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Fiscal Truth: No Pain, No Gain

The Finance Committee will vote today on its health-care bill, and then we'll be on to a new round of arm-twisting, kvetching, and sniveling. But it looks like -- and tell me if I missed something major during my camping trip -- that, somehow, a health care bill will thread the eye of the needle and become law (fully satisfying no one and enraging both right and left).

The hard work is still ahead. At some point President Obama has to show that his party is willing to balance the books, eventually. Not in the short run as we try to rally from this recession, but pretty soon. I haven't seen Obama show that he's willing to take painful steps to get the numbers to line up over time. That means less spending and/or more taxes. There's no other option.

The millionaires alone can't solve the fiscal problem. Soda pop taxes won't pay for it. Neither will a Botox Tax.

The great miracle of the United States is the vast middle class. That's where the money is. That's where the government has to get its revenue.

Either that or we're going to have to give up many of the government services that we have come to expect -- like medical care in retirement, replete with access to the latest procedures and pharmaceuticals.

You get what you pay for -- that's the long-term rule that can be violated only in the short term.

President Obama has argued that we can expand health-care coverage without raising taxes one penny on the middle class. I find that hard to believe. So do Henry Aaron and Isabel Sawhill today in the Post.

"The dirty secret, known to responsible fiscal experts of both parties, is that the revenue generated under current tax laws cannot pay for the government services -- health care and everything else -- that Americans want for their children, their parents and themselves."

Economists love the VAT, a relatively low-key tax on just about every transaction in the economy. But hardly anyone on the Hill or at the White House will talk about it. The VAT would affect the middle class. Unthinkable.

Yeah, but that's the same middle class that's going to want to be playing tennis at 90. Remember: Reagan cut taxes and created huge deficits -- but was willing (with Tip O'Neill) to let Social Security and Medicare taxes rise to put those programs on sounder footing. George H. W. Bush raised taxes even though it was political suicide -- he had to in order to break the back of the Reagan deficits. Bill Clinton raised taxes further and ushered in a brief moment of fiscal surplus. George W. Bush, however, cut taxes dramatically, and we saw how that worked out. Bush added trillions to the federal debt. Bush never paid for the Iraq war. Bush and Congress never paid for the expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs (they didn't even try). In the final months of his tenure, Bush and the Congress made no pretense about paying for the bailout of the banking industry.

Great nations don't play with Monopoly money forever.

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 13, 2009; 9:29 AM ET
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"...that's the long-term rule that can violated only in the short term."

pssst, I think it should be "can be violated only"

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 13, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

This is true, of course, but people like to hide behind the notion that low taxes keep the economy healthy. Remember the Laffer Curve? It doesn't matter that this economic philosophy has been largely discredited, it is still an Article of Faith by many. And people can be pretty irrational on Articles of Faith.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | October 13, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

A VAT would be seen my most states as a major infringement on one of their main sources of revenue, the sales tax.

The only advantage to a VAT is to hide it in the retail price. I hate buying a $19.95 item and having it cost nearly twenty-two bucks by the times the sales taxes are added. Just tell me what I need to pay right on the tag.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I like this passage: "...cut taxes dramatically, and we saw how that worked out." However, I suspect that when the time comes to do the book-balancing, there will be a remarkable number of "fiscal conservatives" who will argue that what we really need to do in order to increase tax revenue will be to cut taxes further -- possibly just give away all government funds -- so that the government will have more money. These are the people who live in a perpetual Opposite Day.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 13, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Then there is the philosophy of Starving the Beast, in which huge deficits are viewed as a fiscally sound way of restraining spending. Again, that this hasn't worked hasn't prevented people from hiding behind it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | October 13, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Alas, the bottom line is that so long as a significant fraction of the population is willing to cling behind fiscal self-delusion it will be very hard to get anything done. America has become so rancorous of a nation that consensus has become predicated by crisis.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | October 13, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Mudged myself. Twice, no less. Reposting:

Self-inflicted honey-do injuries are very high on the list of household accidents and injuries, CqP; be very careful.

In their pioneering work on this very topic. "I, Thou and Oops: The Role of the Imaginary Other in High Self-Motivation and the Quasi-Intentional Infliction of Domestico-industrial Injury" [a rough translation from the original German, "Meinselfgestabben"] von Flugelbittern, Steindwarf, Munchenflinger and Grebbelshtanden discovered that those who assign themselves a honey-do ("gemussfixen") often suffer from a martyr complex and frequently exhibit classic so-called "pipewrench stigmata" (spontaneous bleeding of the knuckles).

So be careful out there.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Ooops. Left off the citation: Von Flugelbittern, H-W., Steindwarf, M., Munchenflinger, K-L., and Grebbelshtanden, A.D. (1909). Ich, Do, und der Splatzlicheit: Der Rolen von der Ander Imaginoschinerien in Hoch-Motivazionerien und der Metza-metza Stabben zur Hausenlich-Industriziengesellshaften Bo-boo Machen," Der Journal der Sadomachismischer Dis Olden Hausenfixen, 12, 34f, (g), pp. 436-598. Vienna, Austria: Der Grosse Stadt Universitat am Stoney Brooken.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Sometyimes I think "Report Abuse" would make a pretty good Boodle handle. Then at other times, I think, well, not so fast, mudge...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Ich, Du, und der Splatzlicheit...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

This country is populated by a lot of spoiled brats, and I'm talking about adults. They want and they want and they want, and then they don't want to pay for it all, all the while blaming those who are poor not by choice for their predicament.

When I lived in Sweden more than 30 years ago, the taxes were high, a lot of people didn't like it (and worked "black" without reporting the income (it's called "svarta pengar" in Swedish)), but what I found was that the transportation system was tremendous (bus and subway in Stockholm and bus/tram systems in other cities) and the health care system, while a bit flawed (and which has changed since I've been back) was excellent. And I paid for it through high taxes. I had a reasonably comfortable life over there despite the high taxes which paid for the services of which I took advantage.

So, let's stop paying *any* taxes here. Right now. We'll forget about the roads, the police, the fire fighters, the water, the sewage disposal, the power utilities (both in connection to homes and businesses and the actual power), food production and service (hey, no roads, no produce in off-season), NOT TO MENTION defense from natural disasters (hurricanes and fires) and defense from intended disasters (Pearl Harbor, 9/11).

Because not everyone's entitled, you see. And who determines who is entitled? Um . . . . . .

I hear that New Zealand is nice.

Posted by: -ftb- | October 13, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"cling behind" and "predicated by" instead of "hide behind" and "predicated on" are radical hip new literary constructions, you see.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | October 13, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I understand there is an anti-static spray product that solves the "cling behind" problem.

Posted by: kguy1 | October 13, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Hint, hint.
It’s not a VAT, which would be preferable but there is an excise tax the feds should look at closely.

Average fuel taxes on gasoline:
Europe: 0.6€ per litre or US $3.36 per US gallon
Canada: CDN $0.31 per litre or US $1.14 per US gallon (and this is without the PST/GST that is added on top in most provinces. I know, Alberta doesn’t do PST)

USA: $0.124 fed. + $0.272 (avg state) that is only $0.396 per US gallon

Somehow, I think there is room to grow in there and the environment could only get better for it.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 13, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

"Great nations don't play with Monopoly money forever."

Yes, but if you're clever, you can still pass the buck.

I read an article a couple of years ago that surmised that the REAL Republican plan was to create havoc on the budget and economy by precipitously cutting taxes. Then, when Democrats took power and tried to repair the damage by raising taxes the Republicans would have a ready-made campaign issue to run against.

The fact is, we all like monopoly money. We want the best schools, the best fighter jets, the finest national parks, the best interstate highway system - as well as Santa Claus pays for it. Not us.

Posted by: jp1954 | October 13, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"cling behind," from the original German, "rümperklingen."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I spit up my drink reading your post. I have mostly cleaned the monitor, but what to do about the awkward feeling in my sinuses caused by liquids heading for the emergency exit? I do hope it subsides soon.

Thanks for the laughs.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | October 13, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

WaPo headline: Twitter Study Calls GWU 'Most Active' Campus

OK, what is it about the notion of a Twitter study that's driving me bonkers? Is it the notion of a study 124 characters long? Is it that anyone could possibly be bothered studying Twitters? Is it that anyone pays any attention to anything Twitter related? Is it (D) all of the above?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Yes sd, gas taxes should be higher in the US and they should not be restricted to paying for roads but used for all manner of transit.

The research project for FIRST Lego League robotics competition is on transportation this year. One team I'm working with has chosen to figure out a more efficient way to move harvested timber-perhaps a dispatch cooperative instead of the individual logger hauling from a stand far from home past stumpage another logger is cutting just down the road. The technology is there, but cooperation looks a lot more palatable when gas is $4 a gallon, like last summer, than $2.44, today's price in Our Fair city. I'm eager to see what these 14 year old boys, who care for little beyond football, robots, and 16 year old girls, come up with.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 13, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

frosti, I'm impressed that your 14-y.o. boys are interested in 16-y.o. girls. There's no substitute for experience.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 13, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

WhackyWeasel, NukeSpouse is fine, although her sides must certainly hurt from laughing (@ me, of course) by now. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and TANSTAAFL, of course.

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

*faxing LitM a box of handiwipes and an abject apology*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Joel is right. We will eventually have to pay for what we want. The problem for most of us is, as others have said, we expect and demand a lot from government but want the Government Fairy to pay for it.

There is a subset of conservatives - much in evidence hereabouts - who truly do ascribe to the Shrink Government program. They want to slash taxes, giving the money Back to the People. Their response to the question of who will pay for the People's gummint services is, essentially, that government shouldn't be providing those services. We have people here who, in certain company, would admit that they could do without public school systems. They have no problem in the health care debate since gummint shouldn't be facilitating health care - not Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security either. While they seem to allow public safety as a legitimate concern, fire and law enforcement are basically local institutions to them. There is no viable area of compromise with these people.

Thanks, Mudge, for reposting your post on the German study. Es var sehr risible.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

bc, I just saw this for the first time:

Posted by: russianthistle | October 13, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Y'know, I've raised this topic before, but it still seems to me that there's a way to raise some cash to pay for the short term, bu doing what so many industrious Amercans do every weekend as they try to make ends meet:

A hold a Government Yard Sale.
On the Mall.

Go through those old warehouses and storage facilites and sell some of that stuff for cash - Military hardware that's more than 50 years old - out! (OK, we'll hang on to the B-52s 'cause we're still using 'em), Johnson Administration-era government office equipment in warehouses- out! Apollo 11 landing tapes - who'll give me $100 for them? Ark of the Covenant - I'll take $10 Million for it! Nixon tapes - - $100,000 takes 'em! How about a Library of Congress used book sale (how many Danielle Steel paperbacks to we need in the LoC, anyway?) - $.25 a pop! How many bottles of booze are stored in the White House and National Observatory are needed, anyway? And all the cool old science projects and toys from those agencies in Virgina, Florida, Texas, California, New Mexico, and Maryland?

And whatever doesn't go there can get put on eBay and Craigslist.

I think that'd buy us a lunch, anyway.
Somebody call China and offer a package deal, it's all got to go!


Posted by: -bc- | October 13, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

joel, everything you say makes sense to me. our fair state of california is also ahead of the curve on wanting entitlements without wanting to pay for them. and it's not working out so well.

mudge, loved your 10:41. on your twitter quiz, i choose d. i don't get it at all myself.

howard kurtz has a great quote at the end of a discussion of glenn beck's reception in britain, where his show apparently now appears:

"But while British Tories share elements of the U.S. conservatives' analysis of foreign-policy threats, domestically their paths have diverged. David Cameron's 'progressive Tories' bear little resemblance to the Republican Party of Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. Increasingly, British Tories wonder what has happened to their American relatives. It's as if your favorite cousin had a nervous breakdown, found religion, and became an evangelist for an apocalyptic cult prophesying the imminent end of the world as we know and love it."

Posted by: LALurker | October 13, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

for several years i have had interesting discussions with people who maintain that they don't need any government services because they can take care of themselves. i have told them, with unmistakably convincing body language, that if they get their wish i will be coming to their homes to take whatever i want and lay waste to their families. they generally get offended and say that i don't understand. but they don't repeat their nonsense in my presence again.

i have said this before in this space. you can raise my taxes tomorrow. it is a privilege to live in this country and i do not mind paying for it.

Posted by: butlerguy | October 13, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Here you go, bc-

Posted by: kguy1 | October 13, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Hurrah butlerguy! That's what Ivansdad & I say too. I don't always approve of where the gummint puts small percentages of my money, but overall I'm proud to be able to contribute.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Well done, butler guy. But just say to them, "I can't wait for you to have a heart ttack, because I'm not driving you to the hospital. Just take care of it yourself."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Joel, many of us agree with you.

The problem is the E.J. Dionnes, the Harold Meyersons, the Bob Herberts and particularly the Paul Krugmans of the world, who find Robert Mugabe's multi-trillion currency very amusing.

Posted by: tropicalfolk | October 13, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure how vast the middle class is anymore. I say tax the rich, see where that puts us, then hit the upper middle class, and so on. Has anyone seen Michael Moore's new movie yet?

I'm a bit groggy - saw Steely Dan last night - fabulous. I loved all of Aja, of course, and was hoping they would do Don't Take Me Alive - which they did! Donald Fagen said that they played their first professional gig at the Seattle Paramount (where the concert was last night) in 1972.

Posted by: seasea1 | October 13, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Someone needs to give a remedial soup-making class to the folks in our in-house cafe, since "cream of broccoli" is not normally taken to mean large florets of broccoli floating in a cream-ish sauce (not inedible by any means, but still).




Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Through no fault (or particular skill) of our own, Mr. F and I have gamed the system. We took advantage of just about every big government hand out for young and youngish people of the lower middle class-no food stamps or welfare, but grants, gov't loans, the largesse of the military, VA loans (both of us), tax breaks for home ownership, tax sheltered retirement savings...the list is truly too long. Now at the very time when we can best afford to pay taxes we have a far lower burden from them than our low earning children, and most of the rest of the country's children. This is just plain wrong, and I am going to use Butler Guy's approach the next time a peer claims to have "made it without any help."

Ivansmom-we have a few of those "the only thing the gummint should do is national defense" folks hereabouts. They live in shacks, make liberal use of the local food bank (because it's a "private charity"), have conceal and carry permits, and very, very, very thankfully-

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 13, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Doonesbury had a fine story line recently wherein Mike's elderly mom got a little too enthusiastic at an anti- healthcare reform rally and burned her Medicare card in protest. Unfortunately she also burned her hand in the process and when she went to the ER ...
well, you know.

Posted by: kguy1 | October 13, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Kguy, I know the Govt sells stuff, they just don't seem to sell the *good* stuff, and if they do, they sure don't market it well.

Take all the real prizes and put up an auction with one of the big-time houses with some marketing sizzle for goodness' sake -- maybe Christie's. Televise it on CSPAN, CNN, or Fox, like they do the big Barrett-Jackson classic car auctions.

Or feature it on Antiques Roadshow.

And maybe you'll see some Oval Office cigars for sale on QVC. Call now!

It seems to me that we're used to mortgaging the future to pay for the past, why not sell our past to pay for the future? Our past gets sold back to us all the time, doesn't it? [For examples, see the new Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger, and movie "Where the Wild Things Are."]


Posted by: -bc- | October 13, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Front Page Alert, BTW...

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I fear that anyone who would produce such a 'soup' may be beyond redemption, Scotty. But I'd be willing to try.

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

This cool; vegetarian spiders!

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Duluth, MN considered selling a Tiffany window from one of its public buildings to help dig out from under some pension liabilities that will keep them from fixing any streets for a couple decades. Unfortunately, by the time a local gov't body is in such dire straits that selling off such gems of its cultural heritage is seen as reasonable, the economy is generally in the toilet too. After looking at the price the window could fetch and the auction expenses Duluth opted to keep their window. I guess that means they've placed a value of 3 million, and not 100k less, on the pride of the city.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 13, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

You don't have to raise taxes, just keep printing money. That sucks the money out of the bottom of all those 401Ks, owned by the middle class. That way you keep both promises, health care plus no new taxes.

Posted by: hipshot | October 13, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Years ago when the IMF (international Monetary Fund) offered several billions to nations that were in a financial crisis - they demanded the country practice austerity. They did this because they knew it was necessary for the country to recover. It is a sound business tactic and practice.

Austerity is what we need right now. We can't afford to spend trillions to find the elusive Osama bin Laden and his protégés for national revenge. We can't afford cap-and-trade. We need to scale back on expenditures.

Posted by: alance | October 13, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Our difficulty with taxes is long standing, reflecting in large part our individualism rather than a more communitarian attitude.

I do not know how to make us more communitarian. I wonder if entering a long phase of economic austerity might bring some of this about. We need each other, whether we like this or not.

The death of newspapers does not make communitarian ties any easier to weave.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | October 13, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I've been predicting a round of Weimar Republic level hyperinflation for a long time now. My long term financial planning relies on it. Hopefully it can come just as I get the last PLUS loan for my kid.

I also correctly predicted the 30% drop in equities just as baby boomers tried to cash in their 401(k)s. The timing of the financial melt-down was no coincidence.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

seasea, happy to see you enjoyed Steely Dan.

What were the tax rates before Bush & Co. knocked them down? What were the tax rates in the '90's? I remember reading somewhere that our rates now are much lower. I'm all for raising taxes, as long as the wealth (over 250k/yr) have to pay their fair share. Of course being unemployed right now, paying taxes is the least of my worries!

Posted by: badsneakers | October 13, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

My wife and I make combined salaries substantially under $200,000 per year. Last year, between property taxes, state and federal income taxes, sales taxes, social security (which is a tax), etc., we paid about $55,000. We can't run a country on that? Please.

Posted by: hipshot | October 13, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Front Page Alert, btw.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey bc, did you see that racing pit stop commercial yet? (linked above)

Posted by: russianthistle | October 13, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

hipshot, invading the wrong country and staying there for seven or more years is very expensive. Sorry.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I gather that the problem, hipshot, is that people making twice your family's combined income are paying less than twice what you pay in taxes. In a just society, they should be paying more than twice as much, as the actual cost of living for them will be no greater than it is for you -- they pay more for their cost of living, but that is discretionary -- therefore, they have a larger supply of discretionary money than you do. Surely, that is what should be taxed.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 13, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Saw an interesting little thing with Cramer the stock market guy, that I agreed with for a change. He pointed out all the people who are agitating for the EXACT things we now know screwed up the recovery from the Great Depression: austerity programs, raising import duties, etc. (sorry, alance) and immediate raising of taxes to cover shortfalls.

Every sober person knows taxes are going to go up in the future. Capital gains taxes are going up, high-end income taxes are going up, social security and medicare taxes are going to get bumped up a point. The only issue is whether we have enough sense to understand that we do this when times are good - that like ants and not grasshoppers, we put away hay while the sun shines (talk about a mixed metaphor).

I had a job with great benefits, pay not so hot. Still, I was able and willing to pay higher taxes. I really hate paying taxes for corporate bailouts and bonuses for ponzi-scheming bankers and investment firms. I don't like paying taxes to build arenas for overpaid athletes and their owners. I don't like it that corporations use blackmail to get tax breaks by setting up factories in certain states. This kind of thing. I don't like it when I own stock but am not allowed to vote on hundred-million dollar pay deals for the executives. I don't like it when I'm told it's inevitable that all products will be made by the people with the least environmental and safety protection and that there is nothing I can do about it.

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 13, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

hipshot-the first thing we should do is subject all income to social security taxes, not just the first $106,800.

Jumper-too many of us are grasshoppers and not ants. To make things worse, many people who say they are ants are really grasshoppers.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 13, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

This review of Bob Dylan's Christmas album (no joke!) made me chuckle:
"Where the faster carols feel crazed, the slower carols feel creepy. Dylan's guttural braying on "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" boggles the ears while the sparse "I'll Be Home for Christmas" sounds like a reason to bolt your doors."

Posted by: seasea1 | October 13, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Stop the presses (somebody cover Wilbrodog's eyes).

"Schwarzenegger says Calif. cows can keep tails

The Associated Press
Monday, October 12, 2009 8:06 PM

"FRESNO, Calif. -- California cows are the first in the nation with the legal right to swat flies as nature intended now that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill banning the painful practice of tail docking that he once mocked as being a waste of legislators' time.


"In a signing frenzy that lasted until his midnight Sunday deadline, Schwarzenegger also approved a state blueberry commission and new label requirements for honey.

"We were always confident that if reality could trump the rhetoric, the governor would see the merits of this," said Jennifer Fearing, who lobbied for the tail docking bill for the Humane Society of the United States, which vows to take the fight against the removal of tails to other large dairy-producing states such as Wisconsin, Vermont and New York.


"On the same day he protected dairy cows, Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation to crack down on puppy mills by limiting them to 50 adult dogs, becoming the only governor in the six states where puppy mill legislation passed this year to override it with a veto, the group said.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I just read that Dylan review, too, seasea. Pretty funny.

ftb, abeac, SW, you know that as a religion we're in deep doo-doo when Jews like Streisand, Neil Diamond and Dylan all have Christmas albums.

God forbid Pat Boone sings the dreidel song.

Or Cat Stevens.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

All the major currencies of the world today are "Monopoly money". They are backed only by faith.

When Americans have to come to grips with there two generation overreach on wants over means, it won't be pretty, not a civil discourse on the virtues of the VAT on the floor of Congress.

One wonders about the Constitutionality of any national VAT tax anyway. It took and amendment to make the income tax legal.

Posted by: edbyronadams | October 13, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I know I'm a grasshopper and freely admit it. Que sara sara, etc. I early on decided that the Travis McGee philosophy of taking your retirement as you go was the way to be. I've seen too many people scrimp and save all their lives only to have a stroke or a life-altering illness that then wipes out all the money they had planned to use in their golden years.

I fully expect to work in some capacity (at hopefully decreasing weekly hours) for the rest of my life. If some distant relative or Nigerian prince throws me enough money to live comfortably in my dotage, I will take advantage of it. Otherwise I intend to stay on the treadmill chasing that block of cheese.

Until then I am going continue to enjoy the things I can afford to do (and a few I can't) now while I have the faculties to appreciate them. The vagaries of the market can take away everything I have anytime it wants but it can't destroy the memories of the places I've been and the things I've done.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Don't knock the Neil Diamond Christmas album. It's a very good one and I chuckle over the irony of it every year.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Major props to CqP and friends:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | October 13, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Snowe voted in support of the Baucus bill, as she said she would. Good for her.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Perfectly sane economists are urging further stimulus spending. There's even worry that smaller businesses can't get credit.

And the country's slowly going to pieces for lack of investment in education, transportation (looks like privately-owned railroads aren't improving their tracks, even when overwhelmed with traffic), and nearly anything other than health care. Lots of shiny new medical facilities.
So maybe abolish NASA, NIH and NSF, privatize higher education, convert the Interstate highways to tolls, and nationalize the ports and rails.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | October 13, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm at least slightly an ant. I know enough to cut firewood on a pretty day. And max out my 401K contribs. I was stashing 9% for a while.

Another article (from yesterday) on the sodium flash from the moon the other day.

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 13, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Talking salaries is a little gauche but I kinda enjoy that 6.2% (Medicare has no upper limit) salary boost I get at the end of the year. However, it is more than offset by the loss of deductions I give up and the AMT penalties I endure for making too much money but not quite enough.

We have never gotten one penny of tax credit for my wife's student loans because *EYE* make too much money. I've tried to explain how much money she could save by ditching me, but the hints don't take.

The real tax crime is that every penny of wages (up to that $106k limit) has FICA taken out but that capital gains and dividends and other revenue streams the truly wealthy enjoy are taxed at 15% when they are taxed at all.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, DNA-Grrrlll(power) Do you think my biking to and fro and circa campus was the tipping point? Let's pretend.

The award makes this move even more tragic:

The site contains many interesting flora and fauna items....full scale effort underway to save the plot. Used as a teaching laboratory by about ten departments for the last 20 years or so...but nobody told the main administrators.....

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | October 13, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Anybody got a DC-area roofer they'd like to recommend? A buddy in Arlington needs to have his duplex re-roofed. He's gotten one estimate (about $4500) and figures he ought to at least get a second opinion on an outlay of that size.

Posted by: bobsewell | October 13, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

There are no perfectly sane economists, Dave.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Your 3:04 post, Mudge, was absolutely right on. I was thinking "Bobby Zimmerman? Singing Christmas songs? What?"

Frankly, if you've got a voice (and I'm not saying that Bob Dylan does -- and he looks a lot like Vincent Price now (ohhh, scary. . . .)) you might as well sing Xmas songs. It brings in the money with which to buy Hannukah presents, eh?

And the world goes round, flat as it is. . . .

Posted by: -ftb- | October 13, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

North Carolina "nationalized" its rail system. It's a weird system I don't understand very well. They lease back the tracks to the big companies such as CSX or others; I'm not sure. And with 99 yr leases. The whole enterprise is run by a weird "railroad commission" that the public can't penetrate, knowledge-wise. I can tell you that state-owned rail hasn't stopped the private companies from jacking up the costs of developing commuter rail projects.

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 13, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I have spent the better part of the past couple of weeks running numbers for taxes, trying to re-create what the crook who was supposed to be doing this stuff didn't do. And then rounding up (since his recordkeeping was so poor and I'd much rather pay more than have the IRS on my butt). Even before this round of shenanigans, I was for a flat tax. I'll pay more, but it would be so much easier, and my time is worth it. As is the tenuous grip I have on sanity. And with a flat tax, I wouldn't have to amend every quarterly filing for the next couple of years.

On a different note, I've noticed that DC's questions about NASA are never of the 'what are they doing' type, but more along the lines of 'did they think of this?" So she asked if there are such things as aliens from outer space (she understands that lots of (butthead) people think her cousin is an illegal alien because of her skin color and surname). Anyway, I explained that we haven't found any aliens from outer space yet, but...look at all those stars. Can't just be us, could it? She said maybe they hang out on the dark side of the moon. I said, nope, they looked. She thought about it, then asked if they remembered to take a flashlight.

FWIW, this conversation took place after she blew off school to see the impact on the moon that wasn't an explosion.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 13, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

NC nationalized its railroads, jumper? Isn't that like...socialism? This is Mark Sanford we're talking about, right? Lot of Republicans down that away? ('cept slyness and Cassandra, of course.) You may soon have to change your Boodle handle to Comrade Tar Heel.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I was in the airport in Austin, Texas on a business trip and all the TV monitors were covering the moon bombing. I turned to my boss and said, "Years from now we will be able to tell our children exactly where we were when the Moon got blown up."

Somehow I think those words are less than prophetic.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The North Carolina of 30 years ago would never have bought out rail rights of way, much less worked on commuter rail.

If the NC rail scheme prevents just one cloud of chlorine gas from a derailed car, or does anything at all to get rid of grade crossings, it might be worthwile. At least until transparency breaks out and the commission turns out to be taking kickbacks.

Florida seems to be turning toward ensuring that the one existing commuter rail service (Miami to W Palm Beach) goes bust, and no others will ever be started.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | October 13, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

LiT makes a compelling case for the value of simplified taxes. Further, the complexity of the current system makes mistakes a lot easier.

Years ago, because of an honest mistake regarding two competing versions of my name, I spent several weeks in communication with the IRS pointing out that only one of these individuals really out to be paying taxes as they both were me. One would have thought the identical SSNs would have been a clue.

Anyway, the point is, undoing mistakes are costly and stressful. Anything that can help reduce them is okay in my book.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | October 13, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I think it all happened about 1894. I think it's run by the pigs that are "more equal" than the others. But I'm not sure.

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 13, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The Texas Railroad Commission, which also oversees gas & oil, is hands down the most powerful board in the state. I always tell students that if they happen to practice in Texas, and have any success, try to get on that commission.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

We used Marshall Roofing about three years ago and were satisfied. They showed up on schedule, did a good job, and cleaned up well afterwards. Price was middling- neither the highest nor the lowest.

Posted by: kguy1 | October 13, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone besides me noticed that the sly (speaking of slyness) WaPo teckies have moved the box of three sponsored links right up under the kit? It's no longer at the bottom of the page lurking in the tall grass under this sign-in/comment box.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how it pulled those three links from Joel's kit. I think I have an idea how an unemployed mom can make $77 an hour working at home, but we're all much too polite to be discussing such a thing here.

And I would have thought Joel's reference to Henry Aaron might at least have pulled a link to something to do with baseball, not the Holland-America Lines (they're my favorite cruise ship line, but even so, there was nothing to suggest them).

Ya know what I misss about the Russian Revolution? Everybody running around talking about the Workers and the Bourgeoisie. I think this year for Halloween all the Democrats should dress up as Workers, and all the Republicans can dress up as Bourgeoisie. Limbaugh can be Sergei Sazonov (that one is just for you LALurker).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Bob Dylan become a Christian at some point? My sister had the pleasure of being at a concert at that time, when lots of people walked out because his songs reflected that. Just sayin'.

Mark Sanford is from South Carolina. Hey, there's an idea - maybe South and North Carolina could merge, so duplication could be eliminated. No one outside of those states can tell the difference anyway. Same with the Dakotas, Virginias, etc.

Posted by: seasea1 | October 13, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I noticed the place change in the google ads, also note that mine include ads for the $77 hr unemployed mom, white teeth and bipolar disorder. Trying very hard not to read too much into my ads.

Posted by: dmd3 | October 13, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

He did, seasea, but then he kinda sorta came back to the tribe. It's been kinda difficult telling where is head is on any given day. (So what else is new?) But generally he's somewhat back in the fold. More or less. Somewhat. Sometimes.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 13, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Great idea, seasea.

We could also combine the Jerseys, merge New Mexico with Classic Mexico, and join Texas and Oklahoma so we can get rid of two panhandles.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

It seems there IS a lower limit to the acceptable quality to become an NFL team owner (who knew?) and that Rush Limbaugh is just not couth enough to meet that bar.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Hooray for cows. Refusing to sign the "puppy mill legislation" is actually good news.

Service dog organizations in California breed and raise their own dogs. 50 adult dogs (and just how old is an adult dog?) is not even enough to maintain a healthy breeding population specifically for service dog work.

I ask "just how old an adult dog is" because service dogs for physical assistance have to be at least 18 months to 2 years old to complete their training-- 2 years old is best to ensure complete soundness.

So you can see that just a few adult dogs actually used for breeding plus a lot of service dogs in training could easily put a service dog school in "puppy mill" category.

May I say the IMPORTANT POINT is-- it ain't how many dogs you got, it's how you take care of them, how you breed them, and an inexperienced owner with only a few dogs can screw genetics and puppy care up far worse than a commerical breeder.

Most "puppy mills"-- as in commerical breeders-- are actually already licensed USDA facilities. The USDA actually offers courses on animal care to commerical breeders.

There are abuses, as occurs in every industry. This does not mean that dog breeding should be banned as something evil.

It's just sex, for heaven's sake. Animals like it and do it without human intervention.

Animals are not made to be sexless baby-surrogates that never grow up, and I find this neo-purtianism towards animals disturbing sometimes.

Yeah, we do have problems with pets in shelters, but half of the time it's the owners who got the animals (bought, got free, etc.) and then found they couldn't live with the animal, or turned out to be horrible pet owners.

People who are really worried about pet overpopulation should really think about just how pet limit laws, are supposed to HELP this issue.

Say your friend loses her home and has to foreclosure-- or is sofa-surfing in between jobs.

Now, you're willing to take in her two dogs-- but you already have dogs and you're under a pet limit zone law.

Maybe your friend finds somebody else who isn't. But that law just made it almost certain that pets are sent to the shelter for what could well be a temporary situation only lasting a few months.

Be very, very wary of anybody who claims this kind of law will help animals.

In my opinion, it only hurts animals.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 13, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

RT- thanks for that commercial - LOLed.

Couldn't help but note that I actually used a friend's electric Milwaukee torque driver to change some tires this weekend at the track. They *are* pretty good.

'course, when we're in a real hurry doing hot pit stops, we use Ingersoll-Rand air tools hooked up to nitrogen tanks.

That'll spin yer lug nuts.

I can't talk about actually doing taxes without becoming emotional, so I'm going to have to hold off until I have an adult beverage.

Or two.


Posted by: -bc- | October 13, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Combine Texas and Oklahoma? Them's fightin' words, yello. On both sides of the border.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

One of my favorite fairly recent budget-related interviews was with a well-known representative (for the life of me I can't actually remember who it was, only that it was a "household name") during the brief discussion about privatizing (a portion of) Social Security. He/She said, "there's not a problem with Social Security, in 2028 it'll still have enough money to pay out 75% of it's forecast benefits." He/She had no conception that a 25% reduction in benefits had just been endorsed.

That's a little bit of where we are with the deficit/debt. Sometime soon, the politicians are going to say that "there's no problem, we forecast being able to repay at least 75% of our outstanding debt."

George Bush led us down this path, but unfortunately for Obama, it, like Afghanistan, has become his problem. Trust me when I tell you that the Republicans will use this against the Democrats to great advantage in 2010 and 2012.

I reposted this last week, but it bears repeating. When the Augustine Commission did their review of spaceflight, they concluded there wasn't enough money. Their quote needs to be appended to every spending bill. "If, after designing cleverly, building alliances with partners, and engaging [appropriate third parties], the nation cannot afford to fund the effort to pursue the goals it would like to embrace, it should accept the disappointment of setting lesser goals." Equally applicable to moonshots, healthcare and fighter/bomber production.

Posted by: Awal | October 13, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh.My.God. Let's not merge the two Carolinas. At least there is SOME sanity in NC, SC is a truly lost cause. And, please, Mudge, don't go blaming Mark Sanford on Jumper, Cassandra, and me! Beverly Perdue is from eastern NC, but at least she's a Democrat and had the sense to raise the state sales tax (a quarter of a cent, IIRC).

All sanity in North Carolina resides in the populous urban counties - Wake, Mecklenburg, Durham, Orange, Watauga and a few others - whose voters put the state in the blue column last November. There are those who say that is the impact of educated urban folks who moved into the state, but I am a third generation NC Democrat and I am not alone. We welcomed the help, of course.

Posted by: slyness | October 13, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Good evening to the eastern part of the country. Here in California's Central Coast we've had 2+ inches of rain in the past 12 hours --- the first rain in about six months. And very welcome. A few miles to the south rain could wash away lots of soil (and rocks, trees, brush) in the area of the summer fires.

One of my Google ads is about investing in silver. Did Joel write about the Lone Ranger?

Posted by: nellie4 | October 13, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

kguy - Thanks for the feedback on Marshall Roofing. As it happens, that's who had given my buddy the first estimate. He liked them, and your feedback makes him more comfortable. He's got someone coming by to give him another estimate, but if Marshall still seems reasonable, I'll bet that your added thoughts swing it their way.

Posted by: bobsewell | October 13, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Nellie - When I lived in Sacramento (most of the 1980's) my parents got used to me calling them about three times per year - In April around the time that my father & I have our birthdays, in December sometime around holiday season, and in September/October, when it rained for the first time since May.

Posted by: bobsewell | October 13, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

As Weingarten would say, "HAHA." You Americans just crack me up. -18C and snowing hard when I awoke this morning, and the roads *sucked* when I shopped at 4:00 pm.

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

A disturbing story about Oxycontin "clinics" in Florida.

The company which makes it is not mentioned in the documentary, as far as I can tell.

Wikipedia has info on this also.

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 13, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I just love it when Ms. Nanook of the North reports in like that. I have no freaking idea what -18C might be in plain English, but it just sounds so miserably cold I don't wanna know. And she laughs in the face of a wint'ry blizzard. I even hate to think what the roads must be like if Yoki thinks they "suck." Around here, a half inch of flurries qualifies for federal disaster help. Yoki, I hope you have enough walrus meat, caribou chops and root veggies to make it through the winter. I'll see you in the spring after the thaw.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | October 13, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh my Yoki, so early for cold like that.

Posted by: dmd3 | October 13, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

minus 18 is around zero f. stay warm, yoki.

nellie, that rain has sort of started down here and we'll get most of it overnight. we really need it, although burned areas are in trouble.

Posted by: LALurker | October 13, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, of course it's cold, Yoki... it's after Thanksgiving!

Posted by: -TBG- | October 13, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

OK, true story.

When I was in Grade 8 (Eighth Grade), in Edmonton, Alberta (Edmonchuck), Canada's (as it then was) most northern provincial, and we do mean *Provincial* (but now quite sophisticated) capital, I took an Outdoor Education course approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources, called "Hunting, Conservation and Survival."

I really became Ms. Nanook! I could build a lean-to out of lodgepole pine branches, and spark a fire by flint, and hook a big ugly sturgeon (and clean it and cook it!) and was generally Survivor Girl. Well, we went out for a practicum, and when it poured cold rain the whole weekend (in May! In Northern Alberta! Some cold and wet.), my Teacher (Mr. S.) brought down Elk chops from his very comfortable tent-camper, and some gasoline in a small jar. We had a roaring fire and fried up those chops, no problem. And then Mr. S. told me that "my mother-in-law shot this elk."

I *fell about* in laughter.

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Yoki! We had snow on Saturday, but we've been around 10 degrees C warmer than you.

The fog off the lake was gorgeous, I must say. So thick, you barely could see a dark grey band that could have been the trees or maybe just approaching gloom from Canada.

Below it I thought I could see the real shore, lighter grey outline of squares and such-- houses? Then below it, a brighter shining fog, like light made mist, off the mirror-grey lake with ripples and two white sailboats (no sails on masts) bobbing on the lake, surrounded by the fog vortices dancing across the lake surface like waltzing ghosts.

I didn't take a picture of it because there was too little contrast without capturing the motion.

Later the fog burned off and it was blue with fluffy clouds again.

And that's the sky report for today, folks.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 13, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I have new pictures from the other side of the sky...

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 13, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

O, Wilbrod.

I love this monotone landscape (but subtly *not* monotone, you know?). As though someone has drawn it in charcoal, and soft pastels, and then blended and smudged until we can't know what is white and what is black.

One of my best things is to see bare brown/grey branches against a heavy-with-snow grey sky, and feel the impendingness of it all, before the snow starts to fall. And to feel that cold wind pick up on my skin.

When the girlings were just tiny, we always went out in that sort of weather. And one thing we always did, as soon as we came back into the warm house and pulled off all the heavy snowsuits and overcoats, was to place the sides of our faces one against the other, just as they were still cold but beginning to get rosy in the warmth, and *feel.*

We would look into each other's eyes, and say, "I love your cold orchard-cheeks."

I was overcome at being the filling in the toddler sandwich, those evenings.

They still remember those late-afternoons as moments of perfect Northern happiness.

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Filling in a toddler sandwich. O, Yoki.

Soft, silky pastels-- for the shine and silkiness are difficult to capture with crude pastels.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 13, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

If the boodle ever gets marooned before making it back to the bunker I want Yoki in my group. I can make soap from ashes and just about any animal fat, and I'm not too bad at tanning hides.

Wilbrod-great sky report. We had fog and a beautiful frost this morning.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 13, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Bobs, you were a real Californian in the 80s, making note of the the only thing that matters here -- water.

I grew up in Long Beach -- was I amazed when we moved east in the 70s and found that it rained in the summer! Amazing!

Posted by: nellie4 | October 13, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

LALurker, I sincerely hope you don't live in some "quaint canyon."

Posted by: nellie4 | October 13, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

The weather is really unsettled at this time of year. The weather mans gleefully announced night temperatures going down to -8C/18F in the next couple of days (where is the calculator in Vista, I'm back doing mental calculations FCOL?)
I'm not ready for that.

Camping in Canada is volunteering for misery. It's acceptable only with room service. I remember going camping in early October. We sweated under mosquito attacks during the day then the weather changed and we used melted snow for coffee the next morning. I like my coffee black and strong as bull, as the chief said. Weak, tasteless and watery coffee provided by fellow campers, another reason why camping sucks.
I'll remember the guy serving overcooked pasta with canned tomato soup as a sauce, on another trip, until I died. He signed up with a promise of spaghetti Bolognese for the team. I had brought royal couscous on that canoe trip if my memory serves me well (something that is not guaranteed these days). The other teams were circling our campsite like famished coyotes at dinner time, maybe they had pasta with the special sauce that day. We had only bread for breakfast the next day as the twerp who was in charge of it put the eggs and bacon in the stream to keep them "cool". (In the Lac St-Jean area, in September!!!) Sure enough it rained and the good stuff went downstream.

The tax discussion made me laugh a bit. I checked, the marginal income tax rate for 08 (income tax on the last dollar earned) was a reasonable 46%. It was 51% a few years back. And the VAT-like PST-GST is at about 15%. I know Yoki and dr, Alberta doesn't do PST. It's nice to sit on more oil than Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 13, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

So long as you do the actually shooting, frosti, I'll keep the campsite comfortable. I'll even help butcher. And cook.

I am nothing if not prepared for the coming guerilla war in Rainy River!

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Back in the dawn of time I could clean fish. Also, I can sing nice songs around the campfire. May I be in the survivor's group with those of you who have actual skills?

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Hah! shriek. My greatest misery, living on the broad prairie, is that most people hereabouts don't think that a normal cup of coffee should resemble a 12-shot of espresso.

I really suffered in Maple Creek. I did.

Also, the populace often says, "I'm not that much for spicy food."

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

The forecast said it would be cloudy today, but it was partly sunny instead - a perfect day for riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's about a hundred miles from here to Asheville, but it took us about 4 and a half hours because we stopped at just about every overlook to see and take pictures. Even at busy times (like now), it's fun to drive the Parkway because there's so much to see. At the highest elevations (Mt. Mitchell, 6684 ft), the color is already gone, but there was plenty along the way. A lot of yellow this year, not so much red. I suppose the sumac and other red trees are gone.

Instead of retracing our steps, we returned via US19, much of which was new to us. Neither of us had ever been to Mars Hill so we went a little out of our way to see the town and the college.

Asheville and its environs are much different than the northeastern NC mountains. At a lower elevation, the hills there are more gentle and developed and less wild. Lovely in a civilized way, and not as rugged. Fall hasn't arrived there yet; the trees are still full and green.

Rain is in the forecast till Saturday, so we will do some of our Christmas shopping and other indoor activities.

Posted by: slyness | October 13, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

You're tanning hides with the brains of their former owners frosti?
Thout would be a challenge to make VLP leather boots; that's a very large skin and there is only very small brains available to tan it.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 13, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Thout? That must be the past tense of that.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 13, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm not too good on the survival skills (I managed to nearly get myself dead by dehydration on the Hilo coast of Hawaii, home to The Most Rainiest City on Earth (yes, worse than Seattle)), but I'm a demon for whipping up engines of war -- if you need to protect the campsite from raiders, for instance.

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 13, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Yoki-It's a deal. I'm not one to hunt for recreation, but have done for food and would again if it meant boodle survival.

Ivansmom-my singing impairment is so profound that Frostson's first full sentence was "Mommy, please don't sing." Without your voice at the
fire I daresay we would be in great peril.

Hereabouts kids grow up thinking "spicy" and "poisonous" are synonyms.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 13, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

nellie, fortunately not living in a canyon - or anywhere near risks of fires, floods, or mud slides. however, my overflowing gutter is creating mini-canyons as we speak.

Posted by: LALurker | October 13, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not that much for spicy food."
I've heard that one, in places where salt, pepper and parsley count as spices. These people start boiling the potatoes then think about what they are going to serve for dinner. There is nothing wrong about potatoes but there are other things in life.

Elitist food comment of the day. I tried St-Aubin (d'Anjou) cheese tonight and it was a very good "pâte fleurie" type cheese. Delicate, a little acidic bite, great aroma and texture. A good find altogether.
For some reason the local Weston Boy and Hunkster Food&Bread shop got an order of regional French cheeses in the stores from the Coeur de Lion brand (name of the company: La compagnie des fromages. I'm not making it up. Someone got a brain hernia thinking that one up). All the cheeses were 2-3$ off do I picked a few.

Report on the Crémerin (of Normandie) to follow.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 13, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Why does this make me think of you, S'Nuke?

It's about cake decorating....

Posted by: rickoshea1 | October 13, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I got a card from my grandmother, whose house was completely crisped in the Santa Barbara fires earlier this year.

Yep, she's gonna rebuild in place!

Posted by: bobsewell | October 13, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, I love spicy food.

But cold weather does call for less spicy food...unless you're settling in for the day/night after a long day out and need to steam the chill out of your bones.

Then bring on the chili!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 13, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I just did a dumb thing. I burned my arm pretty badly taking a cast-iron enameled pan out the oven on Sunday (colloquially known The Thanksgiving Burn, since I do this every year, one way or another; if not a burn, The Thanksgiving Cut), and when it itched just now, having forgotten, I scratched. Not nice.

Ivansmom, I would gladly shoot an animal if you promise to sit by the fire, elegantly, and sing while frosti and I do the necessary, and then I will bring you a plate of wild food. Your voice is, just, what I hear in my dream of singing.

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

I am such a wimp. I don't hunt, could fish but only have (limited) ocean experience and only if someone else baits the hook (worms-ugh!). Don't have any desire to camp overnight anywhere for any reason, I need things like a bed, a bathroom, a hairdryer. I even gave in and turned on the heat tonight when the house reached 60 degrees. But I'll keep a light in the window for you all.

Posted by: badsneakers | October 13, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

good for your grandmother, bob. must be tough to go through all that.

Posted by: LALurker | October 13, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

I can do camping in the cold and wild, with great joy. One may warm up by a fire and in a good sleeping bag. But camping at the beach in the sand and heat - no thanks! Been there, done that, won't ever do it again.

May I come camping with you, frosti and Yoki and Ivansmom? I have my own sleeping bag and can borrow the Geekdottir's gear. I also have my grandmother's iron skillet to cook great stuff in and will bring that. *I* can do spongebaths and wash my hair in cold water. But only if necessary.

Posted by: slyness | October 13, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I spin and can keep the boodle well supplied with yarn, rope, string etc. I also knit socks and so far this 'fall' socks are a very very important article of clothing.

Mrdr just checked the weather and 'sucks' is putting it mildly. The wind is bitterly cold, and the wee amount of snow we have is blowing at its blizzardy best. They say it is supposed to go up to 20 C on Saturday, but I am not so foolish as to believe it.

Posted by: --dr-- | October 13, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

I could do the fishing stuff in your Survivors production Yok. That would be the "Freeze your Delicate Bits Alberta edition", a good change from those tiring Polynesian islands versions where all thos nice people are walking around half (or more) naked.

I grossed out the family when I used the eyes of the last-caught smelt as bait when I ran out of sea worms. Sea worms (known locally as leeches because they bite and draw blood) were icky enough as it were for them.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 13, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Bob's grandmother may be more important as an icon than bob's-yer-uncle. Note to self: rebuild. Bob's gmama did.

As for camping with the lovely boodle ladies, I think we must paraphrase Ruth's song to Boaz:

For wherever you go,
I will go;
And wherever you camp,
I will camp;
Your tent shall be
my tent,
and your Gear,
my Gear.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | October 13, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

CqP, your song reminded me of a saying a former girlfriend was found of: The item a girl must absolutely not forget when going camping is a boy.
Somehow those opposable thumbs, larger muscular mass and less agile brains are coming handy.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 13, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

SCC fond
Goodnight all.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 13, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse


I love the Book of Ruth.

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

I concur on the merits of cold camps over hot, Slyness.

All snuggled under a down throw with the shyest frostcat, imagining an international boodle campout. Will generate sweet dreams I'm sure.

Toodles boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 13, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Well, there's cold camps, and then there's COLD camps. I've spent some nights high in the Rockies & Sierras when it was very, very difficult to talk myself into getting out of the sleeping bag in the morning.

Nighty-night, y'all.

Posted by: bobsewell | October 13, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

LALurker --
My neighbor has a pine tree, which is right next to my bedroom, and the tree is right above the gutter, which is right above the window, which is the one I like to open a bit at night and golly! Is it ever noisy in this storm!

Major gutter cleaning due!

Posted by: nellie4 | October 13, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

scc: remove a few of these "!" from the prior post, along with the pine needles in the gutter.

Posted by: nellie4 | October 13, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

i have a pine tree right outside as well. my landlord needs to have the gutters cleaned, which is why they are overflowing.

Posted by: LALurker | October 13, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

It's just like the walnuts in saving Piggy Sneed.

Posted by: Yoki | October 13, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm staying inside by the fire with Sneaks. I like to get out in the wild, but not when it's cold. We drove by Mt Rainier last week, and it was too cold to linger long outside at the overlooks, or even at a fairly low elevation campground. Windy and rainy and cold here at home.

Posted by: seasea1 | October 14, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm convinced that botanists can make reasonably good birders (you listen for them and locate them by sound; actually seeing one is langniappe). I failed to follow up on what amounted to some master classes in turkey hunting. In the rifle department, .257 Roberts was easy, .308 miserable, so much so that I don't think I ever really wanted to see an elk during the season. Fortunately, I was never any good at spotting large mammals. More typical was having an antelope come up to me from behind, then clear its throat just loudly enough to get a bit of attention.

Cold has variations. I lived in two Wyoming towns. One was at the bottom of a basin, so it was in a giant frost pocket--cold air flowed down from all the surrounding countryside. If snow covered the ground, windless cold perpetuated itself. My first winter there, low temperatures from sometime in November through New Year were never better than -20.

The other Wyoming town was on the east side of a mountain mass and during much of the winter, had nightly chinook winds. When they blew, the temperature was seldom much below freezing.

The first town was a better place to grow corn and tomatoes; the second was better for apples, which could survive the warmer winters.

Our Florida heat wave may finally come to an end Friday evening. Ninety degrees feels far worse in October than in August.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | October 14, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | October 14, 2009 2:18 AM | Report abuse

Is this all over the U.S. or just in the Southeast?

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 14, 2009 3:02 AM | Report abuse

Well, not in Canada, eh?

Posted by: Yoki | October 14, 2009 3:07 AM | Report abuse

I've seen the anthropomophized road hazard plenty. Cute voice, but no gecko. Not even a caveman.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 14, 2009 5:18 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

FYI, 7-11 is running a promotion for free 12-oz. coffee, tea, hot choco or cappuccino until mthe end of the month. To get a coupon got to at and print out the coupon (print out two on a page and photocopy it to give yourself a supply for the month).

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | October 14, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Morning all... After reading last night's conversation, I feel like I've been camping. We used to gather for weekends in the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club cabins in the winter with our friends back in the olden days of singlehood and childlessness. The cabins were outfitted with bunks, fireplaces and woodstoves.

We took turns making meals and it was almost like a contest to see who could make the best meal on a woodstove. There were some great ones. But the main activities were drinking and card playing.

But my point here, I guess, is the memory of waking up freezing cold, in the sleeping bag, trying to convince yourself to get up and head outside in the dark and snow to the outhouse. We really do take our heat and running water for granted, don't we?

Posted by: -TBG- | October 14, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Cake decorating, Maggie O'D?? What an odd occupation... ;-)

And of course, SciTim's Vest O'Wonders would be essential equipment for any hardy band of survivors, methinks...

I'll contribute my massive cranium for fending off marauding doorjambs. And I'm told I'm useful in the extra body heat department...

*I-managed-to-run-the-office-yesterday-with-no-complications Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 14, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

And not one, but two links on the NYT home page for this article, for some reason...

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 14, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Bonjour, les Boodleurs!

Vroom, vroom, buzzing an anemic spring sky. Winter refuses to leave.

My advice on how to win in Afghanistan is in the Useless junk pile.

Haff a gut day, everyone.

Posted by: Braguine | October 14, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

What a lame, lame story:

Under-reported, under-researched, and also misleading. Other than that, it's all I'm gonna say about it. Except to mumble "lame, lame" a few more times.

Meanwhile, I took my home-printed coupon to a 7-11 in LaPlata this morning and when I took my coffee to the register and handed in my home-PC-printed coupon, the nasty woman at the register wouldn't take it. "We don't accept these off the Internet," she said. And she walked off with my coupon. "Ma'am, can I have my coupon back, please, I said, as I dumped my full cup of coffee in the trash (because I no longer wanted it under these circumstances). "I'm gonna show it to my manager," she said (like I had a choice in the matter). So she went into the back while I stood there. A minute later she came back and handed me my coupon. "We don't take these," she said.

"They're advertising this on channel 4," I said.

""We don't take these if they've been printed on a computer," she said.

I said, "You do understand that to get the coupon, you go online and there's this coupon, and they instruct you to print it, right?"

She said. "We don't take them."

End of story.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 14, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Good morning! Chilly and rainy here again, just like autumn. Or should that be "autumny"? Howdy Brag.

Frostbitten, you made me laugh. Early into toddlerhood I too begged my mother not to sing.

Bob S., your grandmother is indeed an inspiration. Rebuild. Keep going.

Headline today says that the health insurance industry has declared war on health reform. I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Anyone else share my surprise?

Meanwhile, our state agencies have to cut 5% from their budget again this month, thanks to revenue shortfalls. This is the third month in a row, and looks to continue for a while. The scary thing is, we're still better off than a lot of states. Solvent, for one thing.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 14, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle!

There's a week left until the "Next Great Pundit" deadline. Live Q&A with Fred Hiatt today at 11:00 ET.
Brag-it may not be too late to be heard on Afghanistan.

MPR, which usually gushes uncritically over all things Bob Dylan, is reading Amazon reviews and tweets about the Christmas album. Even the 5 star reviews sound rather snarky. After hearing a few clips this morning I think the frostfam will stick with Jingle Cats and Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

In the medical confusion stories the patient you don't want the mix-up to be about is you--or a loved one.

My husband went for his chest X-ray not long ago. As my husband told it yesterday, the papers/instructions stated that he had myeloma, not the malignant melanoma (skin cancer)he had cut away last summer. The X-ray tech had wanted to X-ray his gut region instead of his lungs. My husband insisted that the tech call the doctor's office to clear up the confusion. X-rays were taken of my husband's lungs.

Yesterday, my husband went for his cat scan. The tech at his office said that they wouldn't be giving my husband the dye (or glow juice, as I call it) since my husband has myeloma. One mistake is forgivable, but twice borders on incompetence and negligence.

My husband insisted the tech call the oncologist's office. My husband finally had a lung scan performed with the dye.

Is the problem with Dr. Zulfaqqar M. Jaffar, who practices both hematology and oncology? Was my husband referred to the appropriate oncologist? Is there an English-as-a-second-language problem with either Dr. Jaffar or a member(s) of his staff, who may (or may not be) bilingual? Someone ought to be pretty embarrassed about this ridiculous mix-up, that has now occurred twice.

Posted by: laloomis | October 14, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Calling someone out like that is a good way to find your appointments have been cancelled.

What's bilingual got to do with it? Could be a transcription mistake; could be an insurance coding mistake. Could have nothing to do with the doctor *or* his staff. Besides, it's not like they took out the wrong kidney. They were erring on the side of caution. You're supposed to be an active participant in your healthcare, and then these mistakes never make it off the page and into practice.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 14, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom-be sure you tell all your Rep. neighbors what a hash Pawlenty made of the budget in MN. His national political aspirations don't seem to have been dimmed by his inability to play well with others-including members of his own party. He probably runs with scissors too.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

That the states and other public bodies let go of many of their employees in the middle of a recession caracterized by high unemployment makes many economists cringe. This is clearly not what the doctor ordered to cure the current economic woes.
These no-deficit constitutional clauses or laws the states straightjacketed themselves in were making nice campaign promises but they are not much help right now.
Krugman is advocating a state bail-out by the federal government to avoid these lay-offs. I don't know if the President has the muscle to do that at this junction. From an economic standpoint it would make more sense than firing teachers, social workers, court clerks and so on when so few jobs are on the market. These former state employees will end-up on unemployment benefits paid by the feds and the states anyway. *sigh*

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 14, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

sd-don't you know gummint jobs aren't "real" jobs? Everything state employees do is either unnecessary or inefficient. Or, as the old saying goes-Anything worth doing is worth doing for a profit.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

It's bad enough I have imaginary lunch with imaginary friends. Are you telling me I now have an imaginary job, Frosty?

(Because a lot of days it seems that way to me, too.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 14, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"Anything worth doing is worth doing for a profit." Forsti, this is the crux of the problem, and has been for decades (or even centuries). Yes, the profit motive does result in progress, and is generally a good thing. However, some fiscal conservatives insist that it be taken to its logical extreme. It becomes social Darwinism. In a modern society, there are things that are necessary to society - emergency services, police protection, mass transit, highways, education, etc., that will never turn a profit. These conservative types simply holler about cutting taxes, with the idea that without sufficient funds, government will have to cut "unessential" services. Yet when the jurisdictions start cutting, they say wait! You can't cut THAT!! They show up a town hall meetings and council sessions packing heat, with the veiled threat that it's my way or the skyway. I don't have any good answers, but the coarsening of public discourse has to stop soon.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 14, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse


Now, I must go inflate my bicycle tires so I can make the trip to that relic of our quaint dedication to the common good- the Post Office.

Amen brother ebt.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

*Tim, new snaps? Where?

Posted by: LostInThought | October 14, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

This just in, one of our favorite birthers (someone should compile rankings), dentist/lawyer Orly Taitz, has been fined by a federal court judge for "using the courts as a platform for a political agenda disconnected from any legitimate legal cause of action." For the record, the federal judge issuing the rebuke, Clay Land, was appointed by George W. Bush.

full text:

Posted by: Awal | October 14, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Awal-thanks for the link. It was a pleasure to read.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Awal that's great! Big time applause for the judge, but ya gotta give it to the clerk too...s/he nailed it!

Posted by: LostInThought | October 14, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, Awal, many thanks -- I needed a shot of sanity today. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 14, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Footnote 11 stands out. I hope that one doesn't come back to bite.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 14, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse


CqP, even more apropos, wasn't the song from Ruth to Naomi? I could look it up online, but that would be cheating.

Mudge, great story of coupon frustration & dumbness in action.

And on the profit motive. It isn't just that work that can't be done for a profit is considered worthless. For many years I've believed that the real Repub motto is, It's immoral to do on a nonprofit basis any work could be making money.

Posted by: woofin | October 14, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

That judge's court order is just wonderful, hilarious reading. So far I'm only halfway through it, but at one point the judge asserts Taitz or somebody might file a lawsuit claiming the president was not only not born in Hawaii, but was actually a Martian. To which the judge replied in footnote 7:

"7The Court does not make this observation simply as a rhetorical
device for emphasis; the Court has actually received correspondence
assailing its previous order in which the sender, who, incidentally,
challenged the undersigned to a “round of fisticuffs on the Courthouse
Square,” asserted that the President is not human."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 14, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that a discussion of fisticuffs would brighten up many a legal document.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | October 14, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse


"Her argument that she
should have been given more time to respond before the Court issued
its ruling, when she had requested the expedited consideration, is so
shockingly devoid of reality that it is difficult to know how to


"Likewise, accusing a judge of treason and suggesting that the federal
courts are under the thumb of the Executive Branch for no reason other
than the judge ruled against you may be protected by the First
Amendment when made outside of court proceedings, but it has no place in a legal motion for reconsideration."


"Ms. Taitz alleges that the undersigned may have discussed this
case with the Attorney General of the United States. In support of
this accusation, counsel submits the affidavit of Robert D. Douglas.
Mr. Douglas states that on the day of the hearing in the Cook case,
he saw in the “coffee shop” across the street from the federal
courthouse someone whom he recognized as Eric Holder, the Attorney
General. Mr. Douglas’s identification is based upon what he describes
as the Attorney General’s “distinguishing features: his trim upper lip
mustache, not large of stature and general olive complexion.”
(Douglas Aff., Sept. 26, 2009.) The affidavit further states that Mr.
Douglas “new [sic] instantly that it was none other than Eric Holder,
the current Attorney General of the United States.” (Id.) Mr.
Douglas has apparently never seen the Attorney General in person, but
Mr. Douglas states that he recognized the Attorney General because he
had seen Mr. Holder on television.
The undersigned has never talked to or met with the Attorney
General. As to whether the Attorney General took time out of his busy
schedule to visit an “obscure” “coffee shop” in Columbus, Georgia on July 16, 2009, the Court cannot definitively say because the Court was
not there. What the Court can say is that no reasonable attorney
would rely upon this affidavit in support of a legal argument in a
court of law....

"6Minimal research reveals that the Attorney General was in Los
Angeles on July 15 and July 16, the same time Ms. Taitz claims he was in
Columbus, Georgia, 2,000 miles away. E.g., Press Release, U.S. Department
of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder to Visit Los Angeles to Address
Southwest Border Strategy, Violence Against Women and Gang Prevention
(July 14, 2009), available at
idUS175936+14-Jul-2009+PRN20090714; Press Release, U.S. Department of
Justice, Attorney General Announces $500,000 Recovery Act Grant for
California Transitional Housing Program (July 16, 2009), available at"

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 14, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'll give that to Beck and his followers, the Birther movement attacts a better class of nutcases.

Al Martino/Frank Fontane died yesterday. As Frank Fontane he was a singer with a very persuasive agent. The Corleone Talent Agency was always willing to go the extra mile for its protégés.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 14, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

SCC attracts

A link to a Martino obit:

A Tune cootie: "Volare" was one of his early success

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 14, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

A nicely written decision, Awal.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 14, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Johnny Fontane, shriek.

Frank Fontaine was a comedian on the Jackie Gleason show, who always played a drunk named Crazy Guggenheim.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 14, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I love dry legal humor - that was fun reading, Awal! I want to find out how to send a "Bravo" message to Judge Clay Land.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | October 14, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

You're right about the different Fontaines, Mudge. But Frank also had a great singing voice as well and had several albums of his own.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 14, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Right Mudge, but it's probably the other Italian singer named Frank that popped out of my scrambled brains.

I've seen The Godfather at least 50 times, I'd probably be ashamed of the exact number of times I've watched it. I own the VHS tape at one point and I still have the regular DVD. I got the beautifully remastered Blueray DVD when it came out, so yes it was an unexcusable error.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 14, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

BTW, that court decision sure beats the heck out of some of the land use and zoning decisions I sometimes have to plow through. Maybe if Ms. Taitz fails to pay, they will throw her in jail for contempt. Wonder if she can be extradited from CA? Since it's a federal case, maybe so?

Posted by: ebtnut | October 14, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link to the opinion, awal. That's the kind of thing judges wish they could write, but don't often have the chance to justify. You'll notice how carefully every statement was supported by case law - a nice solid, legal opinion. I'm sure this is winging its way across LegalLand.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 14, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

That he did, ebt. I know how shriek got "Frank": it was because the Johnny Fontane character was based on Frank Sinatra getting the role in "From Here to Eternity." A little transference and voila! Frank Fontane. Done it myself a thousand times.

Sometimes the amount of useless detritus inside my own head appalls even me. And who among us cannot quote reams of Godfather dialogue? The other day in a bookstore I came across a remaindered book about etiquette rules in the office and on the job, called "Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli A Wiseguy's Guide to the Workplace."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 14, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Orly Taitz received her law degree from an online school which is not accredited by the ABA. She was required to pass a preliminary exam before she was allowed to take the California bar exam. If only she had had the foresight to attend Regent University School of Law like Monica Goodling she might have achieved great things in the Alberto Gonzalez DOJ.

Posted by: kguy1 | October 14, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Loved the legal decision.

Not only am I not a Beatles fan, but I have not ever watched the entire Godfather movie, nor any of the sequels - I have seen the odd bit here and there but that is about it, likewise for Star Wars, Pulp Fiction and coutnless other movies.

The list of movies I have walked out of may in fact be as long as the list of movies I have watched - can't explain it I just have odd taste and a near zero tolerance for violence. I had to leave the room several times while we were watching Black Hawk Down, similarly with books I have been known to skim/skip through violent sections.

Posted by: dmd3 | October 14, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I just finished reading the Order, Awai. Very, very well done. But I must say, that the monetary sanctions may not be enough for deterrence. I don't think the $20K will deter Taitz one bit. The judge should have (and might in the future) disbarred her. I've recently drafted a pleading on sanctions and some of the cases I read in preparation included one from Florida where an attorney was actually disbarred and another suspended.

While I was reading it, I must admit that my tin-foil hat kept slipping. But I sent the Order on to my colleagues anyway.

Great that you found it, Awai!

Posted by: -ftb- | October 14, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Catch this in WaPo today? "The National Museum of Natural History announced Wednesday that it is dedicating a new hall to the story of human evolution, giving emphasis not only to how we became humans but how changes in the natural world affected human development." I can see the creationist wing-nuts coming out of the woodwork now to bash the Smithsonion (and by extension, the Obama administration) for being anti-God and pro-secular humanism by promoting evolution.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 14, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

The Godfather is a common cultural reference for people of a certain age.
Me: "Who was the guy who looks like Luca Brasi gone to fat?"
The other guy, without missing a beat: "That's Bob X."

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 14, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Ftb--Can the judge even disbar her?

See,she wasn't even licensed to practice in GA except with a GA attorney associated with her. She's certified by the CA bar association.

I guess this decision could give people in CA a reasonable basis to disbar her, though. Hopefully they do consider it, as well as insisting she get a full psych consult to prove her fitness to practice.

He also stated he was not interested in proceeding criminal proceedings just for a sanction- probably because he's so sick of her already and has other cases he wants to work on instead.

He just wants her to go away and not make herself a martyr. That's fair enough.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 14, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Notice the last part:

"The Court further directs the Clerk of this Court to send a copy
of this Order to the State Bar of California, 180 Howard Street, San
Francisco, CA 94105, for whatever use it deems appropriate."

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 14, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Good catch, Wilbrod. I missed that, actually. But if the judge did that, I wouldn't be surprised if it with the intent of having the California Bar add on to her burdens. The legal profession is definitely *not* where she belongs.

Posted by: -ftb- | October 14, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse


I think you are right. After Ruth's husband dies -- along with many other Ruthie-Naomi menfolk -- Ruth sings this to Naomi.

Can I blame being Catholic? We learn drive-by detail on the Bible....and now, though, come to think of this, why do so many weddings include this as a reading? To achieve peace between MILs and DILs? Hmmmm.

And, Woofie, do you want to go camping?

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | October 14, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

If you have ever wondered where Tarantino gets his dialogue, it's from people like this damsel-

Posted by: kguy1 | October 14, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I liked reading the case too. Looks like we have a hit on our hands.

"so shockingly devoid of reality that it is difficult to know how to
respond." That's similar language I used when speaking with a Time Warner representative about problems I had been having with my connection. Referring to their repair "system."

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 14, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I like that the woman wanted the article written to "clear her name". I would have had a better opinion of her if it was just left at the original explanation for the car crash.

Posted by: dmd3 | October 14, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

There's a footnote in the decision where the judge says he's going to send notification of the case to the California Bar, and let them decide what (if anything) to do. All he can do is send it to them, which he did.

She has 30 days to pay the $20,000, and if she defaults, federal marshals can come after her. I suspect neither the judge nor the marshal service will fool around with her. But yes, it could get interesting.

I'm certain Stewart, Olbermann and Maddow will be all over this tonight. As they should.

ebt, I think you're right: the religiowingnuts will be all over the Smithies for this. And I suspect the Smithies know it and decided to throw down the gauntlet.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 14, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Ooops, Wilbrod mudged me with her 3:06.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 14, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Cqp, I bet camping with the boodlewomen would be mighty fine experience. I was able to camp when I was 20, not because I was skilled, but because I was young and indestructible (hah!) and full of testosterone-fueled vitality and endurance. The same reason they like young men as soldiers. Nowadays I would need real skill to do it, and I have none. What I *do* have is allergies and a touch of asthma, and legs that ache.

Posted by: woofin | October 14, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Just as a point of trivia, since we brought up the outback, the Aussie airline's name was originally Queensland and Northern Territories Air System, aka Qantas. And I'm not sure I'd want to live in a place called Humpty Doo.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 14, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I think that's a fairly common footnote at the end of these types of orders. I think another common one is to forward copies to the IRS.

Posted by: LostInThought | October 14, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"Things to see in Humpty Doo" while on the way to Kakadu-

"Humpty Doo Uniting Church
The Humpty Doo Uniting Church (turn off the Arnhem Highway in Humpty Doo at the sign which says 'Church') is an unusual open air church without walls.

Boxing Croc
The Australian obsession with 'big' tourist attractions finds one of its most hilarious manifestations in 'The Boxing Croc' on the Arnhem Highway.

Fogg Dam
Fogg Dam, which was constructed in the 1950s as part of the Humpty Doo project and is now a popular birdwatching location.

Graeme Gow's Reptile World
Graeme Gow's Reptile World which boasts no fewer than 300 different species of snake including most of Australia's deadliest varieties."

Now aren't you sorry you said that about Humpty Doo?

Posted by: kguy1 | October 14, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"What I *do* have is allergies and a touch of asthma, and legs that ache."

woofin... I believe you are Everyboodler.

Posted by: -TBG- | October 14, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Besides, Woofie (can I call you that?), TBG is reserving a cabin on the A-trail. Car/Cabin camping is the reward after years of stark camping.

TBG -- did you pack the grape leaves? I have three decks of cards and a complete Scrabble board/tiles.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | October 14, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Rachel's sub had excerpts from the decision last night. Rachel would have made a lot more of it, I'm sure.

Wonder how long it will be before someone gives it a really good dramatic reading on Youtube (probably should have checked, might be there already)

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Be careful about expecting too much from cabins on the A-trail. Through hikers might like the company of mice, boodlers probably won't.

Mr. F has long planned to hike the a-trail, with me meeting him at predetermined points to share small bits of the hiking experience. I'd love the camping, but if I attempted the entire Georgia-Maine experience would probably be like the majority of through hiker wannabes who bail out before making the trail head. Mark Sanford has ruined it a bit for us. Much of the fun is in the planning, but being overheard talking about will get you more than a few stares these days.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Cabins, there are going to be cabins - count me in on the camping then. I have allergies, asthma and leg aches as well. I just have to be careful around the campfire, inhaling the smoke from campfires is a big asthma trigger for me.

Posted by: dmd3 | October 14, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, have you or Mr. F read "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson? A must read before hiking the A trail, or hiking in general, especially if you like a good laugh.

Ok, I still won't hike but I'll be happy to sew up some nice fleece tops for the women to wear.

Posted by: badsneakers | October 14, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

sneaks-we've read it a couple times each, along with a lot of other accounts. At one time Mr. F was going to retire from the Army in time to hike it with frostdottir as a high school graduation present. That was soon abandoned as she declared it the best reason she could think of for dropping out of school.

Cabin camping with a scrabble board-that would be quite fun. We could save the survival skills for the next repugnican administration.

Yes, someone has read a big portion of the Orly Taitz decision for viewing on Youtube. Not the high production value skilled reading I'd hoped for, but it's there.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

CqP, you can call me anything you want... Is it really camping if it doesn't include a hike of 3+ miles and an elevation change of several hundred feet, minimum, with the certainty of a 4 pm thunderstorm? But a car trip to someplace you can see lodgepoles, with deer and ground squirrels and those little beasties like short-eared rabbits... That's fine in itself, especially if Ivansmom sings by the fireplace in the midst of the alpine-like decor.

Posted by: woofin | October 14, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Ah: A-trail means Appalachian Trial. I thought it meant Achenblog trail, and more or less of a spiritual rather than physical entity. I wasn't actually picturing the Appalachians as such...

Posted by: woofin | October 14, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Trail, not Trial

Posted by: woofin | October 14, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Okay, if there are cabins, I'll do it. I love hiking, just not a fan of overnighting in the woods.

Posted by: badsneakers | October 14, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I did the whole 9 yards: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers, camped in rain, camped in snow, hiked, slept in a cave, earned a bunch of badges, and earned my swimming badge swimming in a pool fed by a mountain stream so cold it froze my...well, never mind. I can build a shelter, start a fire, and cook over an open fire. Most of you have probably never had Steak-Diane-on-a-Stick.

What I can't do is hike. I'll come along, as long as there's no hiking beyond 20 yards from the parking lot. A cabin would be nice, but I'm OK with a tent or some sort of shelter as long as I have electricity for my CPAP. Then I'm good to go.

However, there will be no singing of Kumbaya, not by me, anyway.

I'll pass on the S'Mores; somebody can have my share. However, I *will* bring an interesting little Pinot Grigio and perhaps a young kabinett riesling or maybe a liebfraumilch. In a canteen, of course.

Is there a big pond or a lake? Canoeing? Will I awake at sun-up listening to the call of loons? (I don't mean yello and bc.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 14, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Looks like my Congressman, Mel Watt, will be playing a role on the House Judiciary Committee's upcoming efforts to work up some new regulations of the financial klept.. er, I mean "financial industry." With 72 members, (42 Dem., 30 Rep according to Wikipedia) the input of any one member will be small. The head of the committee is Barney Frank. This comforts me. But also, my independent support of the Democratic party will be imperiled if they fail to make meaningful changes.

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 14, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

You lucky duck, Jumper, having Mel for your Congressperson. I have to vote against Sue Myrick every two years.

I have known one person who hiked the entire A trail. He's a young guy who is a manager in the local outdoor outfitting shop we are fond of. He started in Georgia in February and finished up in Maine in July. He told us it takes three weeks of hiking to get into real shape to do what has to be done.

We've been by parts of the trail but have never been on it. There are enough other trails in the area to keep us busy. My knees are not in good enough shape for me to undertake strenuous hiking.

Posted by: slyness | October 14, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

We got our first snow tonight. The tradition was respected; I walked home from the bus stop in my good leather shoes in melting snow. So Winter can come now, the rites have been performed.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 14, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

!SUGAR ALERT! for Mudge and other severely diabetic boodlers. Beware before looking at those "cake wrecks."

You could rupture an insulin pump laughing at those pictures.

I got this from this NYT article, by the way.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 14, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-no fair, that link needs to come not with a spew warning but a laugh so hard you'll pee your pants warning. Thanks!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

The fetal cakes (feetal cakes?) were hilarious...but I confess I had to look at them a minute or two to figure out what I was looking at.

That clockwork cake was spectacular--but when I see cakes like that on Food Network all I can think of is "I would never eat that. It's just too intimidating."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | October 14, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Here's an entry worthy of editorial interest:

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 14, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

It's a dirty job, Slyness, but someone's got to do it! (every two years)

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 14, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

I hate those cake shows on Food Network. It's like playing with your food, which my parents told me was not a good idea. I suspect they don't even bother making the cake TASTE great... just look good. I'm not sure cake making is a competitive sport anyway. Or cooking either, for that matter. Well, SOME competition is all right. Just not 24-7. Plus if some "judge" gave me fish sauce and squash to use in the same recipe, I could do it but I'd just as likely want to curse them with a level of vitriol they had not yet experienced, and then walk out. Which would make great TV, but I'd be out of the running!

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 14, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

And it was pumpkin pie filling, not squash. With fish sauce. (Thinking of it like squash is how I would have made it almost work.)

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 14, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, CakeWrecks... *L*

And oyez oyez, one needs major hiking skills for many parts of the Trail, particularly towards the northern end. I was young and somewhat athletic once and STILL got my butt handed to me many times near Old Speck.

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 14, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Someone in the comments on the cake wrecks site posted a link to Snopes' excellent take on cake mistakes...

Posted by: -TBG- | October 14, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

RIP Captain Lou Albano. NRBQ shares their thoughts:

Posted by: -pj- | October 14, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a Thai recipe, Jumper.

But only if the canned pumpkin wasn't already pre-spiced (ugh), although the spices do taste kind of like garam masala, so maybe some coconut milk for a soup..

I am extremely fond of savory pumpkin recipes, from eating some afghani and Indian recipe, but have problems finding a good recipe that would work with canned pumpkin, other than meat or broth.

By the way, canned pumpkin is also indicated for dogs with tummy upset (helps stop diarrhea)-- that or chicken and rice. (Eggs also work for Wilbrodog).

Once I didn't have chicken on hand, so I wound up making a big bowl of pumpkin, ground beef and rice for Wilbrodog when he was having a particularly bad time of it.

Took a taste of it myself, and liked it just fine, and Wilbrodog loved it no end.

If beef can go with pumpkin, why not fish sauce?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 14, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

'dog runs for the can
canned pumpkin can can the can's
halloween horror

Posted by: DNA_Girl | October 14, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

That cake wreck sites is slaying me. The dead dog cake is a masterpiece.

But exactly why a dead dog cake is needed?

"Congratulations as small as possible" was good too.

It happens all the time. Doing an audit once I found a warehouse full of drums marked "mm yy". Right above the marking machine there was an instruction sheet telling the operator to set it for "mm yy", mm being the numeral month and yy the numeral last two digits of the year.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 14, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

That cake wreck sites is slaying me. The dead dog cake is a masterpiece.

But exactly why a dead dog cake is needed?

"Congratulations as small as possible" was good too.

It happens all the time. Doing an audit once I found a warehouse full of drums marked "mm yy". Right above the marking machine there was an instruction sheet telling the operator to set it for "mm yy", mm being the numeral month and yy the numeral last two digits of the year.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 14, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Vista told me I was off line. Sorry for the double post.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 14, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

The A-trail runs near, maybe even through, Boiling Springs PA. Flat as a pancake in that bit, my kind of hiking.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Urgent Monty Python TV alert: the three surviving members of MP are about to join Keith Olbermann on his show. Tune in NOW.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | October 14, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

My flight from Bemidji tomorrow was cancelled. Won't get out of here for Tampa until late Friday afternoon. Yuck, I'm on my way back on Monday already.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Isn't some kind of federal disaster aid available for those who are stranded in Bemidji?


Posted by: bobsewell | October 14, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

You know what time of year this is? We've got professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey all going on at the same time.

Fun times... or end of times?

Posted by: -TBG- | October 14, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

bobs-you would think.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 14, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I might have been thinking of the "Burritos for Burundi" program sponsored by Taco Bell. Or was it "Bagels for Burkina Faso" by Bruegger’s?

Posted by: bobsewell | October 14, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I *don't* bake. Any attempt at biscuits results in a dense mass suitable for putting our a window, or occupying the back of a net. Quality is gauged by the quantity of jelly applied to the pastry-in-name-only to make it palatable. The latter is most useful to convert the mass into a bolus. Consumption must be accompanied by close observation, lest the Heiniken maneuver be employed. Cakes meet a similar fate. I attempted to craft a duncan hines orange cake for my Dad's birthday, some thirty years ago. thinking that the procedure was idiot proof, I pulled it from the oven, let it cool for what I considered a reasonable amount of time, and frosted the bottom layer. Everything looked cool. the top layer was added, frosting commenced (this was HTG butter cream, orange zest and all) and the cake fractured. I barely managed to salvage the top by using toothpicks to anchor the pieces to the bottom layer, then used the remainder of the frosting like sheetrock mud, filling the gaps, then skim coating to the desired effect. Consuming the cake required particularly close observation, as the camouflaged tooth picks had the same effect as fragments of chicken bones. The Heiniken maneuver was in a constant state of readiness. Thus, the family legend of the San Andreas fault cake, and my final attempt at baking anything more complex than a brownie. this link has about as much to do with anything in the boodle as the proverbial price of tea. I simply like the song. Put your hands together.

Posted by: -jack- | October 14, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Jack, I made that cake too! Not the brand, but the skillful salvage. I think I get points on this one, as mine was for a five year olds birthday party.

Posted by: nellie4 | October 14, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

well done, nellie. *faxing the brass ring*

Posted by: -jack- | October 14, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh jack! We've all been there. My worst disaster was a cake in the shape of a castle for a child's birthday. You see, I made a sheet cake and then cut it according to pattern. The more I frosted, the more the crumbs from the cut sides rose like a stippled ceiling. It was *awful.* Now I know why those amazing cake people put rolled fondant on their cakes!

Posted by: Yoki | October 14, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Tell me more of this Heineken maneuver? I must practice it.

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 14, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I think it involves a repetition of arm movements originating in the elbow, ideally with a small weight, about 12 oz.

Posted by: Yoki | October 15, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

I, too, have my share of cake disasters. I was trying to bake a chocolate cake. I did what I was supposed to do including beating the crap out of the butter. During baking, the butter and cocoa powder sank to the bottom. The egg and flour part were on top. It became a layered-cake when it was not suppose to. I tried the recipe again and the same thing happened. I still couldn’t figure out what went wrong.

Posted by: rainforest1 | October 15, 2009 1:20 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | October 15, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Hi yoki!

Posted by: rainforest1 | October 15, 2009 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Hi, rainforest. Always so glad to see you here.

Posted by: Yoki | October 15, 2009 2:20 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Yoki.

I don’t think anyone would want to spend the whole day baking just one cake but….just in case you have a whole day free and you don’t know what to do with it ….here it is :

Posted by: rainforest1 | October 15, 2009 3:51 AM | Report abuse

Good morning you all.

Early breakfast this morn, with coffee and hot chocolate steaming. Fresh tangerines (thanks, Costco) and oatmeal with brown sugar and blueberries....bowl of prunes on the side for them that needs them :-).

Ruth's devotion to her dead husband's mother, Naomi, brings me to my knees every time I read The Book of Ruth. "Entreat me not to leave you, nor return from following after you, for wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, your God will be my God."

I'd like to camp with you all, providing we have a nice cabin with a stone fireplace for a roaring fire and a bathroom.....definitely need a bathroom. I have my hiking stick at the ready. Right now am using a treadmill, just about all I can manage until I finish up with the infusions. About 30 minutes a day. Treadmill has the incline/decline feature, but I don't touch that button! Also measures my pulse, rather personal machine, that.

I've had a cake or two fall in my day, really is disgusting when that happens. "sigh"

Posted by: VintageLady | October 15, 2009 5:35 AM | Report abuse

In the 'what am I reading' department, have just begun A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. His first novel. So far, it is wonderfully written. The book is a library borrow. I loaned my copy of the Gurnesey Literary & Potato Peel Society to a friend two months ago....hope she's reading it and I can get it back soon.

Still dark outside, no birds singing,

WaPo still full of VA Gov. election news, not much of interest; now Attorney General candidates bashing each other, it's always the same, be happy when it's over. Only interesting thing I have heard about the Lt. Gov. race is that Bolling has over a million in the pot to spend, seems excessive to me. I am very much afraid that the republicans are going to take all three slots in Nov.

Posted by: VintageLady | October 15, 2009 5:57 AM | Report abuse

My copy of The Lost Symbol finally came in at the library. I had to do a marathon reading session to finish up Inherent Vice to make room on the nightstand.

Not that it is any of my business, but isn't Minneapolis only a five hour drive? It makes the return trip worse, but I bet you could get out before Friday.

And I am off to the ATL this afternoon for Homecoming. That's after being in Austin last week for business, in New York over the weekend, and in Boston yesterday. I'm wearing out my traveling shoes.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 15, 2009 6:07 AM | Report abuse

Where the heck is the dawn patrol? Vintage Lady, so good to see you here this morning. Breakfast was delicious; thanks so much. I hope your treatments are going well. It sounds like you still have energy and enough of it to do the treadmill every day.

Today is my "Friday," as I finish out my first three-day work week. The best part of a three-day work week is the four-day weekends. No, wait. The best part is that six outfits will keep me dressed for two weeks of work!

Posted by: -TBG- | October 15, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Three surviving members of Monty Python??

Ummmm... Eric Idle, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam. Not to mention Carol Cleveland, Connie Booth, et al...

Damn shame I couldn't get to the big MP event in NYC... *SIGHHHH*

*manning-the-bulwarks-as-the-ranks-of-officemates-shrink-for-various-reasons Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 15, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

My mother was not a gifted baker. Her cakes were prepared from box mixes (I know. The scandal. The culinary shame.) But she was extremely gifted at decorating cakes. Indeed, at one point she had a cottage industry making wedding cakes for friends. For some reason a lot of these creations, by request, were carrot cake. These were the 70s. People did strange things then.

Yet what I remember most is my mother creating fantastic birthday cakes. Whatever kind of cake we wanted my dear mother would create. We boys favored rockets, boats, and cars. You know, things with motors. My little sister favored animals. Especially cuddly ones. I especially recall a pink bunny that haunts me still.

My all-time favorite cake was for my 12th birthday. I wanted a cake that looked like an ant hill. (It made sense at the time.) And so my good-natured mother complied. She created a domed cake covered with toasted shredded coconut and dozens of eerily-realistic ants created from black royal icing. It was sublime.

Although my grandmother didn't much care for it. Nope. Can't say that she did.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | October 15, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Very nice story RD.

My kids love their Aunt's cake, this cake is made for all the neices and nephews birthdays, nothing fancy either white or chocolate cakes, sometimes decorated with a few smarties - the secret Duncan Hines, sorry culinary.

Posted by: dmd3 | October 15, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

If anyone knows Greek or slang or biological prefixes, they'll understand why we roared with laughter when Mom made cakes with Betty Kaka's Mixas.

Posted by: -TBG- | October 15, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. This was tuque and glove weather this morning. The sunrise is very pretty though.

Mrs. D isn't bad at cake decoration. Her best effort were usually for the All-Saints-Day born Fungi's birthday and were Halloween-themed affairs. There is nothing that says happy Birthday more than a zombie rising from a worm-infested open tomb.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | October 15, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Don't quite know what to make of this article, but it does intersect two frequent Boodle topics, nuclear power and bunny poo.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 15, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

What's wrong with cakes out of a box? Convenience is a good thing!

I was about 12 when I baked my first cake, the recipe being out of the Wesson Oil cookbook. Mom had recently acquired a Bundt pan so I used that. It was...okay. Nothing more, nothing less. It called for a glaze instead of frosting, which was fine by me.

Nowadays I do brownie trife more than I bake cakes. It's good, and is very forgiving of mistakes and so forth.

Hi Vintage Lady! Breakfast was wonderful, thanks so much. I hope treatment is going well and will be over soon.

Posted by: slyness | October 15, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Great cake stories. My worst cake story was really a frosting disaster. The directions for which said that it could be used for either decorating or frosting. It looked fine but when I tried to slice it, it was like trying to cut through cement. We finally used a serrated knife and elbow grease.

Posted by: badsneakers | October 15, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit to being a baaaad boy this morning... But the apple fritter was too good to pass up!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 15, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Reminds me of the frozen birthday carrot cake situation I just had, Sneaks... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 15, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! For frostson's 2nd birthday I drew, then duplicated in frosting, the cast of the Muppet Show. For birthday #3 he had a simple truck.

yello-I usually prefer to fly out of Minneapolis, but this trip was planned so Frostdaddy could do airport shuttle duty and have the use of my truck for grouse hunting while I'm away.

Snow on the ground this morning and a steel gray sky raining down ice pellets. Looks strange to have snow clinging to green leaves. Peak fall color wasn't due for another week or so, now it appears a good % of leaves will just fall off without turning.

Time to make a self inflicted honey do list of things I can get done on this unexpected day at home. No one expects me to be in town so the phone shouldn't even ring.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 15, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodlers!

Late for dawn patrol as I was zooming over Pakistani events upsetting the whole applecart in the region.

Hilary Clinton can't go anywhere without preaching.

It looks like spring here, but only the brave don't dress warmly. Ugh.

Need another dose of super Haiti coffee.


Posted by: Braguine | October 15, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Possible snow/rain in the forecast for this evening - chilly, windy and cool this morning about 37F. We still have not had a frost that would kill off the impatients but my moonflowers ceased blooming about a week ago and the tops of the vines are all killed off just from the cool/cold temps.

Posted by: dmd3 | October 15, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 15, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

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