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Scouting for the Obamas

Last night, we went to the late performance of the Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra at Blues Alley and sat so close to the stage that several times I nearly reached out to play the bass. If I could play the upright bass, I could quit this typing gig and go full-time as a jazzman, become a creature of the night, my name would be synonymous with cool. People would point to me and say: "He's got his groove on." Instead of: "He needs to throw away that sweater."

Every year, Eric, who, full disclosure, lives just a short stroll from me and offers emergency Scotch-buying advice for no charge, puts on a Christmas show in which his orchestra plays the Nutcracker Suite as interpreted by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Last night, I am sure everyone in the audience had the same thought: The Obamas would like this. We're all scouts, consciously or unconsciously, for the First Family, moving into our misunderstood city, unaware of its many treasures.

Like, right around the corner from Blues Alley is Moby Dick, a hole-in-the-wall with superior Mediterranean food, and across from that is Cannon's, where you get your live lobsters, and a couple blocks away is Bartleby's Books, where you get first editions of the classics, and if you wander under the Whitehurst Freeway and past Key Bridge, you'll come to Jack's Boats, where you can rent a kayak to paddle up past the Three Sisters to the rapids at Little Falls just beyond Chain Bridge. This is local knowledge that I am providing the Obamas right now, right here, for free, as a civic-minded gesture.

The canal. Don't forget the canal. Or that ancient relic of the aqueduct at the foot of the Capital Crescent Trail. Take the bike path up to the Dalecarlia tunnel, and keep going, all the way to Bethesda Row, for a cup of coffee at Quartermaine. If it's spring, stop on the way back to pedal under the cherry trees of Kenwood.

What else?

Eastern Market -- the Union meat counter, all the scary hocks, necks, maws, etc., which you'll need for your stock.

We could expand this to the region. Like what about Sky Meadows, where you hike with a view of the Piedmont and eventually reach the Appalachian Trail. Or Sugarloaf Mountain -- the poor man's Catoctins.

So much to see and do! Have the transition team call me and I'll go into more detail. You know where to find me. (I'm with the band.)


Marisa, my editor, thinks we should do the scouting report on a regular basis. Like, what, Scouting Thursday? If you have suggestions...either drop them in the boodle or email me at the usual place (

In the meantime, here's our Mudge, in this afternoon's boodle, mulling the Worst Case Scenario:

"Going back to the original topic of the kit (something I rarely do), I have thias vision of Joel driving out to his famous Carbucks scenic overloom, the place along the Potomac he goes to drink his coffe and contemplate nature, the universe, his navel, etc. And when he approaches that hidden-away scenic overlook, he is distressed to find a long cavalcade of vehicles a couple dozen yards away from the overlook, and when he pulls into his favorite overlook, he will discover he is not alone...for there will be one other vehicle there: a big black limosine, seemingly deserted. But upon closer inspection, Joel will discern a lone individual behind the tinted glass windows, sitting quietly in the back seat and sipping his own Carbucks coffee and pondering fate, the river, etc. Joel will look aroubnd and discover a dozen or so Secret Service agents fanned out around the perimter, wearing sunglasses and speaking into their shirt cuffs.

"And Joel will remember the day he inadvertently told Obama about the all-time best place in all of Washington."

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 18, 2008; 9:11 AM ET
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Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

CP asked for this earlier, and I have been remiss. Randy Cohen on Botox and tattoos:

When my 23-year-old son learned I was considering Botox injections, he said, “Oh, great, now I can get a tattoo.” I disapprove of tattoos because they disturb our natural bodies. He replied that the same could be said about Botox. I argued that Botox is an improvement. Thoughts? M.B., STAMFORD, CONN.

RC: Botox improves the look of a face in the sense that vinyl siding improves the look of a house. But while it is ultimately a matter of taste (my own notwithstanding) as to whether one admires a face frozen into immobility (the fun of rigor mortis without the inconvenience of death), it is tough to argue that Botox is “natural.”

Please understand: I am in favor of disturbing our natural bodies. Even a cursory glance around you will demonstrate that “natural” is not a synonym for “beautiful.” (Hence clothing. And gyms.) But neither is “tattooed.” And while you can debate the relative allure of Botox and tattooing, your opinion of one is not contingent on your view of the other. Each should be evaluated independently. (When sober.) If you and your son both go forward, I suspect that years from now you will have a contest neither of ethics nor of aesthetics but of remorse.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

This is such a clever kit. You know, maybe that bassman was thinking, "Hey I could be a way-cool journalist and have minions and everything."

It could happen.

And I understand about the sweater. Recently my wife insisted I go through my wardrobe and get rid of all my comfortably-tattered garments.

Oh, the horror. The horror.

But back to the point of the kit. It is always fun to see a city through the eyes of another. When my relatives come to visit it is a delight to show off certain things that I know they will enjoy. And mentally preparing a customized tour for Obama seems especially cool.

Alas, I fear he may not have time to check out the local scene right away. Me thinks the man will be fairly well occupied for a spell.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 18, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Yes, but RD, you look very dashing in your spiffy new clothes.

I've always wanted to say "I'm with the band." I did once get to say "I'm with the shoot" whist running about with a headset and clipboard, being officious with the Public. It was great!

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like about time to hear of the bandly goings-on of Achenbro. Who can say, "I'm with the band," and not be lying.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 18, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The ScienceFamily is considering an outing AWAY from DC, to New York (New York!), between the major Christian holiday (you know the one) and the traditional Night of Debauchery and Excess (yes, that one). This is my first time to NY since I broke up with a Brooklynite girl in 1982 (she's gay now, by the way -- does that say anything about me?). In two days, we know that our itinerary absolutely must include: The American Museum of Natural History, including the Rose Center and Hayden Planetarium; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the Museum of Modern Art. I suspect that those three will completely fill our two days.

We are suburban mice, not city mice, and feel some trepidation at the prospect of navigating the Big Apple (en Québecois: Le Grand Pomme) on our own. Thus, we would rather keep our gallivanting within a fairly limited range. Any other suggestions for this initial foray? Places to stay that won't impoverish us, but won't require too much travel? We will be taking the Bolt bus up to NYNY, which drops us in lower Manhattan, whereas the museums all are around Central Park (which I realize is a very expensive place, so we won't get a hotel near there).

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 18, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

RD brings up one joy of having relatives visit--getting to be tour guide. Although with my mom and brother visiting every Christmas, finding new things to do is a challenge. This year is easy--there's the re-opened American History Museum, the Capitol visitor's center, the Pentagon memorial.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 18, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I am frenvious, ScienceTim! Love love love New York.

You can't go wrong with the Guggenheim, for my money, and it is an easy walk from the Met (practically right across the street.)

Should definitely get a pot of soup from the Soup Snazzy, West 55th and, what, 8th, 9th? Something like that. Cheap and delicious.

Do not, I repeat do not, eat in the restaurants around Times Square and the Theatre strip. In midtown, there are thousands of better restaurants on the side-streets.

I always like visiting the plaza at Lincoln Centre, and the lobby is worth a look too.

Downtown has some great theatre, more experimental that Broadway, and with tickets in the near-affordable range.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I thought I saw something on television news about the Obamas not being able to stay in DC because the place they wanted to stay was full? Did I get that right? This is before the move in the White House.

A question.....

When admitting certain things in public, like on television, doesn't that put one at risk of being arrested if the things mentioned are against the law? I'm thinking about the admission of the Vice President about waterboarding. Is waterboarding legal? And the other admission, we were going to war with Iraq despite the outcome of the search for WMD? Aren't such confessions like putting a noose around one's neck?

Slyness, the moisture in the atmosphere here is so thick, one can almost scoop it up with a spoon. I had a sweater this morning, but did not need it.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 18, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra- You're right. I read that the Obamas wanted to stay in Blair House to get the kids into school on time and they were told no. Apparently there are some more important folks that need to stay there.

Posted by: Gomer144 | December 18, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

As far as DC tour stops go, I always include the Exorcist stairs near Key bridge on the walking tours I give to friends. Barack and Michelle should appreciate this item, though their kids probably won't. However, I also like to include the rotunda outside the Canuckistani embassy on the tour. The kids always love the kooky acoustics of this structure. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go check it out, especially if you are one of our visitors from the great white north. After all, it's your sovereign teritory.

Posted by: Gomer144 | December 18, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Humidity must be nationwide today. We're supposed to have fog till noon. In Central Texas.

Posted by: Gomer144 | December 18, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Oh i think that is Cheney just being a do do head again. May as well milk their last days in office rather then helping someone who has kids.

Mudge,you comment about slinging sammy made me think of Bill Cosby and his street ball kit that I listened too when I was a kid.Don't you know you tube has a clip....enjoy

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 18, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Science Tim - Hotel Beacon is where we stay in NY. I'm not sure about how close it is to where you are being dropped off, but it is close to a couple of places you mentioned. Very clean, helpful concierge, reasonable (for NYC)rates. We've stayed in a number of places, but no matter what we are going to do in NYC now, we stay here.

Posted by: Kim1 | December 18, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I was happy once and knew it as it happened. A girlfriend's sister (lovely - just like girlfriend) came to visit. Apparently they used to sing together for fun, and visiting sister got them going, singing in harmony.

Thinking about yesterday's kit. There seems to be a large number of people at any given time who think scientists just about have everything figured out. A few more equations and everything will be tied up with a bow on top. This is similar to an old apocryphal story about the patent officer who quit, saying everything had already about been invented. I'm reminded of the story of IBM when they decided no one would ever need a "home computer." And even more recently in the early '90s when I worked at IBM, my manager in the printer development group informed me that there would never be a demand for a home color printer: too expensive.

The ham is delicious. I like the surprise of getting a clovey taste in every tenth bite. My glaze was honey, a bit of molasses, mustard, and a dose of concentrated maple flavor.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 18, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Cool Gomer. I did not know we rotunda-ed down there too.

All of the legislative assembly buildings here in the Canukistani west are rotunda-ed. Very grand, very cool. Who knows, some day I might just come down and visit, and its nice to know I could say a grand hallooooo there too!

Posted by: --dr-- | December 18, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

My kitchen is returning to life. Plumbers have installed the mighty new 47.5 inch sink and drainboard that sits atop the sink cabinet and (not-yet-installed) dishwasher. The sink's worthy of Tim Allen in tool mode.

I've gotta find things to chop and process on the cutting board that goes with the drainboard.

Maybe the countertops go in tomorrow?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 18, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Another great thing about playing tour guide is that it gives you an excuse to rediscover your own town. And when the town is DC, that certainly opens up the possibilities.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 18, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

The rotunda is one of those where when you step inside the circle, any sound you make is reflected between floor and ceiling until insanity ensues. I stomp and shriek and have tons of fun, but didn't realize for quite a while that nobody outside the rotunda can hear the echoes. They just see a noble, fair, long-haired leaping gnome (sorry martooni) carrying on like an idiot.

Posted by: Gomer144 | December 18, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Some other sites/sights of interest--old town Annapolis, and not just Main Street. The NASA visitor's center in Greenbelt. Greenbelt itself, especially the original WPA part. The upper reaches of Rock Creek Park. Great Falls, both sides. The B&O RR Museum in Baltimore, along with HarborPlace. The National Arboretum. The National Cathedral and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Lincoln Cottage on the Soldier's Home. Glen Echo, especially the dance hall.

Posted by: ebtnut | December 18, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, nobody important was scheduled to stay at Blair House. There were a bunch of rooms reserved for the celebration of the end of the W administration. Not people happy to see them gone but rather:
interior department people having a last fling and last line of coke with Oil industry people;
EPA people celebrating the death of the last burrowing owl with Mining Industry people;
Bureau of Land Mangement People celebrating the sale of the last Oil drilling rights available in the West; etc

Important people, unlike the Obamas.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 18, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Everyone just thinks there's kooky acoustics at our embassy. It's just that when you spend time in close proximity with us you leave with a vague feeling that while the language and the sounds were the same, there was something a little different, can't quite put a finger on it.

Posted by: engelmann | December 18, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I went to the Newseum with a friend and had a blast,it was during the week,so we had to deal with a bunch of school kids running around,but it was nice.I think my company had a lot to do with it though.Excellent views from the top floor balcony,take your camera.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 18, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

What's for lunch today? I *so* don't want to eat what I brought today (soup, yogurt, grapes, carrots).

Posted by: Raysmom | December 18, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Yikes, it's one minute to noon! Can someone remind me again where the virtual lunch is today? Do I need to bring anything?

I'm very familiar with that skit, GWE, but thanks for the link. When I was in college I had an apartment not far from the Cosby homestead in Germantown (section of Fully). And one of my best friends went to school with the Cosby brothers at germantown High School. And Cos was (IIRC) two years ahead of me at Temple U.; I met him one day when he came back to campus as this hot-shot new comedian who had just released a comedy album.

About 10 or a dozen years ago I worked for an outfit that recorded books on tape (I was its catalog writer) and sometimes had to go to NYC on business to our recording studio. There was this well-kept secret hotel in NYC that "nobody" supposedly knew about, which was basically a kind of hostel/hotel run by a Very Large Religious Organization that CqP may be familiar with. The theory was you could stay there if you were in NYC as a member of this religion on religion-related business, but at the time they weren't too strict about monitoring your credentials. The place was pretty austere, no TV, but very clean and bright and well run, and above all, safe (after all, one can imagine who the other guests were). I stayed there a few times, and IIRC the rate was $35 a night. I don't want to give the name of this place, and I understand they've tightened up up the rules, alas.

And I simply CANNOT believe that in Joel's list of hot nightspots in DC, he omitted all reference to M&S, home of the BPH and the Achenfish. Sheesh.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 18, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

SoC-- Kooky acoustics, eh? Yep, must spook people out a little.

I once had a coworker explain an canadian accent to me.

He said the o's were always just a little longer (presumably to warm the lips), and the ahs and ehs were rather shortened (to avoid tongue frostbite).

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

What about all the "ows" being turned into "ohs" or "oos"?

I'd like to go oat and aboot in a boat.

Posted by: Gomer144 | December 18, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Gomer144 | December 18, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

'tis better than being owt and abowt in a bot, Gomer. Eh?

We're having lunch at the golf club, on TBG's chit, 'Mudge! I'm even going to wear a dress so that I look like a lady who lunches.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Lunch at the club? Dang! Sorry I missed it. I just had lunch across the street at Chez le Hot Dog Stand. Had the $2.50 special: a hot dog with chili, a bag of Utz potato chips and a can of Dr. pepper. It just doesn't get much better than that.

I wish this economic crisis would end; I'd be wealthy enough to upgrade to the half-smoke.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 18, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Ooohhh... with mustard, Mudge?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

It's probably been mentioned before, but I can't stop thinking about the strangely appropriate names that have been attached to money issues in the past few weeks. The obvious one in the news recently concerns how Bernard Madoff "made off" with $50 billion of investors' funds. The other one is Neel Kashkari, the guy the Treasury Dept. put in charge of "carrying the cash" for the $700 billion financial bailout.

Now I am hoping my friend Jim Moneygrubber finally gets that plum of a job as chief fundraiser for a major political party he's had his eye on.

Posted by: Gomer144 | December 18, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

No, no mustard when I get the chili. It's one or the other, but not both.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 18, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I just read the story about Obama's speechwriter. I give him 18 months before total burnout hits.

Posted by: ebtnut | December 18, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

No mustard on a chili dog? Mudge, you are missing out! Around here, Wendy's has what they call the Carolina burger, which has mustard, onions, and chili. My absolute favorite.

Sorry I didn't make it to lunch, but TBG was pretty busy, so I hope it's okay. Mr. T and I ended up at our favorite barbeque place, which we were surprised to find open. We both had pulled barbeque on homemade sourdough rolls. Yum.

Cassandra, we came through fog late yesterday afternoon as we drove up the mountain. It was thick enough to slice, and then we were above it. Interesting to look back down on the clouds you have come through. And it's 55 degrees here now. Such a difference from the last couple of times we were around, when the temperature didn't get much above freezing.

Posted by: slyness | December 18, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Hi, all.

I'm buried in work and other things, but wanted to let you all know that that no one's won the bc Death Pool yet.


Posted by: -bc- | December 18, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

If it weren't enough that the Canadian taxpayers took a major loss in property value on the Canadian embassy at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue with this economic crisis, now a family of African American is rumored to be moving in the big white house at the end of the street. There goes the neighborhood, I’m telling you.

I personally can't stand people objecting all kind of things on the basis of risk to property value. A daycare faced so much opposition locally you would have thought they were planning to open a halfway house for drug-addicted pedophiles and arsonists. I think the daycare actually helped the property values by signaling that we weren’t in the boonies anymore, civilization finally reached us (even though it increased traffic somewhat.)

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 18, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse!!! TBG, you are working at my old stomping ground!!! We joined while living in Springfield, and my oldest son was 12 yrs old and and he played in the juniors clinic/golf program in the summertime. We mothers were the scorekeepers and taught the rules of golf etiquette to the children. There was a boy in the group who had only one arm/hand and he did so well that he inspired some of us to take lessons and join the women's 9 hole group. What a grand bunch of people there were there at that time, hope they are just as nice now. We finally dropped the membership long after we had moved to Vienna. It was at a time when the club had long waiting list, so didn't feel we letting anybody down, plus, none of us were still playing golf. Still, I learned to play a fine downhill lie on that hilly course, fond memories there. (Original name of that club was The Courthouse CC)

Posted by: VintageLady | December 18, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Joel, another place the Obamas might enjoy (if they enjoy the water) is the little sailing marina at Indigo Landing. Used to be called Potomak Landing, but the restaurant changed hands. There are sailing lessons in the little boats, so much fun to watch from the deck of the sandwich shop there. Really charming, and of course, the jets coasting in overhead to National Airport. Good spot for joggers and bikers, as well.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 18, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

TBG, many thanks for lunch. I always enjoy your company tremendously, but add to that the delicious food and lovely prospect over the course, and you have near perfection.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I hope you ladies properly tipped the virtual waitstaff.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 18, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Indeed we did.

#1 waited at the local rich-people's playground for two summers, and the big beef was that all these fabulously wealthy people would just sign the chit, and not tip.

The golf club sortta kinda compensated for it by adding a dollar an hour to the wages of anybody who stayed all summer, but real tips would have been significantly more than that, had they been forthcoming.

so I am always attentive to proper tipping, knowing what a difference it makes.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Kim, is today good?

Posted by: -dbG- | December 18, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey wait am minute, what accent?
Maybe that is what the silent rotunda does. Catch all the accents.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 18, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"...a hot dog with chili... It just doesn't get much better than that."

You forgot " a baseball game." Mudge.


Posted by: DLDx | December 18, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I had my tongue in my cheek, DLD.

Boodle sleepy today. Boodle need theme. Boodle need something to talk about.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 18, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Boodle licking self
Or at least this boodler is..
Any good books to chew?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Suggested theme: The cruelest word said to, or the kindest word withheld from, you, and how you feel about it to this day.

Posted by: FaultyFlapperValve | December 18, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Food is always a ripe subject for conversation. Do you have a traditional Christmas Eve dinner, or does it vary?

Posted by: Raysmom | December 18, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse


How could you forget Mount Vernon--home of the Man Who now resides in your basement?

That should surely be on a list of things the Obama Family should see at some point.

I visited in July of 2007 and just loved it and bought your book on GW's Potomac vision in the gift shop. (And, of course, forgot to bring it with me for you to autograph when I met you at the Mega BPH in October.)

Crazy, frantic, busy where I work. So haven't been able to read the kits thoroughly never mind commenting. Hello to all. I'm doing an "un/no/snow dance" since I don't want to holding down the office essentially alone in New Haven tomorrow.

I'm excited--going to take Amtrak Acela on Christmas Eve to see my grown offspring in DC.

Seasons Greetings to all of the boodle, in case I forget.


Posted by: CoraCollins | December 18, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Easy FFV, cruelest word was No, uttered by virtually every date I ever had. But I'm ok with it now...


Posted by: DLDx | December 18, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Similarly, he might want to spend some time at the FDR Memorial, reflecting on another charged with leading the country through some pretty grim times. Although I picture that as a more solitary endeavor, vs. a family outing.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 18, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

No, really, I am.


Posted by: DLDx | December 18, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the smile, DLD.

We did have a traditional Christmas Eve dinner, which evolved because we always had an open house in Montreal (where we had lots and lots of very social acquaintances) a couple of days before Christmas. I would make innumerable hors d'oeuvres, and there were always lots left over. So we've always had what we call "Befores Dinner" on Christmas Eve, to both use the delicious little bits of things up, and to spare me cooking dinner the day before cooking dinner.

When we moved West (by god) we found people less inclined to run about in the cold, but for 10 years I would make the bits just for us.

Last year was the last year for that. This year, take-out Chinese or something. Nice!

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Gee, FFV, I can't think of a single example of either one of those remarks. I guess that's a good thing, yes?

Christmas EVE dinner, Raysmom? Don't think we ever had a traditional one. It was always teated like any other typical dinner on that day--usually just a workday evening. If a Saturday or a Sunday, treated the same as those, too (Saturday was often either Hamburger Night, or Clean Out the Refrigerator Night).

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 18, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Treated. Really. That's what I meant. No Freudian slip. Honest.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 18, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

For the last few Christmas Eves, I've made lasagna, because I can make it ahead of time, and just heat it up. It's flexible enough to handle my sister's retail work schedule. This year I don't have any space in my freezer, so I was trolling for ideas. I was thinking of making a vat of ziti, and then having a variety of sauces and accompaniments (red sauce, alfredo, sausage, chicken, broccoli) buffet-style.

Speaking of my sister, her name comes to mind when I think of either of those "word" categories.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 18, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Going back to the original topic of the kit (something I rarely do), I have thias vision of Joel driving out to his famous Carbucks scenic overloom, the place along the Potomac he goes to drink his coffe and contemplate nature, the universe, his navel, etc. And when he approaches that hidden-away scenic overlook, he is distressed to find a long cavalcade of vehicles a couple dozen yards away from the overlook, and when he pulls into his favorite overlook, he will discover he is not alone...for there will be one other vehicle there: a big black limosine, seemingly deserted. But upon closer inspection, Joel will discern a lone individual behind the tinted glass windows, sitting quietly in the back seat and sipping his own Carbucks coffee and pondering fate, the river, etc. Joel will look aroubnd and discover a dozen or so Secret Service agents fanned out around the perimter, wearing sunglasses and speaking into their shirt cuffs.

And Joel will remember the day he inadvertently told Obama about the all-time best place in all of Washington.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 18, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Another really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: hclark1 | December 18, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Modestly, Joel does not say that his own porch may be the most interesting place in DC.

In other news, I found an archive of old cookbooks, free to download:

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 18, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Over the last decade a traditional Christmas Eve meal has evolved around out home. Pigs in a Blanket and California Rolls.

Evolution sometimes brings about unexpected results.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 18, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Hello all, don't believe we have any Christmas eve meals either, but this year will have to do something special as my in-laws will be joining us.

Gomer glad you like the Canadian embassy in DC - I remember seeing a story on it when it first opened.

Joel I think a Blues version of the Nutcracker would be interesting to listen to - I am very envious, plus you have that whole "cool" factor working for you.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 18, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

When I was quite a bit younger and poorer, a rare book seller offered me an early edition (1870s) of Mrs. Beeton, and I couldn't afford it, even on the installment plan. Now I could kick myself.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse


I will be good I will be good I will be good I will be good I will be good I will be good I will be good I will be good I will be good I will be good I will be good

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 18, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

That's it, 'Mudge. Self-discipline is the key to success in these matters.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

For wordies-- I'm reading "The First Word" by Christine Kennelly. It's decently jargon-free and covers a lot of ground (and hits areas I'm interested in).

But the prose could use some editing to get away from stock "nonfiction" style-- I keep putting it down.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Front page alert BTW.

Joel's back on the politics beat?

Future kit, or not, on his future science advisor.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 18, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

SCC on Obama's science advisor.

I may weigh in later on the Christmas eve meal, the Réveillon.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 18, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, love this version of Coventry Carol - a modern version - Alison Moyet

Posted by: dmd2 | December 18, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

A warning to fellow Canucks, my area will be experiencing (if predictions are correct) snow over the next few days - I do believe the weather people are itching to use dire warnings about this - if the 2.5 inches of snow we got the other day are anything to judge by the level of hyperbole over the next few days may reach historic levels - I am sorry and embarrassed - on the other hand White Christmas - Yippee.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 18, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Off to purchase teacher gifts, might need to convince the kids to purchase something nice and tasty just in case school is cancelled and they cannot distribute said gifts and they end up staying at our house. :-)

Posted by: dmd2 | December 18, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

If the snow gets really bad, dmd, like, 2 inches, David Miller could always call the army to clean the street.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

An army of kids
Picking up snowballs to fight
Against snowmen foes!


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

We got snow today in Seattle - 5 inches on the ground and it's still coming down. I'm so glad I don't have to drive anywhere. Well, some friends and I planned lunch today, but we're all snow wimps, so we had to reschedule that. Very pretty, but I'm really much happier with higher temperatures.

Posted by: seasea | December 18, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh gosh.. I'm glad y'all enjoyed lunch... so sorry I couldn't stick around longer. A busy, but great day.

Christmas Eve dinner used to be just a regular night. Then my parents started ordering Chinese and that kind of became a tradition.

But Pigs in a Blanket and California Rolls sounds perfect.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 18, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

... with shortbread cookies. YUMMMMMMmmmmmmm.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 18, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge solicited themes today. I think in the spirit of the season, we should have a ping day.

In the drama-student world of #2 a "ping" is an unsolicited, sincerely-meant compliment of any sort, delivered to a colleague or fellow cast-cast member, most often in writing. They keep a Ping Box in the DSUCR (Drama Students' Union Common Room) and most days each student will find a ping from someone or someones.

#2 has received, in the last week, such Pings as, "#2 has been very supportive when I felt vulnerable during a test" to "#2 rawks, love the hair!"

I'm pretty sure I could come up with a sincerely-meant Ping for each of the regulars.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Yoki rawks, love the hair!

Posted by: -TBG- | December 18, 2008 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I'll fetch a ping-pong
For Yoki any day, see
But no "rawk hair", please.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

TBG has the biggest heart and laugh of anyone I know, and I love her.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

See, it's easy!

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Slump: no big heart here?
(Exeunt sunshine from my life)
Need treats to heal hurt.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Since it is highly probable that I would forget to name a number of boodlers, I offer a general ping to all

Thanks for the laughter, insight into topics that try as I might I find hard to comprehend, for the supportive nature, the discussions of music, food, decor, politics, silliness, dealing with grief and sharing joys and most importantly the the discovery of mianus.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 18, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, you amaze me! I am frenvious of your poetic ability. And you're a cool dog too!

Posted by: slyness | December 18, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree, dmd... I am afraid I will leave someone out, so I will also say how wonderful this whole group is... regular and non.

Total change of topic... I'm currently reading Peter Behren's *The Law of Dreams.* It's calling me from the nightstand. G'night all.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 18, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes, thanks to this boodle, I now know Mianus from a hole in the ground. And that ain't shinola.

Wilbrodog and I both thank you for tolerating the infestion of doggerel here.

I've learned a lot more about pop culture, history, perspectives on various issues, and songs and even poetry here than I could pay for in any course.

Heck, I even learned how to write horse apples properly in French.

What more could I ask for from a daily blog?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Aye, there's the rub. And so I will say this to you all.

We have a lot of fun, a lot of good conversation.

But more than that, we are honest with other.

You are not my imaginary friends, you are my real friends, and I love you all.

And I am grateful for all the things I learn from each of you.

A unique community, so lucky that I found you and have been accepted by you.

Thank you, dear friends.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Gawd, I'm such a sap!

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

*Licking at Yoki*
Maple syrup tears--mm good.
Pancakes with that, please?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Stampede breakfast, sausage
with pancakes and maple syrup.
Wilbrodog herds the hearts.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

PS: Love the pun!

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Ah, but the sap is the sweetest part! And I agree with what you say, Yoki!

Mr. T is a happy camper. Tyler Hansbrough made a layup in the third minute of the UNC/Evansville game to become the leading scorer in UNC history. I wouldn't be surprised is Dr. G was watching also. With UNC ahead by more than 20 points, the third string is in the game now. Gotta love basketball.

Posted by: slyness | December 18, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Mad dash to the finish on a grant application this week so I can't linger. The Obamas, all four of them, should do some 5k runs/walks together. The mall and environs look extra special early on a Saturday morning with traffic stopped for the event. The National Press Club does a nice breakfast after their annual run.

Christmas eve dinner-the frostrents always have oyster stew and sis #2's crab cakes. We do something "special" in that I don't make the dish often. I'm thinking bulgogi this year.

Pinging the boodle for being so knowledgeable. Sure, one could blindly google as a starting point for the answers to important questions. But why? The boodle knows all.

Toodles boodle. It's back to budget detail worksheets and work plan forms (one for each program site for each goal, minimum of 2 goals). Aaaaaargh.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 18, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Do you use WBS, frosti?

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Christmas eve dinner at our house was *Christmas DAY dinner.* We had the whole thing, turkey, dressing, Mom's wonderful gravy (can you see me bowing?) on Christmas eve, because then on Christmas Day --- no one had to do anything, especially Mom, except find the bread and make those big fat turkey sandwiches. With Miracle Whip. And cranberry sauce.

Posted by: nellie4 | December 18, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

White bread. None of this healthy whole grain at Christmas!

Posted by: nellie4 | December 18, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I think we had turkey at Christmas when I was a kid - I don't remember much about Christmas or Christmas Eve dinners, though. I suppose I was more focused on presents and playing in the snow (which I loved when I was a kid, as opposed to now).

My dad insisted on black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, and usually we had some sort of pork to go along with that. The tradition for New Year's Eve was burning bayberry candles to the very end. The reason I remember that is the time they burned the lace tablecloth too. Luckily the entire house did not catch on fire.
I think that's why I'm very careful about burning candles!

I appreciate all the tips I get from Boodlers for musical gems, books, articles that I might never know about otherwise.

Posted by: seasea | December 18, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate everything and everyone in or on the Boodle, which I have been following almost from day one. It is my telenovela.

Posted by: nellie4 | December 18, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Yoki- I wish. I think the forms were designed with WBS in mind, but there is no diagram showing the relationship of one activity to another. Instead you deal with that in an 11 page (max) narrative. I use my favorite dynamic planning tool-a stack of 5X7 cards full of info I've accumulated (or thought of in the car) that gets arranged and rearranged on the kitchen table until they make sense. I'm past the fun part on this grant-developing the program idea with our nonprofit's partner organizations and doing the research. Now it's all the tedious sit at the keyboard and gut it out stuff. Of course I could share more of the writing duties with my writing partner, but I'm still working on the professional maturity to let someone else take a bigger piece.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 18, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

Joel co-wrote a piece on Obama's science advisors for tomorrow's paper:

"President-elect Barack Obama has selected two of the nation's most prominent scientific advocates for a vigorous response to climate change to serve in his administration's top ranks, according to sources, sending the strongest signal yet that he will reverse Bush administration policies on energy and global warming.

The appointments of Harvard University physicist John Holdren as presidential science adviser and Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will be announced tomorrow, dismayed conservatives but heartened environmentalists and researchers."

I posted a silly comment to it already...


Posted by: -bc- | December 18, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Of course, the scouting reports Joel seems to want are DC-centric, which in its way is very sad. Looking for cool in the pinched and decrepit national capital is a loser's errand.

Let us also remember that the POTUS-to-be lately hails from a truly cool city that stomps the trucknutz off of DC cool-wise. There is NOTHING in DC that matches Chicago's north side. And, more important, Mr. Obama's horizons are much larger than the average citizen's, given his rich and well known personal history. He is already packing a 50 ounce portion of bluesman cool and the moxie of an authentic natural gambler.

I would suggest an occassional scouting report from points everywhere within the 50 states. There are (easily) ultra cool areas that place DC in a very dark shadow cool-wise. Perhaps even Joel could benefit from some of our recommendations.

From Seattle tonight

Posted by: roboturkey | December 18, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

I am so there with you, frostbitten. We *could* let other people do some of the heavy lifting, except we'd really like to get the money, and we trust us. LOL!

Proposal writing is an art, learned over and over again (since each funding agency has it's own hot-buttons) and I'm never entirely sure that anybody but me really knows which ones to push.

Which is why my team calls me "control-freak T."

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 10:57 PM | Report abuse

*Bows in homage to control-freak Yoki*

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 18, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

"we trust us" Truer words were never spoken.

Now I am out for the night. Toodles and fondue.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 18, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

How do two Goddesses bow in homage to one another? I guess junior-Juno bows to senior-Amu first and then, contrary-wise.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

SCC: aNu. Jaysus God! Goodnight, Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Goodnight, frostbitten. Me too.

Posted by: Yoki | December 18, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

I know some of you aren't fans of Stephen Hunter, but I am; and he has a very nice appreciation of British filmmaker David Lean, at

Oh, my, where to start pinging?
CqP, for friendship and more learning, lit'ry, pometical and philosophical, than you can shake a stick at;
Yoki, for all those conversations, to say nothing of the lit'ry criticism;
CqP, Yoki and Cassandra, the Three Musketeers of one's moral conscience;
TBG, Earth Mother, den mother, big sister;
bc, master instigator
Scotty, stalwart wingman
Padouk and SciTim, for calm reason
All the gals: Kim, Frosti, maggie, LiT, Raysmom, LA Lurker, Aloha, DLD, dbG, Rainforest, slyness, bad sneaks, seasea, nellie, dmd, dr, a bea c, firsttimeblogger (please god, don't let me forget somebody!): oh, if I were only 600 years younger and single
Wilbrodog, for the pomes and keeping the gnome out of too much trouble
Brag, byoolin, engelmann, SD, omni, jumper, jack, yello, pj, gomer, DaveotC, GWE, don, dolphinmike, tao, flappervalve and martooni: thanks for a thousand laughs, links and YouTube recommendations

and last but not least, Joel, for letting us hang out here on his porch

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | December 18, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

There are some very affordable hotels on the Upper West Side in the 70s and 80s (I wouldn't go much further north than that).

Years ago I used to target $200 a night as a good deal. Now $250 is more realistic. Make sure the room you book has enough beds because NY hotel rooms are very small.

The Excelsior which is very nice is right across from the museum. The Lucerne can be a good deal. There is a Howard Johnsons on 52nd that can be reasonably priced, but it can be touch and go on quality. In the Times Square area we have stayed a couple of times at the Belvedere which is just out of the crazy areas.

The Hotel Pennsylvania should be considered only as a last resort, but they do have some bargains sometimes.

I second the suggestion to never eat in Times Square if you can avoid it. Unless you are taking your kid to Frankie and Johnnies for a filet mignon as a reward for a good report card. Lots of good restaurants just west of the AMNH. On the Met side, the good places to eat are along 2nd Ave between 80th and 70th. Vermicelli, a Vietnamese place is really good.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 18, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

The appointment of Jane Lubchenco to run NOAA is wonderful news. Perfect combination of expertise and familiarity with the world of public policy.

Not to mention that Lubchenco has been spectacularly loyal to her under-funded university, Oregon State.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 18, 2008 11:45 PM | Report abuse

"Unless you are taking your kid to Frankie and Johnnies for a filet mignon as a reward for a good report card."

*sigh* I only wish I were.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 18, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

She's a Duck? (Heaven knows if I have that right!)

Posted by: seasea | December 18, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I guess it was a little over a year ago I met my sister and her husband at a restaurant. The service was glacial and we did not get out plates until over an hour had passed sitting. BIL was almost apoplectic.

Tonight was the first time since then I met my brother-in-law at a restaurant. My sister and niece were there also. The service was glacial. After waiting a half-hour after ordering, the server confessed he had forgotten to pass our orders into the kitchen. In this case, he brought hummus and garlic bread to soothe us, the near-savage beasts. BIL was almost apoplectic.

I sincerely wish for fast service the next time I am at a restaurant with brother-in-law.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 19, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Ducks are from Eugene. Lubchenco's a Beaver from Corvallis.

A neighbor lost her son today. He was an Army medic stationed on Oahu with a motorcycle. From the story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin: "The motorcyclist and his 2007 maroon Kawasaki were lodged inside the car, police said." The car's driver was killed, too.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 19, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 19, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the ping, Mudge--
Gnome-keeping's a fulltime job
but napping's allowed.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 19, 2008 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Nice writing, Mudge, as captured by Joel's kit.

Um, while you did forget me (what else is new) I shant forget meeting you, bc, TBG, MO and Raysmom last week. I think you forgot Vintage Lady, too. Guess we are too old for you. :-)

Nothing phases me anymore. Life is just too short! I am looking forward to the new year, however.

Posted by: Windy3 | December 19, 2008 1:35 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. AROC, it's always so nice to hear from you. Have a happy and joyful holiday, and the best to you and family.

I agree with you, Yoki, and you, Mudge.

I'm sure most of you know me by now. I'm sappy, will cry at the drop of hat, complaining most of the time, and just an all around bore ninety percent of the time, but just to elaborate a little on what Yoki said, I think the boodle is great. It is so nice having friends that one can talk to, and learn from. Lord knows I take advantage so much of the time because I'm always asking this and that, but the boodle is my first stop. I figured you guys know the answer. My prayer for all of you is that your life (and the lives of your families) is good, and though things get rocky sometimes, that you will lift up your voices in prayers and supplications to the one that gave His life for all, Christ Jesus. And if that is too difficult of a challenge, then just pray for me. That a way may be made that I can work for Him that I love dearly. Sweet Jesus. And know that I love all of you, and that you hold a special place in my heart, and always will, no matter what.

Thank you, JA, and may God bless and keep you and your family. As Mudge said, thanks for allowing us to hang out on your porch.

Mudge, Slyness, Scotty, Slyness, Yoki, and all, good morning.*waving*

Some folks are really getting their knives in the news about Caroline Kennedy. And Eugene Robinson's take on Bill Clinton list is eye opening. I inquired at his foundation about any resources to fight AIDS and HIV infections here in the USA, and was politely informed, no. That's a lot of dough, but I guess it takes that kind of money to change the world. They were passing the cup around to everyone. I just wonder if the list will become a sticking point for Clinton?

Too long a post this morning. Have a great day, folks. I'm really going to start the cleaning up process today or maybe not.

Time to swim.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 19, 2008 5:12 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Clear and cold morning but the snow is coming, again.
Back in the days when most French Canadians attended the Midnight Mass (it ends at Midnight or so on Christmas eve) most family had a lunch afterward. It was a strictly a family affair, in some cases it might involve parents or siblings living near-by but mostly it was for the parents and kids. The traditional fare was tourtière (meat pie), sandwiches, pickled cucumbers/onions/beets/etc and some dessert, usually the Christmas "bûche", a log-shaped rolled cake.
As Christmas mass was losing in popularity so was the Réveillon. We have never done it as a family and I don't know anyone who still does. Now I make a nice but light meal, to prepare ourselves for the next day... We watch Christmas theme movies (Scrooged, Elf, Bad Santa, Le Père Noël est une ordure, etc) and the less organized do the final wrapping and/or cooking.
Quick story for wilbrodog:
One of the last Réveillon my mother made was in the mid-seventies. She made 2 dozen turkey salad rolls for the post-mass lunch. While we were at church our beagle decided to have its own Christmas celebration. The big girl ate 18-20 of the rolls, as they were on a side table that wasn't the official, "forbidden" table. The ones she left she couldn't reach as they were in the center of the table.
The seemingly pregnant dog was sleeping the sleep of the just when we came back. She just couldn't muster the energy to rise to greet us in her usual fashion. It was probably her best Christmas ever.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 19, 2008 5:36 AM | Report abuse

Fair warning, this is a cholesterol alert.
The results of a picture search for bûche de Noël:

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 19, 2008 5:46 AM | Report abuse

ACK!!! Forgot to add Windy, mo and VL to the ping pong! How will I ever live this down?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | December 19, 2008 5:58 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

Mudge, one word, IVANSMOM.

Posted by: VintageLady | December 19, 2008 6:08 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle, Cassandra, all.

VL, I think of Ivansmom as a given, a cosmic constant, someone everybody loves so naturally and easily that its like breathing.

'Mudge, your pings had me blushing prettily, as as you know, doing anything prettily is a challenge for me.

The cold and terrible road conditions persist, but I must get some pre-Christmas provisioning and gift buying done today, so will steel myself to go out.

I brought a more substantial breakfast to the Ready Room today, look in the chafing dishes for s right fry up.

Have a happy day, Boodlers. It is a fine thing to know you all.

Posted by: Yoki | December 19, 2008 6:41 AM | Report abuse

Morning all snow has yet to start here but the winds are beginning to pick up and it is a little warmer - so probaby not long away. Younger child is going to see Tales of Despereaux at school today, crossing all fingers and toes that they will not be cancelling buses if it starts snowing - when this child has big disappointments it isn't pretty.

Have a good day everyone.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 19, 2008 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Very cold in the ready room this morning. The pilot light went out last night and I couldn't keep it lit. I'm not calling the company that I just let the service contract lapse on since I suspect they were the ones that screwed it up in the first place.

My wife has a referral for a small-time guy that I will try. Until then it's extra sweaters for the yello family until the pipes start to freeze.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 19, 2008 7:02 AM | Report abuse

The media are scaring the carp out of everyone regarding the coming snow storm. I just hope I can get a few important things done at work before it starts and we all abandon ship. I had my half year review at work yesterday and they are very pleased with the way I’ve been handling my added responsibilities. You have no idea how relieved that makes me feel. I’m feeling the beginnings of the cold that “S” has apparently passed on to me. I have a busy weekend ahead, a donor screening thing tomorrow for someone with leukemia followed by cookie deliveries and dinner with friends, so I hope I can keep my symptoms under control. Have a happy and safe day everyone.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 19, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. It took a while, but I'm finally caught up with the past couple of days worth of 'boodle. Feel free to proceed.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 19, 2008 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like really bad weather is going to hit a lot of places over the next few days. Stay warm everybody.

Faxing a whole bunch of warm wool hats and mittens to the bunker just in case. And if needed I could try to knit a shovel, but I suspect it would be a little floppy to move real snow.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 19, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Yep, dmd and badsneakers there is a lot of media hype over this one. The Big Meanie is supposed to stay South of us and I sincerely hope this is what she'll do.
A co-worker (a kid really, last year he coulnd't rent a car at one place we sent him, he was too young!) is coming back from China later this afternoon. He's supposed to transit through Toronto, poor guy. That's what you need after 14-16 of travel, coming in a snowed-in airpport. He's young, that will make him stronger if it doesn't kill him.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 19, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Your young co-worker might be there a while, snow today, Sunday and Christmas eve (predictions),

Snow just starting.

After today I am on holidays for two weeks. Do not remember the last time I had two weeks off at Christmas.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 19, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

*still-trying-to-clear-the-decks-of-backlog-before-the-holidays-but-would-be-horribly-remiss-to-forget-to-set-up-an-auto-ping-for-my-bodaciously-boffo-Boodle-buddies-near-and-far Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 19, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

There is a point along the Mt. Vernon Trail that I love. After the trail passes Roosevelt Island it enters a region of heavy foliage. The anonymity of this section can quickly fool pedestrians into believing that they are meandering through some obscure woodland far from civilization.

Then, unexpectedly, the trail makes an abrupt turn, the greenery falls away, and the rear of the Jefferson Memorial looms into view across the Potomac. The abruptness of the transition, as well as the unusual angle with which the memorial is presented, reminds me of coming upon an ancient ruin. And, no matter how many times I encounter it, I always feel a welcome jolt of surprise.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 19, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Well done Mudge. But calm reason? You cut me to the quick. I assure you, good sir, that I am, in truth, a veritable mass of seething passions. A bubbling cauldron of intensity liberally seasoned with barely-controlled libidinous energies.

Now I must attend to my tea.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 19, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Read all my student papers once. Now will contemplate the 66 topics and begin the grading. Blecchhhhhhhh.

No snow for us but very chilly rain; one bike ride in the picture.

Like the pinging idea; is this a Canadian theater word or did the YokiChild clan figure this out in their small but very real world?

SD, thanks for the memories. I like that meat pie for Christmas Eve: the Gagnon's pie was pork, mostly. The Cyrs used venison.

John Holdren was my boss-boss, as in he was in charge of the place I worked at beginning in 1989. We worked on climate change and energy efficiency before the now climate-chic era. Holdren is brilliant and focused and among the most intense people upon the planet.

He shares Herman Daly's view about the environment, which means he is widely read in these economists: Keynes, Georgescue- Roegen, Joseph Schumpeter, Henry George, Frederick Soddy.

Holdren is a physicist; so he is a kW Hour-counting environmentalist, rather than your dolphin-counting enviro. Since saving the planet is about how energy moves through our economic and biological systems, this choice is long-overdue.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 19, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Chafing dishes in the ready room? Oh my, I'll be there shortly!

Today I've got to lose Mr. T for a little while so I can go buy something for his stocking. I bought the latest Mannheim Steamroller CD (such a wonderful wife I am, considering how I feel about MS!), but then he bought to for himself. Darn darn darn!

Wrists and hands are feeling much better today. After the double batch of cheese straws on Tuesday, I thought I was going to have to beg for steriods.

Happy Friday, all! So nice of the retirement system to send money today, instead of December 25, so I am a happy and solvent person.

Posted by: slyness | December 19, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Do any easatern Canadians know what the weather is doing in Montreal? I looked at the weatheroffice site, but it's not very revealing about travel conditions. If #1 can't get out today, *I'll* be veritable mass of seething passions.

Or, I could just accept it.

Posted by: Yoki | December 19, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

When I read about the pinging, the first the I thought of was 'one ping only Vassily, one ping only' from the Hunt for Red October.

TBG, dmd, Yoki, and dbg have seen my ability to dissolve into tears when I try. I'd ping everybody, but every time I try, I just start crying. Rather than getting tears all over the porch, I'll just say how nice it is to sit and visit with you all.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 19, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, Montreal's weather shouldn't be a problem.

However, as you well know when Pearson is sick all Canadian airports get the sniffles. Airlines can't seem to be capable of scheduling flights that don't involve Pearson in some way. I have a couple of not-so-fond memories of Ottawa-Toronto-(Halifax or St-John or Fredericton). So aircrafts and air crews may not be where they should be at the time they are expected even if the weather is fine in both Montreal and Calgary.

Reminds me of the time I was stuck a full day in Memphis airport (a.k.a. FedEx airport) because of a breakdown (of the air control system ?) in O'Hare. There were no air crews for the available planes and no planes for the available crews. All because of O'Hare.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 19, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Majel Barrett aka Nurse Chapel is dead. She has gone to join the Great Bird of the Galaxy. She will live on as that ever-so-helpful computer voice announcing a holodeck failure.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 19, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Thanks shrieking_denizen, I feel reassured. Delays we can deal with, #1 is a resourceful and easy-going young woman. So long as she gets here between now and Christmas Eve, all shall be well. And if she doesn't, she has many many back-up families in Montreal who will jump at the chance take her into the circle of cheer.

Posted by: Yoki | December 19, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Just read Yoki's 7:23 PM ping post.

This AM while getting an egg sandwich I told a woman she had pretty nail polish. very christmassy

It was a sparkley red.

Posted by: omnigood | December 19, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom? I forgot Ivansmom? Oh, jeez. No. Say it ain't so. *pounding head against desk*

And need to add Bob S. to the guy list.


OK, who else?

Oh, s---.


How could I?

This is awful.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 19, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

We lose Sammy Baugh, Mark Felt, David Lean *and* Majel Barrett? *Dag.* *Sigh.*

[bc shaking his head slowly, realizing that he desperately needs to backboodle, but also to work.]

Is it OK if I fly the Romulan Warbird in Majel's honor for the Dawn Patrol this morning? I've got it warmed up and ready to go, and I've made sure that the cloaking device is working properly, so all anyone will notice is a pretty good breeze... [if you feel one this AM, that could very well be me buzzing the hills around DC] I promise to keep her under the speed of sound, and to lay off the warp drive, but maybe I'll pull a couple of 8G turns with the gravitic compensators off just to get my blood flowing.

Have a good, safe, day, everyone.
I'll drop by to instigate something later...


Posted by: -bc- | December 19, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Fax them some of your onion-baked-in-tinfoil-stuff in compensation, 'Mudge...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 19, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget to paint the Interplanetary Red Cross on the warbird, bc...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 19, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

This is why people at the Oscars go on stage with a list in their hands Mudge. Very difficult to remember everyone at once.

Yoki, looks like AC has staged its plane with a certain regard for the upcoming weather. WJ should be clever enough to do the same but no hard info on this.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 19, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

morning, all. it's chilly here in l.a. says 38 for my zip code, but there's frost on the ground. hope the weather doesn't kill too many plants.

i'm thankful for the boodle. it's nice to have this ongoing conversation and to be able to stop by, listen, hang out, come and go. a friendly, homey corner of the internet.

Posted by: LALurker | December 19, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

That's great news, SD! #1 is on AC.

Posted by: Yoki | December 19, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Howdy! That's okay, Mudge, it is the thought that counts. I know you were thinking of everyone, but it is a long list and, fortunately, getting longer all the time. I love the expansiveness of the Boodle. Hey all you lurkers and occasional posters out there - if you've posted once, we know who you are. Come out and say hey!

Thanks to Vintage Lady for the reminder, though, and thanks to Yoki for that lovely description. If you don't mind I'll quote the "a given, a cosmic constant" to the Ivansclan. I have already failed in my attempt to be called the Rabbit Queen.

The Obamas should definitely drop by the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception over at Catholic U. I used to sing there. It is really beautiful. For a different but equally beautiful experience the National Cathedral is good. If they get let off the leash some summer evening, it is nice to sit in the garden, listen to the bells, and watch the bats.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 19, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

How about Our Lady of the Lagomorphs? It's no Pork Princess, but . . .

Posted by: -dbG- | December 19, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Boodle!

I missed the dawn patrol as I was busy with some energetic sleeping activities.

This weather has me thinking about building my energy level to take a creative nap later today.

Everyone, haff a gut day. :o)

Posted by: Braguine | December 19, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to all for listening to my ramblings. The wisdom and kindness in this space is such that I've never encountered. *ping*

Posted by: -jack- | December 19, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Good morning to all--

Mudge, I feel like I won the trifecta today. First, because I've been away from the boodle so much lately that it's like I never existed. I know it's hard for the hardcore boodlecore to believe, but that's something I can take pride in--proves I'm not an addict and reinforces my self-image as an alienated antisocial loner. Then, I get the special mention, later, because of being left off the original list, and the followup list, and so on. THAT's like "the first shall be last" and so on.

Well, I'm still trying to catch up at work and extra busy at home but I can see the light at the end of the holiday tunnel--I think after Christmas everything will lighten up.

What's funny, and some of you will understand this: I still type comments in the comment box, even when I'm not participating in the discussion. I just don't hit the Submit button so often.

But I'll make an exception this morning, in Curmudgeon's honor:

*clicks the button*

Posted by: kbertocci | December 19, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

The ubiquitous Malcom Gladwell, who has been all over the Internet and the media lately (including a couple of Joel's kits, including one a few weeks ago, on invention), has a piece in the Dec. 15 "New Yorker" about the difficulty of finding good teachers. (At )

Actually, the piece is just as much about the difficulty pro football scouts have in finding good/great quarterbacks from among the college players, since Gladwell spends easily half his article talking not abot teachers but about college quarterbacks. His thesis is that one can scout college QBs until the cows come home, using every form of metric known to bhumankind, and it won't do any good, because there is no way to tell who can be a good pro QB and who won't. Gladwell goes to great lengths to explain how and why the college game is so very different from the pro game, that one learns nothing watching great college QBs. (This explains why so many Heisman winners and other super bonus babies coming into the NFL are often busts. There's even a psychology test QBs are given to assess their potential and how smart they are. Trouble is, three of the best QBs of all time -- Marino, Bradshaw and Donovan McNabb -- scored lousy on this test.)

Having gone through all this foreplay, Gladwell then says the same is true of good teachers. No matter what their credentials look like, you can't tell who will be good and who won't until AFTER they get into the classroom. Basically, he says, like trying to draft a good quarterback, anyone trying to hire a good teacher hasn't got a prayer, or a clue what to look for.

Gladwell says that even worse, the differential between a bad teacher and a good one is really wide. A bad teacher, he says, will teach about 50% of what's supposed to be taught in a given year, whereas a good one will teach 150%.

That being so, Gladwell offers a number of fairly shocking ideas:

1) it's better to have a good teacher in a "bad" school than it is to have a "bad" teacher in a top school system;

2) Efforts to improve education by increasing teacher certification and making sure the teacher has taken X,Y,Z classes is meaningless and useless;

3) Teacher salary based on tenure and certification is pointless;

4) that teaching ought to be open to "anyone with a pulse" and that a teacher (like a QB) can ONLY be evaluated in the classroom AFTER they've got the job, not before.

end of part 1

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 19, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

part 2

5) and that like a QB, it doesn't matter how smart you are, it matters how you relate to the kids (and he gives examples of good and bad).

6) He admits the chances of having any of these things actually implemented in the real world are pretty slim if not impossible.

It's actually a pretty good and informative article-- especially if you like football.

(My own views on the dismal state and art of education are so blasphemous and incendiary I won't bother rendering an opinion on what Gladwell says.) (But he's dead right about evaluating college quarterbacks.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 19, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Looks like DC fixing to get smacked in a few minutes by rain.

"Ping" made me think of this

"Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves
The echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand."

I like that they set up and played in the empty and ancient stadium at Pompei.

In other poetry news we have this from my favorite, Ms. Pettigrew:

My jeans are old
like the sky.

The hole in the knee is like the one between the clouds.

My heart is open
like the sky.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 19, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Great article in the Other Big Paper with some alternative viewpoints on It’s a Wonderful Life:

1. I do question the certainty of a conviction whether before or after the money is donated. Presumably Uncle Billy “will say”, to use the legalism, that he had sole care and control of the deposit money and "misplaced" it. Billy and the Savings and Loan (vicariously) would certainly be civilly liable, but I have a hard time imagining criminal charges leading to a conviction. Ivansmom?

2. The funniest bit in the article is the thought experiment about whether Pottersville would actually have been better positioned economically. Funny, challenging thought as well: what exactly is wrong with Pottersville? As the author points out, the excitement of Pottersville is probably exactly what George Bailey was so excited to go see. Further thought: the S&L’s habit of high risk mortgages is exactly what led to the housing bubble and might lead us into a new depression. Pottersville, on the other hand, may exploit base desires but you can be certain that the housing market has sufficient equity.

3. I always wondered what’s the back story on Potter’s assistant? IIRC he actually sees Potter steal the S&L money. Potter’s good fortune will last only as long as he keeps his trap shut.

4. Final thought: it's one of my favorite holiday movies, but the theme does have quite a bit of conceit. Change the names and the setting and you have a fine National Socialist propaganda movie. More contemporary, George Bailey's worldview at the end of the movie is probably not unlike the average jihadi: only he is holding back the tide of vice and corruption.

Posted by: engelmann | December 19, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm about to head over to read the Gladwell piece, but just based on this summary, it sounds right to me. And that reinforces my belief that having significantly higher average salaries and higher social prestige (the two are interconnected, of course) for teaching would significantly improve education. Not necessarily because you're more likely to get the best and the brightest (since, as he says, how do we know who will be any good), but just because you'll get a bigger pool to choose from, and the good ones might be more likely to stick around.

Posted by: -bia- | December 19, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

OK, this is why we kill all the lawyers.

(Just kidding, SofC, just kidding.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 19, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the ping Mudge! Right back atcha. And, a shout out to all the Boodlers for their wonderful writings, insights, debates, grand humor and friendship. You are all what keeps my days from being boring and uneventful. (I didn't make a list, Mudge, specifically for the reason that I'd forget someone!)

Have a great Friday. Mine has just begun.


Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 19, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The Gladwell piece was maybe more interesting for quarterbacks (as in Tebow's dubious prospects as a pro) than for teachers.

Maybe I'm dubious about the Secret of Effective Teaching having been discovered just recently.

Over in Detroit, I take it that UAW apparatchiks will report to re-education camps this afternoon. A few days after New Year, they will emerge and confess their evil aspirations to bourgeois standards of living, then embrace their enlightened new selves as self-abnegating low-wage proletarians.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 19, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Just ran across this piece of hideous governmentalese: a certain agency is going to "partner" with someone to send out -- and here we go -- a "co-branded e-mail."


My skin is crawling.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 19, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Majel Barrett's dead?
No pets from Luxwana then
Or ever. I'm sad.


"Heir to the five rings of Betazed, keeper of the sacred Chalice of Rixx..."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 19, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Just as long as the agency's not partnering with the Bar-^%@#%$*&*@#+~ Ranch, the branding shouldn't hurt too much...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 19, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Teaching styles may not reach all students; that's the problem-- a good teacher can assess and adapt.

Kids don't always indicate when they feel lost or turned off by a teaching style, though. Mostly this is because they know they won't get heard.

When I've filed complaints about how the teacher's approach was 1) unnecessary and 2) specifically hindering my learning (being a visual learner and unable to fully take in explanations as blah blah alone), I never got listened to. There's not exactly a "Head of Stopping Teachers from being Boneheaded Jerks" in any school.

A good teacher in a bad school may have more latitude, I must admit, but many beginning teachers need team support, and that's best found in a school with strong leadership.

Without that, even a promising star could well burn out fast.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 19, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes, "It's a wonderful life" isn't as saccharine as you might think. People are flawed, nobody's an angel on earth except Clarence, and, well he's not exactly perfect either.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 19, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I read the "Wonderful Life" alternate-universe story and I disagree in part with the author and his District Attorney source. While I agree that someone could, at least in theory, be criminally liable for the missing money, I don't think George Bailey could be prosecuted. True, he didn't have the money. True, he took responsibility for the loss and paid back the bank. However, the dastardly Potter took the money. Liability for individual crimes can't be transferred - if Potter took the money, Potter gets charged with the crime. I think George is off the hook for this one.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 19, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 19, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

SCC: actually, that should be "YAAAYYYYY!"

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 19, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

And I haven't forgotten the SNL ending to "It's a Wonderful Life" where it is found out by the town that Potter took the money.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 19, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Can we go back to the part where Donna Reed is naked and hiding behind a bush? Because I just plain don't recall that part of the movie. (Was this in the winter? And even if not, what kind of place is Bedford Falls, anyway, where Donna Stone [Shelley Fabares's mom] runs around buck nekkid anyway? Is there some R-rated version of this flick that has escaped my attention?)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 19, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

R.I.P. Mark Felt, "Deep Throat" of Watergate fame. Considered purely on the basis of service to country, that man deserved a Presidential Medal of Honor.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 19, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 19, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Ivansmom, thought so.

I forget the set up to how she ends up naked in the bush - I think she comes out to see him in a bathrobe and then it gets caught on the bush.

Mudge, I think there were several adult versions: The Luckiest Guy In Town; Full Moon and a Lassoo; and Ring That Bell.

Posted by: engelmann | December 19, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

It's after they fall in the swimming pool during a dance marathon, Mudge.

And she's in a bathrobe, but nudity is implied as she begs him to give back her bathrobe from behind a bush. Remember the song, "Buffalo gals?"

George and Mary walk home together, returning from the high school dance after falling in the pool and soaking their party clothes. They wear a hastily-thrown together weird assortment of borrowed clothes - George a tight #3 football jersey and Mary a long, loose-fitting bathrobe. They sing an off-key duet of "Buffalo Gals" under the light of a new moon. Then, he sweet-talks her, calling his eighteen year-old date "the prettiest girl in town" while distancing himself slightly.

From :

... George inadvertently steps on Mary's bathrobe again and she accidentally loses it. She jumps into the hydrangea bushes to hide. Aroused by her predicament, he hesitates to throw her robe to her and teases her in a good-natured way, calling it "a very interesting situation." Mary begs for her robe back as he circles the bush with the bathrobe in his hands.

She might not be stark nekkid under that robe, but it's sure not something she wants the whole town to ogle.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 19, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Just got in from an hour and a half drive, for a roughly 20-25 drive, picked kids up from school and shovelled driveway.

OK the predicters (sp) were right, it is a mess outside, 6-8" already since 8:00 am, high winds, very little visibility going to no visibility in spots, tree branches everywhere, but not many people on the roads - all driving suitable to the conditions - plows doing their best.

Just built a fire and may make some hot chocolate.

It is interesting winds are swirling so we have snow covered windows on the entire house in all directions.

Kinda fun.

Yoki so glad #1 in transit, feel terrible for the people stuck at the airport in Toronto - might be slightly better than at my house due to the wind direction but only just.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 19, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

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