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Obama Should Try Public School

The president thinks we're wimps here in the nation's capital because we shut everything down with the first flake of snow. And there's an element of truth to that: We sometimes have paralytic flurries. But here's a thought: Maybe the president should send his kids to public schools, which are open today in the District. Yeah: Sidwell Friends and the wimpy private schools and the wimpy suburban public schools are closed, but as of 10:45 a.m. every DC public school student is supposed to be in class. (My guess is that many students will take "liberal leave.")

I can report six inches on top of my green supercan, more like four on the lawn -- very fluffy, indeed powdery, with a slight crust at the very bottom. I've got a batch of beans going. I was hoping for a more brutal storm, something to challenge our mettle, to remind us of our pioneer heritage, to inspire us to get out the big kettle and start boiling up some lye. [They boil lye, right?] Instead, we got a snowstorm so delicate you can do most of your snow chores with a broom. It's hard to get that "woodsman" feeling going when you're taking a broom to the Honda. But we make do with what we have, and lean heavily on the imagination.


Excerpt from a classic piece by Von Drehle on the shoveler's craft:

'I suppose a case could be made that snow shoveling is not a sign of virtue. That a man is not morally worthy simply because he cleans the entire sidewalk, edge to edge, as opposed to scooping a single shovel-width lane. True, tire tracks of impacted snow on the driveway, or telltale bootprints on a walkway, constitute irrefutable evidence that some driver or hiker beat the man with the shovel to the job. But to see these as some sort of stigma, an indictment blazoned on one's pavement like a frosty scarlet letter, I would have to admit, does not make strict philosophical sense.

'Stalin, after all, almost certainly shoveled more snow in his life than Gandhi.

'But to acknowledge this goes hard against my upbringing, in which visions of cleared ground between even snowbanks channeled a boy unmistakably and with dry feet into dutiful manhood. I marvel now at how eager I was to pick up a shovel and start digging. I got my first licks in around 8 years old, when a scoopful of the wet stuff weighed about as much as I did, and advanced to master shoveler around 10 or 11, when my brother went to college.

'We got a fair amount of snow on the Colorado prairie. Our sidewalks were a shovel-and-a-third wide. I learned to hate the wind, which can bury a clean walk in short order and for no reason. Shoveling gives you a lot of time to think, and I admit I sometimes mused on the concept of electric driveway warmers. Mostly, though, I spent my time thinking large and heroic thoughts. In my imagination I cleared runways for endangered aircraft, and rescued snowbound families, and built roads and even mountain ranges.

'When I was finished, I liked to stand at the foot of the driveway. From that vantage point I could look straight up to the garage, and from one end of our sidewalk to the other. It seemed to me that this tidy perpendicular announced to everyone who passed: "Here lives a nice young man." '

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 2, 2009; 9:27 AM ET
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Next: Rush Limbaugh vs. David Brooks


Good morning all
Just a dusting in west by god. Nice to see the commander in cheif at a wizards game and interacting with fans.He is such a cool president.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 2, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Mudge writes about making soap out of people (Irish Spring is People!) and Joel starts a big pot of boiling lye. Just saying.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 2, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Oh please, SD, let's don't go down that particular path!

Bailey, you're in Charlotte? Amazing how we find each other on the boodle, isn't it? Jumper's local, and Jack is 30 miles south...

Posted by: slyness | March 2, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Knowing how pome-nerdy we all are, I'm reposting this from the bottom of the previous kit:

Sassoon was a well-known poet by 1917, and although he was a brave and much-loved officer in the trenches, he issued a major manifesto against the war, which nearly got him court-martialed. Graves, also a serving officer, interceded and [helped get] Sassoon transferred to Craiglockhart Hospital near Edinburgh; this was, essentially, a psychiatric hospital for "shell shock" (later called "battle fatigue" in WWII, and what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder, and/or Vietnam syndrome).

Owen was a brave and respected young lieutenant, and had been writing poems, but weas unknown and essentially unpublished. He literally got blown up by a shell, but survived (the shell hit a friend and covered Owen in the friend's gore) and wandered around for three days in shock until somebody found him, and he got sent to Craiglockhart to have his wits put back together. While there, Owen introduced himself to the famous Sassoon, and they became friends.

Both men were treated by the famous psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers, who, while himself having very grave doubts about the war, managed to get both men sane enough to go back into the line. Sassoon, as CP mentions, survived the war and lived many year. Owen went back into the line in early Sept., 1918, and four days before the war ended was machine-gunned to death leading his men across the Sambre Canal. Four effing days. Jeez.

Although they are not the main characters, Sassoon, Owen and Rivers appear as major figures in Pat Barker's highly regarded trilogy of novels, though I can't say I'm that much of a fan of the novels.

Rivers is a great, tragic figure who died in 1922 after a minor operation.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 10:55 AM

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

abeac's post this morning sent me off in search of WWI poetry and art (have I mentioned how easy it is to distract me :-)).

The Canadian War Museum has a nice online display of some of the Canadian art from WWI, including one of my favorite artist A.Y. Jackson.

Also located a recent site by Canadian poet sm steele, who has a site for poetry/stories from Afganistan. I noticed on the extras tab she has a link to knitting patterns of WWI (Red Cross) the knitters on the boodle may be interested. The site appears to be quite new so there is not a lot there yet but there is audio of many of her poems.

Joel schools usually "stay open" during storms here but attendance is at best about 50% as the buses for the schools are cancelled.

So cold here the kids are being kept inside - that has happened more this winter than I ever remember (of course I live in the weather wimpy part of the nation - not quite Vancouver weather wimpy but close).

Posted by: dmd2 | March 2, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

This snow was cotton candy light but the roads were surprisingly slushy. Made it in by ten to a skeleton crew. Already done my full morning blog reading and bored. Perhaps its time to write some book reviews.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 2, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

OMG!! On his cooking show Michael Chiarella just divulged the Biggest Cooking Secret in the World: he actually said, "You know what polenta is? It's just grits."

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Stuck at home working, but just dashed into the kitchen to make Jumper's peanut sauce. I started it out by sauteeing some ginger and garlie in a small amount of oil, then pb, water, soy paste, some grated lime rind, Viet chili paste and sesame oil.



Posted by: -dbG- | March 2, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

i almost posted something yesterday along the lines of conservativism meaning, for me anyway, fiscal responsibility and a belief in individual responsibility. being a centrist, i think there needs to be both a reasonable social safety net and real consequences for individual poor decisions, meaning that the social safety net should not be perpetual welfare.

lord knows that the republicans who claim fiscal responsibility, however, are full of crap because they run up the deficit with defense spending more than the democrats ever have. otoh, democrats often have the naive view at times that throwing money at problems, particularly social problems, will solve them. throwing money wisely at problems can help, but it does have its limits.

i am a centrist wingnut, i really am...

Posted by: LALurker | March 2, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Thanks everyone for the great poetry and art suggestions.

I am collecting links on Diigo. Next I have to come up with some good student activities, and finally talk the teachers into going through with it. It is tough to do something like this when we have those bubble tests hanging over us.

I'm hoping some place near here will put on a nice production of Oh, What a Lovely War. I learned most of what I know about WWI hanging out with the theater crowd at LSU while they prepared for it.

Posted by: abeac1 | March 2, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

grits=polenta, been wondering about that for years...

the google logo is a tribute to dr. seuss today. very nice.

Posted by: LALurker | March 2, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Paul Fussell's "The Great War and Modern Memory" is the classic guide to the literary war. His brief "Boys' Crusade" trashes the notion of the second war being the "good" one.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 2, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Added a little excerpt of a von drehle piece on snow shoveling. One of my faves.

Posted by: joelache | March 2, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The Von Drehle bit is nice.

Posted by: nellie4 | March 2, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I was just remembering my shoveling days myself, Joel. Thanks for the piece.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 2, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

aBeac, read Barbara Tuchman's
Guns of August.

Rich and wonderful and clear. I would think some paragraphs or stories will work for your project.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 2, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Shoveling is an art i must say.Getting it to fall to the right side of the big pile next to your car.Or knowing how much you can push it,before it starts to fall to the side. I grew up on a single lane street,so shoveling your car out was always a must.

I had a dinner party after a big snow storm once.And parking was at a premium to say the least.One of my guest parked in someones spot,and when they got ready to leave,someone(we all knew who) had thrown a hammer threw his windshield.My friend walked around this guys yard saying,someday I am going to give this back.

Well, my friend went home and painted the hammer gold and waited 5 years or so and returned the hammer to it's rightfull owner. with a note that read,"thanks for the use of the hammer,I used it many times,each time I drove in a nail I thought about you.But I got a new hammer and wanted to return yours.Paybacks are a B*tch aren't they?"

My neighbor was affectionally known as Hammerhead from that day forward.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 2, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

The leaf buds are erupting on the tall pomegranate bush, likewise for one of our roses of Sharon. Clusters of sweet-smelling flowers, so like plump grapes, on the mountain laurel dangle from above in the backyard and over the driveway. In several weeks, they'll be joined by the white, stand-up-and-take-notice-fragrant, showy sweetwood flowers. The gerber daisies are bursting with yellow or red or orange blooms--little pompoms of cheerful color at ground level.

Slivers of Chinese pistache leaves are peeking forth from graceful, arching branches in advance of the delicate pink bells that will drape them. Blushing pink and fiery salsa-red salvia have shown their little hot dots of color for some time now. The loquat is setting fat, hard, little fruits.

Mother Nature has been fooled. Everything is early, with temperatures above normal for months, with precious precipitation so scarce. Very trying stress tests will kick in soon with deadly seriousness if there's no rain.

Parts of Central Texas and the Hill Country - more that 8 percent of the state - are not only in exceptional drought - the most severe stage of dryness - but they are now the driest region in the country and the driest they have been since 1918. It is the only place in the U.S. experiencing exceptional drought.

San Antonio has gotten only 16.67 inches of rain since September 2007, its driest 17 months ever [since records were kept] and about 28 inches below normal.

Posted by: laloomis | March 2, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

We sometimes accuse my father in law of using a flame thrower to "finish" his shoveling job. His driveway is dry from november to April, quite an accomplishment in this climate. He's retired, of course, so he has the time.

I've never seen a heated driveway but I know they exist, there must be a few in the Golden Square Mile on the flank of the Mont Roroyal in Montreal. The combination of inclination, wealth and snowfall is just too perfect for that not to happen.
On the other side of the Mountain the music school of the Université of Montreal has a heated hill leading to the main building. Building a university on top of a moutain, even a small foothill as it ism, has some drawbacks.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 2, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The Vast Padouk Estate is located on a corner lot. By virtue of this, I have more sidewalk to contend with than most of my neighbors. This is both a burden and an opportunity.

That this is a burden should be obvious. For as each year goes by, the length of the sidewalk increases. As does the weight of the snow. And yet, the opportunity inherent in this task keeps me from despair.

To successfully shovel snow, and I insist on exposing the full expanse of concrete, is, first of all, a sign of civic pride and responsibility. Pride because it suggests that here resides a homeowner who takes home beautification seriously.

At least in the winter.

For I fear that the positive impression created by my carefully-shoveled walks is undone somewhat by the state of my lawn in the summer months.

But I digress.

The civic responsibility, of course, arises from the fact that a clear sidewalk is a safe sidewalk. No clumsy pedestrian with a litigious streak will find an easy mark with me. And in this aspect sidewalk shoveling is unique. Nobody has ever asserted that a weed-infested lawn is a threat to public safety. (Well, there was that one time. But nothing was ever proven.)

Further, of course, a well shoveled walk is prove of virility. Here lives a manly man who can wield his manly snow shovel with ease. Observe how he tosses great heaps of snow without effort. (But try not to notice when he clutches his chest and is forced to momentarily sit until his pulse drops to double digits.)

And it is this assertion of virility that discourages me from passing this task on to my own strapping son.

That and all the whining.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 2, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Bailey. I'm not that far from you. And your comparison of President Obama just might be correct, but I will never like Reagan or his legacy for that matter. I cannot separate the man(Reagan) from his racist views, even now.

Throwing money at social problems doesn't necessarily work, true, but the other side of that coin, how does that go? In a perfect world, everything would be great. We don't live there, at least I don't. The idea of balancing government and other things is something most people can live with, trying to do that is the problem.

Back from the school, and I read the story. The kids were so quiet. Of course the teacher was present, but they didn't fidget or anything. They seemed to be paying attention, which was good. Perhaps they thought I was too old to read? I also had lunch. We had pizza, toss salad, applesauce, corn on the cob, and the kids had milk, I had tea without sugar. I almost choked on that. I really enjoyed myself. We went outside for five minutes, and there were tiny flakes of snow falling. The kids loved it.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 2, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Who the heck is Patrick Matthew? His name is in the title of the song that won best Darwin song lyrics, in a contest sponsored by blogger John Tierney at the NYT--Tierney announcing contest winners today.

I think I'd fall over if kids, as young as the ones in the accompanying YouTube video (members of the North Cambridge Family Opera Festival Chorus), sang lyrics as smart, in America's public schools or the private Sidwell. If you find the kids' singing hard to understand, click on the link that Tierney has provided to the written lyrics. The blog also does a good job explaining Patrick Matthew, as well as the equally unknown Dr. Wells.

Posted by: laloomis | March 2, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

About to shovel. Then bike to store for milk and O.J. Lovely flakes in what looks to me as Brownian dust motes in a slant of sunshine.

Take care, all. Am betting on two-hour delay....and enjoying the lovely froth of white everywhere and the sounds of snow-deprived children on the street.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 2, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I must point out that grits are NOT polenta. For grits you need, that's right, a big pot of lye. Really. Grits are nixtamalized corn, i.e., hominy. See
or my own

And dbG, in lieu of commercial Szechuan sauce, the combo of Viet chili paste and soy paste are right on the spot. I will forgive you for the ginger. It's just me.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 2, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Be careful CP on your bike,snow and ice makes for slippery bike riding.Also are you sure there is any milk left? When I live in Merlin,the stores were wiped out upon even the hint of snow in the forecast.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 2, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Here, and in many jurisdictions, there is a popular misconception that one can successfully sued for a poor sidewalk clearing job that causes an injury. If the sidewalk is not actually my property (and it isn’t here, as with many places), I can’t be legally liable for a fall that occurs on the sidewalk. The fact that I can be fined by the municipality for not clearing the sidewalk is a separate matter, and does not translate into (or more accurately, create) a duty on my part to ensure safety on “my” sidewalk any more than any other city property.

The exception (and there always is one) is where the homeowner does something on his or her property to create the hazard. Also, homeowners should be wary about acting on this situation by disregarding their sidewalk. Callous defendants eventually meet creative judges.

The snow has been very dry here this year. Poor snowman building conditions, but easy lifting.

Posted by: engelmann | March 2, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

gwe, I'm sure Sneaks will agree with me that in Boston, "stealing" a parking space someone else had shoveled would rate much more than a hammer... *L*

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

One of those troublemaking women from Queen's University.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 2, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe you guys are actually going to bother shovelling up that tiny bit of snow. According to the forecast it will be sunny, though just below freezing so, take it from a seasoned snow shirker, it's going to melt. If not tomorrow then the day after when the temp skyrockets 4 degrees.
So, please, stop. It's making me crazy.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 2, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I suppose that in the 1920s, what many residents of the South lived on must have been plain corn meal, not hominy grits.

The hominy-making process (nixtamalization) makes niacin available, so people eating masa, hominy, or other nixtamalized corn products don't suffer pellagra, which was rampant in the South and parts of Europe where the population lived on polenta or similar corn meal.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 2, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, SD... you know those women from Queen's.


Posted by: -TBG- | March 2, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

That is an old-time method of hominy making. There it notes the use of soda to make it. I had not heard of that until today. The way they made grits was to grind the corn FIRST. (a coarse grind) Then they used it to make hominy grits. The same coarse grind can be made into grits without nixtamalization.

Wikipedia notes Cherokees made hominy the old way with ashes.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 2, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Boy, talk about wimps...went to the bank to make a deposit, and the branch closest to me was closed. I wonder what was up with that? The next closest was very much open, so I was able to do my business.

The temperature is hovering in the middle 30's, but all the snow in the sun is melting rapidly. You can see the water vapor where it's evaporating. The glare of sun on snow can be painful, moreso because it's coming from below instead of above.

No mail yet either. The paper was on time this morning, what's up with USPS?

Posted by: slyness | March 2, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey! What, exactly, is wrong with Queen's women?

IIRC, we did a fair amount of research back in the day...

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

Barely escaped airport shutdowns not once but twice last night, taking some of the last flights out of Logan to get to NYC/Kennedy and thence to Dulles.

Spent plenty of time on runways enjoying the sweet fragrance of aircraft deicing fluid vapors -- ahh, the glorious smell of winter air travel in the northeast.

Landed at Dulles at around 12:20 AM, only to find snow, sleet, and freezing rain on the roads home. Saw several cars that had spun off the the Dulles Access Road and a jackknifed tractor trailer on the Washington Beltway at around 1:30 AM (fortunately, authorities and rescue workers were already on the scenes).

I was quite thankful to crawl into bed at around 2:30 this morning, and even so when friends and family began calling at 7 AM to check in on me... though I did manage to snooze for a few more minutes before making arrangements to work from home today.

By the time I'd cleared my car and my driveway off, I found that someone had already shoveled my Mom's driveway and walks. Part of me is bothered that someone took responsibility - *my* responsibility - because I did not meet it in time. The other part of me took it out on my neighbors' driveway, which I shoveled - just 'cause I needed to do *something*.

Some may suggest that it wasn't so much "pay it forward" as "passive/aggressive and OCD it forward," but my neighbor does not need to know that.

Oh, look, the street plow's here while the sun's still up.


Posted by: -bc- | March 2, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, Boko... the G family is squarely in the shirker camp. Of course our driveway is always shady so it takes a little longer, but the cars tamp it down enough to make it passable.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 2, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Just a drive by before work, and no time to thoroughly back boodle, but if it takes me the rest of my life I will teach Mr. F both the fine art of snow removal and the importance thereof. Tamping down?!!! The horror.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 2, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

My father perfected the tamping down of snow when they moved back to the country, leaving the snow plows to only do the driveway when the snow or drifts (drifts were very common in their area) reach heights making it impossible to drive up and down the driveway.

His tolerance for the snow height was probably much higher than some and required skill in driving up and down the driveway at the correct speed without any changes in speed or course lest you get stuck. Unfortunately mom never perfected teh driving technique and got stuck many times - we were amused by this - her not so much.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 2, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

This morning I made a gigunda pot of spaghetti sauce, meatballs and sausage, which has been simmering all day. (I had to sacrifice one of the 20 meatballs a while ago to a quality control test, to make sure it was up to standard and code. It was, fortunately.)

A while ago I put a 1.5 liter bottle of Riesling in the fridge, so it's going to be a real comfort-food dinner, just perfect for this kind of winter. And the nice thing about having two healthy 23-year-old men in the house is I haven't had top do any shoveling.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

YAY bc!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 2, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Deepak on Imran on Pakistan

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 2, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

With my son at college and my wife increasingly feigning infirmity, I know have to do a full driveway shovel before I leave for work rather than the quick dig-out.

My wife and son used to wait until about noon, go out and scrape the driveway dry, create solid wall edges a full foot beyond the drive, salt the walks to Bonneville standards and then go inside and make sloppy joes. It was a full day event for them and they had the time to kill.

That is all well beyond my ambition for a half-hour solo driveway clearing. We will see what it looks like when I get home.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 2, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

YAY 'Mudge! *faxin' over a large Tupperware bowl for a sample* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 2, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Steele versus Limbaugh. This should be interesting.

Save me a "wee" bit, Mudge. It sounds so good.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 2, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

About grits:

When we were newly married my husband was sent to Georgia for seven months of military training. I had never lived outside California, and I was pregnant. Before we left my mother (who had grown up in Texas) sat us both down for some good advise.

About child care for that new baby? About living away from home? Nah. She said, "when you get into the south, probably in Texas, you will find some white stuff on your plate with your bacon and eggs when you order breakfast. That is grits, and grits are good! Eat them!"

Posted by: nellie4 | March 2, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Beg to differ. I don't like grits.
I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox.
I do not like grits with my ham,
I do not like them, Sam I am.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 2, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh, jeez, guess what? President Obama AND Joe Biden are both coming to DOT tomorrow. When Bush came in December, in order to keep the building clear, a lot of us took leave or telecommuted, and I'm in the process of negotiating that for my team and me. But it looks like I'm not going to work tomorrow, either. Will probably telecommute (sure, I'd love to see them, but I have zero chance of that happening, so might as well stay home and out of everyone's way.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"One day I was loading up a BB gun with a friend and I said, 'I don't know why they call these things BBs, they're just ball bearings...'"

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 2, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Just finished eating... grits. It's called supper. I eat them anytime, not just for breakfast.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 2, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I like grits, especially with cheese, or shrimp. Mr. T, even though he is a child of rural NC, does not, so they are not served at home.

Posted by: slyness | March 2, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Shrimp and Grits. Quite possibly food of the gods. Look on the web and you can find hundreds of recipes, most so gussied up you wouldn't even recognize it. I like mine simple; grits cooked with milk until smooth, brown sausage gravy (not too spicy), large shrimp sauteed in a little butter with some Old Bay seasoning. Layer grits, gravy, shrimp. Die satisfied.

Like the Texas lady, my family tells a story of taking friends to breakfast one morning. Friend asks "What is that?" Reply: "Grits". Friend, never having seen this, says "I did not order that!" Reply "It's grits. Grits just come."

You know you are in the right place to eat when the grits just come.


Posted by: DLDx | March 2, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

We mostly ate grits for supper, Cassandra. I only saw them for breakfast in restaurants. I love grits. We have a family cheese grits recipe I may have to make soon.

I like hominy too, warmed up from the can, or in posole (tasty soup).

Y'all enjoy that snow, now. After a weekend freeze we'll be up to almost eighty (F) by the weekend.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 2, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Raysdad was truly looking forward to the opportunity to use the "neighborhood" snowblower. He was gassing it up this morning as I headed out for the dogwalk. When I returned, the driveway had only one strip cleared, and Raysdad was glumly staring at the snowblower. Seems that, in addition to snow, the little bugger sucked in this morning's WaPo dead trees edition buried beneath. Newspaper 1, Snowblower 0. We ended up shoveling--we have one of those long pipestem dealies, and it's a workout.

Looks like the midday sun created slush in the streets. (Although not ours--it's a dead end, and they never clear it.) With a 12-degree temps forecast for tonight, we will have icebergs in the morning.

Posted by: Raysmom | March 2, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Posole sounds good, Ivansmom. Recipe?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 2, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Please forgive me, dear grit-lovin' boodlers. I feel as does Gomer. My teeth shudder at the thought of both grits and polenta.

I do, however, love risotto. Let that be my salvation, at least with the Eye-talians among us. And, by way of Southern forgiveness, may I say that I like hush puppies? And, this makes me miss the grand old chain:

Chesapeake Bay Seafood House

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 2, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Raysdad's snowblower snarfed up the paper? Is that right? And, the snowblower died doing this?

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 2, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Apparently it was a snowsucker, CqP, not a snowblower.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 2, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the thumbs-up, Jumper. I put ginger in many, many things. just me.

I took my ergonomic snow-shovel to the front, and did the walks and enough of the driveway so that the Subie wouldn't have a problem. When I had the Jeep, tamp down was not only the rule, but a lot of fun.

Beautiful day, warm enough that 2 pairs of sweats, a hood and gloves were comfortable; some sun, a little salt, good exercise.

Posted by: -dbG- | March 2, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

With a nice side of Cream of Wheat.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 2, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I love grits! We don't have grits in Canader, so I never met them until I was about 30, but then I was a goner. Just ask TBG :)

I always liked polenta, too, but I dispute that they are the same thing. Thanks Jumper for making the distinction earlier.

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I am doing penance for my grit offense. Let me count the dishes with corn I love:

scrumgullion (ground beef, corn, tomato sauce, and what-have-you over egg noodles)

corn fritters

black bean and corn salsa salad

white shoepeg corn with butter, salt and pepper

corned beef hash with kernal corn

corn chowder

but best of all, is corn on the cob, minutes from the field. Competes with you-know-what for sweet sensational perfect brass ring moment. I quote Garrison Keillor on this fact. FACT, I say.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 2, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

You are shriven, CollegequaParkian. And, *laughing.*

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

*faxing an order of spaghetti w/meatballs and sausage to scotty and Cassandra, and a glass of riesling to slyness*

Did I get that order right? Anybody else? There's salad and garlic sticks (rolls), too. In an hour or two I could probably even scare up a dish of peppermint ice cream (the Breyer's all-natural mint chocolate chip is all gone, sorry).

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I'll have some, please, 'Mudge.

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

We used to grow corn in our back yard. Really, about a dozen plants. It was called "Kandy corn" with purple silk. Best thing ever. And when life got too complicated, I would walk out there and wait for voices.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 2, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Coincidence - or prophecy??? Spag and meatballs will be on the Jumper plate tonight. Sans polenta. And sans grits. When I arrived back in Florida, lo those many years ago, I didn't know what a grit was. Now I are one.

A friend from Boston was aghast that I cooked some grits in milk. I didn't care. After all.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 2, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

You have not lived until you've eaten Coco Wheats for breakfast. They are not sweet, unless you put sugar on them, and I think are best when served with very little anyway.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 2, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

As it happens, dinner Chez Frostbitten will be left over spaghetti and meatballs tonight. Probably tomorrow too. If I time it right I'll kill the bottle of pinot at the same time this batch of sauce runs out.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 2, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Living in New England as I do, I thought I’d heard everything involving snow but today, a downstairs tenant came into our office to complain that our plow person had plowed his car in. This tenant was very upset. (As an aside I will mention that the downstairs tenant is a counseling business. I assume the complaining man is a counselor of some sort.) I looked out the window to see his car and it was parked against the curb as if parallel parked while most of the other cars were all facing nose in or out as you would in a parking lot. Now I’m no math wiz but this fellow left three sides of his car open for snow piles instead of the one end he would have left had he parked like every other person did. He stomped away and ended up shoveling himself out (I would have just driven thru’ it, it wasn’t that deep).

“S” is like the young man in the Kit. When I came home he was just finishing the driveway and it is clear of snow and has very neat edges. Some times we call him Monk.

#2 called from San Jose, Costa Rica this morning while waiting for her puddle jumper flight. It was in the 70’s with a blue blue sky and a brisk breeze.

Posted by: badsneakers | March 2, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

*faxing Yoki a side salad with choice of dressing )Ranch, Catalina, or raspberry vinaigrette; that's all we have on hand); a big platter of spaghetti w/ 2 meatballs and 4 pieces sausage; a garlic bread stick; a glass of Cavit riesling (refillable), a red checkered napkin, and set of silverware*

If you clean your plate you can have dessert.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

CP, you forgot corn chips. Mmmmmm. Not to mention nachos. Double mmmmm.

We are having spaghetti tonight too. Nice sunny day here. Crocuses look spectacular.

Sneaks, glad to hear your daughter is in CR. It's been a long wait for her. My kiddo is taking off in a few days for a trip to Scotland and London.

Posted by: seasea | March 2, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

But if you clean your plate, Mudge, should you *really* have dessert, too?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 2, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow! This is the best fax ever.

'mudge, I promise, l'll lick it clean. Please please pleeese may I have some ice cream?

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm not getting into that argument, Wilbrod.

In our house, if we have dessert at all, we normally wait a few hours after dinner to have it. (Everybody's too full immediately after. Andy anyway it's nice to have something at 89 or 10 p.m.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Now, now, Wilbrod. There is nothing more irritating to people who have to watch what they eat than being quizzed about whether they should *really* have something. It is rather condescending, as though we can't regulate ourselves and need somebody to remind us of our restrictions. Believe me, we know them all too well.

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I, for instance, would eat vast quantities of good cheeses and crackers and many glasses of wine, if I had my druthers, but I don't (eat all that cheese and crackers, I mean, the wine is OK!). So if I have a little bit of cheese, I don't need anybody looking over my shoulder.

Same with sweet things. I almost never eat sweets, and when I do I dislike it intensely when somebody looks at me as though I were scoffing the whole dessert buffet.

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

And anyway, I could never say "no" to Yoki in a million years.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Also, if the cleaned plate had been filled with properly propotioned servings, having dessert after should be fine.

One good thing about gall bladder issues - learning to eat healthier, and smaller portions - meals on a plate not a platter :-). The weight loss is just a bonus.

Although the thought of mint ice cream sounds so tempting.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 2, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Boodle dinner -- and lunch, teatime, etc. -- is that the exchange is convivial and generous and sensuous even, with out the calories. Do, bring on that desert. I'll take desert from each one here.

For dinner, I do not mean to compete, but I have Cincy chili: name your way.

beans (plus secret spice combo)
beans plus ground beef
beans plus ground beef plus sharp cheddar
B + GB + SC + diced onions

All served over a bed of spaghetti, al dente, the thickish one. I am liking Reinzi brand lately.

Manga, cara. Manga!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 2, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

These voices of moderation are so tedious. I subscribe to the Miss Piggy guide to life-
don't eat things you don't like,
don't eat more than you can lift,
and never eat anything bigger than your head.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 2, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh DMD, dear tummykins. Hope you are doing well...a neighbor lived in fear of the pain. He learned my school schedule so I could take him to the ER, if need be.

Cincy chili is perfect for the chilled boys (dudes) around the house who played in the snow with abandon. But the joy for me at this age is simple: they take their own wet gear on and off, transporting to the dryer as needed. Polarfleece is such fab stuffs. I recall the smell of wet wool on the radiator long ago and far away. Bedraggled sheep smell. With a bit of mink oil undernote....and wet leathern boots.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 2, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Awwww, 'mudge, shucks. *Grinding sneaker-toe into the pavement.* So sweet.

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I like your philosophy Frosti, but when it comes to ice cream I can guarantee I have eaten things bigger than my head, my whole purpose in eating a meal is getting to the dessert - should people wish to look they may I am too busy enjoying myself to care or notice.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 2, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

LOL! Frosti and dmd. When it comes to good bread and cheese and olives and salami and cured meats of all kinds and other savoury treats, the size of my head is my minimum.

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I nearly buried my paper this morning, but one little sliver of the bag was still sticking out.

As for the paper eating snowblower, we all should know by now that 'blow' is just an expression.

Dinner tonight was yellow chicken curry with peas, onions and carrots. With Trader Joe curry sauce, it's nearly as easy as sketty, which is our other lazy meal.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 2, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

In that case, frosti, it's a good thing I have a very large cranium.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 2, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Sort of in order:

Wilbrod, posole is great but I don't make it. It is a New Mexican dish with hominy, pork, and green (or red) chile, cooked for a long time. Often served with cilantro and red onion on the side. I try to order a bowl once a year at the Plaza Cafe, on the plaza in Santa Fe. Wotta treat.

boko, I love Cream of Wheat.

collegeparkian, I'm sorry, but love of dishes with whole corn does not equate to fondness for grits - a completely different animal.

And Mudge, I'd love some of whatever you've got left. We had pasta and meatballs last night, and I had leftovers for lunch, but I guarantee they weren't as good as Mudge's. Or Jumper's. Or frostbitten's. Or seasea's, if you've got meatballs. They were okay, but they were my first attempt.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 2, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Here's another one, frosti, overheard in an elevator:

Food should never hurt.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 2, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you can have whatever you like.

Dessert doesn't work for me as a reward for cleaning my plate, either.

That was kind of my point. Why scarf down calories you hate to get to the calories you like?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 2, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like an errant meatball, Yoki...

*preparing to fax a Heimlich*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 2, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

So glad to have you back, Scotty.

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

This my tragedy, Wilbrod. Except for sweet things, I love *all* calories. And the more the better!

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Very nice to be back! Just wish the timing on the IBPH had worked out better for me. Ah well, can't have everything...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 2, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

But gosh, scottynuke, you were there on your vacation where you got to see a lot of snow. Played in it and everything. You can't do that everyday, now. Why, I bet you miss it already.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 2, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Maybe not today, Ivansmom... Talk to me Saturday. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 2, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

*faxing Ivansmom her dinner*

"Sketty" is anything *but* a lazy dish at my house. Musta taken me nearly two hours this morning to make it, plus leaving it on the stove to simmer for about 6 hours, which required occasional stirrings as well as judicious tastings. Plus the half hour or so right before serving to boil the water to do the noodles, prep the salad, pop the rolls in the oven, open and pour the wine, and set the table.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Now, *this* is a careful and meticulous home cook.

Posted by: Yoki | March 2, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Mudge, I'll have a bit of mint chocolate chip ice cream, with some Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies crumbled over it and just a little chocolate syrup on top.

Some may call it evil, I just consider it something I've never outgrown.

I like plain home-prepared grits, hominy, and polenta (and hey - a little butter and garlic works for me), but they're best with a good gravy. Of course, I'll eat plain rice, noodles, potatoes, gnocchi, what have you, too. If it's homemade gnocchi or noodles/pasta, so much the better.


Posted by: -bc- | March 2, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Uh, sorry, bc. I mentioned earlier the minto choco chip was all gone; all we have left is peppermint ice cream (my wife's favorite, purchased for her birthday). And...uh...there are no Girl Schout Thin Mionts here, alas, and never were (I mentioned I'm a recovering TM addict and have been clean for three years, yes?). And I doubt we have any choco syrup.

Truly sorry and abashed.

There's a bit of spaghetti left, and maybe a piece or two of sausage. Salad's gone, as are the garlic rolls. As for the wine, don't even think about it.

I mean, yanno, it is 9 o'clock, and the fax machine has been working overtime tonight.

Can I fax ya a baloney sandwich? Some Ramen noodles? A can of Chef Boyardee ravioli?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 2, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

There's a can of Spam over here, bc...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 2, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the riesling, Mudge, I need it after that deacons meeting! (What IS it about deacons meetings that they all drive a person batty? During the discussion of the payment for a natural gas easement, my best buddy texted me: Shoot me now! [Me too!])

Actually, I know what it is: too many old lawyers with little to say who take all night to say it. Not to be confused with boodle lawyers, of course.

We had chili for supper, too, CqP. I figured that would be good for Mr. T's cold. And Mudge, if there's any peppermint ice cream left, I'll take a little off your hands. I agree wholeheartedly with Mrs. Mudge on that being the very best ice cream!

Posted by: slyness | March 2, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh golly, am I confused. I just got used to Al, and now Curmudgeon introduces Andy to the group! (Back there at 7:08, I think.) So many newcomers!

Posted by: nellie4 | March 2, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Two hour delay for Prince George's County schools...the morning shall be relaxed and bunny-slippered.

Waiting for more desert offers. Even in Lent, I can boodle-imbibe.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 2, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Time to curl up with _Team of Rivals_. Should have read it long ago but it took fearing my Borders gift card bounty from Christmas would soon be worthless to get me to order it. Gaiman's Newbery winner also arrived in today's mail.

Toodles and sweet dreams, and sweet snow day or delay, as the case may be. My old Prince William peeps have another day off.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 2, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Tonight was home-made spinach lasagne, made and frozen a week ago, with fresh bread made just this afternoon (in the machine, I admit). It was good -- just a little bit left for school lunches tomorrow. A problem with HoCo schools is that the vegetarian options are extremely limited (salad = iceberg lettuce plus one under-ripe cherry tomato), forcing us to provide a home-made lunch every single day. This can be tedious.

Another problem with HoCo schools -- no word yet on whether there will be a delay tomorrow. Usually, a late start follows a day off as day follows night or as Sun follows snow. But, one cannot be certain. There might be no delay at all. Forecasts do not suggest that there will be no school.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 2, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

We'll know about HoCo schools tomorrow as soon as my wife's phone starts ringing with text messages at 5 am like it did this morning. She spent this evening getting herself off the UMBC weather-alert texts. They were interrupting her nap today.

Your spaghetti sounds delicious and you obviously put a lot of attention into it. It's hard to believe you are Jewish and not Italian.

Here is my recipe:

1 box of Barilla thin spaghetti
1 bag of frozen fully cooked turkey meatballs
1 jar of Barilla garlic and tomato sauce
1/2 pound of fresh green beans

Steam the green beans exactly 7-1/2 minutes. Bring everything else to a temperature somewhere between room and third degree burns. Serve.

Bon appetit.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 2, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Jkt, this is a really serious question. How are the Turkey Meatballs? I was stocking tonite and saw those. They seemed like a really good buy--if they were any good.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 2, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Ah, indeed, Sir Mudge.

I saw mint choco chip ice cream and everything went green (though I care not for said ice cream with green food coloring in it); call it the "green mist," if you must.


Posted by: -bc- | March 2, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I just had an insight into male-female communications! (actually, into partner-partner communications, but it sounds better the first way).

I was listening to a story from the very good podcasting series The Stoop (from Baltimore, short true stories). A woman was telling a story about couples that do not seem to be able to communicate clearly, using her own marriage as an example. Although they are a couple, and thus actually share in the miscommunication, it seemed she felt that she communicates clearly and it's her husband who doesn't hear right. She did wrap up with a vignette showing that she really does love him, but it is evident she feels her love is in spite of a superficial deficiency on his part.

The teller described trying to overcome her husband's lack of understanding for her aesthetics by being very precise in describing what she would like as a gift. For the benefits of the distaff boodlers, let me translate what she said into what I believe he heard:

"Whatever you do, DO NOT get this precise thing for me. If you do, it means you don't love me, because it is the thought that counts, and if you unimaginatively follow my precise description, it means you don't care enough to give me a thought."

And so, he gets her something that is barely like what she asked for in concept (a bracelet), but radically unlike what she asked for in every other respect (different metal, different design, different proportions, etc.). She views this as a failure to comprehend what she likes, but in fact, I would say that he thinks he has exactly fulfilled the real request -- to take her suggestion as a starting point and to then obtain something that expresses for her something that is characteristic of him, something that still can furnish her with surprise and delight. The unsurprising might be pleasant, but I think that the unsurprising never can be delightful. To give her what she asked for would be tantamount to filling an order; equal to saying "I don't care enough to make the attempt to delight you."

It may be possible to train a husband (or, let's be fair: a romantic partner of whichever gender you care for, whichever gender you might be) to give you gifts that really are exactly what you asked for. However, I tell you now that I think this is a bad idea and the opposite of getting you what you really want. It is telling the one you love that you don't really love him or her, because you do not appreciate even the attempt they make to delight you. It is the road to ruin.

This has been today's off-topic Epiphany Between the Sexes™. Please resume your normal boodling.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 3, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Oh, Dearie Me.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Yoki!!!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 3, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

How nice is GWE? Very.

Thank you, kind sir.

It is a very fine birthday.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

That is weird, SciTim. It's possible that she was torn between the price tag and her lust, hence sent mixed signals.

I do agree with you 100% on principle... assuming that the guy has a sense of taste.

With jewelry, misjudging taste can be an expensive mistake.

I have received hideous earrings as a gift that I couldn't possibly wear. The problem was the stones and the particular color combination; they were garish and tacky, and not anything I could wear.

She may have intended to communicate HER taste to him by using "examples." Alas, I don't think there's much chance of educating taste that quickly and effectively, especially not by talking at a guy.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 3, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

and hopefully many more to come,I would sing, but my singing sounds more like an animal caught in a trap.

so here is a song for you by some professionals

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 3, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Two hour delay in HoCo, SciTim. 5 am right on schedule. That kind of guessing game that lady played on her spouse is just cruel.

Yoki, I had no idea you had a birthday coming up. We could have crashed the M&S party area for some balloons.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2009 5:25 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. Happy Birthday, Yoki, and may you have many, many, more, and all wonderful occasions.

Ivansmom, I agree with your take on grits in comparison with things made of corn, a completely different animal.

Thanks, Mudge, for the wee bit. Someone needs to see about getting you a spot on the Food Network.

I read Eugene Robinson this morning, and he's tallying up the speed in which President Obama's effort to change government as we know it is not being done in small steps, but by leaps and bounds. I agree with this assessment, although for different reasons. I hope my reasons are wrong, but they're never far from me. I thought I might lose them after the election, but not so. We know change takes place, and it's about moving forward. I can't critique President Obama's changes, don't know enough about politics or government for that matter to offer a good point of view, yet I do know that we move forward despite the attempts of many to hold us to one era or time. Time is not stagnant, people are, at some point we get left behind. I also realize that people will fight change with their very lives, and hold fast to that which feels safe and secure to them. Change has often been the catalyst of revolutions. Let us hope if that is the case here, it is for the good. We know to do nothing is not an option because around us much is changing, and we as the leader of the free world must be prepared for those changes because it impacts our security and our very lives. The leader of the free world inherited a mess. Seeking the will of God in our trials now will set us on a clear path, and if we are united in our efforts, I just don't see us missing the mark on this or anything else. Success is ours, and we can claim it.

I didn't know that yesterday was World Reading Day or National Reading Day until I read the local paper this morning. So the kids got a lot of reading yesterday, and it's all good.

Scotty, Martooni(we're getting a little worried) and all, have a wonderful day.*waving*

Time to find the coffee.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 3, 2009 5:31 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Just got back from taking Dot#3 to the bus stop, and am sipping my 7-11 coffee (got the giant size). Lemme tell ya, it is KOLD KOLD KOLD out there--sez 14 degrees andf then there's a wind chill down to zero. (And it is supposed to go up to 60 by Saturday). Main streets are dry and clear, but side streets and parking lots are treacherous as all get-out, so be careful out there. Since I'm telecommuting today (thank you, Mr. President) I'm now back snug as a bug and don't have to move for the next 24 hours.

It's your birthday, Yoki????????? Well, then, I'll just have to fax you sumethin' special today! So happy birthday!!

And gang, in honor of Yoki's birthday, where shall we all rendezvous with her for her special birthday lunch? Someplace nice and warm, I hope. TBG, is the club available? Can they do something special? For some reason I'm thinking a nice smoked, planked salmon smothered in chopped onion and capers (the Y-lady loves her some capers), and of course a birthday cake. Yoki, what's you favorite kind of cake? I'm thinking a spice cake, or maybe a red velvet, but I'm shooting in the dark here.

On the local NBC station Tracy Wilkins just reported from Waldorf, where she said what I said: main roads clear, secondaries not so good. And cold as you-know-what.

Keith Olberman went nearly ballistic last night on that release of Justice Dept. opinions giving Bush carte blanche, but this morning the WaPo has a fairly boring headline on it.

And now to read the op-ed stuff.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 3, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle dear. In a turn-up for the books, it is warm and raining here today.

Yes, indeed, this is my birthday. Thanks for all the good wishes. 'mudge, you know me pretty well. Anything with capers, and then any sort of spiced cake, gingerbread, something like that. Did you know? I've never had, nor even seen, red velvet cake? I've read about it on food blogs, but never encountered it in real life. Would I like it?

yello, we could have taken over those reserved tables if security had been less tight!

Have a wonderful day, everyone.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Yoki, hope you have a fantastic day.

I would love to bring the flowers for Yoki's lunch I am much better at selecting and arranging flowers than food. If like here it is as cold out west, white tulips, lilacs, peonies, daffodils - all the promise of spring we so need.

Last day of real cold here then it will warm and be around 50 this weekend.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 3, 2009 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Morning, Mudge, hey, Cassandra.

It's cold here also, Mudge. Cold enough for Mr. T to put on a jacket, which means it's REALLY cold. Normally he doesn't bother. Too cold for me to walk, so I'll ride the exercycle.

Isn't it interesting how all the terribly bad stuff happens on Republican watches, and then Democrats have to come in and deal with it? Is that a systemic problem with Republican philosophy?

Okay, enough thinking so early in the morning.

Posted by: slyness | March 3, 2009 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

Happy Birthday, Yoki. Red velvet cake is pretty bland stuff. Perhaps a spicy carrot cake with thick, rich cream cheese icing would suit?

Mudge, when I was a member of TBG's digs, the club could pull off a very nice menu with little notice. The thing I remember the most was fresh onion soup made daily, with lots of melting cheese and thick french bread on top.

Posted by: VintageLady | March 3, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Ohh VintageLady, my mom used to make homemade Onion Soup, after it was made she would pour it into her Onion soup bowls add the bread and cheese and put them under the boiler - so good. Haven't had Onion soup in a long time but I have been thinking about it since I started having gall bladder problems and can't have onions.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 3, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

VL makes two very good points. Red velvet cake is "different," but doesn't knock yer socks off. It's just...well...*red.* So yes, methinks a spece cake with lots of raisins, and a butter cream icing.

And she makes that French onion soup sound almost as good as my own special onion soup extravaganza. So let's go with that for the appetizer.

I'm thinking that with a big, hearty appetizer like the FOSoup, and the planked salmon w/capers, about the only other thing we even need for lunch is just a nice salad, perhaps a Caesar? Anyway, something with romaine, and perhaps fresh shaved parmesan on it. (And then of course the spice cake for the birthday girl.)

I'm thinking a couple of sgroppinos or maybe bellinis ought to be the beverage du jour, yes?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 3, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Wow! That is a menu designed for me in every respect. And the great thing is, since it is imaginary, dmd2 can have as much onion soup as she would like.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I wish to defend Red Velvet Cake. Now, there is a lot of regional variation, but what I like is the Pennsylvania Dutch version. True, is basically just a very rich chocolate cake with a whole lot of red food coloring. But what makes is special is the traditional cream cheese frosting. The combination is, to me, delightful.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 3, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

And let me add my enthusiastic salutations on the auspicious occasion of your birthday, Yoki. And many more felicitous returns of the day!

Huzzahs all around for the good woman from Canada.

And I think a nice savory menu would be most delightful for lunch.

'cause, you know, I'm a sucker for them capers.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 3, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

There are many things like that, aren't there? Where each element is nothing particularly special, but when they come into combination something magic happens.

When I visited #1 last fall we went to lunch at a Sechuan restaurant, and I ordered Hunan dumplings. When they arrived, #1 looked rather dubious (she later said she was afraid of the gelatinous-looking wrap and the strong peanut aroma of the sauce), but a moment after she put the first bite in her mouth she got a most blissful smile on her face; her palette just *got* it.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Yoki!!!! *faxin' confetti one of my special extra-large, cake-shaped oatmeal raisin cookies* :-) *HUGSSSS*

'Mudge -- think big!! I'm sure Aloha would be happy to host Yoki's birthday lunch on the beach in Waikiki... ;-)

And even EYE will agree it was cold this morning. The flight line is always windy, so today's Dawn Patrol uniform included a face mask and liners in the gloves.

*back-into-the-daily-grind-waaaaaaay-too-early Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 3, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

SCC: confetti AND one of my...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 3, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

dmd2, best wishes for getting rid of your gall bladder asap, life is too short to have to avoid onions! Seriously, I had the surgery back when it was considered major and had to stay in the hospital for about a week. The way it is done today (unless, of course, there are complications) makes recovery much easier.

Still smokefree, you all, starting my third month, miracles all around.

Sending Costco sized jar of capers with pink & blue ribbons for Yoki.

Posted by: VintageLady | March 3, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Adding capers gift for RD, maybe just a good throwing arm to get it from our place to his'ens.

Posted by: VintageLady | March 3, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, I hope you have the birthday of your desires, with good food, good friends, and family close at hand.

Mudge's menu does sound fabulous, I'll be there! And I'll bring the candles for the birthday cake. Don't worry, we'll have some random number less than ten, just to ensure we have some sparkle on it.

Posted by: slyness | March 3, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

This is what happens to guys that buy their wives the wrong gift:

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | March 3, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Happy birthday Yoki. Hope you have a wonderful lunch.I’ll have to pass on the meal as all this talk about food is making me queasy. I’m catching a cold and always feel this way at the beginning, darn it. dmd, I hope you are planning to get rid of that gall bladder. I was back to work three days after mine came out and I can eat anything. Living in fear of an attack is far worse than just removing it. Very cold here too. I am dreading going to work as our heating system is quirky and I usually freeze when the weather is below thirty degrees. Even a turtle neck and wool sweater and pants aren’t going to do the trick I bet.

Posted by: badsneakers | March 3, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

I meet with the surgeon on the 16th, I am a very low priority for booking the surgery, young, healthy, stones not in immediate danger of blocking anything. Hoping surgery will happen soon.

WhackyWeasel, love that video my husband has sent it to me, the very end bothers me a little (big jewellery is what women want - $ = love) but other than that funny and it was a jewellery commercial so can't expect much else

Posted by: dmd2 | March 3, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

As I believe has been mentioned here before, the comedian Ron White has a wonderful translation of jewelry commercials --

"Diamonds... That'll shut 'er up!"


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 3, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday was Theodore Geisel's (aka Dr. Suess) birthday which many schools around here celebrate with RAD (Read All Day) activities. Shame all the kids had to stay home and play in the snow instead.

Milbank documents a McCain meltdown over earmarks including this attack:

///He went after Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the 84-year-old chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "We're going to spend $2 million for the promotion of astronomy in Hawaii," McCain said with disgust, glancing at Inouye. "I ask the senator from Hawaii: Why do we need $2 million to promote astronomy in Hawaii when unemployment is going up and the stock market is tanking?" ///

Because all astronomy is done my extraterrestrials and doesn't employ any Americans. {/sarcasm}

These attacks on anything scientific are tiresome.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Not everybody was happy about the District bucking the weather weenie trend:

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

So, no astronomy, no volcano monitoring, no wildlife research... do these people have any idea what sort of world they could end up living in?

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Happy birthday Yoki!!

Sorry I missed the grits discussion.

In Colombia we eat hominy with milk and guava paste. We call it Mazamorra. Not very tasty, but it tastes like home to me.

Both my kids refused to eat the gunky rice cereal as babies. I gave them grits instead. They are the healthiest kids I know. All their friends have all sorts of issues and allergies. I don't know if it is the grits, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Posted by: abeac1 | March 3, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Morning Al... Andy, too... I was back in bed by the time dawn patrol arrived this morning after dropping Dr G off at Dulles at 5:15. He's off to Vegas for a conference; I will join him on Thursday. But like he says... "Whoever goes to Vegas has to stay in Vegas--or something like that!"

Yoki... I'm pleased as punch that today is your birthday because that means The Duchess of Alberta is no longer younger than I--at least numberwise. I can't wait to join y'all for lunch today. I'll stop by Filomena's and pick up some of their fabulous Caesar salad dressing and some good Italian bread.


Posted by: -TBG- | March 3, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

No, Yoki, the McCain household has no clue. One is senile, the other is on drugs, and they have enough money to isolate themselves from anything unpleasant.

Posted by: abeac1 | March 3, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

You know TBG that I am always running as fast as I can to catch up to you :)

OK, off to work! Thanks again dear friends for all the good wishes.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Dear boodle peeps, it's all a matter of perspective. We have 30 degrees in our forecast this morning and I'm singing "Oh happy day!" (actually lip synching, since I'm singing impaired) Headed to 34 on Thursday!

Happy Birthday Yoki! Those dumplings your dot liked sound like the ones I crave from a hole-in-the-wall take out in Richfield, MN. We drive past dozens of restaurants in St. Paul to go out to a strip mall in the burbs for Chinese, but can't resist those dumplings with spicy peanut sauce. I'm thinking oatmeal spice cake with a broiled coconut topping might be to your birthday liking.

WW-almost lost it during that video. My best gift this Christmas from Mr. F was an external hard drive with a case that also holds the flash drives he put in my stocking. Love, love, love it.

In Minnesota news, T-Paw has suggested that cities draw down their reserves to cover state budget cuts this year. Great, we have $3,500 in reserve and that's all we've got to cover cash flow while we wait for reimbursements for our after-school program and fire protection payments from the other jurisdictions we cover. I guess his "no tax" mantra only applies to things that have his name on the signature line. If he forces cities to raise property taxes, again, it's not his fault.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 3, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Oh.. I forgot to add... I used to think I didn't like grits... UNTIL I TASTED THEM. Oh, heaven is a good bowl of grits with a little salt and butter.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 3, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey Slyness,
Yep, am in Charlotte, too! While I spent most of my growing up years down in South Kackalackee, I've been working here for a decade or so.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 3, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Re: the posts on war poetry... I took my English courses at Ft. Campbell, KY (Austin Peay State Univ.)back in the early 90's (following my war experience) and I still vividly recall a small handful of poems that were assigned. The ones that spoke most to me and were haunting were those lonely and racked voices from World War I. Those were some psychotically grisly times to live through! I suppose having endured our own little dance with the possibility of being gassed, those poems were all the more powerful.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 3, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Happy Happy Yoki!!

yello, I stongly suspect that the 2 million to promote astronomy is patronage for some politically favoured ad agency.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 3, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I think McCain is utterly unaware of the irony that he's complaining about the Hawaii astronomy thing, and other programs "while people are unemployed." He simply doesn't understand that spending money on these things (even if they were frivolous, which most are not) EMPLOYES PEOPLE. In short, it is just his simple-minded knee-jerk reaction, not any sort of reasoned analysis. Like all Conservs, he just doesn't want to spend any money on anything, and seems to think unemployment will some how sort itself out. Like all Conservs, he indulges in what is essentially "magical thinking."

In other matters, I have neither read nor seen "The Reader," so can have no opinion on it, but have been following debate about it carefully. I know a number of you have seen and/or read it, and I would like your opinions regarding this Ron Rosenbaum piece about it in "Slate" (he's outraged about it):

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 3, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Bailey-a fellow Gov! MA Ed. '93, "Let's go Peay!!"

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 3, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

The message I am getting from some of these Republicans is that scientific research is a luxury that we can ill-afford. In this they are expressing a time-honored disdain for any kind of intellectual pursuit that does not yield immediate concrete results.

There are several responses to this. Certainly one can legitimately claim that apparently frivolous scientific endeavors do yield immediate benefits. Clearly volcano monitoring falls into this category.

Further, scientific research can, and frequently does, yield unexpected tangible fruits. For example, many of those hawkish Republicans might be surprised to learn just how useful technology and techniques developed by astronomers have been to national defense.

But there is a deeper, and to me more satisfying, argument as to why scientific research must be a priority in any society that claims to be enlightened. Scientific research represents a commitment to knowledge and awareness as an end in itself. Yes, good things will come, but like a beautiful symphony or glorious painting, scientific insights add to the quality and texture of life simply by expanding our awareness of the order and beauty hidden within the physical world.

And in hard times, I assert, the inspiration and aesthetic fulfillment that comes from scientific discovery becomes more precious, not less.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 3, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Hi, Bailey. Glad you're sticking around.

In Paul Fussell's mind-beningly good "The Great War and Modern Memory" (for which he very justly won the Pulitzer Prize), he points out that WWI was the first truly "literary" war, meaning that it was the first major war in which a vast number of participants (on the Western Front, anyway), were literate. And in the case of many, not just literate, but with a high proportion of college-educated soldiers, many of whom were extremely knowledgable about literature and poetry; in essence, a poet's war. The result was the collision of two things: the poetic sensibility on the one hand, and the first truly modern (which is to say ultra-nasty, brutal, mindless, and long drawn out) warfare. So all these poor poets faced with the incomprehensible, wrote their brains out.

By the time WWII rolled around, the sensibility had changed, and poets were no longer in vogue. Fussell also points out that to a much larger degree WWII vets were and remained relatively "silent" as compared to their WWI colleagues. Fussell was the first to remark upon what has now become a commonplace observation: that a lot of the WWII vets didn't want to talk about their experiences. Those who did chose the form of the semi-confessional memoir, rather than the lyricism and technical craft of the poem.

Fussell also goes in a great deal for discussing the use of the pastoral in the WWI pomes, a trend certainly dead as a doornail by the time of WWII.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 3, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

A big WooHoo!

I know I missed out on the food conversation... but, I would highly recommend some garlicky, cheesy shrimp and grits to any grit skeptics. While this Lowcountry favorite may not sound all that appealing, it is both delicious and filling!

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 3, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I would be interested in Boodlepinions on the rhetorical blunderbusses being unloaded on HHS Secretary-designate Sebelius by some anti-abortion groups, given what would seem to be her very moderate stand on the issue. I mean, I've read some really over-the-top stuff. Fundraising fodder, or more knee-jerk reactions?

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 3, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Bailey, glad to hear you made the right move north. One great thing about the boodle is that we don't hold things against people that they can't help, like where they were born. ;-)

Posted by: slyness | March 3, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Except for the French, of course.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 3, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Your theory has merit. Regardless, it is being attacked because it is 'sciencey' rather than, well, I don't know what would pass muster with McCain.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Interesting points on those wars and the guys who fought them, Curmudgeon. I never thought about WWI in those terms (first war to be fought by the educated). Wasn't it also the first war to be fought with Mustard gas and such? That stuff is just beyond heinous.

The only time my own grandfather, a WW2 vet, spoke to me about his experience was in a letter he wrote me when I was in Saudi Arabia. It blew my mind. So much I never knew about him... He was the epitome of the strong silent type.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 3, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Good to know, Slyness! ;)

I was actually born in Washington State, though. My dad died when I was five, throwing a big monkey wrench into the situation. A few years later, my mother met a southern gent on a flight back from Miami and she wound up marrying him. We moved to his hometown in S.C. the summer of '80. Talk about a long, strange trip!

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 3, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I had been thinking about that for a while, the nature of the WWI soldier. I have wondered why the "War on Tare" we are in has not inspired much music or poetry.

Poetry and very poetic prose seem to belong to WWI while music seems to go hand in hand with WWII. Vietnam was a mishmash. Now we have blogs and soundbites. When looking at it from a technology perspective, it makes sense.

Posted by: abeac1 | March 3, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Picking on the public vs. private school idea - parents who send their kids to public school knowing well that they have to make up for the lessons missing through more intense activities at home are no whimps. Maybe they are the ones who need the "snow day" to clear the snow and chill out.

Parents who send their kids to Sidwell raise your hands if you spent your day clearing snow and entertaining your kids? How many of you called the baby sitter and went to work like any other day? I am one of the lucky ones who can call a baby sitter when there is a snow day here in Illinois. And yes, my kids go to public school.

Posted by: Illinoismom | March 3, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

RD, I am borrowing your paragraph on the texture of life for my own blog. It is also very applicable to education in budget-cutting times.

Posted by: abeac1 | March 3, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Badsneakers, your heating system that freezes over when the temperature drops below 30F reminded me of a friend’s car which had electric windows that would roll down when it was raining. It was an American car, of course.

A potato salad for Yoki and other capers lover.

Pommes à l’huile et aux câpres

3 lbs peeled potatoes, boiled just tender
A red onion or a couple of shallots, diced or (for a more digestible version)
a sweet onion, diced and sweated in olive oil until translucent.
½ to 1 cup of dry white wine (quantity will depend on the absorbency of the potatoes)

2 tablespoon wine vinegar
As much capers as your heart desires, but at least a tablespoon
(non-capers lover can use fresh tarragon, chervil, sorrel or parsley)
A bit of Dijon or Meaux style mustard, salt and pepper
½ cup olive oil (minus the oil used to cook the onion, as the case may be)

Boil whole potatoes until “just about done”
Whisk a vinaigrette together with the vinegar, capers, mustard and oil.
Cut the potatoes in 3/8-1/2” slices while still hot and put in a salad bowl
(it helps to have welder’s hand or to wear gloves)
Drizzle the very hot potatoes with the white wine,
Adjust the quantity so that there is no liquid left
(keep your face over the bowl and inhale the alcohol vapour not to waste anything)
Add the onion or shallots and vinaigrette
Toss very delicately to avoid making mashed potato salad.
Let the salad cool down,
eat warm or cold with grilled meat, sausage or boiled saucisson.

Option: add cut-up steamed green beans and/or cubes cold roast beef

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 3, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Here is a parody of 'The Reader' that indirectly hits most of the criticism of it, namely that it is prurient and sympathetic to a Nazi death camp character. But I haven't seen the movie and I'm unlikely to, despite being in favor of nude scenes featuring Kate Winslett whenever possible.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. Happy birthday to Yoki. I propose birthday cupcakes. That way we can have red velvet, various spice cakes (mine is applesauce cake); carrot cake, and chocolate too, with lots of cream cheese and butter cream frostings. Then a nap.

I think one big thing about the WWI soldiers was that so many British officers were from the gentleman, or at least well-educated, class. In subsequent wars, particularly in the U.S., there are two soldier trends. The most important is that, with the draft, huge numbers of young men were conscripted (or, for WWII, joined the effort). The sheer size of the armed forces precluded dominance in arts or any other area by one type of voice. Later, you could get a deferment for college; then we dropped the draft and the people joining tend to be people who either had no college plans or needed the service to help with funding. Also, as times change the media do as well. Thus the modern wartime medium moves from "fine arts" like poetry to blogging and video. Though I notice many of those blogs and videos have seriously poetic aspects.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 3, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, forgot the link:

Possibly not safe for work.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 3, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

abeac - you offer me a profound compliment. Thank you.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 3, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of the War on Turror, y'all heard about this? Apparently BushCo. thought about scrapping the First Ammendment. UGH.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 3, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Big, no, HUGE, birthday huzzahs to Yoki, as well as a serenade (excuse me, I'm clearing my throat):

Ja, må du leva
Ja, må du leva
Ja, må du leva uti hundrade år

Javisst ska du leva
Javisst ska du leva
Javisst ska du leva uti hundrade årrrrrrrr

One thing I have never, ever been able to do in Swedish is roll my r's, so I can only accomplish that facility in writing (see above).

As for a cake, I am partial myself to a death-by-chocolate something or other. But it is, indeed, your day, Yoki, so whatever ya want, ya get.

Now I gotta go do some work, and be glad I got it.

Cya'll later.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 3, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Bailey, I've given a great deal of thought to the notion of "the strong, silent type," which certainly fits the description of your grandfather and my father, all the vets from WWII, and it certainly fits them. (I sometimes wonder if the S/S Type is a uniquely American thing, or a uniquely Western Civ thing [American, Canadian, Brit, French, Anzac, etc.] but lack the reading of other cultures to reach an opinion.)

But be that is it may, the SST was "typical" of the WWII vet, but had its birth in WWI. Fussell goes to great lengths to explore the problem of the WWI soldier, who in writing home or even going home on furlough finds himself unable to truly explain to his wife/sisters/parents exactly what his war experience was like. In part it was because a man/gentleman simply didn't discuss those sort of nasty, brutal things in polite company. So, unable to really explain about the horror, the blood, the sh--, the miserable condition, the suffering, the vet simply found himself mute.

(Curiously, among British WWI shell shock cases, the enlisted men suffered a very high degree of muteness; they were simply unable to talk, or make any sounds whatsoever. The officer corps, on the other hand, being much more literate, were also unable to communicate-- but in a different way: they stuttered. So in effect men who weren't verbal to begin with ceased to talk at all, but men who *were* verbal and articulate could make sounds-- just not meaningful ones.)

So by the time WWII rolls around, war is every bit as nasty and brutal as before, but the tradition of men being unable to discuss it has become entrenched in the male culture. Hence, the birth of the S/ST, who quietly endures the unendurable without complaint or comment.

And so this WWII phenomenon reaches it epitome in a movie like "High Noon," in which Gary Cooper sets the standard for the modern American man: he does his job, alone and afraid, but says nothing, complains not at all, and keeps his feelings to himself even as he loses his wife, his friends, his town. It is just him versus the bad guys (just like it was on the front in WWII), and no sense in complaining about it. So you just shut up and do what you have to do. And this becomes the modern model of what constitutes manhood: the S/S type. And so we find it all through that generation (and its movies).

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 3, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

ftb! I have never been sung to in Swedish before. This is delightful! Thank you.

And to have a new experience at my advanced age is very nice too.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Strong silent was certainly my father-in-law, a WWII pilot in the RCAF. As a prisoner of war inside Germany for some months toward the end, he *could* have said a lot, but did not.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Another Austin Peay grad here. I attended in the early 60s. Live just north of Ft. Campbell...helicopters over my house all the time.

Posted by: Manon1 | March 3, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

And ScienceTim, I think that woman whose story you told is a very poor communicator. It looked to me as if she said, here's exactly what I want - don't get it for me, because if you do I'll know you don't love me. What is she, crazy?

Sure, it is the thought that counts. To me, the "thought" is that someone thinks enough of you to give you something. If they pick it up at the last minute, hey, they remembered you. IF they get it late, still they have thought about you. If they get exactly what you told them you wanted, it shows they listen to you. Gifts are just that - a form of grace. They're not tests, they're not requirements, the kind and cost don't represent a measurement of affection or desire or anything else.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 3, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"We're going to spend $2 million for the promotion of astronomy in Hawaii."

I, for one, am having trouble with the language in the above statement, in trying to parse it. Does it mean that $2 million will be spent in "promoting" astronomy and, if so, what do those promotional activities entail? Or is it the "practicing" of astronomy, about which I have few qualms.

If we speak of the stimulus, I was going to post the following yesterday, but decided not to hit the submit button. I'll explain why momentarily. These grafs come from a Metro column by astute [been around a long time, so knows the town's history] Carlos Guerra, published Feb. 14 in our local paper:

But south of downtown, the Army Corps of Engineers methodically turned the once-pristine waterway [San Antonio River] into an ever-wider drainage ditch, scraping it of native flora, the habitat of the native fauna, and straightened most of the river's “meanders” so floodwaters would flow unobstructed.

Still, the flooding continued as more roadways were paved, rooftops built and trees wiped out.

It wasn't until two huge tunnels were excavated under our city's core that engineering accomplished what the now-spoiled river could not: rapidly draining runoff after major rains.

[These tunnels probably saved my life in the flooding tht took place in Oct. (I think it was) 1998. The owner of the La Villita jewelry store, where several of us women were employed, went to a wedding in the countryside where he and his girlfriend encountered rising flood waters in a stream on the property, but he became inebriated at the wedding and thought little of his employees stuck behind in his store facing rising flood waters downtown.]

LL: So the better part of the shovel-ready stimulus spending for San Antonio would be to undo what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has done, rather dreadfully, over decades. As Guerra wrote in another column on Feb. 24:

Posted by: laloomis | March 3, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

For decades, the Army Corps of Engineers has been widening the southern part of the river, straightening its meanders and denuding it of vegetation for flood-control purposes. The San Antonio River Authority is now overseeing the restoration of several of the river's significant twists and reforesting much of it with tens of thousands of native saplings.

It was hoped that the $787 billion stimulus package would provide $69 million for the second phase of this linear park. But the corps wants that cut to $25 million and all work finished by September 2010.

As of Monday, however, general manager Suzanne Scott said the River Authority is still negotiating with the corps, and that she is still hopeful it will fund the entire project.

The funding and timeline are key. Seems the city was caught unawares of when the funding would end versus how long this particular project would take. There was a follow-up article in our paper about how local honchos, including former mayor Nelson Wolff, I believe, were scrambling to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make some reasonable accommodations. For the life of me, I couldn't find the article yesterday--not through Google news, nor by searching the paper's archives for local coverage reporting since Feb. 14, the date of the first op-ed. The search engine on our local paper's website is a laughable affair and yielded nothing. Was the article scrubbed perhaps, since it revealed problems? I don't know where the project stands as of today, but I know there were intense negotiations, as reported, regarding the details of stimulus funding for this project.

Posted by: laloomis | March 3, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Interesting points, 'Mudge... This song (which I consider to be a worthy poem) came to mind... listened to it a thousand times overseas (like a child reads a storybook)

By: jimmy buffett

He went to paris lookin for answers
To questions that bothered him so
He was impressive, young and aggressive
Savin the world on his own

But the warm summer breezes
The french wines and cheeses
Put his ambition at bay
The summers and winters
Scattered like splinters
And four or five years slipped away

Then he went to england, played the piano
And married an actress named kim
They had a fine life, she was a good wife
And bore him a young son named jim

And all of the answers and all of the questions
Locked in his attic one day
cause he liked the quiet clean country livin
And twenty more years slipped away

Well the war took his baby, the bombs killed his lady
And left him with only one eye
His body was battered, his whole world was shattered
And all he could do was just cry

While the tears were a-fallin he was recallin
Answers he never found
So he hopped on a freighter, skidded the ocean
And left england without a sound

Now he lives in the islands, fishes the pilins
And drinks his green label each day
Writing his memoirs, losin his hearin
But he dont care what most people say

Through eighty-six years of perpetual motion
If he likes you hell smile and hell say
Jimmy, some of its magic, some of its tragic
But I had a good life all the way

And he went to paris lookin for answers
To questions that bothered him so

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 3, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Ah Manon1, I miss my 'birds!'

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 3, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I had an uncle that was a strong silent type a major in the medical corp in WWII (British officer training). He was there at Dieppe, never spoke about it, but I was told his medal from Dieppe was what mattered to him the most.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 3, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I should note that Uncle took up painting when he retired, I have one he gave my mom, a watercolour of fall scenery - something I cherish.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 3, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

That's a good analysis, Mudge. My dad was a Pacific theater WWII vet (I'll find that paperwork and tell you where soon) who never talked about it.

Charles Todd has a good post-WWI mystery series about a Scotland Yard detective who was an officer in France, shell-shocked and is dealing with his own demons while solving crime.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 3, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Why not cough up a few coins and see "The Reader" and judge for yourself.

In my opinion, the war is a backdrop to the story, not its central character. It is the story of a boy (David Korss was fantastic) coming of age sexually and the woman who brought him there. She is attracted to his books, his strong ability to share them as a reader, and probably to a lesser degree to the boy. Perhaps it's one of those Faustian bargains for a woman--I give up something to get something.

She has few friends, it seems, because whenever the boy shows up unannounced, she is alone. It's not made clear from where she hails. One might assume she has few friends because she can't reveal to anyone she can't read. Her pride is enormous.

Her existence depends on being efficient and subservient: in short doing menial tasks well. She is so good at being the ticket dispenser on the trolley system that she gets promoted to an office position. To tell you how the promotion tuns out would be to spoil it. As a prison guard, her chief duty is to guard the prisoners--and guard them well, thus ensuring her survival as a single woman during wartime. As a woman on the bottom-most rungs of the pecking order, she can't afford to have qualms about moral order.

The Slate piece was written by a man. I skimmed it. Bit why not get a woman at the bottom-most rung of any social or economic ladder to review the film?

Posted by: laloomis | March 3, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

SCC: David Kross

Posted by: laloomis | March 3, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

We may not have soldier poets these days, but the writing on The Sandbox milblog always moves me:

Posted by: slyness | March 3, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I think the S/S type is a western concept. I don't believe 'keeping a stiff upper lip' refers to labial rigidity.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 3, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday, Yoki! Looks like a nice crowd here today. Morning, Bailey. Are you surprised there's no one shouting in all caps, etc., in a comments section? It's addictive, I say. Now's a good time to remind all that in case of storms, the comments section at the end of the prior posting by Mr. Achenbach is where we often gather to retrench. With our retrenching tools.

Saw some baby bulldogs running free today. I hope they do well in life.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 3, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm a big fan of those Charles Todd mysteries, IM, most especially the wonderful "Wings of Fire."

As it happens, the novels I am writing deal with an American seconded to the Brits in WWI who was shell-shocked and is dealing with his own demons while solving crime and/or resolving those demons (two of the series are primarily about his war experiences at Zeebrugge, a WWI raid not unlike dmd's Dieppe raid in WWII -- and right "down the road," as it were-- and his experiences as a POW and POW escape behind German lines, viz. Yoki's FIL). And he was at Craiglockhart but after Sassoon and Owens.

Although he is not the "strong, silent type" so much as one of the smart-ass, wise-cracking poetry-spouting Roaring 20s boat-loving type.

My dad was South Pacific theater, too, IM. Navy, of course. (The "of course" part describes our family trees. In my clan we don't do "land" and not much "air.")

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 3, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Your trees are in the water?

At least they're not submerged.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 3, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

You analysis of Winslet's character as an example of a poor woman at the bottom rung of society, with the attendant women's lib issues, Loomis, completely neglects the fact that she is on trial as a NAZI WAR CRIMINAL WHO AIDED IN THE EXECUTION OF 300 WOMEN.

(Pardon me for raising my voice. But you *exactly* epitomize what Rosenbaum [yes, a man, with all the flaws inherent in that gender] was comp[laining about: people who in effect either glorify or excuse a person was was, effectively, a mass murderer, who learns how to read.

How come you missed that part, Loomis? Or do women war criminals get a pass from you?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 3, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Loomis. Glad you could bother skimming an article Mudge asked our opinion on. I'll give your post the consideration it deserves.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 3, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Grab those bulldoggies for me, Jumper!

There's a big difference between the young soldiers serving today compared even to when I served 80's/early 90's. When I served it wasn't so easy to join. Since the military was so huge back then, they could afford to be picky. Its safe to say, by the Gulf War, we had one of the most highly skilled & edumacated forces ever fielded.

Post Iraq invasion, however, standards have dropped through the floor, which I find appalling and dangerous. They havn't been able to recruit enough troops, so they now accept soldiers and Marines with a number of flags on their records.

As for literary/film works, i've long noted how so few stories and works have come from the Gulf War (which might seem odd considering education levels of troops back then). I've attributed that to factors including the lightning speed of the action, intense periods of isolation and to the absolute culture clash (U.S. troops inside the most devout Islamic Kingdom) and being kept away from civilians (to a strong degree). It takes a special and brilliant artist to capture what occurred there.

For anyone who would like to get an excellent idea of it should watch "Jarhead," "Courage Under Fire" and "Three Kings." Each has a different spin, but all truly capture the essence.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 3, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Yoki, may all your calories go somewhere else, and only the delicious tastes remain. Well, you know what I mean. Happy Birthday.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 3, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

New kit

Posted by: --dr-- | March 3, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Mudge - you might appreciate the irony here:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 3, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Love this Mudge, "Although he is not the "strong, silent type" so much as one of the smart-ass, wise-cracking poetry-spouting Roaring 20s boat-loving type."

Posted by: dmd2 | March 3, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Hey folks, dr already told us there is a new kit. It's like an echo chamber over there.

Posted by: Yoki | March 3, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Hello. You all seem so kind and seem to be having such fun that of course I'd like to introduce myself. May I present my bona fides? I've been reading Joel for lo these twenty past years, since the Why Things Are days. I read Achenblog faithfully, and your comments, as well. Now I put a toe into the waters of commenting in the Boodle. I have no poem at the moment, but I can offer that we have 5 inches of snow on the ground, a beautifully shovelled sidewalk (and tamped down apron to the alley), leftover curried shortribs for lunch, and a dotter turning nine today. It seemed the critical mass to provoke at long last a comment, despite my poinding heart and shaking hands. (I tend to overthink, in my earnestness). Have a great day, all.

Posted by: mlwjaw | March 3, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Hi mlwjaw!

Posted by: engelmann | March 3, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

mlwjaw - Everyone has skedaddled over to the new kit. If things get rough over there they may return to this bunker. Please re-post your introduction in the new kit.

RD - have checked the stocks of sparkling wine and have found them to be depleted and insufficiant. Now what?


Posted by: DLDx | March 3, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Welcome, mlwjaw, and congratulations on your delurking! Wanna fax me some of those shortribs?

Posted by: -bia- | March 3, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

What a few people forgot to mention is how their parents wrapped barbwire around their feet for traction in the snow and ice for the walk to school!!!

Posted by: hanley1 | March 3, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

AH! There it is. It's been stored under the fish tank. Thanks to slyness for stocking up!


Posted by: DLDx | March 3, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

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