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A Farmer's Work Is Never Done

Got the corn in. And the mayters. Didn't quite get the beans planted before the deluge. But I can survey my work and feel a great sense of satisfaction from knowing that from the earth I shall wrest my daily bread. As a farmer, a man of the soil, I am one with the rhythms of nature, and have been known to plant my seed with swaying hips. I can smell rain a week away and by finger-feel measure the PH of my soil. I am a friend of the worms that till my dirt, and have chosen one, Jasper, a cute little fella if perhaps a bit dirty and slimy, to be my sole heir. Someday it'll be just the two of us, a farmer and his worm, retired from our toil, looking back wistfully upon all the incredible clods we once knew. And the mud. Certain memorable grubs. What stories we'll tell!

Spring is the season when we hope to impose order upon nature, to regulate life, to shape it to pleasurable dimensions. Summer is the season when our labor is exposed as farce. By the middle of June the aspirational nature of gardening will come to an end, and our goals will become largely herbicidal.

My estate is sadly occupied by weed seeds numbering in the trillions and just now awakening from their long slumber. I have vines so rambunctious they have been known to snatch a trowel right out of my hand.

As the quaint planting of spring gives way to the killing season of summer, we must contemplate the larger truth: That our lives, as human beings, hang by a thread, especially those of us who are beyond the age of 35 and, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, have no business still being alive. A million years of evolution have benefited the young; the rest of us are rounding errors.

Our precious immune system becomes a potentially lethal agent in the aging heart. Our brains are awash in chemicals telling us to eat more fatty foods, but these chemicals never anticipated the existence of a middle-aged body. The brilliant trick of cell division increasingly turns into a life-threatening hazard.

From this we can draw an even more dismal conclusion: At some point, life itself is our enemy. Life wants us dead. The sooner the better.

We don't have to worry about homicidal cyborgs from the future coming back to kill us: We are auto-destructive.

The only sure way to prolong life, the only proven way, is caloric restriction. Food is death. Also most beverages. Also oxygen. That's about one part in five of the Earth's atmosphere, and it will rip your cells from limb to limb. Sunshine is another killer. And water: A universal solvent.

So why do we persist against such daunting odds? Because maybe this year we will finally get on top of cruel nature and bend it to our will. Maybe this is the year the corn won't blow over in a windstorm. Maybe this is the year our tomato plants won't get that damn fungus.

You have to believe in the future. You have to believe in life. It's delusional, but the alternative is worse.

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 26, 2009; 8:03 AM ET
Categories:  Gardening  
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Next: Sotomayor: Not Lost in the Meritocracy


JA- "on top of cruel nature" not "top off" perhaps? Keep the garden kits coming.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I must point out that "One man's weed ..."

Posted by: russianthistle | May 26, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

By the way, my side yard (a luxury item in this area) is overrun by wild strawberries. I am hoping to put up signs on the roadside to encourage passers by to drive down the road to my spread and pick them. I am hoping to get paid $30 per ounce.

Aren't they the caviar of fruit?

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

You're growing bread?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

RT, you likely have Indian strawberries, a little weedy thing with faux berries. They are real, actually, but don't taste like the caviar of s-berries: fraises des bois

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 26, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. Cassandra, sending you good wishes for a fine day.

When I was a kid and lived in Switzerland, we used to pick alpine strawberries. I will never forget the flavour.

Joel, I love the last paragraph of this Kit.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

In my experience, particularly in the DC area, if the wind doesn't get the corn, the squirrels or raccoons will. Even a bumper crop of tomatoes comes with the problem of still having a bunch of tennis ball sized green orbs on the vine long past the time you can expect them to ripen. It is kind of fun to find a ripe cherry tomato around Thanksgiving, which is possible if you aren't too concerned with tidying up in early fall.

In the frozen north, where I hope we are frost free until some time in late August-

Planted snow peas yesterday. Probably could have done almost a month ago since they'll take a bit of frost, but the soil in their spot was pretty unworkable until two weeks ago, then I forgot. I'd keep a schedule, but then gardening would be too much like work. Also started a new compost pile- a serious get-it-cooking type compost pile. Mr. F has become a bit impatient with waiting a couple years for compost, as has been my practice with the wire bins behind the garage.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

frosty, you just turn those green tamaters into green tomatoe pickles. And somewhere, in the deep recipe archive, I have a recipe for green tomatoe pie. They say it tastes like apple pie.

Up here it is still too chilly in my very shaded soil to plant. Next weekend. But weeds? I got weeds. Lots and lots of weeds. And stray grass. I'm considering mowing in places I really didn't want to mow.

Posted by: --dr-- | May 26, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Morning Al!

Family arrived early Saturday and left at 6:00 p.m. yesterday. Sorry to have been among the missing here. Hope your kitty feels better soon, Scotty.

On the gardening front: the pole beans Raysdad planted two weeks ago hadn't sprouted, so I replanted yesterday. Also got my brother to help me prune our forsythia. After a couple of years of just having little haircuts, the thing needed some big-time thinning.

Off to meetings.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 26, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, CqP, it is refreshing to be reminded that I lack a well rounded sense of humor or at least the ability to be funny.

This spring has our yard with much more "cover" than last, although I fear that, if I were to kill the weeds I would be back to last year.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 26, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

All that garlic mustard is turning me herbicidal. 10 years ago I haven't seen a single one yet. Now we're covered by the pest ditches to ditches.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 26, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Hey RT, did not mean it in a trumping way. A neighbor last week showed me her little patch of cute red berries saying that they did not taste like anything special...I had her in mind.

Should have included this:


Out to dig in the soft soil and heel some hostas in a nursery bed.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 26, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

*Idley wondering how many female Boodlers read the phrase "and have been known to plant my seed with swaying hips" and immediately went into an attack of vapors requiring smelling salts and a period of rest on the fainting couch*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I've always said that life is invariably fatal.

And with that, I'm concerned that my tomatoes will end up overwatered due to all of this rain we've been having.

For those looking to deconstruct humor, look no further than this Kit to see how conversational writing can be a springboard for comedy and commentary -- seeds are planted and the garden tended, allowing for short pieces to be effective on several levels.

So, I was talking with a friend this morning and am considering starting a pool on when the cascade of anti-Sotomayor commentary will begin on the Boodle. I have my money on 11:00 AM, but wouldn't be surprised at all if it started earlier.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

An interesting piece from Salon:

"Do today's kids have "nature-deficit disorder"?

A new book argues that children desperately need to be able to play in the woods -- and that our culture's sterile rejection of nature is harming them in body and soul.

by Sarah Karnasiewicz

"In the not-so-distant past, kids ruled the country's woods and valleys -- running in packs, building secret forts and treehouses, hunting frogs and fish, playing hide-and-seek behind tall grasses. But in the last 30 years, says journalist Richard Louv, children of the digital age have become increasingly alienated from the natural world, with disastrous implications, not only for their physical fitness, but also for their long-term mental and spiritual heath.

In his new book, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder," Louv argues that sensationalist media coverage and paranoid parents have literally "scared children straight out of the woods and fields," while promoting a litigious culture of fear that favors "safe" regimented sports over imaginative play. Well-meaning elementary school curricula may teach students everything there is to know about the Amazon rain forest's endangered species, but do little to encourage kids' personal relationship with the world outside their own doors. And advances in technology, while opening up a wealth of "virtual" experiences to the young, have made it easier and easier for children to spend less time outside."

Full piece:


Goodness knows, we on the Boodle are a pretty outdoorsy bunch, from gardening to horseback-riding to hiking and camping, to sailing/boating, to fishing, etc., whether past or present. I daresay anyone of us could go for a tramp in the woods (not talking about jumping a hobo here) and not bat an eyelash. Yet the article raises a good point about the younger generation (s). I myself spent 10 years in Cub/Boy/Explorer Scouts, yet I'm not sure at least two of my own children could go 24 hours in the woods without freaking out. Dottir #3, in particular, would freak over breaking a nail and the lack of sushi. Dottir #2 would immediately go looking for a bear in hopes of taming it and taking it home. Dottir #1 would complain about lack of upscale shopping opportunities. (Yet all three were prodigious softball players, not especially girly girls.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Mudge - I was trying to ignore that line, knowing that JA was probably chortling to himself as he wrote it.

And probably not idly.

I guess he's been plowing the fields at night as well as doing the planting, one short step at a time. Lord only knows what the neighbors must think.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Here's my prediction, bc... if you poll Americans even next Monday, a vast majority will think that Sonia Sotomayer is the name of the octomom.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 26, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Wild "strawberry" = Duchesnea indica, if I remember correctly.

Achenblog isn't on the front page at the moment, so the firehose of invective against Sotomayor should be aimed at other spots, at least for a while. She seems an impressive nominee, not that others on the mentioning list weren't. I guess the yapping dogs will be carrying on about the precise wording of the laws.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 26, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Octomon, TBG, didja hear this morning that Mel Gibson's girlfriend is preggers? That'll be his eight child. Time for that guy to get a little vas work done, or what? He needs to get his knickers in a twist, if not a good slip knot.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

One also notes that the next Supreme Court Justice is a Princeton grad. Is this the Joel influence on the administration???

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Thinking of Control of Nature (in the Achenbach, not McPhee sense), the household gardens of western Japan are marvels. Perfect vegetables in perfect rows, a persimmon tree if space permits, and no weeds at all. Totally unlike, say, a community garden in Portland, Oregon, which will look disorderly if not chaotic.

I haven't tried vegetables. And I'm regretting not leaving the last new bed fallow for a year of herbicide treatments. Bermuda grass is persisting, along with several other hard-to-remove weeds.

Elsewhere in the yard, rain lilies (Zephyranthes or some similar genus) and Easter lilies are flowering. Caladiums are looking good. Begonia cuttings have rooted.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 26, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Holy cow, just read this about Sotomayor [second sentence being key]: "She was confirmed the following year, becoming the first Hispanic federal judge in New York. On the court, her most memorable decision was ending the 1994 Major League Baseball strike in a decision that sided with the players against the owners."

Well, I just gotta be madly in love with her now. I worship the certiorari she walks on.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

As I began reading this kit I initially wondered exactly what Joel has been growing in that garden of his and how he avoids detection from overhead surveillance. But then, as always, I saw the larger meaning behind his words.

Part of gardening truly is the wishful thinking of the slow learner. For example, I just received a phone call from my wife informing me that the cantaloupe seedlings my daughter and I had just planted have mysteriously dissapeared. You know, I protect the ‘maters from varmints with high-quality chicken wire, but I have never before had trouble with melons. (Things must be hard all over.) So now I need to scour local nurseries for cantaloupe seedlings. And so it goes.

Yet, for me, gardening, and yard work as a whole, offer benefits far beyond an opportunity for irrational optimism. Taking care of the familial estate provides a salient sense of accomplishment, if only for a short time. Although my mind may be filled with many pesky and fundamentally unsolvable problems, I can suppress them when digging holes for blueberry bushes, or while hauling out the desiccated remnants of a past shrubbery planting gone terribly wrong. And when completed one can stand in the fading light, gaze proudly at the order brought from chaos, and declare it Good.

This is a primordial form of solace. I imagine early men distracting themselves from their likely destiny as tiger food by arranging pretty pieces of feldspar in front of their caves just so.

I mean, I spent the larger portion of this long weekend fixing up the homestead. In a way, this could be viewed as a lost opportunity for relaxation. But what it lacked in sunbathing and adult beverages with wee little umbrellas, it made up for in the suppression of existential angst.

At least until I learned that bit about the cantaloupe.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

If I didn't know better, I would think that Joel had been reading Lewis Thomas' memoir, "The Fragile Species." Or some such.

As far as the Wanlesses, I found this article that shows the Florida one is a Junior. No mention from DotC, that they might be related--given that they're both Harold R.'s.

"The Florida Keys, tiny islands just a few feet above sea level, are the most vulnerable. Since 1930, the ocean has risen about nine inches around Key West, says Harold Wanless Jr., a geologist with the University of Miami."

Which, after pushing the science aside for a moment, makes me sad. Why? Because reporter Dana Bierber conducted an interview (audio link in link below) with the wife and eledest daughter of Wyoming geologist J. David Love. Daughter Frances said her dad was gone about nine days out of ten and she hardly knew her father while growing up. Frances said that David Love didn't know what to do with his daughters. The geologist, would, however, take his two sons out on geology field trips as time allowed, but not the two daughters. The Love daughters became academics in French and women's studies, respectively--but not geology.

Posted by: laloomis | May 26, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Mudge... sided with workers against owners? How will she ever fit in at the Roberts court?

Posted by: russianthistle | May 26, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

RD, I can sympathize with the varmint problems.

I was over my Mom's yesterday and walked around her gardens. I was appalled at the state of her hostas, which look like they've been mowed.

"Oh, dear," said I.

"Yup," Mom said.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Yes RD padouk, things must be getting harder all the time for the various pest infesting our lot. Last year, for the first time, squirrels damaged the pumpkins and gourds by gwawing the hard shell to get at the seeds. They had never done that before. So either squirrel life is getting harder just because of the incredible number of them on the lot and around it or they have learned that pumpkins contain seed.
One good thing: the Very Large Puppy seem to have squashed the "groundhog insurgency" on a permanent basis. He would be dog to Errol's liking as he hates groundhogs with a passion.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 26, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"How are you, my dear? Does your garden need rototilling?" I had, all unknowingly, invented one of the best pickup lines ever. Alas, I am not fast on my feet, and when I saw I had intrigued her, and in a flash understood I had made a doable entendre, I faltered. The fish was off the hook!

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Good morning! I only wish I resembled this Kit. I am not yet to the point of satisfaction at Getting the Garden In, anticipating Watching the Garden Thrive, and the crushing defeat of Seeing the Garden Disappear. No, I've just, finally, weeded and raked enough that perhaps this coming weekend I can finally plant something. It is getting a little late here for tomatoes but I'll plant them nonetheless, along with whatever other vegetables and herbs I can find in already-growing plant form at the Store of Broken Horticultural Dreams.

However, hope springs eternal. Mint and rosemary were the clear winners in the herb garden overwintering contest this year, along with some oregano. In addition, I am thrilled to report that two sprigs of parsley have showed up from somewhere, along with a handful of chives. I take this as a Sign of Approval from the Gardening Overlords.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 26, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I came to conclusion that the birds and the squirrels had been ordering up a number of "white papers" on attacking my last serious garden.

I was that close to getting motion detecting squirters ... If I invest time these days, it would be under bird nets.

I swear that they are "teching up!"

If you go out really late at night you might see that the squirrels are now armed with little tri-quarters.

I had to set my hose to stun.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 26, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

We have a community garden a few turns away from our house --maybe two miles away. Not unreachable, but I know I would never think of going to tend it until after dark, when the gate is closed. Sadly, we are not permitted vegetable gardens in our yards in Columbia. Someone recently has tried to tell me otherwise, implying that my back yard could become a hotbed of time- and emotion-consuming gardening, but, as I say, SADLY I am NOT PERMITTED a vegetable garden in my yard, and so I MAY NOT have the primeval joy of SWEATING ALL SUMMER to grow a single damn inedible CUCUMBER. If you catch my drift.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Does your garden need rototilling?"???? Oh, Jumper, you saucy minx, you.

How about:

"Would you like me to crop-dust your soy bean field?"

"I hope you're not letting your South 40 lie fallow."

"Wow, what wonderful melons!"

"Want to see all the wheat in my silo?"

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

How can one not believe in life, considering that we evolved from bacteria and quite possibly viruses or a combination (given the recent news about the British scientist finding quite possibly the right recipe for RNA to replicate life)--we now possessing upright gait, opposable thumbs, large brains--if only we'd use them half the time.

I was so *happy* this weekend to have found a visual of a camel family tree!

But this morning, I am handling a used book that I bought just as the neighborhood Half-Priced Books bookstore was about to close last night, to find that the binding is starting to break away from the spine, just around the area of the title page. Anyone have any tried-and-true method (and not damaging) method or glue for reattaching the binding to the spine, so that the glue doesn't soak into the pages and the spine is held (properly reattached) to the binding? Taking the book to a professional to fix isn't worth it, given its sale price was about $6.50.

*giving a gentle open-palm slap to my forehead for not thinking about McPhee's "Control of Nature"*

This is what Marie, the she-geologist whom I met at Stonewall's Becker Vineyard's 11th Lavender Fest last weekend, wrote about her recommendation of McPhee's three-parter:

"And of course I had 15 glasses of wine...well maybe only 3 but whatever, so
I can't remember if I told you about his book The Control of Nature--to me it is by far his most interesting--it is a series of 3 shorter essays about 'control of nature' being a 3-word oxymoron. Some of the stuff in there about the Achafalaya (sp?) River trying to take over the Great Mississip' is very interesting and quite prophetic, talking about hurricanes."

Since Saturday, May 16, our backyard has received 3.9 inches of rain. Huge, explosive cracks of thunder and heavy downpours around 1 a.m. this morning. *Extremely* good news since everything is now quite lush before the kickoff of what is sure to be a long, hot (dry?) summer.

Posted by: laloomis | May 26, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom-Mint! Oh my. When we first moved into our NoVA house, new construction in a new development, with topsoil scraped off and all that horrible clay I looked quite deliberately for plants that were reviewed with words like "spreads aggressively" and "can be invasive." Lets just say I'm glad mint smells good when you mow it.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

A gardening kit and I have to go out again, sigh.

Jumper, the book Last Child in the Woods, was pretty much the foundation for that last company I worked for.

I can relate on the vines Joel, I have a wisteria that is about 15-20 years old, right now it is a mass of 1.5 foot long long lavender blooms cascading down from the pergola, in a few short days it will be a jungle of greenery that will require severe cutting back if we wish to continue to use the back door to the yard. It is right next to a Virgina creeper that must also be contained - don't even get me started on weeds, somewhere amongst those weeds I have a lawn - I think.

Have a great afternoon all.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 26, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

We have varmint problems in our garden too.

The rabbits really seem to love peppers, any kind of peppers. We came out one day and wondered if someone had cut the pepper plants. There was nothing left but stalks with clean cuts. No leaves, no nothing, just stalks.

They didn't touch anything else in the garden. We had tomatoes, melons, squash, eggplant, and a few different herbs.

We had chicken wire surrounding the garden, but they found a way under it.

Before the break-in, we would see the rabbits in a semi-circle outside the garden in the evenings. I'm fairly certain they were checking for ripeness and planning the heist.

This happened a couple of seasons ago. I thought it was quite funny, but Mr. Moose has not yet recovered.

Posted by: Moose13 | May 26, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, sorry, but your reference reminded me of scene from "Witness."

Posted by: russianthistle | May 26, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

ScienceTim - no gardening? That there's Commie talk! What this calls for is a good ol' fashioned storming o' the castle. So gather up your pitchforks and follow me!!

Wait. You probably don't have any pitchforks because you are not permitted to garden.

Suddenly the true depth of the evil becomes clear.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Mink, Mudge, mink. No 'x's. Well, one. But it's got a 'y' attached.

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

Glad Obama picked a woman for the Supremes. As Maher said recently, it's about time the Supreme Court stopped looking like the Whiffenpoof Club.

To the tables down at Mory's
To the place where Louie dwells
To the dear old Temple bar we love so well
Sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled with their glasses raised on high
And the magic of their singing casts its spell

Yes, the magic of their singing of the songs we love so well
"Shall I Wasting" and "Mavourneen" and the rest
We will serenade our Louie while life and voice shall last
Then we'll pass and be forgotten with the rest

We're poor little lambs who have lost our way
Baa, baa, baa
We're little black sheep who have gone astray
Baa, baa, baa

Gentleman songsters off on a spree
Doomed from here to eternity
Lord have mercy on such as we
Baa, baa, baa

Posted by: laloomis | May 26, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Who's the varmint in the garden,
Why'd it rain on my parade?
Bugs in the silo,
Worms in the corn,
Working hard or working harder,
Never sitting in the shade.
This ol farm just makes me low,
Wishin' I'd ne'er been born.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I have also decided to try my hand at an indoor herb garden grown from seed (so I can take it with me in the event I must move).

I have oregano, mint, flat-leaf parsley, lavender, majoram, thyme, rosemary, garlic chives, and regular chives.

The dill sprouted, but faded soon thereafter. Otheriwse, everything looks good.

I usually kill plants (Mr. Moose is the gardener), so I'm shocked that anything is growing at all. Maybe I'm on the road to redemption.

Posted by: Moose13 | May 26, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: russianthistle | May 26, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I generally like most of Chris Cillizza's stuff, but his hip-pocket analysis of the Sotomayor pick is pretty much crap-- an amalgam of obvious observations combined a couple of "heightened" special effects, such as the notion that this pick demonstrates some sort of self-confidence. That self-confidence part of it is pure crap. It assumes that if Obama had lacked said confidence, he might have picked someone else, presumably someone "safer." But given the present climate, there ain't no such pick. Q.E.D. Any one of the handful of picks on his short list would have elicited the same reaction and observations.

Cillizza has no particular need to explain to us morons what this pick "means." It means there is an impending vacanacy on the court, and Obama picked somebody. The pop psychology we can do without.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

laloomis, you need to invest in this book:

written by a friend of mine, with her neighbor (the neighbor is the one with the know-how; Louisa is the one who can write).

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

A fun kit, Joel. I stick to flower or tree gardening. We have had so much rain out here in Colorado Jasper's cousins are almost catatonic. But the birds love this weather as do the flowers and trees.

I'm waiting for my 12th tree to arrive for planting today in my back yard (numbers 13-16 are in the front yard.) My husband wasn't too happy about this purchase. But then he grew up here in this high altitude that produces mostly puny trees unless you wait a hundred years or so. I am simply speeding up the process. But this is the last back yard tree. Really. I swear it.

Posted by: Windy3 | May 26, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

You can't have too much trees Windy. When Mrs. D saw me pot a small Norway spruce (I hope it's a Norway anyway) I found in a flower bed last weekend she hasked me where I thought I could plant it. There is plenty of room I said, which is true, we have almost an acre and a half. She kept her sceptic tone and pointed some, maybe 12, trees I planted in the past couple of years... Almost all are "finds" like the little Norway but I also bought a couple (a black pine, a yellow birch and a tamarack). Of the "finds", I am escpecially prouds of 2 Bur Oaks, one ironwood (strya virginiana) and a Red Oak that is now about 7 in. in diameter at the base and 25 feet high.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 26, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

SCC ostrya virginiana. There are so many ironwoods. And typos. *sigh*

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 26, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I'm glad to see that you are a Friend of the Worms, but I think you're giving Jasper a bad rap.
In my experience, earthworms are not slimy, just wiggly (unless you squash one, of course).
I could talk more about gardening in eastern Washington State -- lots of sunshine but not much water -- but I'll spare you.

Posted by: RMBinGoldendale | May 26, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I dipped my toes in the comments about Judge/Justice Sotomayor. Apart from the usual clattrap about the poor white males who can't get a break there is a surprisingly large amount of (extremely) negative comments about her being the SIXTH Catholic on the bench.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 26, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Yannow... I hope Jasper didn't see the discussion yesterday about the diet of worms.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 26, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse


yello, yello, yello. You gotta get that Weingarten thing unstuck from your craw, man. (referencing the "Fo, MA" comment at the end of Weingarten's chat). It's not doing you any good, and irritated humans rarely produce a pearl.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, where I come from "crop-dusting" is *not* a romantic metaphor.

At best it could be considered an unpleasant practical joke, at worst, an out-and-out room-clearing insult.

But it depends on where you're coming from, I suppose.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I think Ralph Nader would make a fine addition to the bench.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, bc, you may be right. I'm gonna drop that one from my list of Top 10 pickup lines. Mayne that's why I haven't been having much success lately. Thanks for the tip.

Cary Grant didn't much like it in North by Northwest, either. I shoulda picked up on that earlier.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

It's time for my semi-annual responsible worm disposal reminder. Don't dump those fishin' worms just anywhere, lest you destroy the great northern boreal forest.

The red wiggler worms we have eating our veggie garbage at the after school program seem to be pretty happy and aren't slimy either as RMB notes. A few weeks away from harvesting our first worm castings but we have hope that they will reproduce to the point where we can market our organic fertilizer locally by next summer.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious; which book(s) did you choose for your 7th grader?

When I taught American history to inner city kids, we read Out of the Dust so that they could get a look at the Dust Bowl. On the Friday before Memorial Day I brought in tons of poppies from my garden and read the Memorial Day section aloud to them as well as the Flanders Field poem and some other poems from various wars.

They marveled at the silkiness of the flowers and they couldn't quite believe that they were real living things.

I believe that they made real connections to the significance of the day.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 26, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Do you really want a Midnight update?? *SIGHHHH*

He was still lethargic and requiring "assisted eating" when I visited this morning. The internist vet shares the earlier attending physicians' worries about possible diabetes, but we'll see what an ultrasound and more detailed blood work reveal.


'Mudge, bc, never fear -- if neither of you had mentioned the "swaying hips" line, you know I had yer back.

So to speak.

*rather-belated-but-I've-been-kinda-distracted-doncha-know Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 26, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

s'nuke- that could be good news, feline diabetes is very treatable. One of the vets at the practice where we take the frostcats has a diabetic cat that's been on insulin for years. His wife, not a vet, manages the meds and home testing.

Maggie- haven't made final selections yet, as the young lady will be have a choice. She will be choosing from- _The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963_ (one of my personal favorites of all time), _The Midwife's Apprentice_, The Giver_, and a nonfiction book to be named next week.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

here's a summer internship opportunity for you-

Posted by: DNA_Girl | May 26, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse


Moosecat sends her best wishes to Midnight and so do I.

Posted by: Moose13 | May 26, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

No matter the reason Fo, Ma posted (wasn't me :-) didn't read until Tim posted), the question was polite and appropriate. Perhaps the answer changed Fo, Ma's mind in some way?

So who was Fairfax, and was anyone Tralfamad, Ore?

Posted by: -dbG- | May 26, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

By irritated human, I meant to refer to having a Weingarten stuck in one's craw, so that one's "craw" produces a shiny pearl. Works in oysters, less so in humans. Although, one hears stories...

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Well, as long as we're talking gems . . . :-)

Posted by: -dbG- | May 26, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Frosty and Maggie, you may already know this, but in case you don't: in the Flanders Fields poem, the reference is made to the poppies. In America poppies are generally either white or yellow. But in France they are red. So the meaning of the line is to suggest a field scattered with drops of (red) blood. If you only think of it as a field of white or yellow poppies, you miss the visual point of the line and the poem. It's a field of soldiers' blood. This should be pointed out to any students asked to read the poem, as they will surely not know the color of French poppies.

You may also want to mention that before it became called "Veterans Day," the holiday was called "Decoration Day," so-called because people (most especially veterans) wore a "decoration" in their lapels for remembrance, and this was always a poppy. But in America they wore white or yellow poppies on Decoration Day (because that's what we had here, and nobody understood the difference or the intended symbolism).

When I was a kid, my grandfather always wore a poppie on Decoration Day (which was also called "Armistice Day" interchangeably). Veterans (usually of WWI, though I guess some were WWII) would sell them on streetcorners.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Dust Bowl? Did someone mention "Dust Bowl?"

One of my guilty pleasures yesterday afternoon was buying the hot-off-the presses book "West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders and Killers in the Golden State," a series of essays about contemporary California by Turkish-American, or Turkish-Californian, Mark Arax. The title is a rif on a sentence once uttered by Teddy Rossevelt, who said that when he was in California, he was "west of the West."

I'll admit that this is the second book that I own by Arax, the earlier one titled "The King of California." I'll also admit that I have yet to read the first and I bought it because in "King" Arax mentions the Wegis farming family. When I graduated Bakersfield High School, I was voted most artistic female senior; Tony Wegis was voted most artistic male senior.

I skimmed Arax's essays and their titles yesterday, but dwelled on one of the latter ones in particular, "The Last Okie of Lamont." Arax's grandfather, fresh from Istanbul and arriving at his cousin's in Fresno, was quickly dispatched to Weedpatch, southeast of Bakersfield. Weedpatch is between Lamont and Arvin, The essay tells the story of Earl Shelton, who arrived in Lamont as a kid.

Here's an excerpt (because if you've got a garden, someone's gotta tend it):

He arrived in Lamont with no mother and a drunken father and lived twelve years at the government camp on the outskirts of town--the labor camp John Steinbeck immortalized in "Grapes of Wrath." The community hall, the library, and the post office still stood in the same spot, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Earl stood there too, Okie relic, surrounded by families from Michoacan, and Jalisco and Oaxaca. They were digging their knees into the same farm fields where he had picked cotton and unearthed potatoes some sixty-five years ago. Up and down Weedpatch Highway, as it shot through town, there was no other way for Earl to put it. Mexico had come north. Holy Roller white churches had turned to Holy Roller brown. Tops Cafe was no longer serving chicken fried steak. It was now the El Pueblo. He and Norma had to find another place to shop after Bibey's Market became the Maricos Las Islitas pool hall. No place in California had been more thoroughly emptied and restocked than Lamont. Once back then. A second time now. And so it became the province of the town's last Okie to remind people of the rhythms of the West, how the shifts never ended, how one migration simply became the next, a passing in the big night. "We crossed the Colorado, and they crossed the Rio Grande" is how Earl put it. "Other than that, I don't see much difference."

Posted by: laloomis | May 26, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

In California, the state flower is a poppy--and it's orange, bright orange.

I'd give $5 for every time my dad plopped us down in poppy fields in the foothills to take pictures.

Posted by: laloomis | May 26, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

All I can hear is Margaret Hamilton's "Poppies!"

Posted by: -TBG- | May 26, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised, Mudge. I thought all poppies were mainly red. Certainly the ones around here are - red or pink. I've seen a handful of white poppies, maybe, but no yellow.

Of course, with all our red dirt it is surprising that flowers are any other color. See, flowers have to come up through the ground, and the ground is red, see, so the flowers - oh, never mind.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 26, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

TBG, :-) & good news on the car and Athena's job!

Giving no quarter to CqP on the Sudoku challenge, I'm posting my results from today. Sadly, this will probably be the only occasion where my scores are the ones to beat--true now because they're the only ones posted so far.

Is this to be a tiara competition or the kind of score posting we generally do? Do you all work with or without hints? Happy to do either, although the mega may take more than a day for me, here and there, without.

With hints:
Mini Sudoku ***: 00:29
Daily Sudoku **: 01:46
Mega Sudoku *: 07:46

Posted by: -dbG- | May 26, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, of course I know the history (and colors) of poppies' significance. The poppies I brought to school were a bright red, and we made the connection to the blood drops. I well remember American Legion members selling red plastic poppies on Decoration Day. It was a disgrace to not have one in a man's lapel in my neighborhood. Remember, you're my senior by only 3 weeks!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 26, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

When I was a child, "Decoration Day" was the day we went to the cemetery and cleaned and "decorated" the graves ---

Posted by: nellie4 | May 26, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and if you want to do your own hints (notations), shall we assume you do them by hand and your own brain instead of using the manual hinting available?

Have I just sucked all the fun out of this?

Posted by: -dbG- | May 26, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

or that is what my dad told me when he gave me the big sponge and the bucket of soapy water.

Posted by: nellie4 | May 26, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Mudge- a much stronger link to the poem here, where poppies are exclusively red, is that they were not particularly abundant in "Flanders Fields" until either: theory 1, the soil was disturbed in the digging of the graves or theory 2, lime was introduced to the soil as a byproduct of the war. Either way, were it not for the war the poppies would not have been abundant so the link of the blood red flowers to actual blood is much more powerful.

Poppies here look like this
they drop seeds that simply will not grow until they've been tilled under, or as often happens Chez Frostbitten the seeds get moved in a shovelful of garden soil to the compost pile or some other place where flowers are unexpected.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Well, there ya see, Maggie. I didn't (and basically still don't) know from nuthin' about poppies; all I know is what I just reported, and I read it in Paul Fussell's great book "The Great War and Modern Memory." Otherwise I'd have been even more clueless than usual. I quite clearly remember my grandfather wearing his poppy (and the stigma of NOT wearing one), and it was always a yellow one. Don't recollect ever seeing any red plastic ones, but that might just be my memory. Whenever I read that poem in high school or college, I always saw just a plain old field with flowers of no particular color -- so never understood the poem until I was about 40 years old.

And yes, Decoration Day was also about decorating the tombstones, putting out flowers and/or planting a small flag, like on Memorial Day.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"Whenever I read that poem in high school or college, I always saw just a plain old field with flowers of no particular color -- so never understood the poem until I was about 40 years old."

That is among the saddest things I've ever read on the boodle. To have missed out so long on the poem is bad enough, but to not know plants.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

So, poppies in Minnesota (and presumably Canada) are invariably red, huh? That would explain McCrae, a Canadian, using the metaphor and sort of assuming "everyone" knew poppies were red, which is probably what he thought.

But now we know there are red, white, yellow and orange poppies, depending on where you are. Wikipedia says they also come in pink and blue.

Wiki also says: "In Persian literature, red poppies, especially red corn poppy flowers, are considered the flower of love. They are often called the eternal lover flower."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Sad? Well, maybe. I like to think of it the other way around, that the sunlight can suddenly emerge on a topic when one is 40 years old.

I admit to a great deal of ignorance about plants, Frosty, but always suspected I wasn't much different in that regard from most other men I know. Flowers just ain't our thang, as a rule.

(I didn't know diddly about whole big bunches of things until I was in my 30s and 40s. Still some areas I'm stone ignorant about. But then, there's other topics I can sprint circles around anybody else.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Seems like we can always trace these things back to Canada.
Remember the spy coin scare?

Here's a good image of the poppy coin-

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Gonna pop in oh so briefly to mention (if anyone really cares) that after watching the video of Judge Sotomayor giving her acceptance speech to her nomination to the SCOTUS, I was cheering her on. Her eloquence was just lovely and the idiosyncrasies of the Second Circuit notwithstanding (not nearly as much so as the Ninth Circuit, however, which can be immensely squirrelly), I think she'll be terrific on the Big Bench. Do you agree, Ivansmom?

And with that blurt-out, back to the mines.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 26, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-didn't mean to suggest you don't know tons about lots of important stuff, but to not know plants, sigh. It's not a woman thing either, I learned at the knees of Frostdaddy and Pa Frostbitten.

Pa knew not only all the flower/vegetable garden stuff but could identify everything in the forest too. He also taught the really useful stuff like how to build your own stilts and walk with them, pole vaulting with a bamboo pole, and baseball.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

The more I think about it, the list of things I never quite understood until I was in my 40s is just growing and growing like weeds. Women. Children/parenthood. Health, Age, Death. Fear. My father. What's important and what's not. Ambition. My ex.

Plants are still pretty far down the list. I don't anticipate getting to them in this lifetime.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Didn't understand gin until I was well into my 50s.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't know a lot about Sotomayor but her record suggests she'll be very good. It also makes sense for Obama to have chosen someone who's been judicially vetted twice, once each in a Republican and Democratic administration. This makes it more likely that opposition to her will be on either a personal basis, or because people don't like rulings in individual cases - neither are particularly compelling reasons against confirmation.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 26, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Sloely, Mudge?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 26, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking...lucky you to have so much land...nearly endless tree planting. I used to have that luxury back in Maryland. Now? Not so much...a postage stamp, really, but a bigger back than front yard. I probably won't live here when all the trees are huge and my house no longer visible. But privacy will prevail!!!

Posted by: Windy3 | May 26, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Excellent, ftb. *grinning*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | May 26, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

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

Well, hello, friends. Just checking in. I've spent the weekend with the g-girl or rather she spent the weekend with me. Just too pooped for words. Scotty, hope your cat gets to feeling better. Thanks a bunch, Yoki.

Should we be worried about the country that's testing the n-weapon? I thought the folks over there were starving. Where did they get the money for such expensive weapons? Weren't we feeding them?

My flowers are slowly, but surely dying off, one at the time. I envy your ability with the garden, JA, minus the sway. I think it could be the cats and dogs doings. Perhaps some of them will live. And we're still getting a lot of rain. I'm sure they're drowning by now. Great kit, JA, and funny.

Sad about Mike Tyson's little girl. And Mel Gibson seems to be looking for the fountain of youth. Time moves forward, Mel, not backwards. Evidently Mel hasn't heard the latest news about elderly fathers and the impact on their children's intelligence.

Mudge, I hope you're getting around better. I'm just too sleepy for words. Slyness, Martooni, and everyone here, have a great evening.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 26, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Take care, Cassandra! I have had to prop up some of my almost blooming Iris (es?). They aren't used to all this rain.

Trees' here. Gotta run!

Posted by: Windy3 | May 26, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

loomis may have already posted this picture of the California poppy.

Posted by: nellie4 | May 26, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

And a regular scene on Virginia's highways...

Posted by: -TBG- | May 26, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Also.. I remember every Memorial Day weekend in Ocean City, we'd donate money to the VFW guys handing out paper poppies all over town. I usually stuck it in my windshield visor and it stayed there for months.

They probably still do it, we just aren't in town for Memorial Day weekend anymore.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 26, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Very busy recently, but trying to keep up. Great kit.

re: Poppies. As a kid we had what I later learned to be opium poppies growing wild, so I always thought that was what they looked like:

Beautiful flower, like a carnation on steroids. So I was a little confused by the flat Remembrance Day flower. Confusion may have been related to licking the pods.

The other kind have been featured in a couple of Monet’s greatest:

Posted by: engelmann | May 26, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey... where's Omni been lately? He didn't jump a ship down to see Brag, did he?

Posted by: -TBG- | May 26, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

engelmann, at my other house shortly after we moved in I planted a similar poppy to the ones of your youth, they were pink in colour - just slightly smaller than a peony flower - that first year I loved them, then I realized they spread Everywhere! For the remaining six years I lived there I was pulling out young plants every summer.

I had given some to my dad and in a country garden they looked lovely - right near his mulch pile on what was once a vegetable garden.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 26, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

*blearily looking away from my monitor for the first time in 8 hours*

Even though I have fried my eyes, I've been having a pretty good day. A lot of work got done, I had some conversations with people I like, even got time to eat a sandwich!

Sorry to have missed the poppy/poetry discussion. I used to have Japanese poppies in one of my gardens, and always loved them. Very flamboyant.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

The answers Weingarten gave to both Fo, Ma and Tralfamad, Ore. were thoughtful and clarifying. The answer he gave to Fairfax also made sense, but I think he underestimates the potential for damage there is in being the person used as a foil to ridicule their employer.

His answer(s) to the question from Alexandria about his father's reaction to his drug use was more cryptic.

None of this means that he knows jack about comic strips.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

The European poppies (pavots) have the pretty name of coquelicots.,fleur-coquelicot,champ-de-coquelicots.jpg

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 26, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

O.K. Mudge, I am going to differ --------

Armistice Day (or Remembrance Day) turned into Veterans Day.

Decoration Day became Memorial Day.

Thus speaketh Wiki.

Posted by: nellie4 | May 26, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra! Yoki! Windy!

I always feel superlative before I turn in for the evening.

dmd, tell me more about these spreading poppies. I think I have just the place for them. Pink only?

TBG, I have one of entwined around my rear-view mirror right now.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 26, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

those. One of those.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 26, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, you are superlative, dbG :)

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

"The answers Weingarten gave to both Fo, Ma and Tralfamad, Ore. were thoughtful and clarifying. The answer he gave to Fairfax also made sense, but I think he underestimates the potential for damage there is in being the person used as a foil to ridicule their employer."

See, I just don't get that. For the most part, he *isn't* ridiculing the employer (the company), he is ridiculing the public, and playing with the flexibility of the English language. I recognize that there are petty stupid small-minded supervisors out there, who might take out their frustrations by firing the reps. But really, how can they be anything but proud of these customer-service reps? They are encountering the blatantly stupid, and greeting it cheerfully and treating the "customer" with respect. What are they supposed to do? Hang up? Curse at him? Call him a ninny? They are playing the role exactly the way that they are supposed to play it when encountering fools. I suspect that the only differences between Weingarten's calls and 90% of the other calls to these numbers is that (a) Weingarten is willfully misinterpreting the package labeling instead of being just naturally dumb, and (b) Weingarten's calls are reported for posterity. Note that these calls are NOT reported without permission. Weingarten has previously reported in his chat that the call is made without prior arrangement, but he follows up by talking to the customer service rep and coming clean about the situation. These people and these companies are not being callously used, they are participating.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Not to be churlish (any more than I usually am) but I have always understood Memorial Day to be in honor of those that died in combat and Veterans Day to celebrate all that have served in the armed forces. Which would make Memorial Day the far sadder occasion even though a quirk of the calendar makes it more festive. Far fewer people get Veterans Day off even though there are far more veterans. I think the two get conflated in the public mind.

The Commonwealth version of Remembrance Day (our Veterans Day) seems more in line with the US concept of Memorial Day, which evolved as a tribute to Civil War dead instead of World War I. And Canada's Victoria Day is always a week before our Memorial Day. Confusing.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I regularly admit to ignorance. Saves a lot of time later.

And keep those kitty karma kards & letters coming, kids! Test results are getting better for Midnight, 'tho diabetes is still leading the pack coming into the home stretch... *small smile*

I would hope that it's typical Weingarten shtick to complain that car insurance rates are somehow discriminatory. The statistics in this case aren't predicting, they're pointing out established fact -- young, inexperienced (and easily distracted) drivers are involved in more accidents, males particularly.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 26, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Me, too, yello. The Memorial Day vs Veterans' Day thing.

Posted by: TBG- | May 26, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh c'mon you guys... of course it's schtick...

"My son is about to turn 25. I probably won't care about this terrible discrimination much longer."

Posted by: TBG- | May 26, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

s'nuke-thanks for the Midnight update, and it's good to read the tests are promising.

I just made the mistake of reading the last two chapters of _Dewey the Library Cat_, so my eyes are nearly swollen shut. Good read, but like most biographies it ends with the subject's demise. He lived to be 19 though.

Mr. F had an interesting suggestion for the Republicans-come out with an endorsement of Judge Sotomayor and get on with trying to find a way to avoid irrelevance.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 26, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Although Memorial Day, as we understood it, was initially to honor all fallen soldiers, in this neck of the woods it became a larger occasion to honor the dead in general. Basically this meant that you went out to the cemetery, did weeding around the headstones if necessary, took flowers, things like that. Now that they mow cemeteries (flat headstones) this is mostly observed in the breach. There are still a good number of people around here for whom Memorial Day means a trip to the graveyard to visit friends and family.

After the yard work were the cookouts: ribs, hamburgers, sweet iced tea, beer.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 26, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Really? Decoration Day became Memorial Day? Hmmm. Learn something every day. All I remember is my grandfather and his flower in the lapel. Couldn't tell you what time of year it was. I was probably less than 10 at the time.

Whaddaya know.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 26, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry dbG, had a little nap, here is a source for the poppies - they are commonly called 'Peony Poppy', this same source has a black version (dark purple of course).

But be aware the seeds are tiny and will spread quite far, seed heads are lovely dried though. They are quite easy to pull out if they get out of hand. This plant and Lavertana (do not remember the variety) I planted the same year both spread everywhere.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 26, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

40 years ago, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were holding the bed-in in room 1742 of the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal. The song Give Peace a Chance was born.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 26, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Two more swine flu deaths in New York City (boroughs) today, plus one on the weekend, with New York now leading the total, passing Texas:

New York 4
Texas 3
Arizona 3
Illinois 1
Missouri 1
Utah 1
Washington 1
Total: 14

The following is the first story I saw on Sunday that reported 18 cases of swine flu among U.S. troops in Kuwait. Later coverage stated that all have recovered and have been forwarded to their assigments (wherever they may be). The swine flu troop info was embedded late Sunday and Monday in the last parts of other news stories about swine flu.§ionid=3510210

Posted by: laloomis | May 26, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, Shriek.

And then there's 'The Ballad of John and Yoko':

Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton,
Talking in our beds for a week.
The newspapers said, "Say what you doing in bed?"
I said, "We're only trying to get us some peace".
Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going
They're going to crucify me.
Saving up your money for a rainy day,
Giving all your clothes to charity.
Last night the wife said,
"Oh boy, when you're dead
You don't take nothing with you
But your soul - think!"

Which kind of brings us back to the Kit.
(OMG -- We're all gonna die!!!!)


Posted by: -Dreamer- | May 26, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I was living in Montreal when the bed-in took place, and it was *huge* in the papers and on TV. It still seems pretty cool to me. Of course, I'm a Yoko-admirer, and think anything she does is high art.

I have a friend in New York who makes odd little films, and he wants to film a sort of documentary of me staying in bed for 5 days. I think he chose me because I am easily the laziest person known to man, and probably his only friend who could and would stay in one room that long without becoming psychotic. We've never found five days free on both our schedules, but it might happen one of these days. It is meant to be a study of what happens, psychologically and spiritually, to both the confined person and her acquaintance, when one just *stops* for a while. I think I know what happens. A lot of naps.

He also wants to film my brother in a work entitled "The Man who Loved Milton."

Look, I said his films were odd. Not to mention my brother and me.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Dreamer!

Poppies: when I was young, the VFW passed out or sold poppies and they were always red, as far as I can remember.

Life, death, and humor. I just have to say, THANK YOU, JOEL, for this kit because it made me laugh and made me think and reminded me why I keep Achenblog nearby like a lifeline at all times.

Russell Brand intersects with the boodle:

Jay Leno: Are you interested in gardening, Russell?
Russell: Not unless that's some dreadful euphemism, you cheeky monkey!

Russell's DVD is out now, run don't walk to Amazon or wherever, only if you have a high degree of tolerance for rude jokes. But I'm tellin' ya, he's going to be big.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 26, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Yoki... I can't believe you, of all people, would fall for that line... "I'd like to film you in bed for five days."

"Doing nothing."

Yeah, right.

Tee hee.

Posted by: TBG- | May 26, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I can assure you, TBG, that there is no danger to me or any other woman.

Hee hee.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: TBG- | May 26, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Hi kbert!

I heart Russell Brand.

Posted by: -Dreamer- | May 26, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

In fact, "Russell Brand's Ponderland" (in which he shows quaint and bizarre film footage from the '60s and '70s and ridicules the people shown therein) is on TV tonight here in Oz, just before "Lost", which makes Wednesday night a pretty, pretty, pretty good night o' viewing.

I only recently discovered young Russell, while waiting for "Lost" to come on. I used to risk falling asleep while waitiing, because it comes on so late here. But "Ponderland" makes me chortle so much, I'm full of energy throughout. Tee hee.

Posted by: -Dreamer- | May 26, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I first heard about Brand when he did an NPR interview about his autobiography, "My Booky Wook" (It's a good book) I've since watched all his stuff on YouTube and it's a real mixed bag. The really old stuff, from when he was on crack and heroin, totally messed up while doing the shows, is pretty bad. He did a show called ReBrand where he set out to challenge every propriety in existence. That young Russell is, like, half-baked. Since then he has gotten off drugs, taken up yoga, worked the twelve steps for 6 or 7 years, and focused on his career. Now when I look at him I see somebody who has a center, who is willing to do the work to seek spiritual enlightenment, following his own unique path, and who in the meantime is very, very funny.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 26, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

As thought provoking as Weingarten's quiz was, it was obviously provoked by him getting gouged by a hotel chain at Molly's graduation. I hope Gene never wants to go to New Orleans during Mardi Gras or attend a Super Bowl game.

You have given some spirited defenses of Gene's humor style and I respect you for that, but I still contend that prank calling people that have no choice but put up with your shenanigans is one step above calling Moe's Bar and asking for Hugh Jass.

Ask yourself this question: If you were at a party with Gene and he put the phone on speaker and he did one of his calls, what would you think of him? Would it be a post-modern critique of the ambiguities of commercial speech, of a jerk trying to be funny but only looking lame? How is it different that he does it for an audience of thousands instead of just a few?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Dreamer!

"Quaint and bizarre" would probably cover the photo album of me from birth to age 5. I imagine those Ponderland films - and the commentary - are viciously entertaining.

DNA_Girl, thanks for mentioning the internship howling opportunity. I'd heard that story on NPR this morning, and went looking for my Howlin' Wolf CDs when I came home this evening.

All I can say about my staying in bed for more than 9 hours is that I could consider such a thing under the right circumstances. I would probably inquire about sufficient sustenance and definitely need proper motivaton.

And absolutely no cameras.

Scottynuke, thanks for the Midnight updates.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey everybody. We are happily ensconced in central CA after a boring flight and a nice ride up US 101. I almost posted at Ghirardelli Square but Mr. T rolled his eyes and our clam chowder in sourdough bowls came so I didn't.

As far as I remember, the poppies for Veterans Day have always been red. When I was a child, they were crepe paper and made by disabled veterans to be sold to raise money for veterans charities. I know this because my mother was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and I had to help sell them, a task I did NOT enjoy. My dad was a member of the American Legion as well as the 40 and 8, an organization of WWI vets.

I'm having to pay for wifi, which annoys the heck out of me, so I'll try to get my money's worth and check in often...

Posted by: slyness | May 26, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Also, I'm very sorry to hear of Mike Tyson's young daughter.

A very sad situation.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I heart Bertrand Russell.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 26, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh wait....

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 26, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Man, don't I know about those easily-distracted and inattentive young male drivers. I had a parking-lot collision with one, just last Friday on the way to the Balticon, and now my cute little Honda Fit is going to need some repair work on its back end. The kid and I both claim that the other was inattentive in backing out of his parking space (except that *I* am right, and he is wrong), so fault is contested and it will have to be handled as no-fault. Still, this was much less uncomfortable than my last collision involving a car (driven by a young man), as only one of us was inside of one -- I was doing 40 mph on my bicycle when he failed to yield while making a left turn across traffic and T-boned me. Getting hit by the car hurt, but hitting the pavement like a 40 mph rag doll hurt a great deal more. Fortunately, I was a very limber and flexible 20-year old and nothing was broken. I doubt that would be the case if something similar happened to me today.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Actually, there is a very big difference between making a prank call on speakerphone at a party and doing it so he can columnize before an audience of many thousands: the difference is that he screens the results for success before he writes the column. Customer-service reps who blow their stack don't appear in the column. I continue to be completely unable to see your point as to how these calls somehow belittle, insult, or humiliate the reps who take the call. Reliable reports indicate that they must deal with the same level of stupidity all the time, but from the anonymous general public. Weingarten's 'pranks' are a satire of the callers, not of the customer-service reps, and it is pretty obvious that the reps know it. The ones that get published don't break character and don't call him out on it -- they stick to the prescribed persona.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

We will have to agree to disagree. I think most customer service reps have to deal with enough real a-holes to have to also put up with fake ones. Weingarten also admits that most of his calls are HEAVILY edited for comic effect.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I am so old, I have no idea who Russell Brand is. The veterans here have always sold red paper poppies for Memorial Day. I remember when I was little asking my mother why the poppies weren’t real and she said something along the lines of the real ones were illegal. I think I was older when I realized that they were opium poppies. I didn’t know until today that a poppy could be other colors besides red.

I love this Kit. Joel is so right about our how springtime enthusiasm becomes summertime defeatism. I always have great visions of doing wonderful things with the abundance of produce and instead end up trying to dump it on my family and office mates. Except for the corn. That we don’t share with anyone. Our fence is working well so far but “S” feels bad because he’s seen that the bunnies have moved into our neighbor’s garden. I predict that he’ll have a fence by next year.

I’m glad Midnight is okay Scotty. Fingers crossed.

Posted by: badsneakers | May 26, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

So, Mel Gibson will be the 54 years old Octo pop. Good for you, you bigotty twerp.
I'll be a grand uncle early this fall and I'm so not ready for it. Darn kids, all they can think about is s3x. What's wrong about soccer or knitting?
I like the new Russel Brand, but then, I'm a sucker for a lot of Brit comedian.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 26, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Principia Mathematica rawks!

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you, Sneaks. I'm going to google to find out who russell brand is. I hate to be so out of the loop, although anyone who knows me knows that, like Mudge, I have huge holes of knowledge, especially like common cultural stuff of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

I was busy then.

And, besides, tonight's Daily Show is a repeat.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | May 26, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Hi bc!

Yes, those "Ponderland"s are hilarious. Each week's instalment covers a different theme, such as "class," "food," "family," and "childhood." They were filmed a couple of years ago, so I think they feature the "good" Russell rather than the younger, half-baked Russel kbertocci mentioned.

Posted by: -Dreamer- | May 26, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I too have those vast holes where cultural knowledge of the last 30 years exists in other folks, rickoshea. But then, I understood the Flanders Field poem when I first read it and I'm a powerhouse on Renaissance England and Jane Austen. To each her own, and thank heavens for Achenblog for its collective scientific and historial knowledge. And for Mudge, who was there for practically the whole of Western civilization.

Posted by: slyness | May 26, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse


Good one, rickoshea0. I heart Bertrand Russell too.

Posted by: -Dreamer- | May 26, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

. . . and the Boodler formerly known as mostlylurking hearts Leon Russell.

Posted by: -Dreamer- | May 26, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Never cross a black cat
They scratch nose and fingers off
Ask not how I know...


P.S. For the sick black kitty (It is a kitty, right?)...

Lickety-spit kitty;
Life's licking your end, right, mate?
Lick yourself well soon!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 26, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

I love the way Wilbrodog's "handle" has the standard Boodle-issue hyphens at each end of it.

Posted by: -Dreamer- | May 26, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I had to google Russell Brand as well - just watched a few videos and he seemed quite funny. My knowledge of popular culture is very limited - I read Celebritology occasionally but rarely know many of the people mentioned.

As an example who is Heidi Montag(sp) and more importantly why is she famous.

I did giggle today when I saw the post on Evangiline Lilly - who I know only from Mudge's frequent comments.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 26, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

The -W is my tailed butt, and the g- is my head resting over my legs, Dreamer.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 26, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Hi RickoShea, I thought too, of Bertrand Russell. BR debated a professor of mine in 1948:

Freddy Coplestone wore purple high top Chucks...sometimes with a cassock.

Fromt JA'a kit:
Maybe this is the year our tomato plants won't get that damn fungus.

We all tremble at these that should not be said out loud:

Early Blight
Gray Leaf Spot
Late Blight (same as the potato famines)
Septoria Leaf Spot
Southern Blight
Verticillium Wilt
Bacterial Speck
Blossom End Rot
Buckeye Rot
Gray Wall

List of tomato evils courtesy of a friend who works against tomato and night shade vegetable ilth at USDA.

Good night all.

PS Wilbrod, I appreciate your comments about humor last night. I humor works better in spoken environments. Theater of the interchange is better in multisensorial enviroments.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 26, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I adore written humor, CqP!

A lot of spoken or signed humor is inevitably contextual, though, and applying one form to another is going to be with its risks.

Stand-up comedy, for instance, is one-sided, similar to writing, except for audience feedback, and it thus lends itself to extreme formats that would not exist in normal conversational humor for most groups.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 26, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Rereading CqP's comment and trying to figure the gap between "I" and "humor"-- which is very zen like...

Yes, "spoken dialogue" humor depends very much on intonation and expression, and written humor must be crafted carefully to avoid or compensate for such ambiguity.

Words do seem more permanent and cold in e-text, rather than spoken once into the ether in a friendly voice, or with a twinkling eye.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 27, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Would have been asleep an hour ago, or more since The Daily Show was a rerun, but I've been watching Russell Brand videos on youtube. I did know who he was, but hadn't seen much of him. kb is right, he is going to be very big.

Toodles and sweet dreams.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 27, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle! I am spending the morning finalizing my big project and sending it out the door.

Let's get this thing rolling.

Posted by: Yoki | May 27, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Morning all... I hope everyone here realizes that when Yoki's timestamp says 6:35 a.m., it means that she's up and working (boodling?) at 4:35 a.m. her time. Yikes!

Posted by: TBG- | May 27, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Rain, at last!

Yoki, you keep insane hours.

I think Brand is a little too hot for mainstream comedy in North america. Often, he goes quite a bit beyond good taste. I don't mind but many do.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 27, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Oh... and WHY does there have to be a battle at all? Has no one heard of getting along? Kind of like I've never understood why there always has to be a rebuttal from the other party after a presidential address.

From the wapo front page...

For GOP, Court Pick Is a Double-Edged Test

An assault on Sonia Sotomayor could alienate Latino and women voters, but sidestepping a court battle could deflate party's conservative base.

Posted by: TBG- | May 27, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

A very misty Dawn Patrol this time around, which is certainly better than yesterday's deluge.

Hmmmmmm... I see N. Korea's now blown off the truce, as it were. This tantruming is very very sad (not to mention alarming).

And Tyson's daughter has died, which is even sadder.

No further word on Midnight yet, but I expect a phone call this morning.

*back-in-the-office-for-some-strange-reason Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 27, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

ScottyN, Thought I had posted this yesterday:

A snippet of Christopher Smart's

Jubilate Agno

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry....
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
Read more about the entire poem here:

Was published in 1939 TWO HUNDRED years after it was written. T.S. Eliot admired this cat poem. And Mudge, tis a long, long poem and you admire the long poem.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 27, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Many thanks, CquaP... The NukeFelines approve, most heartily.

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

Good morning boodle!
Sad day Chez Frostbitten.
Kisses II, aka KT, beloved Guinea Pig, died in my arms this morning. She would have been 7yo in August so we have been on borrowed time for a while. She was the last surviving childhood pet of the frostkids and was preceded in death by her companion Beau (Beauregarde Bacon Bottom). Internment will be this weekend as we have finally determined the best location for a pet cemetery on the property.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 27, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

My condoleces, frosti... *HUGS*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 27, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Oh my, Frosti,my condolences. Also my best hopes for Midnight, Snuke.

Dawn is creeping upon us here on the left coast. Looks like it will be a cloudless day.

Fourteen years ago today Mr. T and I were married. I am always amazed at how the time has flown by, when the day rolls around. They have been good and happy years.

Posted by: slyness | May 27, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Oh my, Frosti, sending blue and white Nigella (Love in a Mist) and the zinger-orange of Coreopsis "Jethro Tull" fluted petal variety.

Do you know the Olga da Polga books by Michael Bond? He is the Paddington Bear book author. Perhaps an Olga book or two for the Frostkids as they sit shiva.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 27, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

The loss of a pet is always sad, but when it is a living link to childhood there is sometimes more to grieve. Condolences.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 27, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

And, a bon mot of New Dawn roses with Jackmanii purple clematis to Ms.S and Mr. T.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 27, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

It's been a bad stretch for Boodler's rodents. Capucine the black bear hamster, a.k.a. The Rat, has ascended to the Big Spinning in the Sky a few weeks back at the ripe age of 3 and a quarter. She is barely missed, we took her in mostly to unload her from the mother-in-law. The hamster she had bought was preggers, most likely by one of the siblings. So The Rat was the fruit of underage incestuous s3x. That didn't seem to bother her.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 27, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

And in the category of "University politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small", we have this story about the first female Professor of Poetry at Oxford.

The story just had boodle bait written all over it.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 27, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

SCC. Spinning Wheeel

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 27, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Frosti sorry to hear about the Guinea Pig, we had guinea pigs as pets when I was young (along with many other animals), great pets.

We had a lovely pet cemetary under a large white pine in the back yard - had quite the ceremonies as I recall. With so many mice, rats, birds, guinea pigs, turtles plus cats and dogs we got a fair amount of practise at perfecting the burial ritual.

Slyness, Happy Anniversary to you and Mr. T.

Posted by: dmd2 | May 27, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

One of two irritations this morning.

There is another Helotes mulch fire in Texas, so to speak. But instead of mulch, it's tires, and instead of Helotes near us, it's Hawkins in East Texas.

The storylines are too similar: arson suspected, noxious fumes overwhelming the town, prompting the closure of schools and the evacuation of residents and those in a nursing home, inadequate local resources grappling with extinguishing the blaze, not enough water to fight the fire, plan is to bury the fire in the ground and move the blaze piecemeal, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality cites the property owner but lacks the follow-through or enforcement to get the mound of "debris" cleaned up. *SIGH* had the story last night, but local press does it better, including pictures:

Why Texans gave Gov. Rick Perry a second term is beyond my comprehension.

Posted by: laloomis | May 27, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary, Slyness!! *confetti* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 27, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

My condolences, fb, on the loss of your beloved pet. And may I say that Beauregarde Bacon Bottom is an absolutely brilliant name for a guinea pig.

We had gerbils as a kid named Jerry and Billy (we were such clever lads). We used to let them run around the family room floor until my brother accidentally stepped on one. I can't remember if it was Jerry or Billy.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 27, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

A pomey thingie for SD's family:

BEN (Michael Jackson) - 1972
Walter Scharf / Don Black

Ben, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With a friend to call my own
I'll never be alone
And you, my friend, will see
You've got a friend in me
(you've got a friend in me)

Ben, you're always running here and there
You feel you're not wanted anywhere
If you ever look behind
And don't like what you find
There's something you should know
You've got a place to go
(you've got a place to go)

I used to say "I" and "me"
Now it's "us", now it's "we"
I used to say "I" and "me"
Now it's "us", now it's "we"
Ben, most people would turn you away
I don't listen to a word they say
They don't see you as I do
I wish they would try to
I'm sure they'd think again
If they had a friend like Ben
(a friend) Like Ben
(like Ben) Like Ben

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | May 27, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Didn't go to work, just hanging around until my (routine) doctor's appointment in a few minutes.

Happy anniversary, slyness and Mr. T.

Thanks for the long pome, CP; it'll have to wait for a while, though.

Boy, Liz sure hates E. Lilly, doesn't she? Sheesh.

Not much today:

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

May 27, 1919: Navy Lt. Cmdr. Albert Read and the crew of his Curtiss NC-4 flying boat arrive at Lisbon, Portugal, after completing a harrowing, six-hop 11-day crossing of the Atlantic, the first in aviation history. The expedition started with four NC (Navy-Curtiss) “Nancy” flying boats under command of legendary Naval aviation Cmdr. (later Adm.) John Towers, whose broken NC had to taxi 205 miles over the ocean to make it to the Azores.
1958: Maiden flight of the McDonnell F-4 Phantom, the first all-missile-armed jet fighter, the primary fighter used in Vietnam and by the Israelis in their 1967 and 1973 wars.

OK, gotta go wait in the doc's waiting room for an hour, then wait in the room for half an hour, and then spend an hour listening to him tell me I probably ought to lose some weight (he went to medical school to learn that). Then he'll renew my heart medication but forget to put refills on the prescription.

Later, dudes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 27, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Re the Oxford poetry kerfluffle- "The row has prompted widespread concern in literary circles..." I don't much care who is named the Oxford poetry professor, but it would be nice to see "row" used more frequently in the American press. Seems like the war/sports metaphors get trotted out way too early, and often, whenever there's a bit of a dust up.

yello-thanks. Pet name choices are taken very seriously in the frostfam.

sd-that's incredibly old for a hamster, she must have been one happy rat.

Thanks to all for your expressions of sympathy. As RD noted, this was harder than a good guinea death would normally be, last tie to the dott's tween days and all.

Slyness- congrats!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 27, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The second irritation is a sleight of hand by NYT reporter Anemona Hartecollis in reporting last night the two most recent flu deaths in New York City (Quuens, Bronx).

I don't know if she's an intern, or inexperienced, possibly a recent J-school grad. I do know that earlier she reported that assistant principal Mitchell Wienr, the first to pass in NYC from swine flu had diabetes, when Wiener's family said that he had only gout. Why was Don McNeil taken off the swine flu beat? Why did a Sulzberger at one time have his name first, ahead of Hartecollis', in a byline about a story about swine flu?

Last night, Hartecollis reported:

Hospitals that normally get about 200 visits to the emergency room each day are getting 2,000 per day, he said, and more than 25,000 people have gone to emergency rooms over the past month. The numbers are highest in Queens, but are increasing in Brooklyn and, to a lesser extent, in the Bronx and Manhattan.

Over the last five days, he said, 20 to 25 people a day have been hospitalized with the flu. Before the weekend, the city had recorded only 57 hospitalizations for flu during the entire preceding 30 days.

LL: Yet, there is more precise information about the man and woman who died on Friday from the New York Daily News:

The latest two victims, whose names were not released, also had health problems that made them more vulnerable, Frieden said.

The commissioner said neither victim worked in the school system, as far as he knew. He said neither was "medically attended" before death, meaning they either died at home or couldn't be resuscitated when help arrived.

LL: So what is it that the public shouldn't know? That these people were possibly immigrants? Non-English speaking, perhaps? That they lacked health insurance because they were too poor? That advice from health official to not seek medical treatment unless they were seriously ill kept them from getting appropriate and timely medical care, early in the course of their ilnnesses?

Getting any info about victims now is difficult (as in the case in Illinois)--sometimes just a mention of a death, no gender, no age, no ethnicity, no underlying health conditions mentioned or explained--coupled with pending autopsies. And Frieden is going to be the new head of the CDC? What a big joke. And to whom should John M. Barry's Truth Award go?

Posted by: laloomis | May 27, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Yep, The Rat lived a good life. Simple unprocessed food, fresh uncooked veggies, a cat kibble once in a while for protein and regular exercise (she loved that spinning wheels for the first couple of years). A bit monastic for my taste but it outlived its mother and one sibling by over a year. That's roughly about 40 years in human years. It was pretty quite though in the last 6 months/20 years or so.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 27, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

My dad flew thousands of hours in the venerable F-4. He flew F-4Es in Nam around 1968 and has a wall of plaques for all sorts of things like "100 missions over North Vietnam", "Best Bomb", "100 FAC hours" and the like. I asked him about why they were using F-4s for forward air control. He just said that it hadn't been a very good idea and they quit doing it.

In the late 70s he led the PACAF William Tell team which required ferrying his plane from the Philippines to Florida and back. He had to pack some trashy 70s paperback in the cockpit for that trip to keep from getting bored on the flight.

His last flying job was as an F-4G squadron commander in Korea in 1980. He came home after that tour with a dead tooth that had turned brown. He never quite explained the circumstances, but we speculate it involved breaking up a bar fight.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane 'mudge.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 27, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

FWIW - Anemona Hartocollis has been with the NYT at least 10 years, mostly covering public schools.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 27, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Just acquired a de Havilland.86 Express; have yet to take her into the air. The old DC-3 is getting too comfortable, like an old shoe or favorite pair of jeans. Makes me lazy.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 27, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

What in the world are you doing with a DC-3? The last one of those I saw was in the airplane graveyard at Clark AFB back in 1978. It had been a South Vietnam VIP plane that had been flown out at the end of the war and abandoned. The plane had been stripped and looted, but we teenagers still found climbing into it through the cargo hold fascinating. As long as the MPs didn't catch us.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 27, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I didn't know that Olivia de Havilland was an Express or that she flew. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Is she still alive? Maybe I should Google her.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | May 27, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

There is a small airline operator based in Ottawa that still uses DC-3s to service remote Northern communities. It's kind of cute but I'm not sure I would fly one on a regular basis.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 27, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Flight sim! "...generally regarded as one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made." Or as my brother-in-law put it, "the workhorse of the 20th century." There are about 100 still flying.


Posted by: Jumper1 | May 27, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

DC-3s rock.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 27, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Anemona Hartocollis

I am quite sure this is a Greek name, following my extensive study of Greek culture in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

Posted by: nellie4 | May 27, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The irony is deafening.
Environment Canada has its “Laser Environmental Airborne Fluorosensor (LEAF)” mounted on a 1942-built C47/DC-3.
They also have a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mounted on a 1953-built Convair 340.
They don’t throw away anything those Environment Canada people.

They probably have a 1947 Plymouth automobile equipped with the latest in airborne contaminants analysis.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 27, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, are you saying you own both a DC-3 and a deHavilland? Details, man, details!!! (Padouk and I are both especially fond of DC-3s, as we have talked about them from time to time. I flew in one on my honeymoon from Martha's Vineyard to Nantucket. Wonderful airplane.)

Jeez, the D.H.86 is a 4-engine biplane, fer crying out loud, first flew 75 years ago! What an antique! Not only an antique, but an oddball antique at that.

Home from the doctor, blowing off the rest of the day. Leg's fine, immobilizer removed and put into storage until next bodily collapse. Doc suggested that some of the various and sundry antibiotics (in the Cipro class) I've been taking off and on for various infections weakens tendons.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 27, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Well, gotta put those airborne sensors on something. For myself, I favor a return to zeppelins. They just have that old-timey graciousness, from back when aluminum was a rich person's metal.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 27, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

s_d, I'm sure that the USAF has a bunch of B-52 BUFFs still flying in active service and they go back to about the time of that Convair. IIRC they expect to have them flying until 2040 or so.

For the unborn who will be flying 'em then -- this *is* your great-grandfather's Oldsmo- er, I mean, long range bomber.

DC-3s are cool, and I dig Ford tri-motors, too.


Posted by: -bc- | May 27, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

FYI, "Synthetic Aperture" is available as a Boodle handle for any Conservative Republicans who find "Artificial Sphincter" to be too offensive.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | May 27, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

New Judicial Kit!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 27, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Ought to SCC something from yesterday. California writer and former reporter Mark Arax is of Armenian, or Armenian Turkish descent. One of my favorite art teachers at my high school and her husband, in education administration, were Armenian. Given the genocide of Armenians by Turks after WWI, I can understand why their antecedents left Turkey and settled in those parts of California that most resembled their homeland.

I have the Arax bug this morning. Read him for a long time--the first chapter which describes how the Los Angeles Times tried to reach readers as demographics shifted and its downsizing by an out-of-town owner, plus catering to the tastes of the Internet, is worth the price of his latest book.

Posted by: laloomis | May 27, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I gotta give ya credit -- I really don't roll my eyes anymore when you mention modern zeppelins.

But I still think they disappeared into the Daze of Futures Passed, along with flying cars, interplanetary space liners, Robert McCall, Ralph McQuarrie, Syd Mead, and Boris Vallejo art (Frazetta *never* goes out of style), and pretty much every cover and feature story from Popular Science magazine for ther past century.

Oh, and my youth, and any hopes I'd had of being the first human to walk on a planet of another star (I guess we call them exosolar planets now).


Posted by: -bc- | May 27, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, man. I know I'm repetitive on that point. They just have such style!

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 27, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

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