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Blog Til You Drop

Came in to work yesterday, got some stuff done, and since it's raining I came in again today, Sunday, and am trying to chip away at the Larger Agenda and also start on tomorrow's blog item, but then I read this story in a New York paper (via Memeorandum) about how people who have blogs sometimes keel over and die. [Italics added for emphasis.] Death by blogging, that's what the story's about.

Now, that wouldn't happen to me, since I have truly heroic goof-off powers [layabouts view me as such a role model that I now wear tights and a cape, with a big "S" on the chest that stands for "Sloth"] and a permanently illuminated Assignment Declined sign mounted on my computer monitor. Also my compensation is not connected to how page views we generate here [um, right??]. But it's still a disturbing story, because you can see how page-view-based compensation might someday become the norm in journalism.

' Mr. Lam said he has worried his blogging staff might be burning out, and he urges them to take breaks, even vacations. But he said they face tremendous pressure -- external, internal and financial. He said the evolution of the "pay-per-click" economy has put the emphasis on reader traffic and financial return, not journalism. '

We discussed this a few months ago:

"There is some tendency, if not an outright mandate, to search for eyeballs," says Bob Steele, who teaches journalistic ethics at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla. "Part of it is that the technology now gives barometric pressure on this. We can learn what people are clicking on and how often they're doing it." Combine that with the industry's economic turbulence, and "you do have a recipe for the chasing of eyeballs to the detriment of coverage of substantive issues."

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 6, 2008; 11:43 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: My School is Not a Battlefield
Next: It's the Reporting, Stupid


Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Busted link in your first graph, Joel?

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Fixed now, thanks.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 6, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday I went to the memorial service for the younger brother of a high school classmate. He apparently died of a heart attack at his computer and wasn't discovered until two days later, when he didn't show up for work.

He was 51 and a brilliant doctor who specialized in pediatric cancer research. But he had never married, worked much of his time, and didn't appear to have much of a social network.

Balance, folks, balance and connections with others - that what gets us through to old age.

Posted by: slyness | April 6, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Not surprised. Anyone who's tried to keep even a non-income-earning hyper local blog with 5 page views a day should have seen this coming.

dr-great pic. Here's the view from Chez Frostbitten this morning, taken with snow still falling and blowing. I have shoveled the front walk twice now and while I was downloading pics heard the avalanche off the roof. I love that the metal and steep pitch make snow removal a non-problem. The landing zone on the walk, not so much.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

slyness- Balance and connections are indeed the key. Everyone needs a village.

I have to admit I've wondered if the boodlers are all connected enough IRL that if sudden death in front of the computer happened we wouldn't be left wondering. (Nani, who was before my time comes to mind. I ache every time Cassandra wonders.) Mr. F knows my boodle handle, and I hope would drop in to tell y'all where and when the rhubarb pie will be served.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Joel... If only you'd known that a background in Thai-style boxing would come in handy, you may have explored that career instead of journalism.

Posted by: TBG | April 6, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Raining here. Just rain. Lots and lots of rain. The grass is green, and so is the moss. Typing one-handed here, because the other hand is keeping a large cat from rolling completely onto my keyboard. This cat could give Joel lessons in sloth.

Woodpeckers in the trees outside. Funny thing is when one of them tries to peck at the metal chimney at the top of the house. It creates a very weird sound in the house, like living in a trash can next to a jackhammer. I can't imagine that it is an effective source of tasty and nutritious bugs.

Posted by: PlainTim | April 6, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

IRL = in real life.
IASAL (I am such a loser)
I had to go to

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Sure looks like yesterday here, frosty.

Sloth is a highly underrated accomplishment. I'd call it a virtue except that some people really can't seem to do sloth. I am not one of these people.

Joel, its probably that post vacation catch-up. You'll get over that in no time and be completely ready for sloth once its time to mow the lawn.

Posted by: dr | April 6, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Neat article on Dave Brubeck:

There's a certain amount of amusing navel-gazing in the vast extent of the Post's coverage of the Newseum's re-opening. Three full pages of the dead-tree Style section, plus most of the Kids' Post page.

Posted by: PlainTim | April 6, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

A new defining example for the phrase "chickens coming home to roost."

"A year ago, the Mortgage Bankers Association was thrilled to sign a contract to buy a fancy new headquarters building in downtown Washington. Interest rates were low, the group's revenues were steady and the prospects for quickly renting out part of the structure were strong.

But since then, the association has fallen on tough times as many of the subprime mortgages dispensed by some of its members proved dicey."

Read all of Jeffrey Birnbaum's A01 WaPo print edition piece here:

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Dave Brubeck's son Matt is up for a Juno Award(Canadian Grammy) for a Jazz collaboration.

Thanks for pointing out the Brubeck article Tim, Take Five isonmy list of songs I never get tired of hearing - I think I enjoy it the most in the car, with the volume turned way up - can make being stuck in traffic enjoyable.

Gorgeous day here - been raking all morning - I am now very tired.

Posted by: dmd | April 6, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Reposted from previous boodling:

Wow, blogging *to the death*.

Thanks, but no thanks.

sd, I haven't finished watching my recording of the Bahrain GP yet, but I see that Hamilton did indeed botch his start, and whacked Alonso in his subsequent frustration.

Personally, I'm a privacy advocate.
I do understand the value of demographic data, but I'd rather have such data disassociated with me or my children.
Information regarding me or my kids' religion, marital status, the color of our skin, ethnicity, etc. is personal, and I think I should have the choice - in fact, the right and the *responsibility* - to consider who I share personal information with and under what conditions. In other words, I *do* think this is about me and my kids, and their best interests.

We do not always know how such information is used; who it's sold to, if adequate safeguards are in place to protect that information from being stolen (how many people have had online credit card information stolen?), what kind of reporting or marketing tools are used against that data, etc.

Again, I'm all for demographic data used "for the greater good," to keep old Jim Crow at bay, but I believe I have the intellectual property rights to my own and my kids' personal information (my image and my kids' images are legally ours, are they not?) to assure that it is used in ways I agree with, and can not be used against us in any way.

Which is why I'm willing to provide such data anonymously, but am leery about doing so with names and addresses attached to it.


Posted by: bc | April 6, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

bc, good point.

The problem with demographic data dissociated from names is that it can't be independently verified or refuted by the statistics of spot-checking, it would take a repeat action of similar scale in order to test whether the first data set is accurate.

The problem with demographic data associated with names and specific identities is that it can be used against individuals if unscrupulous persons gain access to the data. Until the present administration, I would not have considered that to be a serious hazard in the U.S. -- there's just too much data for a lone bad actor to make use of it to any great extent. Between computers and believers in the powers of the unitary executive, however, bc's point looks more and more cogent. I yield the point.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 6, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Re: Blogging to Death:

Horrifying! Now, in addition to being subjects to the whims of editors and the marketplace, writers are at the mercy of hits? All right, I'm calling my new blog:

Great piece!

Kathy R. R.

Posted by: riotkrrl | April 6, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Dave Brubeck wrote a piece in honor of MLK....Gates of Justice, I believe. He has a Mass called Hope or In search of hope. Typing on chicklit keys so cannot easily wiki-proof this. All the plants are happy with such slow, sustained water. Lady Jane and other early species tulips about to bloom; little cheerful confederate violets everywhere. Oh, for a lawn of such.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 6, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Death while blogging? Hey, if you are happy! Me, amid a field of violets, after rhubarb pie and very hot coffee from a thermos....if the grave be ready, roll me over, put a hanky on my face and let the sodding commence.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 6, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The poet Ron Padgett was on "Prairie Home Companion" last night and read one of his poems that is quite appropriate to this kit:


A second ago my heart thump went
and I thought, "This would be a bad time
to have a heart attack and die, in the
middle of a poem," then took comfort
in the idea that no one I have ever heard
of has ever died in the middle of writing
a poem, just as birds never die in mid-flight.
I think.


Sounds like poetry might be a safer occupation than blogging.

Here's Padgett reading the poem:

Posted by: pj | April 6, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"...just as birds never die in mid-flight.
I think."

Interesting he should say that. I have a friend who swears he saw a bird in flight that suddenly rolled into a dive, SPLAT, right on the sidewalk, dead.

Bodes poorly for the poet, I should think.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | April 6, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, I tell the kids I tutor that homework has never killed anyone. Made limbs fall off and skin turn green, so I've heard, but never a true fatality. Might have to rethink my cajoling schtick.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, so maybe Joel should stick with blogging after all. Or maybe the bird's death was aided by the handful of shotgun pellets that penetrated its body.

Of course, any occupation has its dangers. Symphonic conductors are supposed to live along time. Conducting does give someone an aerobic workout. On the other hand there is a story (I don't know if it's an urban legend) that a conductor died during a concert when his baton snapped in two and part of it went through his eye and killed him.

Since a symphony conductor should be a cultural sophisticate, if this isn't a true story should we refer to it as an urbane legend?

Posted by: pj | April 6, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I like that a lot, pj. It helps that I was listening to the theme song of "American Beauty" while reading it.

I wish my forms just had a box to check for "tribe." I would just write in "Boodle" and let them deal with that.

Posted by: Jumper | April 6, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I've made over sixteen bucks on my blog and that is on a mere 22 readers a day. If I could just get my readership up two orders of magnitude, I could afford an over-caffeinated frozen milkshake every day.

Posted by: Mo MoDo | April 6, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

CPdot2 says, "where is the box for handedness?" She would her leftiness to enter the stat books as a defining attribute.

PJ -- thanks for all the pomey-ness.

RD -- just FYI, April 15 is my seed starting day. Moonflower or two? Let me know. I start 'em with the taxes, set them out between May 1 and Mother's day, weather depending.

I will also start four-o clocks, as they give scent and are fail hardy. I will, again, break my heart over scented tobacco. Every year, I start them, NEVER have I smelled this fabled wondrousness in the night blooming garden.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 6, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Plain Tim, thanks for the Brubeck link, I would have missed it, for sure. There was a lot in that article I did not know about him. I dug out our small stack of surviving LP's, but he and Stan Kenton did not make the cut, I see. Anyway, I have a few of his recordings on some CDs with other jazz artists, and will be sure to watch for his new album.

Dave Brubeck & Stan Kenton were the staples of my teen and early 20s listening music. Back in the day, Radford and VPI had dance clubs which sponsored the big bands for dances and concerts, and they were sooooo much fun! The Big Bands for the dances, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, those guys had their own touring orchestras for colleges. Anybody could come, just buy the tickets and bring a date, and dance, dance, dance. We all wore ball gowns and elbow length gloves and the men wore their tux or uniforms. Even the little dance cards for the girls wrists, for mutiple partners to claim a certain dance. Great fun.

BTW, how many Tims are there in the boodle?

Posted by: VintageLady | April 6, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

That was a pretty cruel trick to play on me, but is available for 9.99 a year in case you want to exploit this business opportunity.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 6, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

How many Tims do you need?

Posted by: yellojkt | April 6, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

When I graduated from high school in Long Beach, California, the city had an all-night dance for the graduates of all local high schools. We had Ray Anthony as the headliner.

Some years later, Mr. Anthony played at one of the Honolulu hotels when we lived there. My husband and I, overly excited, (and probably over Mai Tai-ed) accosted him in a hallway and exclaimed, "you played at our graduation!"

He gave us one of those sweet, sweet smiles that say, so clearly, "Who are these idiots?"


Posted by: nellie | April 6, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse


Maybe I will spring for the $9.99. I just googled "died while writing" and discovered that thousands of artists keel over while in the middle of it. Mozart died while composing his Requiem; Thucydides keeled over in the middle of writing a book; Milton Klonsky, the "poet genius of Greenwich Village," dropped dead in the middle of a piece for the New Yorker; Niehardt got clipped by the second volume of his autobiography. And so forth and so on. BFD, bloggers. Don't be such babies. Happens to the best of 'em. Kathy

Posted by: riotkrrl | April 6, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I meant to add something about Charlton Heston:

His personal politics aside, he starred in some classic films; "The Ten Commandments," "Ben Hur," "Omega Man," the 'Planet of the Apes' films, "Soylent Green," "The Agony and the Ecstasy," "El Cid," "Midway," "The Three Musketeers," and more. (but *not* "Grey Lady Down")

Good stuff; jaw-jutting, grimacing, scenery-chewing, pectoral muscles rippling, wild-man acting.


Posted by: bc | April 6, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Tim-ness is like a Swiss Army Knife -- a special attachment for every occasion.

Let's see how many I can recall:
ScienceTim (the original!)
StorytellerTim (the sequel!)
PlainTim (formerly just Tim), for when I claim no relevant expertise.

Please note that expertise is different from privileged knowledge. I reserve the right to be wildly wrong and totally misguided, regardless of my chosen prefix.

Special Emergency Tims, when the regular versions just won't do:
CulinaryTim (I likes to cook, I does)
HistoryTim (I likes my archaeology and ancient history)
RomanticTim (I have slowly learned a thing or two; maybe only a thing-and-a-half)
ConceptualTim (given to excesses of pseudo-art sarcasm)
TouristTim (elusive; seen only in the past week)
CycleTim (I'm pretty sure I've used this one. I used to be a bicyclist. Now I am a lazy slug with coronary artery disease. You know -- you grow)

I think that's all of them. Perhaps I have forgotten myself somewhere.

There once was a single posting from 'tim'. That wasn't me.

Posted by: The *Tims | April 6, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

We have Tims for all occasions.

Kathy, you have spunk. (And not in the Lou Grant, "I hate spunk" kind of way.)

Apparently doing math is hazardous as well,
this from a Paul Erdos obit:
He died from a heart attack at a conference in Warsaw, while he was working on another equation.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse


There's Science Tim, Plain Tim, & Storyteller Tim, just on this boddle. Are there more? But, to answer your question, one can never have too many Tims, or Thames.

I'm considering the dropping of the bloggers dilemma, the salaried ones, that is. Those extraordinary ones like Joel, (not that there are THAT many, of course) who work for newspapers shouldn't have to be concerned; but a start-up blogger situation sounds fraught with danger. I mean, how much information/news can be divvied up on a timely basis?

*Refreshing a lot for the cause* :-)

Posted by: VintageLady | April 6, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Two posts in a day from riotkrrl! A new regular...

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 6, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I'm glad you see my point, thanks.

LiT brought this topic up to begin with. I was just agreeing with her, and listing my reasons for doing so, from my perspective.


Posted by: bc | April 6, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I'm glad you see my point, thanks.

LiT brought this topic up to begin with. I was just agreeing with her, and listing my reasons for doing so, from my perspective.


Posted by: bc | April 6, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Dear CycleTim, please get back on your bike! My husband, age 69 (has a pacemaker) still rides in the Bike Virginia five day event each year and rides frequently on a weekly basis on all these bike trails we have in Fairfax County and on most of the trips we take.

Lately, he has retired and decided he needed to ride his bike on errands and meetings close by, so he installed a battery powered motor (which he recharges in our garage) on his favorite bike to help him get up hills without so much stress. Me? I gave my bike to someone much more deserving ten years ago, but I do walk!

Hello to all the Tims!

Posted by: Vintage Lady | April 6, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

And today's Dowd column reveals the information that may force me to re-evaluate my entire entire presidential pecking order: Obama throws cigarette buts out the window.

That is so vile. I hate those people that try to blow me up with their disgusting habits.

Posted by: Mo MoDo | April 6, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Nice thread here about the content, but I like the process evident: rethinking a position. I love it when we let the mind loose at play in the field of ideas.

Off to take a sweet and aging nun to dinner. She does not drive at 83. For years she lived in Chad, dispensing medications and tenderness to all. Later she lived in Houma, LA, again, dispensing medications and tenderness to all. Now, she still works -- takes two or three Metro busses per day to work. She works with dying, homeless HIV-AIDs folks. Sometimes, the last kind face they know is hers.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 6, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

bc, I know what you mean about privacy. I'm a privacy-freak, myself. That's the main reason why I don't avail myself of the discount card at my neighborhood Giant. I don't often shop there, anyway, but I tell the cashier who asks me for my "Giant card" that I prefer my privacy, thank you very much, and am willing to pay a higher price for it. And then I'm asked for my phone number. . . . (um, no!).

After all the Sunday errands (two loads of laundry, watering plants, taking out trash and all sorts of other wondrous stuff like watching the Detroit Red Wings take care of the Chicago Black Hawks 4-1), and even though it's by now old news, it's time -- yes, indeedy, it's time -- to read this morning's Post.

May the Detroit Tigers *finally* win just one measly game soon.

And that's all I'm gonna say.

Except for: enjoy the rest of your day and the rest of your days.


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | April 6, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

A while ago I was stretched out on the sofa, and said to "S," How great is this, it's 3:30, dinner is finished, I'm under my blankie and it's time for my nap." There was a slight pause and then he said, "Let's talk about our feelings." It took me five minutes to stop giggling and get back into nap mode.

I wouldn't want to die in the middle of a nap, but going in my sleep in the middle of the night would be ok, altho' I'd rather go out in the middle of an enjoyable activity.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | April 6, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I am going to sit down for a while and rest myself. This afternoon I have:

-Pulled chickweed out of grass in the back yard.

-Pruned the dead out of the hydrangea, now that I can see what's coming out.

-Pulled weeds out of the periwinkle and the irises.

-Assisted Mr. T in planting mondo grass in the strip between the sidewalk and the street. I made HIM do the planting; I just handed him the plants.

-Watered and fertilized said mondo grass.

Enough for one afternoon, I'd say.

CP, I bought nicotiana and cosmos and nastursium seeds yesterday and will plant them next week, when we get back from Indianapolis. You haven't had luck with nicotiana? It has reseeded reliably for me in one place, but I want to have it in another this year, hence new seed.

I also bought Joe Pye weed seed to plant on the bank below the driveway at the mountain place. I hope it will do well there. We need something to keep the soil from washing away.

Posted by: slyness | April 6, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

slyness, I must have missed something -- what's taking you to Indianapolis, my birthplace?

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 6, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I am going to sit down and rest too. This afternoon I have shoveled the walk thrice, after twice this morning. Our local weather station says we've been accumulating wet "heart attack" snow at the rate of 2-3" an hour. Between that, roof avalanches, and the snowplow coming to do the drive, I've barely had time for coffee in between stints on the shovel. But, I have electricity. Some ladies I was to meet with over lunch re: new community newsletter, cancelled because a few had no power, and none dared brave the roads. I was just going to rain on their enthusiasm anyway-haven't they heard there's no future in dead tree pubs?

Want to get ticked off at people walking away from their mortgages? Listen to Marketplace Money this week at
People not paying their mortgages so they don't have to live on tight budgets, and can "eat out again, and hire a babysitter for the evening" are not the ones I feel like bailing out with my tax dollars.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 6, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

When I am Dead, My Dearest

by Christina Georgina Rossetti

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 6, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

... Joel, you are working too hard... need more time in those tights and cape... but don't worry, it will be "that" time of the year soon... BBQ's and the great man food pyramid :)

Posted by: Miss Toronto | April 6, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I may not have said...I am tagging along with Mr. T to the Fire Department Instructors Conference, which is the largest fire service trade show in the US...We'll be looking at lots and lots of fire trucks! As well as seeing many friends and making contacts for Mr. T's upcoming conferences on fire stations and personal protective equipment.

Posted by: slyness | April 6, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

PJ, not his eye, his foot. And not technically a baton.

Those Uncle Johns Readers come in handy when trivia is required.

Posted by: dr | April 6, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget "Touch of Evil" in the Heston roundup.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 6, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

CP - A moonflower seedling would be very much appreciated! I still have the container you lent me. Do you need it before you start the seedlings?

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

And regarding Heston:

"Get your hands off me you damn dirty ape!"

I'm sorry. It just had to be said.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Although hardly his most celebrated work, I will always have a soft spot for Heston in "Soylent Green." (I won't repeat the final line because there might be some people emerging from a coma who don't know it. Same thing for the final line in "Planet of the Apes.")

Nobody did existential angst like Heston.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 6, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Emerging from my coma, I looked up Soylant Green on the wiki. My goodness! I had heard the last sentence many times, but I never knew the context.

Wow! I missed the entire last quarter of the last century!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 6, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I can't remember the name of the movie where Heston played the crazy gun nut.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 6, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, dr, for the Lully cite. That's a helluva way to go.

I finally saw a somewhat reconstituted "Touch of Evil" about 10 years ago and was struck by the complex opening tracking shot and by the angles that Welles used to shoot himself. They were low angle shots that made the fat Welles appear as grotesque as possible. A ballsy move. It was interesting to read in the Post obit that Heston was responsible for getting Welles to direct the film. (The Wikipedia entry gives that as one of two possible stories.)

Posted by: pj | April 6, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I just read the obituary of the man who must be the younger brother of your friend. What a man! If there is a secular saint (and I no nothing about his religious affiliation), then he is one. It's in today's Boston Globe.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 6, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Don't feel bad, Maggie, I did too. But we survived!

Posted by: slyness | April 6, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

That was a movie called "Real Life" Boko.

Posted by: pj | April 6, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, "Touch of Evil," Heston with Welles; good stuff. Thanks for reminding me, Joel.

And I think many of us have a soft spot for "Soylent Green," RD.

Hey, cool, a space travel bit on "60 Minutes."


Posted by: bc | April 6, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Soylent Green! How could we forget.

Was there ever an actor who appeared in more self-serious, but ultimately semi-campy, destined for cult status flicks?

I'm thinking no. I'm thinking it's not even close.

[Tony Curtis?? Kirk Douglas?]

Tom Cruise and John Travolta may someday retire that prize but it's too soon to call -- you need to let history run its course.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 6, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm fairly sure that someone will die of commenting on blogs full-time, all the time.

I badly need energizing myself, though you'd never know it from this afternoon's frenzy in the yard ahead of the much-anticipated thunderstorm. It finally arrived after about an hour and a half of huffing and puffing. Not bad for the driest month of the year.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 6, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Steve Hunter, perhaps guilty of idolatry, but also of some really great deadline writing:

Why then, it must be asked, did he take the leadership of the NRA, never the most popular of lobbying outfits in Washington? One cynical explanation is that the old star was looking for an audience that would treat him as he had been treated in the late '50s and early '60s, almost as a god.

But the abuse he took! The anger he generated. The fury he absorbed from a Hollywood and a critical community that were turning ever more liberal in the wake of the war in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. Good Lord, he didn't need that at all.

The only answer can be: he believed. His had to have been a ramrod sense of the Second Amendment and he never varied from it. Hate his politics or love them, you have to say: There was a man.

When I met him at that NRA event (I am a member; he had read some of my novels), I was disappointed. He was -- no other word will do -- old. He had an old man's stooped posture and an extremely tentative way of speaking, as if clarity were an issue. His features, once so mythic, now seemed fragile, draped with a loose parchment of delicate, spotted skin. He didn't walk so much as shuffle, as if he were already wearing those hospital paper shoes; it was as if he had a walker with an oxygen tank attached.

We exchanged cordialities and banalities (can't remember a word of it), and then it was time for him to address the crowd. He shuffled slowly into the big room, and the spotlight came on him, and it was as if with each step he tossed off a decade. His shuffle became a stride and then almost a strut. His posture went from the question mark of age to the exclamation point of youth. His lungs filled, revealing the full breadth of his wide shoulders. He neck turned iron, his chin came aloft, his vision sharpened and the years just fell away like leaves. When he spoke he boomed in Moses' triumphant baritones, delivering the Tablets to the believers.

I thought: Good for Chuck. Magnificent to the end.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 6, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Glad you mentioned "Touch of Evil," Joel. I'm not a big Charleton Heston fan (and unsurprisingly loathe his politics), but ToE is one of his flicks that I like.

Tim, you forgot one of my favorite Tim identities: the one where you accidentally post the same post three or four times: VerbaTim. And then there's the unconscious aspect of you that seeks a Freudian satisfaction of your primitive needs: TimId. Or your orchestral drumming self: Timpani.

I could go on, but I won't. I've probably done enough damage already.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's chief strategist, Mark Penn, author of the "3 a.m. phone call ad, has quit the campaign. I'm feeling an Artie Johnson "Verrrrrrry interesting" coming over me. Anne Kornblut's story:

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

RD beat me to "damn dirty ape" so I have to go with "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hel1!"

I may have to watch "Omega Man" and then see how "I Am Legend" stacks up.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 6, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

It's a good obit, Maggie, thanks for mentioning it so I could go find it. He was a remarkable person; it's a shame he died so young.

Posted by: slyness | April 6, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

My first thought on reading of Heston's passing was, "Now we can pry the guns from his cold, dead hands." Not very nice, and the Boodle was experiencing its own death-from-blogging symptoms at the time.

Went to Alpacapalooza today. Mr Ml went along, and as usual, following directions from the web and finding no signage at the actual site (Puyallup Fairgrounds) threatened to suck any enjoyment from the day. But once we parked the car and got inside and he barked at someone about the lack of usable direction info, and got a sympathetic response, we had a good time. Alpacas are awfully cute, and they hum. I bought a couple of skeins of Idaho alpaca yarn.

Still too cold and windy to spend any time outside doing anything productive.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 6, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

"Gasp.... can't go on.... Kate, bar the blogs. Remember me at the Alamo..." (clutches heart and collapses)

"I'm coming, Elizabeth!"

I don't mind dying while creating, but death by blogging doesn't appeal to me at all.
(Death by chocolate sounds so much better.)

There is only so much screen time anybody can do, and monitors right before bed do mess with sleep patterns.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 6, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Tonight's episode of "John Adams" was one os the best in the series so far, I thought. And I have gotten over my initial doubts about Stephen Dillane playing Jefferson; he is very good.

I wonder if our own JA has been watching, and if so what he may think about David Morse's portrayal of Washington.

It is interesting that Adams' relationships with his children apparently wasn't very good; this I never knew.

Laura Linney's Abagail is really outstanding in a very quiet, very muted sort of way. She underplays, and is all the better for it. And to some extent so does Giamatti. I think a pair of Emmys coming their way.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

In the last scene of tonight's episode, I didn't hear who had taken everything out of the house and left it in such a mess.

Abigail is my hero. The woman had the patience of a saint.

Posted by: Vintage Lady | April 6, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

It was Washington, VL. (Or at least, his people.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

It was the President's Residence (before the White House got built).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 6, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Charlton Heston...Rest in Peace.

What a hunk. I got to shake his hand once. Such a thrill. He was Moses. He was Ben Hur! He was larger than life. His movies inspired us and still do. And like it or not he stood his ground. A man's man. There aren't many of those around.

Posted by: eidrib | April 6, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - I am so sorry that we don't have HBO and I am missing this John Adams series. I can't wait for it to come out on dvd. I read McCullough's book about Adams and I don't remember that he felt that Adams had troubled relations with his children, with the exception of Charles. Hmmmm, I'll have to go back and thumb through the book again. I remember the passages that McCullough quoted from John Adams' letters about Nabby's death were heartbreaking.

Soylent Green! Oh my, I just have to say it....GROSS!

Posted by: Kim | April 6, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm with VL. I had to replay the last scenes of John Adams several times to understand what had happened to the Washington house. But it's not clear to me if Washington, or looters after he left, trashed his house. Does the Adams biography address this? (I confess I've never read it).

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 6, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I just finished backboodling to find an excellent essay by Ms. Achenbach. My wife and I taught at an inner city school that was reputed to be one of the worst to attend or to have a job. We both found the institution to be a fine workplace. I'd agree with frosti on the point that are schools within a school: one that meets the needs of the serious students and another that meets the needs of the tosspots. The confluence of the two is the source of problems within the corporate structure. The irony is that *good* schools play the numbers such that they might appear to be at the top of the heap, yet there always exists an undercurrent of troubles, suspensions and exclusions. Things aren't always as they seem.

TBG: I hope that your son discovers his passion and follows a path to it, whether it involves a university or not. I suspect the former, regardless, it's a far better thing that he decided to take the time to reevaluate his position sooner rather than later.

We spent a rainy Saturday hosting three health clinics at the dog show this weekend in a single car garage. About 10% of the 1300 entries received some sort of screening. When we left, the parking area was something akin to the Bog at Watkins Glen. the only thing missing was burning cars. Our dog placed first in her class both days, and winner's reserve on sunday. Once she gets the hang of walking around the ring instead of playing around, she should be put up regularly as a winner.

I never cared for Mr. Heston's politics, however he was a gifted actor. The boss's description of the encounter with the late artist painted a vivid picture in my mind. IMHO, Soylent Green was a rather underrated movie.

Posted by: jack | April 6, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

eidrib: What you said. He did the narration for the Disney film Hercules, and had a cameo in Young Guns. Great actor.

Posted by: jack | April 6, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Achenbach, alpacas, Adams, dog show Bog. Busy Sunday.

Our much-anticipated storm brought 2.6 inches of rain so far.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 6, 2008 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Snow here. Like Frostbitten says. We're scheduled for snow almost all this week.

It was 50 degrees yesterday. Today Wilbrodog got lessons on thin ice under snow and hearing the sound of cracking ice.

You should have seen his expression as the ice cracked under his paws... just before he crashed through to a puddle full of 2 inches of wet, wet, ice-cold water. (I did too).

He leapt out very quickly, and took my lead in avoiding obvious ice under snow.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 7, 2008 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Spring snows are hard.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | April 7, 2008 12:05 AM | Report abuse

And summer thunderstorms are no picnic, either!

Posted by: Bob S. | April 7, 2008 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Charlton Heston a man's man? That's the kind of gush I'd expect from Chris Mathews in the throes of one of his man-crushes.

When ol' Charlton was waving a rifle around his head saying they'd have to pry it from his cold, dead fingers, what was he saying?
That he'd shoot it out with the cops if they tried to enforce gun control laws?
If so, my response would be, "Uh, ok, try not to scratch the gun."

Posted by: Boko999 | April 7, 2008 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Maggie, I have a copy of the book, tho I must say that when I was given the book a couple of years ago, I set it aside after the first couple of chapters. It may have been McCullough, or it may have been me, but at the time I thought it was tough going. Anyway, on page 177 there is an accounting of the scene. In the book, Abigail is not with John when he enters the residence, but when he writes to her he tells her that the place is a mess and sez "the house has been a scene of the most scandalous drinking and disorder among the servants that I ever heard of." He also tells her everything is gone, even linens, glass, etc.

There is his concern for the expense of furnishing the house. His salary is $25,000, plus allotment of $14,000. for furnishing the house, plus rent for the house of $2,700. a year, plus another $2,500. for carriages and horses.

The looted furnishings had belonged to the public, hopefully all this happened after Washington had vacated. I just couldn't accept the thought that Washington was responsible.

Posted by: Vintage Lady | April 7, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge, poetic license has been taken with the movie version. I'll try to read along in the book with the rest of the episodes. I believe there are two more.

Posted by: Vintage Lady | April 7, 2008 12:30 AM | Report abuse

The former Daylight Savings Time change got me up an hour early this morning, but that's to be expected from a 10 year old laptop that gets used for a battery backup alarm clock.

Goodmorning everybody!

Posted by: DandyLion | April 7, 2008 5:26 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. 'Morning, DanyLion. Are you joini9ng the handful; of us who have morning wake-up duty? If so, welcome aboard. You get to make the coffee.

I'm completely with Boko and his 12:22 post.

There is an article on the WaPo home page by Pamela Paul about people having a third child that has made me see beyond red into a whole new color spectrum of rage and umbrage. What clap-trap. People having a third child "for status"!!! "Because they can"!!!!! What utter bilge. I suppose that puts JA, bc, me, and a few other Boodlers into that category, I guess. What fools and wastrels we apparently are. And not least of my umbrage is the piece trots out that rotten Dept. of Agriculture figure that it costs about $204,000 to raise a child to age 18. That's about $11,333 per year per kid. Due to the timing, I never had more than three at home at any one time, so the Dept. of Agriculture is telling me my wife and I were spending $34,000 a year on them? Crapola with a capital "C." There were years our combined income wasn't too much above that level. And it would appear that I've spent (and earned!!! much to my surprise) about $1,020,000 raising kids over the years. I just effing wish.

And the snobbiness and shallowness of the rest of that piece is going to have me muttering to myself all day. O that the Mommy blog tears her to shreds. Me, I'm just going to sputter and fulminate for a few more minutes.

I concur: I'd be very surprised and distressed if Washington had anything to do with the looting of the residence. Had to be the staff, looters, etc. Although GA may be faulted for not leaving behind a proper security staff, I dunno.

I'll take a summer thunderstorm over a snowstorm any day if I had my druthers, Bob S. I actually like a good T-storm for all its drama. Snowstorms do nothing for me at all. (I was never a winter kinda guy, even when I lived north of the Mason-Dixon. In fact, my 30-some years up yonder were when I learned to dislike cold weather. Would be delighted to never see another snowflake again.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2008 5:52 AM | Report abuse

Well then, Mudge, come on down! We haven't had a decent snow in five years around here.

Good Monday morning, all. I'm moving a bit slow and feeling an ache or two from yesterday's work in the yard. Wish I could bend over more and not regret it. Too late for that, I suppose.

Posted by: slyness | April 7, 2008 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Morning all - I too am very sore from weekend yard work. All the snow has finally melted from my yard and I took advantage of a beautiful sunny weekend to tidy up the lawn - after I picked up all the twigs and raked a nice young gentlemen came down the road offering to aerate the lawn.

The weather reports of snow out west have me nervous we finally have great spring weather - I don't think I could take another snowfall. My first tiny flowers have just bloomed.

Posted by: dmd | April 7, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I read that article too and had a similar reaction. One of my pet peeves is the idea that it requires a bunch of equipment to manage an infant. People spend thousands of dollars for all this stuff at Babies R Us, and it's pretty much completely unnecessary. Babies are totally portable and they don't weigh much. No big deal to just pick them up and carry them! But somehow people don't do that any more--it's the infant seat to the car seat to the stroller to the special grocery cart seat, the swing, the walker, the bouncy seat. The only piece of equipment I think is necessary if you have an infant (I didn't have it, but I wish every parent did) is a good rocking chair.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 7, 2008 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Hey, has anyone heard from Cassandra? I'm getting a little worried because she said something about her computer acting up.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 7, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Morning boodle! Be careful Wilbrod and Wilbrodog.

We've had 25" of snow since Sat. evening and it is still coming down.

This just in, teen girls with TVs in their rooms eat less fruit, according to researchers at the U of MN.

Must fortify myself with insanely hot coffee before tackling the front walk. I hope I don't have to dig my snow shovel out of a drift before I can use it.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 7, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

RD -- keep the container as a holding tank. More on moonflower transfer in May.

Frosti -- contemplate my Nicotiana problem will ya? I'll fax Northward the chilly but springlike rain.

Mudge -- I am in the three-child club; Wow. Missed the memo on my status of luxury. Because of the Pink, Pink, Blue pattern, cringed often at that knowing nod of "Oh, of course you tried for your boy and good for you, you got him." Huh? Love what I have but did not know that I was producing an heir to something or other.

Feeling a bit sick about the whole Olympics flavor as we head toward Beijing. China is so large, I guess we all feel the need to engage. How can we help them move into the human community with a basement level of human rights and respect for dignity?

Posted by: College Parkian | April 7, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I think the incremental costs of additional children are driven less by fancy accoutrements and more by childcare and educational costs. Daycare is expensive, and the loss of income for a stay-at-home parent often far more so. And, of course, most colleges don't offer a group discount.

But I suspect the problem some have with multiple children has less to do with economic, or even environmental, concerns and more to do with a sense of personal ambition.

I have met more than a few people who seem to view offspring as just another accomplishment in the check list of life. Once they have done the, you know, whole breeding bit, such people can't comprehend why anyone would wish to do it twice. Never mind three times.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 7, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

That third-baby article just reeked of upper-middle class privilege, but there is a ring of truth. I keep telling my only son that children are a luxury good because they produce no economic advantage. We also tell him that we feel it has been money well spent.

In my milieu where I know a lot of fairly high income breadwinners, I call the third kid "the stay at home guarantee". A third kid, particularly within five or six years of the first is a signal that the wife is making the transition from working mother to stay at home mom, if she hasn't already.

With two children, parents can play man-to-man, but the third kid forces the folks to play zone defense. Day care and extracurricular activities can be managed reasonably well for two kids, but that third kid is there to make sure it is economically unviable for mom (at least in her mind) to go back to work.

This is predicated on the assumption that the family can make do on one income for a decade or more and that the domestic parent won't go absolutely stir-crazy.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 7, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Apropos of this topic, we were having a family discussion where I was being compared unfavorably against Lance Armstrong. My son said, "Dad, at least you can say you have more testicles than him."

I replied, "Well, just barely. But all you need to know is that you are proof of concept that everything works just fine. Once I demonstrated that everything was functional I had nothing more to prove and I quit while I was ahead."

Posted by: yellojkt | April 7, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

CP-I had mixed success with Nicotiana in NoVA but I think the key to my best year was direct sowing into well warmed soil. Read that-mislaid seed packet and tossed seeds onto well drained corner of the border after Memorial Day. You've inspired me to spend my snowbound day with seed catalogues, back issues of Horticulture, and graph paper.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 7, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

RD, could there be a market among the stylish for infant-portability devices made by traditional workers in traditional societies?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 7, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

College Parkian,
Best wishes on going to Beijing. I don't know that I'd really want to visit the big city, but I'd encourage anyone to visit Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 7, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

My sympathy goes out to boodlers in snow covered areas of the world. My son has been lamenting the lack of snow days since as a senior he doesn't have to make them up. My wife reported that she saw on the news that Heathrow Airport was snowed in, so the unseasonal weather is an international phenomenon.

In high school I knew a girl that was the youngest daughter of six girls and one boy. She had two major gripes: Her older sisters had ruined all chances of her making mischief by exhausting all the possibilities ahead of her and her younger brother was treated as a prince that could do no wrong.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 7, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I think CP was speaking metaphorically. Correct me if I am wrong, CP. The Beijing Olympics preparations are very interesting to watch vicariously. They are training thousands of people on how to properly watch and cheer athletic events:

While in Beijing last summer, I deliberately went out of my way to ride the subway. It was clean, new, and modern. And at the busier stations they had uniformed assistants to form and enforce lines for getting on the cars. Paradigm shifts are always amusing.

From a success of the Olympics point of view, I am more interested in the light being shined on China's lax environmental policies. It's going to take some Hollywood caliber special effects to have blue sky backdrops on TV.

As for human rights, right now I am more concerned about the mote in our eye than the lumber in China's. Leading by example should be our first step.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 7, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

I think my TMI post of 8:40 a.m. killed the Boodle. My apologies.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 7, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: omni | April 7, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I totally missed that poopypants link, but went back...I'm Gidget Barfchunks.

Andro gives a boy's name
Steampunk calls me Boodle
Poopypants gives me a girl's name


Posted by: omni | April 7, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

We determined that two children would be necessary, so that each would be aware that we had a backup option -- "Don't fail me, kid. I can always live vicariously through the other one." Not all parents of only-children pamper and protect them -- probably not most such parents. But we worried that we would fall into that trap and produce a monster as a result. Having two kids prevents us from investing every scrap of hopes and dreams in just the one kid, who could be corrupted by holding such power over parents.

Three kids, though? Man, I'm not man enough to face such terror. Parents of more than two kids: I salute you!

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 7, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Beijing Olympic is not about athletic competition among the nations, it is about "face", the power to showoff for the emerging China. Losing face is strong emotional feeling among Chinese, either in government or in person.

Posted by: daiwanlan | April 7, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

My ex-husband worked for a guy who had a large family. He and his wife were good Catholics and had 12 kids. They had one stillborn and she had two miscarriages, for a total of fifteen pregnancies. Great family, all the kids turned out well. I still don't know how you feed or do laundry for that many people, without commercial facilities.

Posted by: slyness | April 7, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

The Frostsisters and I always longed to be only children, though facing the aging of our parents we are thankful to be three (and one a nurse, what good fortune). Personally I believe only children are easier to raise, which is why we have two. Frostson was 18 when the dott joined our family. Good to know how the first one has turned out before jumping in again.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 7, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Naturally, my children are purely status symbols.

"Life's Hood Ornaments," I call them.


kbertocci- I'm with you on the value of a good rocking chair. That's on my "don't raise little ones without it" list.

Sadly, all of my children are well beyond the age of rocking to sleep, though I still have Storytime with my youngest. It's nice to snuggle up and read a book, relaxing and enjoying life. [and trying not to fall asleep from the peacefulness of it all...]

You know, I'm always going to associate Heston with the traditional Christian holiday seasons, watching "Ben Hur," "The Ten Commandments," and "The Greatest Story Ever Told," as appropriate.

yellojkt, have you *not* seen "Omega Man?"
That was one of my prerequsites for getting my Dork Certificate IIRC.

BTW, I would favor Heston's "Omega Man" slightly over "I am Legend," mainly because I saw "OM" when I was young and impressionable. The interplay between Neville (Heston's character) and Matthias (the leader of The Family) is a lot more interesting to me than the mutant/monsters/zombies of "Legend."

Omega Man is very dated, but it is what it is.


Posted by: bc | April 7, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

A poopypants name of Pinkie Bananahead sounds to close to a pornstar name for me.

My brother and his CPA SAHM wife have three elementary school aged sons and an infant daughter. He explains that the incremental demands of kids past three are minor. At three kids, they take every single waking moment, so a fourth doesn't incur any additional marginal cost in time. As a girl, there is a fair amount of infrastructure and overhead needed in bedrooms, clothing, and gender appropriate toys, but those are minor concerns.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 7, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

A garden swing makes a great alternative to the rocking chair when the kids get to old to sit in your lap and rock. Although we did have many gagets for the kids when they were young - the rocking chair was still a favorite.

Posted by: dmd | April 7, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I think the tone and content of that article on "luxury" babies is getting misinterpreted. The author is critiquing a perceived subculture of conspicuous consumption among the upper middle class and upper class that treats babies as high-status accessories and substitutes expenditure for parenting. She is not decrying the having of three or more children as impossibly self-involved; she is decrying the impossibly self-involved who acquire three or more children for the most venal of motives, and who raise those children consistent with those motives. I don't know whether there are a terribly large number of such persons, but it's nice to be privileged to feel morally superior to the few who undoubtedly exist. It helps in sanctifying the envy of their wealth. The author herself is trying to justify her own desire/decision to have more than two children in the expensive environment of New York City yuppie-dom, and to do so without the lavish expenses of full-time nannies, ridiculously expensive private schools, and so forth.

Posted by: PlainTim | April 7, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

We also endorse the idea of a good rocking chair as being a necessary piece of child-rearing equipment, However, Bertooch, I work for an agency that is rather adament about child safety seats and booster seats (as age-and-size-appropriate) in cars. (Fortunately, few of the people in my agency can write, spell or punctuate, or I wouldn't have a job.)

My own personal recommendation for child rearing would include either (a) the patience of a saint, or (b) failing the lack of "a" above, a large bottle of aspirin and/or an uninterrupted supply of gin and antisorbutics.

In the realm of playthings I would include a good supply of empty cardboard boxes of varying sizes; wood blocks and other wood toys (including Lincoln Logs); a good selection of stuffed creatures (in the earlier years) and baseball gloves (in the later years, and regardless of gender). Also: ready access to mud, sand, dirt, trees, woods, meadows, non-plastic swing sets (a tire on a rope will do provided there is a good tree limb above it; the good tree limb should be attached to a good tree); a variety of pets (cats, dogs, hamsters, goldfish, lagomorphs, etc., depending upon the parents' and/or the child's allergies), especially those that can return affection and fetch the newspaper.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Even a metaphorical visit to Beijing sounds like something I'd just as soon miss. I guess it's too late to move this year's Olympics to Paris (I bet they have all the facilities), give Beijing the next one, and put off London for 4 years--which means they'd get everything done on time and maybe even on budget.

Thinking of Olympic-Sized Projects, Beijing did manage to build a gigantic airport nearly overnight. London's new Heathrow Terminal took about 20 years and has given British Airways a black eye.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 7, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Mudge comment of my younger child the other day after playing in the mud for a few hours - honey did you make a mess? No I made a BIG mess!

Two of our three spent most of the weekend enjoying the spring weather - toys required, mud, assorted containers for mud, chalk, rocks, twigs, and empty water bottles for the creation of black water. Other activities were involved as well but it was watching these activities that I found very enjoyable.

Posted by: dmd | April 7, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Messy kids. Makes me think of the brief scene of rats in the restaurant diswashing machine from Ratatoille.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 7, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, my kids give me a good-natured hard time about how quickly I go through a bottle of 500 asprin tablets and continue to push me to color my greying hair.

To this point, I have not dignified any of this commentary with anything more than an arched eyebrow.

They're old enough and smart enough to understand the implications of that brow.


Posted by: bc | April 7, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Zackly, dmd. In fact, he/she sounds like future presidential timber to me.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I should probably have added a large box of assorted bandaids, plus an antiseptic of choice.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I just noticed Joel said "one of my novels." You are so busted. I think. Novels?

Posted by: Jumper | April 7, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Jumper, that was JA quoting from Stephen Hunter's piece on Heston. The reference is to Hunter's novels, not JA's.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Never mind.

Posted by: Emily Letella | April 7, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

That's all right, Emily. (You have always been one of my favorites, along with Roseanne Roseannadana. The show hasn't been the same without you.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

As a member of the three kid club, I would concur with 'Mudge. Raising kids requires a good supply of nature's things. We water the Danes by using a 5 gallon bucket that has provided hours of pleasure when our children make stew: everything goes into the pot.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The pen is mightier than the sword. I fear that I've killed the boodle, or something is up with the refresh function.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I think I'm wrong on both counts. The server on our end must be behaving erratically.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Hi babies. I fear I will never find time to back-Boodle, so if anything particularly fun/interesting was said over the last few days, please direct me there.

Heston? I can't say enough bad things about the man. The praise lavished on his head has me completely stumped. I don't see what is so admirable about sticking to a point, when the point is just wrong. He and George Bush are two peas in a pod, if you ask me. And he became dead to me the day he refused to move the NRA convention out of Columbine, a mere (I think) two weeks or so after the school shootings.

Have a great day.

Posted by: Yoki | April 7, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Larry Dignan, editor-in-chief of ZDNet, was interviewed for the story, but somehow, his description of his daily workout routine didn't make the cut.

"He was up front about the premise of his story: The stress of blogging can kill you. The story was straightforward "three makes a trend" journalism. Journalists joke that three of anything makes a trend. If you get three examples of anything you instantly have a story and a premise for an analysis. That's what the editors want. And oh yeah it has to fit in a designated space. Double bonus if it tops Techmeme."


"Yes, blogging is stressful. Yes, it can be insane. But is it any worse than being a corporate lawyer? How many of those folks dropped in the last six months? How about mortgage brokers? Hedge fund traders? FBI agents? Any job where you gnash your teeth together?"

Posted by: Blake Stacey | April 7, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

The hook, in the More Headlines tab, for this article reads "Cost of Exotic Debt Soars". I thought there was only one kind of debt, however, this discusses the foibles of auction rate notes and how the credit debacle has pushed the interest due on these notes to between 200% and 300% of the rate at which the notes were sold. Exotic, indeed.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Jack, I don't think the "refresh" problem is in your computer; I've been having the same thing for a couple weeks now both at home and at work. I don't know what it is or why such a function could be affected by a glitch on the server's end of it, but that appears to be the case. Anyway, it's not just you.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

As another one in the 3-kids club(born over 7 years) I have to say I enjoyed the third kid infant period more than with the first two. Experience makes it a less stressful guess and thus more enjoyable time.
I think I'm borrowing from Demi Moore here but if the first baby would drop his pacifier on the floor we would wash and sterilize it before giving it back to the kid. For the second one we would give it a serious rinse under running water. A good lick from the dog would do it for the third kid. Standards dropped but all three kids survived and thrived.
We had to buy back some equipment for the third kid though as some things like the stroller, high chair and car infant-seat had been worn-out by the first two kids.
After a few months, the K-car had to go though. A minivan was brought in, this was probably the biggest expense related to a third kid.
I laugh when I see by first-child colleagues buying minivans.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | April 7, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, 'Mudge. I'm still working on my who that problem. Maybe my posts are going through Mr. Peabody's whothat machine on the way to the boodle.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

You don't see this every day. Customer service is so bad at Verizon in Tampa that the employees are picketing the company.

"In some cases during recent weeks, customers who lost their traditional home phone service waited a week before Verizon technicians could come fix the problems. Wait times were longer in some cases for issues such as static on the line."

read more here:

Posted by: frostbitten | April 7, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Waybac Machine, Jack. It was called a Waybac machine.
Sheesh. I don't know what you guys would do without me.

Posted by: Boko999 | April 7, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

25" of snow, frosti??? That'll keep you in shape.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I *know* about the wayback machine. The Grateful Dead website has one. You may not know that Mr. Peabody had a second job as an editor and used the whothat machine to correct grammatical despots as myself.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Don't knock mini-vans. Dollar for dollar, they are the most versatile high capacity vehicle ever invented.

With only one kid, we went through a mini-van phase for years 8-15. For this period my son was active in Scouting and it was nice to have flexible seating and cargo capacity. It put me in the driver's seat as far as outing logistics went since I had the upper hand in capacity and they needed me.

We also used the van once to haul furniture up from Florida. For that trip we took out the back bench and one of the middle seats for maximum cargo capacity.

My wife got tired of trying to park it and with the kid's driver's license imminent she went for luxury over capacity.

With the loss of the mini-van for cargo lugging, I was forced to compromise between capacity and masculinity and I now drive a mid-size SUV. About once a month I miss the mini-van, but not for long.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 7, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Ha, see how the boodle circles around. Peabody and his boy Sherman took the Wayback Machine to China:

Posted by: frostbitten | April 7, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Boko, I know that I wouldn't laugh as much in your absence.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The only small child accessory we found invaluable was a small dog to sit beside the high chair. Made cleaning up after meals way easier.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 7, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

The results of the worst bad name are in:

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday DARPA.

Posted by: omni | April 7, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Jack-that was 25" at 5:00 this morning, we're up to 30" now. By Wednesday I'll be too sore to move.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 7, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I haven't finished backboodling, but congrats to Yoki on skillfully negotiating her promotion, to slyness on the almost-birth of the twin-grands, to Son of G for having the clarity of mind to know what's best for him and the courage to act on it, and to Paris A for being a chip off the old block. Apologies to anyone I may have missed.

With Raysdad on the DL and spring springing, my weekend chores were expanded to include: moving most of the stump grindings of the tree we had cut (complete with wheelbarrow with blown tire), replacing the perennials moved during said tree-cutting, planting the bulbs, trees, and perennials I foolishly ordered, putting down 25+ bags of mulch, plus miscellaneous errands to obtain gauze, Gatorade, and Tylenol. Do I need to add that I'm exhausted?

To top it off, while on our walk, Ray was attacked by a German Shepherd whose maroon owner appeared to believe that leash laws don't apply to him. Said GS was playing fetch with said maroon and charged right past him, going 100 feet beyond and straight for Ray's throat. I managed to keep turning Ray to keep teeth from throat until Maroon grabbed him and put his leash on. Ray seemed to be fine, but later that night I discovered that, while his neck was fine, German Shepherd teeth had found his tail in 3 places. Fortunately, his shots are current and we had antibiotic sprays and ointments and gauze on hand. Poor boy is on the mend, but his mommy is upset that she didn't do a better job protecting him. And that she didn't get the maroon's name and address.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 7, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Yet another intriguing hook that conjures up a variety of images: "Children Flee Rolling School Bus". Luckily, there weren't any injuries.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

RD, I have friends who used your dog-by-the-highchair technique. But they had twins, so two dogs. After the meal, they tipped the highchairs on their sides, and the dogs had a good snuffle around for food dropped in the seat. Then a quick swipe with a clorox wipe, and they were good to go. The technique worked well in the car, too.

Posted by: bia | April 7, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I don't know how I would have survived infants and small children without the dog to lick the plates. It makes putting dishes in the dishwasher so much easier. We ate fairly well, too, so it wasn't terrible for the dog.

My rocking chair is now at my brother's for use with his kids, but I still have the upholstered chair with the swivel mechanism in which I rocked and fed both my children. I really should get it reupholstered. It's a great chair and it's MINE.

Posted by: slyness | April 7, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

DaveoftheCounties: not going to Beijing really, but watching the ramp-up to the Olympics with more than some concern and dread.

YJ -- did I offend? I don't think I overstated or simplified. Yes, we have some serious ethical problems that are truly human rights violations, particularly related to our response to 911. However, the Chinese situation about so many cases concerning human dignity, well, I see some room for improvement.

Olympics: Besides, consider simply the air pollution problems alone for all athletes, but most pointedly for participants in outdoor events: an asthma nightmare,to say nothing of reduced performance times.

I think about asthma a great deal: so many children in the world die for want of an inhaler.....

Posted by: College Parkian | April 7, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

CP, even more so than the human athletes, I feel sorry for the equestrian entrants. The humans have a *choice* as to whether they want to go and breathe questionable air. The horses, not so much.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 7, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

RD Padouk, the self-cleaning high-chair technique works with a large dog too. The youngest one quickly learned how to covertly dispose of yucky food. The Old Giant Black Lab is also known as the "pre-rinse cycle" of the dishwasher.

Frostbitten sorry for you but so happy it's not us that are getting it, for once. We are down to about two feet of ice&snow on the roof but it's melting rapidly. I have spotted some green grass on my way to work this morning, crocuses can't be far behind.
I put the summer wheels on the car yesterday, so it will snow at least once more before the winter is over. It never fails.
Yello, I just bought my third minivan last summer; I know the practical aspects of the beast. The aesthetics, not that much.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | April 7, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Will the high jump, pole vault, hammer throw, discus throw, and shot put be unavailable to view on TV this time around?

Posted by: Jumper | April 7, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the third child induced us to go for our first minivan back then, too: a Dodge Caravan. What else? But it had the best sound system (and worst headlights) of any car I've ever owned.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I think the Olympic equestrian events are going to take place in or near Hong Kong. Not sure if it was the pollution in Beijing or disease concerns...I hope the air quality is better in Hong Kong.

Raysmom, at first I forgot that Ray is your dog, and thought Raysdad had been attacked, in his incapacitated state. Yikes. Hope the pup's ok.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 7, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Ah, minivans. What a practical vehicle! I had two, for a total of 19 years. Now that I'm no longer a basketball mom, and Mr. T has the truck and trailer, I'm in a RAV4 that I like a lot.

I gave the minivan to the older dottir. She's not thrilled but it's transportation she can afford.

Posted by: slyness | April 7, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I have to whelve myself in the closest vug. I sense a wahala coming.

Posted by: Jumper | April 7, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Good news for the horsies, mostly. And sorry about the confusion.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 7, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Only if an American has a shot at the gold medal Jumper. So goes the US networks.
The entire world was mad at the US networks during the LA and the Atlanta games. The official TV feed, for which the foreign networks were paying handsomely, was showing a very disproportionate amount of disciplne in which US athletes were doing well. The LA games were already a routing of the World by the US; there was no need to emphasize it further, really.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | April 7, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm a car guy, and I also find minivans completely and utterly practical. There's no better combination of efficency and people (and their stuff) hauling capacity.

Having said that, I found that the legendary '89/'90 Caravans and Voyagers with the optional turbochaged 2.5 L engines respond quite well when you add a larger cam, a larger turbo, an intercooler for the intake charge and nitrous oxide, especially when equipped with the very rare 5-speed manual transmission.

It was a priceless moment for me when I over a Mustang racer grousing at his pit crew, "I can't beleive I'm getting beat by a @#$%ing *minivan!"

Especially when the whole shebang cost $1500.
Good times.


Posted by: bc | April 7, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Florida people will love HK in August, they'll feel like they are back home. To be fair, the July 1996 equestrian competition in the Atlanta games must have been something else too.

"Average High 89F (31C) Average Low 78F (26C)
August is oppressively hot and humid with regular monsoon downfalls. Typhoons in Hong Kong are occasionally seen in August, bringing high winds and plenty of rain."

"August weather is probably the hottest part of the year and the time when locals are starting to get really tired of summer and wishing for autumn cool weather to come to Hong Kong. Being the school holidays many people leave for vacations during this time, expatriates often return to their European or American homes to get the good summer weather of those places and escape the HK heat."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

bc: there was a very interesting article in the npr health and science website about plug-in hybrids. The correspondent went on a cruise with the engineer that converted a Prius to the plug-in. At one point, the vehicle was averaging 340 MPG. As is, the engineer uses it as a daily driver and averages something in the vicinity of 100 mpg. I'd link, but I need to dash to the middle school to pick up my daughter.

Posted by: jack | April 7, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The *original* minivan:

You gotta read the ad copy... it's from a time when tongue-in-cheek humor was able to go straight from the ad agency to print without having to first be vetted by a dozen lawyers. Or run the risk of boycotts and protests by the easily offended.

Man do I miss my bus.

Posted by: martooni | April 7, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't suppose anyone would like a northern MN spring day?

I've added a snow shovel picture to my flickr set.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 7, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

The 3:02 was mine.

re. minivan, I wish they made lighter seats. Wrestling away the back seat for the cargo conversion is getting harder as the years go by. This a place where weight reduction hasn't been achieved, the back seat of my 2007 short minivan from a dodgy company is heavier than the seat of the 1994 model of the same company.
And no I'm not paying that kind of money for a minivan with those fancy folding seats vanishing under the floor.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | April 7, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Wait, Martooni, I think I missed something. Did something happen to Stella?

Posted by: bia | April 7, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, those old VW buses were great, Martooni. My uncle had one. I think they may be a case of "not appreciating what you've got until it's gone."

As for the VW ad copy writers: they were brilliant. IIRC, the were from Ted Ogilvy at Ogilvy and Mather. Although I've always loathed and despised ad copywriting (even when I did a little of it), I always aspired to be Ted Ogilvy. Only ad guy I ever respected and admired.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 7, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

New kit

Posted by: Pacifica | April 7, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

'Twas a sad day, bia... I had to sell my dear Stella about a month or so ago. She just needed too many things fixed to remain road-worthy. Her oil stains on the driveway still bring a lump to my throat.

But she's in a better place now. The guy who bought her has the skills, time and money to restore her properly. It was time. :-(

Posted by: martooni | April 7, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, just keep repeating this, the snow will melt quickly, the snow will melt quickly...

Shovelling wet snow is terrible - good luck and I hope warmer temperatures return quickly.

Snow/Rain mix in some of our forecasts for the end of the week - I refuse to look too closely.

Posted by: dmd | April 7, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I'm lucky not that much came our way... yet. I think our snow delivery is coming in installments.

I already moved a lot of snowman-type snow this morning-- wet, fine, clumpy-- the perfect snow to make snowballs weighing the same as a brick.

In short, very like the snow we get during a DC "blizzard." It brings tears to my eye and my back as well.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 7, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you may not like Charlton Heston, but he had some positive roles in American politics as well as the much-demonized anti-gun control movement.

Honestly, it's never in "good taste" to insist on your civil rights when other people want to take it away. A quote of his: "Political correctness is tyranny with manners."

From Wikipedia: "In the 1950s and 60s he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak out openly against racism and was an active supporter of the civil rights movement. Initially a liberal Democrat, he later supported conservative politics and was president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003."

He also spoke at the Civil rights march in 1963, joined picket lines against segregated movie theaters.

In 1968 he ACTUALLY called for gun control after JFK's death. By the 1980's he wasn't supportive of affirmative action and changed to Republican.

Here's a good quote: Heston said, "If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys - subjects bound to the British crown."

Frankly, a lot of people become less open-minded and often more angry as they age, and he was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's 4 years after he became president of the NRA.

I think if you look at his overall life, Yoki, you see a fairly interesting man who managed to stay married for 64 years in the pressure cooker of Hollywood, raised 2 children, one adopted, served in the Army Air Forces, and who wasn't afraid to speak out for unpopular causes that he thought deserved to be heard.

I see nothing to indicate he was an evil man at all, other than his political stances in the last 30 years of his life.

Whatever happened to "Speak no ill of the dead?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 7, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

And from Julius Caesar:

"The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones."

So let it be with Heston.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 7, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

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