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Florida: It's a Hoot


Two burrowing owls in SW Florida. I got the feeling they didn't want me to come any closer -- the fella on the left is uttering an invective not suitable for a family-friendly website.


With all due respect, this guy hasn't had an original thought in 200 million years.


You can definitely pick up some pounds at this joint. In the South, "real pit" is a compliment.


For the A-blog Florida bureau, I wanted to rent this place in Ybor City with the nice second floor porch overlooking the street. Could definitely do some blogging from those chairs up there. Cigar bar close at hand. Streetlife parading by. This would stir the creative juices.


But, with devastating predictability, this is all the company would spring for.


Looks cold, deep and full of man-eating fish. That's why I stayed clear of it and used the zoom on the camera.


Pundits decry use of setting sun at end of blog item as "opportunistic."

[Photos by J.A.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 19, 2008; 8:52 AM ET
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Next: More Amazing Wildlife Photography


first?! nice sunset

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

What beautiful pictures Joel. I think you can start adding "Photojournalist" to your resume without fear of contradiction. I also got a nice chuckle from the subtle shout-out to "Hoot" author, and proud Floridian, Carl Hiaasen.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

How pronounceth thou "Ybor"?

Does it rhyme with

(a) Why-bore;
(b) Yuh-bore;
(c) Eee-bore;
(d) Ytterbium?

Also, 'pronounceth' sounds a lot more like 'pronountheth' when you actually try to say it.

Posted by: byoolin | March 19, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Great pictures, especially of the owls and pit.

omni, thanks.

I must say the latte has mellowed me out.

Posted by: dbG | March 19, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Burrowing owls figure prominently in the Carl Hiaasen classic,


Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

{* mutters something unpolite about writers actually writing something and not giving advance notice of a new kit *}

reposted from tail of last kit:

Apparently I'm also too busy/lazy to do any "work" this morning either.

I think I'm still recovering from being abducted by leprechauns Monday. I don't think they violated me (checks under kilt, no blue ribbon), but I now know the secret behind the fuel they use to power their rainbow generators -- they're into bio-fuels big-time, lots of grain and hops and yeast. But it's a two-fuel deal. The darker 80 proof fuel goes in first, then you dump in the hoppy bubbly stuff laced with green food coloring.

Grimace. Wipe lips on sleeve. Repeat.

After that, you sit back and wait for the rainbow. (I saw several, but they tell me I missed a few)

btw... "Abducted by Leprechauns" is available as a new book title (though not a Googlenope), just in case any writers are hanging around.

Peace out... :-)

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

byoolin- C

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

9/9 on the quiz because I really really know gross stuff. And I used to pick up horned lizards all the time as a kid.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 19, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Morning, morning, friends. I am so late to this conversation or rather the picture gawking. I love the pictures, JA. They are just too beautiful for words. I feel like I'm standing in the sand on the beach, and that is as far as I'm going. And that sunset is fabulous.

Slyness, I'm okay, just had a lot to do this morning. Hope everything is well with you.

Bad Sneakers

That was one powerful speech yesterday by Obama. I so enjoyed it, and yes, it does give goosebumps. Of course, we have those that believe that fire does not burn, so whose going to change their minds?

Martooni, so good to hear from you. Please take care of yourself. And give my best to Little Bean and the wife.

Hope everyone enjoys the BHP hour. I will be there in mind, if not in body. I was thinking wouldn't it be nice to drive to Raleigh,NC and catch a flight to DC, and just show up at the BHP. And then I thought, if I got the round trip ticket, I wouldn't have cab fare to the place. Enjoy guys. Pay me no mind.

Got to go, Wednesday is the busy day, and I'm already late. Have a great day.

Mudge, I am worried about you, and don't tell me not to be.

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

Posted by: cassandra s | March 19, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse


6/9 on the kit. Who knew I needed to brush up on rats, dung and such???

Excellent pics, I'll try to do as well at the BPH tonight. 7 hours, not that anyone's counting...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

byoolin... I think you wath channelwing a thertain cawachter fwom "The Wife of Bwyan" with that "pronountheth" pronounthment.

Or an alternative wifestyle Elmer Fudd.

Not that there's anything wong with that.

(thinking we should have a dedicated "wisp" day in addition to "gwobal warming day")

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Nice boss. Very nice. These shots of heart and soul America are a really good way to escape yet another cold spring in the north.

I'm snoopy here, but what sort of camera are you using? Please tell me you that you were miles away from the guy in the water and that its all just magic with lenses.

Posted by: dr | March 19, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Love the owls. The Washingtonia palms in front of the Ybor City building were named in honor of George by Wendland, a German botanist who was also co-named a spectacular fan palm from Madagascar after Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor. Bismarckias are now proliferating in southern Florida.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome, as it happens.

But for some reason, your pronunciation of "gwobal warming day" made me imagine Peter Cook doing it in the Pwincess Bwide.

"Gwobal. Warming. is a weal and sewious pwobwem," he would begin...

(He has a wife, you know...)

Posted by: byoolin | March 19, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

If the boss getting photo pointers from his daughter? The pictures are wonderful.

Hey, *I* knew that real pit is a good thing!

Looking for rain this afternoon, plus Obama will be in town. I failed to get tickets. Oh well, I'm gonna vote for him anyway.

Posted by: slyness | March 19, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Bismarckias are now proliferating in southern Florida, writes DoC.

Factoid prize of the day!

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I got caught in the ol' "New Kit" trap, too, martooni.

5/9 on the quiz. Apparently I don't know my tapeworms, elephant poop or regal horned lizards as well as I thought.

But I do know my Eeee-bore.

Now, reposting:

'Morning, Boodle. Yes: R.I.P. Arthur C. Clark.

Last night I watched Chris Matthews and then Keith Olberman, which I rarely, rarely do, to get some of the Obama reaction. It was really incredible. Matthews pointed out that even the Right Wing liked the speech, quoting both Pat Buchanan (egads!) and the National Review online as both praising it. (Gerson's column this morning is both seriously wrong-headed and also reprehensible.) As for Thomas Sowell, he has no appreciable following and his opinion is just a speck of dust in the wind at this point.

The other thing about the speech is that it is the first of three back-to-back: tonight he's giving a major speech on Iraq (this being the "anniversary" of the war), and tomorrow night a major speech on Iraq and the economy. I know some of you guys object to too many (or any) sports analogies, but this is like getting a hat trick or hitting the trifect or batting fior the cycle. If Obama can pull off three major speechs, all of the same quality as last night, in three nights, you are looking at the next president opf the United States. If he hits the trifecta, Hillary doesn't stand a chance. It is my belief Obama is doing this specifically to challenge Hillary in Pennsylvania. The buzz is that Hillwary will win Pa. by a comfortable margin. I think Obama's strategy is, rather than go to Penna. and battle her head-to-head, he is going to "win the country" with these three speeches, and then let the country tell Pennsylvanians who the best candidate is. It is a fairly unconventional and high-risk strategy, but if he brings it off, it will be something none of us has ever seen in politics before.

The other thing I think about the speech is that Obama didn't just open up the issue of race for general discussion; I think he also completely removed it as an issue in this campaign: he totally took it off the table and made it a non-issue. If I'm right, that is truly remarkable.

And of course John McCain just semi-spitzered himself yesterday with the al Qaeda quote (or more properly, he Bush-whacked himself).

Between Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech and McCain's gaffe, I think historians are going to mark March 18 as *the* pivotal day in the 2008 campaign.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

byoolin... would that be "Incontinentia Buttocks" by chance?

(we used to wun awound together, y'know... hit all the cool waves and dwopped ecstacy wike they were "good and pwenties")

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to miss a Bismarckia palm with its huge silver fan-shaped leaves. Joel's probably within sight of one right now, if he's in an urban setting. The most abundant palm in Madagascar has become really popular, even if a single palm can take up an entire front yard. They haven't gone wild yet, unlike the water hyacinth right by the gator's teeth. The water lettuce on the gator's other side is considered an seriously invasive pest plant, but the rather authoritative online Florida plant atlas (University of South Florida) says it's native. Hmm.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"...batting fior the cycle,..." writes 'Mudge.

Fiori is flowers, in Italian, the most lyrical of languages because of all those strategically placed el sounds....and the vowel endings.

So, I read this as batting flower(s) for the cycle. Baseball and blossoms: O, Spring, you are indeed waiting in the wings with all thy abundance.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Help with DoC's tune cootie about the Bismarck (ship) not palms. If SoCarl is not too busy, he can redraft to fit the plant peril.

My high school history teacher made us sing this. Also, other songs of history,

Over there
Apple blossom time
You're in the army Mr. Jones

Great way to teach history.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Mudge... I was watching "Morning Joe" this morning on MSNBC (by accident, I promise), but got to catch some of Buchanan's remarks about Obama's speech. I, too, was surprised by the reaction of the "right" to that speech (including Scarborough and others).

Maybe Obama really *can* be a true "uniter".

Anybody who can bring wingnuts and moonbats together and not alienate independents while addressing the 800lb gorilla in the room *deserves* to be president.

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Thinking of history music, the Canadian play with music, "Billy Bishop Goes to War" uses all-original songs. An actor in the local production suggested that avoiding copyright issues had something to do with that. Evidently that's a major reason for low-budget movies to have original music. Royalties just cost to much.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Thanks for the Fed props, rainforest.
I don't have any inside Fed info, I just pay attention to the news and see where they're telegraphing punches.

I'm marshalling my thoughts re. AC Clarke.

I fell in love with his work when I was a boy, roughly 40 years ago. Will write more on him later, when I have time.

Loved "Hoot," both the book and the movie.
But then, I do love Hiaasen.


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

When I look at these pictures I see exotic images of a strange and unusual land. A place where creatures normally seen only on the the cover of National Geographic have been known to appear in one's back yard. Yet to native Floridians, I assume, these images are snapshots of memory.

Perhaps I am mistaken. All I can relate is my own experience as a child of the Pacific Northwest. As I have stated before, I still consider myself as being on a really, really long business trip. (And one in which I have done a bit of fraternizing with the natives.) For me, it is images of evergreen trees, salmon, and slugs of unusual size that speak of familiarity and days long past.

Perhaps this is why Joel's pictures of Florida seem so especially vibrant and beautifully composed. These are pictures of home.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I especially like the pictures of the foamy, wavy water. Up here it lies in slabs.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

DotC... I think a lot of the low-budget films have original scores because the director was gullible and cheap enough to let his brother-in-law or a distant cousin write the tunes so he could save a few bucks. The effect of this is further compounded by the cousin in charge of special effects.

I know there are some real gems out there in the "B" realm, but this reminds me of Rod Stewart's hits and misses. The guy has to be the ugliest looking human ever born, but his stardom came from havingJeff Beck in the studio playing guitar (and I assume) helping with the writing and arranging. If Beck was playing, it was a guaranteed hit. If not, you got "Do you think I'm sexy".

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Theses scenes of sunny beaches and liquid, warm-looking water almost made me cry. We still have 3 feet of snow on the ground and a mixture of sleet and miniature snowballs is currently falling from the grey skies.
No crocuses for Easter; it is sad.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 19, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse


Date: March 19, 2008, 9:44 CST

"Abducted by Leprechauns" is now available as a Boodle handle. Please use with discretion. That is all.

Posted by: CowTown | March 19, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Once, on the Beartooth Plateau northwest of Yellowstone National Park, a balsam poplar was pointed out. The odor from a leaf was somehow familiar. I realized that I'd probably broken a lot of balsam popular stems as a little kid in Michigan. Proust would be pleased.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

"You mean the SUSes? Slugs of Unusual Size? I don't believe in them."

Posted by: StorytellerTim | March 19, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Banana slugs! Horrors. Evil CPBrother1 placed one down my BODYSUIT shirt circa the early 70s. We made a trip often in summer to the mildewed paradise of Yahats, Oregon from Montana.

I tremble still, in fear over yellow, large, soft slugs.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I don't know CowTown, I would imagine technology not working the same in the magical land of leprechauns. So how would you boodle. How about we make Former Leprechaun Abtuctee available as a handle.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The bodysuit craze was a fashion-practical idea about how to keep shirts tucked a ballet leotard, but some with helpful snaps in the nether regions.

I do not think this had snaps. But in fear situations, I understand the memory might be imperfect.

He has yet to apologize profusely and appropriately.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Pacific Northwest slug hunter mount the horned heads on small plaques for display in the man-cave.
Pretty much like Eastern hunter do with deer mice.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 19, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

RD... I like the "really, really long business trip" analogy.

I don't live very far from where I grew up, but the flatness of Ohio is like another planet when compared to the hills of Western PA.

Kind of on-kit... I moved to Florida several years ago and made the mistake of settling in the Orlando area. The only wildlife I found there were strippers and people wearing mouse costumes. I lasted all of three months and high-tailed it back here to the land of four seasons of weather every day.

We don't have giant slugs or salmon, but the creeks (or cricks, if you're from Western PA) are loaded with trout and small-mouth bass and yellow perch (my favorite).

I did find a huge hawk one day sitting on the corner of my back porch roof. The weird thing is that I'd just received an email the day before from an old college prof (as in "ex", not "ancient") who mentioned a hawk as a manifestation or personification or whatever of him and some things he was going through when he was my age (40). I just happened to look out the kitchen window and spotted the bugger sitting there, all majestic and hungry for lagomorphs, and couldn't believe my eyes. What a beautiful bird.

Most days nature gets in your way and you have to move it. But every once in a while it moves you.

Posted by: EscapedFromTheLeprechaunsButGotCaughtAgain | March 19, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Banana slugs have a favored place in the memories of my childhood. I remember camping with my family in the coastal mountains just South of Big Sur. It rained most of the time we were there, to the great chagrin of my father. However, when the rain paused occasionally, the forest became a wonderland of shimmering dew, redolent with the smell of moss and wet bark. And everywhere were bright yellow slugs, some over five inches long. For a lad under the age of tweleve, this was a vision on par with the first discovery of the giant heads of Easter Island.

Posted by: CowTown | March 19, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Careful, StoryTim, you almost said SOSUS and you know how touchy 'Mudge and Don can get on that topic...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Sorry CP, but I'm laughing at the image of you in a skin-tight 70s body suit, capering about and shrieking whilst trying to remove a large slug from your person.

Yokibro #2 once put a toad down my bathing suit, but the last laugh was on him. When I very promptly returned it to him, it did what toads do defensively; peed all over his hand.

Posted by: Yoki | March 19, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I've escaped again. Tricksy leprechauns are no match for my superior intellect and street smarts.


Cowtown... it wasn't dew, but yesterday morning we had some serious frost on the ground and I noticed something I never noticed before. It looked like the yard was sprinkled with blue glitter. I know how prisms work and all that and that ice will reflect/refract light in all kinds of colors, but this was the first time I ever noticed blue.

Just one of those things, I suppose.

I dislike the cold probably as much as your father dislikes constant rain, so I kept myself indoors and admired this marvel of light from the comfort of my kitchen.

I was also the only one awake, so that made it even more special.

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I'll chime in with an R.I.P. for A.C. Clarke. Few writers could cover the science field as well as the S.F. field as he did.

Posted by: ebtnut | March 19, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I dog\house sat at my sister's last week while she and th ekids were in Florida. When I got home I was faced with 3 feet of snow that has the consistency of concrete. I've hacked out a car sized hole at the end of the driveway but there's no way I'm going to finish the whole thing this late in the season. The damn snow's so hard you can walk on it without leaving footyprints and so high Buddy the Dog thought the now 1' back fence no longer applied to him. Saturday I spotted him runniing around the neighbour's field and had to call him in, scold him, and get the ground rules straight again. I know he's got the concept because he doesn't like to poop on our property and has always preferred to squeeze one during our walks if he can. Now, with the fence so low, he walks over, hangs his butt over the fence and deposits one for Farmer Bob. I love my dog.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"Former Leprechaun Abductee" was a Googlenope until you went and ruined it, omni.

"Crick" is also eastern Penna. as well as western, EFTLsBGCA.

Keep your filthy hands off my SOSUS, darn it!

*memo to self: cross Beartooth Plateau off list of potential vacation destinations*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Circa 1995, my camera's shutter died after snapping a shot of a banana slug in southwesternmost Washington.

Western Oregon has vast numbers of garter snakes. I suspect they don't eat slugs. Of course the snakes don't need very much food. Come to think of it, if they live their lives at 50 degrees, their lives are probably long and sluggish.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

There's a crick in my creek, and I must say I'm not very happy about the situation.

Boko... may I borrow your dog? We don't have as much snow on the ground as you, so I'd probably have to hold him up over the fence to give my neighbor a treat. My only concern is that a #1 would occur at the same time as #2 and that my head might end up as collateral damage.

OMG.... we've lived in this house for about 4 years now and we *just* (as in right now) had our first visit by a Jehova's Witness.

Boko... I *really* need to borrow that dog, especially if it can be aimed.

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

If I could have only one picture of Florida, it would be one of the fountains in Coral Gables.

Posted by: CB | March 19, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Mudge is right, crick is eastern PA as well. I remember cousins laughing histerically almost every time we would say something. We pretty much grew up in central Indiana. Though I still to this day say creek, I've always pronounced been bin (and not bean). That's another thing that would set my cousins off, the inconsistencies were as funny to them as the midwest accent. Gotta love 'em tho.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I was working in late Sptember near Elliot Lake in Northen Ontario an excavator uncovered a garter snake 'ball'. We were standing around marvelling at the hundreds of snakes when one of the guys grabed a sack and started stuffing it with snakes. When asked WTF he thought he was doing, he smiled and said, "The Harmonic."
As I had worked at The Harmonic Tavern a few years before and I knew and liked the owners I suppose I should feel guilty about the near riot letting loose a sackfull of snakes in a crowded bar causes, but I just can't manage it.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Wait a minute... Wilbrodog is trained to do all kinds of stuff. I wonder if he does any mercenary work on the side. Instead of a "seeing eye dog" or "hearing ear dog", maybe WD would deliver "treats" in the general direction of my neighbors... kinda like a "pee in your eye dog" or something.

(sorry... got a neighbor whose fence is very tall and ready to crash down on me when the lawn mowing season starts and has ignored all pleas to fix it)

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

LOL Boko. The Puppy is also a property line defecator. He often tries to extrude one through the neighbours' link fences. These days he likes to water the top of the one foot of fence that is still sticking out of the snow on the back of the property. This neighbour is a perfect sob, so he's more than welcome to it. And he's tall enough now he can look toward the Great Beyond over the fence with concupiscence.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 19, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Martooni-I would be happy to lend you Jacques T. Skunk who has returned from his winter digs to rummage about my porch at night.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Martooni. While Buddy is not small enough to be classified as a 'handdog' he could be aimed by holding him in one's arms. Getting him to eat baking soda and drink vinegar might increase his range.
My only concern would be getting him past Homeland Security at the border.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

That's a mighty talented dog you've got there, Boko.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 19, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Yoki -- I am laughing with you. Notice how the bodysuit did NOT make a comeback?

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the Belgians have some real problems. I wonder where Eurotrash is and what he thinks about them:

Posted by: slyness | March 19, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The first time we went to Florida we camped somewhere near Daytona Beach. The vegetation around the grounds made me think that we'd been transported to Gilligan's Island. Your pictures, Joel, brought those memories cascading back to the fore. As always, nice work. Someone needs to fax me a cool beverage from the BPH. Spring break is upon us and its been one of those weeks.

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I could probably handle something in the terrier or spaniel class. Being of gnomish stature, the Danes and St. Bernards and other Large Dogs are out of the question as they would squish me as I tried to aim their posteriors.

I guess my main concerns would be loading and firing and not ending up as a "friendly". I was thinking that a nice batch of chili would produce a steady stream of "projectilish" ammo, but some hardboiled eggs and cabbage would get the same effect without any evidence left behind (since the evidence would waft away).

The timing is everything.

But seriously, the targeted neighbor guy maintains one of the nicest and most meticulously groomed yards on the block. Unfortunately, it's all surrounded by a 10-to-15 year old fence that tends to lean precariously over my property line like a Tower of Pisa made out of rotten cedar and rusty nails. I could fix it for him -- and have offered to do it in the name of self-preservation -- but he must want me dead, a victim of aging lumber and a soggy foundation.

He also has no dogs or cats, so I'm thinking a couple rounds or three of ballistic sh!tzu doo-doo just might work like kryptonite (or at least knock down the darn fence in *his* direction).

btw... "Sh!tzu Doo-Doo" is available as a boodle handle, but I don't expect many people would want to pick that one up.

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

*memo to self: remember to fax Jack a caipirinha, a $1.99 cheeseburger platter, and a cup of their great seafood chowder.*

*getting out my waiter's pad to take down all the other fax orders I'll be getting all afternoon*

*try the mussels --Scotty goes through two or three orders of them. omni loves the oyster shooters*

*Yuengling used to be the semi-unofficial beverage of choice at the earlier BPHs, but lately I think the range of beverage has broadened considerably, so feel free to order whatever suits your fancy*

*Sorry, no doggy bags. Apologies, Wilbrodog*

*As for me, I'm definitely feeling a relapse of scruvy coming on strong...*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Sigh. I just got an email advertising "": "an open online study community for students, teachers and self-learners to publish and view academic resources online: outlines, solutions, study guides, exams, presentations, notes, formula sheets, essays and other works....By facilitating the exchange of educational resources, Course Hero aims to accelerate the acquisition of knowledge and deepen understanding....Course Hero does not sponsor the use of shared educational course materials for unethical purposes, such as plagiarism or other forms of cheating. The educational course materials found on should be used to gain understanding and used within the limits of each student's respective university code of academic integrity."

No, of course no one would think of using solved homework assignments or exams, sorted by university and course, for any dishonest purpose! I know the fraternity filing cabinet has already gone virtual, and of course the best teaching and evaluating comes from creative, non-memorizable, non-plagiarizable assignments, but still. If I teach a course every year, every homework assignment and every test must be completely new from scratch every time? Not sure that's possible. Again, sigh.

Posted by: bia | March 19, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

*Milk for martooni. Sorry, dude.*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | March 19, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I think he's very wise, Raysmom. He doesn't like to poop where he lives.
A lesson for us all.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 19, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Body suits would solve our nation's crack problem.

Posted by: muffintop | March 19, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, it's the BROTH that's the real attraction, althought the mussels are good...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Mussels marinières? With real wine, lemon and little bit of carrot&onion in the broth? With a nice cold Entre-deux-mers to go with it?
I'm feeling a bit peckish suddenly.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 19, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

'sokay Mudge... I usually keep a traveler in my pocket to gin up whatever is served.

Unless I'm driving.

That's when I call a cab or stand around at the bus station scratching my head until someone feels sorry enough to tell me "you need to take the 31" or summat.

Or I wait until I'm abducted by leprechauns (a not-so-unfrequent even around here -- especially since I make magical doors for them).

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to point out that as part of a survival course I once had fillet of Banana Slug. Tasted a little like clams. But I assume you will all be willing to just trust me on this.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

btw... has anyone else noticed that one of the owls in the first picture is wearing a leaf hat?

Does that work better than tin foil?

Paranoid minds want to know.

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

EWWWWW, RD. Even cooked, EWWWWW.

Survival course, indeed.

Posted by: slyness | March 19, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

S'nuke, I'd add that it's the VODKA that's the real attraction, although the oysters are good...

Posted by: LostInThought | March 19, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

WHAT! EAT banana slugs! Not in your life! They're PETS!

Posted by: CowTown | March 19, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Some people like banana slugs-

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 19, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, K-Guy! Now I know where I can buy a "plush slug"

Posted by: CowTown | March 19, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Best line in the UCSC history of their mascot: " overwhelming proslug straw vote..."

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 19, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link k-guy, and thanks to the fine folks at UC Santa Cruz for providing the free beer I've earned on more than one occasion by knowing that their mascot is the Banana Slug-no known predators!

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Joel--where did you take the pic of the owls? Very cool, especially the yellow eyes. They go together like birds of a feather. ;-)

The ocean looks cold, as it was when I was on the Atlantic side a few weeks ago. But people were actually swimming and surfing cause it was sunnier. Brrrr.

And the gator? Hey, at least it's a species still around after 200 million years. Later, gator.

Posted by: eidrib | March 19, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

bia, an old Adv. Linear Algebra professor mine had us make an appointment with him in a classroom. He had a few sheets of roughly equivalent-difficult questions, you had 30 minutes to work out whatever he gave you, on a blackboard in front of him. Of course, if he thought you were up to it he'd start with the most difficult thing and just let you go if you solved it.

Took him less time than grading, there was nothing you could pass on to another student (if so inclined), nobody ever contested the grade. It was a lot better than take-homes I'd have to work 24 hours straight on.

Posted by: dbG | March 19, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Another mascot good for a beer bet is the Southern Illinois Saluki. Imagine wanting to get rid of the cheer "go maroons!"

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

It may even possible to eat banana slugs "au bleu" if one is very careful not to remove any of the slime when picking up the pretty gatropods.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 19, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

One can even think of eating banana slug "au bleu" if the pretty gastropods are picked up with enough care so that they remained covered with their protective slime.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 19, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Hal the bot is a frikking liar.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 19, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Saluki... is that a puzzle or a Greek liqueur (the one that tastes of licorice and forces you to yell "Hopa!" or "Yasoo!" whether you want to or not)?

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Saluki: Oldest known domesticated breed of dog. Its history can be traced back 7000 years to the Tepe Gawra region in NW Iraq. Said to have a top speed of 48 MPH. Which makes it faster than a greyhound by 3 MPH.

Posted by: omni | March 19, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I love the way those owls appear so indignant.

The anthropomorphic expressions of animals fascinate me. You know, the way cats can look condescending, lizards thoughtful, and rabbits full of existential angst.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Slugs in famous films-

This scene occurred following the unfortunate accidental discharge of a firearm in a moving vehicle. The resultant unpleasantness (we'll just say "splatter" and let it go at that) necessitated a wardrobe change for the Jackson and Travolta characters.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 19, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. These are great pictures, Joel. I think the gentleman (or lady) in the second picture doesn't need any original thoughts; the ones from 200 million years ago are working out just fine. Chomp.

I like the indignant owls; reminds me of our own Rice owl mascot (talking of mascots). My next favorite has always been the banana slug. There's just something charming about the idea of a banana slug. I'm glad to see so many others agree. I admit I'd never thought of them as food.

Speaking of food, I wish I could have some of that "real pit" BBQ, and I certainly hope Joel sampled it.

And what's wrong with the new Florida bureau, Joel? It has a porch.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 19, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Sky report I.

The picture is actually pretty, but very richly colored. Smog, I suspect.

Surly sea, black trees
Orange Ho-Jo Sky blares cheap beds
Sun checks in, lights out.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Going to hit the road shortly, make my way into DC for the BPH.

See those of you who attend there; those that don't, we'll toast you.


Posted by: bc | March 19, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Y'all enjoy that BPH this afternoon. Someday I'll get there. Mudge, go ahead and fax me one of those capybaras. On this fine spring day a small rodent cocktail will hit the spot.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 19, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I am going to get on my bike, in the rain, and head to the subway at 4:15. I can hardly believe I am going.

All hail to KB, for setting high the turning-fifty bar. I guess I better get started thinking on something bold, something solo, something out-in-the-wilderness.

Sans banana slugs!

We will lift a glass to y'all and wing a prayer wide.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

But. But. I don't wanna become toast.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 19, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that post, K-Guy. "The banana slug is celebrated up and down the northern coast of the United States. In the seaside, forested towns of very Northern California, we have been led to believe that Banana Slug festivals occur yearly, wherein slugs are consumed for sport and pleasure."

While I greatly approve of the Celebration of Banana Slugs, consumption for "sport and pleasure" is just plain wrong.

Posted by: CowTown | March 19, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Put some cheeseburger on that toast, and we got a deal, bc!

Posted by: Wilbrodog | March 19, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Johnny Horton's lesser known hit "Plant Bismarckia"

In March of year two thousand eight Dave's planting time had come
Florida, of course, has a mild clime with the right amount of sun
Bismarckia was the nicest palm that Dave had ever seen
A tropical palm with large broad leaves and coloured a nice blue-green

For six long days of pondering a spot he had to swallow pride
Coonties Dave was heard to say "Put ev'ry thing aside"
'Cause somewhere in my crowded yard I know there's some space free
We gotta plant Bismarckia and there we'll let her be"

Posted by: SonofCarl | March 19, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Speaking from the perspective of toast...

cheers :-P

and may you find yerself in heaven 15 minutes afore the devil knows yer dead.

(didn't get to use *all* of my irish toasts monday, which probably explains why I'm still alive and can type)

just one more...

peace :-)

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

*readying the net for one faxed pirhanasomething, along with the necessary safety equipment*

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

RD, it's certainly interesting just what features give us that impression.

Rabbits have wide eyes, almost no white, they're set apart as is standard for a prey animal. Their ears are routinely set back, a trait which in dogs would indicate submission or anxiety. And then there's that constantly working little mouth that makes them look pretty fidgety. And of course, the arched back and the legs close to the body, which conveys tension (or energy ready to let go).

You get the impression some of them would be chain smokers if they were human, just for their nerves.


Those burrowing owls have a strong wave-shaped light brow over their eyes, probably to help protect their eyes against debris in the burrow-- many hunting strains of dogs (versus show strains) have definite bone around the eyes for the same reason-- protection against things striking the eyeball. That brow nearly meets their beak in the middle, making them appear like they are frowning very deeply. The fan of grey feathers around the eyes just help exaggerate the eye area, and the subsequent frown.

The grey-mottled brown cloak of feathers all around the body except for the grey face just make them look even more like disgruntled hermits in search of a decent laundry to remove ash-paintball stains.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

As an non-sequitor, may I say that you KNOW you've survived a frigid north winter when you celebrate 37 degree weather as though it was 65 degrees in Hawaii and run out in short shirts and bare feet to soak up the sun-- before you remember and get a jacket and shoes on.

And I remember when this was WINTER in DC.

But hey, the snow is melting. We might just see our garden again for Easter if this keeps up (knock on wood).

I'm in the mood for sky reports from Minnesota.

I. Evening.

Lamp-posts yield to night
Icy fields fall as stars emerge
Deep blue blushing black

II. Evening wind

Plants exhale incense
Forest myrrh bedews cold winds
Roaming past cloaked firs

III. Wilbrodog's report

Dog stories well smelt;
Dinners long past, crackling smoke
Nose's bathed clean by walk.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm honored, SoC.

I've been gently pointing out to neighbors that their front yards are going to waste without my potted Bismarckia. A piccabeen palm from Queensland (via Leu Gardens in Orlando) will find a spot somewhere. Coonties will flock to their new bed along with Dioons. Four huge bromeliads need roomier quarters.

Meanwhile, caladium "bulbs" have arrived from the grower at Lake Placid and a box of rain lily and Easter lily bulbs is due tomorrow.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Headin' to the Metro, should be at the BPH soon! *happy dances*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 19, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Owls are extremely interesting critters. They have twice as many neck vertebrae as humans and can rotate the head much more than 180 degrees. Their ears are asymmetrical to improve the ability to locate prey by sound. The characteristic dish of feathers around the eye helps by acting like a radar dish to gather sound. Special feather design makes them super silent fliers so the mouse never hears the owl coming. They have great vision, as do all raptors. An eagle can see a grasshopper at 300 yards. Owls are not that good, but they do have superior night vision.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 19, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - 65 degrees in Hawaii would put everyone in long johns and heavy coats. That's cold for us tropical dwellers!

Wish I could go to the BPH but that would make Happy Hour at 10:30 a.m. in my timezone. Hmmm, maybe that's not a bad thing. Someday, I will get myself to DC and meet up with all ya.

Posted by: Aloha | March 19, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, right. I was told that Hawaii doesnt vary much-- 67 to 72 degrees year-around by somebody who lived there. She might have misremembered.

I'll hold up a cup of tea right now to toast the BPH. You hold up a pina colada or whatever ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

It's true that the ave temp doesn't vary, hovers around high 70s to low 80s mostly. I will hold up a blended fruit punch to your cup of tea!

Posted by: Aloha | March 19, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

As Descow(tes) said: I fart, therefore I am

Cows discovered on planet HD 189733b!!!

Posted by: DNA Girl | March 19, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Reading Obama's speech on Iraq.

I agree with the focus on Afghanistan.

"What lies in the heart of a child in Pakistan matters as much as the airplanes we sell her government. What's in the head of a scientist from Russia can be as lethal as a plutonium reactor in Yongbyon. What's whispered in refugee camps in Chad can be as dangerous as a dictator's bluster. These are the neglected landscapes of the 21st century, where technology and extremism empower individuals just as they give governments the ability to repress them; where the ancient divides of region and religion wash into the swift currents of globalization. "

"Third, the danger of weak and failed states risks spreading poverty and refugees; genocide and disease. Now is the time to meet the goal of cutting extreme poverty in half, in part by doubling our foreign assistance while demanding more from those who receive it. And now is the time to build the capacity of regional partners in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and the reconstruction of ravaged societies. "

"Fourth, the catastrophic consequences of the global climate crisis are matched by the promise of collective action. Now is the time for America to lead, because if we take action, others will act as well. Through our own cap and trade system and investments in new sources of energy, we can end our dependence on foreign oil and gas, and free ourselves from the tyranny of oil-rich states from Saudi Arabia to Russia to Venezuela. We can create millions of new jobs here in America. And we can secure our planet for our children and grandchildren."

"And fifth, America's sluggish economy risks ceding our economic prominence to a rising China. Competition has always been a catalyst for American innovation, and now should be no different. We must invest in the education of our children, renew our leadership in science, and advance trade that is not just free, but fair for our workers. We must ensure that America is the economic engine in the 21st century just as we were in the 20th."

"Once again, Senator Clinton, Senator McCain, and President Bush have made the same arguments against my position on diplomacy, as if reading from the same political playbook. They say I'll be penciling the world's dictators on to my social calendar. But just as they are misrepresenting my position, they are mistaken in standing up for a policy of not talking that is not working."

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Great pictures. I just had house guests from Sweden (first time over here) since Saturday until this morning. We went over to the local Marriott for a huge "all American" breakfast before I stuffed (so to speak) them into their rental car for their drive to Youngstown to stay with another friend until Sunday when (and this is really on kit) they drive to Orlando for the remainder of their stay. Just heard from them that all went well, even driving in the rain, and they arrived mid-afternoon and were enjoying a lovely cup of tea.

My body is killing me (too old to "jaunt" everywhere in sight). Took them to Mount Vernon, set them loose in DC for a day, went to Arlington cemetery yesterday (um, great for my knees, of course). Cool Civil War gravesites. I also found Allard Lowenstein's grave (died entirely too young) behind the Kennedy exhibit.

I've basically taken the day off, knowing that tomorrow I will be definitely burning the midnight oil after burning the daytime oil. Very busy (and, no, not complaining).

One of my favorite Arthur C. Clarke stories was "Childhood's End" -- a classic. Creeped me out a bit, too, as I think it was supposed to do. Nice that he reached 90.

Time to see if I can get a massage this week (my body won't forgive me if I can't get one).


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 19, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Still searching for an evolving anticomplexity. They are indeed hard to find. Searching for clams that stay larvae, or mudpuppies that stay tadpoly. Looking for sea scorpions that shrink and turn back into bacterial ova and somehow survive. They aren't there. Looking for flukes, but not in my own liver if you don't mind. If your DNA is the cleverest ever, and you can shorten it, are you really less complex? This is gonna keep me busy for a while. I wanted to ask Gould for examples of devolution. Too late. Insert Bush joke here.

Posted by: Sh!tzu etal | March 19, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

If you're not in the mood for a rant or sermon from a long-haired leaping gnome, just scroll on by.

Obama rocks.

I just hope that we, as a nation, can put our differences aside and give him the required "roll" to give his "rock" some lasting meaning and effect.

I'm a lefty (politically speaking), but I would be happy to meet a "righty" in the middle if I knew what we were doing together was going to produce worthwhile results.

I'm waiting to catch the full speech from yesterday and looking forward to the new one tonight, so I can only speak from the bits and pieces that have been reported throughout the day.

Kennedy was killed shortly before I was born and of all politicians since then, I've not heard a single one who made me feel they actually gave a crap about anything except themselves. I had nothing but cynicism and fleeting trust in not just them, but the system as a whole, from the day I was told *I* could be president through today.

I think Obama just might be the right person at the right time because he made me feel less cynical back in 2004 (no small feat) and has made me more confident in our future with almost every speech he's given since then.

It is time to come together and put all the technological and academic and philosophical and medical and industrial and military wonders and resources we have at our disposal to WORK and say once and for all that we ALL matter and not a single ONE of us deserves to slip through the cracks. We must also, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Anarchist, Libertarian, Green, Grey, Blue, Purple... the parties don't mean crap... we're PEOPLE, people, and we have to decide that WE CAN DO THIS. Then we gotta DO it.

Otherwise, it's done.

We're done.

Might as well put a fork in planet Earth and turn over the crust because after how many thousands of years of civilization, we still cut each others' throats and stab each other in the back, then get pissed off when someone returns the favor or takes our parking space.

I'm so sick and tired of watching humanity rip itself apart for the sake of nation or race or profit or resources... you know the list.

Nobody gets off this planet alive, so why the heck can't we all just get along and quit trying to screw each other over?

Just a thought.

Maybe I'm just crazy.

I just had to get this one out, but I'll now return to sitting on my hands and will try to remain quiet as I watch the world destroy itself.

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Totally off track as usual,but i heard this song on my way in and wanted to share it with everyone.

Plus i can't get it out of my head

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 19, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

I gather you liked the Iraq speech then, Martooni? I hope this gets decent airtime.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Scientists claim nice wins over the long term.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

REDACTED: Clinton's foreign policy record.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if somebody answered this already. Ybor, as in "Ybor City," is pronounced EE-bore. Rhymes with Eeyore.

Posted by: David | March 19, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Try this one: Onego, W.Va.. The first with a correct pronounciation wins an official A-blog tinfoil hat. GWE needs to be recused.

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

SCC: pronunciation. What a geek.

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah, well try Fauquier County, VA.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, would seem that we have the place to ourselves.

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

If I mispronounce that one, frosti, I'm likely to have a post nuked. FAW-ker???

Posted by: jack | March 19, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

0-NEE-go? WUN-go? No idea. I usually try Spanish pronunciation - o-NAY-go - first, and I am usually wrong.

I always said FAW-key-er. Norfolk is trickier to say in polite company.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 19, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Foh-kwoi^r, Frostbitten? That would be the French pronunciation, methinks.

But I'm guessing it's been Anglicized and slurred by Virginnyans so "Faw-keer".

Of course, I know this is correct because 1) I grew up in Virginia and 2) I googled it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, here's a tip from this site.

"I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't Norfolk."

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

My sister was mugged (actually almost car-jacked) in Ybor City a few years back, but fought the bugger off with her purse and keys and his own gun (after he hit her in the head with it) and sent him off packing. She then told her helpful friends who had decided to hide in the shadows (while she took care of things) that the coast was clear and they could come out and then drove everyone home to Orlando.

I should note that my sister is all of about 4'10" and generally good-natured and not prone to heroic or foolish acts. I should also note that she has a tendency not to take any guano from anyone and really doesn't care if you're bigger than her -- she'll put up with a jerk for so long, but when he crosses the line, his butt is toast and he usually finds himself amazed and bewildered and wondering why his nose is broken.

I hope this self-protective/superhero trait is genetic, since Little Bean is so quickly maturing (almost 6 now going on 18). I mean, I can hold my own if push comes to fisticuffs, but I can't be there for her 24/7 once she hits a certain age and starts flexing her independent teenager muscles and possibly finds herself in not-so-nice situations.

But if her mother's self-protective/superhero traits are also genetic (as in surviving childbirth three times, not to mention putting up with me) I think she'll be okay.

I also think we just might need a name change from "Little Bean"...

Maybe a task for the Boodle?

What would be an appropriate superhero-ish name for an invincible 6 year old girl who will hopefully grow into an invincible woman not too soon or as quickly as it seems she is?

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Google is my friend... Onego is pronounced wang-go!

That explains why I'm getting a lot of pr0n site hits.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, little acorns grow into mighty oaks, Martooni.

And I fought off a mugger once-- unsuccessfully, he got my purse as it finally broke after a few minutes, he grabbed from behind and I was off balance and on the ground early on. &*%R(&^% 15 year old punk looking for drug money.

This is why I got my faithful sidekick who alerts to danger so I can kick butt first. Your sister is tough and better armed than I was.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Since I apparently have a slowly cooling boodle corpse all to myself, I'm gonna mention that ScriptFrenzy starts April 1st.

Unlike "anybody can write carp and call it a novel" of NaWriMo, you actually gotta educate yourself on what a script is supposed to look like.

They have links to scripting software and sites that offer movie and TV scripts for the reading, such as:

It's pretty darn fun to read those episodes from TV shows I like.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

That VA pronunciation guide must not have had the services of any folks from Fauquier Co. It is not FAW-keer as the guide claims, but FAW-cure.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 19, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

wilbrod... I think I'm more of a maple than a mighty oak. I'm the kind of tree that spreads those little helicopter things (i like to think of them as ideas wafting in the wind to be caught by unsuspecting passers by, whether they be squirrels or chipmunks or children) instead of the atom bombs oaks tend to drop, which can dent your forehead.

I'm hoping she turns into the kind of tree that can do both. Helicopters and atom bombs.

Her mom is more of the willow variety -- very flexible, very forgiving, prone to wrapping roots and branches around everything in sight.

A little of that wouldn't hurt her one bit.

(i was going to say "please don't ask me why i'm stuck in analogy mode lately..." but yinz know me (relatively) so i'll give a clue in the shape of a 2x4... a poem is about to be pooped out whether i want it to or not and it may be painful... the only laxative that seems to help is whiskey and I'm trying to keep that demon on a tight leash... we'll see what happens... might just be a big brain poof or who knows... all i know is it has to do with "blue" and "dew" and a frosty morning as "viewed" from my kitchen window while contemplating the joy of a "Daddy/Daughter" dance I recently attended with the Bean.)

Peace out and apologies for being an oddity, but sometimes I just can't help myself... hope the BPH went off well and all made it home safe and sound. :-)

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

It'll ease itself out, Martooni.

Yes, maple seeds do look like broken dragonfly wings.

They also come in a variety of colors and moods-- red, black, silver, sugar, sour, fullmoon, devil, bigleaf, etc.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Fashion alert!

Posted by: DNA Girl | March 19, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

I knew better, I just forgot!

Coming home this evening, I made the normal turn and said things not repeatable on a family blog. Obama is in town and attending a fundraiser in a private home. Said private home is on my normal route from church to home. Fortunately, one through lane was open. Just lots of cops and orange cones.

Posted by: slyness | March 19, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I hate when I do that, slyness! But at least you can say you were close to Obama.

I was gonna say, my Spanish pronunciation rules are why it took me the longest time to get the Mianus jokes.

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 19, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, thanks for saying "Mianus joke." Didn't know what that was until you mention pronunciation.

Posted by: rainforest | March 19, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Very nice pictures, Joel. I, especially, like the setting sun.

bc, I was pulling your leg about your fed relatives. (Note to self: use emoticons).

Banana slugs : major ewww. Another really ewww slug is guava slug. Instead of yellow, it's green.

I've seen a few Bismarckias here. There are all in the compounds royal families' residences. There are some streets here that have royal palms planted along the center island. I'm not a palm person. I like to look at flowers.

Posted by: rainforest | March 19, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

SCC : ..compounds OF royal..

Posted by: rainforest | March 19, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Funny. There were oodles of Mianus jokes tonight at the BPH. Science Tim caused them all by saying that he cooked something in 'his office.'

You had to be there.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | March 19, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Very enjoyable evening. Others will provide more details. Here are two to start us out:

KB is delightful and bold and brave and rides a bike to work!

We ate kick-a$$ raspberry pie, homemade crust, too. Raysmom is the best; oh yes, she picked the berries herself!

Posted by: College Parkian | March 19, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Also back from the BPH. A good time was had by all! Lots of good conversation... many laughs... Much hilarity ensued.

Physically present tonight... kbertocci, bc, Mudge, Scotty, Maggie O'D, College Parkian, pj, Scottynuke, omni, mo, Raysmom and... me.

Virtually present.. all of you.

Posted by: TBG | March 19, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

That genetic t-shirt should be a big seller. A bit clueless of Science not to market it immediately.

Reuters reports that rum and cigar production in Cuba is ramping up in anticipation of demand from the US. Maybe the European and Canadian companies involved know something we don't.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 19, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Ack! ScienceTim! He was there, too! ACK! I knew I'd forget someone!

So sorry, Tim.

*hanging head in shame*

Posted by: TBG | March 19, 2008 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Ok... while the rest of you BPH'ers were eating pie and cheap-but-yummy cheeseburgers (and probably imbibing things I've smuggled past Mrs. M), I was pushing and groaning and making animal sacrifices (just banana slugs) and all the other stuff that goes into birthing a pome...

Here's the link:

Apologies in advance if it makes you wretch or have the sudden need to claw your eyeballs out after reading it.

Posted by: martooni | March 19, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I like it, martooni - made me a little misty-eyed. Very sweet.

Sounds like a fabulous BPH!

Posted by: mostlylurking | March 19, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

The Boodle Porching Hour is an amazing phenomenon. I am still processing the information and the experience. But it was all positive, it was great meeting my imaginary friends in three dimensions.

Falling asleep, now. Best to all boodlers, near and far--

Good night!

Posted by: kbertocci | March 19, 2008 11:21 PM | Report abuse

I like it, Martooni. As Mostly says, you have it all in there already. You won't have to tweak it too much to polish it.

Posted by: Wilbrod | March 19, 2008 11:40 PM | Report abuse

It was nice martooni, you have a nice style. Sure is easy to write when you have such good material,or should i say material you love and love to write about.

I'm glad the BPH was fun,looking forward to the next one on a weekend.

The wind is picking up here in West by god,I'm hearing things falling on my roof. Cozy and warm inside.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 20, 2008 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Very nice, Martooni. I bet little bean would be telling her grandchildren about that.

Posted by: rainforest | March 20, 2008 1:29 AM | Report abuse

O yes o yes, the K_BPH was quite the bash! Biggest crowd we've had in months, due I'm sure to the guest of honor.

Or maybe it was the new and expanded happy hour menu... ;-) I think bc and I single-handedly got M&S to add mussels to the menu.

Metro delays meant the tables were essentially full by the time I arrived! I got the impression TBG and kbert were first, with 'Mudge, pj, bc and omni rounding things out. CP soon showed up and monopolized kbert's time with knitting talk -- kidding!! -- followed by Raysmom (with PIE!!!), Maggie O'D, 'Mudge's departure, mo, SciTim (with COOKIES!!) and all the usual craziness in Mianus. Measurements were even taken...

Photos to follow eventually, never fear...

*rather-pooped-but-still-chugging-towards-the-weekend Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 20, 2008 5:07 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It think it's safe to say everyone enjoyed themselves at the BPH in honor of Kbert. Can't wait for the pictures. Someday I'll get there.

Martooni, Mudge, Slyness, and all good morning*waving*

I'm off today because Spring break begins and the kids will be out of school. I'm taking the week off too, as sort of a vacation.

We had an incident at the high school here yesterday. Two girls got into a fight, and one was stabbed with scissors. The school was in locked down. I believe one of the girls was transported to the hospital. I don't know how serious the injuries are. I hope she will be okay.

Perhaps I can get some work done today. At least begin the work. I'm still in the "talking myself into it" mode.

Have a great day, folks. We had so much rain last night, which is good for the gardens. I'm hoping we get out of the drought, probably need more rain.

Some of you will have a long weekend. Enjoy.

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

Posted by: cassandra s | March 20, 2008 5:40 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, as I read your poem, I saw you and Little Bean twirling with glee, in my mind's eye. A delightfully successful endeavor, that one.

Today's new word: Electrodessication. That, and curretage, on the headline of the page Mr. T brought home from the dermatologist on how to care for the site of the mole that was taken off his back yesterday. Didja know that current medical thinking is that wounds heal faster if you don't let them scab over? A thin layer of Vasoline and a BandAid, that's what you're supposed to do.

Oh yeah, good morning, everybody. Cassandra, I hope you enjoy your vacation at home. Six-tenths in our rain gauge last night, lots of wind when I went out for the paper. Must be March! I saw the full moon close to the horizon.

Looking forward to BPH pictures. Cassandra and I will come to one, one of these first days.

Posted by: slyness | March 20, 2008 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Beautiful poem martooni. I know I am not telling you anything that you don't know, but cherish your happy healthy daughter. Cherish her every day.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 20, 2008 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like fun, as usual at the BPH.

Raysmom brought raspberry pie?

Be still my beating heart.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 20, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

RDP, Raysmom carried the pie in pie-briefcase. Really. With handles and everything.

TBG brought something also, that she and I ginned up for KB's day and the recent pi-pie festing. Look for that in the blog through the miracle of linkage.

We shall be looking for a noonish BHP. I am thinking the tulip library grounds sometime this season.

Other details:

Sci/His/Culture Tim has a vest hung with carabineers, each carbineer is hung with a tool. So, take SciTim with you to the alamo or a desert island.

PJ is very nice. His shirt has the smallest and finest checks possible. Perhaps this means that he is royalty of some sort. Mums that, until he shares. ScottyN went for the less-nuclear color this time.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 20, 2008 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Hawaii Climate?:

Good morning all. Had a short but great time at the BPH last night. Good times. It was really great meeting another imaginary friend.

One day we'll have to build transporter devices so we can get all SAO15^1.9299 together in one place for a GBPH (That's Great BPH).

Posted by: omni | March 20, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse


How about "Invinci-Bean?"


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 20, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

MacGyver Tim was there CeePee?
Gloomy and rainy here this morning. Roofs will continue to cave in *sign*. What we need in warm, sunny and breezy weather to sublime off all that snow.
On with a walk with the Puppy, in the slushy street. Yes, I'm making a very long weekend of the Easter holiday. Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays and I took my "volunteer day" today. Apparently I volunteered to finish the trim and install the handrail in the entrance.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 20, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

SCC sigh, doubly.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | March 20, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! I'm feeling maximum frenvy but console myself with the light schedule I have until next Wednesday. Local schools tie their spring break to Easter and I think Cancun is the second most populous Minnesota city right now. Looking forward to those BPH pictures.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 20, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and Happy First Day of Spring as of 1:58 AM EDT (I think)

Posted by: omni | March 20, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Sorry I missed the BPH. Sounded like a big shindig. Pictures please.

I may be missing something somebody said earlier, but at the intersection of burrowing owls and odd college mascots is the Burrowing Owls of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. They made the NCAA last year, but this year's Cinderella is the University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers. Not sure whether they are golden or not.

I'm still trying to decipher where all these Florida related kit items are leading as far as future columns or side projects.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 20, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Oh good golly. Is it the Vernal Equinox already? Now I have to remember where I put my ceremonial robes.

Also, I note that Passover and Good Friday are separated this year by a Lunar Month. I have been informed that this has something to do with the difference between the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 20, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Pie Briefcase? Cool. I keep envisioning something with a double-wrapped inner compartment that requires two keys to open.

Posted by: RD Padouk | March 20, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, The poem is great. Do you have chapter 2 of NaWriMo you wrote last year?

Posted by: daiwanlan | March 20, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The pie briefcase is handcuffed to the wrist of the person carrying it, or at least that is the way they did it in the Clinton White House- nuclear football on the right wrist, pie case on the left.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | March 20, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Passover is on the same dates every year, according to the Jewish lunar calendar.

Amazingly, Catholic and Protestant Easter are on the same date, though there's not total uniformity among the Orthodox. An explanation's provided by:

This year's Easter is only a day later than the earliest possible date.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | March 20, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Thanks to everyone who came to the BPH, in body and in spirit.

Special thanks to TBG and College Parkian for the Pis and to Raysmom for The Pie (Blackberry, IIRC, and really yummy). And to Scottynuke for the pictures and kbertocci for precipitating the whole thing.

It's going to be a busy day for me, as my oldest is going to have some outpatient surgery this afternoon. Nothing major, but that won't stop me from worrying a bit. Part of the Dad Job Description, I suppose.


Posted by: bc | March 20, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Great BPH last night! It was one of those parties where you laugh and laugh, and then can't remember any of the jokes--just that they were good.

The pie case (courtesy of Mom, who was deeply amused by my previous pizza-pan-trash-bag container for pie freezing) does indeed appear to be nuclear hardened. It has a little locking mechanism and a-tisket, a-tasket handles. I am so not a Martha Stewart type, and was somewhat embarrassed at carrying this contraption on the Metro.

Happy hour (with enhanced menu) has been extended to 7:00. But we missed the Achenwaitress.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 20, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Good luck to you and your eldest bc.

It is hard enough being too far away to attend BPH's but really homemade pie and cookies - you are killing me! Glad everyone had a good time.

Posted by: dmd | March 20, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

bc, you and the oldest will be in my prayers. Never fun, having surgery, regardless how minor.

RD, I've heard that this is the earliest Easter has been in over 90 years, and it won't be this early again for over 200 years. I suppose the issue is that the vernal equinox and the full moon coincided, which doesn't happen often.

Posted by: slyness | March 20, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Wish I could have made BPH last night, but I was slaving away with the Planning Commission until after 9:30. Such is life in local government sometimes. Pronunciation questions? Here's one few people seem to agree on, even in Steeler town. Carnegie--Car-ne-gee, or Car-nay-gee?

Posted by: ebtnut | March 20, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I guess I should let you all know I got my late breaking Sprin has Sprung news from none other than Agnes:

Posted by: omni | March 20, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I'll be thinking of you and yours bc. Smooth sailing.

Pie? You had Pie? Are there at least pie pictures? Pi pitures?

Martooni, I can't think of anything finer than Scottie's 'invici-bean'. Past present and future. Nice rant there last night too, by the by.

I have to go in to the office today to clear some lose ends. I may console myslef by stopping for another bookcase or two, so I can find the floor again.

Posted by: dr | March 20, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

It's also World Storytelling Day:

Posted by: omni | March 20, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

bc, My thoughts are with you and your family.

On this day 1985 Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

I guess you all can tell I'm a little bored at work today.

Posted by: omni | March 20, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

ebtnut-Planning Commission, yipes. Hope you don't have too many headaches. Our fair city has no Planning Commission, why plan when you can react? Seriously, we are one of just a few very small cities in MN that did not cede authority to our county and does not have any permitting or zoning. The state mandates well and septic certifications but other than that you can build what you please, how you please, though the electric co-op won't hook up a meter if you don't have a licensed electrictian to certify the work.

Posted by: frostbitten | March 20, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

bc, sending you best thoughts for your child.

Posted by: Yoki | March 20, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Good morning.
I'll have to wait to see the BPH pics.
I'm off to my nation's capital to cash in my gold before it drops in value again.
I'm going to stop in at the protest at Parliament Hill supporting a boycott of the Olympics. Not buying Chinese goods and sending hostile emails to the Chinese embassy just doesn't seem enough.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 20, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I am shocked to discover that College Parkian thinks my vest is well hung with tools. Shocked, really. Appalled, a little.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 20, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

World Storytelling Day? But... no one told me. Perhaps they forgot.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | March 20, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I have no vest envy.


*hiding my Banana Republic catalog*


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 20, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Best wishes to you and your eldest, bc.

Posted by: jack | March 20, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Oh my MetaphorTim, such a romp with language.

ScottyN -- before you know it ALL the boodler-men will sport multi-pocketed vests with clips and dangles and chains and tools and other heavy metal. Man-jewelry!

Raysmom -- you are so not Martha; thank you for enduring the tisket-tasket moments on the Metro to bring us beautiful pie of the evening.

Posted by: College Parkian | March 20, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Hey guys -- just read where Scooter Libby has been disbarred from practicing law! Woo-hoo! That's terrific for my humble (and continually humbled) profession.

Back to my day job.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 20, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Morning All and Happy Spring....almost

Although it still feels like winter here in WV. If the wind dies down by the weekend, I may have a equinox fire to celebrate spring's arrival.I sure have plenty of fuel including this years Christmas tree.

YJ,UMBC is the retriever's and I think it is either Golden or Chesapeake Bay.

Sci Tim, when any woman tells you that you are well hung in any manner,take it as a compliment.

Finally, good luck today BC, good thoughts are being sent your way via west by god.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 20, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Oh I forgot

Let the Madness Begin!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 20, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Sorry I couldn't make the BPH, Cub Scout night.

bc, best wishes for the kids

Raysmom, were you sporting a Longaberger basket? I swear that my wife owns their entire line. I recall that there is a double-decker pie basket. I had to modify hers for some reason.

Been slaving away on a huge home improvement project. Some months ago, the drywall in our master bedroom ceiling collapsed. We got that fixed right away, and found the same condition in the other bedrooms. I put additional screws in the remaining drywall. However, one bedroom still looked cr@ppy. So, I tore down the ceiling, and that miserable blown-in insulation, about 30 large bags worth. Lord, what a mess.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | March 20, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: Raysmom | March 20, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Good luck on the surgery. Earn lots of Good Dad Points.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 20, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

where'd you catch the burrowing owls? Marco or Cape Coral?

nice shot

Posted by: Michael Pancier | March 20, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

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