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Flapping Counter-Torque

The new pool that has kept Joel from blogging. (Martin Ruetschi -- Keystone via Associated Press)

Got a new laptop and am just trying to break it in. It keeps throwing security messages at me, and password-memory prompts, and of course toolbars galore. I do not like toolbars as a general rule. They haunt my existence, actually. They harass me, and heckle me, demanding that I use them, even though my goal in computer life has been to master one or two dependable keystrokes and ignore everything else, until eventually the everything-elses vanish from my gaze -- random paisleys, known but to God and the geek that programmed them.

I would check to see if this laptop has any games on it, but I might then disappear myself for a couple of hours. You know how that can happen. Entire lives consumed by Minesweeper.

In the meantime, here's a story I did on how birds fly. Now you know! Or at least you know all about the one maneuver called flapping counter-torque. [This story soon to be a major motion picture.]


Here's Howie on Politico.

Harris says it's making money, but I wanna see the numbers on that. With 30 something reporters, it probably has too many people to meet the Platonic ideal of a perfectly-sized news staff in the Web era. (You know my theory: Two people is probably the best number. One backs up the other.)

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 13, 2009; 2:28 PM ET
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Next: Random Sniping


Nailin' the Kelvin

Hella Bar Talk

Nice to Meld You

Does it Still McFly?

Nero Fiddles, Narada Burns

That New Car Smell

Posted by: omnigood | April 13, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Vulcan, Alberta

Posted by: omnigood | April 13, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: omnigood | April 13, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Tee Hee...Good Easter Monday all

Posted by: omnigood | April 13, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm battling a dead laptop and shopping for a deskbottom, don't hassle me about puters.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 13, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Ripping all the adware and superfluous features is one of the best parts of breaking in a new machine. This junk is especially common with the cheap machines I tend to buy, I fear.

Also, one of the first things I always do is make sure that the interface looks as close to Windows XP "classic" as I can make it. Don't much care for those new-fangled interfaces. No sir. Can't say that I do.

On to that column on flight. I thought it was fascinating and very informative.

Biologically inspired engineering is a very hot topic, and this helps to show why. Millions of years of evolution have uncovered some pretty nifty tricks, be it in stable flight or itty-bitty bug-inspired microphones. (Bug-inspired bugs if you must.)

It is a matter of open record that some folks attempted to create artificial dragonflies in the 1970s (insert obligatory Hendrix reference here) for the sole intent of gathering intel. The engineering was brilliant, but they couldn't overcome the physics.

Little flying things tend to be vulnerable to winds - fancy-shmancy wing gyrations or not. And the smaller the flying thingies the more vulnerable they are to winds.

Now, biological bug-like critters just go with this. They aren't typically so fussy about exactly where they end up. Alas, most of the interesting applications for wee flying machines usually have very specific locations, and waiting for a perfectly calm day without updrafts is a tricky concept of operation.

Still, I really like this kind of research, for I believe that if you build the platform, all else will come.

In the meantime, I really must learn more about these moths of which Joel speaks.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Boss, not that you don't already have one humungous cyber headache, but the second page link on your FCT story seems (to me, at least) to be broken.

Then again, I'm now getting frequent caller points from our help desk.

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | April 13, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

And regarding attaching things to animals for strategic purposes. Let's hope any new applications aren't quite as violent as the legendary "bat-bomb"

You just can't make stuff like this up.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Don, I think we have one of those rare twin-Boodle things going. Couple of posts for you back at the previous Boodle.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 13, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

what is that pool?

Posted by: LALurker | April 13, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the joys of having a geek in the family. She ordered the parts (I paid for them, of course) and put together the deskbottom for the ages. She swears it will be updateable when systems become obsolete. We'll see. I will say the puter works pretty well, and I like it.

New glasses were a huge help in focusing on the monitor.

Posted by: slyness | April 13, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Yes, what is that pool? Looks like a lovely place to swim.

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | April 13, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The pool is from a WaPo article on some Swiss architect guy who won some prize that I can't pronounce.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but bat bombs just strike me as hilarious. Like something cooked up by a James Bond movie villain.

Posted by: Yoki | April 13, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

gwe, it's been cold, but they're not dead yet, so there is hope. :-)

I think putting together a collage or even 1 good picture in a small frame is an excellent idea. When my GSD died, friends gave me a frame with 6 matted snapshots, it's hanging in my den (10 years later). 2 years ago another friend gave me a very small framed photo of Lucia, my first lab, it's precious. A note would also be good, some story that would remind them of some quality.

When I was visiting TBG and you, a strong wind blew down one of the gates to my yard. Several neighborhood kids knocked on the door and told my dogsitter, who hadn't known. She went outside, and Cutter (ancient, creaky, reallllyy old) and Emma (young) were across the street. She called Cutter, Emma came over right away, and Cutter took off in the opposite direction. So she and the little boys chased him. They couldn't believe how fast he was. He'd let them get very close and then take off again. Finally he allowed them to catch him. . . she's promised to remind me of this incident when he passes away. It'll remind me of what a bad dude he is at heart. It's the Bernese Mountain Dog in him.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 13, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Bulletin: Phil Spector found guilty of murder.

Posted by: joelache | April 13, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

That's right! BMD's definitely have that brooding, bad-boy thing down.

Posted by: Yoki | April 13, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I don't know why, but that news comes with a hint of shock.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 13, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

What do you bet AOL News runs a headline, "Beatles Producer Guilty of Murder" or something like that (gasp, not George Martin!!!!!)

And Marilyn Chambers is dead?

What next.

Posted by: joelache | April 13, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

To me, that was a shock of hair, LiT.


Posted by: -bc- | April 13, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

The bat-bombs were relatively sane. For the truly weird, check out the Project Pigeon link at the bottom of the bat-bomb page.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 13, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Good old Skinner. God love him.

Posted by: Yoki | April 13, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Bat bombs. Feh. Bat Boy is my weapon of choice. He found Saddam in that spider hole and what did the nation do? Turned its back.

Posted by: KBoom | April 13, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

On a side note re. Spector, I believe he also produced at least one album with the Ramones.

Doesn't excuse or explain anything the man's been found guilty of, though.

Why do I have a funny feeling he's not going to make it to prison? (No, it's not the hair.)


Posted by: -bc- | April 13, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the Zumthor reminder, RD. I am looking at his work on Google pictures now.

I have several defunct military gnanobots trapped in my small Faraday bell jar. They seemed curiously restless until their glycogen ran out.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 13, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking of tiny nuclear-powered insect and avian minions, but then remembered the Source of Life, the Sun. Can nanotechnology make us little teeny tiny solar panels, possibly with an even teenier storage area (cloudy days) to power our flying forces?

Thanks for the Bat Bomb story, RD. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 13, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

And it took the Army or Marines or whoever had the bat project last, *three years* to figure out it wouldn't fly???

Posted by: nellie4 | April 13, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I admit finding it weird that Marilyn Chambers has died. Having led a sheltered life, I know her work mostly by reputation. (Honestly, I *still* don't know what's behind that green door. ) But hers was a legendary name when I was in elementary school. The name "Marilyn Chambers" for preteen Catholic schoolboys of my generation was something of a taboo. Something forbidden and exciting. A world that we only knew of in whispers.

And, truth be told, we kind of liked it that way.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Ahem. Reposting
(Take that, wilbrod--"next dog", ha!)
From previous boodle...

"**For sale: Used Deaf Gnome
Five years' supply of dog food
Or best steak offer. **"


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 13, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying really, really hard not to say something derogatory about Phil Spector's appearance. It's difficult to keep my mouth shut and fingers off the keys.

Posted by: slyness | April 13, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Y'know, I'd been thinking about cloning and bioengineering and cyborgs and Predator drones and whatnot, and considered the idea that one may not even need to "piggyback" onto amimals as much as build or bioengineer control systems (either hardware, wetware, or a combination) into the final products. For example, if one could develop birds that reliably responded to remote directional or pre-preprogrammed controls (by manipulating long range migration and local navigation inputs for feeding, nesting or mating, perhaps) coupled with implants simply for receiving, recording and transmitting data, you could have a very effective spy device. And during transit, it could be allowed to select and consume whatever the natural foods for that bird/animal would be for fuel, and electricity could be provided for the systems by the motion of the birds' wings.

Short range transmission, to be sure, but quite stealthy, I would think.

And not big enough to mount Hellfire missles, but it would be enough to guide one in, perhaps.

I don't think I'm the only one who's wondering what to say about Marylin Chambers' passing. I suppose she really knows what's on the other side of the Green Door now.

Bon voyage, Ms. Chambers.


Posted by: -bc- | April 13, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

I don't know, there's something that disturbs me about using animals or even insects as spies...I suppose it's not as bad as eating them, but still...

Phil Spector is one weird individual. Based on what I know of the evidence, it seems like the jury came to the right decision.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 13, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey Joel, our local TV news anchor just callled Spector "a former producer of the Beatles." Do I win a mug or something for reporting the first cliche?

Posted by: Yoki | April 13, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

i have studiously avoided following the phil spector case. his appearance is one of a troubled, unseemly individual. i'm glad the trial's over.

Posted by: LALurker | April 13, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Harry Kalas and Marilyn Chambers on the same day. Bat bombs and Phil spector. *sigh* Some days I'm really sorry this is a family newspaper.

Wilbrodog, loved your 6:46 and its original posting.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 13, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only person who has not heard of Marilyn Chambers before today?

Posted by: dmd2 | April 13, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I swear to God, my hand on the bible, I'm not making this up: when I went into the kitchen just now I found a large pizza box from Papa John's that my son and his friends had ordered. On the cover there was a big photo of five men; the center one was a somewhat sweaty guy, in a dirty white sleeveless T-shirt.

Yes. It was a Wolverine pizza.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 13, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Marilyn Chambers:Jenna Jameson::Phil Spector:Timbaland

I don't want gnatobots, I want ornithopters.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 13, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking at some pictures of work done by Zumthor and an very impressed. I love architecture. An good architect manages to solve the pragmatic problem of creating a usable structure in a beautiful way. This type of constrained creativity never fails to dazzle me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

E-baying gnomes is hard
But point's made; much sorries
and pets and kibble.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 13, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

dmd - no shame in not recognizing the name Marilyn Chambers. You were just a wee girl when she was at her height of fame, and probably were whispering about other things on the playground than were we hormonal boys.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

You'll have to tell us what THAT tastes like Mudge...

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | April 13, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Um RD, you are only a couple of years older than I - but I guess you are right - 1972 - I was fixated on the Olympics and Mark Spitz.

Posted by: dmd2 | April 13, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I finally got the first batch of vacation photos up. After one night in Assisi, I decided I could take an entire summer of Umbriage.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 13, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

There is a Zumthor building in the town I lived in in Switzerland. Absolute elegance, in the space as much as the materials, and a very natural palette. Outstanding.

Posted by: Yoki | April 13, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh sure... JA gets a new laptop, and I'm stuck with the ancient desktop in the hotel lobby.

*safe-on-the-ground-in-Beantown-and-off-to-bed Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 13, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, you were right. Those guys on the fantail are really, really good:

Posted by: slyness | April 13, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Not quite off to bed...

Mark Fidrych has also passed on. Two baseball notables and a...

Well, Marilyn wasn't base, that's for sure.

*really-off-to-bed Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 13, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Mark Fidrych I do remember - very sad, and only 54.

Posted by: dmd2 | April 13, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

please confirm

Nats lose to the Phillies by one

so wanted to go to this home opener but forgot about it


ooh, so exciting a game too

i believe that puts the Nats at 0-5

Posted by: omnigood | April 13, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Here is a story to make TBG's day, Eat Greek for a healthy heart!

Posted by: dmd2 | April 13, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Orlando Hudson hits for the cycle in today's home opener at Dodger Stadium. Record breaking attendance and Vin Scully throws out the first pitch. Dodgers win 11-1 over the Giants. Now that's baseball!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | April 13, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Kewl pictures, Yello. I'm glad you shared them and look forward to more! It appears that early spring is a wonderful time to be in Assisi.

Posted by: slyness | April 13, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I saw that about "The Bird" Fidrych, too. [I'm sure I'm not the only one who's picturing that SI cover with him and Sesame Street's Big Bird...]

A tragic trifecta today.


Posted by: -bc- | April 13, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

nice pics, yello.

Posted by: LALurker | April 13, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Indeed - great pics, yello.

You did a good job capturing interesting details, though I wonder what that friar thought of you taking his picture repeatedly.

I mean, he's probably thinking to himself, "It's a rope belt with a robe, what's the big deal?"


Posted by: -bc- | April 13, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

yello, those are great pics (except for the stalking the priest part) and some are outstanding!

Posted by: nellie4 | April 13, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of new laptops, I returned my Mac--just could not take the time to learn a totally different operating system and look for a job and study for a certification and be depressed, all at the same time. What was I thinking? I was pulling out my hair. I couldn't even send an attachment (um, a resume for God's sake) without conversions and this and that. Aggghhhhh. It was that apple image..that's it. I like cool images. Gimme a bite of that apple will ya. But you can keep the core.

So now I have an equally nice Sony Vaio. Cool, smooth white high-imact plastic, not too heavy, nice click sound on the key board. Almost as good graphics. But most importantly...Windows!!! Yeeessss. As my son said... we're Windows lifers.

Posted by: Windy3 | April 14, 2009 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Also Joel, read your article on birds and flying. Flying like a bird is my ultimate dream. Who could happen but probably not in my lifetime.

BTW, yesterday we had a spring snowstorm and I counted 15 robins in my crab apple tree. I had never seen a flock of robins that big. Also had finches, red-wings, pair of blue birds, sparrows and a flicker all at the same time in the same tree. It was a version of Noah's arc/tree for a few hours.

Posted by: Windy3 | April 14, 2009 1:55 AM | Report abuse

"an equally nice Sony Vaio."

*sigh* An oxymoron.

In other news: I have cleared the decks/desk. Tomorrow, I begin and complete the taxes!

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 14, 2009 2:16 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the kind comments on the pictures. As far as taking pictures of the clergy, Assisi is what you might call a target rich environment. It's hard not to get a religious or two in the frame. The two pictures of that one friar (who almost qualifies for Father Whatawaste status) were taken by my wife and I independently, so it wasn't as much a stalking as a group ambush.

My wife is trying to turn me from a PC into a Mac. She even bought me those Apple Store lessons from their "Geniuses" and trust me, the guy that draws the 7 am class is low man on the genius totem pole. For the most part I live in Firefox while on a Mac so it makes little difference what operating system is running underneath.

I despise iPhoto and pray for a Mac release of Photoshop Elements 7. I will only use iTunes after pre-ripping my music with WMP. I am warming up to iMovie and will give it a go for editing my vacation movie (which will be long after I finish sorting my photos) just because the learning curve on Premiere Elements is so steep.

Microsoft has a commercial where the person trying to pick a new computer just mumbles "I guess I'm not cool enough for a Mac." I empathize.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2009 5:09 AM | Report abuse

Good morning you all, and a "quack quack" to you all on this dark and rainy morn.

Tim, I hope you enjoy/like/use Turbo Tax, which is my husband's best friend at tax time.

In keeping with the kit subject of hummingbirds and moths and my own addition of butterflies, it is once again time to consider what to plant on my deck to attract said beauties. Last year I invested in a small butterfly bush which I have repotted and it may in fact have survived the winter. Now, I KNOW they like bright colors, sometimes fragrances, so am considering petunias, mostly because of the trumpet shaped flowers. Actually, I know the hummingbirds like trumpet vines, but that is a little much for a small deck like ours. Also have had limited success with zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, mostly with the butterflies. Any suggestions from the Boodle's green thumbers?

Posted by: VintageLady | April 14, 2009 5:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for reminding me. TurboTax keeps getting easier and easier to use. It's a shame you can't ever become a cabinet member if you use it.

I filed right before my vacation and was totally shocked to get a refund. It has been deposited and I now have enough cash flow to write Merlin their share.

And speaking of cash flow, Through my ATM card I was getting Euros for $1.32 before the five dollar out of network ATM fee and the 1% currency conversion charge. Not a terrible deal. I'll have to compare to the rates I got on the credit cards, which were accepted far fewer places than I expected.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2009 5:33 AM | Report abuse

Wall flowers in flower box, Yello. What is the jeweled fence? Handsome men those friars. Fantastic pics, thanks for sharing....sorry to hear about the credit card not being so popular.... good to know that.

Posted by: VintageLady | April 14, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle and Dawn Patrol. There's coffee in the Ready Room and nodoubt slyness has some country ham biscuits in the oven.

Richard Cohen has finally decided to write an appropriately sarcastic column summarizing the many failures available for study at the Bush Institute for Policy Studies, and Milbank has a fairly dumb column carrying the tired talk-like-a-pirate theme to a White House briefing. And now, without further adieu:

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

April 14, 1528: Panfilo de Narvaez and 400 Spanish settlers land at Tampa Bay. Searching for gold, they walk to Tallahassee, then decide to sail to Mexico. En route, a shipwreck kills all but two, who manage to get to Mexico City in 1536, where they report having seen the soon-to-be legendary gold-paved streets of the Seven Cities of Cibola somewhere in New Mexico (where they had never been).
1912: Nearing the Grand Banks on her maiden voyage, the White Star liner Titanic’s Capt. E.T. Smith receives three radio messages warning of icebergs; a fourth such message is never delivered to him. At 11:40 p.m., a lookout spots an iceberg, which is struck by the ship a few moments later.
1929: Edward A. Link is granted a patent for his electro-mechanical flight simulator, better known as the Link Trainer. Link had been selling variations of his training device for 10 years when he got the patent. By 1939 the Link Trainer was virtually the universal piece of flight instruction equipment, and its progeny are still in use today.

Rainy here, a kind of Eddie Money night. So start your day with that fine tune cootie.

More anon. C'mon, Scotty, Cassandra, let's go. Yoki, you up with us this morning?

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | April 14, 2009 6:08 AM | Report abuse

The jeweled fence was just a little section surrounding the abandoned fort on top of the hill. I have no idea what it's purpose was, I just found it pretty. The camera flash is what made it sparkle.

And here is the much anticipated picture of me beating off some gladiators.

That was taken in Verona. If you go one picture to the right, you can see me wooing Juliet underneath her apocryphal balcony.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2009 6:14 AM | Report abuse

Combining two thoughts, pirates are still celebrated in Tampa at the annual Gasparilla Day festival. It's like Mardi Gras without the class and decorum.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2009 6:17 AM | Report abuse

Since Narvaez made it to Apalachee (Tallahassee and vicinity), you'd think the locals might have been a bit better prepared to fend off Hernando de Soto, who spent an entire winter in central Tallahassee between the Capitol and Florida State, with his army living off of the Apalachee's food stores.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 14, 2009 6:31 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, jkt!

I had a long weekend extended into Monday when we buried a dear friend. I got a long good rest last night and up and industrious this morning. Made a tough but instant decision Sunday morning on a project with which I had invested much time.

We are are slaves to our patterns. I watched a pattern over and over and just came to a conclusion that there were way too many possible bad outcomes with the project. It could easily survive, but odds of it reaching a truly interesting level was lagging and I just didn't see the energy required to expand.

Too much foot shooting and unfortunate decisions. Of course, I only offered best wishes and would provide as much support as possible in the future, but without my energy and minimally valued vision.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 14, 2009 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Dave, so you are trying to tell me that de Soto's entire army could not find the Burger King?

Posted by: russianthistle | April 14, 2009 6:34 AM | Report abuse

I believe that it's open until 2 am and has a ride-thru lane.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 14, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Biscuits on the table in the ready room. You have your choice, country ham or plain, for butter and jelly.

Rain overnight here. The poor forecasters, they can't get anything right. Yesterday there was supposed to be a 100 percent chance of rain, we got a few sprinkles. It was supposed to be clear this morning and isn't. Oh well, I guess I'll ride the exercycle this morning instead of walking.

Posted by: slyness | April 14, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle! 'mudge, I'm reporting. First time in a long time. 'course this also means I am going to work today. I have enjoyed my days off.

Winter is making feeble attempts to reassert itself; we'll have it whupped by the time the weekend rolls around.

Have a good day, everybody.

Posted by: Yoki | April 14, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

"Quack Quack" indeed, VL. A depressing wet morning. And my umbrella committed suicide when I tried to open it. (I told you the morning was depressing.) So I walked to the building cowering beneath a pathetic mass of collapsed aluminum rods and fabric.

Thank goodness for coffee and music to chase those naught blues away.

But it's still a shame about the umbrella.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 14, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Hello and goodbye, just grabbing a biscuit to go. Jubilation in the land over a decision in the senate contest (nonpartisan jubilation over it being "over"), but Coleman insists he'll appeal, and appeal.

Boodle query-Blackberry, i-phone, or other similar device? Some iteration of a qwerty keyboard required-touch screen vs. keys? Discuss please.

Great pictures Yello.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 14, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Nice pics yello, they make me yearn for a warm sunny day. It's been a cold weekend but I've heard Real Spring is on the way.

40 years ago, the National League baseball team formerly known as "Les Expos" won its first home opening game at the parc Jarry against the St-Louis Cards. The sad part is that I remember listening to it on the radio.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 14, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all, start of what will be (if forecasters correct) a fantastic spring week.

Saw this headline today and giggled, Ooops

"Does Facebook fixation lowers grades?"

Posted by: dmd2 | April 14, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Lots of bits of seaweed from the local reef on the beach this morning. Maybe a lot of salad nibbling was going on, leaving table scraps.

Someone's putting up a new house on the beach. Surprisingly, it's one story, steel roof, modest-looking. Not Tuscan, or what passes for Tuscan. Times have changed, perhaps.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 14, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all.

YJ, those are great snaps. I was fortunate enough to have spent some time goofing off in Assisi, home of the founder of the Poor Clares (hi bc), and know the ethereal-yet-very-human [humanity] beauty of the town. (I first saw it pre-97 earthquake, upper Frank church in all it's historic glory). I'm glad the town began to don it's Spring coat for your visit. Just lovely, no?

But I also know the steepness of the streets can't be conveyed in photos; your butt must be in good shape.

Glad you had the time with your lovely wife. Sounds decadent to me. And welcome home (I was out of town myself, otherwise I would have been giving you a pretty hard time for not checking in after a national emergency. Consider yourself thwacked, just for good measure. The kind that stings for a little while.)

Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 14, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Talk like a pirate KID day? This fact part of a breaking news story about how Somali pirates have now hijacked three more ships. *sigh*

The four pirates that attacked the Alabama were between 17 and 19 years old, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

From our local paper, Easter Sunday:

The nationwide ammunition shortage may frustrate South Texas gun enthusiasts, but tight supplies didn't keep at least one smuggling suspect from allegedly trying to satisfy Mexico's drug cartels.

Freddie Farhat, who owns an Eagle Pass clothing store, is in federal custody on ammunition smuggling charges after a vehicle loaded with the contraband crashed March 31 while racing from U.S. customs agents on the international bridge.

Mexican authorities found the smoldering truck laden with 10,400 rounds of .223-caliber rifle ammunition and hundreds of magazine clips that would allow the bullets to be fired from a semiautomatic rifle popular among cartel gunmen, the Colt AR-15.

I heard on local TV news last night that so many people are expected to turn out for the Tax Day Tea Party at the Alamo tomorrow that organizers got permission to use nearby Hemisphere Plaza for the overflow crowd.

Posted by: laloomis | April 14, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, RT, about your friend. These things happen but the sting and slap, followed by long sorrow is particular to each. Take care.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | April 14, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, LiT. I would have posted an all-OK message on the boodle, but I was wifi-less for eight days without an Apple Store in sight.
Assisi is a stair climber's delight. In just one day I started learning which roads had the least elevation change from one point to another.

After walking up the 2000 year old entrance to the Temple of Minerva my wife wondered why if the ancient Romans were such short people they built such steep steps, a comment she would repeat at the Colosseum.

As far as I could tell, the restoration job on Frankie's upper chapel was magnificent. We bought a guidebook that showed some pre- and post-(1997)earthquake and I have no idea how they fit all the pieces back together. Clearly a few areas were irreparable, but it wasn't much.

In Asia where wood is a more common building material many of the older temples have a George Washington's ax feel to them as they get frequently renovated/rebuilt/repainted. In Europe it's amazing that the same bricks and pigments have been there for hundreds or thousands of years.

My wife is ready to load a bunch of books onto a Kindle, rent a house in Umbria for the summer and just hang out. I have no idea if those plans include me or not.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

And as a follow-up to the currency conversion options, my BoA Visa card was converting at $1.347 to the euro with a 3% transaction fee. AmEx, which was even harder to use, used a flat $1.3762 to the euro, which came out just a little ahead of the Visa when all things were considered. The break-even point on ATM cash versus credit card purchase is left as an exercise to the boodler.

The real bargain was the brief interlude at Heathrow where Amex was giving $1.515 to the pound. That still made a grande espresso frappacino $4.22 net.

Said over-priced highly-caffeinated milkshake nearly caused an international incident when the frustratingly polite British Airways gate crew wouldn't let me take it onto the 'coach' from the gate to the plane. I am sure my Ugly American snit had nothing to with me being selected for a random pat-down search.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

laloomis, I think Africa has the majority of child soldiers in today's world, but they certainly aren't the only ones who go that route. However 17 to 19 year olds aren't considered children; indeed, that's the age bracket of the boys we send to do our fighting.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 14, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

SCC: I am sure my Ugly American Snit had nothing to do with me being selected for a random pat-down search.

Even the security guards in England are overly courteous. It was the nicest frisking I have ever had.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Kudos on cutting your losses. Disentangling yourself from unproductive activities you are highly invested in can be quite difficult.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

VintageLady, try pineapple sage. Beautiful foliage, smells heavenly, and they throw a spray of crocosmia-looking red flowers that the butterflies in my garden just love. I usually plant at least half a dozen.

As do it. Lovely in the garden or mixed in a fresh cut bouquet.

Craigslist just had a free listing here for free red worms (a shovelfull of them along with some bunny poop mixed in). Hope I replied in time!

Posted by: -dbG- | April 14, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Red worms and bunny poop.

I was just about to ask about today's virtual lunch, but changed my mind.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 14, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

SCC: As do I.

Changed sentence order around. I love them as much as the butterflies.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 14, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Your wife would like them, mudge!

We'll just do virtual lunch someplace far, far away from NE Philadelphia.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 14, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) looks quite a lot like scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea), which is native to coasts, evidently all the way from South Carolina to Paraguay. A bunch of self-seeded ones are putting on a show in the yard. Low-key compared to impatiens or heliconias but nice anyway.

Orlando's under a severe thunderstorm warning. Not a good morning for those who might have shown up at the theme parks.

I've enjoyed using British Airways, not least because upon arrival at Gatwick, the plane disgorges very few non-Britons, making entry into the UK quicker. Why does re-entry to the US have to be more of an undertaking than arriving at foreign countries?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 14, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: -dbG- | April 14, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

That's exactly what I'm afraid of, dbG.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 14, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

And I don't want to change my honey-do list to my bunny poo list.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 14, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, you almost made me want to compose a menu in French for mulch.

Just think of crispy, fresh, clean food instead.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 14, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Just wanted to check in, can't stay long. I hope the Easter weekend was enjoyable for all. I ate too much, and stayed up too long. I entered the church on Sunday at five thirty, and didn't leave until that afternoon.

Sorry Mudge, but missed Dawn Patrol. I think getting ready for school during the week has hampered my efforts on the Dawn Patrol. I'm going to do better. Slyness, Yoki, Scotty, Martooni, and everyone here, have a wonderful day.*waving*

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 14, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, you mean something on the order of:

residus d'lapin avec vers rouge at déchiqueté écore d'arbre?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 14, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. Thank you for the pictures, yellojkt. I love the "architecture" shots but also like the views of daily life: loved the pants.

I can package bunny poo (mixed with cat litter) for anyone who wants it. Just hope the package doesn't break open in the mail.

I am home again today. I took Mucinix yesterday and it worked so well I'm doing it again today; I feel if I give this illness at least a couple of good days it should go away. I have no interest in seeing it hang on through the weekend. Just me, hanging out with the rabbit.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 14, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

La Môm du Ivan avec le lapin binque.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 14, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Something like that, Mudge.

Onna stick.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 14, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

SĆĆ: La Môm du Ivan avec le snôt majeste et le lapin binque.

Allez mieux, s'il vous plait.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | April 14, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I would rather not have bunny poo or lapin in sauce on on a stick.

Instead, I am serving special egg salad sandwiches, in pita or on ciabatta: you choose.

And, sorry; no more candy in the house. So, you will have to ask BC or somebunny else for their stash of Cadbury creme eggs.

Peeps! Not for eating. But, I need to make one as Aristotle for my students.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | April 14, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: Yoki | April 14, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse


The interesting part of the drying pants pictures is that they are hanging from a wall that was part of an original Roman amphitheater.

It is now unrecognizable as such except for a few minor details. The amphitheater is oval and the 'new' (still hundreds of years old) homes follow the terracing of the amphitheater in an elliptical layout. Only from above is the pattern really noticeable.

The amphitheater also doubled as the Roman public laundry and the original washing basins are still there.

About everything in Italy was built either before 400 AD or after 1200 AD. I'm becoming convinced that the Dark Ages were far darker than I ever imagined.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Ha, Mudge.

I love egg salad! Maybe with my sick time today - since I have to be vertical enough for the Mucinix to work - I'll dress up some Peeps.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 14, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

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