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The Right Stimulus

Every year at this time, I like to count my blessings, embrace my loved ones, drink a little eggnog by the glowing hearth and ponder my inexorable degeneration and complete dissipation. When you have a nice annual tradition, it's important to stick with it.

This year, the holiday spirit is clouded by the economic downturn. The worst thing about the economic crisis is that it forces us to think about money, which is, with all due respect to my friends in the Financial section, boring. But now we've all got money on the brain, and the lack of it, and we're hoping for some salvation in the form of wise government policies and a whopper of a Stimulus Package. Let me suggest, though, that even $850 billion won't buy an economic recovery.

The best single stimulus would be a president who got up and inspired people to do more, work harder, be creative, invest for the future and get back in touch with their core values, which include such old-fashioned concepts as "thrift."

A cultural stimulus.

I'm going to start working on that speech right now and send it to that kid who writes everything for Obama.

This may, in fact, be time to recalibrate the entire economy so that it's not so dependent on consumer purchases. You've heard everyone moaning about the weak sales during the Christmas holiday season. Imported cars are warehoused on vast parking lots at major ports. A think tank person this morning was declaring on the radio that we need to have several sales-tax holidays to lure people back to the stores. But wait a second: Every store I go into already has a 25 percent off sign in the window. Or 50 percent off. Or Buy One Get One Free. And we've already gotten a consumer stimulus in the form of gasoline for a buck and a half a gallon rather than $4. So you have to wonder if knocking off the sales tax is going to be much of a magic wand.

Maybe life isn't just about money.

It's not just about consumer goods.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store -- maybe Christmas means a little bit more.

I can feel my heart growing ten times in size as I write this, peering down from Mount Crumpit at the joyful, singing citizens of Whoville.


I liked the essay in the Times by Oliver Morton, and I keep meaning to read his new book on photosynthesis, called Eating the Sun. He's an excellent writer and thinker (which tend to go together), and photosynthesis is one of those things we tend to take for granted. (But of course, if you can't take photosynthesis for granted, what can you take?)

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 24, 2008; 11:27 AM ET
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Next: Opportunity Knocking


first....wahooo......still waiting for the flippin phone compasny

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 24, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

If Joel's the Grinch, then the Boodle is...

The Grinch's much-put-upon dog?


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"Eating the Sun" is long-overdue as a book topic, but it's so much less charismatic than eating abetted by the use of teeth. Anything from predators' balls to matzo balls.

Anyhow, the annual rye grass in the back yard is eating rather heavily at the moment and needs to be given a cosmetic cleanup to look nice for the impending big day. In other words, I gotta cut the grass.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 24, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

No fair, GWE!!! :-P *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Here's an interesting "take-away" from the Morton piece I never realized: "For almost 90 percent of its history the planet has been inhabited, and shaped by life. The biological mechanisms that first operated in the dawn of life animate the creatures of the Earth to this day, forming an unbroken chain at least 3.8 billion years long."

90 percent. I never realized that. Always had this picture of a couple billion years of nothing before the primordial ooze. But apparently that's not accurate.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 24, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Nature magazine's "Great Beyond" blog is quite useful for spotting happenings in science.

On the sun-eating front, cool weather seems to have provoked flowering among the yard orchids, so Mom will get to host one or two, even if it gobbles up too much of the table.

Leaves do have functions other than food production. I think there's been plenty of evidence that plants hang onto or even deploy unproductive leaves simply to block access to the sun by would-be competitors. Thus the spring rush for wildflowers in deciduous hardwood forests and possibly for the flurry of activity after a fire in a pineland (where nutrients from ashes are also a stimulus).

I've never figured out how caladiums manage to make their livings. Can the white-leaved ones really get by with so little green tissue? I don't think they're mooching off of soil fungi.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 24, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I just happened to peek at the Post and note that the Post and Balto Sun are going to start "sharing" content.

Will this mean that the Post will start to carry the weekly Crabcake Forecast?

Posted by: russianthistle | December 24, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Yup, Mudge, life popped up surprisingly early and has been persistent. You'd think the planet might have been sterilized once or twice, but, no. Not even close. Not even during the Permian.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 24, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas to Mr. Achenbach, a fine writer and thinker. Santa is on the way! Here's a prayer that Mr. Potter has a nasty slip and fall. And that George Bailey makes a comeback! Papa Dollar and Mama Dollar do need to get busy! But, there are more important things in life. I, not George, am the richest man in town.

Posted by: theeasypartsover | December 24, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The Permian, with its harsh chemicals, left the planet dry and forked though.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 24, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The Permian, with its harsh chemicals??????

I thought that was Bayonne

Posted by: russianthistle | December 24, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, hey, don't knock Bayonne. That's where the Elco plant was.

It's Secaucus you're thinking of.

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

Merry Christmas to the entire boodle and a special special Merry Christmas to the entire Achenbach clan, whose partriarch so gracioulsy allows us to sit and visit on his porch.

I am retiring to the kitchen in an hour or so, where I will wage a fierce battle with the stove,the fridge and the microwave. I hope to win.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 24, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I took some pictures of the snow:
I'm hoping that if I continue to believe that the snow is fleeting, and therefore picture-worthy, it will GO AWAY.

Posted by: seasea | December 24, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Belated good mornings/afternoons, everybody... I decided to finally take a day off and sleep in for a change and boy did I do *that* right.

Just read the op-ed about Santa and whether parents should encourage believing in the Fat Guy or not. I'm of the Camp of Believe, probably because I still do personally. Someday I want to be the crazy Grandpa who can pull coins from grandbabies ears and tell them tales (personal accounts, even) of Santa and the elves and all that. Of course, I'll also tell them about Jesus and the Nativity and why the word Christmas begins with Christ -- gotta give credit where credit is due.

Anyway... as for a stimulus, the only one I want can only be delivered by Mrs. M, if ya know what I mean (nudge, nudge, nudge). The bills will always be there and there will never be enough money to cover them. Tickle fights with Little Bean and maybe an unsolicited hug or kiss from Mrs. M (or a stimulus package) are all I need.

Peace out, all my imaginary friends. I wish you all a very real, very fine, very happy holiday (and a Merry Christmas, to boot)...

<-- my ASCII Santa

Posted by: martooni | December 24, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Am listening to Chanticleer singing the Huron Carol. Lovely.

Love the photos, seasea, thanks for sharing.

My present from Third Dottir is a group of photos of twin boys taken recently by a professional photographer. They are precious!

Posted by: slyness | December 24, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse


Apparently the Filter didn't like my little string of punctuation marks that look like Santa laying down after too much eggnog.

So it goes, eh?

Posted by: martooni | December 24, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, seasea, looks just like my yard, except for the colorful house next door. I find it funny that you'd rather have rain, but then it's what you are used to out there. And the snow does become a pain after a while. Great pics!

I got out at noon and have now finished everything I can possibly do until about 3 pm when more prep work begins.

Great Kit Joel. I agree completely with the need to concentrate on the truly important rather than a worldly goods addiction.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 24, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Holy carp, seasea! Yinz got whacked!

No snow here, but I'm hoping for a little tonight. Not a lot, just enough to decorate the trees and cover the lawn. Right now we're getting the rain you wanted and all looks as festive as an English moor after waking up from a pub crawl in a ditch (minus the fog).

Time to fire up the lights and inflatable Santa and the rest of our yard bling. Nothing like a little waste of electricity to liven up an otherwise dreary day.

Posted by: martooni | December 24, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Here's some inspiration:
Love the speechwriter, who is the same age as my kid. Someone on another Internet group I read commented that Obama has the soul of a poet.

Posted by: seasea | December 24, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Decided to cut the grass as promised, respiratory infection or not.

While dumping leaves in the heliconia and palm bed, it became apparent that recent cool, dry weather had stirred up the Heliconia stricta 'iris red'. These are pretty large clumps of plants with big banana-looking leaves rising about six feet. But the bigger batch of them is sort of hiding behind some even larger palms, so it was a surprise to see bright red bunches of flowers. Now to harvest some for cut flowers before the inevitable next cold snap.

[Heliconias are from tropical America. Most seem to live in forest clearings. Like the edges of roads. Some smaller ones are really easy to grow, but most, especially the big ones, are utterly unsuited for people who want their yards manicured].

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 24, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Front page alert to this kit, though I don't think we'll need to resort to the bunker.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 24, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Just backboodled the end of the last kit. Holy cow, Curmudgeon. Lladro? You know that any gift from your hand will be welcome and cherished, but for pity's sake, does it have to be Lladro? Couldn't it be a baked vidalia onion, or something?

Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

The Trial of the Stuffed Mussels is over for the moment, worked on them from 9AM to 2PM, with a half-hour sanity break at noon.

Now to finish the wrapping, and get my act together for the kids and my Mom, as they'll be here shortly.

Have a great Eve, all.

No swimming with the fishes for me, I'll be eating them.


Posted by: -bc- | December 24, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Dear Boodlers,
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and may Santa bring you lots of goodies in your stockings :)... those would be fishnet ones!!!

Posted by: MissToronto | December 24, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Bayonne famous for its ham rather than its smell?

Too surgical strikes sufficed to solve the remaining gift issues. Still got one to wrap though. The nice lady at Holt Renfrew correctly figured the Pixie Dust Cream wasn't for me and wrapped it nicely in one of their bright pink bags. I must not be looking properly moisturized.

It's now falling freezing rain on our parade but heck, we can take it.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 24, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Listening to Obama's Christmas speech. It makes a difference when you hear him praise the troops when you know that he's not the one who sent them into a senseless, stupid war. You can tell he actually means it.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I can't stand Lladro, Yoki; that's why I'm trying to foist it off on whoever will take it. One of you ladies brought it into the bunker during one of my absences, and I can't seem to get rid of it. Or the Kinkade. *sigh*

For you, a baked Vidalia onion would be much better. They are incredible, if I do say so myself. (I think it's the 1/3 cup of wine.)

The federal agency is a ghost town; there's tumbleweeds blowing out through the corridors. All the feds have abandoned ship, and it's just me and my poor band of contractors who aren't allowed to leave early (unless we take personal leave time). Which I'm about to do, cuz this is absurd. I've already gotten three phone calls from my family begging me to bug out early. So I'm gonna fold up my tent and quietly sneak out into the warm-but-overcast (49 degrees! what a change from the 15 degrees just two days ago) winter gloom and beat feet outa this burg.

I'll be back on the Boodle after dinner, I reckon.

You don't need the pixie dust lotion, SD: I've always admired your peaches-and-cream complexion. In a manly sort of way, of course.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 24, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Suesea--nice pitchahs.

Trapped by Yello's nefarious net I ended up on his site.

Love the idea of the read a novel month. Will have to spread the idea.

Posted by: Braguine | December 24, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Merry Xmas Yanks,
thanks for a great year on the blogs from an interested Aussie.
We get to Xmas about eighteen hours before you guys - as I sit tapping it is seven in the morning and me and the wife are awaiting my daughters awakening. (somewhere about twelve years old it swaps from the kids waking the parents to the parents waking the kids? Ain't life grand!)
May your blessings be many and your children happy. Peace be with the world.

Posted by: jamesmoylan | December 24, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I used to buy my Mom a Lladro every year for Christmas -- she loved the things. After she died, they all ended up back with me and I was not a very good guardian of them. The boxes they were packed in got dropped and all were smashed. Not a single survivor. I tried to glue them back together, but so many pieces -- felt like I was trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I ended up burying them in the back yard in a private ceremony... me, the Lladro pieces and the spirit of my Mom.

If she were still around, I would give my right arm (and maybe a leg or two) to be able to give one of those porcelain figurines to her tomorrow. Or just hear her laugh.

Posted by: martooni | December 24, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Howdy and a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and all good holidays to everyone on the Boodle, and Joel.

I am hopelessly behind and just started afresh, will catch up later I hope. Nice Kit, Joel. Ivansdad got an unexpected Christmas present yesterday morning, which he kindly shared with us: after slipping on possibly the only patch of ice in the state, he landed on his side and broke his right arm. Just a tiny bit. The outside top of the radius is cracked. The good news is this means a sling - no cast - with immobility for a few days, anti-inflammatories and very efficient painkillers. The bad news is, his arm is broken. Fortunately he didn't need to drive anywhere anytime soon, or write.

This put my baking back a bit. I have made but not iced the Christmas cake - it takes three hours to bake, and the main ingredient is chopped dried fruit which has been marinating in Madeira, brandy and rum for, let's see, about 13 months. Ivansdad won't touch it; I think it makes him nervous. I finished the pumpkin pie and the black walnut pie is baking now. Yet to come: jarred mince. I'm also doing Yoki's olive snacks for appetizers tomorrow. Sugar cookies may have to wait until New Year's. I've cut my own right hand twice so far, so I'm going to stop cooking for a while and wrap presents.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 24, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

And lest I forget, here is my gift to the Boodle. Go to

and click on the "jingle audio". If you've ever lived in Oklahoma, you know it is Christmas when you hear the B.C. Clark Anniversary Sale Jingle. I think it has been going on at least for my lifetime and probably longer. We can all sing it, even those who pretend they can't. So pull up the lyrics, y'all, and sing along!

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 24, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

jamesmoylan, thanks for jumping in and Merry Christmas to you there in Oz.

The A-blog will be mostly dark until New Year's -- or at least rather gloomy -- but I'm going to post a few things here and there (I have to work Friday but it's actually kind of nice, it's so peaceful around here!). I hope everyone has a chance to be with loved ones and has a fun and relaxing and spiritually rewarding holiday. Merry Christmas!

Posted by: joelache | December 24, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

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

Happy Holidays, friends. Just getting to the computer. My day started early, and me heading out the door. I had to make the rounds this morning, even missed the walk, but walked a lot yesterday. Kbert, I laughed at your comment in the last kit. That picture of our new President has been the talk of the media lately. Not bad, not bad at all.

This apartment has everything in the middle of the floor. It's at the point of being purely ridiculous. Have a wonderful Christmas and a very prosperous, healthy New Year, my friends.

Loomis, Merry Christmas and may the New Year be everything you want it to be.

JA have a good Christmas, and give my best to your lovely family.

Martooni, Slyness, Mudge, Scotty, Yoki, and all the gang, I love you.

Time to get started.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 24, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the great gift, Ivansmom! Now I've got it running through my head and I've only heard it once!

Presents are wrapped... kids are on their way home with the carryout Ethiopian food (from our place, Yoki!). I've got a cup of Bailey's Irish Cream (with a little milk and ice). I can finally relax.

jamesmoylan... thanks for chiming in. Hope your morning is going great and the kids are finally up and everyone is happy.

Merry Christmas to everyone! As my father used to love to say.. "Peace on you and your whole family!"

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh gosh.... how can I forget...

Merry Christmas to Joel and to all the Achenbachs! Thanks for making all this possible.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the jingle Ivansmom, I love it!

Merry Christmas to the Achenbach Family and the entire Boodle.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 24, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

It is time for me to start plugging National Just Read More Novels Month (NaJuReMoNo). Every January I encourage people to read as many novels as they can in 31 days. We had some very successful boodlers last year.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

*Asks Wilbrodog to go through that jingle one more time before trying to sing it*

Er, I'm in the middle of a densely populated area. Do I really, really have to sing it, Ivansmom? Only, I'm already getting complaints from Wilbrodog's voice-coaching efforts alone...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 24, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

What a novel idea, Yello. I think I aced that month even before you announced it.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 24, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I hope each of you has a truly beautiful holiday season, and that the new year ushers in the next great phase, for us all.

Happy Holidays,


Posted by: LostInThought | December 24, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Here i go for a quick backboodle and find a new kit. So all of a sudden I'm way off in 2000-cow land. Thinking about oxidizing methane, and Martian carbon monoxide, and the oxidizing power of the regolith. Thanks, Joel.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 24, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I wish this Boodle-clan the happiest of Christmases.

Plumbing can sometimes be repaired without calling a professional. Broken hearts heal, and joy is within reach.

Posted by: FaultyFlapperValve | December 24, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone going to bother addressing the actual article?

For what it's worth; you are absolutely correct, in my opinion. I'm sick of constantly being barraged with people telling me that I HAVE to buy something or else the economy will tank. Guess, I don't need or want many things, and I'm not going to buy something just because I'm told to. Way too much of the US economy is based off of crap that no one needs--and when people no longer have the money to buy crap, the whole economy suffers. Let's build a society where wants aren't needed.

Posted by: Kermit_the_frog | December 24, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Nah, that's on-kit and is not conventional this late in the afternoon.

We sometimes stray on-kit in the morning but recover our true course sooner or later.

Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

There was more than one article in the piece. I followed Eating the Sun links and found the 2000 cows bit. So I was on kit.

But now touch my monkey. Go ahead, touch it!

If I had a recipe
for making sci-fi pie,
and then I turned it into Greek,
would I be a bigger geek
for saying "psi phi pi?"

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 24, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Yes, you would.

And that would be fine, too.

Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas everybody!

We're back from church and awaiting the arrival of the Geek Dottir, who was about 50 miles away when Elder Dottir chatted with her a little while ago. That was closer than we thought, so I'm not rushing to get dinner on the table. But she'll catch it from her sister for not leaving the boyfriend's home at a reasonable time. Me, I'll just be glad for her to get home safely.

Posted by: slyness | December 24, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 24, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Yo Kermit, we're trying's just too hard what with 'Mudge suggesting it's warm enough to wear thongs outside and complementing SD on his peaches-and-cream complexion:

And since this seems to be the official 'greetings boodle', here reposted are
season's greetings for the irreligious:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | December 24, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

A happy Christmas to everyone!

Posted by: nellie4 | December 24, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas everyone. Working tonight and we have very few guests,right now my car is the only one in the parking lot.

When I left West by god today,everything was covered in a glaze of ice,really quite nice looking.I just recently cALLED HOME AND MY ANSWERING MACHINE PICKED UP,SO i GUESS MY PHONE LINE IS BACK UP. Damn Caps lock.

Well hope everyone enjoys their holiday.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 24, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe it's not all about money"

Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Posted by: Mickey2 | December 24, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Yo! Mickey2, don't be so negative. It's all good, you know?

Posted by: FaultyFlapperValve | December 24, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Paraguay, man. All the money's in Paraguay. Those batards.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 24, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 24, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

FaultyFlapperValve - Love the handle.

I have no little kids in the house anymore. Nothing but surly teens. And yet, there is still something very special about Christmas Eve. Perhaps it is naught but a self-imposed conditional response, but I don't care. I still want to go outside and scan the sky for an airborne sleigh.

The thing is, so much in life is smoke and mirrors. The only things that really matter, I believe, are the connections we make with each other.

So I wish a Happy Christmas to all.

And, to all a good night.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 24, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey Yoki!!
What's up squirt?I bet there are big doings at Chez-Yoki tonight!!Enjoy your holiday season my friend......

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 24, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Everytime I hear someone say that "life isn't just about money", it seems like it comes from someone who is already financially secure. Not that the sentiment is insincere, not at all, but financial security is actually really, really, really important. But there are a variety of ways to be financially secure- like not being in a lot of debt even with a relatively lower income. It doesn't necessarily entail having money and a lot of consumer goods.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | December 24, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey, green man. So happy to see you back online and in fine form.

My friend, I've missed seeing you round these parts. *swaggers like a cowboy-type-girl*

You so totally rawk, dude!

Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr. R.D. Padouk, thank you. And isn't Christmas Eve a fine night? Liminal, I should say.

Goodbye, Boodle.


Posted by: FaultyFlapperValve | December 24, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Yoki......

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 24, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

The baked goods are baked, the dinner is cooked, consumed and dishes done, the presents are wrapped and under the tree (which is lit), the animals have been cared for, the Boy is filled with astonishing energy, and we are almost ready to go to church. Midnight Mass starts at 11, music at 10:30, so we're there by ten. Broken Arm Man will wait at home for Santa.

In this brief 20 minutes or so of quiet, I wish Joel and the Boodle peace, or at least equilibrium, and all good things.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 24, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I use the word "quiet" very, very loosely.

Ho, ho, ho to all.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 24, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Sing well, Ivansmom.

"Night, Padouk.

Hey, Yoki, you still up?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | December 24, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Family has left, after presents and dinner and many laughs. Years ago #2 was in London and brought home, I guess you’d losely call them Christmas ‘crackers’ altho’ they aren’t the type you’d cross hands and pull. They’re more like little jugs with a string. Anyway, we had used them one year and they were quite explosive. I found the rest of them and the brave among us pulled the strings. I don’t know if they contained gunpowder or what but the noise made my ears ring and one of them actually glowed when it blew. The dog had the shock of his young life, the rest of us were laughing too hard to care.

A little gift to all here. We saw a clip of this group on the local news last night. They are called Straight No Chaser and if you’ve never heard of them, you should watch this, they are terrific.

Merry Christmas to all!

Posted by: badsneakers | December 24, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Am I still up? Yes, I am still up. When aren't I still up?

I am a very seriously insomniac maniac, 'mudge. I'm always up, (well, not when I'm unconscious, but every other time).

Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

' The best single stimulus would be a president who got up and inspired people to do more, work harder, be creative, invest for the future and get back in touch with their core values, which include such ***old-fashioned concepts as "thrift."*** '


Don't forget "REALISM." That used to be a distinctly American virtue.

Posted by: stallonedon | December 24, 2008 11:20 PM | Report abuse

The US Government is evil. Its secret police abuse power and commit crimes against American civilians. The CIA and Pentagon Gestapo rob American civilians of private property and commit human rights violations, commit crimes, and abuse power.

Posted by: max21c | December 24, 2008 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh, pleeese.

Good night, Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Re-posting from the previous Boodle, edited for clarity:

Special holiday update!

It's the fourth night of Hanukkah. The ducks are in the roaster. The ScienceTree was purchased today as a live tree on clearance from the Home Despot and, even now, it is being decorated by the ScienceKids with [the assistance of] the ScienceGrandma. The ScienceSpouse is out braving the crowds and surely will require beer or perhaps wine when she reaches our contemporary-styled homestead. [Nope, actually she was doing the workaholic thing and never reached the stores today]. We are coming down to the wire, but it looks like success will be ours.


Posted by: ScienceTim | December 24, 2008 7:20 PM

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 25, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Wanting to ring in Christmas Day for y'll. Close to right about now:

Liminal is a fave word, as in threshold. Limnology is nice too, the study of lakes.

Who wants manicured yards? Not me.

And on kit: we can work toward an economy that favors development over growth.

The "eating the sun" rule is true: all life comes from that big ole ball of glowing energy.

God bless all, each to each, near and far. And hope, especially to the weary and lonely and wretched.

Merry Christmas and to all a good night.

Hey there Aussie!!!!!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 25, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas Boodle,You Gals and Guys are the best.....have a wonderful wonderful day Yaw!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 25, 2008 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night.


Posted by: -bc- | December 25, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

you all know I'm agnostic

I send this to all

my favorite xmas song

wishing the best to You and Yours for a better new year


Posted by: omnigood | December 25, 2008 1:06 AM | Report abuse

I posted that after watching only the beginning and now see that it is also an ad. Sorry for that. skip the last ten seconds or so

My fave still is at minute one seconds ten. That's 1:10 for the analog impaired/digitally inclined.

Posted by: omnigood | December 25, 2008 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Omni - I absolutely fell in love with the British usage: "Tuesday week", meaning, "a week after this upcoming Tuesday".

Once I became a professional, we casually tossed about terms like, "beer next, minus half".

Silly folks were we. It was perhaps one of my prouder accomplishments that the locals accepted me as someone with whom they could play such silly reindeer games.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 25, 2008 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Kerric here.

Hope this day finds everyone well. Merry Christmas! Stay safe. Enjoy this time with as much family, friendship and comraderie as you all can.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 25, 2008 2:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Kerric. I second that emotion.

God rest y'all merry, gentlefolk.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 25, 2008 2:46 AM | Report abuse

And a special message to a special someone:

It's been a long, rocky relationship, but as long as you keep coming back here, I guess we're stuck with each other. Happy holidays, darlin'.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 25, 2008 3:03 AM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Joel, all boodlers and lurkers!!

Ivansmom, sorry to hear about Ivansdad’s injury. The inconvenience of not being able to use a hand is only acutely felt when you can’t us it even for 1 day. Hope his hand gets well soon.

Posted by: rainforest1 | December 25, 2008 3:23 AM | Report abuse

You all are snug in your beds with sugar plums dancing in your head (I hope). It's Santa time here in Alohaland. Sweet Christmas dreams you all!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 25, 2008 3:26 AM | Report abuse

Good luck to Bob and his special someone.

Posted by: rainforest1 | December 25, 2008 3:28 AM | Report abuse

Joel : “Maybe life isn't just about money.”
stallonedon : "Don't forget "REALISM.""

The key is finding a balance.

Posted by: rainforest1 | December 25, 2008 3:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm a HUGE fan of balance & moderation, except when they interfere with my pursuit of excess.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 25, 2008 3:40 AM | Report abuse

Hey, don't you two ever sleep?

Balance? I've never had that in my life. I think it would make me dizzy if my life had balance.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 25, 2008 3:43 AM | Report abuse


Happy happy, everyone. I'll check in later.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 25, 2008 3:45 AM | Report abuse

Hi Aloha.

I baked a coffee cheese cake with half baked instructions. I had to change all the ingredients from grams into ounces cuz I don’t have any to measure in metric. It looked okay but I’m still afraid to try it. I suppose, like my sister said, with all the cream cheese, butter and sugar, and if it is baked all the way through, it can’t be bad.

Posted by: rainforest1 | December 25, 2008 3:49 AM | Report abuse

It's late afternoon for me.

You need to surf the waves more, Aloha.

Posted by: rainforest1 | December 25, 2008 3:53 AM | Report abuse

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

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, my friends. I'm getting ready to attempt a sweet potato pie. I haven't done that in years. My dad burnt his sweet potato pie, so I'm going to make one for him. I'm also going to try and spend the day with him. We'll see how that works.

I do hope your day is wonderful. Ivansmom, I wish I could hear you sing. Give my best to the Boy and Ivansdad. I'm sorry he's on the sick list.

To all the Boodle, have a happy and joyful day with family and friends.

It's raining here, so I don't know if I'll be able to get the walk in. I'm going to try. I'm not afraid of a little water, just don't want to get too wet.

Mudge, Yoki, Slyness, Scotty, Martooni, and everyone, it's Christmas! *waving*

Time to bake.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 25, 2008 5:35 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Cassandra and Merry Christmas to all my boodle friends.

Can't sleep, this cold has really got a grip on me. I'm just waiting for the cold medicine to kick in to go back to bed. We opened gifts after our dinner with friends, so I expect the kids will sleep in, thank goodness.

I'm with you Cassandra, I would love to hear Ivansmom sing.

I hope everyone has a lovely, happy Christmas. We're heading up to Murrland this afternoon for our annual party-til-the-cows-come-home extravaganza with our families. This year all of my family is coming to town. That's six siblings and spouses and 15 grandchildren. Yep, 'til the cows come home it will be. Come to think of it, all of the hubby's sibs will be coming as well, just not all at the same time.

I'd better get back to bed, get some rest, pronto.

Posted by: Kim1 | December 25, 2008 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merrrrrrrry Christmas!

Got up early to fill the stockings and wrap the two forgotten presents (usually I remember after the opening is done). Son of G was awake because he'd gone to bed so early.

So now the whole family is up, even earlier than when they were wee kids. We're getting ready to open presents now... fun!

Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Good Christmas Morning, Boodle, Cassandra.


Posted by: Yoki | December 25, 2008 7:24 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Looks like Santa was generous even though it was supposed to be a much restrained Christmas. To Mrs. D's defense I should add she wraps everything we buy in December except perhaps toilet paper and frozen food.
I'm the only human up, sipping coffee and doing some serious male bonding with the dogs. I think they have nefarious ideas about my croissants though. Food thoughts takes up much of their day.
The rain stopped after midnight and the cold came back. So the slush has frozen into icy concrete. *sigh* I made a Christmas for the ground feeding birds and squirrels by spreading seeds and peanuts around the feeders. Got to share the wealth. Merry Christmas!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 25, 2008 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, boodlers--

I didn't think I'd be here this morning but my family is sleeping and I've run out of things to do: I went jogging, showered, washed my hair, put on a pretty red silk blouse (and shorts--it's going to be a hot day today) and made cinnamon rolls from scratch -- that's flour, sugar, butter, powdered sugar, milk, and so on -- and after that, I had to wash, dry and iron the red blouse because it was pretty much covered with the aforementioned ingredients.

Now I'm just waiting for a sign of life from husband and/or daughter as a signal to put the rolls in the oven.

It is a very beautiful, peaceful morning, and I wish everybody serenity and happiness today and always.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 25, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I went to bed at midnight last night since I was the only one up earlier than noon yesterday. At seven am I heard steps creaking and a door close. I think it was my son going to bed. Then Santa went and put the few presents out. It's amazing what Santa can find at BigBoxOfElectronics at twenty minutes until closing on Christmas Eve.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 25, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone (I'm practicing because we are having an interfaith holiday meal later today).

And here is a cute bouncy Christmas song that I'm becoming addicted to:

Posted by: yellojkt | December 25, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Santa brought my 15-year-old daughter the Wii game Animal Crossing. It's very cute, but in true teenage form, she named her town Crackton.

The little critters are saying things to her character like, "I hope you're very happy here in Crackton!"

Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

In the spirit of the morning, I'd like to share with you our favorite Christmas Story. It's David Sedaris' "Six to Eight Black Men," which includes the story of Christmas in the Netherlands...

"...When do you open your Christmas presents?" is another good conversation starter, as it explains a lot about national character. People who traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve seem a bit more pious and family oriented than those who wait until Christmas morning. They go to mass, open presents, eat a late meal, return to church the following morning, and devote the rest of the day to eating another big meal. Gifts are generally reserved for children, and the parents tend not to go overboard. It's nothing I'd want for myself, but I suppose it's fine for those who prefer food and family to things of real value.

In France and Germany, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, while in Holland the children receive presents on December 5, in celebration of Saint Nicholas Day. It sounded sort of quaint until I spoke to a man named Oscar, who filled me in on a few of the details as we walked from my hotel to the Amsterdam train station.

Unlike the jolly, obese American Santa, Saint Nicholas is painfully thin and dresses not unlike the pope, topping his robes with a tall hat resembling an embroidered tea cozy...

Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Happy Christmas and Hanukah to all Boodlers.

I'm off to check on pirates. :o)

Posted by: Braguine | December 25, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Happy Christmas y'all!

Twas an early Christmas morning around the Padouk household as is usual. My daughter has never outgrown the desire to wake us all up at the first hint of daylight. And that's fine as I was having a hard time sleeping anyway. The nice thing about Christmas is that there are always wonderful new possibilities to look forward to.

We just finished the unwrapping of the presents, a procedure that sounds much more civilized than it is. For it was the tradition in my wife's family to open all presents in parallel just as quickly as one could, while when I was a child we all opened the presents one at a time in series. This way we stretched the experience out all morning.

So, naturally, the rule in this household is to open all presents in parallel just as quickly as one can.

But that's fine, the important thing is that just for a minute I can look at my offspring and see a hint of the big-eyed children they used to be. Even as they are unwrapping a Pink Floyd Box Set. Or, in my daughter's case "Animal Crossing" for the Wii.

Now we shall start the eating portion of the day, which shall doubtless continue with minimal interruption until it is time for a nap.

Good wishes and best thoughts to all of you.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 25, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

German Helicopter Ruins Pirate Christmas.

Under attack, an Egyptian bulk carrier had to radio Kuala Lumpur, which in turn asked anti piracy units in the Gulf of Aden to assist. A German helicopter responded and foiled the pirates.

This incident illustrates how screwed up and uncoordinated is the anti piracy effort.

Some numbers:
110 reported attacks this year.

42 hijackings

14 ships held for ranson at the moment and
240 hostages.

Posted by: Braguine | December 25, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I just hope your daughter doesn't name her Animal Crossing town Crackton, RD. That would be weird.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I have no idea what Animal Crossing is. Perhaps the town could be named Mianus? Why should we'uns have all the fun with that name?

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 25, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning, all.

Whatever holidays you may or may not celebrate at this time of year, may yours be happy, healthy, and safe, and may you be in the arms of your dearest.

Went for a bracing early Christmas Morning run through the neighborhood, and came up behind a lady walking briskly. I announced myself from several meters behind by announcing "Merry Christmas!" She turned and said, "Merry Christmas," then continued,"Can you say that anymore? In these politically correct days, everyone around here says 'Happy Holidays,' to include people of all faiths and backgrounds."

I slowed to walk with her, and shrugged. "I think most people can take it in the spirit it's intended. If someone wished me Happy Hanukkah, a Joyous Ramadan, a Good Kwanzaa, or a Festive Diwali, I'd be happy to recieve the blessing. But, that's just me."

She thought about it for a second, and said, "Is it we Amercians, who are so worried about being so politically correct? I mean, I have neighbors from other countries who don't celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, but celebrate the Christmas season - lights, trees, presents..."

I replied, "And that's what I mean by the spirit of the Holidays. They might also be celebrating other religious or cultural holidays, but they're being inclusive, just as we should be. I try to acknowledge any holidays I can to my friends who celebrate them, even if I don't celebrate them myself. And I just hope that people can extend that to me, and if they can't, well, I will try to understand and remember for the future, but I can't spend my life worrying about how people take any greeting I offer. I try to be thoughtful, but life's short -- I'd rather be friendly and smile, and I'm OK if people think me a genial idiot."

She looked at me and said, "Merry Christmas, and enjoy the rest of your run. It was nice talking with you."

"Merry Christmas to you and yours, and it was nice talking with you, too. I hope you have a wonderful day."

And I with a smile, I went into my finishing kick around the block.


Posted by: -bc- | December 25, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas, everybody!

The day started early for us, as the schedule is a killer. As Elder Dottir noted, Christmas is NOT a day off.

Had an impassioned call last night from the exhusband, upset because we need to leave for my brother's earlier than normal. They wanted the 8:30 to 11 slot, we need to be on the road by 11. So the girls were here at 7:30 and we managed to have Christmas and send them to him by 8:35.

I hope everyone is enjoying the day! Cool and misty here, typical icky Christmas weather. Elder Dottir laughed that she is excited about her present from her sister and me - a new refrigerator. Geek Dottir cleaned up with small appliances - breadmaker, blender, crockpot. The only toy is the helicopter I bought for Mr. T and it's broken, so back to the store for me tomorrow!

Posted by: slyness | December 25, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Despite claims that Christmas is the one morning she is up early we have not yet heard from Frostdottir with the plaintive phone call that it is time to come over and open presents. But, Mr. F and I are running late as well, just now getting to the coffee then we'll be off. It will be an afternoon of ice fishing and visiting with cousins (Ma Frostbitten's cousins actually, so more like Aunties and Uncles)then I am going to read the books I received (not yet opened, but I asked for fiction!).

Thanks for writing about your mid-run conversation BC. You are a wise man.

Peace to people of both good and ill will. (In fact as BobS points out the ill willed need the wish even more).

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 25, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

OK, it's decided... the G family will see The Secret Life of Bees at the cheap theatre today. Dinner afterward at Yen Cheng.

Just like bc points out about holiday greetings, there's no reason a heathen Gentile family like ours can't celebrate a traditional "Jewish Christmas."

We've been doing it for years, since my mom died and we started having the Extended-Family Christmas on the weekend before or after Dec 25.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: -tao- | December 25, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I am Boodling. And I'm doing it from my new MacBook. This is one slick machine.

Posted by: Yoki | December 25, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas, Yoki! And Tao... and the rest! (sung to the tune of Gilligan's Island)

Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Just lost a post with my Christmas greeting.

Early start here - 6:30 am, much excitement, new WII and Animal Crossing perhaps TBG's child and mine can play over the internet.

Nice Christmas Eve dinner that I cooked! A rarity in this house - for big dinners anyways - Prime Rib, baked potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, snow peas, corn, rolls - and everything cooked correctly - snow peas crunchy, prime rib nice and rare. Not exactly complicated foods but I am a simple cook and am quite proud. Had some red wine sryup (Rosemary spice) that I purchased at a winery and poured a little on the roast before cooking plus other spices - so good.

Have a great day all.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 25, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas, dear TBG, and the same to the entire G. family!

Posted by: Yoki | December 25, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Myrrrrrhy Christmas, Boodle! (Myrrhy. myrrh, alfrankensense, and gold -- get it? It's, like, a pun! And like people in the myrrh business always say, "Don't be a sap!" Hahahahahaha. Sometimes I sleigh me! See, that's like a whole nother joke! Sleigh! Oh, I got a million of 'em!)

No, I haven't been drinking-- although heaven knows, I coulda been. Santa dropped off three bottles of wine, and my sone gave me a six-pack carton of Yuengling lager (replacing that which he "borrowed" from me a few weeks ago when he and his friends were here watching football), and augmented it with a four-pack of Grolsch, which I've never had. But even so, it has been a good morning. Breakfast was a slice of savory country hame cheesecake, from a recipe we learnmed last weekend at the Williamsburg chef demo. Really, really good.

Santa was very good to me: two much-desired flannel shirts, a nice sweater, the three books I asked for, a big cast-iron skillet (Logic brand, pre-seasoned!), gift cards to Borders and Olive Garden, plus the usual assortment of odds and ends. Got my wife that Olympus camera we discussed here on the Boodle, plus a special wide-angle lense for it. Plus the usual goodies and this and that. Kids made out well, too, and everybody is happy. Ham's in the oven, comes out at noon, when we depart for oldest dottir's house for big dinner with four of the grandkiddies.

And last evening my wife unveiled the new, makeover master bathroom suite-- she (chief decorator and theoretician/architect) and contractor did a fab job on it. Still needs a few final touches--the crown molding needs to go up, and a dab of caulk here and there. So I guess in a way that was a big Christmas present, too. I don't know what it cost--my wife won't tell me, and I guess I really don't wanna know. I'm not a fan of full disclosure.

I just noticed something, and I'm laughing. I just looked at the Border's gift card my son gave me. You know what's on it? A Thomas Kinkade painting called "Christmas Cottage." Bwahahahahaha. And my son has no idea--I'm sure he just plucked it from the diplay rack.

Ooooooooooo, I'm so frenvious of your new MacBook, Yoki!

OK, gotta go jump in the shower. One of my gifts in my stocking was a bar of some kinda special peppermint soap--so now instead of smelly Irish-Spring minty-fresh, I'm gonna smell pepperminty-fresh. Probably get licked to death by every dog and cat in the neighborhood.

Hope you are all enjoying your day and your families!

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | December 25, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure many people have their favorite Christmas brunch. Around here it is something called "Upside Down Baked Banana Apple French Toast." This is a recipe we found in the Washington Post years ago. It is a decadent mixture of sauted fruit covered with a thick layer of French Toast made from challah. The whole thing then gets baked until golden brown.

We serve it with thin slices of breakfast ham.

It is very good, but notoriously rich. This is why we decided to make it a annual meal. It takes that long to burn the stuff off.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 25, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

BTW - if that sounds good, the recipe can be found here:

But be sure to schedule a nap for later.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 25, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

It's so much fun to read about everyone's Christmas morning! Keep up the reports... I feel like we're going door to door.


Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

We gun jumped all season and I have been using the new family MacBook for over a week now. This morning I used to stream the Star Wars Holiday Special on the TV. You haven't celebrated until you've watched Bea Arthur shut down the cantina and all the wookiees growl Life Day carols.

I've got a link to it on my blog if you are inclined to join the festivities.

Today we have over a mixed Jewish-Christian family and my atheist brother-in-law and his presumably Shinto wife. Holidays should be about fellowship, not proselytization. Open to all.

My son has taken to calling it Saturnalia in respect to its traditional roots.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 25, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

You know, when the kids were little I used to hate having to spend hours extracting their toys from the packaging because of the many wires, tabs, and those sadistic molded plastic clam-shells. Then, of course, they would want you to help them assemble things and attach the billions of little stickers. And, of course, you had to put in the batteries, which always required removing those little-itty bitty screws. It took all morning.

Nowadays, of course, they just say "thanks," take the video games or music CDs or DVDs and disappear completely. It's almost like having no children at all.

Suddenly, those stickers don't seem so bad.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 25, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

My daughter wants me to play Animal Crossing with her on the Wii! We get to make houses and catch fish and buy furniture and all sorts of cool stuff.

No complaints here.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 25, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I awoke to bright sunshine and a perfectly ripened Japanese persimmon. is good.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | December 25, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas dear Achenblog boodlers! XXXOOO

Can't stay to play right now. Have to work on Christmas dinner. My boys are here but my dad is now in Hospice. A bittersweet holiday but I am grateful for everything I have and have had in life.

3 cheers!

Posted by: Windy3 | December 25, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Since I've already done my Georgia trip for the season, and the roomies are off to North Carolina for the weekend, I'm having a quiet day. Plenty of beer, and I fired up the grill to slow cook some ribs. I've got some Brunswick stew thawing out, and have assembled the ingredients for a dirty rice/Hoppin' John hybrid affair and a garden salad that is going to be ridiculously too large because I keep deciding to add more stuff to it.

I know I'm getting old, because it's almost two in the afternoon, and I haven't yet opened any of my not-inconsiderable pile of presents.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 25, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

bobsewell! Happy Christmas.

Windy3, enjoy your boys. Sorry to hear about your father.

Posted by: Yoki | December 25, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks bc for your contribution. And to yelloson for advancing the cause of Saturnalia.

Just was served a homebrew w/ hickory and licorice. Not bad. I should say, honestly, it was not horrid...

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 25, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

There's a somewhat stunning number included in the Juliet Eilperin climate change article.
- - -
"The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are now losing an average of 48 cubic miles of ice a year..."
- - -
That, kids, is a lot of ice. Over seven TRILLION cubic feet of it. Enough to cover Texas under about ten feet of ice, or France under nearly eleven feet. And this is melting each year.

The times, they are a'changin'.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 25, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse


From: Bud, The Big Idea Guy
To: Mr. J.L. Achenbach
Re: A Christmas Miracle for The Newspaper Business.

Okay, so listen up. I think I know how to make this here newspaper thing work. Now hear me out. You see, each year I buy my wife a nice calendar. This despite the fact that she never actually writes anything down on it. No, instead she uses this free computerized program thingie from the Internet. Ya following? Good. Cause here comes the Big Idea what's gonna change the world. There is a reason people still purchase these obsolete dead-tree things. And the reason is - wait for it – puppies.

Yes, my wife likes the puppy pictures that are on the top of each month. Now wait, it gets better. Turns out it isn't just puppies that are on calendars. No, you have a whole gob of stuff including, frogs, flowers, hot race cars, hot women, hot women and race cars, weird mathematical pattern stuff and even comic strips that haven't even been in the newspaper for, what, 15 years.

Folks dig this stuff. They pay cash money just for the pics. See where I'm going here? All you need to do is put some big 'ol pic of some baby dressed like a carnation or other cutesy crap on odd-numbered pages and faster than you can say Bob's-Your-Uncle circulation rates would be through the roof.

The Fordin' roof.

I'm telling you. This idear's gold. Now, true, the paper would have to get bigger, but let's be honest. Most people don’t read a lot of the boring parts anyway. And you could always just use smaller type – maybe attach a magnifier as a freebie! Folks dig freebies. Or you can just have them writers use less big fancy words or, you know, adverbs. Because a lotta people really don’t get adverbs anyway.

So there you have it. The Big Idea you've been looking for. And you don’t need to reimburse me or nuthin. Consider it my Christmas gift to you. Heck, when you present it to that Editor Lady you can take full credit. Say it's all your idea. Go ahead.

It'll make her day.


Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 25, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

You know, I've heard tell that sometimes people get a little stir-crazy come Christmas afternoon.

I think I'll go see if they're still showing "A Christmas Story" on television.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 25, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

EYE thought that was pretty funny, RD.

Posted by: Yoki | December 25, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Funny AND brilliant, thinks I.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 25, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Thank you both for your kind comments. Glad to see I'm not the only one hanging around the internet this afternoon.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 25, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Here, RD... I'll even get him started...

Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Where else would we be in the lull between gift-frenzy and dinner-panic?

Posted by: Yoki | December 25, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Me too, not sure what to say but my heart is full in that December way.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 25, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Now my happiness is complete, to see dear CP here. You've been gone to long for my wishes, CollegeParkian. Very fond regards to you, ma'am.

Posted by: Yoki | December 25, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Shrinky Dinks

and, now the painting of rocks. You look at the river rock -- all smooth and weather-worn -- and the rock tells you that it should be a


Someone is painting a river otter.

You press furniture felt pads on the bottom: voila, a paper weight.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 25, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas, Boodle!

yellojkt, there's a theory that I saw recently in a skimmed article that Saturnalia was actually the pagan attempt to co-opt the feast day of the rapidly expanding cult. Would be interesting to read more.

Posted by: engelmann | December 25, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

CqP: is there satisfaction at least in having been forced to mark early and now being done?

Posted by: engelmann | December 25, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

We're having another lovely snowy day here in Seattle. It's 35 degrees, but the precipitation is still snow. Talk about stir crazy - even Mr seasea has had enough of the snow. Wouldn't be so bad if the roads were cleared, but they're not. At this point the city's plan seems to be to let it melt...sigh. We didn't get any mail yesterday, which is weird - usually we get at least junk - and no newspaper today. So I don't know if they couldn't make it because of road conditions or what. And a gift that shipped on 12/17 still isn't here. The city said there was a number to call to find out about garbage pickup, which would be staffed today. I called and got a message saying they're closed because of the holiday. Merry Christmas!

Since Bob linked to the climate, here's an article about the weather:

Posted by: seasea | December 25, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, been thinking of boodlers, much like I think of family. Sorry for Windy; my mom died on the Solstice -- many of us around -- and was buried on Christmas Eve day. My grandfather died Christmas Day, about ten minutes after morning Mass. Never easy, but we do mark these anniversaries whenever then come. At a holiday, the pall cast is a gossamer of grief upon the fineness of the special day, too.

So, Shrinky Dinks can dispel the gloamin'....they can be turned by clever, clever girls into earrings!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 25, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Engelman (AngelMan): do you mean celebrating on the Eve? Yes, I like that evening-before custom so that the day can be restful. Borrowed from the Jewish practice of keeping the Sabbath on sundown of the Friday.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 25, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

RIP Albert Hofmann

His story inspired me to be a student of pharmacognosy until almost 1991, and then biochemistry pulled me away. Here is a link to LSD-My problem child:

Some may find his musings in Ch. 11 on LSD and reality and mythology and religion and science and what not (he was probably on some drugs or something :-) interesting.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | December 25, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

To say we're having a quiet Christmas is an understatement. One of the things I love about snow is how quiet it gets (but enough, already!). My kiddo sent me 3 books by Neal Stephenson - the Baroque Cycle - each about 1000 pages. He must think I have a lot of time to read!

Posted by: seasea | December 25, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

HO HO HO to all -- I hope the entire Boodle is enjoying whichever celebration comes to mind (and if there are none which come to mind, just go and make one up).

Just saw that Eartha Kitt died. And Harold Pinter, too. What a year for losses of those in the arts - I still hold onto a fondness for Paul Newman (one of the reasons (but not the main one) why I partake in his salad dressing).

I must say that I am a wee bit frenvious of those with a measurable snowfall. I'd really like one of those paralyze-the-city-snowfalls. And then have a ginormous case of Spring fever so that once the ton of snow melts there will be the early crocuses and daffodils trumpeting in the new season. Yeah, I know, winter just started, but still . . . .

Listening to Eva Cassidy (Wonderful World CD). She is truly missed, as well.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday (whichever).

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | December 25, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

*faxing 6 inches of snow from street and falling snowflakes to ftb*

Would appreciate fax of sunshine and a few more degrees of warmth, soonest.

Love Eva Cassidy too.

Posted by: seasea | December 25, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

CqP, I was referring to your deadline for marking papers- will probably make for a quieter post-Xmas.

Posted by: engelmann | December 25, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, E-mann, how nice of you to think of me. Yes, easier! I am not sure how to spend the delicious block of time. Books? Yes. That.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 25, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

It has been a nice day. I stayed with my dad, then went to my sisters. And started the day with the g-girl and her sisters. I'm so tired and sleepy. I enjoyed reading all of your Christmas day activities. Just wanted to pop in and say, goodnight, boodle.

Sweet dreams. And thanks so much for making my Merry Christmas. BC, you are a sweetheart.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 25, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Good night, dear and cherished Cassandra. Sleep well. Tomorrow will be easier, I do believe.

Posted by: Yoki | December 25, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey, FTB.

Something CqP said a little while ago got me any of us anymore (except, of course, teachers) ever have piles of paper that need holding down by paperweights? Given that we supposedly live in an electronic, paperless world (a lie, of course), one would think the paperweight industry must be desperate for something to lay their weights upon. Just a thought.

In other matters...yes, RIP Eartha Kitt and Harold Pinter.

FYI, any of you who were thinking about kissing me on the lips under the mistletoe (except virtually, of course): I wouldn't do it. I think I'm coming down with the flu. Have ZICAMmed myself, will see if that helps. But I'm pretty sure I'm contagious.

But not to complain. It's been a very nice day. Hope all yours were, too.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | December 25, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Not able to kiss Mudge under the mistletoe, I am heartbroken. Hope you feel better soon.

I too feel a little unwell but I think it is just exhaustion and way too much food.

If dr is around, love the link to the Crash Test Dummies version of Noel - forgot how much I like that version.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 25, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Funny that you mention that Mudge. One of my colleagues has done away with all of his filing cabinets and keeps all his stuff on his computer. I'm doing more of that, but I still keep paper copies of many things, and I use MozyPro as a backup system. I also have an external hard drive. Wonder what paperweights will be used for in the future.

Hope you're feeling better Mudge. Drink lotsa hot tea and try to get a good night's sleep.

I'm so proud -- I've been reading the Letters and Diaries of Harold Nicholson (the first two volumes (I -- 1930-1939) and II -- The War Years 1939-1945), which I'm into now). They are really, really a fascinating look into Britain and London during those years (the first book touches upon the abdication). Anyway, I knew there were three volumes, but my parents (whose books these were originally) only had the first two. I don't even know if they ever read them. So, I emailed to Hatchards, my favorite bookshop in London on Picadilly, just a shop away from Fortnum & Mason (another shop I love) to see if they might have it about. I got a lovely email back saying, as I thought, that it was out of print, but gave me a link to second hand shops. I ended up ordering the third volume (for all of US$12.10 (incl. shipping) from an outfit called Abebooks, which is, among other places, in Canada. Needless to say, I've bookmarked the site and will go wandering through the stacks again and again.

So many books, so little time.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | December 25, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh my ftb, Hatchards. Loved that place, bought my abridged, beautiful edition of Pepys' diary there. Been way too long since I got to visit them!

I'm checking in and delighted to hear that everyone's had a nice Christmas. We enjoyed dinner with my brother and family. *I* got to play with my niece's new American Girl doll, Molly McGuire. What a beautiful doll she is; her new owner and I braided her hair and admired her.

Once in a while, it's delightful to have a reason to bring out the good china, crystal, silver, and linen, and Christmas is the best reason I can think of. It's even worth having to wash and dry everything by hand!

CqP, so glad all the academic endeavors are behind you. Mudge, I hope a good night's sleep will ward off illness. Cassandra, I hope you sleep well after a busy day! Yoki, I'm sure yours was a pleasant holiday with a new Macbook; may it bring you many friends and much fun! Seasea, we ended up with a clear day and low 60's, please come from the frozen northwest and visit us! You too, SD and engleman!

To all, I hope it has been a delightful day, and may Boxing Day be cheerful too!

Posted by: slyness | December 25, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

We got to the theater, bought four tickets to see The Secret Life of Bees, bought our popcorn and sodas and tried to find the right theater... only to be told that there was no 4:40 show of The Secret Life of Bees today.

Our only choices were High School Musical 3 (uh.. no), Beverly Hills Chihuahua (uh... NO) and something called Transporter 3, which we hadn't heard anything about. We went for Transporter and managed to stay for about 15 minutes. Here's why...

Then we drove around looking at Christmas lights and found a house near ours that has the lights synced with music and a sign telling you which radio channel to tune your radio to so you can hear the music. It was fascinating. This picture doesn't really do it justice; I wish I had a video of it...

Then off to meet my sister (today's her birthday!) and her family at Yen Cheng to complete our Jewish Christmas celebration. Lots of fun and great food. Exchanged birthday gifts and she opened hers from her kids and husband.

An altogether joyous day and I'm happy that I spent some of it here with you all.

G'night.... Merry Christmas!

Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

If Albert Hoffman was your inspiration to go into pharmacology, I wouldn't confess that to any admission boards. I had no idea he was still alive. How many lives has that bicycle ride changed?

Sheer brilliance. Why are we paying people to think when so many genius ideas are just out there?

This post has taken an inordinate amount of time to type. Two pre-dinner pomegranate martinis, two glasses of wine at dinner, five shots of amaretto after dinner, the challenge taste of moutai and the Baileys as ice cream topping have not been beneficial to my hand-eye coordination. Thanks to the FSM for Google spell check.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 25, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm here dmd, Merry Christmas. I spent a long time just listening to carols on Youtube yesterday.

We had a lovely day yestrday and again today. Kerric stayed until he just could not eat anymore. If anyone would like seconds of turnip casserole or dressing or turkey, call me, I'll warm up the fax.

I spent most of the day watching some dvds the boys gave me. I am now the thrilled owner of the Firefly boxed set. And the Mr. Bean boxed set. I have some fun new knitting needles that light up on the tips (for knitting in the dark) and oodles of yarn, and some beautiful handmade silver stitch markers from mrdr.

They are beautiful things, but none of them means more to me than having my boys and girl around me. Merry Christmas, happy leftovers and to all a good night.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 25, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

But TBG, if they made three of them, those Transporter movies must be pretty good. We checked online and S'mac is closed tomorrow, so our back up plan is to go to Supermac near Penn Station instead.

Now when was the SciFamily trip planned? I'd hate to run into them and have to explain things to my wife.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 25, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Turkey has just come out of the oven although I fear that it's a bit overcooked. Maybe a lot of gravy will keep it from being too dry to eat. Oh well, it smells wonderful! Almost dinner time in Alohaland, sunny day today with lots of breeze. Not a white Christmas but Christmas all the same. While I know some of you wish it weren't so cold and snowy where you are, I kinda wish we had the beauty of a white Christmas. Yeah, yeah, I know. Be careful what I wish for.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 25, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas to all my imaginary friends! Of course, many of you are not so imaginary these days. And every year that number lessens. That makes me a very lucky man.

I hope Santa was very good to each of you.

Posted by: -pj- | December 25, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

try this again

Evening all and Merry Christmas

We had a great time at our festivities here at Moms.My brother came out for the first time since breaking his hip,and he is getting along nicely.My other brother just kept saying He was really "hip".My Bros are so cool you know.I got a really cool fly gun in the dollar grab,but my nephew swiped it from me with pick #14,so i ended up with a mega millions ticket(i guess he will be sorry tomorrow whenI win)

Finally got deer whistles for my car...Yeeee.....Haaaa.....

My sister and I just finished up the last of the dishes,I need to put Mom's book under the tree.

I hope everyone had a wonderfully great Christmas too!!!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 25, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

A very fine Christmas here at Chez Frostbitten. The temps have moderated to a balmy 15 above and we may break 20 tomorrow! Dinner at the cousin's house with much entertainment by their two dogs-a springer spaniel and a black lab. I am wearing the very soft chenille robe Frostdottir gave me and will spend some time with Saramago's _Death With Interruptions_ before turning in, but after a small piece of chocolate pecan pie.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 25, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Lying quietly, I
Caught a paper airplane
aim'd at me. Bad Kid!

Three Christmas feasts where
Chatter, drinks, and food flowed
Amidst food orgies
I got tidbits to sample;
not all I could eat (Mean Scrooge.)

Walking in the green
No snowshoes, boots, or wild gnomes
crying "mush!" Quite strange.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 25, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who is interested in audiobooks, I just found this site, I guess most people are ahead of me on this because I found it through itunes; I must be the last person in the world to get up to speed with itunes. Anyway, puts out a free classic audiobook each month, and this month it's "A Christmas Carol" -- just FYI. I'm downloading it right now.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 25, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey Wilbrodog! You should come watch the mushers at the White Oak Classic race as it comes through our fair city on January 10th. We've got a great snow base this year. Bring the gnome too. Serious frenvy at your Manassas Christmas.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 25, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Hordes of huskies
running hard in snow, sounds cool
.. since it's not MY job.

Frenvy at Christmaser
Makes holy nights less holy does hunger, GNOME.

Jungle cats prowl near
waterhole, hiding in ficus
Nervous drinker's me....


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 25, 2008 10:57 PM | Report abuse

You are a step ahead of me, kbert. Never been to itunes. Never bought a song from a Web site. One of these days I'll get caught up on some of the possibilities of this Internet thingy.

Posted by: -pj- | December 25, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

The interwebs are cool, pj.... you can communicate with folks in other cities 'n' everything!

G'night for real now... ZZZzzzz.....

Posted by: -TBG- | December 25, 2008 11:10 PM | Report abuse

No, kb, you're not the last one. I have looked at itunes a bit, but never heard of the other one - will check it out, thanks for the tip!

Nice to hear about everyone's Christmas. TBG, I hope you got your money back - how can they sell you tickets for a showing that doesn't exist?

Posted by: seasea | December 25, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Doubt is good. Deft storytelling, great cast and acting. Meryl Streep made a SCARY good principal.
Took me straight back to convent school days. I remember only one visit to the principal and that once was more than enough...I called someone a batard in class and then lied about it. Dumb move; there were too many witnesses and those nuns knew well how to extract confessions.

That's when I developed distinct speech patterns: 'in-class pretty mouth' and 'out-of-class potty mouth'. Which turned out to be great training for my current job as a teacher!

A warning about Doubt: RDP may be emotionally scarred on seeing Amy Adams as a nun.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | December 25, 2008 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that link kb.
I've been using, but it's fun to check out new voices.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | December 25, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas night, all.

Or is it Boxing Day Eve?

RD, liked your idea about the newspaper as an add-on to an online calendar.

Reminded me of the idea I had a few years back about "Worlds of Newscraft," making news sites into an online Internet game. It's still on the 10thcircle, for those that haven't read it.

seasea, I love Stepehnson, and really really liked the Baroque Cycle, though it takes about 300 pages to really get going.

Dag. Eartha Kitt passed? In addition to being a fabulous singer she was always my favorite Catwoman.

Hoffmann and Pinter passed, too? They'll be missed, all.

A nice Christmas for me, culminating in a wonderful roast leg of lamb dinner with the family, laughing and serious conversation, a little skateboarding (amazingly, I can keep up with an 8-year old without hurting myself and managed to fix the wheel bearings on his imcompletely assembled new Christmas 'board), and some bonus auto maintenance on Mom's car to boot.

Good night, all.


Posted by: -bc- | December 25, 2008 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas!
Whew, almost didn't make it.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 25, 2008 11:59 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | December 26, 2008 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Boxing predawn, almost.

Reading "Insomniac" by Gayle Greene and contemplating the virtues of eating cauliflower and other mustard-family items. I have a hunch that bland cauliflower is deficient in whatever chemicals make mustards healthy. By that logic, broccoli should be better and Brussels sprouts unbeatable. Radishes, too?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 26, 2008 2:04 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. I'm up early, and I guess I've had enough sleep. Boko, so nice to hear from you. Glad you made it. I will try and finish the cleaning bit today or at least put a big dent in it.

Mudge, I hope you're feeling better this morning. You probably just picked up some wicked germ over the holiday. Let us hope that rest and chicken soup will do the trick.

Slyness, Scotty, Martooni, Yoki, and all the boodlers, it's the day after Christmas or rather another Black Friday, good morning to all.*waving*

I know every year people make these grand promises to themselves that they're going to do something worthwhile or live a different life, and before the month of January is over, so are those promises. Some folks are going to loose weight or others are going to stop those bad habits they've acquired over the years. All of it well intentioned and if written out, worthy of journalistic awards, yet much of it is just hot air. Something to say for lack of something to say. Still, every end of the year, we pursue this cause with high hopes of attaining the prize. I'm no different. I fall into this category too. Mine is always the same. Every year I'm going to try not putting my hands to my mouth. In other words, I'm going to loose weight. Over the years, I've discovered it doesn't work. The only cure I suspect would be to cut the hands off(drastic, I know) or sew the mouth(even worse). In my case, if either of the above options were implemented, I'd find a way around them. Could you help me with this straw?

Get some rest, folks. The weekend is here, and still time to play. Hopefully, I can walk this morning. It is cold here compared to yesterday, which was quite warm.

Time to go.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 26, 2008 4:02 AM | Report abuse

Some of you copy writers or teachers can tell me is that the correct spelling or use of the word, "loose"? I'm not sure, and it doesn't sound right in my head. Please correct. I can't find my dictionary.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 26, 2008 4:17 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I certainly wouldn't argue against how you built that sentence; most everyone could afford to loose a few pounds upon the world, transforming them into good deeds. Much better than simply losing them, I'd say. *HUGSSSS*

And where'd all these boxes come from? :-)

As hectic as the days have become, it's far too easy to forget just how nice it is to sit around for hours and just hold hands with NukeSpouse. The cats took turns playing blanket for each of us. Although I think they were more interested in the lingering scent of the ham and casseroles that made up our holiday feast...

And Santa was kind -- who knew someone had combined the concepts of Monopoly and Monty Python? *Snoopy dances*

I wish everyone a very unproductive weekend (as in, enjoy yourselves!!!) and a minimum of cleanup activities!

*contemplating-a-marginally-useful-day-but-of-course-with-some-jogging-thrown-in-to-counteract-the-eggnog Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 26, 2008 5:24 AM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas! I thought I missed saying it on time until I remembered that Christmas is a season celebrated by many through the Epiphany, or the 13th day, or the 12th day, or something like that, I'm a little confused on the counting.

This Christmas was the simplest one the Lion family has ever had. Our pastor read Dr Seuss, How the Grinch Stold Christmas for the homily on the Eve's mass. Then we went home and had grilled cheese, tomato soup, and apple cobbler for dinner. I think Ms Lion started a tradition.

Though it was a budget Christmas, my kids got together and concluded it was the best one ever. This is the first time we've celebrated the day with our immediate family only. I like to socialize, but the stress free, no obligation Christmas sure has its merits.

And I wish all you Boodlers as peaceful of holidays as I am having this year.

Posted by: DandyLion | December 26, 2008 6:28 AM | Report abuse

Sounds fantastic, dandylion, and with that menu and the apple cobbler for an ending, it's worthy of the finest restaurant in town.

Done the walk, and it is chilly outside, yet the cold air felt refreshing. The weather person says don't get used to the chilly for it will be in the seventies tomorrow. We'll all have pneumonia or the flu before the winter is over.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 26, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

[Speaking of the right Stimulus Package, This comment was originally eaten by the Durty Word Filter, even though the original text - in its original form - appears on the front page of the]

And there was much snickering in the copyroom:

"Potent New Tool in War on Terror

CIA offers Vi@gra, other personal services, in effort to spawn strategic alliances with Afghan warlords.

-Joby Warrick"

Cassandra, "loose" is used for things like clothing that is too large to fit properly, or animals that escape confinement.

"Lose" is when one cannot locate car keys, what happens to a sports team that has the fewest points at the end of the game, or a reduction in body weight...

People commonly interchange the two.


Posted by: -bc- | December 26, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Obama really is a gym rat:

Up to 90 minutes a day, every day working out. Can we trust somebody with such shallow priorities? Do you really need to work out EVERY day? What is he trying to prove?

This has been your rhetorical question brake for the day.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 26, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Dang! bc, beat me to the link. I was copying and pasting as he boodled. Kinda frightens me.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 26, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, I exercise for at least 30 minutes on "off" days, and over an hour for "on" days.

Keeps me quick and light on my feet.


Posted by: -bc- | December 26, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Always look on the bright side of life,
(tweet tweet...toottoot toottoot toottoot)
Always look on the right side of life,
(tweet tweet...toottoot toottoot toottoot)

Come on Cassandra, cheer up.

Always look on the bright side of life!
(tweet tweet...toottoot toottoot toottoot)

Worse things happen to the skinny ones at sea, you know.
(we'll float while they sink :-)

I mean - what have we got to loose?
You know, we come from nothing,
we're going back to nothing.
What have we loost?

(please don't be offended :-)

Posted by: DNA_Girl | December 26, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Morning all - just a nice story about two recued horses, stuck in the snow in British Columbia - the photo gallery is interesting - that is a lot of snow.

Posted by: dmd2 | December 26, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

DNA girl, I like it. Never offended with you. It made me laugh.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 26, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Still not sure what malady I have, but I think it's abating. Last night the worst symptom was a sore throat, and I was thinking maybe strep. But this morning my cough has loosened (to use the word of the day) and the sore throat has abated. So maybe it wasn't flu after all. Maybe the ZICAM helped.

Off to breakfast-- a piece of that country ham cheesecake my wife made, and anice cup of tea. Not sure what species -- my wie the tea drinker has a dozen of 'em, I believe. Maybe Earl Chutney, or Morning Twining, or Orange Blossom Remoulade, or whatever. (My knowledge of tea is pretty much confined to "Tetley" and "Lipton," which I guess grow on Tetley trees and Lipton bushes, I dunno.

And then...(dramatic drumbeat) ...I fear my wife has an ungodly list of honey-doos. Something about "straightening up the garage."

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | December 26, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I enjoyed reading about everyone’s Christmas yesterday. I confess that after I vacuumed up the remains of the Christmas ‘cracker’ mess yesterday, I spent the rest of the day on the sofa, mostly asleep. I guess that’s what I needed as I think my cold is finally on the wane.

Today I am going to clean the kitchen, really clean. Wash down the cabinets and counters and then give the floor a good scrub on hands and knees. “S” is a work but should be home early so I’m hoping to go for a walk, assuming I don’t end up asleep on the sofa again. Happy Boxing day.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 26, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning, Boodle. Cassandra. 'Mudge.

Glad to hear that those of you who were under the weather are feeling just that wee bit better.

Boxing Day is, next to Christmas, one of my favourite days of the year. Chez Yoki, it is certainly the easiest day of the year. Turkey sandwiches, cold milk, lots of new music to listen to, books to read, and friends to visit with. No shopping for us.

This has been the best holiday of my adult life. So far.

Tomorrow quotidian routine reasserts itself. First stop, the cardboard recycling bins. Boxes everywhere!

Have a lovely day, dear Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | December 26, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Grey morning here.
We went to my sister's in Montreal yesterday, it's about 125 miles away. My other sister and my parents were there so it was the big family meeting for this year. Very fun meal and good drinks too. The brother in law is a fine wine connoisseur.
Both young nephew and niece got one of those Wii things. The game Rock Star just showed the obvious, once again; I can't sing.
The older brother called from South Africa to report that his wife and two daughters were under duress. They missed their connection in Paris because of a 3 hours weather delay in Montreal, so the poor dears had to spend Christmas day in downtown Paris. The airlines were providing a shuttle to the Champs Élysées and it beats CdG airport hands down... They should be arriving in Johannesburg about now.

No shopping for me today except for some groceries, maybe. I'll let others fight the good fight, there is just way too much people in the stores on Boxing day.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 26, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

No shopping today!
We'll go next week instead, see
When these boxers leave...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 26, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Happy Boxing Day everyone! I get the day off, so today is especially joyful.

The in-laws are still here, although the ladies have all left to take advantage of the many Boxing Day Sales at the local retail establishments. This leaves my father-in-law, who is sleeping in the recliner, as is his custom, my son, who is sleeping in late, as is his custom, and me, who is hanging out here, as is - oh, you get the idea.

I do think that I will spend part of the day working on a new wooden art box ("art" being a very subjective term) and trying to avoid the refrigerator. There are enough leftovers in this house to feed ten Grinches - plus two.

I think the secret to post holiday weight loss is to unplug your refrigerator.

Enjoy the day all you who are at home. And for those at work, like one Journalist I know of, I hope you got the parking space of your dreams.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 26, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Imagine having to inadvertently spend Christmas in Paris! I feel really sorry for your relations, shriek.

Posted by: Yoki | December 26, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Aaahh... the sixth day of Hanukkah beginning at sundown, the second day of Christmas (the Feast of Stephen the deacon & martyr, patron of stonemasons, horses, & headache-sufferers, among other things), Zartosht no-diso commemorating the death of the prophet Zarathustra ...

It's a busy day!

Posted by: bobsewell | December 26, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! Will be a half day of work at Chez Frostbitten, recycling to the waste transfer station, city correspondence, a check of the old school building to make sure nothing untoward has happened with pipes and heating, then an afternoon of reading, reading, reading. After years of getting heavy foreign policy tomes from Ma Frost-in-law (appreciated, loved even,but not light fare)she gave me _Dewey_ about the library cat in Spencer, IA. Our dearest military friends who grew up near Spencer knew Dewey personally so Mr. F had the book on reserve at the downtown St. Paul library. He can read it on our way back to St. Paul tomorrow while I drive. It's no use to try the other way around-motion sickness.

Cassandra- "Could you help me with this straw?" We could be twins!

Saw that Vi@gra story last night and was reminded of a scene from Uris's _The Haj_. Though the available chemicals were not as effective, the motivation is the same. Always a mystery to me that women didn't politically and economically subjugate men a long time ago.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | December 26, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all
Still at mom's,helping out,I think we will go visit Dad and the cemetary today,take out some holly and such.I have to work later today,then finally home tonight about midnight or so.

Happy boxing day to our northern friends!!!


Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 26, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Sky report. Bright greyish blue sky with some not too menacing scattered grey clouds. A jet plane going north leaving a firery con trail above the mountain across the way. Little whisps of fog try to develop between here and the mountain then fade away slowly drifting north while the clouds drift south. The sun will be making its way above the ridge line in about twenty minutes and I will have to abandon the computer for a white.
Snowed again last night for the eleventh time in a row. Time to spread some seed for the quail and birds.

Posted by: bh71 | December 26, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Earl Chutney tea. Very nice, Mudge.

See if she has some Orange Blossom Special tea. That'll get you fit as a fiddle in no time.

Posted by: -pj- | December 26, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' everybody...

Another sleep-in today. An overworked gnome could get used to this, y'know.

Looks like everyone had a good one yesterday and that's something to be thankful for. We were light on the merchandise here, but that just made the gifts that were passed around that much more special.

The highlight of the day (aside from the turkey) was a play performed by my Little Bean at her Grandma's house -- a play we wrote together for her 1st grade class to perform. For the Grandma's House production, we were short of actors so she played all the parts and I just narrated. It was a hit at W.B. Elementary and an even bigger hit at Grandma's. Next stop, Broadway.

No X-boxes or Guitar Hero or bling this year. Just lots of laughter and good food and a chance to kick back and enjoy what really matters.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

Peace out :-)

Posted by: martooni | December 26, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Chadwick Matlin's "Tear Down That Mall" perhaps could have been filled out with a few examples of teardowns. In urban Florida, the upscale malls (Florida Mall and Mall at Millenia in Orlando) seem to be doing OK, but they're Major Destinations for exotica like Williams-Sonoma and Apple Store, not to mention food court food that's actually interesting. Lesser malls are disappearing, including some that were built fairly recently. The rather spiffy local mall,is, rumored to be losing Dillards department store, possibly Macy's, and perhaps Sears.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 26, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Dave, just dropped by and decided not to even attempt to read all the posts, just read the last one and say hi... Dave, you freaked me out. All I saw was Dillards and I got concerned about the old folk/country/bluegrass band. I guess I am edgy from too much coffee.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 26, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Cool and rainy in this corner of the Carolinas today. Fortunately, the new refrigerator has been delivered and installed. Mr. T managed to finish trimming the cabinets above just in time, while Geekdottir and I frantically cleared out the old fridge and cleaned the space.

I *do* need to motivate myself to do some housecleaning, as the in-laws arrive tomorrow afternoon. Vacuuming and bathroom-cleaning, and clean sheets: must get it all down. I'll start with the vacuum.

Later, friend!

Posted by: slyness | December 26, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Anyone on the boodle ever had gallbladder issues, I have had attacks (I think) the last two nights, so on top of being tired from all the Christmas prep I have had little sleep.

Read a little about it, enough to know I have all the systems, but does anyone know some safe foods I can eat until I get to the doctor. Tips on what eases the pain would help as well as extra strength Advil barely makes a dent.

Another question why don't I (or others) get sick during regular doctors office hours :-)

Posted by: dmd2 | December 26, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

dmd2 -- while waiting for a date with my surgeon, I ate mostly soda crackers. AVOID anything creamy or buttery. Or tasty.

Posted by: nellie4 | December 26, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I'd like to see *all* malls torn down.

My city (Youngstown) has been rebuilding its downtown area and it's actually working. It took two new federal buildings and a state building to get things started, but people are actually working and shopping and dining downtown again. Lots of new restaurants and bars, quite a few specialized retail shops (if I can ever ramp up production to maintain an inventory, I'm hoping to hang my sign above a door there). Heck, we even have a brand new convention center/arena that was just on NBC yesterday (that ice skating show with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra). All that's missing is a major department store.

Malls may be convenient, but to me they just take away the soul of a city. Nothing but national franchises selling the same old carp under different labels. I much prefer walking down a sidewalk and opening shop doors that have little bells that ring when you enter and a real shopowner working the counter.

My little family may be abnormal since we only go to the mall once a year -- and not to buy things. The prime objective of our annual pilgrimage is to have Bean's picture taken with Santa and get out of there as quickly as possible. Me and Mrs. M just can't see paying two or three times more for things that can be bought at "regular" stores (whether they be free-standing or part of a plaza). And the food courts... sheesh! On our last trip a week or so ago, we almost bought some slices of pizza. At $4.00 a slice. And $4.00 for a smoothie to wash it down. Sorry... we're not that rich and even if we were, we're not that stupid. You can get a whole pizza at the grocery store for about $5 or have one delivered (with bread sticks and a bottle of pop) for $15.

And they wonder why business is down.

Posted by: martooni | December 26, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Good morning and a Happy Boxing Day to all. Yesterday was lovely, what with presents & a church service and dinner and gifts with the extended family and quiet time. I had a nice long nap too - I was as tired as I've been in a long time.

The Boy's big present, from the grandparents, was a Rock Star thing. He loves it and plans to insist on our participation. Of course, he also loves the sock monkey I gave him - and the sock monkey jack-in-the-box was a big hit too.

I enjoyed reading all your holiday stories! thanks for sharing.

I'd like to go ice skating with the Boy today but it is so windy I'm afraid we'll blow over. Perhaps tomorrow.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 26, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

DandyLion, the Christmas Season lasts until the Epiphany (1/6) for us RCs, which has to do with when the Magi arrived. And you know the story...if the Wise Men had been Wise Women, they would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped to deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, brought sensible gifts, and made a casserole.

Have a happy day all!

Posted by: LostInThought | December 26, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about Dillards (the department store version). They're said to suffer from being regional, not national. Then again, Macy's is national and seems hapless. Sears must be off in zombieland, staying sort of alive to hold down purportedly valuable real estate. Or something like that.

Florida's urbanized areas are a bit odd in that they were built sort of like the Virginia suburbs. I recall driving highway 19 north from Clearwater maybe 20 years ago, and it seemed you could create simple mathematical models to predict the spacing of supermarkets, malls, car dealerships, and everything else. All those features reappeared at what seemed to be regular intervals. Southeast Florida's a bit like that, too, with old commercial strips rather than old downtowns. Okeechobee Boulevard in Palm Beach County is a marvel. Lots of luxury car dealers, with low-rent businesses in between. You can probably get a tattoo while waiting for your car to be fixed.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 26, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I agree with nellie, bland food only. Do not eat anything spicy and yes, stay away from milk products. Doesn’t leave much, I know. If you don’t have anything in the house stronger than Advil, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe a couple of stiff drinks? I have no idea if that’s a good thing to do, I don’t drink but the gall bladder pain made me wish I did! You have my sympathy!!

Posted by: badsneakers | December 26, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

You could always replace the word "wall" with the word "mall"

Like in Pink Floyd's the Wall

All in all were just another brick in the Mall....

off to work

Have a Great day everyone

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 26, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Dave! So true (my little experience down in Florida is that it is only getting worse. I noted at the time that, if you drive any distance, you pass the same repeating visuals... it is sort of like the repeating backdrop on a '30s or '40s cartoon.

Posted by: russianthistle | December 26, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Mr Achenbach has posted a new kit. And I thought it was a holiday!

Posted by: nellie4 | December 26, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Nothing against Florida, but I hated living there.

I ended up in the Orlando area since that's where my Dad and brother and sis lived (she's still there and loves/hates it). I've heard since that I probably would have loved the Tampa area, but all I remember was everything being so flat and all the houses painted in the same hues of bland. I'd hate to be one of the people working the paint-mixing stations at the big box hardware stores there. How many shades of beige can you mix before you claw your eyes out?

The main thing I remember is that you cannot survive there without a car. Everything you need and every place you need to get to is at least two miles from wherever you are and never on a bus route, even if you're in a mall. I didn't have a car at the time so I was biking and walking to get where I needed to be. The flatness came in handy for that, but then there was the heat and humidity and daily thunderstorms to ruin it.

I guess I'm just made for the Midwest. Tropical climates make for a nice vacation, but I couldn't live in one.

My motto: you can always put more clothes on, but you can only take so much off before the authorities are called.

Posted by: martooni | December 26, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

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