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'It's Like Heaven Here'

[I'm off this week and will turn the blog all the way down to simmer. I'll be on a road a bit and will post some photos. In the meantime, here's an article by my daughter Paris Achenbach, a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School in D.C. It originally appeared in the student newspaper, the Beacon.]

By Paris Achenbach

Electricity is cut off from your home. A bomb explodes down the street, shattering all your windows. Gunshots echo throughout the night and day. Your mother disguises herself, hiding her face from any observers, as she leaves for work. Sound like an alternate universe?

For Jaafar Mohamed, it was his life.

An Iraqi born and raised in Bahdad, Jaafar, 15, is not your ordinary Wilson junior. He moved here two years ago with his family from Iraq, including with his brother, Hashim Mohamed, who is a senior at Wilson.

"We were feeling threatened in the city, by neighbors." he explained. "We didn't feel safe."

It is extremely difficult for Iraqis to come to the U.S. However, because Jaafar's mother was born in Wisconsin, she had a dual citizenship to the U.S., which made things much easier for their family. But even with this connection, it was still a crazy process getting here: Jaafar's family had to go all the way into Jordan to get the visa, then back into Iraq to get all of their belongings, and then all the way back to Jordan to fly here.

When the United States first invaded Ir aq in 2003, Jaafar was in sixth grade. His parents had no intention of moving, believing they would be safe in their home. But after a mere three weeks, things started getting harder for their family.

"The electricity was cut off from our house, from the whole city," Jaafar said. "There was no air conditioning, so we had to use fans to try and keep the house cool. A lot of the time we had to use candles for light."

Things got even heavier in seventh grade, when the US troops made a new rule. "If you were closer than 100 meters away from their tanks, they'd shoot and kill you," he said. Didn't matter if you were a suicide bomber or an innocent passer. Jaafar recounted a story of an Iraqi boy who was playing with a BB gun and unknowingly pointed it at a U.S. tank. A soldier shot and killed him.

Living in Baghdad, Jaafar was in the thick of the escalated violence. "By eighth grade I had experienced a real bombing," Jaafar recounted. "It went off right down the street, really close to my home. All the windows broke in my house, everything got messed up. And it was so loud..."

It is hard for most of us here in the US to imagine how one would react to a bombing down the street. What would you do? How would you handle the fear?

For Jaafar, he had to go on with his daily life. "I had to continue with my normal life an d just go to school," he said calmly.

But the hostility didn't exist solely between the U.S. soldiers and Iraqis. The war caused a number of Iraqis to lose their jobs, and as a result, some of them had to turn to a last resort in order to support themselves and their families. "There have been many kidnappings in order for people to get ransom money," Jaafar explained. "Some of the people who get kidnapped are killed. My mom knew a man who was kidnapped, but he came back."

And perhaps one of the most tragic outcomes of the Iraq war is the dramatic shift in the relationship between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

"People used to not care who was a Sunni and who was a Shiite," Jaafar said. "It turned into a war about these religions."

Jaafar and his family were Shiites in a completely Sunni neighborhood, and as the war went on, they felt increasingly threatened in their area. Jaafar's mother had to hide her face when she left their house for work, and change her clothes multiple times throughout the day to confuse any spectators.

One might imagine that a young adult like Jaafar, whose life has been so dramatically affected by the United States, would resent America, and the people in it. Remarkably, after all he has been through, he has no such thoughts.

"Many Iraqi people have a hatred for Americans, but I don't. It's not a matter of race or religion; i t's a matter of their actions."

As Jaafar talks of these unimaginable life experiences, almost more striking than his stories is the calm manner in which he speaks. He is able to tell these stories of fear and violence with both the intensity of a personal account, and an ease of a person who has not been oppressed by such experiences. Bullets, bombs, kidnappings, racism - all of these are a part of Jaafar's childhood. He carries these remnants with him, wherever he goes; whether in the hallways at Wilson, or on the Tenleytown sidewalk. But he is not weighed down by the heaviness of war.

"It's like heaven here," Jaafar said, smiling. "You walk around, and everyone is safe and free."


A good piece in the Times about the future of fish.


The only thing I really know for sure about Greg Craig, reportedly tapped to be White House counsel for Obama, is that he desperately needs a last name.

But here's a tip for politics junkies: When you read these stories, don't think "Clinton insider gets big job with Obama." This fellow defected very, very early from the Clinton camp, and bet the ranch on Obama -- way back when HRC was still Inevitable. Can we get more backstory on that? Why did the guy who led the defense of Bill Clinton during impeachment decide that he wanted no part of the Hillary Clinton campaign?

In any case, this is not just a reward for Craig but a sign that Obama knows who's got his back.

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 17, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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Nice story, Miss A!

One thing that strikes me as sad is that we (humanity) haven't stopped doing this yet. When I was in college I had a suitemate who was from Beirut, her family emigrated under similar circumstances. I also tutored Vietnamese students who considered themselves lucky to have left, same reasons.

Whether America is involved or not, same story, different countries.

Posted by: -dbG- | November 17, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Wonderful story, young Miss Achenbach! You're definitely a chip off your old man's block. I say that with affection and awe. The talent will take you far, regardless of what you decide to do with your life.

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

That's a very powerful story, beautifully written. It contains so many important themes: appreciating what we have, awareness of a world beyond our homes, and an understanding of the power of separating individuals from nationalities.

Well done.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Agreed. A very well-crafted and touching piece of work. Very impressive.

Posted by: ndgirl | November 17, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

On the Craig-Clinton connection: They knew each other in law school! Signing on w/ Obama really did involve cutting a longstanding tie.

Very shrewd of you to point this out, Joel. I think there are similar histories w/ regard to other former Clintonites now linked to Obama. Some national security types, for instance, broke w/ HRC over her support for the Iraq war.

Not quite the same as the Craig-Clinton split, which seems to concern issues of character, but still worth keeping in mind when we hear talk show hosts natter on about filling the new administration w/ hordes of Clinton administration alums.

Posted by: ndgirl | November 17, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle.

Outstanding Kit, Paris!

Pirates are not suffering from the world economic slump.

Five ships captured by Somali pirates so far this month.

Posted by: Braguine | November 17, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Haven't had time for anything today, as it's a Monday (another day, another fifty cents....) But I wanted to pop in and say...Mudge, I went down in flames, but you get a feather boa with that tiara this week. Strut your stuff baby. You look gorgeous.

Off to pretend I know what I'm doing. Will try to check in later today. Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 17, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, I really wish you hadn't posted that "Mrs. Peel in a nanokini" comment in the last kit. My hands are still shaking.

Meanwhile, a friend has sent me this:

A UFO lands in the U.S., and an alien gets out and walks up to nearest American and says, "Take me to your leader."

The American replies, "Is there any way you could possibly come back after Jan. 20, please?"


Meanwhile, from Howard Kurtz's column, the most cogent explanation of the election (and the MSM's role in it) I've yet read (and from the unlikeliest of sources, but still):

[Kurtz speaking] But here, for a change, is a defense against the charge that the MSM helped Obama win the election:

"Oh, please . . . The mainstream media reflected what was happening in this nation. It did not drive it. The blogs didn't drive this movement. The media didn't drive this movement. Barack Obama did not lose this election. It was his to lose, it was not John McCain's to win. The Republicans had no shot unless the Democrats gave it to them, and they didn't. And to blame the media is a cop-out and ridiculous. We are always here to be blamed by people like you who enjoy that activity. We always will be. When the Democrats lost last time, it was our fault. When the Republicans lost this time, it was our fault. It's not."

The speaker? Fox News anchor Shepard Smith. He was responding, on the air, to comedian Nick DiPaolo declaring that the media were "in the tank" for Obama. Go Shep.

Which is not to say that Obama didn't benefit from awfully favorable coverage. But the news business isn't quite as powerful as its detractors imagine. Ronald Reagan and both Bushes managed to win five elections despite what they saw as a biased media. We don't have the ability to stop a determined president from taking the country to war, though we certainly should have done a better job in the runup to Iraq. And we didn't bamboozle the country into voting for Barack. The man won North Carolina, for cryin' out loud. He must have been on to something.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Excellent kit, Miss Achenbach. Keep up the good work, and it is good work.

I'm always amazed at stories like the one in the kit. The fact that we're the ones bombing and killing in his country, yet he and his family feel safe here. And still further, the fact that we have such compassion and care for these folks, yet many that live here among us suffer just as well. Perhaps not the bombings, but suffer in their humanity. Yet we daily pass by them, and seldom see them for that matter. Two worlds. One country.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 17, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Ms. Achenbach, that was a wonderfully thoughtful piece. Well done, ma'am.

I spent some of my formative years in an economically challenged part of Montgomery County, MD. and not only heard gunfire on a regualr basis, but was awakened one November morning by the detonation of a bomb (a little domestic terrorism courtesy of the far Right). Not close enough or big enough to shatter windows, but it sure as heck got our attention.

Your telling of Jaafar's story is inspirational, Ms. A. Thanks to you and your Dad for that early Thanksgiving present.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"The only thing I really know for sure about Greg Craig, reportedly tapped to be White House counsel for Obama, is that he desperately needs a last name."


David Craig

Posted by: strum | November 17, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

You owe me a new keyboard, Mr. Craig.

Posted by: -dbG- | November 17, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Mudge, Obama won North Carolina by 14,000-odd votes out of 4.3 million cast, but he won. The margin of his victory was point thirty-two percent (.32%) but our electoral votes are his!

Some of you will understand how happy that makes me.

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

Nicely written interview, PA. I wonder if the young man and his family would have considered moving to the USA if not for the misery they experienced in Bagdad? Very generous of him to grant the interview and speak so warmly about the freedom he now feels he has in this country.

The NYT fish article reminds me that the big, plentiful oysters of my youth & young adulthood are history. The farmraised fish offered in most restaurants are indeed tasteless. When I can, I buy wild sea scallops, flounder, snapper (although I have read pcbs are in just about all Atlantic Coast fish. West Coast steelheaded trout are delicious, a friend used to fish for them and bring them back via airplane and give them to us, what a treat!

I miss good crabs, caught off my grandparents pier in Norfolk, about 60 years ago.

Anchovies and sardines sraight out of the can are good, particularly on greek salads.

Now, I'm hungry. ;-)

Posted by: VintageLady | November 17, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

LiT which of the shoes did you give Mudge to wear? The ones that went with the Tiara, I hope (keep those red ones for yourself).

shriek: "The canyons are burning in LA, it makes for good TV and worried millionnaires."

I could not help but note that at least one trailer park of several hundred homes (IIRC) was destroyed by the fires. Folks who have little money and no insurance are completely wiped out.

LA isn't just about cement ponds and movie stars. Real people live and work there, too, and these fires are affecting them. Right, LAlurker?


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

good morning boodle! Nice to see PA's piece as a kit, and though it is sad that she had this opportunity to cover tragic reality with a schoolmate, such experience is soooo much better than the prom royalty election beat.

Back in our fair city and find that winter arrived while I was in St. Paul. The river's edges are frozen and have a powdery coating of snow from last night. The channel is still open, but not for much longer if we keep having daily highs in the 20s.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 17, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I understand, Slyness. The wonder of it all! Carolina blue came through, the wonder of it all! (yes, bears repeating)

Posted by: VintageLady | November 17, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

On a side note, when I heard Greg Craig's name mentioned yesterday, I recalled one of Robin Williams' stand-up performances from the 70s. He asks an audience member their name, and when that person answers, he goes into televangelist mode and shouts, "Let's pray for a last name!"

Amusing that Joel and others were thinking along the same lines.

Cassandra, good to see you here this morning, and I'm sorry to hear of your neighbor (from the previous Kit's comments).


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it amazing how trailer parks take the brunt of bad events? Two people died in tornadoes spawned by big thunderstorms in eastern NC this weekend. One of the places hit was a neighborhood of mobile homes.

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Shep Smith has been a semi-sane voice for a while now, Mudge. I wonder if he's looking for a new job (like the rest of us!)?

Good morning folks. Glad I didn't take my sister's offer to accompany her to the game last night. I fell asleep in my comfy warm bed around the time the Cowboys scored that last touchdown. Daughter was babysitting her cousins down the street and didn't get home 'til very, very late.

Son of G gets home tonight after a week visiting a buddy who is studying in Florence. From the bits and pieces I've heard, it sounds like he had a great time. He's a little worried about the Air France pilots' strike; his flight to Paris was a go, but he still has yet to board his plane there to Dulles.

Oh well.. there are worse fates than being stuck in Paris, no?

Speaking of worse fates... excellent article by Paris A. I think she's probably doing OK on the college essay front, wouldn't you agree?

Posted by: -TBG- | November 17, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I used to spend Saturdays catching crabs off the docks of Gosnold Park in Hampton, Virginia. My mother would send my brother and I out with a tray of chicken necks and some traps and tell us not to come back until we had a bushel of crabs.

The irony is that I never ate the crabs I caught, prefering a hamburger off the grille.

And I do love a grouper sandwich, but they are such sad morose looking fish.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 17, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Forgot to add...Michelle & Barak's interview was just so very, very good. They are totally natural with each other, no stiffness or phony adoration for the camera. Funny banter about mom-in-laws.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 17, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Morning all
I liked the fish story too and could probably conjure up a whopper of a story also.I still have worms in my frig,but it doesn't look like i will be getting in a boat anytime soon.

Yello my parents used to take just a net and a bushel basket in a boat and net as many blue crabs as the could in assawoman bay down the ocean hon.They said they were so plentiful they didn't even need any chicken necks.

My father used to tell he would go down to fells point on the streetcar and catch a bushel write off the dock there then bring them back on the streetcar for steaming,he also recalled the story when the streetcar made a sudden stop and most of his catch went scurring across the floor of the streetcar.

In my youth we could catch 20lb bluefish and nice Rockfish from the shore along the bay at Sandy point,romancoke,and some of the western parks too(their names escape me at this moment).

fishing is in my blood and I can never seem to get enough,perhaps a winter jacket and some gloves may work today.It is a days vacation today and I can warm up later.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

speaking of heaven,i just walked into my livingroom to find my mothers sewing socks and my anti social cat,cuddled up next to her.

Cp,my mom enjoyed the don't fence me in track last night....thanks.

here is my heaven......almost

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I have a suspicion that grouper are "sad, morose-looking fish" because they are overworked and underpaid, and frequently the objects of tourist abuse, yello. In the vast Curmudgeon clan photo archive there is a photo taken underwater about 20-some years ago, when my wife and I vacationed in Nassau. We took one of those "hard-hat" diving tours, and went out to this little underwater "park" the diveboat operator had set up. And as part of the underwater tour, they had a grouper about a foot long trained to swim up between your hands, so you could have your picture taken with him (her? it?). So we have a photo of my wife and me in hard hats, and me with my hands held up between us, with the grouper "in" my hands, all three of us (well, not so much the grouper) smiling at the camera.

And unlike the parrot at Birdland, he didn't poop on my shoulder, either.

I will say this in defense of the grouper: he was much more friendly and more cooperative than the Grenadier Guard at Buckingham Palace.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I'd suggest that the grouper was almost certainly more talkative, Mudge.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Kristin Scott Thomas is single again!

O be still, my heart.

Yeah, yeah, she's 48. So what? I've always had a thing for older women. Fine wine, all that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Belated mornin' all...

Nicely done, Paris. You're a beacon of hope to well-meaning-but-bumbling practitioners of fatherhood everywhere.

Speaking of which, I'm on bus-watch duty today. My only purpose of being today (other than trying to scrape out a living) is to be out in my driveway at precisely 2:35pm so that I can wave at the school bus driver and then receive a "Bronx cheer" from the six-year-old I'm partially responsible for bringing into this world.

Yup. Daddyhood is full of wonderful moments only Kodak can capture, Job can appreciate, and a wife can ridicule and never let rest.

But I'm okay with that. Really. It's fun.

And if I keep telling myself that...

Posted by: martooni | November 17, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I find my definition of 'older woman' shifting perilously close to 'old.'

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, you are only as old as you feel and from the looks of your writing you feel pretty good lately.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

And for Mudge, wouldn't an "older woman" be, like, 950 years old?

Posted by: -TBG- | November 17, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, TBG.

gwe, I do feel pretty good lately.

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm curious to know how racism played a part in Jaafar's childhood? That unanswered question in the Kit nags at my brain this morning. Is any conflict between two groups of people "racism," even if it's Arab upon Arab (Sunni vs. Shiite or vice versa)? Then it would be religious intolerance, not racism, wouldn't it? Or can you, Paris, explain your use of the word racism? Reading Chris Hitchens' book "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" might be thought-provoking.

Since Jaafar was raised Shiite, what is the Shiite version of an afterlife or heaven? Is it life in Washington, D.C.? Has Jaafar already adopted a Christianized version of heaven or is it the outlook of whoever gave this piece of writing Kit its headline?

Is Jaafar really not angry? No mention of who created the hell (do Shiites have a concept of hell?) of Baghdad and for what reason--a politics-free piece of writing? Is Jaafar compartmentalizing? What does Jaafar think of the plight of thousands of Iranians who are either in refugee camps outside Iraq or have crossed into neighboring Arab countries--sometimes forfeiting everything, unable to come to the United States. Does he feel for those less well-off than he?

And what would he think of today's headline about the Iraqi Parliament setting a deadline for withdrawal for U.S. troops three years from now?

Posted by: laloomis | November 17, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Yoki... I thought you were supposed to be wrangling this morning. Got the laptop open and pretending to work? Love it.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 17, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

TBG, I'd consider any lady over 450 or 500 years to be an "older woman." The trouble is, so many of them get snapped up as "eye candy" (or sometimes "glaucoma candy") by the rich 700- and 800-year-olds that I usually don't stand a chance.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Joel, thank you for sharing Paris's story about Jaafar. It is, and I say this as praise, an excellent example of journalism for a student newspaper: (a) it takes as its subject a fellow-student, immediately provoking interest and sympathy in its readers; (b) it is narrowly focused on its subject's experiences and reactions; (c) the writing invites comment on the larger issues underlying the topic, but without unnecessarily broadening the scope of the article; (d) by staying focused on its topic, the article avoids pursuing discussion of side issues which may be interesting in and of themselves but would only obscure or confuse the point the author is allowing her subject to make. Come to think of it, that's a pretty good definition of journalism in any category. Nicely done.

And, hey Mudge, since when is 48 an "older woman"? Were it not such a fine day I might consider taking umbrage.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 17, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

48 isn't old. It's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Good story Mlle Paris. It reminds me of the stories the "boat people" had back in the 70's. There were many thousands of Vietnamese who came as immigrant in Montreal in those years. Lots of those were Vietnamese of Chinese ancestry who were persecuted by the government of Hanoi, they had pretty ugly stories.

Yeb bc, the fire has spread to some areas inhabited by regular folks. Including Yorba Linda, let's all hope that Tricky Dick's Library don't burn down to the ground. I just saw one too many reporter trying to convey the horror of the fires in Santa Barbara by showing the burned dawn hulk of a Landrover in one of the bays of a 10000 sq.ft. house's three-door garage. Happy for the folks who escaped in the Merc and the Bentley but I still have a problem with them living in canyons well known to spontaneously combust every few years.
The equivalent here is the folks living in the flood plains getting gunmint bailout (literally and figuratively) every time their houses get flooded. grrrr

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 17, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Joel, you must be very proud. A very nice piece of writing by your daughter. (and I'm proud that my daughter is eating pears. what a difference ~17 years makes!)

Posted by: chiquita2 | November 17, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

snowing pretty good here,mom and i are cleaning out the shed and I just found my sleds...te he he.....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I personally don't consider 48 to be "old"; I was just using that term because some of those snot-nosed 20-somethings (such as my kids) think anyone over 35 is "old."

And anyway, I think I want to cling tenaciously to the rationalization that "old" is distinct from "older," which is merely a comparative term.

*praying that that somehow gets me off the hook*

*which is actually kinda unfair, because I LIKE older women; I mean, it's not like I disparaged them or anything*

*perhaps I should stop digging*

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Here's an extra shovel for you, 'mudge.

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Shall I fax the miner's hat w/halogen lamp, 'Mudge?


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 17, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I think Ms. Achenbach's piece is an excellent example of short feature writing for a local High School newspaper.

The questions you raise in your 11:46, based on your subjective and, frankly, rather peculiar thought processes are not only self-serving but also inappropriate and impolitely provocative in my opinion.

Please consider visiting the New York Times; you may find what you're looking for there.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, bc.

bc, LiT, GWE, Mudge -- please remind me of how the tiara is passed around. Do we earn the tiara between football contests by winning a pool? Do we simply get it if our team wins that day, which means we might perhaps have more than one tiara around?

And, LiT, Mudge moved so quickly past me that I missed the color: lilac with little silver threads amid the ostrich feathers? I can lend you a marabou boa, but you will need to take Claritin. The fluff makes one sneeze so; however, the effect is so cunning and perfect. Don't let Dear Child wear it unless it is dry out. She will draggle in while playing in the wet leaves.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 17, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

...the air's getting foul down here, and it's getting warm...but I think I've discovered a gold seam... darn drippy stalagtites (or is it ...mites? I can never remember)...I think I hear someone talking in Chinese...

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse


"Many Iraqi people have a hatred for Americans, but I don't. It's not a matter of race or religion; i t's a matter of their actions."

Paris did a good job. In high school, I once interviewed a German exchange student about the educational system in Germany and learned a lot, and fed some suspicions about how many deaf children never get on the gymnasium track and are tracked to vocational school instead.

But the article never made it to print.

So in short, Germany has two separate tracks: vocational school and the Gymnasium (college-bound preparation). Standardized tests given to twelve-years old determine which schools the kids will go to.

Once they're in the HS system, there's not really much choice about what they can take or not take. Therefore, your destiny is basically affected by your performance at age 12. How's THAT for stress, you think?

I happened to have already met a deaf german jeweler and watchmaker. Nice living, I'm sure. But is his fate pretty standard for all born-deaf in the German system? I think so. I was also told by a deaf lawyer about an deaf Italian friend of his who owned a hotel that deaf people were denied white collar jobs in Italy, mostly because of the educational system there.

Now, of course I didn't go off on that tangent and just focused on what I wrote up, which I found interesting enough.

I should have had an in-house editor to consult, of course, but breaking news on the prom as an coming-out party pretty much scrapped that story.

Shrug. Never was much good at journalism anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

CP, the weekly tiara is awarded to the person with the highest winning percentage. We haven't discussed the ultimate rule for the entire season, but one assumes the season winner gets to keep the tiara and the coveted title, all the bragging righhts, the product endorsements, and the various invitations to ribbon-cutting cveremonies and supermarket openings for the entire year, up until the first game next year.

So far as I am aware, there is only one tiara. Multiple tiaras would dimish (and demean) the value of the single tiara, I would think. It'd be like elementary school, where everyone gets a tiara just for participating.

What's for virtual lunch today? I've got leftover NY strip steak from last night.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Reposting Cassandra and Wilbrod from the last kit, so these don't get lost in the switch:


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

Morning, friends. Ah, Yoki, we have the Canadian Screamer in my neck of the woods. Got to love the stuff from Canada. And I don't know about the mojo, but you know blessings abound with prayers, I will send them your way.

Yello, thanks for the link. And yes, Slyness, work in any space is still work, not a vacation. I'll bet the snow is lovely.

Mudge, I had to laugh at your comparison of snow and Bush, together in one day. You know you're a vacation, not a trip. I missed 60 Minutes last night. Head rolled on the pillow, and the televison was watching me. Redskins looking a bit sad. All is not lost, is it?

More bad news, my neighbor passed yesterday morning. The elderly lady that lived across from me. I went to visit her Saturday afternoon. She lived a full life. She was 95 years young. She took her trash can out every Monday, and brought it back in after the trash pick up. And it was bigger than her.

It is cold here, but sunny. Busy week ahead. Wrap up if it's cold where you are, and keep warm.

Martooni, Scotty, good morning and that to all.*waving*

CP, good to hear from you. Ah, the singing. I try, but, alas, it is not good, even in the shower.

Time to swim.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 17, 2008 8:25 AM

"Head rolled on the pillow, and the televison was watching me."

Lol, Cassandra. Love that phrasing.

Enjoy your day and turn off those peeping toms before you go to bed next time.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2008 12:50 PM

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 17, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The TV was watching, eh? I remember realizing that Son of G thought the people in the TV could see us.... We flipped past the show my then-boss did every Friday night on PBS and stopped to watch a few minutes. Three-year-old Son of G was upset that I didn't wave to the man as he spoke to us from the TV screen.

I guess it makes sense that a little one would think such a thing. How do they differentiate between reality and virtual reality anyway? A lot of us seem to have that trouble even now.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 17, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge. I just checked my locker and my tiara is MISSING. You took it and did not sign it out? I forgive. Just check the Number 7 from the right jewel. Tis a pale, ice-blue Swarovski crystal that I replaced on my credit card last week. I will remit the expense forms to you shortly.

Yoki, did the mojo arrive intact?

For lunch I am bringing a savory and a sweet:
broiled scallops with bacon crumbles on the side; and
lemon bars that tang rather than cloy.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 17, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse


I love that word, it's so expressive. I can just see a six-year-old with the boa around her neck with it draggling behind her!

When Elderdottir was a fifth-grader, we went with a group of 5th grade girls and their mothers for a weekend in NYC. She and I were transfixed by F.A.O. Schwartz. For Christmas, I bought the Geekdottir a hot pink satin evening gown with spaghetti straps and a matching hot pink boa. I believe there were stilleto standals and a sparkly cap also. The other choice Schwartz had was a harlequin outfit, but the pink gown was a winner. IIRC, the Geekdottir was seven and she loved the ensemble.

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Now, see, here's why I have a problem with Martha Stewart. Here’s this great-sounding recipe from MS ... only it calls for 6 cups of day-old pumpkin challah. Pumpkin challah? Jeezey-peezy, I can’t even find REGULAR challah around here, how am I ever gonna run out to Safeway and get a loaf of pumpkin challah, fer cryin’ out loud.

If you know any sources of pumpkin challah, lemme know. It sounds great for Thanksgiving. (I don't think we Jews even DO pumpkin challah, do we? Wouldn’t that be like, yanno, BBQ gefilte fish or something? Chocolate hummus? Something just doesn’t seem right.)

And speaking of Thanksgiving, is it too soon to start Boodling about T-day recipes and plans and activities and such? Joel, are you spatchcocking anything this year?

At our house so far it looks like there'll just be just the four of us, which is kind of a shame; I always like to have a full house at Thanksgiving. Anybody out there destinationless? You're welcome at our house. (And you don't have to watch the *&%$#@&^% Detroit/Dallas game, which always ticks me off.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

cp,the tiara thing is between mudge,bc and lit......I just like the pigskin and enjoying a good game.Still snowing and it is pretty....time for some zoup....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Martha Stewart, I stumbled on the best TV show the other day. It's called Whatever, Martha and stars her daughter, Alexis, and a friend as they watch old Martha Stewart TV shows and make fun of them.

It's hilarious...

Posted by: -TBG- | November 17, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

For imaginary lunch, I'll bring leftover beef stew from last night. It was my best one to date so I'm not embarrassed to share. For all y'all with snow and cold, it is properly hearty.

Here, it is sunny and almost sixty degrees (F), and we'll have another couple of warm days before dropping into the fifties. It might even drop below freezing at night. We all feel that we should be enjoying this weather but something is vaguely wrong. It should be colder. The Chimney Guy is coming today to see what is wrong with ours and whether it can be fixed without major structural changes, so if it ever gets cold again we'll have a working fireplace. I know, I'll rue these words soon enough.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 17, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

omni is also one of the contenders, gwe. He got a late start, but aquitted himself well this week, finishing second (with a 10-4 record), ahead of the two sandal fetishists.

The infamous and dreaded Ice-Blue Swarovski, huh? That the one that comes with a curse?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

For virtual lunch I have the most wonderful, nutty flavored, fresh Brussels sprouts with a just a bit of butter and home made fudge (as dessert, not on the sprouts). This is not short cut fudge, but boiled and stirred and taken off the heat just-in-time fudge. Frostdottir's first attempt, in honor of my 48th (which is so not old) birthday just past, and fabulous. I fear she may cook many batches before she achieves this perfection again.

I think Loomis asks fair questions-of a presidential candidate.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 17, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Wait, I didn't even see the Pats v Jets in the paper

I coulda been in second place

Posted by: omnigood | November 17, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I received an email this morning from some pharmaceutical company (reputable, I'm sure) informing me that my "small moose" may be the cause of "disappointment" in the bedroom.

That may be so, but how do they know we've been raising a baby moose?

Posted by: martooni | November 17, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The Thanksgiving game will be Detroit Lions vs Tennesse Titans Mudge. Peter King was musing that it could be the first 0-11 vs 11-0 game ever. The Lionas are much improved with Culpepper at the helm but he sure ain't the solution for the Future.

Martha is clearly going bonkers. Mrs. denizen was lookin at cookie molds she was using for a recipe in her latest Christmas special. The molds are cookie sized, from 1"x1" to 2"x3" maybe yet the price for each was between $10 and $32. Honestly, $32 for a 2"x2" wooden mold?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 17, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

A bitter cold wind,
A warm relaxing wet stream.
Some pleased, others not.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 17, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

*passing Ivansmom my excess rue words from the NukeHaus chimney adventures so she can relax* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 17, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Very LOL, Bob. And Wilbrodog will be so jealous.

omni, the Pats game was the night before you made your pick (Thursday night), which is why you didn't see it in the paper on Friday. But if you want to go ahead and jump on the bangwagon and pick the Pats in that one, I'm sure bc and LiT will agree to let it count in the standings. I have no objection.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, don't forget the shoes and special commemorative feathered boa (for your extraordinary week) that goes with the Tiara.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, and all: Quite busy at work here in New England, so quick skimming is all I've managed since meeting those of you at the MBPH on October 4th.

You are right--Thanksgiving cometh and I am ready. For me, it's one of the best holidays of the year, especially since we are given the day after off, as well.

Martha Stewart has her own recipe for Pumpkin Challah. When you find THAT on her web site, then you find out that you should preferably use pumpkin puree that you've made from scratch (probably another of her "from scratch" recipes although she indicates you can use a 15 oz. can instead) which is also on her site.

I was never a fan of Martha but she totally lost me when she did a segment amny years ago when my two kids were in their early teens on making a cover for household or cooking twine, even if you were going to keep it in a kitchen cupboard or out in the garage! And, heaven forbid, if you had a junk drawer!

Don't know about you folks but the day I have time to make a cover for a roll of twine will be the day it's time for my kids to send for the people with the nets to come get me and take me away--permanently.


Posted by: CoraCollins | November 17, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

mudge i was in a football pool every year till it stopped a couple of years ago,they would give away 40 clams to the winner each week,at the end of the regular season 1st,2nd, 3rd and last place would receive some bones as well.i'm happy to say I finished in all the money spots at in the 15 years I played.Also it is just as hard picking the loser as it is the winner.....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

But I would have picked the Jets. Oh well.

Posted by: omnigood | November 17, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

What, Woodrow Wilson High School has no editors on its newspaper? It has no library to do basic research on multicultural issues?

I think the Obama children would probably be better served by attending a private school rather than a public one in the D.C. area.

Posted by: laloomis | November 17, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong with everyone getting a tiara? Really!

Too late for virtual lunch? I've got homemade beef barley soup with ginger. Garlic salad with gorgonzola too.

Mudge, I'll see if I can find you some pumpkin challah. 6-days old would give me time to ship.

Shrieking, sounds like springerle.

Posted by: -dbG- | November 17, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: bobsewell | November 17, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Fireplace crackles with
Natural gas geysering

Grey clouds allow light
To peer at colorful world,
Then strangle the sun

Dog whines at window:
Whirring low across the lake,
A lone loon crying.

Snowflakes are falling
Cold as jealous witches' hearts
thrown like small grenades

Leaves of trees' youths
Lie under frozen shrapnel.
Now to aim yellow warmth.


Great haiku, Bob S!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Psst, dbg,

I see tiaras
I see them everyday on people everywhere.
They don't KNOW they have tiaras.....

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 17, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

That the one dbg. They are cute handmade things so 20-30 bucks each is certainly not highway robbery. It's just the $100-150 potential bill for a small set of cookie molds that sent me reeling.

Almost wrote something then recalled not to feed the trolls.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 17, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

SD, I have one of these:

BUT, have always made a mess of granny made lovely aNEECE cookies as she called them. Anise is what she meant to say, I am sure.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 17, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

mrs. D has a couple of those for shortbread and quite a number of sets of cookie cutters. The whole thing is probably worth $150.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 17, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Hi, all! CP, I looked till I found an online Italian pronunciation for anise - this is a Quicktime version:

It sounds like "la neecha" to me. I hate anise/licorice things, EXCEPT those wonderful anise cookies. For some reason they transcend the flavor.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | November 17, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

dbg, If everyone had a tiara, it wouldn't be such a coveted item. Mudge has had it two weeks in a row now, so it's probably getting a little bent into the shape of his head.

bc, I thought the pagaent committee decided on the ridiculously expensive MBs, even though Mudge might be a tad teetering in them (me, I could run a marathon in them).

laloomis, give it a rest. Remember 17? Come on...think must. I'm sure at that age, the level of your writing, the research, the analysis, etc. was worthy of a Nobel Prize in Lit, but if we used you as a standard, everything would be snippy, self-serving and overly critical (for the sake of being critical). It would also probably come down to some form of misogyny. And the oil industry. Or genetic testing.

If you had at least one nice thing to say at least once a year, your criticisms might be viewed with an eye toward bettering oneself, but you seem to want everything to be a dissertation that answers all the questions in the world. In under 100 words.

Say something nice. I promise, your face won't crack, and the world won't start spinning the other way.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 17, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure there is a real dearth of pedantic blowhards in the high school newspaper editorships of American high schools generally.

Limitless space for excruciating detail on tangential topics is available in the comment sections of blogs. As is the scroll button, which I must have misplaced...oh, yes, there it is...

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 17, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

As evidenced by her excellent article, Ms. Achenbach is clearly a young woman of exceptional intelligence. Therefore, I take it as a given that she is capable of ignoring any mean-spirited blatantly absurd posts that might happen to occur here.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 17, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy, thanks. Granny would have said it with a soft Irish Riviera accent. I think I will say your version over and over, as an incantation, to get the dough to NOT stick in the woodcut-slashings.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 17, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Happy Monday everyone. I haven't backboodled yet since I've been out of commission for the last couple of days due to a kidney stone and the extreme pain associated with the little bugger as it wended it's way through my system. I'm better now, thanks to percocet, so I thought I'd check in. I will spare you the gory details but according to the CT scan from earlier today I should be pain free soon. What a bummer it was before the percocet took effect.

Very nice piece by Ms. Achenbach. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, methinks.

I hope the Redskins fans amongst us have recovered. The hubby and my son are doing ok. They used the painful replays to wait on me hand and foot! If the Redskins had done better I'm sure I would have been left to my own devices as they generally whoop and holler their way through good games.

Going to go take a nap. Geez, I love percocet! If I missed anything really important in the last 3 days, would someone let me know?

Posted by: Kim1 | November 17, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Kim.. you poor thing... hope you're feeling tops very soon.

Can you tell me something.... which was more painful? The kidney stone or childbirth?

Posted by: -TBG- | November 17, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, d'ya think Weingarten might obsess on Stan Lee's latest triumph tomorrow?


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 17, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

TBG -- I have driven two people to the ER for kidney stones. I hope I never experience this. Childbirth, well, my goodness, look what comes of it: a laddie or a lady baby!

Kidney colic: little jagged rocks. Slivering the ureter the whole way down from the withers to the groin. And, CPBoy had an attack when he was ten months old. Took a pretty good detective doc to figure that one out. I wanted to join him in the narcotic drip, the experience was so hellish.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | November 17, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Hope you're better soon, Kim!!!! *HUGS*

*biting lip on what Col. Potter said about stones* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 17, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

No, Scotty, you can't leave us hanging like that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

It was just the obvious straight line, delivered with a bedside manner nod, to B.J. or Hawkeye or Burns or whoever saying someone (Father Mulcahey?) had a kidney stone...

"This too, shall pass."

*ducking behind desk to avoid incoming tomatoes*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 17, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

tbg,it is the stones....ouch!!!never been through child birth,but kidney stones...yikes

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Good kit. It made me think about dual citizenship, a concept that makes me uncomfortable. In this case it turned out to be a good thing. I will keep thinking about it.

I just got the wrong ink cartridges for my printer. I scotch-taped the one I had opened back into its kevlar cellophane; we'll see if they will accept the lot in return for the correct ones. I am starting to doubt I will ever see cyan again.

By the way, the brewers yeast fake-cheese in the biscuits turned out mighty tasty. I, not actually BEING vegan, will not be doing that again. Unless I go vegan. Ha. Philly cheese steaks again tonight. The blended mayo-cheese was good but not sublime. So that's one success and one not. What city has sauted mushrooms on the cheese steak? Jumperville, I guess. Hey, I'm there now!

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 17, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

When I returned to Philadelphia, I bought the spectacular rolling pin on that site, and it truly is. Are we going to have a Boodle cookie exchange? Everybody makes a few dozen and we get together and swap? (Course, I'm still looking forward to making good on my promise to RD, water for chocolate, springerle for bunny poo :-). Just as soon as this project finishes on Thanksgiving weekend.

CP, love it. LiT, I see your point, but surely there are things we all have yet some are more coveted than others due to size, sparkle, charm and the way in which they flatter their wearer. Like . . . like . . . shoes!

Kim! Feel better, please!

Why is watching *The Godfather* for the hundredth time so seductive?

Posted by: -dbG- | November 17, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I have a friend who recently gave birth and, about a month later, had kidney stones. The pain of childbirth was still fresh. She assures me the kidney stones were worse.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 17, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Oooh, Kim, I hope it's all gone away and you're feeling better!

Back in the day, we had an assistant fire chief who was a body builder. 36 waist, 48 chest, not a person to mess with. His picture is in the dictionary under the word machismo.

He visited the local ER where he was diagnosed with a kidney stone. He described it as a concrete block with hooks going the wrong way down, with horrible pain. They gave him all the narcotics they could, without risking cardiac arrest, but that didn't ease the misery. He was in so much pain, he bent the sides of the hospital bed.

The hospital billed him for the damage to the bed.

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Gene is more of a DC guy with his obsession with Flash baseball.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 17, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

PA's article is a piece of writing that would make any publication proud. I'm impressed with the detail and poignancy. To get that much quality writing from one teenager interviewing another teenager is a miracle by any deity's standard.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 17, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Whilly crap, CollegequaParkian. Don't ever bring that up again! I'm groaning out loud just thinking about it.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 17, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"Stan Lee, who helped create hundreds of comic book superheroes, including "Spider-Man," and Olivia de Havilland, 92,..."

Stan Lee helped create Olivia de Havilland? Wow.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 17, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Kim, I hope you're feeling better soon, and I'm glad you have the percocet. Kidney stones... [bc shuddering] let's not bring up Pepys again, OK? Yeesh.

LiT, I'm glad we settled on the MBs. I think Mudge might suprise you with how fast he gets his sea legs on 'em. He might not run a marathon in those FMPs, but I bet he's up to covering kickoffs...

And yes, he looks *great* in 'em -- I am *so* jealous.

I'm OK with letting omni in to the Run for the Tiara. If he wants the mulligan for last Thursday, or would have taken the J E T S! Jets!Jets!Jets! last Thurs that's fine, too.



Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Stan "The Man" Lee clearly had mad skillz, back in the day.

I suspect there will be some other former Marvel-ites who had finally come to swallow the notion that Stan Lee got most/all of the credit, who will be experiencing exciting new forms of annoyance from this. Not unlike passing kidney stones.

I have a good second-hand kidney stone story (why would anyone buy second-hand kidney stones?). It's no good without sound effects. I'll have to recount it at a BPH some time.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 17, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

dbg, I've read two raving reviews of the Godfather I&II (who cares for III?) restored in the Blue Ray format. It's apparently better than the average copy distributed at the time it hit the big screen.
I have been secretly coveting for a BR machine since. But we would need a new TV too, the 10 yo 24" couldn't do justice to BR, so it would be an expensive upgrade.

I'll come well armed for the cookie exchange. Right now mrs. D has only made cat turds and ginger snaps but in 3-4 weeks we should have 6-8 more kinds of cookies around.
I cook, she bakes, hence the time she can spend with the cookies.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 17, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

SCCs from my 4:59: Really, everything after the word "Tiara" in the last para.

The mental image of Mudge busting a wedge in the Tiara, MBs, and a feather boa threw me off my game.

Not that I have much of one, mind you.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I thought we had magical ultrasonic wand that could transform a pea-sized kidney stone into 20 1/3carat-diamonds-sized fragments... Don't tell me we still have to pass the pea?

An old straight-laced United Church biddy once told her young nieces that having a child was like having to sh!t a water melon. Discuss.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 17, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Well, Monday night. I'm off to the bowling alley. It's fun. There are several young women there that I sit around criticizing because... well, no reason, really. I just do it because they're not exactly like me, and because I can. Whoopee!

Posted by: bobsewell | November 17, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

You're not the only one who had a problem with that image, bc.

Running (w/o my Manolo's) for the bus.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 17, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

First chance to check in PA really like your article - take a bow.

Others have raised this issue so I will not elaborate too much on 48 being old - I like to consider the era as the prime of my life - and aim to keep thinking that until about 30 seconds after I cease to exist which I hope will be many decades from now.

Kim hope you feel better soon. Junk drawers are the best I like them so much I have several.

aroc - very funny

LIT well said.

Posted by: dmd2 | November 17, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

shriek - the ultrasonic wand only works when the stone is in certain areas in the tract. Otherwise, it's shielded by the pelvic bone, and the ultrasound won't break the stone up.

From what I've seen, it's unusual to catch a kidney stone in a place where the Ultrasonic Disruptor actually works.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Kim -- you certainly have my sympathy. May the percoset do what it needs to do. Do, however, beware of the incipient concrete percoset (and others like it) causes in your, um, elimination tract (will that do muster?). . .I ended up in the local emergency room many years ago after some Tylonol III, simply pleading for dynamite. The intake woman asked about my insurance. I told her I had a $3,000 deductible and that if the procedure was gonna cost that much, it was gonna scare the $-hit out of me! She looked at me for a second, while her eyes got big as saucers and then she simply exploded in laughter. I was jealous of the explosion, because that's what I wanted -- really, really wanted to happen to me. Ultimately, well, I got fixed up real good. . . .as they say. And I will not, under *any* circumstances, take that mean ol' medicine again.

Martha Stewart (hey, whatta segue, eh?) tends to make me itch. It is her obsession with everything's being "perfect" all the time. Hey, Martha: I don't care! If things ain't perfect all the time, the world isn't gonna end, yanno? Stuff happens! And most of the time life's little (and sometimes larger) imperfections are far more interesting (and tastier) than your #@$&(^ perfections!

Ahhhhh, what a great Monday-moment.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | November 17, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

"Ultrasonic Disruptor"? Silly fellow, that's a lithotriptor.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 17, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Pheeew, trying to backboodle is a heroic effort beyond my capacity.

So, onto pirates.
They have hijacked a 1,000 foot (300,000 tons) Supertanker 400 miles southeast of Mombasa. That's waaaay off areas patroled by the so called coalition.

All I can say, Piracy has never been more profitable in history than now.

It reminds me of a question I had when about seven years old: How come we don't have pirates today?

My father answered: The civilized powers control the seas.

Posted by: Braguine | November 17, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. Am I to take it that...

To smell the rainbows
You need only little pills
That clog up your rear?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Ftb, sounds like those pills were a bum deal.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Not in the Indian Ocean, obviously, Brag.

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

snowing pretty good now and accumulating on everything.Did I jinx myself by pulling the snow shovel out of the shed today?

I am not sure if anyone mentioned this,but I found it quite impressive that Jimmie Johnson was his 3rd nascar championship in a row. not since Cale Yaraboro(sorry if the spelling is wrong) in the 70's has this been done.What do you think bc,can he do 4 in a row?I don't follow racing much,but it seems impressive to me.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

scc; won his 3rd in a row....sorry

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Slyness--Though piracy was never dead, but forced into going small time, is having a great business resurgence. For the moment, the straits od Malacca a reasonably safe as the tsunamy wiped off most of the pirates off. We will see a resurgence there shortly.

The chief of the pirates in my novel is a Dutchman.

Food for thought?

Posted by: Braguine | November 17, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

As I recall, Brag, in the 17th and 18th centuries, everybody played the pirate game. Wasn't the difference between a pirate and a privateer a letter of marque?

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

The Somali pirates have no government to give them a letter of marque, however they pose as legitimate defenders of the coast.
Then, we need people who know how to hadle the money. Here is when the thing becomes interesting.

Posted by: Braguine | November 17, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

gwe, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus' threepeat for Hendrick Motorsports is *very* impressive, especially given the whole Chase for the Championship playoff system that NASCAR implemented a few years back.

I'll skip the details, but it seems to me that winning NASCAR Cup championships are more difficult now than they were in Yarborough's day under the old season point system. Or Petty's, Earnhardt Sr.'s, or even Jeff Gordon's, for that matter.

Jimmie and Chad seem to have figured out the right combinations of speed and consistency to win Chase championships, and good for 'em.

Having said that, I think they might be able to do four in a row -- if anyone can do it, they can, and even though NASCARs going to undergo some significant changes and downsizing in the off-season, that team appears to be quite stable.

Now, when they win five Championships on the trot like Michael Schumacher in Formula 1 or Valentino Rossi in MotoGP, then the rest of the world may take notice.

Or not.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

All sharks or shark wranglers may want to think about this Ecuadorian law.

Sometimes I think this world is too obsessed with passing laws, rather than enforcing them.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

thanks bc,Schumacher and Rossi won 5 in a row?that is impressive too....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

NASCAR is hard to love for the Rest of the World bc.
I mean, I like car racing yet the constant left turning in crab-like cars equipped with carbs leaves me cold. I know there are plenty of cool complicated technical issue but I prefer the simple visual of F1, even including their moronic race stewards and the whole Bernie thing. (see Hamilton, Lewis and Montreal GP) I watched the last 10-12 laps of NASCAR last weekend, when the race leaders were racing their fuel cells. Fascinating. They were getting overtaken by every laggards but they had a few laps in the lead.

It's darn cold tonight. The sprinkle of snow we got is stuck to the road like sh1t to a blanket. Very slippery conditions for people, dogs and cars alike.

bc, someone isn't doing their job with that UT technology for stones. I mean, 20 years ago one guy of my promotion was assisting a research team streaming a UT probe UP the urinary track to go destroy them stones. I hoped there would have been some progress.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 17, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Great kit, Ms. A. I hope that your college search goes well.

Stuff like this Cosmologieae Introductio blows me away. This is right up there with Newton's penning and publication of The Calculus by, IIRC, age 21, and the collective works of Copernicus, Brahe, and Galileo.

The Sonic Disruptor wasn't bad work, either.

Posted by: -jack- | November 17, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

///The mental image of Mudge busting a wedge in the Tiara, MBs, and a feather boa threw me off my game.///

Sez the well-oiled guy in the gladiator skirt.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 17, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a plot for a mediveal movie entitled "The Canon Who Drew too Much."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh lord, Jack, don't bring up the Sonic Disruptor! Remember, Arbusto is going to DOT tomorrow! It could get really ugly!

Don't you agree that Obama NEEDS the next 63 days to get ready? Let's not pull the Disruptor plug just yet.

Posted by: slyness | November 17, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Great interview Ms. Achenbach, your parents must be very proud of you.

Kim, I hope you are feeling better, kidney stones, yikes!

I too find Martha Stewart way over the top. We could all do marvelous things if we had a staff of hundreds and a bottomless wallet.

I can’t keep up with the kits and boodles lately. I am now doing two jobs at work and the learning curve is steep. Lunch hour is a concept that I can no longer identify. I know once I get more comfortable, it will all be easier but right now I am frantic half the time and buried in work all the time. So if I’ve missed anything important, I apologize.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 17, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Everything we say is hugely important, of course, Slyness, but no, you haven't missed any news that may be important in understanding future kits/boodles. Go take a nap.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

gwe, I negelected to add that Sebastian Loeb has won all five of his 5 World Rally Championships in a row, clinching his 5th just a few weeks ago. Rossi has won 8 total MotoGP championsips and Schumacher 7 F1 World Driving Championships.

All three of those guys hold every major statistical record in their disciplines, too. It'll take Johnson a while to win 160 more Cup races to catch Richard Petty's 200 (or Petty and Earnhardt Sr.'s 7 Cups).

Shriek, I saw some of that Cup race, and I'm a sports car enduro guy -- I can appreciate outsmarting everybody by running slow and still winning. Won a 12 Hour race a few years ago by figuring things out, and running 3 seconds a lap slower than the leaders. Over the 900+ miles, we made three fewer pitstops for tires and fuel, and only had to change the brakes once (let me tell you, a hot brake pad change on a factory braking system is no picnic. Hint: use welding gloves) versus the other guys' two or three brake changes. Won by 7 laps, and could have been a lot more if we hadn't decided to slow way down over the last hour and a half as the other guys used their cars up trying to catch us.

No argument from me that NASCAR needs an upgrade to their hardware. I proposed to some insiders several years ago that NASCAR consider adopting the IRL engine rules with electroinc fuel injection, dual overhead cams, and ta-da! alcohol fuel rather than gasoline. As far as oval racing goes, well, it's more fun behind the wheel than it looks on TV, but I agree that it might not be very interesting to the casual fan.

Can't speak to the state of trans-urethran UltraSonic Disruptor technology, all I know is what the doctors have told me (about my brothers, thankfully).

jack, I read that article this morning, thought it was pretty cool. Made me think of some of those old Viking maps that show North America (Vinland, IIRC).

Watching a rather sloppy but fun MNF game between Cleveland and Buffalo. I believe Buffalo's QB Trent Edwards has thrown 3 interceptions in the first quarter. Oy.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

NASCAR events are best taken in live, shriek. The chicken bone seats are the most interesting. One side of your face gets covered in grime and you have to cover your favourite beverage to keep the skank and tire dingleberries out. When I first moved to Clt, the event to see was pole day. There was a boxing ring set up in the middle of the grandstand, with a couple of under card matches and a title match in the late afternoon. Qualifying would follow, and the pole winner would walk with a top of the line Bolens riding mower. Like they needed it. Then the sportsmen would take to the track in a field some 50 strong and bang out a 150 miler. All of this for five bucks and free parking. I always wanted to go to Mosport for an event when I lived in Potsdam, but never had the extra money.

Posted by: -jack- | November 17, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I've not been in a position to Boodle for most of the day (I really *was* working, TBG!) but meant to say two things:

1) Ms. Achenbach, you are a wonderful writer.

2) Jaysus God!

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Doh! that reminds me of my Grandmother's best joke.

What did Cleopatra say to Anthony?

"I'm not prone to argue."

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

*poking it with a stick*

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

*Clenching teeth on stick--
Look in those eyes, they don't lie:
Throw it or lose it.*


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 17, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

hey Yoki whatssupp?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Whew! I feel better now. Seeing Wilbrodog (very witty!) and the gentlemanGWE is fine. Not dead!

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2008 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I responded with a hotmail. Maybe it didn't send properly.

Posted by: -jack- | November 17, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

...and, thank you , Wilbrod, for your thoughtful input. Those recessives are lurking about somewhere. I don't think we'll repeat a mating with that pair.

Posted by: -jack- | November 17, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

all of the "the's" on the boodle are showing highlighted in green and all of the "Of's" are highlighted in purple...should I be worried? and I swear I am not smoking anything.

but green and purple are cool if you know what I mean

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 17, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for dropping off there.

This Cleveland/Buffalo game's gotten interesting.


Posted by: -bc- | November 17, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Good night Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | November 17, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Did I read the front page right? "Inauguration Organizers Plan for 4 million in Mills"?

I mean, I understand that we need to rebuild our industrial capacity, but is this really how we wish to proceed?

Posted by: bobsewell | November 18, 2008 2:41 AM | Report abuse

Oh, never mind.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 18, 2008 2:43 AM | Report abuse

I received my WaPo commemorative copy today! Thank you very much Bob. You are very kind.

Kidney stones. How terrible. Hope you feel better soon, Kim!

Great kit, Miss Achenbach.

It’s great that your High Schools have student newspapers. It would certainly nurture students who want to choose journalism as their profession. This is not to say I would have chosen that profession if there was student newspaper in my school. I like to write but don’t write very well.

Anyway, when I was going to school, our secondary schools (your High School equivalent) do not have student newspapers (I think the secondary schools now still don’t have student newspapers). At Form 3 or secondary 3 (age 15), there would be a public exam. The results of that exam (if you pass all 8 subjects) would determine whether you’d be placed in arts stream or science stream in Form 4. You don’t have a say as to where you want to be. Actually, you do. You’ve said it through your exam results.

At the end of Form 5, there’s another public exam. Each paper was given a grade of 1 to 8. Of the 8 papers you’ve sat, your aggregate of 5 of your papers should not exceed 12. If your aggregate was 12 and below, you could go further and apply to go to High School Form 6 (Pre-university) which last for 2 years. If not, go find a job and go to night school. (I did that. First study shorthand. Got bored and then went and study accounting. Worked, saved and borrowed and then went to the US). If you were financially well to do, you can go overseas. Otherwise, your options were very limited.

Posted by: rainforest1 | November 18, 2008 3:15 AM | Report abuse

My buddy who spent several years teaching around the world got very frustrated (particularly in Botswana, New Zealand, & Papua New Guinea) with both the rigidity of the school systems' deeply ingrained "path-fixing", and the students' (and their parents') passively fatalistic acceptance of the status quo.

He did what he could (not much) to change it. Let's make sure that each of us tries to do a little, also. Every little bit helps.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 18, 2008 3:38 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' everybody...

I'm very glad this morning that I work from home. Just peeked out the kitchen window to see about 6" or so of lake effect white stuff on the ground -- and it's still coming down. Better tune in the local TV news to make sure Little Bean's school hasn't been cancelled or delayed or anything.

And to think it was nearly 60F here just two days ago. That's November in NE Ohio for ya. If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes.

Coffee will be served in about 15 minutes -- who's got the donuts (and a fax)?

Peace out :-)

Posted by: martooni | November 18, 2008 5:07 AM | Report abuse

Oh, thank goodness, my relief arrived. Tag, 'toons, you're it! G'night!

(Well, for a quick hour-or-so nap, anyway.)

Posted by: bobsewell | November 18, 2008 5:28 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. 35 degrees here this morning. No time to chat--running out to my cardiology stress test at G-town. Probably be back on the Boodle this afternoon some time. Be good.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | November 18, 2008 5:59 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Nice clear starry skies this morning. The grass was crispy unfoot, the way it should be in November. For the past week the ground was soggy and muddy. The dogs were coming back filthy from their playtime.

MNF was a weird game. The young QBs still have a few things to learn but they aren't bad already.

The pirates are having a good month in the gulf of Aden. Except the twits who attacked a pair of Royal Navy RIBs loaded with Royal Marines...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 18, 2008 6:29 AM | Report abuse

SCC underfoot.
More coffee is obviously needed.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 18, 2008 6:30 AM | Report abuse

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

What's up, friends? It is so cold here this morning. We have snow in the mountains, but none here, thankfully. Thanks for reposting, Wilbrod. And AROC, I nearly fell out the chair while reading your post. Good to hear from you.

And BC, thanks for the kind remarks concerning my neighbor. Every time I think about her, how we used to sit out under the tree on the weekend, I get so sad. Just going to miss her terribly.

Loomis, you get missing for some time, yet come back in blazing. Writing is suppose to elicit a response from the reader, and you are entitled to your opinion, yet this writer is a young person, so with that in mind, did you need to go there? It's a high school newspaper, not the New York Times.

After reading your response, I wondered if perhaps mine was over the top. I thought the writing was excellent, as I said, and it did make me think about the things I mentioned in my comment. Yet in no way did I mean to offend.

Slyness, on television news this morning out of Charlotte, homeless folks sleeping on the sidewalk. And this near the shelter. The news outlet called the shelter enquiring about this, and they were told that the shelter didn't know if it was at full capacity or not. Duh. I know there are homeless people in this world, but I do hate to see people sleeping on the sidewalk, especially in cold weather, any weather for that matter.

Mudge, Scotty, Martooni, and all, good morning.*waving*

I've talked too much. Time to go.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 18, 2008 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Almost forgot..

Glad you're feeling better, Kim. Take care.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 18, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey Cassandra!! *HUGSSSS*

Well, a forecast of significantly chilly weather all week has prompted my seasonal Dawn Patrol footwear switch to boots. Good thing I had room in my backpack for dress shoes.

The usual set of morning chores went so smoothly I'm worried... *looking over shoulder*

*off-in-search-of-more-caffeine-and-perhaps-a-lucky-horseshoe-from-my-equestrian-coworker Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 18, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Glad to hear you have passed the stone. As middle-aged person, that is one of my medical fears. I'm sure you are getting plenty of advice on dietary changes on how to avoid them in the future. Stay healthy and only use the leftover percocet for special ocassions.

Now I'm off to meet my fellow East Coast ealy birds at the hotel gym.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 18, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

As usual Cassandra, you have a way with words. I meant to say last night that Mudge shouldn’t feel too bad about having a small group for Thanksgiving. We aren’t doing dinner at all this year. #1 SIL has to work, #2 SIL is in Costa Rica, #2 daughter would rather have a peaceful day with her dog and the horse she cares for. So we may meet #1 and the granddaughters for breakfast in Plymouth, which would at least honor the day location-wise. I’ll probably cook a turkey breast for us but I’ll keep the rest of the menu very simple.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 18, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Morning, Boodle. Cassandra, lovely to see you, so sorry you are sad. My condolences and hugs.

Found nice messages from several of Rabbit's friends and relations who stay up much later than I do in my inbox this morning, a pleasant way to start the day when taking in conjunction with a large cup of good hot coffee.

I'm hitting the road, there are proposals to be written and numbers to be crunched and teams to be managed, and here I go.

Have a good day everyone. 'mudge, hope your encounter with health care providers is smoother than the last one.

Posted by: Yoki | November 18, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I tout Liars Poker here and in real life a lot. Here is Michael Lewis's take on the financial melt-down.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 18, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Kidney stones? Ouch. I've never had them, but have heard the tales. In fact, after a co-worker described his experiences I seriously considered having my kidneys surgically removed as a preventative measure.

Interestingly (at least to me) some years ago I did a lot of work on something called "Acoustic Time Reversal." (It's not what you think.) Among other things, ATR offers the ability to automatically focus high-frequency sound waves on strong reflectors and destroy them whole leaving the surrounding environment undamaged. Kidney stone elimination is one application. (Please consult M. Fink, et. al. for more fascinating, fascinating details.)

Cassandra - as usual you are spot-on. Part of your special genius is that you are able to identify and appreciate the subtleties of context in a sensitive and kind manner.

Unlike some.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 18, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Public service message:

According to the Mayo Clinic, for people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend passing at least 2.5 quarts (2.3 liters) of urine a day. To do this, you'll need to drink about 14 cups (3.3 liters) of fluids every day — and even more if you live in a hot, dry climate.

What should you drink? Water is best. Include a glass of lemonade every day, too. Make your own with real lemons, or use a liquid or frozen concentrate, but avoid powdered lemonade mixes. Lemonade increases the levels of citrate in your urine, and citrate helps prevent stone formation.

In addition, if you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, your doctor may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalates. These include rhubarb, star fruit, beets, beet greens, collards, okra, refried beans, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, sesame seeds, almonds and soy products. What's more, studies show that an overall diet low in salt and very low in animal protein can greatly reduce your chance of developing kidney stones.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 18, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

new kit

Posted by: -dbG- | November 18, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Hooboy! The shop is just a wee bit chilly this morning. The thermometer I have out there is reading about 25F, which actually isn't all that bad, but being dressed like Nanook of the North makes detail work a little difficult. I feel like that kid in "A Christmas Story"... "I can't move my arms!" It also doesn't help that my goggles keep fogging up.

I figure two more Irish coffees and all will be just fine.

Oh... and all my paints froze overnight. Good thing I'm not painting or staining today, but I gotta remember to bring them into the house when I'm not using them.

Do I miss being a computer programmer working in a nice warm office? Not one bit. (sorry for the pun... just had to... I'm weak)

Posted by: martooni | November 18, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

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