was expected that we'd give more than our share in time and money.

As for baking my own bread, all I can say is if there weren't bread bakeries, I'd be eating rice my whole life.

Posted by: Aloha | March 31, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Yippee! I got a grover wave! my life is complete.

Posted by: Lyssa | March 31, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I'm sure you've all heard that we will be losing one of our oldest airlines after today. Aloha Airlines will be shutting down it's passenger service leaving 1900 employees without jobs, pensions, and a very uncertain future. This is a sad day for all of us. We're losing a trusted (albeit poorly financially managed) carrier that flew for 61 years. As a consumer, my biggest bummer is that airfares between the islands will skyrocket and my 150,000 frequent flyer miles are worth absolutely nothing.

Posted by: Aloha | March 31, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Lyssa - hi!


Posted by: bc | March 31, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Jasmine rice is the staple starch in our house.

We rarely get through a loaf of sliced bread before it mold. We'll keep one loaf in the refirgerator, but packs of hamburger rolls, sandwich buns, etc rarely get all eaten before going bad.

Our house would have no use for a brad machine, but we'd starve without the rice cooker.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

After teaching in Hawaii I don't think a statewide school district is such a bad idea, or the cause of Hawaii's terrible rankings. Hawaii is suffering from a weird legacy of anti-Pidgin movements back in the day which allowed elite public schools to exclude kids who couldn't pass the tests to get in (Roosevelt High was one of these) and a strong tradition of private school enrollment that predates statehood. Dirty little secret of education-smarter, healthy, compliant kids are easier to teach and parents with $ or who are motivated to sacrifice to send a kid to private school have more of this kind of kid. Unfortunately these motivated or wealthy parents' time, talents, and outrage (when needed) is then directed away from the public school system. A shame, because I think Hawaii gets some things very right-like very small school size. But, what's up with high school students getting recess? (Aloha, does that still happen?)

Here in MN students may open enroll in any school district in the state. Many districts provide transportation to students who live outside their boundaries. This was initiated, along with the state picking up the lion's share of school funding, to bring equity, particularly in the urban Twin Cities districts. The unintended consequences out in the rural areas have 5 different schools systems sending busses past my door to compete for the funding that comes with each of the 15 kids who live down this way. So much of each education dollar is going out the tail pipe of busses I can 't believe school systems can still make the math work to run these routes. However, funding being what it is transportation money comes out of a different pocket than classroom money so the waste is hidden.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 31, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

My father got his start in commercial aviation flying 10-20 passenger planes between the islands. I don't know if it was for Aloha or a rival, but he had some great tales about having to do the weight and balance calcs for flights with large passengers (as they often are in Hawaii).

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Classic economic theory says that higher oil prices should yield reduced consumption and cheaper alternatives. Unfortunately, we are so resistant to reducing energy usage that most of the attention has been placed on the development of cheaper alternatives. This would be great, except a lot of these alternatives aren't really cheaper at all. The costs are just harder to see.

Ecological damage and higher food prices are all legitimate costs to many alternative energy sources. Yet these costs are not fully captured by the hidden hand of capitalism because they are both hard to quantify and do not directly contribute to the feedback loop of consumer behavior.

But this is why we have governments. Good laws and policies are boundary conditions that keep the inherent instabilities of capitalism from running amuck. Alas, I don't see this happening right now. And many of the things Joel talks about in this kit are the logical result.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 31, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, when you said "who writes the script for the Clintons?" I had a brief moment's image of Hillary being forced to guest on "What's My Line?" and being forced to adlib her way. Thankfully that painful image has now passed.

Lyssa, for biology there is an invaluable tip that even the science-challenged can do to help-- learn Latin. I started in 8th grade and it really made 10th grade biology a breeze.

Fortunately a science grounding can be very helpful for professions that aren't scientific per se, so he can stay enthusiastic.

If he's a hands-on kind of kid, that may be why science appeals, and you can expand his out-of-school opportunities as well. Introduce him to some psychology concepts-- operant learning is useful when applied to animal training, etc. Hands-on= also equals engineering, electronics, computer programming, and suchlike concepts.

When I originally took biology and aced it, I wanted to be... a scientific illustrator. I had been reading tons of anatomy books and suchlike because I was into animals and animal art. I still keep my hand in once in a while.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 31, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Regarding fresh baked bread. We used to have one of those machines that looked suspiciously like R2D2. It was fun at first, but after a while the frequency of burnt crusts made us lose interest. Besides, you can buy loaves of frozen bread dough for very little. So every once and a while we will thaw out a loaf and pop it in the oven. The smell is intoxicating, and I have yet to find a food as satisfying as warm bread generously coated in butter and jam.

Funny how despite all the technological marvels of the modern age some of the most fulfilling experiences are the oldest. You know, fresh bread, a cracking fire, a nice glass of wine, a friendly spouse, and happy children.

Especially when the children go to bed early.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 31, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Frosti, you are probably right that historically we've created this school system of elite schools versus the rest. It's a pervasive thinking that's made our public schools what they are today. A statewide district is likely the only way our schools can survive at this point. Still, it doesn't come without huge problems like the State Legislature messing with the DOE and holding funding hostage. Some of this has been remedied with the Leg giving the DOE some autonomy in managing their own operating funds which used to be handled by the State. This has helped improve turn around time for capital improvements and in purchasing books and other materials for classroom instruction.

And, yes, high schools still have recess. Do they not where you are? I think the teachers need the breaks more than the kids.

Yello - I know that most of the smaller inter-island carriers still weigh their passengers and luggage before the plane is boarded. The commercial prop planes that fly to Molokai and Lanai have weight limits. Those coolers filled with freshly hunted game or shoreline caught fish can weigh those planes down!

Posted by: Aloha | March 31, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

yello, take that bread out of the refrigerator. Bread stays fresher longer if it is either frozen, or left out at room temperature. For some reason, there is something about chilling it (but not freezing it) that makes it go bad quicker than sitting out.

Joel, I know you've been back less than 24 hours, but you might have to hit the road again: seems your home state is sinking:

"Rising sea level already eating away at Florida's coastline

By Curtis Krueger and Craig Pittman, [St. Pete] Times Staff Writers

Published Friday, March 28, 2008 3:33 PM

"Global warming is boosting the sea level along Florida's gulf coast and already causing profound environmental changes, scientists say.

• At Waccasassa State Park in Levy County, palms trees are toppling over dead as rising saltwater creeps up the beach.

• At Rookery Bay Preserve near Naples, salt¬water mangroves have invaded what used to be freshwater marshes.

• On the western side of Everglades National Park, inland marshes are being replaced by seawater ponds.

"People have a hard time accepting that this is happening here," said University of Florida professor Jack Putz, who has led a Levy County research effort since 1992. Seeing the dying palms, he said, "brings a global problem right into our own back yard."

What is happening is not just a minor botanical alteration in a few isolated places. The scientists studying the phenomenon see it as a harbinger for major changes in the state's geography -- submerging islands and turning swamps into open bays. Those changes alone can create a serious economic impact on businesses such as fishing.

The rising sea generally has crept up so slowly that it has been barely noticeable. In the Tampa Bay area, for instance, "we've actually seen an increase of about an inch a decade" since measurements began in the 1940s, said Holly Greening, executive director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

Now, the rate at which the sea level is rising appears to be picking up speed.

The sea level's rise is often difficult to detect along urban coastlines because seawalls and replenished beaches can obscure or blunt the impact, said Mike Savarese, a Florida Gulf Coast University marine science professor.

But the changes wrought by higher seas are more obvious in wilderness areas such as state and national parks. In those natural areas, "we're seeing some real indications of a change out there," Savarese said.

Rising global temperatures are melting mountaintop glaciers in Greenland and other cold locales, raising the world's sea level. But an even bigger factor is thermal expansion. Water, like most materials, expands as it gets warmer. So as the upper level of the ocean warms up, the water expands, pushing the sea level higher.

Florida is a good place to study the rising sea level because it's a coastal state where seas have risen and fallen for tens of thousands of years. That enables scientists to see what happened in the past and compare it to what's occurring now.

rest of the story here:


Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Padouk, I can take care of the wine, crackling fire, and fresh bread myself. Would you be willing to hire out your friendly spouse and happy children from time to time, if for nothing else than to serve as role models? (I promise to return them in good condition.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Aloha- on the mainland it is very rare for middle school kids to get recess, much less high school students.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 31, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten's right. A 15-minute recess would result in a lot of teenagers making out in some areas. The school would use up a lot of water in hosing 'em all down.

Also, I must say I always find the high school TV shows a little unrealistic because the kids apparently have TIME to chat at their lockers between classes; at my HS 5 minutes between bells and a high school larger than a TV studio made this wildly improbable.

What the middle schoolers may have instead would be Homeroom, first thing in the morning, chance to chat as the teachers take attendance. In HS any extra homeroom time seems to be shaved nearly completely, or such was my experience.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 31, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Madeleine Albright is on NPR now with her favorite songs-Neil Diamond's "We're Coming to America" just made me cry. It came on the heels of a phone call from a high school classmate whose sister is now homeless, along with her 3 grandchildren. Our local nonprofit only has the resources to help with the most immediate crisis-diapers for the youngest. My friend and colleague now has 10 living in a house that was crowded when it was holding 6 (already doubled up with her own daughter and granddaughter).

I think I need more coffee. On the bright side it makes the Frostbitten household's worries seem like no worries at all.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 31, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

During my taxi driving duties last weekend I heard a pretty alarming to story on public radio about the plain forests of Sumatra and Borneo. The plain forest is being cut down at an incredible rate for first selling the valuable wood then starting giant monocultures of palm oil trees. Most of it is already gone. It's getting so bad orang-otang will soon be confined to the mountains (palm trees don't like mountains) and the national parks. All this increase in palm oil production is not used for food but as the "environmentally friendly" bio-diesel...
The guys on the radio were botanists, not ape guys, so they mostly deplored the replacement of a complex rainforest (5 thousand species of trees) environment by a monoculture that supports very little animal life. And of course the local forest tribes are trampled as the "industrial revolution" happen to them.

warning: some disturbing pictures of dead apes there.
www "dot" born-to-be-wild"dot"org/html/palm_oil.html

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 31, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

yello: The brown acid explains it all.

Posted by: jack | March 31, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Among others, "Our house would have no use for a BREAD machine"...

A brad machine would be very cool, but I don't know what I would do with one.

I'm going to have to do some experimenting with the life of bread on the counter vs in the fridge. I'm skeptical. I just know that I throw away a lot of wheat and yeast products, but rice doesn't go to waste.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, all my good thoughts to you and Raysdad. At least Ray will be happy keep him company when he comes home afterwards.

frosti, there are many things I enjoy doing enough to value my labor at $0. Heck. $0.00 if necessary. :-)

I didn't have storebought bread until 3rd grade, when my grandmother died. She baked for the whole family, several times a week, loaves called "Dutch cake," a sweet, heavy bread, tasting a little like Hawaiian bread (with pineapple, go figure).

Even now, I like making bread. No machine except the Kitchen Aid, and I'll often make refrigerator rolls with half the dough. Come home, set out a little bit to rise in a warm oven, fresh bread every night while it lasts. Maybe it's just in my blood.

Posted by: dbG | March 31, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Sea level rise in Florida is receiving a decent amount of scientific attention. Shrinkage of pinelands in the Lower Florida Keys was reported a decade ago in an elegant study by Mike Ross at Florida Atlantic University.

Some government agencies in Florida are taking this inexorable threat seriously.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 31, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, my mom routinely freezes bread. It lasts a month or so that way.

I've never refrigerated bread; the fridge is just too moist. If you keep bread on the counter (say in a bread box, with wrapper on and shut), it should last 2 weeks. I find I don't eat a whole loaf within 2 weeks myself so I freeze it, I might take 1/4 out on the counter or just toast it straight from frozen; I prefer toast anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 31, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Florida's coastal trees are also migrating inland, another sign of global warming and rising tides. Unlike the Ents, Tolkein's anthropomorphized trees, Florida's tree migration is the result of die-off as sensitive seedling roots tap into salt-water mixing in the surficial freshwater aquifer. Those seedlings are, like the canary in the coal mine, an early warning sign.

Posted by: Shiloh | March 31, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

dbG-I value from scratch pie crust so highly I think nothing of valuing my labor at nothing, bread not so much-possibly because we eat it so much more frequently.

I share Yello's problem of mold growth before a loaf is finished, except pumpernickel. There a serving size is one loaf.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 31, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I've worn out two bread machines. It's just so easy to put the stuff in at bedtime and wake up to warm bread for breakfast. If I followed the directions carefully, I didn't have any problems. I do recall that whole wheat never worked out for me. I should get another one.

One thing I'd love to have - or should I say Mr. T would love for me to have - is the Kitchen Aid ice cream maker that runs off the mixer. I already have the grater, and that simplifies making cheese straws immensely. I have but have not tried the pasta maker.

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

DotC, I just cut a tree limb on the weekend and a lot of water is dripping out. My wife suggest to use sealant. But I have no idea. Do you have any thoughts?

Posted by: daiwanlan | March 31, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I'll trade you some scratch bread for scratch pie crust. I like working with various types of dough--cookies, bread, pasta, pie crust, my current job in securities. . . (okay, it was a poor joke)

yello, Cooks Illustrated by way of Snopes: According to food scientists, the major reason that bread stales is not moisture loss, but rather a process called retrogradation, in which the starch molecules in the bread crystallize. Retrogradation occurs about six times faster at refrigerator temperatures (36 - 40 degrees) than at room temperature, thereby making the refrigerator the worst choice for bread storage. However, the retrogradation process does slow down significantly when bread is stored below freezing temperatures.

Posted by: dbG | March 31, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

yello... yes, the state of the municipal services in DC is not up to par, but when you consider that the land that would be generating income for most cities is covered in federal buildings in DC and the purse strings are held by idiots from podunk towns in Georgia who insist on naming DC's airports land such after their own heroes rather than the DC citizens' it's amazing there are any municipal services at all.

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

In this panivorous family of 5 very little bread goes to the birds. Thankfully there are 3 or 4 decent bakery handy, including one that makes the best French baguette of the Ottawa-gatineau area, period.
Mrs D does the baking, but she doesn't do bread. This weekend she's done double chocolate cookies (chips & cacao) and "pudding chômeur" i.e. the unemployed man's pudding. Special requests from our baby who's turning 14 yo today. Man, time flies.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 31, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

When I was a boy my mom used to buy bread six loaves at a time. She would store the loaves in the over-sized deep freeze that lurked menacingly in our basement. One of my earliest memories is of her calling to one of her offspring to "Bring up a loaf of bread."

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 31, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Boy.. that sounded grouchy. Sorry.

When my mom got sick and subsequently died, my sister started baking bread completely by hand to relieve the stress. It was a religious experience for her (literally... she found herself using that time to pray and meditate) and I think for the next two years or so, she baked bread about three times a week. The kneading, the waiting, everything about it calmed her. She didn't buy bread at all during that time.

yello... I think if you keep the bread in a dark place, closed up (perhaps even putting the bagged bread into a ziploc it will last much longer.

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

TBG, although I also deplore the name Reagan National Airport, I would find it pretty strange if the airport located in Virginia were named for a resident of D.C.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 31, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

My point exactly. Congress is so intent on sending pork to the hinterlands that the local redheaded stepchild goes without. When you see first rate world class cities like London, Paris, and Tokyo, DC comes off as a little provincial in both quality and quantity of amenities.

Even the crown jewels are looking a little shabby. The Mall which should be a centerpiece resembles a poorly maintained golf fairway.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - You will note I said "a friendly spouse and happy children." I didn't say whose....

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 31, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the nicest thing about last weekend's Kite Festival (I even got a pic of a pirate ship kite, arrrrr mateys!) is that it kept visitors' eyes pointed upwards, away from the Mall proper.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Ha... yeah, kguy... John Foster Dulles was a real Virginia hero.

yello... another gripe of mine.. don't the citizens of Paris, London and Tokyo have the same rights as the rest of the citizens of their countries?

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Ahhhhhhhh. *smacks forehead*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

RD, where do you rent that spouse & children anyways? Do they work for pie crust?

I cannot concieve of making pie with storebought crust. However, some years ago I succumbed to the lure of a roll of "bought" cookie dough, stored in the refrigerator. I find that making five or six at a time, we eat fewer cookies at a sitting and they taste much better. If I were really good I'd make the cookie dough myself in advance and refrigerate it, but I've become a slave to convenience.

I like homemade bread but cheerfully buy storebought. My only quarrel is that most commercial whole wheat bread is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup - including some you'd swear was "healthy". Nature's Own, an otherwise undistinguished loaf, has no HFCS so that's usually what we get.

The Boy loves it when I buy a loaf of "good bread" - French or an artisan loaf.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 31, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Bread doesn't last very long before it goes green and furry in this moist climate. Rice, however, seems to do just fine for long stretches. Doesn't do much for me since I am a bread and pasta fan, rice just doesn't thrill me. Blasphemy in the land of spam musubi and plate lunches.

I think DC truly gets the short end of the stick.

Posted by: Aloha | March 31, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse


I have the ice cream maker attachment. It is wonderful. There is nothing like fresh blackberry ice cream in the summer (when the blackberries are fresh off of the vines in the back yard).

I am really looking forward to July now.

Posted by: Moose | March 31, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't have a problem with the poor state of the mall grass. That just means that folks are able to walk, run, play on it. it's the peoples' yard and it looks that way. I'd rather not have "Please stay off the mall" signs.

OK.. enough grouchiness for one afternoon. Sorry folks.

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Actually, JF Dulles was born in D.C., so I guess I'll have to get to work on taking his name off the airport.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 31, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

One factor in rising food prices is the increasing reluctance of grocery stores to offer the large-quantity discounts. In my area, I have noticed the disapperance almost everywhere of the gallon cans of vegetables, such as green beans, baked beans, etc. The humongous dried powdered milk boxes are gone from the shelves. Even worse, the 5 lb. cornbread mixes are replaced by the smaller sizes. Quarts of spaghetti sauce not available, and the 8 oz. yogurt is now history. They would like you to buy all food in bite-sized servings.

I have occasionally known some Mormons and know that at least in the recent past, that culture strongly promoted and practiced true bulk buying. I would bet 50 lb. bags of flour, cornmeal, etc. are still obtainable, but mass marketers want to keep them rare. I'm a sometime home-brewer and would gladly buy 5 bushels of barley at a time from a farmer and pay him trwice what he gets for it and bag it myself. No takers that I can find. One supposes the internet may help, though I haven't yet tried this, having loaned my beer equipment out to a friend for several years. The same goes for wheat: I could grind my own flour in a coffee mill for practically nothing if I could get 25 lbs of wheat. I DO know where to buy 50 lbs of corn: it's still sold as deer bait. It may come to that.

Lots of this has to do also with the disappearance of the large family, the entry of women into the workforce, megacorporation lobbying, packaging interests, etc. Food packaging is a huge part of the waste stream, and most of it annoyingly unnecessary. The idea that this is the American way revolts me. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" is good for national security.

Posted by: Jumper | March 31, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Anyone with access to a cornfield this coming Autumn might enjoy repeating
my experiment.

I finally saw, a few years ago, on Rick Bayless's show, Mexico- One Plate at
a Time, the actual method for making torillas. So I followed it. A friend
and I went out to visit her mother, who still lived on the family farm. They
rented their fields to others, and a corn crop had been harvested several
days before. Giving my friend some time alone with her mother, I wandered
into the field and acquired about five ears of dried yellow corn that had
been knocked down and missed by the harvester. Hard as iron, they were, of

At home, I removed the kernals from the cobs by a twisting motion. They
popped right off. Adding water and hydrated horticultural lime, I brought
the kernals to a boil and then simmered them for an hour. I turned off the
heat and soaked them overnight in this mixture, and the next day simmered
them another hour. I wasn't sure how long it took to make hominy. I let the
potful cool, and then poured it all through a strainer and rinsed the
now-plumped hominy kernals several times. Using a food processor, which put
quite a strain on the motor, I blended the corn into a perfectly textured
dough. Through beginners luck, I had succeeded. It smelled sublime. Here,
now, came my biggest error: I was, and remain, an abyssmally poor tortilla
maker! I rolled out some awfully poor, raggedy specimens, and fried them in
oil for some crunchy tacos. No good. And no way was I going to struggle
through making the probably 200 tortillas that the dough promised.
Surrendering, I covered the dough and put it in the refrigerator.

By the next day inspiration had struck. I fried some salted hamburger and
onions and a little hint of salsa and chili powder and assembled a mess of
hot tamales. This went much faster, did not take much skill, and used the
dough quickly. Plus I could freeze the extra tamales. I steamed them in
aluminum foil packets, and doused them with tamale sauce bought from a
store. Delicious.

I used lard for verisimilitude and will never, ever do that again. I felt
over the next few days that I could literally feel the stuff clogging my
arteries. It is simply not necessary. A tiny bit of canola oil would
suffice, and I suspect no oil whatever will do fine.

Later I learned food-grade lime is available for commercial cooking
operations. I used about 1/3 cup for five ears of kernals. I took a little
risk with the horticultural grade, I suspect.
All the rinsing reassured me, however. Those without any chemistry should
know that the product is not "limestone." It is calcium hydroxide with H2O
affixed. One assumes that historically a lye prepared from hardwood ash was
used. I envision also a primitive method where hardwood and native limestone
chunks are made into a fire and after the fire is burned out, the lime and
ash used as a single compound. Lye or calcium treated corn is known as Masa
nixtamalera. This process
allegedly makes niacin more available nutritionally. And of course for
cultural accuracy, corn husks or banana leaves would be used for steaming

In addition, the laborious grinding of dried corn is circumvented.

As one who formerly studied anthropology and maintains an interest in the
field, I thoroughly enjoyed my experiment, and the resulting dinner as well.

(I guess this will be my latest blog entry)

Posted by: Jumper | March 31, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The liquid dripping out could be from the phloem tissues (i.e. the nutrient-laden liquid that's schlepped through the living cells of the bark). If the branch is near the ground, it could be from the xylem tissue (wood) coming up from the roots. Sugar maple sap used for syrup comes from the xylem, rising from the root system.

The National Arboretum suggests using a sealant in your situation.

(in case there's no link, www . na . fs . fed . us / Spfo / pubs / howtos / ht_prune / addinfo . htm)

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 31, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse


Nice lawns and user friendliness are not mutually exclusive. The Great Meadow in Central Park is an example.

By splitting our commercial and political centers of power we have shortchanged the latter. The citizens of the main city in other world powers arguably have more rights than other citizens.

My son with his extreme sense of fairness finds it reprehensible that Wyoming has three members in its congressional delegation and DC has none.

And rice stores just fine in my hall closet for months at a time. Raw flour would too, but the prep time for a loaf of bread versus a steaming pot of rice is very different.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Hi guys (including, of course, newbies). Just breezing through on a gray, rainy Monday (please pardon the redundancy).

When I was in law school I absolutely adored baking bread -- I'd throw all sorts of stuff in it (seeds, nuts, different flours, herbs). And I absolutely agree with your sister, TBG. It's a very, very therapeutic exercise. Kneading, especially. I'd never be interested in, much less even think of using, a bread machine. Takes all the fun out of it.

Alas, it's been many years since I baked bread. I still remember the aroma, though. Nothing like it. I know I have a recipe for wonderful scones lying around, too, but I can't imagine where it is. It's probably with an equally wonderful recipe for applesauce pie (one of my mother's favorites, and in her handwriting -- I do miss her even more when I see her handwriting). The pie is baked in a graham cracker crust, and when done, it tastes like cheesecake, but without the villainous calories. When I eventually find it, I'll post it. Don't start salivating too soon, though, since, again, I haven't the faintest idea where it is.

Been lurking. Need more wurking.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 31, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, I agree completely. You can get bulk stuff at such places as Costco, though, and up here both grocery stories carry some items in bulk. The trend towards lack of cooking and meal planning is a problem, but I also suspect limited social networking is also part of it.

When you have a garden, you share with friends and neighbors in hopes of getting sharing back. This year we plan another garden so we will have bulk spinach for salads, even dozens of tomatoes should harvest go well. We will trade with neighbors. We have venison in the freezer as a neighborly gift as well.

The potluck tradition in many churches do help maintain this tradition of networking diverse food resources, at least.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 31, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I think you're on to something, Jumper: I've noticed that the super-large sizes of stuff has diminished.There's more profit margin in buying X number of smaller items than 1/2X large ones.

The notion that the consumer controls -- or even has much influence over -- "the marketplace" has always seemed like a transparent farce to me. Been hearing that crap ever since my Ec. 101 clases, and thought it was bulls-- even back then.

We do in fact do a little bit of bulk buying, but usually when we got to a place like BJ's Club: 50 rolls of TP, 25 rolls of paper towels, etc. Trouble is, those kinds of places often have only one single brand of X or Y product. If you want ketchup, it's Heinz or forgeddaboudit.

Even after we do a major shopping at BJ's, we still have to go to Safeway to pick up all the "little stuff" we couldn't get at BJ's.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Yello - like TBG I keep bread in a ziplock bag, in the dark. (In a drawer.) And often freeze half a loaf, which is pretty smart if you can remember to do it when the bread is fresh.

Posted by: nellie | March 31, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Bulk food shopping has little utility where you're feeding a small group of people. I discovered that, cooking for three, giant bottles of oil go rancid and other giant food goes bad or stale before we can cook it all. It even makes more sense for us to buy "bulk" small cans - bundled together - than to buy giant cans or bottles of tomatoes, sauce etc.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 31, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

hey Joel, that's great you are interviewing Tim Flannery.

Has anyone read his book "Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums and P-enis Gourds"... (note: I'm not sure I can say that word on the blog so I entered a dash, but you know what he means).

It's a very interesting book about his field work amongst Papua New Guinea's aboriginal peoples during the 80's. A real eye opener, especially Tim's accounts of cannibalism amongst the people.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | March 31, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Moose, I wish you hadn't said that. Now I'll have to find wild strawberries to pick and go buy the ice cream attachment!

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Re: DotC's 4:00PM We have links!

Out here. Off to get a homeless babe some diapers, tutor some kids in math, and then off to a meeting to figure out how we can convince our congressional delegation to bring home some bacon (that DoD wants so it's not all pork, the thing in question has to go somewhere). This is why I still endorse Error in '08. I'd love to see how the frontrunners would handle being a smalltown mayor.


Posted by: frostbitten | March 31, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Woo hoo, maybe we can link again! Not that I have anything to link at the moment.

We often freeze bread - sometimes I buy bread when we already have plenty, and hamburger buns are difficult for us to use up quickly.

Mr Ml loves to make bread. Sometimes he does just because he gets bored. He makes his own pizza dough, too, out of necessity because we can't get pizza delivered. Too much work for me - we'd live on cheese and crackers if I had to cook.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 31, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Occasionally, Bridgeford brand dough in the freezer case makes it way to our house: pizza dough on most days, but when CPBoy is in a funk, I pop a loaf of that in. Hot bread and a pat of butter and Lemon Curd/Nutella and the world is right again.

What I would like to have is a soda or seltzer maker. My grandfather, the country doctor, had one. I think they can be had for aobut 100, plus the cost of tanks of Co2. Anyway, I don't covet a Kitchen Aide mixer or a bread R2D2 unit....but homemade fizzy? Yum. And, think about the stream of plastic bottles I would opt out of.....

Posted by: College Parkian | March 31, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

A Kite Festival! How jolly, Scotty.
I have a pirate ship kite (7 or 8 others) and a bread machine I use regularly. It's economical if you buy your white flour in bulk. 10 kilos lasts about 4 months and costs $15. I purchase whole wheat and cracked in smaller amounts as I need them.
I like the bread machine almost as much as I enjoy the kites.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 31, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Nats have chalked up 4 in their half of the 5th in Philly, and lead 4-2!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

R.I.P. Richard Widmark, who died a week ago at 93. A truly nice man by all accounts and a fine actor who got caught in the same trap as Robert Ryan. Through a combination of looks, talent, and happenstance, these two got cast as villains, bigots, pycho killers, etc. for decades. Widmark earned an Oscar nom his first time out as the giggling killer in "Kiss of Death" and played hoods and lowlifes for years before he moved up to second leads in A pictures and leads in lesser films. Sidney Poitier told a story about how Widmark apologized constantly during the filming of "No Way Out" (Poitier's first credited film) because the Widmark character was such a virulent bigot and Widmark had to spew race hate at Poitier all day. The two became great friends. Also like Ryan, Widmark was married to his first wife for over 50 years until her death.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 31, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Carbonated grapefruit juice. Maybe.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 31, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Boy do I feel old... the Smithsonian Kite Festival is 41 years old.

If I remember correctly, the first one was held to celebrate the repeal of the law that prohibited kite flying... on the monument grounds? In DC in general? I don't remember that part.

Does anyone here remember?

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Lyssa: welcome!

Raysmom: good thoughts for Raysdad.

TBG: you guys had a kite ban?

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 31, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Just to be perfectly clear, the price of wheat has absolutely NOTHING (BOLD dadgummit, we need bold) to do with the price of gas and oil.

If producers had any way of influencing the price of their grain, they would have tried it before. Producers don't control it. They are by and large out of the loop.

It is far more closely linked to the monoculture item posted just above, AND the coastline in Florida than anything else. In the last year there has been a worldwide shortage of wheat due to poor yeilds and lowered production of wheat. Farmers are busy trying to make money and if the money is in canola or corn for biofuels, then that is what they are going to put in the ground.

Posted by: dr | March 31, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, I agree. Of all three, there's only one who has come close to real grassroots community work of the sort a mayor must do.

Good luck and fondue.

All this cooking talk has made me get to that whole-wheat tuna biscuit recipe for Wilbrodog-- well kneaded to the point I nearly needed a steamroller to roll it out, of course, with a dash of peanut butter.

He better like it. At least it's not stinking in the oven as much as I feared; it actually smells yummy right now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 31, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I am baking. It was going to be an orgy of baking. It was going along swimmingly till I tasted the muffin batter. Some trickster switched my green scoop from the sugar cannister, for the clear scoop from the salt cannister.

Rotten children.

Posted by: dr | March 31, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

DotC, Many thanks. The LINK works!

Posted by: daiwanlan | March 31, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

An early warning for April Fools day. Some of us may need such warning.

Posted by: Jumper | March 31, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Wow, TBG, just like Afghanistan under the Taliban! Never knew about a kite-flying ban. Was it a holdover from Ben Franklin's day?

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 31, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, look at a couple of the rules:
2. By order of the Federal Aviation Administration, the weight of a kite must not exceed 5 pounds and altitude of flight must not exceed 500 feet. The Washington Monument is 555 feet high.

3. When informed that a Presidential helicopter is approaching, all kites must be pulled down immediately, and not re-flown until the all-clear announcement.

I love it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 31, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

"Farmers are busy trying to make money and if the money is in canola or corn for biofuels, then that is what they are going to put in the ground."

dr... I hate to say this, but that certainly sounds like the price of wheat has everything to do with the price of gas and oil.

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy! High-fat tuna biscuits with that wheat, flax, and peanutty smell!

I give it two paws up! At least while it's still fresh and warm, anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 31, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Could you discuss the wonders of eating meat with bones inside next?

I think you're on a gnome brainwashing wave here, and I want to keep riding it.

I'm going crazy on food rations here as a result of the crackdown on my weight, you know.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 31, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Nats won 11-6 over my old home town team, the Phillies. We're riding high atop the league in first place! Undefeated! (Hey, gimme a break. I figure I haven't got much longer to be able to make either of those claims.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Ya'll are so kind. Thank you for helping a long time lurker feel welcome. Now--when I can bring appetizers (and doilies) to the bunker, I'll really feel at home. I don't know how often I'll show up here, but I'll always be reading your posts and lurking around. I think there's a bit of a process for shy lurkers like me to jump in. You all have helped in that process tremendously. thanks.

Posted by: Lyssa | March 31, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Lyssa. But I think we're going to have to have a little heart-to-heart talk about doilies in the bunker.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to be a lurker. You tell people you're a lurker, and they still run right up to you and shout "welcome!" They will scare the heck out of you! My advice is to enter the party at the backdoor, and leave later the same way! And always wear a pirate costume. If you wear the ghost costume, people will try to peek under the mask.

Posted by: Yoink | March 31, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, good thoughts coming your way for Raysdad. Once more, interesting subjects discussio while I am working and too busy to even read the boodle. Welcome Lyssa, yes it's hard at first if you're shy, and some of that for me has never gone away, but I contribute when I feel I have something to say or comment on, it gets easier.

I used to make bread all the time when the girls were little. They had sandwiches with homemade bread and also homemade cookies every day for lunch. I later found out that they often traded for Wonderbread sandwiches and store bought cookies.-ungrateful little brats! ;-)

I still make bread now and then but we don't eat that much of it so even what I buy usually gets frozen and defrosted a bit at a time. I will say that I have never used store bought pie crust. It's from scratch or nothing. Of course, again, we don't have pie very often so...As we are both on diets ("S" has lost ten pounds and I've lost six so far) we aren't eating much of anything unless it's 'good for us.' This makes my grocery cart very boring but healthy.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | March 31, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Stale bread makes my favorite dish!
Try this with dry bread (the NOT GREEN kind):

Grind coarsely an onion (medium?), green chilies (to taste), ginger (~ 1 inch?), a few cloves of garlic.
Fry for a few minutes in ~2 tbsp oil (olive oil will do nicely) until the onions are soft (some like the onions golden, in which case it's better to fry the onions for a bit first and then add the other stuff).
Add chopped tomatoes (2-3 medium?), salt to taste, and dry spices (I use 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, a pinch of cardamom, a pinch of ground cinnamon, some fennel seeds, etc.), and continue cooking for a few more minutes (low heat) until the tomatoes soften a bit.
Break 6-8? bread slices into 1 sq. inch pieces, and mix into the onion etc. paste to coat them.
Taste the salt, mix in some chopped cilantro, sprinkle ~3 tbsp water on top, cover and cook on low heat ~ 10 min? (to steam the bread) until the bread becomes soft and the taste of the onion etc. paste has seeped in.

Try it once, and then change the ingredients (e.g., try your fave spices), proportions of ingredients, and steaming time (I like my bread gooey) as you like.

PS: Lyssa, I lurked successfully for ~ 2 years, and now look at me!

Posted by: DNA Girl | March 31, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Slyness wrote: I later found out that they often traded for Wonderbread sandwiches and store bought cookies.-ungrateful little brats!

Or, you could positively spin it as your children generously sharing their bounty with deprived children and helping teach them the value of home cooking. And if they had to endure processed food in exchange, hey, they always get more of the good stuff at home ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 31, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Lyssa, you won't find a nicer bunch of people anywhere. (Just be careful of bc when he gets out his gladiator costume and the Wesson oil.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I got a free bread machine from friends who were moving away, and I use it pretty often and enjoy the bread. My guy (I never know what to call him here. Let's call him J; that letter's not taken by a boodle spouse yet.)

So, as I was saying,

J and I were staying with a cousin and came back one evening to fresh-baked bread. J pipes up, "bia bakes bread every week!"

"Oh!" says the cousin, "with whole wheat bread, how long do you let it rise..."

"However long the machine wants it to rise."


Nice of J to want to brag about me, but I sure lost face with that cousin.

Posted by: bia | March 31, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm the one with the ungrateful little brats, Wilbrod. Your suggestion for spinning is creative, I'll tell the story that way the next time they're around and see how they react to it.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | March 31, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, hope everything is going well for you and family.

If I lived on 15,000 a year, I would probably consider myself rich. I'm doing with less. And milk, eggs, everything is much higher. I assume this is because of high gasoline prices?

I've finally finished the bulk of the cleaning. Just have a lot of stuff against the wall. My grandson spent most of the day with me. Of course, my hearing aid did not work. Oh, I'm getting so much experience at being humble and just letting stuff go. It isn't easy, but with the things going on with me, I never lack the opportunity.

Have a good evening, folks. I'm a bit tired and maybe just slightly grumpy too. Good night, boodle. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cassandra s | March 31, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I love your posts. Have for years. Are there rules about the doilies? I don't have to wear them do I? BC has a gladiator costume? are you sure it's not Canola oil?
sheesh. what have I gotten into? I'm nervous.

Wilbrod--you are something else. I should have figured you to be an artist AND a scientist. My mom spent years in the entemology dept. of a large university drawing bugs (of course). every morning at the fridge was a new experience. spiders, know. yummy stuff. breakfast of champions.

Posted by: Lyssa | March 31, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, hope everything is going well for you and family.

If I lived on 15,000 a year, I would probably consider myself rich. I'm doing with less. And milk, eggs, everything is much higher. I assume this is because of high gasoline prices?

I've finally finished the bulk of the cleaning. Just have a lot of stuff against the wall. My grandson spent most of the day with me. Of course, my hearing aid did not work. Oh, I'm getting so much experience at being humble and just letting stuff go. It isn't easy, but with the things going on with me, I never lack the opportunity.

Have a good evening, folks. I'm a bit tired and maybe just slightly grumpy too. Good night, boodle. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cassandra s | March 31, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

And if 'Mudge starts in with the tale of the Sonic Disruptor, just smile, back away slowly and find the fire exit...

And no flickin' the Bic at that point, either.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

'Night, Cassandra.

'Night, Cassandra.



Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Yum, DNA girl, that sounds really good. I may have to let some bread go stale just to try it.

And me, too -- I lurked for years. Makes you wonder who else is out there reading. Come on in, folks, the water's fine!

For me, part of it was feeling like I had to have something all impressive, or funny, or something, to say. But I seem to have gotten over that.

Posted by: bia | March 31, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to all; Cassandra is abed soon, but her prayers grow more powerful during the night. Raysdad is among them, I am sure. We look forward to hearing, Raysmom.

Lyssa, despite Mudge's reign, ignore him on the doilies. DR is in charge of that.

Paging bc, if you emailed me about what I should do next, I missed it. Email is hinkey at the server level, so much so, that I am contemplating a new email address. This hurts, because I have had the same address SINCE 1989!!!!!!!!!!!! This means that it is like a compuserve tag, sorta.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 31, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Lyssa, don't be nervous, we don't bite. I understand the pressure to be witty or intelligent or just entertaining; the bar is high around here. Generally, it's above my pay grade but I contribute what and when I can. It's such a great place, and I learn so much, and laugh a lot.

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Well, I've just returned from a trip down internet lane.

I couldn't find anything about a DC kite ban, but it isn't as crazy as it sounds. As early as the late 19th C there were observation kites. There was a former wild west showman named Samuel Cody (no relation to Buffalo Bill) that pioneered kites for observation:

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum apparently has a manned U-Boat kite intended to be deployed for target spotting.

Also, it turns out the Taliban might have just been the nervous nellies (sorry, nellie) in their kite ban. Apparently "kite fighting" is quite the sport in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But to get the competitive advantage, many participants use metal wires or strings with pulverized glass to cut others' lines.

2004 BBC story on 9 (!) killed and dozens injured at a Pakistan kite festival.

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 31, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

And look what happened to me - my Boodle handle has become an example of irony.

Welcome, lurkers! Just click "Submit"!

Opening day for baseball here - it's snowing(!) - bwahaha!

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 31, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, we're waiting to hear how Raysdad did today. I hope you'll check in tonight or tomorrow. We've all been winging good thoughts your way all day.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | March 31, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Lyssa, actually insects are relatively low on my list of animals I've drawn extensively. Flowers, mammals, skeletons, marine life, some birds, detail studies, would be more that kind of thing, as I don't own a microscope.

It is truly challenging to accurately draw an insect under a microscope with all its specific anatomical attributes done accurately. Your mom did well!

I learned about Regina Hughes when I got to college:

The next time you look at a bottle of weedkiller or plant seeds, her work might be there; it's mostly uncopyrighted by now.
Her work isn't "realistic" or elegantly composed. The heavy line work strongly emphasizes the unique characteristics to look for. She had a plant species named after her... something Hughesii reginae, I believe.

Scientists have always appreciated good illustrators who can visually describe specific attributes, but they never got a lot of credit in science in general.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 31, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

No biting? I never get any of the memos.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 31, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I get intimidated too. I'm the Ur-Lurker, you know.

FYI, had about 80 minutes with Tim Flannery and will post some of his thoughts tomorrow. I met him at the Mercersburg Inn in Mercersburg, PA (he was about to give a lecture there). M-burg looks like it hasn't changed a whole lot since James Buchanan lived there (you know, the famously useless 15th president of the United States).

Miss Toronto, thanks for the recommendation of the Throwim book by Flannery. I also want to read The Future Eaters.

Posted by: Achenbach | March 31, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Re: posting - "For me, part of it was feeling like I had to have something all impressive, or funny, or something, to say."

I think that's why there are many, many lurkers. As slyness says, the bar is quite high, but I love coming here because I learn so much.

"Just be careful of bc when he gets out his gladiator costume and the Wesson oil." - Um - wow. What's that all about? I'm really quite intrigued.

Posted by: AZBlueHen | March 31, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Boko999. I forgot to pass that memo on. I wasn't sure if you'd want to read it after I had buried and peed on it.

(See, I took the memo a little personally.)

Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 31, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

whispering...anybody besides me thinks Mudge secretly likes the doilies?

Nah I didn't actually say that, did I?

Tomorrow is April Fools Day. I think I will respond in kind to the green scoop incident. It is laundry day for bed sheets. Does anyone think its harsh to short sheet the bed of a fellow with a broken leg?

Posted by: dr | March 31, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I had to make an illustration, using India Ink as a media, for Research Publication Methods while I was in grad school. I picked a sea spider. I can do few things without making a drawing or at least doodling. At times, this drives my wife bananas. I also learned my way around a darkroom and took some of my best shots with a Pentax K1000. Digital cameras, at least the machines I've used, are very distracting. The moment is often lost to digital lag time.

Posted by: jack | March 31, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Tomorrow is indeed April Fool's Day. It's also Dr G's birthday.

When Son of G was little, he thought you were supposed to trick people on their birthday.

Posted by: TBG | March 31, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of science and art:

Posted by: DNA Girl | March 31, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Nah, dr. Have at it.

Here's a weird one regarding the CERN large hadron collider, but someone must've picked up on it over the weekend. A battle is pending in the courts to compel CERN to do an environmental impact study describing the various effects of the LHC, lest it spawns a black hole that swallows the Earth and its environs. I think I have to call my friends on Planet X to be sure this is not a possibility.

Posted by: jack | March 31, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the good wishes, everyone. I just got home from the hospital. Raysdad made it through the surgery just fine, and much of the neck, shoulder, and arm pain he had is subsiding. He took a bit longer than normal to come out of the anesthesia, which had me fretting. But he's resting as comfortably as you can in the hospital and should come home tomorrow. I'm so relieved I could cry.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 31, 2008 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Very happy for you both Raysmom - I think a few tears and a glass of wine would do you a world of good right now - Raysdad should probably hold off on the wine til he is released from the hospital.

Posted by: dmd | March 31, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear that Raysmom. Maybe a nice hot soak in the tub would feel good too. It's good to have modern medicine and all the fixes and cures, but the worry is the same no matter what.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | March 31, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Very relieved for you Raysmom. Scary stuff. Let's hope for a quick recovery.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 31, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

tbg, your 9:04 made me lol.

mostly, if your handle is ironic, i'm trying to figure out what mine is.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | March 31, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

DNA Girl - those are lovely pics. I like it when art and science meet.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 31, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it's a misspeak, L.A. Lurker?

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 31, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

p.s. greetings to all the lurkers and recent delurkers.

i should have changed my handle to l.a. delurker a long time ago, but i'm an unreliable boodler, so i guess i just wanted to keep expectations low.

p.p.s. i really wouldn't ask about bc and the whole gladiator thing.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | March 31, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

mis-something for sure.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | March 31, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

*faxing a nice linen hankie to Raysmom*

Go ahead, my dear, get those tears out, you'll feel so much better when you do.

I'm glad to hear that all went well and Raysdad is feeling less pain. I hope you both sleep well and feel much better in the morning.

No, we really don't want to revisit bc and the gladiator outfit. Scary it was, just scary.

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

All this talk about gladiator garb makes me say that the boodlers knows where Spartacus is:

bc, "I am BsCartacus."

Posted by: College Parkian | March 31, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

A random thought based loosely on a bunch of random stuff.

Sometimes we forget that happiness is not just the absence of unpleasantness. I mean, I do not jump up each morning filled with joy that I can pay all my bills, do not have a misshapen lump on my neck, and still have most of my hair.

Nor do I spend much time each day whistling a happy tune because I haven't been in a massive accident, neither of my children have been hit by a stray bullet, and I have failed to receive a phone call from my wife informing me that she has taken all of our savings and is moving to Tijuana with her new spiritual adviser.

Yet, at the same time, I can't help but look at people with perfectly healthy children and not sometimes feel a little resentful that such people do not wake up each morning filled with joy.

You get the idea. We take what we have for granted, and can't imagine that what we don't have is taken for granted by others.

Yet it is. It's the normal human condition to accept what we have as unremarkable and what we do not have as an injustice.

But just because it is normal doesn't mean we shouldn't all try to work a bit harder to cherish what we have, and be grateful for what we have been spared.

So now I'm going to note my lack of massive tooth loss and try to go to bed happy.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 31, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear Raysdad is doing well - whew!

Hmmm, the thought of all those lurkers is making me a wee bit self-conscious. Surely I don't set the bar too high, come on!

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 31, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh Boy!!! April Fools day is my favorite day of the year, well except for maybe April 20th, July 4th and March 17th. Anyways my friends and family have gotten so slick they don't believe anything I tell them on the first.So lately I have been using the whole month of April to pull my pranks. I believe that is my right as a middle aged joker/prankster who is well into his mid-life crisis.....OK.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 31, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

RD -- I know what you mean. I, too, shall take the pledge: Fall to sleep grateful.

Midwesterners -- 'specially the northern ones -- specialize in this as: "coulda bin worse (er)." But I want more joy in the realization; will work on.

I was re-watching the Godfather II and II aired continuously over the weekend; one odious and brutal gangster-emperor -- one Hyman Roth-- says more than once, "if you have your health, that is the important thing." I always feel a kinship with him, about that.

I have loved the Godfather ever since sneaking a peek read at the book in high school. The book, the movies -- all of them -- like Lonesome Dove by McMurtry -- explain something about our country. Mario Puzo's best book is _Fortunate Pilgrim _ one he couldn't get published until the Godfather successes.

Those I confess too about this special knowledge -- I can repeat huge swatches of dialogue -- find this hard to believe. Me: Godfather-ful.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 31, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

slyness said: "... pressure to be witty or intelligent or just entertaining; the bar is high around here."



Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

The poor do not do as well in times of economic downturn, war or other strife!?

What insight.

Posted by: bill everything | March 31, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Dang it, Mudge.

You know - KNOW - it's extra-virgin olive oil. None of that canola or vegetable oil, fer cryin' out loud. I'm Italian. Sheesh.

As far as my gladiator outfit, well, I'll just leave it to your imaginations. And it's an old story on the Boodle...

All I'll say is that I look *dynamite* in it (*with* the olive oil, of course).

Looking forward to that interview with Tim Flannery (wondering if Joel snapped any pics...). Also, glad to see you getting back into the sciency-pointy stuff, Joel.


Posted by: bc | March 31, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

greenwithenvy, what you need to do now is to spend April 1 answering questions and providing information with strict and scrupulous honesty -- but say everything in a very arch way, and with a Very Significant Look.

"Why, yes... that *is* my lunch bag." (Seize bag; walk away looking slightly furtive).

"Are you certain that you want to take a shower... *now*?"

"You know, I've always *wanted* a large constrictor as a pet."

And so forth.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | March 31, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Yes, those parents are smug ingrates, RD.

Sleep well on your non-flea-ridden mattress with adequate heat and without landlords banging on the door just because you haven't smelled enough money to pay the rent since the Eisenhower administration.

Hopefully you will be able to slurp down a more solid supper than soup tomorrow. Never take good teeth for granted; or having children you don't need to sell or indenture just to see them fed.

It's ok to have a rough day and curse other people for being so smug about their trivial problems and not knowing how good they have it and that they should be praising the lord for every non-panic-striken breath they take.

I've been there a lot of times in my life... and my problems are nothing. It's just that other people always seem to make fusses over even more trivial problems.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 31, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Our imaginations? OK, Russell Crowe it is - no throwing phones at anyone, though.

Posted by: AZBlueHen | March 31, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

RD, I am thankful for those things - that I have a (small) roof over my head, that I can pay my bills, that I have a decent job (that could go away at any time), that my health problems are manageable. I've never quite understood why some people have to have near-death experiences to appreciate their otherwise mundane life. But I guess that's part of being human. Not long ago when I was up in the middle of the night wrestling with a computer problem for work, I was grateful that I was at home, not in some cold, noisy, windowless computer room, as I would have been 20 years ago. When Raysmom mentioned her anxiety today, I thought about how lucky I've been not to have endured many hours in a hospital waiting room.

Not really sure why this comes easy to me - probably my mom's influence. She never complained, never seemed to want material things, never seemed unhappy. I remember that her placidness used to bug my sister and me sometimes - we wanted her to fight back a bit, rage against the world like we are prone to do (that's my dad's influence).

When summer finally comes here, I will savor the days and never complain that it's too hot. These are the good old days.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 31, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, Lyssa

Biological illustrators are vastly valuable. A good line drawing will zero right in on whatever it is that distinguishes the plant/critter in question from similar ones.

I benefitted enormously from illustrated floras when I abruptly moved from Florida to Wyoming and had to learn the flora, pronto.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 31, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Tim, I might give that a try and congrats on the new wheels

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 31, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, with Raysdad in the hospital overnight (and I'm glad to hear he's doing well), this would be a good night to have Ray with you curled up at your feet.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 31, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

raysmom, i didn't backboodle carefully and missed your posts. glad to hear that the surgery went well. best wishes to raysdad for a speedy recovery.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | March 31, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

*Tim. Could you supply a link to your Mum's webpage again or send it
I'd like to axe her a question.
I'm looking for any recording of Lenny Brough. There's very little on the WWW and I thought she might have some info on him.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 31, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Hoping for Raysdad's quick recovery.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 31, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear that Raysdad is resting in relative comfort, Raysmom. I'll include him and many others in my nightly meditations.

RD, your posts always make me pause and count my blessings. I consider myself quite fortunate to be married to a woman who pretty much saved me from myself. As a result, we have a fairly functional family, compared to my circumstance as a child, and strive to instill values among them that are self serving enough for them to be successful, yet altruistic enough that they will help to make the world a kinder place. Yet another blessing: our son was born eight years past today. I have no doubt that he'll attempt to Scooby Doo me at some point during the daylight hours. I bid you all a good night.

Posted by: jack | April 1, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

It's late for me, but not too late to wish Raysmom a good night's sleep and Raysdad a happy homecoming in the next day or two.

RD, you just about said it all, just great.

New folks, I'm still new here too, but I like it here amongst the English :-).

Looking forward to Joel's interview comments tomorrow.

Have watched the Godfather movies about a dozen times, so fascinating, so different from my quiet little life.

Sweet dreams, you all...

Posted by: VintageLady | April 1, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse

*Tim. I meant your way cool MIL.

Of course.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 1, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Boko999 | April 1, 2008 12:18 AM | Report abuse

OMG, is it new year already!

Posted by: rainforest | April 1, 2008 3:18 AM | Report abuse

Hello, Lyssa, welcome. And hello to all the lurkers.

Wishing Raysdad a speedy recovery.

Happy birthday, Dr. G.

I use to pull pranks on April Fools day when I was young. I don't do it anymore. Way back when, people in my country use to pull all sorts of pranks on April Fools day and some turned out very badly. Now, I think, there are less being played.

RD, love your 9.56pm post. Somebody once said, you need 10 positive things to offset the impact of 1 negative thing. Truth is, there are always more positive things in our lives than negative ones. It's just that we don't often stop and think of the positive ones. We let the negative ones dominate out thoughts.

Posted by: rainforest | April 1, 2008 3:35 AM | Report abuse

SD, Sarawak and Sabah, both M'sia states in Borneo, signed pieces of paper, sometime last year, saying there won't be any unapproved logging. That's like closing the staple door after the horses have bolted. Top politicians sit on the boards of logging companies, so those pieces of paper that were signed have no meaning. Anti-logging activists, mostly indigenous people, sometimes die mysterious deaths.

Posted by: rainforest | April 1, 2008 3:48 AM | Report abuse

SD, Sarawak and Sabah, both M'sia states in Borneo, signed pieces of paper, sometime last year, saying there won't be any unapproved logging. That's like closing the staple door after the horses have bolted. Top politicians sit on the boards of logging companies, so those pieces of paper that were signed have no meaning. Anti-logging activists, mostly indigenous people, sometimes die mysterious deaths.

Posted by: rainforest | April 1, 2008 4:18 AM | Report abuse

Sad, rainforest, tree people face troubles in other places too, especially Latin America.

Am I the first repaired boodle poster?

Posted by: College Parkian | April 1, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Hello? Is anybody here?

Posted by: slyness | April 1, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Are we back?

Posted by: Bob S. | April 1, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Hey CP! Boy, what a morning, I was just lost without the Boodle. Glad to have something besides white space.

Posted by: slyness | April 1, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

OK, I finally got it back here, too. (Naturally, the gummint is behind the times.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 1, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: pj | April 1, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Major blizzard in the boodle, couln't see a thing. Complete white-out.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | April 1, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

G'morning boodle. Had to run our county seat, and back, and truly enjoyed the drive through the forest. We had some logging done on state forest lands last fall and though it looks a mess now, will be a great berry buffet for birds and bears come summer. There is still some hurt among our first peoples about the land becoming national forest, after the white-owned logging companies had a crack at it, but it is hard not to feel very wealthy to have such an abundance of natural beauty so close at hand. Poor countries, or those with endemically corrupt governments, can't seem to afford the long term management practices that make my days in the forest such a joy.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 1, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I had something really important to say this morning at 0830, but it's gone, gone. I mean, I think I might have even rivalled RD in eloquence. Nah...probably not.

It must be an over 40 thing.

Good morning old and new boodlers and lurkers too!

Posted by: Kim | April 1, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

It's not only alive, but there's a new kit.

Posted by: pj | April 1, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Refresh function still not working here. Anybody else?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 1, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

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