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Newspapers Without Words

[Bulletin: We're off on vacation for a couple of days -- Spring Break!!! -- so any blogging will be sporadic at best. Back in the groove on Monday.]

I am loathe to criticize the hard work of colleagues in this beleaguered newspaper industry, but it would seem to me, having seen this rollout of the new Orlando Sentinel design, that they think newspapers no longer need words. The assumption seems to be that people are too busy these days to read anything beyond a few paragraphs. The editors talk of being aware of how time pressed the readers are. There's a vow to rid the paper of long and dense stories. But let me pose a question: Is there any evidence that any format change at any newspaper has made a difference in the bottom line?

The problem is not the journalism, it's the business model. The simple, scary fact is that content creators are no longer making money. Aggregators make the money. And soon there won't be much to aggregate. Look at the front page of Google News: It's full of stories from organizations that are financially struggling. Call it evolutionary if you will, but something's got to give. And I don't think more bells and whistles in newspaper design are going to change anything.

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 26, 2009; 8:03 AM ET
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I hope somebody comes up with a new, sustainable business model for newspapers soon. I'd love to be the one to do it, but I'm not the least bit creative or business savvy.

Posted by: slyness | March 26, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

JA actually WANTS pipes to explode while he's gone? Actually, being in the WSSC service area, that's not too far-fetched...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 26, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

FMP is too indecorous to use in the boodle? WTF?! Well, frak me with a rusty spoon.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all...

FMP = Fair Market Value, right?

Miss everybody here, have a warm trip, JA, leaving us with the grey chilly drizzle, are you? That would be GCD.

Being old and all, must say I am content with the WaPo as is. If change must come (even more than recent change) let there be longer words, deeper words, wordier words. Finally got myself confortable with the book section, don't mind the changes

Posted by: VintageLady | March 26, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I hate to say it, but the new format for the Sentinel looks suspiciously like the Time Magazine For Kids that DC gets at school. Did I mention she's in kindergarten? Definitely geared toward those whose reading abilities are limited to See Spot Run. Run Spot Run. Sheesh. Talk about dumbing down.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 26, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

LIT, I thought of Dick & Jane, too! A better model might be McGuffey's Primer or First Reader, contentwise. Folks might not be able to relate to the pictures, tho.

Posted by: VintageLady | March 26, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I thought we already had a newspaper without words. It's called USA Today, IIRC.

I'm kind of fond of the newspaper inverse format writing style. Most of the news stories I read the first few paragraphs to get the gist and if I want more information I read the whole thing. I still haven't decided whether "con't on A12" or "click here for more" is more annoying.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Dead tree newspapers need hyperlinks to older editions. This story makes much more sense if you had read the earlier story.

It had caught my eye only because I was reading the Tuesday story at the Leesburg Panera Bread and was planning a W&OD trail bike ride later that day. I decided that to go on the ride despite being just a few miles from the attack location. Now that I know there may have been international intrigue and skulduggery involved I feel safer personally but less so as a citizen in general.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

SCC gee... FMP = Fair Market Price

Posted by: VintageLady | March 26, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I remember when Life Magazine was in its prime (well, at least, my prime) and Time Magazine was going strong. It was said then that Life is for those who can't read, and Time is for those who can't think.

Kinda holds true today. Has anybody noticed, especially during sports events, that program ticklers come up on the screen ("be sure to watch. . . .") and the announcers do not fail to read it out loud. I have always found that as annoying as listening to Madden repeat the exact same thing three or four times in a row. I know how to read, and I can still hear, so go on to something else, already!

Well, yesterday was particularly busy, and today will be no different, about which I can only say a big YAYYYYYYYY.

Lurkingly yours.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 26, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Sean Penn, Jim Carrey & Benicio Del Toro cast to play The Three Stooges!!!

Posted by: Boko999 | March 26, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm. If the aggregators are making all the money, they should be paying the content providers for the content. Shouldn't they?

I'm on record as being willing to pay for my account, and I stand by that. I also wouldn't have a problem with my local paper raising prices. Right now it's less than $100 for six months, what a deal is that?!

Posted by: slyness | March 26, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Someone sent Gene Weingarten a link to a blog post of mine where I attempt to rip him a new orifice and it made today's chat update (third item down):

The questioner signed is as "Frederick, MD". Was that one of you guys?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

The Orlando Sentinel was once a lively thing, worth picking up even if you lived in Jacksonville. Several cartoonists, fine movie critic, Scott Joseph's Chowhound reports on great storefront restaurants, years before residents of Los Angeles made storefront eateries fashionable.

At the Post, Fredrick Kunkle's report on Creigh Deeds is maybe a little to charming for its own good, but the politician reminds me a bit of our own, late, Lawton Chiles, who was a smart bumpkin if there ever was one.

How do you write a constitutional amendment to guarantee a right to hunt? A while back, I took a look at my ancestral county (Franklin, near Roanoke) and the place looked as though it had been taken over by country homes on extensive acreage. The owners must all be complaining about the deer, but not wanting anyone to shoot guns or release arrows anywhere on the property.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 26, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Joel, I've been saying for a long time that the people who do electronic syndication of news the best - meaning, they're coniniously making deals with the hot sites and moving on to the Next Big Thing - are the ones who are going to make it. The writers, er, I mean content providers - will probably work for the syndicates the way they work for the newspapers and magazines now. The syndicates will probably be the only ones with sufficient resources for significant inverstigative journalism, unforunately.

As far as how that news will look --

Personally, I'm holding out for the Pat the Bunny News site (and I bet RD is, too.). [This will require the new Dimensionally Transcendental Kindle]

Think about it -- concise, brief, and interactive.

"Pat the Bunny News.
Touch the News.
You know you want to.


Anyone care to take a moment and write a story for it?


Posted by: -bc- | March 26, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

yello, 'twasn't me.


Haven't looked at or attempted to interact with Gene's chats in months, I'm sorry to say.

Daggone recession's making me sacrifice a lot...


Posted by: -bc- | March 26, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

And, Joel - enjoy your Spring Break.

[Let's pray that the 'Posties Gone Wild' video never surfaces...]


Posted by: -bc- | March 26, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

This man was killed by narcogangsters.
His blood poured all over the pavement,
mostly after they cut off his head.
His blood is full of cocaine.
Touch the blood.
It looks gooey.
Does it feel gooey?
Are you getting a contact high?

Narcogangsters want to take over your neighborhood, kill your parents, prostitute your sister, and get you hooked on drugs.
Does that make you feel sad?
Feel the sadness.
It feels like blessed darkness.
Sweet drunken oblivion will be a welcome relief
from this newspaper.
Drink now.
Drink, drink, drink.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Off to meetings -

*Tim, that's beautiful, man.


Posted by: -bc- | March 26, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Do the aggregators make the money because they get more eyeballs for their advertisers, or is it only because their primary product is brazenly appropriated from others who bear the costs of production? Perhaps it is not possible for the aggregators as syndicates to pay enough to provide the content, unless writers concede that their writing will become solely a hobby. Which means we can look forward to an exciting world of mediocrity in writing, with virtually no investigation and execrable copy-editing, from now until the end of written language under the forthcoming totalitarian government. Which will be in about 30 years.

I often see mention of this notion that the length of written works needs to be reduced to accommodate "our fast-paced lives." But what do we mostly do to get any kind of news in "our fast-paced lives"? We watch videos, a vastly slower medium. I often click the WaPo home page for articles that look interesting, then click away when I realize it's a video. I may waste my time here, but I don't want to make a conscious COMMITMENT to wasting my time. I prefer that it should be accidental.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

It seems newspapers have been dumbing down for a long time. How is it that editorial types don't see that maybe, just maybe the dumbing down is part of the reason why things keep getting worse. I sincerely believe people are longing for something that is more than numbing and dumbing.

Maybe, just maybe, by pandering to how busy we all are, by making the reading feel even busier, they will miss that a lot of us are looking for something that isn't going to remind us how busy we are.

Forget the market research.
Market research is after all, only as good as the questions asked and then it is filtered by someone interpreting the data to see what they may or may not conciously or subconciously want it to say.

Longer ago, a paper sold well by being the best news source around. Now marketing research is telling a paper how to sell. That seems to be wrong.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 26, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I have read some newspaper articles from the NY Times from the 50's. Textual analysis suggests that while the vocabulary may be more straightforward these days, the content of today probably is no worse and may be better than it used to be. The hypothesis of "dumbing down" thus is not supported as a universal attribute. Future dumbing-down is not precluded.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse


Great poem. Is it original or a parody of something I should know? Either way, it's brilliant.

Newspapers did well because they were cheap, current, and ubiquitous. All features of the internet now. The internet has stolen the newspaper's cheese to use that awful metaphor.

Newspapers are now the smart kid WHO is getting his lunch money stolen every day by Drudge, et. al. They are also being bullied into doing the dumb jock's homework every night. Good luck breaking that cycle.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"Posties Gone Wild"

Don't give me that mental image so close to lunchtime. I can't suppress the thought of Weingarten and Fisher in a wet tee shirt contest.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Here is President Obama.
He is telling people how he's going to solve the problems facing this country.
He needs a lot of words.
There are a lot of problems.
Many have to do with money.

Pat your money.
Oh, wait, it's all gone.

Feel the existential ennui and general malaise.


Posted by: -bc- | March 26, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I seem to have escaped a training session on how to properly travel on business.

I think my brain is still intact (FWIW).

yello, tweren't me.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 26, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

For those who haven't read books to toddlers recently:

Posted by: -bia- | March 26, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Just appearing for a moment to pass along this scary link:

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 26, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Aloha, Happy Prince Kūhiō Day!


Posted by: omnigood | March 26, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Hi all.
Interesting day (like most), isn't it?
This morning, I went out to get the newspaper and put it in the car for my wife: she reads it on the way to work everyday while on the train.
Before she packed it into her carry-on, she removed the "Everything you want to know about Russia" section, the Want-ads section, the sale fliers, the sports section (she's not a big sports-fan unless it's football season) and the local news section and put them in the recycle bin in the garage.
Happy to pay for the WaPo. Just wish they'd quit producing the stuff we don't read.
We go through this routine every workday morning.
It would be really cool if we could tell the Post which of the sections we want and only receive those sections. I'll bet that there are others like us: folks who don't read the whole newspaper. I'd further wager that there are five, maybe six, *packagings* of the Post that would fit the bill for most weekday subscribers. Printing and delivering only what people want, when they want it would, it seems to me, save a huge amount of money for the Post while providing subscribers with their news of choice.
I reckon that the whole paper would be printed and distributed to news-stands and stand-alone paper boxes on a daily basis still - and probably for home delivery too, on the weekends.
Kinda the best of both worlds: you get what you want when you want it and save the trees, the ink, the world, and Joel's job in the process.
Dunno - seems that despite the web sites and eyeball counts and and automated presses and such, the newspaper publishing industry is still firmly rooted in the 19th century.
Just sayin'...

Posted by: dschalton | March 26, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Here's a challenging question: I have been pondering, for the past 30 years or so, the problem of how to educate the young. The current method is to teach literacy and basic arithmetic first; and then, starting from about 5 or 6 hundred years ago, to recapitulate the history of Western intellectual development at an accelerated pace, while bemoaning the inability of the young to retain all that material as well as 100% of the facets that we have added to popular culture in the decades between our own birth and theirs.

The open classroom was a noble conception that quickly foundered upon the shoals of society -- the idea of empowering the individual learner was nice, the thinking seems to have gone, but it takes a lot of teachers to keep the kids learning instead of goofing off. Labor-intensive = expensive, and we can't have that. In addition, society refused to accept the basic premise of the open classroom and the empowered individual learner, that self-education (when done properly) looks like goofing off. Leaving us stuck with our old model: I lecture, you learn, you spit it back up for the tests, and I get to keep my job if you regurgitate well.

The biggest problem with the current education model is that it so totally fails to resemble the professional expression of the skills that we want students to learn. Actual science looks nothing like secondary-education science, and very little like college science teaching. Actual writing, for pay, has little to do with the critiquing process employed in school. Actual art is not accomplished by accurately following directions, it is accomplished by creatively subverting standards and directions.

If we taught future professional athletes the way that we teach academic skills, then 'student-athletes' would undergo 12 years of lecture; the last 4 years would include once-a-week 'labs' in which a particular technique is practiced; then there would be 4 more years of advanced lecture, leavened by three practice games a week but employing only a limited range of techniques; then they would reach graduate school and we would expect professional-level play within a year of starting.

The lecture-to-learner model is not completely bad, but it only works when there is a mix of lecture and learner-led practical activity. I think we need a fundamentally different structure for how we choose and convey the 'most critical' content of culture. Perhaps, as an extreme example, we need for physics to start with a relativistic and quantum-mechanical viewpoint and abandon classical mechanics except as a quaint special case that happens to apply to every aspect of direct sensory experience (except for LED's, lasers, and GPS). Perhaps theater should start from "Oh, Calcutta!" Perhaps writing should start from the collected works of Achenbach.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Dumbimg-down is definitely happening at the middle school where I teach. This year was the first of my 9 years here that I was not allowed by my administration to issue science books to my students. The rationale, as I was informed, is that we should not be assigning book work, or at least keeping it to a bare minimum. I should only be teaching through immersive lab experiences.

While I agree that lab experiences are integral to learning about the natural world, there is a limit to what a student actually retains if they are never exposed to the meat and potatoes of science, which to me is the published work of researchers. Flashy labs and demos are great, but without the ability to read a few paragraphs, my students are not retaining the necessary information.

In the past, I only had to deal with the fact that my students refused to read. Now, I cannot even assign them to read, unless I use up class time to have them do it. But woe unto me if my administrators come into my classroom and see the students reading science books when there should be real learning going on.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 26, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, to answer your question from the end of this morning's boodle, I believe the president was riffing on Langston Hughes poem A Dream Deferred.

Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes
1902 - 1967

Posted by: rickoshea0 | March 26, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I value the newspaper because it (they) is a filter. Of course, it has to be a good filter. When I was a teen and young adult, a friend bought and listened to all the new music. And made personal recommendations of what I would like. This saved me enormous time and money. He was a good filter, better than 100% of all the Rolling Stone critics, and slightly better than Lester Bangs. (But not much!)

To transplant that paradigm to newspapers, here we get the Big City paper, the African American paper, the left/libertine local tabloid, one or two Spanish language tabloids. There were a couple of right-wing/conservative/libertarian tabloids here for years but they have gone under. One of their best writers went to the leftie tabloid, balancing it wonderfully and extending its life. Few attempt micro-zines anymore, what with the internet.

There are about 40 freebie advertising sorts of things on the city streets in boxes clustered with all the above I have mentioned. Those things support a LOT of full and part-time employees. Recently I've been wondering how the Big Paper can get some of that revenue back, if it's even possible.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 26, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Poem? It was a poem? I thought it was "Pat the Bunny News."

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, I think I'm with you, man. The problem is that real science is not all one way or another. Experimental scientists need familiarity with theory and the ability to interpret the consequences of data in more than a "look what just happened" kind of way. Theorists need to grasp that theory applies to the real experiential world, and what is the magnitude of the response to stimulus. Experiment without theory; theory without experiment; are sterile. You need both, the yang and the yin, the sweet and the sour, the male and the female, the wiggly and the goober. Only then can you have productive science.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The chocolate and the peanut butter. The cylon and the human.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse


Look at this video -- 20 minutes LONG but worthy -- from this year's TED conference (Technology, Education, Design):

Sir Kenneth Robinson on education's soul sucking problems....and yet, the miracle can and does still occur in classrooms....not all though, and not for so many children.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 26, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

SciTim and Gomer, yes. I remember an assigned science project during junior high -- something about sound proofing? Put an alarm clock in the box you made and see if you can hear it. But we never talked about sound waves, or what kind of materials might or might not impede them, or why. I don't remember much from that class, but I remember my strong feelings of that project's uselessness.

Posted by: -bia- | March 26, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, SciTim

I will go to bat for Actual Writing's relationship to what is taught. I don't really view what I do as substantially removed from "What I did this summer" essays in school. Regarding Actual Art, my position can be summarized by saying that the difference between Pollock and Daisy the elephant is conscious rule breaking.

Regarding art, I've always believed that

I'm interested to hear your perspective on the differences between Actual Science and school science. The problem as I see it for science is that science took off dramatically from everyday experience, depending on the subject area, between 100 to 200 years ago. Darwin's careful drawings of finch beaks and theory are understandable; mitochrondrial DNA - not so much.

Posted by: engelmann | March 26, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

The Fluffer and the Nutter. The Kit and the Boodle, as it were.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 26, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

bia, exactly. The challenge is to lead students through the advances. Otherwise the end state is "some people believe the world is round, and others don't".

Posted by: engelmann | March 26, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

SCC as mysterious and profound as the hanging sentence in my 12:24 is, it was sadly unintentional.

Posted by: engelmann | March 26, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

A s'more without the 'mallow?

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 26, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Intelligence is diverse;
Intelligence is dynamic; and
Intelligence is distinct.

AND, my comment,

Intelligence is NOT FIXED.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 26, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Engleman, mostly. But the best way to improve writing skills is to be a reader of many types of documents.

HINT: we overteach writing in response to literature. Big problem; we need a range of writing, especially non fiction, in our reading lists.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 26, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey omni, aloha!

FYI, the good prince went to the school I went to in Hawaii. Seems that they also have that other alumnus, as well, Barry.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 26, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

You are on a roll today, PedagogueTim. Brilliant AND insightful. I take solace in the thought that independent learning looks a lot like goofing off. If only I could make either look like working.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The very first day I arrived in Hawaii, it was Prince Kuhio Day, throwing an unexpected hitch into our plans to get things done, since it is an official state holiday and thus a day off work.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

The Sun Sentinel did a redesign a while back and it still makes me feel disoriented when I open it up in the morning. The front page is mostly color illustrations. The name of the paper is in small letters on the left margin, under a large, stylized "S." There's a white-lettering-on-black-background headline up at the top of the front page but it's NOT the day's big news. It directs the reader to an inside page. In fact, the day's big news isn't on the front page--for that you have to go to page 3, "Nation and World."

I don't know when I've seen a better example of what is known as "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

Now, it's a beautiful day, and I'm off to ride my bike to the post office. I will take the loooooong way, see if I can get my 15 miles in for the day.

Posted by: kbertocci | March 26, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Afternoon all
I am sort of taking a spring break today too.A rare weekday off and more importantly a weeknight off to catch a young very good Blues guitar player (Joe Bonamassa) at the Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown.Seeing rock shows in theatres is always a pleasure,small venue,plush seats,great accoustics.It should be fun.

Anyone interested in a listen here is Joe's website
he is also playing at the birchmere in Alexandria later this month.

A pretty good rain here in west by god today and cold still 42.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 26, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Interesting old fiction pre-computer-age, by Murray Leinster. Longish but impressively predictive.

Re soundproofing, it took me a long time as a technician and general ponderer to "get it." A friend was working at a place that made soundproofing for panels of Cadillacs, etc. A very massive rubber foam material. Fiber and dead space can only do so much. Wet clay (or clay with oil instead of water, perhaps) is very good; slightly plastic soil-like masses in general. For the home, the fastest best way to soundproof a wall is to remove the ceiling and floor trim, add another whole layer of sheetrock, repaint, put trim back.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 26, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I have a soundproof room in the basement.

"It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again..."

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 26, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

The most reliable way I've found to teach myself a good lesson is by injuring myself.

I read all the texts and information anyone's willing to present to me, but until it blows up in my face, I crush my thumb while wailing on it like a medieval blacksmith, cut my hand, or put an eye out, or make some other tragic mistake or get caught engaging in some experimental misadventure that's Going Down on My Permanent Record, I only learn so much.

I guess you could call me an experiential learner.

When I take the Final Exams for life, bring buckets and a mop.


Posted by: -bc- | March 26, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Good sound-proofing requires mass. Concrete, lead, water, you name it, just make it heavy.

Blocking direct line of sight helps too. Those sound waves don't like going around corners.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I bet you could use stealth-type technology for sound-proofing -- thin sheets of hard material (high speed of sound) interspersed by air gaps (relatively low speed of sound). Tune the width of air gaps so that reflections will destructively interfere at selected target frequencies. You can't knock out everything, but you can knock out some specific problem ranges.

As an hypothesis, the suggestion of clay as a sound barrier might work because of poor coupling between the high speed of sound in the clay and the low speed of sound in air. It would take some testing to investigate...

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, thanks for that Lenister piece. Pretty cool. I dug "First Contact" when I read it - sheesh, 35 years ago?

*Tim and yellojkt, I'm not sure this is practical for a small box, but I'd consider making a noise cancellation system that takes the sound waves coming from the clock and injects waves back in of the same frequency and amplitude 180 deg out of phase.

Oops, gotta go to a meeting.


Posted by: -bc- | March 26, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Um, bc, you just described noise-cancellation headphones.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone else noticed the increasing number of folks in town saying gonna and kinda?

I don't have much to add to say about the speed of sound traveling through clay, but, in this area, most of the experts don't tend to complain about the noise. I guess it must be working as a good sound baffler.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 26, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse


Cement as in Chicago river cement dumping that we have heard so much about recently thanks to highly organized Republican Senatorial Caucus members?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 26, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Active noise cancellation is what makes those airline Bose headphones work. They are also available in bigger sizes but work best with fixed tones and steady noises. They are pricey because you need the microphone and the complex wave form algorithms to make the counter wave.

Mass stops sound traveling through things but helps the reflection off of things.
All those acoustic chambers have the funky self-reflective edges that swallow and cancel the sound waves. Carpet, ceiling tiles, and drapes all do roughly the same thing. I've noted that all noisy restaurants (Bertucci's etc.) tend to not have dropped ceilings.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I love this Boodle. I post a reminiscence about how unenlightening I found a school soundproofing project to be, and suddenly we have an in-depth technical discussion of soundproofing. Pray, gentlemen (so far), continue -- I'm being enlightened.

Posted by: -bia- | March 26, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

PLEASE some computer-savvy person tell me what is going on when I open a new website and it starts clicking like a Geiger counter - it won't stop the clicking - and freezes the whole browser. It won't let me close that tab, it won't let me shut off the browser, and I have to control-alt-delete to kill the thing.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 26, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Lack of sound-proofing had to have been one of the contributors to the failure of the open classroom debacle. Too many distractions vying for the attention of the students and no decent way to sound segregate smaller groups.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm told to stay away from those sorts of sites. They are tough to explain away to your spouse.

Seriously, no idea. Is it one site in particular or just any site? Try another browser to see if the problem is on your side or there side. Sorry to be no help.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

There is also simple electronic sound suppression that works very well when the caracteristics of the offending sounds are known in advance. The transmitter doesn't transmit or greatly reduces the intensity of the noise to be suppressed. It's really eerie to be at the shooting range and hear people talking, cars passing on the road, dogs barking and all that and yet not hearing the guns blasting away.
These headsets are not "that" expensive either, if you consider that most old shooters are deaf or semi-deaf. I've heard some are made for jackhammering, others for ball mills halls, etc. Here's one for shooters, in camo of course.

Active noise suppression as suggested by bc is done too. Mrs. D's favourite SEM has an active muffler fitted on the main vacuum pump (a notoriously noisy beast).

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 26, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

C-net, aka of all places. Others do it too.

Yeah, locked up my alternate browser also. Had to kill it, too. So this is happening to no one else but me? I take no third-party cookies whatever...

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 26, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

SEM = scanning electron microscope. I am jealous.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 26, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, it sounds like your PC needs some soundproofing...

Perhaps some lead shielding...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 26, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Jumper, I should have spelled it in full. The boss used it to see the interest rate of his checking account but did not provided the acronym.
And yes, most days she's proud of her baby.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 26, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

That's it, Maggie O, thanks a bunch.

I'm just too sleepy for words, but have the after-school program, and another meeting after that. And I want to see about my dad. I'm beginning to run on empty. Oh, a nap would be nice.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 26, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

SCC provide.

An old computer of mine does that kind of thing, but it's not browser related. It does it mostly while I watch TV on the old faithful, about the only thing I still do with the 2002 era clunker. But it happened while browsing or doing word processing as well. I changed the power supply (on advice from a computer savvy person) and it still does it. It may be the main board, in my case. Good luck.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 26, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I want to talk about the content of cable news for a minute--especially coverage the last two days.

There have been many, many stories about the violence along the Mexican border during the last 36 hours on both CNN and MSNBC. Is this to take the eyes of consumers of television news--and more importantly, the attention of these viewers--off the economy, specifically the activities of the Blue Dog Democrats, the Republicans, Obama, Geithner, and opinions of Krugman? I compare this tactic employed by cable news networks with the ease of a parent or babysitter in switching the attention of a two-year-old.

I'm bothered that Andrea Mitchell, Anderson Cooper, and Kyra Phillips would engage in this ploy of pumping up this story. Instead of the details of Geithner's plans for regulation of Wall Street, we get comments from Janet Napolitano and, oddly, Richard Myers, peddling his very recently released book?

Hillary Clinton has said during this 36-hour news cycle that the border problems are a law enforcement issue. She has, rightlfully so, called out Americans' insatiable appetitite for drugs, creating a huge market or demand, which strengthens the activities of these cartels, the suppliers. Cable news has at least covered that extremely important fact the source of the cartels' assault weapons is the United States.

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammmer, in his talk at Trinity University last night, also called the current situation in Mexico and along the U.S. border a law enforcement issue. To his credit, at the end of his brief remarks about U.S. relations with Mexico, he did mention the U.S. Joint Forces Command's assessment that Mexico, second to Pakistan, bears the greatest likelihood of being a failed state.

Posted by: laloomis | March 26, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I could blog a lot more on this, but I found that I woke up with a terrific, splitting headache this morning after attending Krauthammer' lecture last night. Krauthammer was speaking to his choir, FOX News viewers. The very large, extremely enthusiastic, and primarily white-haired crowd gave him a standing ovation when he wheeled himself on stage, as well as at the end of his talk.

It was a fluke that I ended up attending. Not a watcher of FOX and having read only Krauthammer's biography at the Trinity University website, I was quite surprised to see a man only a year older than I, but a slight, thin individual who did not look particularly well, with a very limited range of motion, in a wheelchair. Though I hardly agreed with everything he said, I considered his lecture challenging and thought-provoking: time well-spent. A very recent op-ed, "The Daily Me," by NYT's Nick Kristof propelled me to the event.

Two from Krauthammer:

Obama's foreign policy: Walk softly and carry no stick.

"It's never too early to call a presidency failed." THe crowd roared its approval. "...but we need to give Obama a little more time."

Posted by: laloomis | March 26, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Homepage (Houston Chron--12 percent staff cut announced yesterday)

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 26, 2009; 12:54 PM

The Washington Post is offering employees another round of early retirement packages, or "buyouts," the fourth such action since 2003 and second within a year, in its ongoing effort to cut costs to compensate for declining circulation and advertising revenue.

Posted by: laloomis | March 26, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

might be the framus, jumper.

Posted by: -jack- | March 26, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, you could not blog more because you are not a blogger. You have no blog. You, like the rest of us, are individuals who post comments. Guests of an indulgent host.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 26, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Well, RD_P, bc and yello do have their own blogs, of course.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 26, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Jumper too, how silly of me...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 26, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

This is not blogging, this is commenting.

I realize that I did just describe noise cancellation technologies, just was in too much of a hurry to say so.

It'd still be a cool experiment to make something like that work, though.

Sheesh, gotta run.

Question- when will they invent comment cancellation techn

Posted by: -bc- | March 26, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

There are several boodlers here that are bloggers as well. Real blogging is free and easy and doesn't annoy people with long random off-topic poorly-attributed semi-plagiarized rants.

Did I say that out loud?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a blogger? Oh rats, I'll have to get new business cards.

Posted by: nellie4 | March 26, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Gomer144 | March 26, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

That reminds me of Robin Williams (as Truman Capote, Jr.) in "Reality... What a Concept"

"That's not writing, that's just typing."

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 26, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Politico has the WaPo buyout memos.

I hope Joel has a job to come back to.

The NYT has announced 5% paycheck cuts and a 100-person layoff on the business side. Conventional wisdom says too little too late.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I could so use some soundproofing right now, school out for the day, and there are approximately eight kids in my house - the feeding frenzy has paused for the moment, the noise has not.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 26, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Just in case your umbrage level is getting too low, Rolling Stone has a long but lucid story on the insidery-ness of the AIG bail-out.

My eyes only glazed over a little, but I'm going to use my tax refund to buy a pitchfork and about a years worth of canned goods.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Since we've been talking about solutions today, may I ask for suggestions? A friend has a first-grader whose school principal has challenged the kids to create a way that a raw egg in a baggie inside a 7" by 7" by 7" box can be dropped off the school roof and not break when it hits the ground. What kind of cushioning material will keep an egg from breaking?

Posted by: slyness | March 26, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I would break the egg into the baggie so that there is no shell to shatter, and then use as much bubble wrap as I could squeeze in.

Posted by: Yoki | March 26, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, how about the packing peanuts used for shipments, or a box full of popped popcorn.

I think one of my kids has done this I can ask later.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 26, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I was looking to see if any of the bloggers here had updated their blogs lately. yello is some sort of compulsive blogger, the datum that throws the whole field, with so many blogs I can't count them all. 5? 12?
Wilbrod and Wilbrodog each have a blog. Wilbrodog updates regularly. So when I went to check I was glad. Does Kim have a blog, or is that a different Kim? bc has a blog, and it's been updated regularly. mostlylurking blogs. frosti's is into 2009, at least. I think Scotty blogs, but has a secret identity, sort of. Tim had a blog that doesn't work anymore, similar to some others. TBG has neglected hers. Yoki has neglected hers. Shame, oh ye blog neglectors!

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 26, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Just updated mine Jumper - actually think it is still uploading some pictures - one of my Hellebores is in bloom, it is an exciting day in the dmd house - well at least for me.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 26, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Meh, people change. Things come and go.

Posted by: Yoki | March 26, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Wandering back onto the playing field. I sorta back-boodled and found the link to the new The Three Stooges movie. I really cannot abide Jim Carrey, so I'm not going to go see it because of that, but I'm surprised that the casting is so off from who those guys actually were. Oh well, maybe I'm too old (hahahsha) to appreciate that kind of humor, but I remember loving it when I was a kid.

As I said, I haven't back-boodled enough, so can someone tell me where on earth our Mudge is? Kinda weird without him. I mean, not that I don't completely and totally (as we say in the legal biz) appreciate you guys, but, yanno. . . .

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 26, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Slyness- Maybe some pantyhose or a sock stretched almost taut and attached to the box so that there is a little give on impact, but not enough to hit the side of the box. Egg goes in the toe of the sock, in case you didn't guess.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 26, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I have never done the egg drop experiment but my wife did the safe egg racer competition for many years (It helped that she had a scientist for the highway traffic safety tester as a parent volunteer). I assume the principles are similar. Any sort of cushioning or shock absorption will help. The softer the better. Parachutes help as well.

A google search for 'egg drop experiment' gives more links to blogs, websites, and videos than imaginable.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Is there an actual 7" cubic box, or is that merely the dimension into which the device needs to fit? The most effective container I have seen for this purpose used styrofoam take-out hamburger containers, folded open as far as they will go and fastened together at the edges to form a very low-density cage to contain the egg. Terminal velocity was so low that it easily wafted down from the 7th floor without a problem.

The least-effective container was a 5000 psi oil-filter canister from a big rig, filled with shaving cream and the egg, then sealed. It broke the brick steps in front of the dorm building when it fell from the 3rd floor. The egg did not survive either. I assume the engineer had to pay for the repairs.

If the child must use an actual 7" cubic box, I would use spray foam insulation to partially fill the box, then insert the egg into the foam, close the box, and use the spray-can's snorkel to inject more foam to finish filling the box completely. Once the foam hardens, the egg will be fine until it is time to peel the foam apart and get the egg out. Might want to wrap the egg in plastic wrap with edges that trail out of the box -- that foam can get pretty tough, but the plastic wrap will create a natural separation between the top and the bottom sections.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Happy Prince Kuhio day to you too DM! You too Scotty! While it's a day off for the state, sadly it is not for me. I work for a private non-profit based in L.A. so no rest for me! Too bad, such a beautiful day outside too.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | March 26, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

A ball of aluminum foil around the egg might work well. Prior experiments will be necessary.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 26, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

re: the egg challenge
Keep the weight at the absolute minimum to keep the terminal velocity at the absolute minimum.
- Small egg (are quail eggs available?)
- flimsy box with rough exterior, as light as possible.
- bubble wrap or inflatable cushion filling the box.
- a bit of luck (a good egg...)

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 26, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I do not recall ever having had a blog, though I once had a storytelling website. However, I INTEND to start a blog, and I need to revivify my storytelling website.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 26, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

dmd, which is your blog?? I can't find it on my usual poorly-filed resources.

I would let the kids come up with their own egg ideas as much as possible.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 26, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I was going to suggest strapping the egg to a cat, but then recalled that the cat would have to go into a box. Still worth a try though.

Posted by: engelmann | March 26, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

To reinforce something SciTim hinted at, the devil is in the details. The full rules will dictate the design. Size, weight, inspectibility, exterior drag devices. There are a ton of options available.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Here Jumper, it is a garden blog - mostly photos. On your list of WOW I need to check this site - it would not be included :-), but it amuses me.

dr, byoolin also have good blogs that are updated often, dr pretty much daily. If I forgot others it is lack of memory and not a slight.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 26, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Strap the box to a disposable cat.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 26, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

If it's Schrodinger's cat that you put in the box, the egg will only be half-broken.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Strap the box to the cat using duct tape, of course. Red Green would be so proud of us engelmann.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 26, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I know. Assume for the purposes of this experiment that eggs have no mass.

Posted by: engelmann | March 26, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse


I knew you folks would run with this question.

Apparently, the principal issues this challenge every year. Neither of my friend's two older kids were successful. This is her last chance, and she's determined to keep the egg intact. The first grader suggested attaching a parachute to the box.

Posted by: slyness | March 26, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Isn't there a list somewhere of boodler-related blogs? I encourage boodlers to email me with boodler-written blog posts. I don't always link -- timing isnt always right, doesnt go with the mix -- but don't hesitate to flag it at

I'm not old enough for that buyout, fyi. I miss eligibility by exactly one year.

Posted by: joelache | March 26, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Whew, Joel, that's a real relief! We would hate for you to leave WaPo.

Posted by: slyness | March 26, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Just read this article in the Globe and Mail - on ode to Newspapers - sounds like he might lurk here.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 26, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh fer pity sake. As I thought was obvious, when we post here we are not acting as bloggers. We do not have, in my opinion, the same prerogatives as if it were our name, or handle, on the top of the page. This, to me, should suggest a little respect. Just a smidgen, perhaps.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 26, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

For my egg drop, I lined the box (certainly inside, maybe outside too) with foam, and I constructed a rubber-band harness that the egg rode in. It fell out of its harness, but didn't break. I like the taut panty-hose idea -- same concept, but more secure.

Posted by: -bia- | March 26, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

We love all taut pantyhose bia.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 26, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Except the poor soul in it.

Posted by: Yoki | March 26, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I used to hate the word "blog" and although my reasons haven't changed I pretty much gave up the crusade to ban the word. "Website" worked for me then and still does.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 26, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Pantyhose? Whazzat???

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 26, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Pantyhose = torture

Posted by: dmd2 | March 26, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Fair enough, Jumper. Of course, I'm so old I remember when they really were web logs, extremely linky with almost no writing.

Posted by: Yoki | March 26, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

And I was joking, I hate the darn things too.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 26, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I've never understood why women wear them. I mean, I wear hose every day at the office, but not pantyhose.

Posted by: Yoki | March 26, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

What is the exact wording of the challenge?

If it's that the egg won't break on impact, Yoki is right--break it before you put it into the box.

I'm a lot of fun in software specifications meetings. :-)

Posted by: -dbG- | March 26, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Dunno any more that I said, dbG, but you made me laugh!

My friend said to tell everybody thanks from the seven-year-old who gets to try this.

Posted by: slyness | March 26, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

slyness... the best part will be the kid trying to explain who gave her the ideas!

Posted by: -TBG- | March 26, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

As a somewhat older person I can say that, altho' I don't wear them often, pantihose are a necessary evil on not-so-toned or vein-free legs.

I lost all my links to Boodlers' blogs when my computer died last week so anytime anyone wants to repost the links, I'd be pleased. Joel, really happy you aren't one year older.

Posted by: badsneakers | March 26, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

pssst! sneaks! garter and stockings!

Posted by: Yoki | March 26, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

My pathetic blog is here:

But I haven't added anything since the Christmas snow. Maybe when I'm unemployed, I'll have the time and energy to blog.

(formerly known as mostlylurking)

Posted by: seasea1 | March 26, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I keep a list of Boodler blogs in my sidebar. It may need some updating.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 26, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Blogs without big thoughts
Might mix well with current kit--
If kit doesn't hate dogs...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 26, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

You didn't whisper softly enough, Yoki. Mudge'll go in cardiac shock when he reads that.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 26, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I just post jumbles of photos occasionally...

(Speaking of which, there should be a new one in about two weeks or so. No points for guessing the occasion.)


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 26, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I did the garter and stockings thing as a teenager, before they perfected pantihose. As much as I dislike them, I refuse to wear garters!! YMMV! Thanks for the info yello. I'll get them later. Gotta go to dancing lessons now!

Posted by: badsneakers | March 26, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

A visitor BPH?

Oh, right, no points for guessing.

Posted by: Yoki | March 26, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Points for checking your e-mail, Yoki.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 26, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

CqP... what is the precise ratio of writing to reading that should be taught?

Based on my recall, it seems that an average literature class requires the student to read at least 30 times the number of the pages that student might write for class.

And the pages thus written are not as word-dense as what is read.

So, what is the ideal ratio, then?

The classic Greeks and Romans had few books available and they would have copied much of what they read, if not all of it.

This would have forced much attention to the words and detail used; I found the same occuring when I studied Latin and copied everything on a sheet by hand, boiling down the key things to remember for easy reference.

Writing by hand became memorization, and I experienced the patterns in a way I could not by just reading the same material thirty times.

So let me present this opposing argument, that in fact writing must be taught as part of a healthy reading habit, not minimized in favor of "more good literature."

The student must first learn to fully delve into reading.

That precious flame of understanding must be lit, stoked, and fed before books are tossed by the ton into the fire like coal by frantic teachers.

And I say this as somebody who has devoured tons of books...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 26, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I always found the best way to study and master material was to outline my notes or the text. Labor-intensive, but I had it down when I was done, at least long enough to get through the exam!

Are many classes still like I remember, with grades based on mid-term, final, and paper? I suppose if you're in a writing major, there aren't many exams.

Good writing certainly teaches a person to think. At least I always had to think something through before I could write it down.

Posted by: slyness | March 26, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, writing is great evidence of good or bad thinking. Which is why someday Joel will rake in the dough by agreeing to "suppress evidence."

I think good reading does feed creative writing-- as long as the student has the skill of reading well.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 26, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I can tell you wrangle sharks. That is the most brilliant solution I have ever heard of.

If anyone visited my blog today, I do hope the subject matter made you smile at intersection of worlds. Achenblog and doilies. Life is good. Too bad there wasn't a curling reference.

I was wondering too. Where is Mudge?

Posted by: --dr-- | March 26, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

As I was driving back to the coast from inland this afternoon, truck after truck loaded with golden grapefruit was heading inland to the juicing plants. This year's long spell of cool weather and one short freeze must have brought the crop to perfection.

Young bald cypresses are bright green; the older trees forming the cores of the cypress strands never look full of foliage. The strands are the visual equivalent of hills, dominating the horizon, in the plain between the coast and the central ridge.

A recent invention from Australia arrived in today's mail: swim fins that attach to the shin, fitting over the front of the foot. If all goes well, they'll be tried out at the baby beach at the Inlet, then maybe the actual ocean.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 26, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Joel, psst. What about Gene?

Posted by: --dr-- | March 26, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Why, thank you, Knitting Woman!

Posted by: Yoki | March 26, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

What is done here is neither blogging nor commenting, it is boodling-a word that wonderfully deflates all pretension.

I had just enough energy to thoroughly backboodle/ The egg suggestions and the soundproofing discussion reminded me much of what I love about those old fashioned papers full of words. You just never know what you might read if it's there in front of you, next to what you meant to read.

Toodles boodle and sweet dreams. A good thought for eastern ND and western MN, please. We'll know by Monday if frostson was flooded out in Fargo. As he says, better his apartment than his employer.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 26, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Howdy All
Just back from a smokin Joe Bonamassa show.Two and a half hours of some fine smokin guitar work.I highly reccomend seeing his show for anyone who loves guitar.That boy can play.

The ride home was through the soup,foggy as all getout here in west by god.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 27, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Bonamassa? Smokin'

Posted by: Yoki | March 27, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Oh yes he was Yoki,If you ever get a chance to see the young man,do so,he puts on a very nice show.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 27, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Maira Kalman this morning on democracy:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | March 27, 2009 6:38 AM | Report abuse

DNAGirl, that's fabulous! A wonderful way to start a Friday morning!

Still cool and rainy in the Carolinas. I'm not complaining yet. No flooding, no tornadoes, no wind. Just enough moisture to wash the pollen from the budding trees out of the air.

Frosti, my thoughts are prayers will be with those along the Red River who are in danger's way today.

Sure has been quiet around here with Mudge gone. It will be nice to have him back.

Posted by: slyness | March 27, 2009 6:57 AM | Report abuse

I, on the other fin, appreciate the peace, quiet and civility.

Posted by: Mako2 | March 27, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse


There are times where it's WAY cool to work on the 16th floor of a building that's one of the highest points around...

Like on a morning with lotsa low-lying fog as the sun comes up!!! Buildings floating on clouds!!!

*TGIF-and-yes-it-was-a-foggy-Dawn-Patrol Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Maira Kalman illustrated The Elements of Style (Strunk and White) to charming effect a few years ago.

Morning. I am ALL OUT OF HONDO coffee, however, that will be remedied soon. I will set out two sweet pea plants later today.

Take care, Al. Rainy out there.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 27, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

bc, this might jog your funny bone...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone.

Sigh. That sounds wonderful ScottyNuke, to see the world from that high. Alas, I am cloistered down here in the basement (or subterranean lair as I prefer to call it) and can see little through these high narrow windows on the best of days. As I look out I can see nothing but gray.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 27, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Started my seedlings last week CP, thought it would be fun for the younger ones to watch them grow, and had them help select the seeds. With your inspiration we are trying Zinnias this year (Candy cane), and Four O'clocks. So far so good - except for the stocks which are not doing as well as the others - tried sprinkling cinnamon on the plants rather than damp off - and it is working well - anyone else heard of using this before - read it somewhere.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 27, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodlers!

Nippy morning for dawn patrol. Parakeets are quiet.


Posted by: Braguine | March 27, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. Got to find the coffee, I haven't had any this week. If any of you get the chance, read the story of the football player that was stopped by the police in Dallas, and held at gunpoint while the mother-in-law was dying in the car because he ran a stoplight. A very sad story. Policeman even put the gun on the wife because she was trying to get the mother out of the car to walk to the hospital, all of this in the parking lot at the hospital. Messed up, bad.

Slyness, it is wet and foggy here too. Warm temps though. Frosti, hope the water isn't as bad as they're showing on television, and I hope everyone can reach higher ground.

Yoki, Scotty, Martooni, and everyone, have a great day.*waving*

Slyness, do you know why WSOC-TV will no longer be on cable, Time Warner specifically? This flashed across the television this morning, but it was too fast for me to read.

Now everyone sing, TGIF, and again, TGIF, and mean it this time, TGIF! Okay, that was good, no record deal in the future, but pretty good.(smile)

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 27, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I'm singing as loud as I can but it's not 5 pm yet! ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | March 27, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Morning Al...

Brag... it fills me with absolute joy to read about your adventurous new life. We miss you at the BPHs but it's great to see you are getting settled in and enjoying Santiago.

It sounds like a wonderful place... we'll have to plan a South American BPH, no?

Posted by: -TBG- | March 27, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Whenever I threaten to sing people throw a sack over me.

Belated and obvious comment on the kit. To survive newspapers have to identify those things that they can do better than any other media and remind people of that fact.

Newspapers need to focus precisely on the in-depth intelligent unbiased analysis that is hard to find anywhere else, as well as remaining in touch with local community events.

Also, bigger comics and more articles involving the term "corn gluten."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 27, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Hey, just found this on the bunker's coffee table...

"Effective immediately and for the indefinite future, ScottyNuke is now Shop Steward.

Vaya con queso and fondue, all;

Well then.

*hanging my shingle on the Shop Steward door and taking inventory*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Was it something I said? I swear I never touched the Lladro.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 27, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I didn't read the story about WSOC and cable, but it had something to do with a money dispute.

Posted by: slyness | March 27, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I dunno, yello, but that's 'Mudge's signature, no doubt.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

It's probably because you DIDN'T touch the Lladro, yello. You know how much Mudge doesn't love the stuff, no matter how tasteful it is.

Posted by: slyness | March 27, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I don't think much of that, frankly. I'd rather he were here than leaving notes around.

Posted by: Yoki | March 27, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The Lladro and the Kincaide are still there...

Same with the antimacassars...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

From everyone's favorite Federal space agency, the Apollo 40th anniversary commemoration web site:

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 27, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

On the picture rotation on the homepage, one illustration that comes up shows a sexy sports car, captioned by an article about Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs. Um, what's up with that?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 27, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I just went back to look again, and now it shows a picture of Gibbs. But I wanted to see the car!

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 27, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Boodle-hogging like mad here...

OMG! Gerson's column is NOT a reflexive attack on Obama today! In fact, it's a reasonably respectful essay on why it is not only not bad, it is a genuine good that Obama uses a teleprompter for speeches. He mentions the mental discipline of writing and the opportunity to craft thoughtful policy resulting from debate internal to the administration, rather than off-the-cuff expression of whatever seems nice in the heat of the moment.

Of course, Gerson is a former Presidential speechwriter, so it's possible that this is biased toward his peeps. I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt and consider it, rather, as a viewpoint derived from hard-earned experience.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 27, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Yoki. But am not without hope:

"Achilles, however, quarrelled with King Agamemnon and remained brooding in his tent. Without him the Greeks proved no match for the Trojans and their great warrior leader, Hector. He put them to flight and slew the bosom friend of Achilles. Then at last the mighty Greek warrior roused himself, and, coming forth in fiercest anger, fought with Hector."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 27, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

If that's the analogy yer gonna use, RD_P, I ain't a-gonna have nuthin' to do with anyone from USC...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I dropped off for an event yesterday and missed boatloads of fun. Noiseproofing, egg drops (the cat was my favorite), blogging. I'm glad this is a Boodle. Blgging is way more than I can contemplate. I note, however, that Boodling has an advantage over blogging in terms of communication. You can never be sure someone will read your blog, while there's a good chance someone will read your Boodle comment. Unless they skip your posts.

Where is Mudge anyway?

Brag, that was a nice piece on moving to Santiago. Where's your AuthorsDen newsletter option?

russianthistle, does Hondo coffee ship to the hinterlands? I couldn't tell from the Web site.

Rain here, moving into snow tonight. Gar.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 27, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

The bunker's fax just beeped, and the cover sheet sez "From Tyffani"

Hiya from the Keno parlor out in Needles, California. I ran into that old guy again. He came into the parlor to get some change for the phone booth. He said he was going to Amarillo to try and find Nani, so he could sit on her porch on quiet summer evenings, watching the fireflies and singing old doo-wop songs. But he left a message in an envelope, and when I opened the envelope, it said: "Elvis has left the building."

Well then.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I concur with the position that boodling is neither blogging nor, necessarily, commentary. Commentary is strictly linked to the kit. Clearly posts quickly deviate from the kit, and so are not strictly commentary.

Yet to me, blogging implies a blog - a forum that an individual has taken the effort to establish and maintain, and therefore are entitled to control and discuss whatever strikes you fancy. Something that people can freely choose to visit or not.

And although the boodle is clearly free-flowing, there is, usually, an attempt to match that which is posted to the tone and context of the discussion.

This respect for the natural flow of the conversation is at the heart of boodling. As has been noted, it is like a bar conversation. Sometimes rancorous, but still an organic whole. So when I see the spirit of this violently and flagrantly violated, it saddens me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 27, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

But some of us like to believe that Elvis still pops up now and again.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 27, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Why do I suddenly feel like I might be the Cliff Claven of the boodle :-). Hoping I am not the obnoxious drunk in the corner spouting off about anything and everything and annoying all.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 27, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Oh no no no, dmd, you are absolutely not Cliff O' the Boodle... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Scottynuke, I appreciate your posting that note - I found one of those nailed to my door, too.

I have been compling more items to blog on, but simply haven't had the time lately.

Haven't had the time to Boodle (or Backboodle) as much as I want, either.

Tempus keeps on fugiting away from me at a dead sprint, as fast as he can go, from the looks of it. At this point he's pretty much a dot on my horizon. I'm tempted to borrow a couple of Acme JATO-enhanced running shoes from Wile E Coyote to try to catch up, but I know how that'll end up. With me pancaked against a mountainside. Send the buckets and mops and sponges.

The story of my life; "Cleanup on Isle 7."


Posted by: -bc- | March 27, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I think he meant a different kind of Trojans, Scotty.

tee hee

Posted by: -TBG- | March 27, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

As someone with a sympathetic affinity for Cliff Clavin, I do not like the character arc that Cliff took through the series. He started off as the bar know-it-all and his bits of trivia were amusing in their randomness. Somewhere along the line the writers quite researching his factoids and started just making them up for comic effect. Since they were frequently wrong and intentionally so, that turned Cliff into a bloviating idiot which is a different barfly archetype altogether.

So I will volunteer as the boodle Cliff on the understanding that I would like to cling to the delusion that I actually know what I'm talking about even if nobody cares what it is. A delusion Cliff probably had as well.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 27, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

This is off topic, but over the last few weeks I have been reading and viewing the Toronto Stars coverage (they are a sponsor here and have quite a bit of info and multimedia pieces) leading up to earth hour tomorrow (highly recommend the Airsick multimedia link - 20,000 still photo made into an animation).

Curious about what other areas are doing and the coverage it is receiving.

Also beside going out and hopefully seeing more stars, great ideas to do with the younger kids. Last year we were at a hockey arena for a game - which dimmed whatever lights and power it could.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 27, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Since the Gerson column is on the table, here is my take. The Teleprompter In Chief meme is in play and is unlikely to go away. It is a classic Rovian smear. Ridicule your opponents strengths. One of Obama's advantages is his eloquence and wit. By mocking it and denigrating it as a product of his 'reliance' on teleprompters, it strips him of one of his best qualities. It's a ploy to make Obama go off-script more often in hopes of causing gaffes that can be attacked as evidence of his dunderheadness without a teleprompter. As a talking point attack it is genius because it is self-fulfilling and so open to interpretation that it gives dittoheads and Rush-wannabes a near irrefutable narrative. Barack's best strategy is to not ignore it but to toss it off with his self-deprecating wit. Expect to hear teleprompter jokes from him in the near future.

There is also a much more virulent crypto-racist subtext to the smear that I am not nuanced enough to explicate without sounding like I buy into it.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 27, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Oh, it's WAY too late for those kinda Trojans, TBG...

I mean, NukeSpawn's almost 14!!!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, I have a couple of daughters slightly older than yours. [bc laughs ruefully, shaking his head slowly]

We should talk. And soon.
Maybe over dinner.


Posted by: -bc- | March 27, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I was off yesterday. Older daughter is getting re - married this weekend, and we are not able to attend. So, I made her three small pans of her favorite dish, lasagna. I froze them, and shipped them off to Colorado by next-day UPS. Am hoping that they arrive OK. I took all the expected precautions. Besides, have you seen the weather reports from there?

Yello, in re, your query: was not me. I don't bother much with Gene W. If I did, I'd use my boodle handle, anyway.

When older daughter was in fifth grade, she had an assignment to make an original flying machine of any ilk. No models or anything ready-made. She (ahem, we) made a candle powered hot air ballon. Fun.

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 27, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

bc, I meant it was too late for ME.

In several ways... *L*

Well done, Don! I'm sure they'll arrive in fine shape.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Isn't the Boodle common denominator that we are all Cliff Clavin? Though none of us have been in his kitchen.

Posted by: engelmann | March 27, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Yes englemann. It is a little-known fact.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 27, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

My too frequent pomposity and verbosity qualifies me as Frasier Crane.

Posted by: Yoki | March 27, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Awwww... *I* wanted to be Frasier!

If we have a spin-off, can I be Niles?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 27, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Well this whole disappearance of Mudge has me fretting awfully. Same with Martooni. I wish the backchannels piped me some clarity on this. Be good and be well, you guys.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 27, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Think I want to be Lilith.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 27, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the laughs folks (RD, that 11:15 - spot on).

I have no idea where in the Cheers cast I'd fit in.


Posted by: -bc- | March 27, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Since mudge didn't leave any notes for me and nobody has sent me any confidential info, I am free to speculate wildly and irresponsibly and posit that he is finally being fitted for the peg leg, as tragic an occurrence as that would be. Shall we all chip in for a parrot?

Or perhaps he has taken to following the AchenClan to Florida for Spring Break. Judging by his history with serving wenches, no good can come of that either.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 27, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article on home page about debate over results of a study on the long-term efficacy of stimulant therapy for ADHD:

The article notes that by the end of 3 years, children receiving drug therapy show indistinguishable behavior (in the aggregate) from those who do not, but the children treated with drugs tend to be smaller than those who were not.

I'm not terribly surprised, because the body tries to regulate its own chemistry. You can fool it for a while, but eventually it will recover its own equilibrium -- which, for a child with ADHD, presumably means having ADHD.

However, there is an important point that the article touches only obliquely at the very end: what is the long-term academic outcome? In general, parents don't medicate their children for convenience or docility, they medicate their children to help them cope with the demands of society. School demands that kids shut up, sit still, and pay attention. A kid who gets labeled as 'bad' will carry a stigma that will mark him with future classrooms and future teachers, plus simply lacking the certifications that enable kids to be approved for various desirable activities later -- gifted and talented programs, for example. Medication may offer no long-term behavioral 'benefit', but it may enable a kid to develop a positive relationship with the school environment. So, at the end of 3 years, do kids with medication have a superior academic outcome to kids who have not been medicated, or not?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 27, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I say, once again, that I am glad they did not have all these personality adjusting pharmaceuticals when I was a child. Heaven only knows what I would be strung out on now.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 27, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of words, Obama used the word "Taliban" only four times in his foreign policy speech this morning about Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the more emotionally loaded words for Americans, "al Qaeda," nine times.

Reuters: Factbox-Afghanistan: Who are the insurgents?

al Qaeda
Haqqani Network

Posted by: laloomis | March 27, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Afternoon all
There is quite a battle going on between two birds trying to build a nest on my window frame.Each year since i have lived here there has been a nest on just this one certain window and the area in which they build their nest in no more then 2 inches wide and they still put up this huge nest.I usually leave it up till all the birds have "flown the coop" so to speak.

I guess it is also time to buy more bird seed for this year's spring birds.And I am sure the bears will be waking up hungry soon too.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 27, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Yello, it's not at all the same thing, of course, but when I'm tempted to rail against drugging uniqueness into conformity, I remember a comment my grandfather made. His brother had bipolar disorder, well before the availability of drug therapies. My grandfather spoke with regret about how much better his brother's life would have been if he had been born 50 years later.

So, no to pathologizing eccentricity, but yes to recognizing and treating genuine disorders. A fine and complicated line.

Posted by: -bia- | March 27, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I've gone and added dmd and a bea c to my Boodle blogroll and added dmd to the master WetPaint Boodle Wiki:

Posted by: yellojkt | March 27, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want to deny any truly mental ill person treatment on my account, but at the elementary grade level, the pendulum has swung way the wrong way.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 27, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Otters! Saw one in the distance across the river this morning, then up close on my way home from the PO. Makes a snowy spring day a lot brighter.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 27, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Were they sliding on their bellies, frosti??? *GETE at the thought*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yello, I'm sure you're right, and it's a real concern. My comment wasn't really an argument, just something vaguely related that sprang to mind.

Posted by: -bia- | March 27, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Sliding on their bellies, and eating fish. My neighbor across the river has the perfect otter slide. A small rise forms a point at a bend in the river that thaws early. They look like little furry slinkies climbing up and sleek brown rockets on the way down. They plop into the water at the end of the slide and this morning are coming up with fish.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 27, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I knew it!!!! *ROFL*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I consider Pesident Obama's teleprompter reading first rate and I enjoy his off the cuff remarks. He seems to have trouble transitioning between the two. Perhaps he should display his sense of humour with reactions to others and leave the smart remarks and jokes (tho' I luv 'em) alone.

He's never gonna beat the last guy though, he was a riot.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 27, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

So jealous Frosti.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 27, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

But are they as cute as clouded leopard cubs? (kittens?)

Posted by: Yoki | March 27, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Almost, but they are not as tasty.
There is this fishy aftertaste to them.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 27, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

me too, I wish I could slide on my belly and catch fish too......out to change the flags....I am thinking the American flag and something with Fish on it. The Fish Flag or the gone fishing flag? Life is full of tough decisions.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 27, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Why, I otter....

Posted by: yellojkt | March 27, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

the crux of the personality disorder diagnosis and the decision to treat with meds issue rests right at the border line cases. As the Bell curve would have it, most of the afflicted are border line.

I've known several people with what I would call mild disorders successfully treated by the mind altering meds. The problem though, is when they are taken off the meds, or no longer have access to them for whatever reason - Ka-Boom!!!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | March 27, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Otters and clouded leopard cubs are in totally different cute categories. The cubs will turn into beautiful, enigmatic, and apparently homicidal, adults. Otters grow bigger, but are perpetual clowns. They are the animals most likely to smash beer cans on their heads in an anthropomorphic universe.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 27, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Are weasels and otters closely related by any chance?

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | March 27, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

frosti, your 1:12 has me lost in admiration.

Posted by: Yoki | March 27, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I would think otters would smash beer cans against the food on their bellies as they float on the water...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

You're too kind Yoki.

WW-why yes, they both belong to the family mustelidae.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 27, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Um, aren't humans are the only animals who smash beer cans on their heads?

Other animals *could*, but they don't.

I would also point out that humans are also the only animals who have nuclear weapons and the Internet. [As far as we know].


PS I would also suggest that one does not smash beer cans on one's head, but in actuality *crushes* them. And please, there's no need to ask how I learned this.

Posted by: -bc- | March 27, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse


Registration for the Army 10 miler, 04 Oct, opens next Wed.

I've goota decide if I'm going to go for it.

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 27, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

SCC: goota? where'd DAT come from?

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 27, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Jumping in a day late and a dollar short (story of my life), and having only skimmed back-boodling on my way out of town (what? LiT on the road? No, that can't be....) I'm popping in to say I'm afraid I'm a cross between Daphne and Roz.

At least both of them are funny, and don't take themselves too seriously.

Have a happy weekend all.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 27, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Damn! 'Why, I otter' is what I sould have said when the sea otter tried to snatch my finger. I can still see the smirk on that buggers face.

There was an otter hanging around the bridge down the road last week. I hope he left some catfish. Or is a lady and is going to raise a litter, in which case she's welcome to the fish.

O the frolicking!

Posted by: Boko999 | March 27, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

This, or variations of it, are making the rounds today. The last paragraph is telling a tale I didn't like to be true, but it is.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 27, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I am glad that Mudge's place at the bar is being kept so nice. DR and I are embroidering a sampler for him. And NO, he will not like talking Larry the Bass fish-plaque thing.

Engelman -- I am not Dianne nor am I Karla nor am I Rebecca.

Don -- yes on the run. Do it. And, dot is remarrying? Vow renewal? Sounds lovely, and splendid with your lasagna on top.

DMD -- stocks are hard to grow....good luck. The Marvel of Peru/Four O'Clocks are failsafe!

Tired from herding kittens in the classroom...but yes, SciTim, the tradeoff about medicine might make a place for receptivity to education and learning. Right now, this system is the only one we have. i advocate a certain amount of homeschooling for those most harmed by school.....but this is hard to do..... I wish I could be Empress of Education, co-chair with Empress Frostie....I have rather classic and totally radical notions about education reform. At the same time.

To Wilbrod of last night: my point is that teaching writing in response to literature -- which is how high school works -- misses many opportunities. We should be reading in school/writing in response to many genres, including non fiction. We know that we lose many boys when we focus on lit-based writing programs.

And, about the reading volume that undergirds writing ability, TIS HUGE. But, not literature, exactly. I cannot give you a precise ratio. But reading history bears directly on writing ability. More = Better. One reason why I believe that intelligence is not fixed. Intelligence marks people primarily for reading breadth and depth.

Communication is improved by more communication; running is improved by more running; writing requires writing, surely. But, we need to read widely to develop an ear for style. Getting style write is the difference between weak and better writing.....

And, I think that JA's science writing should be set as high school reading...nearly any piece, nearly all of it.

Gotta run and keep a student from lapsing into a comma-fault or committing and apostrophe abomination...

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 27, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

BLECHHH on my typing problems
I advocate home schooling...

More = Better: this is one reason why I believe that intelligence is not fixed.

Getting style right....

....doing too much on an unfamiliar computer...hordes descending, suspended over boiling oil...etc.

Ivansmom -- the Hondo is worthy: order a goodly amount to make shipping fair to you; freeze the high quality vacuum sipping some now......

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 27, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

More good stuff from the incomparable Bailey

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 27, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

CqP, No, older daughter is going into her second marriage. Her mother and I are decidedly underjoyed at the quality of the guy she's marrying. Larry-the-fish-on-the-plaque is a better catch. But, what do I know? She has always liked guys that I characterize as, "social work projects". This time, she's really outdone herself. * Sigh *

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 27, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Ah, youth... I hear ya, Don.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 27, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

(notes taken when internet was off)

I remember when the Beatles broke up. At the time, I was displeased, but I never questioned the underlying assumptions. Nowadays, I can see what they did wrong

In short, they should have folowed the paradigm established later by the band Genesis. Genesis to my knowledge never "broke up." Some members went off on their own and did their own projects, sometimes for years at a time. Gabriel and Collins did their own thing. Always leaving the door open.

The Beatles could have done the same without a press release. Whatever backstage rancor was going on, they could have broken their business up into four parts, refer to it as a matter for the suits, and then done what they went on to do anyway.

I don't know if they ever would have played together again. But by keeping their conflicts and fights more private I think the chances of reconciliation, both musically and personally, would have been far better.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 27, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Today is the kind of day that, if one stood in a sunny spot sheltered from the wind, it would feel WARM!
Yes, the roof may be clear of snow today. Good thing too the roofers are coming next week to do the very sorry-looking garage roof.

No otters in sight but I've seen a beaver testing the water, that should count for something.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 27, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I have crocus (croci?) blooming Shriek, and of course my Hellebore, quite warm here today.

Dropped by the garden centre to purchase potted spring plants to put in planters at my friends house, they are beginning to stock the nursery - Joy or joy. Planters look nice if I do say so myself - which I have to since I forgot to bring my camera.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 27, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Hellebores were everywhere in Portland, Oregon. They'd give you flowers in winter, then just sit there, looking green, for the rest of the year, which is something that grass didn't do.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 27, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Leaves take a bit of a beating here during the winter, one plant has just a little of the leaves dry and brown but lots of flower buds, the plant currently in bloom has much of the foliage suffering from winter affects, the other Hellebore died back to the ground but has lots of new growth.

Quickly falling in love with these plants, I have a lot of shade/part shade so they work well.

Included one in my friends planter that they can take with them if they wish, since it was frozen in its pot I just left the pot on and put it in the planter.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 27, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I could use a little spring, right about now. Though, it did not snow today! It will snow tomorrow.

Apologies to Leigh Hunt.

I gave myself an early-out, since I'll be working all weekend, and so will head home and open a bottle of wine. Cook something. Indian, I think, since there is time.

Posted by: Yoki | March 27, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Bingo night at my daughter's school for the Padouk clan.

I have my victory dance all ready.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 27, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Dr G made Indian for dinner tonight... but it always makes us ask "is it really Indian food if he makes it?"

A happy Dr G is also watching Dook get beat(en) by Villanova on the Tivo from last night. Sometimes watching your rival lose is better than watching your own team win.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 27, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

The other two-thirds of the Ivansclan are headed to the airport and with any luck will soon be off to Houston for another fencing tournament. Three in a row there, then one here in town, then nothing until Summer Nationals in Dallas (piece of cake, short drive). Bah. I hope for their sake the weather doesn't confuse the flights.

We have blizzard conditions in the Panhandle (think North Texas) but here is just a steady, cold and ever-colder rain. It should change over to snow any time now. I may wait until then to feed the dog. Today I went to the wine store and the Wal-Marts (groceries) and so did everyone else, in anticipation of a couple of inches of snow. Although there is nothing in sight, evening and weekend activities have been cancelled right and left. That ice storm last year just shook the stuffing right out of us.

Thanks for the Hondo tip, cp. We've always told the Boy we can't home-school him because we would kill him. It is good to know one's limits, and those are ours.

RD, as I told the Boy, nobody actually wins at Bingo. It's the experience.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 27, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

We homeschooled the dott for the last 6 weeks of 3rd grade, 7th, and 11th-12th. The last bit was not our preference but moving 3 times in high school with a struggling student made it the prudent course. While I am certain that she learned far more, and is far better off, than if we had not homeschooled for those periods I do wonder-

Is it still infanticide if you kill them as teens?
Is the only reason we never hear of shaken teenager syndrome because they are large enough to defend themselves?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 27, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

We don't or didn't homeschool because...

1. The kids wouldn't have survived it.
2. We would have spent our time boodling, shopping or otherwise nonacademically engaged. "Hey! the Rockford Files is on!"

Posted by: -TBG- | March 27, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I love bingo! And I did actually win a set of tupperware at a bingo night put on my children's school some years ago. You would have thought I won pearls or diamonds or something. It's a sure sign of aging when one is transported by tupperware or in my case recently, a new ceramic top double oven. O happy day!

I marvel at folks who can successfully home school. I can state unequivocally that my children would not have benefited if I had made that choice.

TBG - I'm happy for Dr. G. I didn't stay up for the game but when I asked the hubby this a.m. how it went, the note of satisfaction in his voice was unmistakable when he told me the outcome.

Mmmmm, it's been a while since we've had Indian's time.

Posted by: Kim1 | March 27, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Wow. According to the airline's flight status page, the IvansGuys flight departed on time and is scheduled for early arrival. Amazing. The Boy & I took the same flight two weeks ago, when there was no "weather" in the state, and were hours and hours late. Good for them.

Kim, you won something at bingo? Wow. Do you play the lottery, too, or did that use up all your random gambling luck?

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 27, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Home schoolers have my admiration, just getting through homework just about does me in some days.

Just received a message from my husband and eldest who are at the Sabres/Leafs game in Buffalo tonight. He says they are sitting amongst a busload of Leaf fans (crowd would be about 50% Leaf fans),

His comment "Shoot me now"! Made me laugh.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 27, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

One of the many reasons I love you, TBG! It's a good thing we didn't go to college together. We never would have made it to class.

Posted by: -dbG- | March 27, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Awright, Ivansmom. What's the wager? I say that SU wins. No points, simply win or lose.

Posted by: -jack- | March 27, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Mr. T went to bed before the Duke game started. I was surprised but shouldn't have been, he was up late the two previous nights in a row. No problem about staying up tonight!

Homeschooling was never an option here, either. As far as I'm concerned, the social experience of school is just as impoartant, if not more so, than the academic. Learning to cope with less than perfect instruction is also valuable.

Of course, I never worried about my kids falling behind; they were bright enough to do well regardless. If they had not been, I'm sure I would have had different attitudes and desires for their education.

Posted by: slyness | March 27, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, jack. There's a kid named Su in the tournament who fences pretty well, but I don't know that he'll take the whole thing.

Oh. You're probably talking about basketball. Let me see. . . Springfield University (can we spot Homer in the crowd?)? Seattle University? Salt Lake? Salt Lick? Siegfried? Sieglinde? (I'll take Sieglinde for 2000). Maybe I should just concede right now.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 27, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

In other news, the rain is turning to sleet/rain. I hope it changes over to snow quickly; I'd just as soon not lose power (and water).

I made comfort food tonight, a family recipe I suspect dates before the Depression: cut-up bacon and onions fried then simmered with diced canned tomato, mixed with cooked macaroni. When I was learning to "cook" I fooled with it - herbs, oil - but it is best left alone. It was a long time before I realized there were similar Italian dishes.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 27, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Syracuse, Ivansmom. Anyway, the Orange seem to have left their game in the Salt City.

Posted by: -jack- | March 27, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

a little something for JA and Science Tim.... let's get back to basics... math and science... need some mind blowing kit... here's a suggestion....

Posted by: MissToronto | March 27, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Ha! I don't think Seattle U does sports, at least not at that level. (Now that I checked, they do have basketball teams, golf, tennis, baseball, volleyball, cross country, etc.)

They're talking about snow(!) here too, but I'm hoping it will stay in the mountains. We're going to see Tom Rush tomorrow night.
(wish I was in San Diego now)

Posted by: seasea1 | March 27, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

B-11. All I needed was a B-11 and that gift basket of assorted fruit preserves woulda been mine. Then my life would have been complete.

But no. It went to some 12 year old kid who probably doesn't even like apricot marmalade.

Oh well.

We did win a door prize of four free games at the local bowling establishment.

So the evening was not without glory.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 27, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom - that recipe sounds like my mom's "goulash". There must have been other ingredients because I have never been able to replicate her recipe but yours sounds close. I never had a hankering for it until she was gone.

And no, I don't play the lottery. Fundraising bingo is my only gambling activity. When the lottery has gotten into the mega-millions I occasionally think about stopping to buy a lottery ticket but I'm too embarrassed to walk into the 7-11 and tell them that I don't know how to do it.

For spring break we are going to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park and we're spending the night in Vegas on the front and back ends. I don't think I'll be gambling. I just don't get it. I'd rather buy a blouse or maybe a new pair of shoes.

Posted by: Kim1 | March 27, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Gosh...How could they have the Ramanujan bio without the famous taxicab story as told by G. H. Hardy?

"I remember once going to see him when he was ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. "Oh no,Hardy," he replied, "it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways."

[ 1729 = 13 + 123 = 93 + 103, if you're interested. ]

See "Taxicab number" at Wiki:

Posted by: bobsewell | March 27, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Well, THAT notation didn't translate into plain text very well, did it?

1729 = 1^3 + 12^3 = 9^3 + 10^3

Posted by: bobsewell | March 27, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I am a hard-core Tom Rush fan, and I've been one since the mid-sixties at the Club 47 in Harvard Square. My brother, sister-in-law, and I see him in Annapolis every spring. This year, after 37 years, he has a new CD, which we bought, and it's great. I also bought a re-issued book, Baby Let Me Follow You Down, which is about the early folk singer years in Cambridge. It arrived yesterday, and I'm eager to start reading it. I really think he's the real deal in folk singers. Enjoy!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | March 27, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

orange. crushed.

Posted by: -jack- | March 27, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Big news around here. The whales are back in bigger numbers than in the past.

I hope they stick around for a few weeks so we have a chance to go see them. We saw them last year off Herring Cove Beach. I'd like to go again and take the granddaughters.

Posted by: badsneakers | March 27, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

The Man Who Knew Infinity

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 27, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Whales! So beautiful. And good news.

And in a non-sequitur if there ever was one, I have been pondering the mysteries of the human heart and what forgiveness really mean. And I have concluded the following: Nobody knows, but we know when we are shriven.

Posted by: Yoki | March 27, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

how can those whales eat "up to 4000 pounds" of plankton per day? that's crazy.

Posted by: LALurker | March 27, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

They have sieve teeth, and just keep plowing the plankton-fields.

Posted by: Yoki | March 27, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

All I have been pondering is Charlie the unicorn

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 27, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

My grandma had a really small house and a big family. We played Bingo at the holdiays so the kids wouldn't drive the adults nuts. I never won, but did get a pity prize. I still have it.

and now my prize is dressed with the only other thing I ever won, some yarn. Well, beside the box of jello from someones wedding shower. Don't ask.

(Son 1, in case you read the blog bit, is doing much better, is working and moving out next week yippppeeeeeeee)

Posted by: --dr-- | March 27, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I read a lot, but not much fiction in the past few years (although Lapham's Quarterly thrusts some in my face). I think I learned in general to put down words from fiction where the college essay didn't have a right answer, you were just expected to make any kind of point about that week's text (e.g., Dimmesdale + Hester = Pearl is Hegelian thesis, antithesis, synthesis) with clarity and proper mechanics and maybe wake up the TA. But what I didn't learn until getting into business was the technical memo (this document is... this section is... the issue is... overview of what this section says... subtopic 1...) and apparently is still poorly understood today. I get specs for software I'm expected to implement that don't contain a single diagram, and although (almost) every little detail is spelled out, they provide no idea what the underlying issue is, which would help a lot when I inevitably encounter a simple inconsistency or some little wrinkle that's not aniticpated and spelled out. How can they not include a "what's this all about?" section? Sigh.

Oh, I got an invitation to join "The Backboodle group on Convos". My 1st choice user name ltlca is already taken, which suggests I joined some time ago. Is this something someone here knows about? tbg? It's been so long since I did whatever I did earlier, I've forgotten. I'm afraid I destroyed most of my memory back in the 70s.


Posted by: Jim19 | March 27, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Jumper. This is not for everyone or maybe, even, anyone but me, but I still like Homestar Runner.

Posted by: Yoki | March 27, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Maggie, that is so cool! My sister is the big Tom Rush fan. I saw him a couple of years ago here, mainly out of obligation to her, and so I could get him to autograph a couple of CD's. I even got to talk to him during the intermission - he's very open and friendly. Of course, I was so flustered by actually talking to him that I told him the wrong way to spell her name on the CD I was getting for her! Anyway, he was great - he did a killer version of Who Do You Love as the encore - and I couldn't pass up the chance to see him again - and I get a senior discount on the ticket. He was out here in the fall, but I was on call or something, so I didn't go to that show. Oh, and the book was something my sis requested for a birthday or Christmas present. It is really interesting.

She got to see him a couple of years ago in Pittsburgh, not long after I had, so she got the autograph correct for herself. He doesn't play there or way out here that often. I think he likes the East much better, especially New England. When I was chatting with him, I mentioned that I could hardly believe that he had moved from Jackson Hole - and he said he couldn't believe he had moved from New Hampshire.

And he's so funny, and so talkative during shows. Completely opposite from Dylan or Leon Russell.

The Boodle connections are so amazing.

Posted by: seasea1 | March 27, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, all.

I didn't homeschool my kids because I wanted them to develop their immune systems completely.

Twelve years' exposure has 'em just about ready for a higher education.

Plus, apparently they can read.


Posted by: -bc- | March 27, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Oooh! SeaSea! His version of "Who Do You Love?" used to send shivers down my back in the 60's and when he sang it here a few years ago, it happened again.

I agree that he's the most friendly and relaxed of the genre you mentioned.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | March 27, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Evening all
I had to dodge all sorts of critters on my way home,seems all the kids were playing in the puddles in the rain on the road.There was Mr.Opossum.Mrs. Raccoon, several deer and a whole herd of frogs.All were safe and sound.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 28, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse


This is from an upstart and sad Irish song:

"Twas a good thought, boy, to come here and shrive"

A condemned lad makes his confession before walking to the gallows....The Croppy Boy. I think this line appears in Joyce's Ulysses. "Croppy" refers to short hair, compared to the long fussy hair of wealth and privilege. Sort of like the Roundhead or puddingbowl hair of the English Civil War versus the decadent locks of the Royalist foppies.

The phrase 'short shrift' literally means to be given less than full shriving OR to insufficiently ask for in to make a less that heartfelt apology. I am too sleepy to explain with appropriate verb discussion....but shriving, the act of forgiving and being forgiven is a miracle of human love and creativity.

LT-guy: clarity in writing is also a miracle of human experience. Word.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 28, 2009 12:58 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning,friends. It is the weekend, finally here.

Science Tim, I've often wondered about giving drugs to young kids although they may clearly need them. And the kid does get labeled, which doesn't help anything, only makes life harder. And how long can a kid take those drugs without them doing real damage?

Have a great weekend, everyone. Yoki, Martooni, Scotty, Slyness, and where, oh, where is Mudge?

I've been invited to have breakfast with my fellow classmates (females), and I've forgotten what time to meet them. I hope someone calls and remind me. Going back to bed however seems the better option.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 28, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Mudge is okay, Cassandra. Don't worry.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 28, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

-dr- said "Son 1, in case you read the blog bit, is doing much better, is working and moving out next week yippppeeeeeeee"

And just WHOM are you foisting him off on? Again? Oh right, me. Again. Well at least I know how to handle him better than you two ever did.

now then back to my early morning packing.

Posted by: Kerric | March 28, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning, Boodlers!

Have you heard about the economic summit in Vina del Mar?


Even though VP Biden and Gordon Brown are attending?

I had to dig into the Wapo's AP feed to find the news pubbed in the U.S.

here goes:

SANTIAGO, Chile -- U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden is in Chile to attend a summit of leaders from Latin America and Europe.

Biden flew to Chile early Friday and went to the resort city of Vina del Mar, where the Progressive Governance Summit will take place on Saturday.

Biden's three-day visit will include bilateral talks with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and other visiting leaders.

Also attending the summit will be British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Brazilan President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.

end of feed.

Chile, which has an almost impecable economy, convoqued the meeting to discuss the world economy prior to the G 20 meeting.

It is amazing that no mention is made in the American papers. That's why the boodle needs someone to watch it's six o'clock position.

If the newspapers fail to deliver news, it is not surprising they are in trouble.

Have a good weekend, everyone.


Posted by: Braguine | March 28, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Hey friends. I've posted a new microkit, just a couple of pics from the balcony here on the Space Coast. Hope everyone's having a lovely weekend. No I'm not trying to gloat. Must fly home tomorrow. Remind me why I don't come down here for weeks at a time.

Posted by: joelache | March 28, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

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