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The Obama Newbies

[My story in today's paper.]

Sean Smith, 38, is an Obama newbie, freshly arrived at the Homeland Security Department on Nebraska Avenue. He has an interim ID badge, a computer, an e-mail account, a BlackBerry. He has gone through what is known in the bureaucracy as "in-processing." By Thursday, Day Two of the job, he was feeling less disoriented than on Day One.

"I've doubled my entire tenure in one day. There's a sense that the ground is becoming more solid under my feet," Smith said by phone from his fourth-floor office.

Or maybe it's a third-floor office.

"I think it's the fourth floor. I'm not even sure," he said. "There's a four on the door there. It's a big maze out here."

He soon determined that he was in building four, floor three.

So begins a new presidential administration. The big boss is at his desk at the White House, but the vast executive branch is in an awkward phase, lightly sprinkled with political appointees still trying to get permanent badges and locate the restrooms. Many of the big corner offices remain empty.

In short, the Obama administration is still partly hypothetical. There are more than 3,000 political jobs to fill, including 1,141 positions that require Senate confirmation. Soon after President Obama took office on Tuesday, the Senate approved seven of those nominations, then an eighth on Wednesday and six more Thursday evening. Only 1,127 to go.

Click here to keep reading.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 24, 2009; 8:35 AM ET
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Next: Washington's Creation Myth


It's a weird feeling to be the first inhabitants of an empty work space.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 24, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Stumbled onto newbie kit. :o)

Posted by: Braguine | January 24, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I like the word faumbrage myself. You can say it french like, with an ä

And reposted for Cassandra,

He's chastising the media for airbrushing or simply ignoring slavery, the centuries long struggle for freedom, and the work done to build a society that could produce this moment, in their description of the progress towards racial equality in the US.

Here is a key paragraph
"The King speech was a defining moment, but the struggle began more than 200 years ago, driven by the spirit to be free."

It's as if MLK came out of nowhere, proclaimed "I have a dream", and 46 years later here we are.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | January 24, 2009 8:47 AM

Posted by: DNA_Girl | January 24, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

What a good day it was yesterday. I took Miss Dog on a walk in the park. She began her usual tug-at-the-leash behavior, but I chastised her gently, reminded her that she knew how to walk, and that I knew that she knew, and griped loudly once ("Hey, quit pulling me!") and she grinned at me and started strolling with me in a more laid back manner. Of course she needed to read all the post-it notes left along the trails, but that was okay. The sky was clear, the sun was out, and it was warm like spring.

Today it dawned with a similar sky but now the gray has rolled in and the chill is returning. Back on with the furnace!

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 24, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Joel, this piece made me think of the 10thcircle item you linked to the other day where I consider President Obama's first day in office, filling out paperwork and learning a new commute, etc.

...and also Clive Barker's story, "In the Hills, the Cities."

A story in which the citizens of remote Eastern European cities assemble and physically manifest themselves as giants...


Posted by: -bc- | January 24, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

From Barker's story:
"Mick was looking up, towards the sky. Judd followed his gaze.
There was a place that showed no stars. It was a darkness in the shape of a man, a vast, broad human frame, a colossus that soared up to meet heaven. It was not quite a perfect giant. Its outline was not tidy; it seethed and swarmed.
He seemed broader too, this giant, than any real man. His legs were abnormally thick and stumpy, and his arms were not long.
The hands, as they clenched and unclenched, seemed oddly jointed
and over-delicate for its torso.
Then it raised one huge, flat foot and placed it on the earth,
taking a stride towards them.
Boom -The step brought the roof collapsing in on the cottage.
Everything that the car-thief had said was true. Popolac was a city and a giant; and it had gone into the hills.
Now their eyes were becoming accustomed to the night light.
They could see in ever more horrible detail the way this monster was constructed. It was a masterpiece of human
engineering: a man made entirely of men. Or rather, a sexless giant, made of men and women and children. All the citizens of Popolac writhed and strained in the body of this flesh-knitted giant,
their muscles stretched to breaking point, their bones close to snapping.
They could see how the architects of Popolac had subtly altered the proportions of the human body; how the thing had been
made squatter to lower its centre of gravity; how its legs had been
made elephantine to bear the weight of the torso; how the head was sunk low on to the wide shoulders, so that the problems of a
weak neck had been minimized.
Despite these malformations, it was horribly life-like. The bodies
that were bound together to make its surface were naked but for their harnesses, so that its surface glistened in the starlight, like one vast human torso. Even the muscles were well copied, though simplified. They could see the way the roped bodies pushed and pulled against each other in solid cords of flesh and bone. They could see the intertwined people that made up the body: the backs
like turtles packed together to offer the sweep of the pectorals; the lashed and knotted acrobats at the joints of the arms and the legs alike, rolling and unwinding to articulate the city.
But surely the most amazing sight of all was the face.
Cheeks of bodies; cavernous eye-sockets in which heads stared, five bound together for each eyeball; a broad, flat nose and
a mouth that opened and closed, as the muscles of the jaw bunched and hollowed rhythmically. And from that mouth, lined
with teeth of bald children, the voice of the giant, now only a weak
copy of its former powers, spoke a single note of idiot music.

Popolac walked and Popolac sang."

Just a thought - and note the special attention paid to the neck...

You can find the rest of the story online, but I do not know if it's a legal publication, so I won't post links...


Posted by: -bc- | January 24, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Community BDSM, how nice.
The city that flays together, stays together.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 24, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

And dear, bc, the meaning of all that?

DNA girl

Thanks for clearing that up. I thought a little along those lines but not so sure. I need to read it again. A lady here wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper expressing outrage at those of us that attended the MLK luncheon this week. She stated that African-Americans were still whinning over slavery and playing the victim to the hilt. She also said that President Obama would not have been elected if "White" people had not voted for him too. She stated that former President Bush was not treated as well as President Obama by African-Americans and I think she took umbrage at that. This lady writes letters to the editor all the time, and those letters sort of reveal her racist bent. She keeps something going which is why I suspect the paper prints her letters. She usually gets an earful from "moi", but I did not rise to the bait this time.

DNA Girl

I think we are making strides in our racial harmony. We are by no means where we need to be, there is plenty of work to be done, yet I think we're moving in the right direction. It will take time. There is still much anger out there. This election has been hard on a lot of folks. It has also renewed hope in a lot of folks too. I like to taste the good, we're all acquainted with the not so good. The best thing about America has always been our ability to meet change head on. We are not a nations of "whimps", and that is a diamond quality. We have our problems like any other nation in the world, but we are tenacious(Yoki) and we will give you are best and reach back for more.

African-Americans help build this country with our slave labor, although, we did not arrive in New York with the Statue of Liberty in our eye, our contribution is no less. We have endured hardships and less than humane treatment, so we step back for no one. We've earned that right. And as the poet, Angeleou, wrote, "still I rise".
We have been used, abused, and hanged like animals, but that's not our core. Our core is that in spite of the worst treatment a human can imagine, we're still here, and we keep moving forward. And we hope to continue to do so in a nation with that same thinking. Moving forward.

Time to study.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 24, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"we will give you our best......

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 24, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Hey! I could use one of them-thar jobs. Have I mentioned that I'm available as a dog walker?

Posted by: KathrynAPage | January 24, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! In St. Paul this fine cold weekend. Will be judging at the state robotics tournament so I think I'll save the backboodling from yesterday for evening. I gather from the number of comments on the last kit that it was a front page alert, but it appears the bunker wasn't full. Do we have new boodlers? Welcome.

On kit- I can't remember which old soldier said this, but it has stuck with me for almost 30 years now. "Someone else was doing your job before you got it, and someone else will do it when you leave." In other words-
-leave it better than you found it
-don't assume your predecessor was all messed up unless you're ready for your successor to feel the same way about you

Ma Frostbitten, long a civil servant before Frostdaddy's Army retirement, also shared this gem. "When dealing with red tape and it appears all hope is lost, find the oldest woman working in the office and ask her advice."

Toodles for now. I'm judging the "creativity finalists" in today's competition. I do hope no one used interpretive dance for their research project presentations. It's hard for me to keep a straight face in such circumstances.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 24, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I must admit I smiled wryly when I read this article. For, on a small level, I understand exactly what these individuals are going through. As most people know, I work for a Large Federal Agency, and like most federal agencies one of the most precious commodities is real estate.

Cubicles are small, offices rare, and hallways narrow. Further, as a matter of policy, all hallways must be indistinguishable and contain numerous random corners. I suspect this may be for Security. Or, perhaps, simple spite. And because reorganizations are a continual part of the Federal Experience, construction projects are never-ending.

The point is, compared to the relatively spacious, sensible, and structurally stable accommodations often (though not always) associated with private industry, most federal buildings resemble an unholy cross between a hedge maze and a crowded bus station.

This makes it tricky for newcomers. I spent much of my first week simply trying to find a way to get from the parking lot to my cubical without having to cut through the Dunkin' Donuts during the breakfast rush. And it isn't just the physical disorientation that occurs when you join the government. There is a gradual readjustment of expectations and perceptions that can be occasionally jarring. Like when you learn that you have your very own Dunkin' Donuts.

This was certainly true for me when I realized that yes, about the sixteenth time you walk purposefully through the historic entranceway you start to get odd looks from the security guard. Or when you figure out that the cutting-edge technology associated with the place does not, in fact, extend to the plumbing.

But mostly it was the understanding that even in the most storied and influential portions of the government, most days are pretty routine. There is boredom. There is tedium. There is paperwork. There are scores of well-intentioned but excruciatingly dull meetings on things like the Gallup Q12. The wheels of government move slowly, often by design. For one person's Red Tape is another person's Essential Oversight.

So I truly do understand that these idealistic new hires will have a rough time incorporating themselves into The Machine. But I am optimistic that they will do so successfully, and begin the painful process of remaking government. A process that will doubtless involve identifying and correcting certain gross inadequacies of the federal infrastructure.

Such as, for example, the lack of free coffee.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 24, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

red tape=oversight, excellent point RD. Great pay off in your last line, it's always about the coffee with you.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 24, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Your alphabet-soup agency has its own on-site Dunkin' Donuts in the building? That. Is. Amazing. It must be the most-securest donut shop on Earth (to coin a phrase).

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 24, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

SciTim - In addition to the regular cafeteria, We have our own food court, with a Dunkin' Donuts and Burger King. Plus a self-contained Starbucks. We're like a college campus in many ways. But with less beer.

Frostie - in the final analysis, doesn't it always come down to the coffee?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 24, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

That was an astounding image, bc. I'm glad you shared that. Clive Barker's a good writer.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 24, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Great description of government office RD. I once worked for a large corporation that had a department that housed about 7 divisions on one very large floor - as the person guiding me through the floor very proudly pointed out each division had its own colour band running through the cubical walls so people would know where they were. Unfortunately there was not signage or a map to relate where on the floor you were and how to find the exit - I usually left a bread crumb trail when I was asked to go to that floor.

Posted by: dmd2 | January 24, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

RD-as I always say if someone asks if I want a cup of coffee "every minute of every day."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 24, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

How to spot a Newbie: Look for the person furtively looking around while doing the "I gotta pee real bad" dance.

Posted by: martooni | January 24, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"Our research reveals that most workers are not engaged in -- or are actively disengaged from -- their work. As a result, companies are struggling to develop engaged workforces." (Gallup's Q12)
What do you think of this statement?

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 24, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Not very engaging.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 24, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

That deserves a "Captain Obvious" award.

This just in... many workers are using their company internet connections for personal use.

Posted by: martooni | January 24, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

But Jumper, do you have a best friend at work?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 24, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I was unclear if that statement meant "at any given time" or "generally disengaged at all times." I'm usually 92% mentally engaged and 87% of my time engaged at work.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 24, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

"And we're going to KEEP having these meetings until we find out why no work is getting done!"

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 24, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I had to get twelve stitches the last time I became engaged in my work.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 24, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Same here boko, I don't do hospitals and clinics but it bled a lot.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 24, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, "When dealing with red tape and it appears all hope is lost, find the oldest woman working in the office and ask her advice." It works until the nice humpback lady gets into early Alzheimer. True story, 44 years of service interrupted by 3 kids. She must have been 75, easy, when she was pried off her chair and put to the curb by that nice Mr. Collenette, a Chrétien henchman.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 24, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I had a question for any computer types: I want a connection such as hyperterminal used to do, but since I have a cable modem and so does my friend in another town, anything that will replicate that old experience? It's been a long time since I used Procomm. I have some alternatives: instant message all text. It's the file transfer I'm curious about. My thought is do some private torrent exchange, not released over the public net. Send it (the torrent)in an email or something. Then use the manual connect in the torrent software. Is there any other way however to duplicate the old hyperterminal or Procomm (etc) experience?

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 24, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

jumper... you should be able to set up a shared folder on each end that's remotely accessible via the net. All you need to know is each other's IP address and hostname and use TCP/IP as the connection method (I'm not on a Windows box so can't give you exact instructions). You'll probably need to change some settings on your firewall software (both PC and router) to allow traffic to-and-fro (but lock it down to your specific IP addresses) and add a new user/password to each box for each of you.

Another option would be to have one or both of you run an FTP service (you may have to pick an odd port#, depending on your net provider), then use an FTP client to access each other's box.

For the chat, you're probably best off using an IM client. I'm sure there's some sort of bare-bones text messenger out there in free/shareware land if you're looking to avoid AIM or whatever.

Posted by: martooni | January 24, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

My daughter just scratched off VA Tech from the list of colleges she is applying to. She has a good head on her shoulders and that's where she prefers to keep it.

Posted by: Mako2 | January 24, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, mine Boodle. Sunny and 38 here, not bad considering I'd like it 40 degrees warmer. But what the heck.

We have a brand new Costco that just opened up a few weeks ago north of Dubya-dorf, and we've been waiting for my paycheck to land to go and do a major "staples" shopping there. We have now returned a few minutes ago, and the Cuimudgeon clan is, alas, $502.58 poorer than it was this morning

However, that is a very materialistic and moneteristic way of looking at it. I much prefer to think of how truly blessed we are. For instance, we are now richly endowed with enough toilet paper to wipe the butts of every man, woman, and child in the Middle Atlantic States, plus Ohio. (This not anything I actually plan to do, even in retirement, but a man's gotta have a hobby.)

I am in possession of so many small cans of tuna fish (packed in water) that it represents the entire catch of two Japanese longliners. I shudder to think how many dolphins have died because of what's in my larder. Three or four, at least. But I can have tuna casserole once a week from now until the year 2513.

We are now the very proud owners of a giant carton of weapons-grade Tampax so big that I had to drive around to the Costco loading dock so they could load it into my pickup with a forklift. So my 25-year-old daughter has enough to last her from now until menopause. I suspect that there will still be some left over that will become Curmudgeon family heirlooms, handed down to the next generations.

I suspect my wife is planning to invite the Mormon Tabernaccle Choir over for dinner, because she bought a half side of cow ground into 17-percent fat, 14-percent bone, 3-percent longhorn, and the rest ground cow. "What's all that for?" I asked. "I'm going to make meatloaf," she said. "One to eat tonight, and a couple to freeze."

Three-hundred boxes of tissues, evenly divided between the big, long boxes and the short, square boxes.

We have enough baked beans to blast a tunnel under Mt. Rushmore, if ya know what I mean. Enough crushed, diced and peeled tomatoes so the Corleone family can go to the mattresses for two decades. More toothpaste than the Osmond family used in a fiscal 2008.

The Lord has blessed us with a flagon of pickle relish so large it could supply Nationals Park for two-thirds of a season.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | January 24, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the club Mudge. Watch out, rolling out those barrels of olives is hard on the back.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 24, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

this is very amusing:

Posted by: LALurker | January 24, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'm feeling pretty smug right now. Not only did I have a very productive day, but I never again have to lay in great Costco loads of provisions! Stripping down to essentials, that's my mantra.

Was back at the apartment today, moving some stuff in, beginning the big clean which will be finished tomorrow.

Once the internet and phone are hooked up I'm ready to move. *So* looking forward to it.

And #2 will be home this evening, haven't seen her in too many days because of rehearsal schedule, so that's very fine, I think.

Posted by: Yoki | January 24, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

May you never be bored enough to take up that hobby, Mudge.

I needed that laugh, thank you very much.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 24, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I wanta know how big a box you can buy of powdered milk.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 24, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

mudge, congratulations on your purchases.

except, perhaps, for the beans.

Posted by: LALurker | January 24, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

The Obama parody of Single Ladies was very funny, but I prefer this version of the original song:

And for the truly adventurous, try this one:

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Those big box stores are hard to resist. At our regional equivalent recently, I bought a new larger slow cooker which I justified by giving the old one to #2. Then I bought hamburg, boned chicken breasts and sirloin tips and made all sorts of meals, including meatloaf, for the freezer. I don’t have to cook for at least two or three weeks now, unless I forget to defrost. As there are just two of us, the contents of a lot of the larger items at these places would reach their drop dead date long before we’d use them up.

It’s been a productive day. I’m working on a new valance for the kitchen and it’s almost done. I had bought some great fabric as a remnant last fall, so this redecoration is costing me under $50 and I have enough fabric left to make some new place mats which I’m lining with insulating batting - quartz counter tops are very cold.

Soon we will be off to a night of dancing - really. We’ve been taking lessons but don’t get to put them into practice. Our teacher has dances once a month so we will go see what we remember of swing, waltz and the hustle plus our newest dance, the fox trot.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 24, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Mudge's place is the bunker now. Our house is too small to store great quantities of stuff. Costco was always a bit overwhelming for me, and I realized the main bargain I bought was garbage I don't go anymore.

Dancing sounds like fun, Sneaks. I never did learn to dance real dances with names. The local NPR radio station has a show Saturday nights called The Swing Years, where they play big band music, which would be fun to dance to.

Posted by: seasea | January 24, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Bad Sneakers I have thought it might be fun for my husband and I to take dance classes together, but we are both severely rythmically challenged - I just don't think any good could come from it.

It is bad enough we have passed the rythmical challenged gene to our children, innocent people should be spared from having to witness the spectacle of us attempting to dance.

LOL, Mudge, haven't been to Costco in a while - they only time we can spare to go is on the weekend - just too many people there then. Still have the odd bottle of salad dressing that came in the combo assortment - I am willing to be it will sit in our larder unopened for years to come.

Posted by: dmd2 | January 24, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

We used to go to Costco, but prefer BJ's. (Stop thinking that.)

When we first went we invariably spent triple-digits on things we didn't know we needed. Now we are a little bit more reasonable. Canned corn, green beans, TP, paper towels, and pasta products are always on the list.

But every time we go I like to buy some super-sized container of something just for fun. Last time it was maraschino cherries. But the next time we go I am going to hunt down something more exotic.

I shall seek a quart jar of capers.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 24, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

One of the nice things I remember about Costco was the free samples. If you left that store hungry it was your own darn fault. And, as I recall, they had dirt-cheap soft ice-cream as well.

But my wife has very narrow tolerances for groceries, and the BJ's (Sam's Club in other areas) seems to work best for her.

Besides, BJ's has the brand of ramen to which I am addicted.

Hmmm. Salty noodles.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 24, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh dmd, I wouldn’t let lack of rhythm stop you. “S” was a complete klutz at first as a result of an insult to his dancing skills by a very popular girl back in 8th grade. It took me years to convince him that ‘Gloria’ should hold no power over him. We’ve been taking lessons for a couple of years now but I just recently convinced him to go to these dances in order to practice what we learn. We’re far from good, but we’re a lot less awful than we used to be.

RD, we shop at BJ’s too but I was afraid it wouldn’t get past the robo censor.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 24, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Ooh, badsneakers, have fun at the dance! I hope you're enjoying foxtrot -- it's our favorite. We're not taking any dance lessons at the moment, but we go out and practice once a week with the undergrads in the university club. Speaking of big band music, there's a swing dance coming up that's a benefit for the joint university/community orchestra. Swing isn't our best dance, but we'll definitely be there. Who says there's nothing to do in a small town?

Posted by: -bia- | January 24, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh well, if ramen is on the list, this is entirely understandable. Who could resist?

dmd, I am possibly the most clumsy, inept human on earth, and I dance whenever I get an opportunity. I would name it one of the Top Ten Primal Pleasures, and refuse to let the discomfort (in my case, deep mortification) of others whilst watching me stop me. I find with greater age, my embarrassment threshold has risen alarmingly.

Posted by: Yoki | January 24, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Well at any rate we will wait until the children are older, I don't think we could afford the therapy they would require seeing their parents dancing :-)

Truth be told it is I who shys from public displays of humiliation - my husband considers all attention good.

Posted by: dmd2 | January 24, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

dmd, as long as you dance fully clothed and vertical, I don't know about therapy being needed.

Of course if your husband is an attention hog, who knows what boas and such he might wear...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 24, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I used to be pretty good at the Jitterbug.

And, of course, "The Bump," which, I have been led to understand, is once more trendy.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 24, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Is it too pathetic to remember the last time I danced with reckless abandon was Oct. 26, 1990? The night before I met Mr.F, dancing until dawn at a peanut shells on the floor country bar in Oklahoma. Since then, nada, except for a year of lessons while he was at the War College. I fear the man is hopeless.

Saw some very good research presentations at the robotics tournament, including one examining carbon diets. One of the chief villains in the kids' skit was Sam's Club (Costco etc.) and our desire for cheap over local. A little tension in the room when I asked the team if their research had caused them to change their eating habits. "I'm trying to convince my dad that cheaper isn't always better," caused a bit of parental squirming.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 24, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

For fans of Mianus...


Posted by: martooni | January 24, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Too bad they don't have bellydancing classes out your way, Frostbitten. You don't need a man for reckless abandon.

That sounds like a pretty good day. I'm interested in locovorism.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 24, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-factoid from the 4th-6th grade set today- 5 years ago MN had 50 registered farmers' markets, now we have 120. Hoop houses (plastic green house type structures) have extended the growing season. This group proposed building a solar powered device to automatically raise and lower the sides of the houses to regulate the temp and would use the same device to text message the farmer to tell him/her what the temp is.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 24, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

You give me tremendous hope for the future of science and engineering in Minnesota, Frostbitten.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 24, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes even fridge-magnets and coasters have something to teach.

I remember that when #1 was about, what, 15, she brought home a wee gift for me. She'd seen it in a window in downtown Revelstoke (downtown = 5 stores). It is black fake-stone with white Gothic lettering. It says, "I think not!" This is possibly the most *me* gift ever.

And I gave #2 a coaster for her bedroom (similarly constructed) that has the motto "Dance like nobody can see you"

Or, as #2 interpreted it, "Run like Phoebe!"

All good. Very good.

Posted by: Yoki | January 24, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

What fridge magnet would you pick for me?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 24, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I got this oven timer that magnetizes itself to refrigerators, but it's not very witty.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 24, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Just happened to be be looking at hoop greenhouses last night, and the first part of the mentioned solar objects is already for sale.

BJ's has great frozen chicken potstickers. Really, check them out!

Posted by: -dbG- | January 24, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: Yoki | January 24, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

dbg-"the first part of the mentioned solar objects is already for sale" That's why this team was in the finals for "creative presentation" not "research quality."

By way of explanation- Each year,Lego League robotics requires teams to do a research project and try to come up with an innovative solution to a real world problem. This year the topic was climate change and 99% of the teams picked a local problem then called for "turning out the lights when you leave a room" as the solution. Ok, they weren't all quite like that, but most talked about reducing energy consumption in very basic ways. Today's finalists were truly the cream of the crop.

One team I talked with today wants to use plankton to sequester CO2. They corresponded via e-mail and blog with scientists whose articles they had read. Again, their solution is already out there, but it was very easy to forget none of these kids was over age 12.

One thing I discovered today, that I should have known already, is that when asked about their work by young students scientists in general are very generous with their time-whether in person, by phone, e-mail, or blog.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 24, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

We used to go to Costco for grocereis, period. There were a few years when the boys were all eating teen. Now we go a couple times a year for the staples, like the toilet papaer, and frozen vegetables.

Mrdr discovered a whole other part of the place. Costco online.

He was just showing me his watch from there. Its 'atomic' and the hands set themselves once the watch recieved the data from the satellite (or whatever). He said he could have gotten the fancier model with the GPS and the compass, but that would have been too much.

Posted by: --dr-- | January 24, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

LOL dr!

Posted by: Yoki | January 24, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Yoki: "Run like Phoebe!" I like it, and that helps me feel better about all those Seinfeld references that mean nothing to me.

There is actually a guy who I see at my local jogging track who truly does run like Phoebe--maybe a little less erratically but still, a very odd gait; it's hard not to stare at him.

Now, this is just for some people, I'm not saying it's of general interest, but there are a few boodlers who may enjoy it, an essay on George Eliot, written by Virginia Woolf:


The beauty of those first books, Scenes of Clerical Life, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, is very great. It is impossible to estimate the merit of the Poysers, the Dodsons, the Gilfils, the Bartons, and the rest with all their surroundings and dependencies, because they have put on flesh and blood and we move among them, now bored, now sympathetic, but always with that unquestioning acceptance of all that they say and do, which we accord to the great originals only. The flood of memory and humour which she pours so spontaneously into one figure, one scene after another, until the whole fabric of ancient rural England is revived, has so much in common with a natural process that it leaves us with little consciousness that there is anything to criticize. We accept; we feel the delicious warmth and release of spirit which the great creative writers alone procure for us.

Posted by: kbertocci | January 24, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Los Angeles Times, Jan. 24:,0,5995857.story

Southern Californians confirm that concerns about layoffs and unstable gasoline prices are prompting them to buy little except necessities. And it shows in the makeup of their trash.

"I spend less," said Sara Serrano, 46, an employee at Costco in Los Feliz. She said that the warehouse store now rarely sees the long lines that until last spring had been common during her 13 years there.

Glad to see someone is hiring somewhere. Locally, Clear Channel announced it was scaling back about nine percent of its workforce. Toyota's San Antonio operations are now done to just one production line as Toyota considers layoffs of about 1,000 employees at both its Canadian and U.S. plants. Locally, the industrial space vacancy rate is up, while the local apartment market is seeing declining rents and occupancies, as apartment dwellers are either moving in with roommates or moving back in with their parents.

Posted by: laloomis | January 24, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Always feel free to share fine writers, Kbertocci. I like George Eliot.

BTW,I found this clip on running like Phoebe.

So nice to break free of conventional motion on occasion...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 24, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

Never been a fan of the Big Box 'o Consumerism stores myself, though I have the Membership cards and occasionally heed the siren calls of inexpensive electronics, undergarments, absorptive paper products, and ricotta cheese by the gallon.

Somehow I've been able to resist the Call of Giant Containters of the Florescent Orange food group (5 gal containers of Cheez Curls, Andy Capp Hot Fries, etc.)

Should I ever decide to give in to that urge to build a bomb shelter and take up Survivalism (e.g. when I look at the state of my 401k and other retirement benefits), I will probably change my view of such retail outlets. In the mean time, I'll enjoy my capers in the little 3.5 oz jars, thanks.

Having said that, I've been visting the Asian grocery stores (Lotte, etc.) more and more often these days, trying all kinds of interesting foods they don't have at Safeway or Costco. The quality and variety of the seafood's pretty darn good, too.

I'm not going to complain about life 'mongst the cubes, wall-locked coffin-esque offices, thought-free pro forma mandatory on-line training and error-ridden request systems -- I'm just happy to have a Desk 'o Disarray and a Flavia machine to go to in the morning.

And Cassandra, that story quote was simply to extend and play with the idea (from the later parts of Joel's piece) that these folks who may feel like nameless, faceless drones or cogs in the Machines of Governance, may actually be part of the Body of Governmment growing under President Obama's watch, as valuable - and as appreciated on a daily basis - as an Achilles tendon.

And that if the take a wrong turn in the Cube Maze and stumble upon a giant piece of cheese, they should retrace their steps immediately. Perhaps it would help if they issued bags of Breadcrumbs (or, Self-Guided Gov't Facility Navigation Field Tools) with the forms on Day One.


Posted by: -bc- | January 24, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Just wandering around tonight and saw this post, with a link to the speech given by JFK to the Canadian Parliament in 1961, made me wonder what might have happened had GWB given a speech like this during the last 8 years, rather than "Your either with us or against us".

Posted by: dmd2 | January 25, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

This is, dear bc, just a wee superior.

Take care, friend, to make common cause with your friends. For certainly your enemies will not make common cause with you.

Posted by: Yoki | January 25, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

When will I learn to stay away from YouTube - but there are some interesting items.

This one is fascinating on many levels, PM Trudeau being questions by reporters (where he gives probably his most famous sound bite - "Just watch me") as he enters Parliament hill, the topic the October Crisis - so striking in the access to the PM and the the open exchange between him and the reporters - not something I believe would be remotely possible today.

Off to bed now I promise, night all

Posted by: dmd2 | January 25, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, Yoki? I don't know what JFK said, so...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 25, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Yoki.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | January 25, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Hey, 'mudge. What on *earth* are you doing up at such a late hour?

Posted by: Yoki | January 25, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Ah yes, the joy of Cubicleville... And then you can square that joy in my case, given that a couple years' worth of hiring without a significant increase in floor space has meant an ever-shifting floor plan and almost Brownian motion shifting of staff. Just when you think you know where someone is, you follow the bread crumbs and see a new face. Oh, and toss in the wholesale conversion of conference rooms to workspace. Now you have to pack emergency rations for a trek to the nearest meeting space.

Mother Nature was kind enough to brush the dandruff off her shoulders as I was jogging yesterday. Didn't accumulate, though. *SIGH*

Time to get some stew going in the crockpot and then see what the day brings. *sorta-kinda-dreading-another-5-day-workweek-(and-just-WHOSE-idea-was-that)-but-trusting-in-our-friend-caffeine Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. Have a great day. Thanks DNA girl and bc for the explainations. Mudge, Martooni, Yoki, Slyness, Scotty, and all, good morning. *waving*

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 25, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Superior, Yoki? Hmmm.
Never think of myself that way. But I see your point.

I live in a small place as frugally as I can and don't have much storage room. I tend to buy what I need for myself for the near future, no more. For the kids, yeah, I do buy extra provisions, but not all that much.

Everybody makes their choices, I'm makin' mine.

I hear the calls, I just resist.


Posted by: -bc- | January 25, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Ah, just meant to say that the Big Box 'o Stores aren't for everyone, just like going to pick & pull junkyards for car repair/maint items and scanning Craigslist for free/inexpensive used furniture isn't everyone's cup 'o tea.

I'm just me.


Posted by: -bc- | January 25, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

You're the best you possible, bc.

But we knew that. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

And I'm just amazed at the gall of the Beanie Babies folks...

SUCH a coincidence... *rolling my eyes*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

The Ty folks explanation is as disingenuous as the Baby Ruth candy bar people. Tacky and tasteless.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I have never seen Maureen Dowd as worked up as she is today. She had a lot at stake with Caroline Kennedy getting the Senate seat.

And, as always, my take on it, complete with a Tracy Flick movie poster parody.

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | January 25, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Hi all... haven't had any time to boodle on this trip, and I'm not even going to try to backboodle nearly two weeks worth of good stuff, either. I hear there was an achenstorm the other day, so I guess I should be glad I've missed some stuff.

I'm sitting in the cozy mountain cabin of our very own Slyness and Mr T. It is wonderful to be hosted by good friends in such a beautiful and peaceful setting--especially after driving about 3400 miles so far over the past couple of weeks. Tonight I'm staying at Slyness' city home and then tomorrow morning, Son of G and I will return to Fairfax.

It's been a great trip; Son of G and I are still getting along beautifully and have met some great people and have seen some great sites. One highlight of the trip was the visit to the site of the Great Helotes Mulch Fire. AFter stopping in the VFW Hall for directions, we were pleased to be standing on such illustrious ground. Pictures will be posted when I get home.

Enjoy your weekend folks... we're off to the Pancake Breakfast at the local elementary school.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 25, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Glad to hear the trip's going well, TBG and SonOfG!!! Enjoy your stay with Slyness!!

*Snoopy dances* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back. TBG! We want to hear all about it.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

TBG, so very good to see you. But what a drive!
Can't wait to see the pictures.

Posted by: --dr-- | January 25, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

Glad to hear you had a great time, TBG. Although one wonders what swell souvenir you bought at the Great Helotes Mulch Fire Gift Shoppe. I'm thinking...a lamp?

But also glad to have you back. Lunch at the club tomorrow?

See, the worst part of the Big Box Store experience is, it makes good economic sense to buy in bulk. All the time you're there (if you have a brain like mine, which isn't necessarily a good thing) you're calculating the unit cost and comparing it to Safeway or whoever, and you just *know* that sooner or later you're going to use all that tuna fish, so .... (And we have a big garage with its own refrigertor/freezer, so storage isn't an issue.)

Today is (gulp) the First Day Without Football. No, no, don't gimme all that carp about the Pro Bowl and stuff. That doesn't count, and it's hardly football. I'm talking real *manly* football, between two pro teams that have built up long-standing hatreds, not some all-star kumbiyah thing. The real McCoy. Only seven more months of this to go. *sigh*

bc, did you make your Super Bowl pick, or did I miss something?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | January 25, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I'm still backBoodling, but wanted to thank those who said kind words at my continued public service announcements on the Humor-Impaired Music Lover's Kit. Also, DLD, didn't want you to think I might have taken offense - it is well-known that parenthood makes one crazy, and one sign is constant repetition without a corresponding change in behavior.

I attended a fencing tournament Friday night (the Boy placed second) but had begun to feel truly puny, as opposed to suspecting I was going to be ill. Although I had several pressing errands yesterday, whenever I was at home I was asleep. We'll see how today goes, though I certainly awoke less exhausted.

The Boy took the SAT yesterday (Duke TIP program for 7th-graders). We looked at it as a no-pressure way to experience the exam, since he's not expected to know most of the stuff on it. I asked if he enjoyed it and he said no, it was terribly boring. [Don't be confused into thinking this means he answered everything right!] Hah. I wonder what all those high school kids thought of the handful of seventh-graders sprinkled among them.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 25, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Good to know the ESP kicked in: wondering WHERE'S TBG? and here she is!

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 25, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I feel your pain with no football, Usually I switch to college basketball,but after yesterdays pasting of Maryland by the Dukies....Yikes.

Pretty here in west by god today,out to check out some ice formations,whether it be along streams or just springs popping out of rocks.It is always pretty.

Speaking of which,our river has been frozen since the deep freeze and some idiot decided to throw their empty bud light bottles on top of the ice.I have been contemplating about how to retrieve them,so far my only solution is too wait for spring,cause I am just too big to walk out on the ice...Sigh.....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 25, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Texas Newsmakers

We have a former San Antonian who is an Oscar nominee. The feature story, done by our local film critic, is buried on page 12H, where it won't upset any of the locals too much.

Twenty-nine-year-old former San Antonian Dustin Lance Black was nominated on Thursday for an Oscar for his screenplay for the powerful biopic "Milk." Black credits Milk with saving his life when he was a teenager (no explanation of *how* in the feature, the interview took place before the Oscar nominations were'd think tht maybe the critic might make another phone call and update the story?).

His stepfather had been transferred to Fort Ord, near Monterey, from Randolph AFB in San Antonio. It was at Fort Ord that the teenaged Black first heard the story of out gay man Milk. His mother had worked at Fort Sam Houston, both parents are devout Mormons (interesting given the Mormon financal support for California's Prop. 8), and Black grew up secretly gay.

Chesley Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who brought the United Airlines flight safely down in New York City's Hudson River, was born and raised in Denison, Texas, the north Texas town where President Dwight Eisenhower was also born. (Front page news locally shortly after the heroic piloting)

Who was the young woman in military uniform dancing with President Barack Obama at the Commander-in-Chief Ball? None other than San Antonio's 24-year-old Army Reserve Sgt. Margaret Hilda Herrera. She found Obama to be a very good dancer-in-chief. (Front of the Metro section shortly after the duo sashayed around the dance floor)

Posted by: laloomis | January 25, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Amidst all the end-of-term countdown hooraw, I missed this about the WH emails recovered:

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 25, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Good luck with those tests and the program. That's mighty young to have an SAT under your belt. Quite a feat.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, the Geekdottir did the SAT for the TIP program. She made 1040, IIRC. That was higher than her older sister made on her first SAT, so we just didn't discuss the Elderdottir's score. The TIP programs looked really great but were far beyond our family's means at the time, so the Geekdottir never reaped any benefit from it.

Of course, then she went on to make 790 on the verbal portion of the SAT as a sophomore. And she got into the North Carolina School of Science and Math, which was a much better payoff.

Posted by: slyness | January 25, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom -- funny that you mention that about the SAT. I have a friend whose son took the SAT when he was in Middle School (or maybe even earlier)-- when his father came to pick him up after the exam, the boy stated: "Is that all you have to do to get into college?" The boy is all grown up now, with an undergraduate degree he got in three years and a fully paid-for PhD from MIT. He's married and is known pretty much world-wide now in his technical and professional area. But, then, he's what we call "different" as geniuses go. Very focused and brilliant. Sings, too.

As for me, I'm just glad that I'm done taking Bar Exams (having two under my belt now).

Hey, TBG (*waving*). And even more *waving* to Cassandra (I do enjoy reading your posts, BTW) and Mudge and, well, all of you. I'm more in "lurk" mode these days, however. (now, if only this were billable, she mutters. . . .)

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | January 25, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey ftb, sorry you don't have more time to post. Such a shame that boodling isn't billable.

We are having a delightful time with TBG. After breakfast, we took her along the Blue Ridge Parkway across the Linn Cove Viaduct, then to Linville and Banner Elk. From Banner Elk, we went down our favorite scenic byway, which is nausea-inducing at speeds greater than 20 mph, to Valle Crucis, then home for lunch. It's wonderful to have a day with no deadlines, and friends to share it with.

Posted by: slyness | January 25, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I received this from a friend in Ireland. They're celebrating President O'Bama there too, a son of the Old Sod.

Moneygall is a small village in County Offaly, Ireland with a population of approximately 300 people. Moneygall has a Roman Catholic church, five shops, a
post office, a national school, a police station and two pubs. President Barack Obama's great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, emigrated from Moneygall to New York City at the age of 19 in 1850 and eventually resettled in Tipton County , Indiana . Kearney 's father had been the village shoemaker, then a wealthy skilled trade.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | January 25, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

That pub/police atation ratio doesn't sound like much fun.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Howdy again. I sympathize with those new Federal workers, for I used to be among them. Our workplace has a twist on the labyrinthine nature of government; my office is in a hallway which appears not to exist and can only be reached via a staircase from an entrance on a completely separate floor; people have worked in the building for years without any idea that our offices are even there.

We have no Costco, only Sam's Club. My favorite part of both Giant Warehouses across the Texas border is that they sell wine. Here that is not possible, removing, for me, much of their charm. At one time we bought many things in regular Sam's runs, but realized we could not use, say, a gallon jar of olive oil before it spoiled. We now confine ourselves to a few canned goods, paper goods and dog food. I understand we may rejoice in an ice storm later this week and am thinking we should go to Sam's soon. We are almost out of paper towels and tissues, and while we could make do without the former we rely heavily upon the latter.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 25, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, you can't use a gallon of olive oil before it spoils? How not? I use pretty much only two oils in all my cooking -- olive oil and safflower oil (for things that have some sweet flavor to them), plus an occasional bit of flaxseed oil margarine and VERY rarely some actual butter. I put mu working supply of olive oil into a small corked bottle (originally from cheap wine vinegar) and keep the reserve in a cool dark pantry in the basement. It may be going bad on me, but apparently I can't tell.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 25, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

This afternoon I started to fill out my accountant's tax organizer, and now I find that I'm starting to gasp for air. It isn't that I don't have all the numbers ready (I do -- I keep my obsessive-compulsive ledger entries complete and up to date obsessively-compulsively). I think what I'm feeling is that "this is such a complete pain in the a$$ feeling" and I think I'm gonna ditch it for today. Geez, I've already done two loads of laundry and watered the indoor jungle. I think I'm done, already!

Now, that felt good.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | January 25, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I meant to say, firsttimeblogger, don't count your bar exams until they're hatched. I thought I was done after my second one, too, and ended up taking a third. Gosh darn non-reciprocal jurisdictions. I do think I'm done now.

ScienceTim, I suspect it is your foresight in storing the big jar while using oil from a smaller bottle. I am seldom so well-organized on a regular basis. Also, although olive oil is my oil of choice, I have two types - a decent filtered extra virgin for cooking, and a fancy unfiltered EV for drizzling/etc.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 25, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom -- I don't think I'll do that. However, I do have a friend who moved with her husband down to Baton Rouge and more than 20 years had passed since her last bar exam up north in Michigan. I spoke with her while she was studying for the bar exam in Louisiana and she was muttering "not only is it not common law, it's in *^**$# FRENCH! She passed, but I'm sure she was swearing throughout the whole thing.

I know that even though I've been out of law school for coming up on 28 years, I would still have to take what is called the "attorney's exam" to get credentials in Maryland, where I actually live. I don't think I'll do that. First, I just plain don't want to take another bar exam, regardless of what they call it. And second, who wants to pay another set of dues? I'm already paying for memberships in the DC and Massachusetts bars. I think I'm done, yanno?

I agree with you on non-reciprocal jurisdictions. BTW, in my alter ego, I'm Of Counsel to a telecom/technology litigation firm located here in DC, but we also have an office in Oklahoma City, where one of the associates is. I've never been, but I'll let you know when/if I ever wend my way.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | January 25, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I spent a good while yesterday filling out FAFSA forms online. Thank goodness my finances aren't complicated. I'm not sure why they have to be done before W-2s are even issued.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

You're on the right track, if not already there, Tim. Since oil will oxidize, and lose its flavor, bulk purchase requires decanting into suitable containers. I prefer glass jars with a metal lid. I save a LOT of spaghetti sauce jars. And into the fridge or freezer. Even extra virgin olive oil will keep its perishable flavor near indefinitely in the fridge in such jars. I bet the "cool dark place" is sufficient as well.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 25, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I do about 98% of my cooking with just olive oil, so the storage question isn't a problem. I keep a liter-size glass bottle on the countertop, and refill it as necessary from the big jug kept under the sink (cool, dark, etc.). There's also a jub of Wesson under the sink, but I never use it. Maybe my wife or the kids do, but I don't, except in cases of deep frying, and I seldom do that. I prefer peanut oil for that, actually.

When we re-did our kitchen from scratch about 10 years ago, we never got around to installing drawer pulls and cabinet door handle, I'm still not sure why. But we didn't. A few moinths ago, my wife stumbled upon one of those clearance sales at Lowe's and bought a ton of handles for about 50 cents each. And they were very nice, too. So over the past couple months, she bought a few more types to fill out what we needed, and today I spent about four hours putting them all on-- 48 of them, altogether. So now everything in the kitchen has a knob, clamshell-type pull, or handle, all color-coordinated (dull silver/pewtery). So after 10 years, our kitchen is finally finished.

And now she wants all new countertops. To replace the ones she herself picked out. (There's nothing wrong with the ones we have.)

And then, she had me dismantle the glass doors and frame for the tub in the upstairs bathroom. Cuz she didn't like them anymore, and is putting up shower curtains. (To match the brand new wallpaper she put up in there two weeks ago.)

Will it never end?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | January 25, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

That was a rhetorical question.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | January 25, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Evening all
The ice on the river was about 4 inches thick at the edge and probably about 6 in the center,I picked up a good size rock and threw it as high as I could and it just bounced off the ice.So it will probably be frozen till spring.i also noted that I was able to "skip" any shaped rock completely across the river on the ice.I threw about 20 or so before my arm got tired.I have got to get ready pitchers and catchers report in 3 weeks.

The ice along the streams was wild,neat formations and with the sun,sparkling and beautiful.I love checking out ice,so much beauty frozen in it's own little world.

5:45 and still light enough to walk around,slowly getting closer to spring.....slowly....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 25, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

The cold has returned, as in outside. And I'm feeling a little spacey. I guess it's the chemicals.
I burnt my lunch. I'm thinking just maybe I don't need to be around the stove.

I'm suppose to babysit for my daughter but it will probably be the other way around. I don't have the energy to keep up with that crowd.

I think I shall return to the bed. And take my second dose of chemicals.

Sweet dreams. Night, boodle.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 25, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Sweet dreams. I have burnt teakettles even without colds, so I sympathize.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 25, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - a few weeks ago my wife noticed some mold on her bathroom ceiling - necessitating a fresh coat of ceiling paint. But as long as I was doing that, the thinking went, why not redo the entire room as that paint was getting shabby as well?

This is what I did last weekend.

Yet, since the shade of the new paint was subtly different, surely new shower curtains were needed. The shopping for which required my presence so that I could nod foolishly and carry things. Now that I have put up the shower curtain, well, clearly the carpet must go. And then the matching towels.

Now, I begrudge my wife none of this. Her home is where she spends most of her time, and she is deserving of a nice bathroom.

But still, I cannot avoid thinking how expensive and time-consuming was that little patch of mold.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 25, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Look on the bright side. You guys could be busy fixing up an Alaskan outhouse in midwinter.

"Honey, get the grizzly out of there so I can measure for curtains."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 25, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

gwe, I've linked to this person's blog before - a guy who takes great pictures in Montana. This is one he did recently about ice:

We've had snow spitting all day, but not threatening to accumulate...I hope.

Saw Slumdog Millionaire today. Not sure what I think about it. A lot of it made me uncomfortable - the poverty, the brutality. But there are some great moments in it too...My movie buff friend who saw it ages ago said it was very difficult to describe, which I would concur with.

Posted by: seasea | January 25, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Tank McNamara on the Super Bowl:

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 25, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

We saw Slumdog this weekend as well. While we enjoyed the story, nothing in it prompted my wife to take it off her Places I Never Want To Go list. The India episode of every season of Amazing Race pretty much cements its permanent status on the list.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I wouldn't be "fixing up an Alaskan outhouse in midwinter" if Sarah Palin herself... well, I won't finish that sentence. Suffice it to say it would be so wildly obscene it would be the last post ever allowed in this Achenblog.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | January 25, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I was going to tell RD that mold means the attic needs more insulation on that spot. But I won't.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 25, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

thanks seasea,those photos are awesome and it is funny.I was talking to a friend earlier today about Glacier national park in Montana and Canada.I sure would like to see a Glacier someday.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 25, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

Mudge, I did not make a pick for the Uber Bowl yet.

My head and heart are having a UFC cage match, and I'm going to let the winner choose. So far it's a draw, but they've sure made a wreck of me. Er, I mean, the cage.

My experience with olive oil is moderate concerning gustatory uses and food preparation, I'm more familar with topical applications for Gladitorial purposes.

I prefer the filtered EV oo for daily battle/training and general purposes, the unfiltered for Date Night. Er, I mean Special Occasions.

I also tend to go Old School for Fight Night, swathing myself in olde-fashioned classic olive oil - not virgin or extra virgin, not microfiltered, not nothin' but the extra thick good stuff, like the old Heroes used to wear.

Now, I DVRed some of the Daytona 24 Hours Race (the kickoff of the domestic racing season, some would say), which finished at around 3:30 this afternoon. I'm going to settle in and watch a bit of it... no, it's not football, but it'll do until next weekend.



Posted by: -bc- | January 25, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I knew you had your limits on honey-dos, Mudge. No worries (and please do keep that particular scenario inside your head, or I'll send bc in with some olive oil).

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 25, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

dowd is really illogical. of course, she blames it all on the clintons (what else is new). because, you know, their not wanting kennedy to have the senate seat (something she asserts but doesn't back up with evidence) smacks of entitlement, whereas kennedy asking for a senate seat, which she doesn't have to run for, based solely on her family name doesn't. yeah right.

i don't think kennedy would have made a good senator. she's clearly smart enough, but she likes her privacy and doesn't have the right temperament. you really need extroverts who like all the hurly burly and can at least deal with the press exposure.

my other main reason for rooting against kennedy is that she never would have thought about a senate seat if she had had to run for it in an election. that disqualifies her in my book. she wanted it handed to her on a silver platter, but without getting her hands dirty. i don't think that should be rewarded.

Posted by: LALurker | January 25, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

la lurker, you make some interesting points about Caroline Kennedy. At first I thought it was a good idea but as I saw more of her, I had the same thought that she just didn’t have the temperament for it. I also was very surprised at her manner of speaking. I mean, you know, like she sounded like, um. I find it incredible that someone of her upbringing and education would have such poor presentation. I thought the whole thing was handled very poorly by both Kennedy and Paterson.

On a brighter note, I finished my new kitchen valence. It was for the bay window, so was quite long. I threaded it thru’ the rod with about 40 buttonholes. I’ll be making them in my sleep tonight.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 25, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

So, two Boodlers are copping out on "Slumdog Millionaire"?

Let me give yout some words from my favorite book editor, the British Timothy Cavendish:

"Mother used to say escape is never further than the nearest book. Well, Mumsy, no, not really. Your beloved large-print sagas of rags, riches, and heartbreak were no camouflage against the miseries trained on you by the tennis ball launcher of life, were they? But, yes, Mum, there again, you have a point. Books don't offer a real escape, but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw."

Oh, that dastardly British film director Danny Boyle, how dare he not offer us a escape fantasy from our own small lives and instead show film-goers the dirty, cramped, disgusting, dehumanizing slums of Mumbai! How could he be so daring as to show us, in his movie, the miseries trained on Indian slum children by the tennis ball launcher of life?

Cavendish: "The Ghost of [deceased] Sir Felix Finch [book reviewer for a major British magazine] whines, "But it's been done a hundred times before!--as if there could not be anything *not* done a hundred *thousand* times between Aristophanes and Andrew Void-Webber! As if Art is the *What*, not the *How*!"

Rags-to-riches stories? Done a hundred thousand times before. But the genius of Boyle to take an Indian script (Q&A) and brilliantly and artistically capture that Mumbai, Third-World setting on film--with actors unfamiliar to the American public: Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto, Anil Kapoor. I say, a salute to Danny Boyle's *How*!

Posted by: laloomis | January 25, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

I need to follow the TBG itinerary sometime. I haven't seen the San Antonio missions since I was a kid, nor the giant Carolina hemlocks at Linville Gorge since I was a UNC student. Come to think of it, Longwood Gardens in SE Pennsylvania needs visiting, too.

I actually revisited, with Mom, the Morse Museum in Winter Park (Orlando) this afternoon. The Tiffany collection is lovely as ever. I was a little surprised that Tiffany pottery was never very popular, so not much survives. Maybe some might pop up at estate sales in Washington.

Also dropped by the nearby Restoration Hardware, where the most interesting sight was a string of of splatter marks on a lovely stone floor. I feel for store operators who have to deal with customers like that. Wasn't inspired to repaint the house in Restoration's silver-gray.

After that, dropped by Ikea and admired their bathroom cabinets and sinks.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 25, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Dave, Dave, Dave! Remember how long it took you to do the kitchen!

Posted by: nellie4 | January 25, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

My kitchen will enter its definitive state of incompletion this week, not counting mundane things like wallpaper, new blinds, installing replacements for disappointing ceiling lights, and retrieving items from remote corners of the house.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 26, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

OK, I'm gonna have to have 'Mudge start checking the time cards... How in the world could we have a 4-hour Boodling gap??!?!? Unacceptable!!!

*checking the bunker for rainforest and the other lobster-shifters* :-)

DoftheC, if the ceiling is disappointing why are you replacing the lights? *confoozed*

*once-more-dear-friends-unto-the-Dawn-Patrol-breach-but-only-after-a-good-cuppa-coffee-and-a-sweet-roll-oh-alright-a-cuppa-tea-and-a-sweet-roll-in-that-case-a-glass-of-orange-juice-and-a-sweet-roll Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2009 5:04 AM | Report abuse

I got an early morning so I have to fly and run, but for those of you that follow these things, Bill Kristol has written his last column for the New York Times.

Be careful reading it. My BS detector went off ten times in two paragraphs.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 26, 2009 5:55 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't so long ago that the Boodle took off evenings and weekends. It's a testament to the power of Joel that people do this on their own time now.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 26, 2009 6:08 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Glad to see Scotty and yello already in the Ready Room. Yes, Scotty, I fear our West Coast, mid-Pacific and Far East squadrons, not to mention our insomniacs, may have all gone to bed early. In their defense, it *was* a Sunday night, end of the weekend, etc., so maybe that explains it. And I don't think we had anything high-umbrage out on the table.

Kristol's last column? Not a moment too soon.

Welcome home, TBG.

OK, gotta run myself. Later, dudes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | January 26, 2009 6:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I know the reason for the gap: No football, everybody turned in early because there was nothing else to do.

All Mr. T could find was the Carolina/Maryland women's basketball game. He didn't even cavil at going to supper with TBG, SonofG, GFofSonofG, and me so that he had to miss part of the game.

TBG is still abed this morning, and I'm not going to disturb her. She was tired, with all the driving.

Busy week ahead, so I'm finishing my first cuppa tea and out on the flight line to get airborne.

Posted by: slyness | January 26, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle!

Taking off to watch the Boodle's six o'clock.

The Obama admin, better take a new, fresh look at South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan and India).

New policy is needed there pronto!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Braguine | January 26, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Good morning from the frozen North.
It was bitterly cold outside this morning and I came to a cold chair and frozen shoes. It's fine to let the temperature drop a bit inside during the weekend but cripes please start the heat a little earlier next time...

I read the big store discussion after I came back from costco yesterday. I re-examined my purchases and I say that it was 95% basics (if beer, fresh orange juice and sweet onions are basics...) and 5% fluff. Not a bad day at the office. I also like that that particular chain doesn't treat their employees like chopped liver.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 26, 2009 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Very cold here this morning as well, on a happy note out the window I can see the sky lightening - the sunrise is getting earlier, spring is only a couple of months away for us.

Have a good day all

Posted by: dmd2 | January 26, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse


if you get back, give me the thumbnail on the situation. I have had my head in a "Hole" and it won't change with work responsibilities.

dmd, we can't be as cold as you, but it is great to see the days get longer and the average temps inching slowly up. I am hoping that we get blessed by a warmer finish to the winter (not that I am looking for old spray cans of aquanet to spray into the atmosphere.)

Don't mean to blather on, but this weekend, temps not withstanding, was a fantastic time holding down our tent at Eastern Market. I was in the chilly weather for hours and hours and met some amazingly nice folks and shared our coffee and the story and heard their stories.

Have to say that our country is 100% happier than a couple of weeks ago. No matter how hard our challenges will be (and they are nasty), we are better off. There are so many young folks with so much international understanding in town now. The diversity is here again and the openness. People listen and they share.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Yes, SD, another reason to be a member of Costco and not Sam's Club. I've read that the president of the company has a salary in the 300,000's, not in the millions.

Posted by: slyness | January 26, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Science strikes a mighty blow in the struggle for free federal coffee:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Not sure, exactly, what it means when Australia Day coincides with the Chinese New Year.

But I bet it ain't good.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

RD, thanks for the great news on Coffee.


Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

d@mn the coffee, I would settle for federally provided heat right now.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 26, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Denizen, at some point, Cheney is going to get a bit of heat, but I don't think you want "that."

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Padouk, it means this is the Year of the Wallaby.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 26, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Headlines like this always make me squirm a bit: "President to Act on Emissions ."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 26, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Or the Year of the Platypus.
The year known for the happenance of Weird Things.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 26, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Just as long as it's not the Year of the Dodo...

'Cuz that would be a little late and stuff.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Dodo is an eight year cycle.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Oh, great. Now Michael Bennett is a senator from Colorado. Just what we needed in Washington: a Broadway choreographer. If he shows up at a Senate hearing in a gold lame tux with a top hat, I know we're in a lot of trouble.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | January 26, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Faxing some spare heat to SD. Nothing like putting your feet into frozen stiff shoes on a cold winter morning. It just takes the last residual belief in summer out of you.

That said, when I left work on Saturday, there was still pink in the western sky, and not the faded kind. The back of winter is broken. Maybe we can fake it through February.

Posted by: --dr-- | January 26, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, I may have missed details, but is the Northside BPH today? Tomorrow? Next week?

Posted by: --dr-- | January 26, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

We haz a new Dawn Patroller...


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to Layoff Monday...


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

But there IS comic relief available..


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. I'm moving slow this morning. I haven't had the coffee, so I won't stay long.

Have a great day, folks. It is Monday morning, and that can be hard. It is cloudy and dreary looking here, plus cold.

Yoki, Mudge, Slyness, Scotty, Martooni, and all the boodlers, a very loving and happy good morning to all. *waving*

Time for coffee.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 26, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Scratching head...

From today's Washington Post:

Illinois-based Caterpillar said its job reductions were a necessary response to a downturn in global demand for its bulldozers, graders and other heavy equipment. The company's earnings from October through December plummeted 32 percent, to $661 million, compared to the same period a year ago, and it forecast a roughly 20 percent drop in revenue for 2009.

From January 24's San Antonio Express News:

Most of the economic news has been dismal in recent months, and that is one reason a groundbreaking in Seguin [town just east of San Antonio, named after the Seguin family, which includes an Alamo hero] this week was welcome and encouraging.

The groundbreaking was for a Caterpillar engine assembly plant, which will bring 1,400 jobs.

That's good news in any economic environment, but it is particularly nice when many other companies are announcing cuts and layoffs.

As reported in the Express-News, the $170 million plant will pay an average wage of $21 an hour, and the plant is expected to be complete in 2011.

From Jan. 22's Seguin Gazette-Enterprise:

[Texas Gov. Rick] Perry turned toward Caterpillar board of directors member and Trinity University President John Brazil [who, our local paper announced in the last several days, is retiring next year], Vice President of Caterpillar Large Power Systems Division Gary Stroup and then the other way to Peter Holt, a Caterpillar partner and owner of Holt Industries and the San Antonio Spurs, and thanked them for their roles in bringing the largest manufacturer of industrial diesel equipment in the world to Seguin.

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Morning all. Or in my case g'night. I just got home from work. Mom call me if the BPH is tonight - around 4 or so. I should be getting up by then.

Posted by: Kerric | January 26, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

There's a shiny new kit full of historical-type stuff.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

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