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Achenbach Update

Joel is heading back from a trip, but wanted to let everyone know that he plans to check in with the Boodle this afternoon. Enjoy your Columbus Day!

By Marisa Katz  |  October 13, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
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Thanks, Marissa. I was getting a repetitive motion injury scrolling down to the bottom of the old kit. The shop steward looks unfavorably on filing those sorts of claims with workers' comp.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse


Here ya havet --a true pirate story.

Pirates in the Land of Sind.

I take advantage of the predictable Northeast Monsoon to land on a beach just north of the Tomb of the Seven Virgins, an ancient column near Ras Tenewe. Not far, there are the ruins of a 13th century Arab villa. You can still see the mosaic floor. The villa is now inhabited by a large colony of monitor lizards, the size of a small crocodiles. There is hardly any wind and only a light surge hisses on the beach. In a few minutes Saidi, the witch doctor takes me to what's left of Bunny Allen's camp. After the hunting ban, Bunny got chucked out and poachers moved in and massacred the elephant population with automatic weapons.

The poachers have moved out of the area and I hear an elephant trumpeting. Great, one of my big questions has been answered. Now, we have to hurry and rendezvous with Osman and his band of pirates.

My only navigation tool is a hand-held compass. The 30 horsepower outboard hums and the 11 foot Zodiak skims the nearly flat sea. Soon, we can no longer see the shore. At noon the wind picks up. It's not much of a bother as we are heading southwest. At one o'clock I spot a sail on the horizon. If I haven't screwed up, it would be Osman. If I did, I have a witch doctor as insurance.

The machua (small dhow) is the right one. We pull alongside and clamber aboard taking the inflatable dinghy in tow.

Osman is a dour Bajun nahoda (captain) who runs a tight ship. Tea is brewing on a brazier and I enjoy munching on some dried fish and washing it down with tea. Our destination is a secret harbor used by smugglers. Osman's day job is fishing. The boat smells of fish and the quilt patchwork of the huge, ancient lateen sail speaks of poverty and hardship.

At closer inspection, gunnysacks sown into the sail make it look ratty. The crew is much larger that that of a fishing boat. Osman never raises his voice and almost whispers his commands to the helmsman who does the shouting.

A few hours later, with the sun already low over the African continent, we approach a mangrove coast peninsula. On the charts it's called Mto Kilifi. Strange to call a peninsula a river.

"Now, get off my boat and follow me. Big danger ahead," Osman tells me in a simple Swahili I can understand.

Sure enough. We're heading straight for a beach with raging surf. In the dinghy, I start the engine, release the towline and follow Osman.

Waves grow in size. The machua rolls wildly enough to cause the sail to snap. We go through the foamy surfline. Osman makes a sharp turn to port and now parallels the beach. On my left, huge waves crash over an unseen bank. But we sail in a narrow deep channel. Soon we enter a tunnel of huge mangrove trees. The sound of furious waves fades and is replaced by the pinging song of kingfishers.

We are inside a narrow river. Several dhows stand tied to the steep, sandy banks. They are loading mangrove poles, a highly prized construction material in the Arab peninsula. Its export is prohibited here.

That night, with a full moon, the crews in the harbor get together for a feast of rice and fish cooked in coconut milk. After the sumptuous meal, they dance and sing.

It is Christmas eve.

Posted by: Brag | October 13, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

ACORN sure looks like a mighty unlikely group to be turned into the boogie man for this election. They have been in the vanguard of stopping the predatory lending practices in inner cities that have caused some of this mess.

But I guess blaming ACORN is just slightly less suspect than demonizing the NAACP. Same dog whistle effect though.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Where's my Advil?? Those flowers sure are resisting the transplanting...

And Sneaks, I can just see you at the local high school leading a class called "Bridal Shop," with all the students huddled over well-maintained Singers and Sneaks prowling the aisles, ready to pounce on a dropped stitch or a crooked hem. :-)

I'm glad we scheduled the MBPH between JA's trips!

And the Dow's still up more than 400. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Live-blogging from the AAS/DPS. Listening to a talk on a theoretical model for the composition and distribution of materials in Titan's interior. You know: rocks. Water. Ice. Ammonia. Methane.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 13, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Good story, Brag!

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 13, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Paul Krugman has hit the economic nail on the head, from my limited perspective and knowledge of economics, any number of times in the past couple of years. Becoming a Nobel laureate is amazing. I read his column nearly every day. Nice work. This morning's in-service had to do with closing the achievement gap from the perspective of knowing which side of the brain the students are coming from, and which side the teacher teaches from. I'm right brained at work, and left brained at home, at least when it comes to putting up the groceries, alphabetising the spices and collating the laundry by coulor, fabrics, etc. Thank goodness that my wife counters my right brained tendancies. Wield that chainsaw carefully, RD. Glad to hear that you're pain free today, 'tooni. *Running to the afternoon session at the MS*

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

There is nothing like balancing oneself in a tree whilst attempting to manhandle many whirring sharp blades to truly give one an appreciation for the glories of life.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I caught that in your Earth bandwidth talk, you could detect methane in the atmosphere. Well, first smeller is the feller.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

SciTim: "Water. Ice. Ammonia. Methane."

Add gin, beer and music, and you have the basic requirements for night life, I should think.

Or at least a Titanic party.


Posted by: bc | October 13, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Loved this exchange in the Discussions section of WaPo. It relates well to Joel's concept of the "Real Economy."

"Washington: The market is up strongly today. If this trend continues and we see a real upswing in investor confidence, do you think Obama's numbers will tank?

Shailagh Murray: Ummm, no. Can we collectively agree to stop viewing the stock market as the economy? GM, GE, United Airlines, Apple, all those small businesses in strip malls near your house -- that's the economy."

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Stunned and pleased that Paul Krugman won: academic economist and highly engaged economist who writes a column for the NYT. Read more at PK's

Ben Stein - the red-eye guy- has it in for Krugman, occasionally writing blistering things against PK.

PK was a friend and colleague of the late and great James Tobin. Tobin was the link in this country to the best of John Maynard Keynes' ideas about when and why, deficit spending.

BTW, Tobin was the heftiest intellectual and practical voice AGAINST Freidman and the monetarist school of economic obsessions.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 13, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Brag.
Please explain "Sind" in the title?

Also, I saw Hitchcock's Lifeboat on large screen this weekend. It was such a treat, especially the most stylish Ms. Tallulah Bankhead. Oh, if I could carry off "Dahling" the way she did....

This article has some great links:
-check the one for the Lucy-Desi show

Posted by: DNA Girl | October 13, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

DNA Girl,

The fabled land of Sind is mentioned in various old Arab texts. The most famous of them all are the tales of Sindbad the sailor (Americans spell it Sinbad).

The area I mention in the little vignette is Ungwana Bay on the northern Kenya coast. The first Westerner to arrive there and leave a record Was Vasco da Gama. He formed an alliance with the Sultan of Malindi and Sacked the town of Ungwana on the mouth of the Tana River.

Previous occupants were the Romans who built the city of Raphta. I think I might have discovered its remains but have not had an opportunity to return to confirm the findings.

That part of the coast is controlled by the Watta people who the outside world calls Liangulu. The wattas are feared for their poisoned arrows, which insure instant death.

The Wattas have a culture of hiding among other tribes, thus they are difficult to find. A british anthropologist in the early 20th. century called them the Mimic Men.

I can boodle more on this mysterious area if there is interest.

Posted by: Brag | October 13, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Since today is a slow day and because it's one of my favorites, I'll share this "classic Dave Barry" that showed up in my email--Dave hosts Jamling Tenzing Norgay in South Florida, takes him mountain climbing. Sort of.

Posted by: kbertocci | October 13, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Howdy All and Happy Columbus day.I was explaining Mr Columbus's contributions to the world to a friends kid this morning.She is so smart she picked it up right away.

Took some lady friends out in the Kayak this weekend,They both had a wonderful time.

I found some time to fish yesterday afternoon/evening and the fish are stll biting good.I caught a nice big one and he is in the freezer.

Well off to work,even though It is Columbus day,this sicilian has to work.

Have a Great day everyone!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 13, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Enjoying a lazy Thanksgiving Day today, just made a cake with the kids and relaxing before the prep for supper must start.

Don't normally link to my blog but I managed to capture some great pictures of our hike in the woods and thought I would share.

Have a great day all,

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Great pictures, dmd! Beautiful day and beautiful family. Glad to see you had your Starbucks with you on the hike, too.

Oh.. and watch out... don't know if you saw it, but there's an alligator in your pool!

Posted by: TBG | October 13, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I just attended a lunch-time meeting of the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, which hosted an excellent speaker, Dr. Mary Munter, on gender-based differences in communications styles. Towards the end, I threw a grenade -- I revealed the results of our Boodle conversation from last week about gender-differentiated interpretation of looking into each other's eyes. We shall see what fallout comes of this -- have I destroyed my professional reputation with female planetary scientists? Only time will tell. I am less concerned by the women in the room than the ones who may catch a hearsay interpretation. Women with whom I spoke afterwards seemed positive and asked me about more details. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 13, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

*Tim: "We shall see what fallout comes of this -- have I destroyed my professional reputation with female planetary scientists? Only time will tell. I am less concerned by the women in the room than the ones who may catch a hearsay interpretation. Women with whom I spoke afterwards seemed positive and asked me about more details. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens."

Depends, I should think.

If you'd had a Yuengling or two and discussed that thing to which all BPHs always seem to return (ahem), or any missions/probes to or observations of Mianus, then what I predict *won't* happen would be an invitation for you to return next year.


Posted by: bc | October 13, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Now here's something new and original, at least to me: a bookswap site. All it costs is postage.

I found this at a quite good blog I stumbled across,

Posted by: Jumper | October 13, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Just tell those ladies that you are always looking for heavenly bodies and have a profound appreciation for ginormous orbs.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

TBG - there is rarely a coffee out of my hand, it was interesting climbing up and down the hills with a coffee in one hand and the camera in the other.

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Snuke -- I'm the one who has been hoarding the Advil. Just so you know.

Again, I'm thrilled to pieces that PK won the NP. Of course, when he's in Sth to pick up the prize from the King on December 10th, he will find that the sun starts going down around maybe 12:30-1:00 p.m., he will be able to see the moon and the big dipper at around 2:30, and then it will be pitch dark by 3:00 p.m. "The curse of the North," as my Norwegian buddy has been known to say in my presence. And, oh so true. Nothing that gettin' that prize won't cure up in a hurry.

Ben Stein makes me itch! If there ever was *yet another* narcissist on the planet, he's sure one of them.

And, now, to partake in this gorgeous day.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 13, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

A headline on the front page says "Little Airport Board Oversight."

I didn't know the little airports had their own board.

Posted by: TBG | October 13, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes, TBG. They have little boards and little airplanes and everything.

I should know. I made the doors for it. ;-)

Posted by: martooni | October 13, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

A rare sighting of Russell Baker, writing of McCain and Obama, in today's LA Times --,0,5153323.story

Posted by: LTL-CA | October 13, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I put the sewing machine away - yay! I am so happy to have checked off all my ‘to do’s’ for the weekend. Glad I could help with co-worker’s dress as she would have paid plenty to have it done on such short notice, I just consider it a wedding gift. Scotty, I do not believe I’d like to teach sewing to anyone except maybe the granddaughters. I thank my mom for teaching me but I think I’ve reached the burnout point for a while with all things requiring needle and thread.

I believe it is time for a celebratory nap in the hammock on the porch. :-)

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 13, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

CP -

I ate my late lunch watching CNN broadcasts of campaign stops. McCain is some "sort" of historian. He compared Obama to Hoover and tried to take over Obama's positions and then lie about Obama's various stances.

When I see people like McCain repeating the same BS and totally both misunderstanding or misrepresenting economic realities, I am reminded of my totally obtuse observation:

"Keynes was Right"

Well, back to work, Whatever happens, we know that McCain is going to VETO any attempt at spending money to support those people in need and put folks back to work--so he says. THAT, reminds me of Hoover.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 13, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

And the fun continues...

Amazing how people keep saying these things when the campaign has "disavowed" them so many times. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | October 13, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

They call it a wake
But the person it is for
Never does wake up

All good people here
Normally I'd be partying,
Seems wrong somehow, though.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 13, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

para bailar la bamba se necesita una poca de gracia...
ba ba ba bamba...

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 13, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

please forgive the impulsive urge to share a tune cootie from the next door neighbor's radio.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 13, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Wow... does anything automatic kick in when the market goes UP 10%?

The Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ are all up about 11% today.

Posted by: TBG | October 13, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Jeffrey M. Frederick is just connecting the dots for the voters too dim to get the McCain campaign innuendo. Probably a necessary step.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

wilbrodog, don't read my posts. you definitely don't want my tune cootie at the moment.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 13, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

We are all Keynesians now.

Posted by: Richard Nixon | October 13, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

There is hope for Joel. Now that one blogger has won a Nobel, can another be far behind?

Posted by: Noble Nobel Tomatoh | October 13, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Princeton elated:

So I told EVERYONE to buy stock today and they didn't listen to me. Sigh...and I couldn't because i was camping ... And had used all my laptop battery power to watch some of the Gator game Saturday night via the aircard... Nothing better than camping in a remote place AND watching TV by the fire...

I will try to post a new kit tonight.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 13, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Someone listened to you, Joel!

Posted by: TBG | October 13, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

See what happens to the Dow when I don't check it every 10 minutes?

Just returned from the country house--where we slept 10 hours Saturday night and 12 hours last night. Ahhh...

Posted by: Raysmom | October 13, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks LTL-CA for the Baker.

Very funny, Nixon. Maybe even true. We will see, won't we? BTW, Nixon, is it true you were drunk on Jack Daniels on Superbowl day, and called in a play to Landry that failed miserably? I know, it's a lie. Shame on me.

Posted by: Jumper | October 13, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I am aware that the ghost of Richard Nixon does not post in the comments section of Achenblog. I was actually thinking about that football myth while down in the north 40 today.

Posted by: Jumper | October 13, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Why should he not, Jumper? Stranger things have happened here.


Posted by: slyness | October 13, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Only I can go to China.

Posted by: Richard Nixon | October 13, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Hallo, everybody. It is midnight here. I wanted to thank all for this blog.

Posted by: Paavo | October 13, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Hi Paavo... where are you? I guess I'll say "you're welcome" although it's really Joel's place to say that.

Posted by: TBG | October 13, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for checking in, Mr. Nurmi. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Sure, you were the only one who could go, but you couldn't even bring back a doggie bag, huh?

Posted by: Checkers | October 13, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Hyvää ilta, Paavo!

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 13, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I hope I can run that fast!

Posted by: Paavo D. | October 13, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Frank Caliendo's gonna be bummin'...

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

'God aften,' I say. Thank you.

Posted by: Paavo | October 13, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Paavo, är Du svensk-talande Finsk?

That being said, I know how to swear in Finnish. Came in very useful during a contract negotiation. My Finnish client (then) told me that my pronunciation was improving, every time I let loose. Very funny. Really.

Gonna go make some dinner now.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 13, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

The AD in Tigertown gave Bowden the hook:

I wonder what ever happened to the Tigers' men's soccer program. they used to reach the final rounds of the National Tournament pretty frequently.

Posted by: jack | October 13, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Paavo. Come back soon.

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

God aften translates from Danish as Good evening. I googled it.

Posted by: jack | October 13, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

A new comet,

Impatiently waiting for the turkey to finish cooking - why does it always take longer than I expect (lack of cooking knowledge could quite probably be the answer). My kids are about to rebel - this could get ugly.

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Paavo. You've come to the right place.

Posted by: jack | October 13, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

In honour of Grunge weekend, and Joel's drop in (with apologies to Pearl Jam):

At rest, watching football from mountain tops, with his laptop
Gators doing well, Joel's having a few Z's
There's us, talking about Mianus
Boodlers didn't pay attention
Oh! To the fact that it seemed we didn't care
Blogger Joel the kit-man
oh, ruled his own blog
Achenbach joined the boodle today
Achenbach joined the boodle today

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad that I'm not the only one that is accompanied by a perpetual cup of coffee, dmd. The latter counts as one of my aberrant behaviours.

Posted by: jack | October 13, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

So, Togertowns got beat by Tigerferrals. whatever that means.
Stocks up, new boodlers in the boodlescape. Welcome!
Martooni's back is good and he's back into little doors. Cassandra is getting well. Lots of good news today.

Posted by: Brag | October 13, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Sneakers, glad you finished your work. I never could sew, but think it cool that some people can. And I love looking at patterns, you know the ones in the big book.

RD, your 12:33 was funny. I needed to laugh. It has been one rough day. I'm not going to relate. Don't want to bring everyone down. It will get better.

Night, boodle. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cassandra s | October 13, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

The Christmas Eve vignette had me swatting at imaginary insects, Brag. Cool imagery.

Posted by: jack | October 13, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Help! My laptop shuts itself off every time I move it. I took the battery out several weeks ago because it was seriously overheating (It's a Dell Inspiron 600m, the one that has had at least two battery recalls), and the computer is getting more and more quirky. It's about 3 years old.

The question: Should I take it somewhere to get it fixed? If so, where?

Or should I get a new one? If so, which one?

Thanks, all you computer literates.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | October 13, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

A grandma's service
through lifetimes of pain and joy
sows seeds of sweet fruit

Posted by: Anonymous | October 13, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not particularly literate, Maggie, but my Christmas wish-list includes a MacBook. #1 brought her Mac PowerBook home this weekend and it is amazing. Since I don't play on-line games, or do graphic design, I don't need that much computer, but the next one down is my heart's desire.

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

What Yoki said, Maggie. MacBook.

New ones are coming out this week (tomorrow?) and are rumored to be less expensive than they have been.

Posted by: TBG | October 13, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yes, Maggie. A Mac it must be.

Martooni, glad to hear you are doing better.

Jack, your inservice sounds pretty cool. My boss and I read A Whole New Mind and talked about it for months. I do think it is important to know how students perceive what the teacher is saying. And, to allow for differences, it is even more important to have project-based learning that lets students construct their own meaning and draw conclusions rather than having them force-fed prefab conclusions.

I hope everyone had a day as fantastic as mine. Everything went exactly as I wanted. My little universe is peachy.

I wanted to share these very cool pictures my boss sent me. I'm sure *Tim has seen better, but they are pretty amazing to me. The texture and color of the sun makes me think of a perfectly-baked cheese pizza.

Now I can go sit with my Potter book. I have to find out what Prof Umbirdge will do now that Dumbledore flew out of his office hanging off Fawkes' tail. This book, #5, is my favorite. I said the same about #4.

Posted by: a bea c | October 13, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

such a workaholic JA!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | October 13, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Yello, this is for you. The Latin scholar weighs in on Dowd:

Posted by: slyness | October 13, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Paavo, great to have you here!

I have posted a new ultra-microkit, just a YouTube video put together by a couple of friends of mine.

Tomorrow I'll be writing again, presuming I can get the sand out of my laptop.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 13, 2008 8:42 PM | Report abuse

If you divide the states in half by the proportion of people who are overweight, McCain wins the heavier states (68%), while Obama wins the rest (84%).

Posted by: LTL-CA | October 14, 2008 1:52 AM | Report abuse

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