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The loveliest of blizzards

Every blizzard should be so sublime. Technically it wasn't even a blizzard, because the wind never blew too hard, at least here in Ward 3, still nicely blanketed in packed powder. The slushification hasn't yet hit the neighborhoods significantly, though downtown it's hard to get around, with slush-puddles at every intersection. Rain is coming. The next batch of photos will be of flooding. Then: earthquake.

I took the bus yesterday, and had a chat with the driver about the perils of Dupont Circle, Ward Circle, Westmoreland Circle -- traffic constructs that make more sense to the engineers than to the ordinary people who try to drive them. Yes, they're idiots, those motorists who can't follow the signs -- but that's sort of how I feel about computer technology and trying to figure out how to write URLs that will be visible to the Google spiders.

The best thing about a snowstorm is that it gets you on the street, on your block, talking to neighbors, reaffirming connections, pushing cars, digging out people who are plowed in. There is something small-d democratic about a major snowfall. We're all equally buried; no man's snow shovel is appreciably better than anyone else's. Although when I see someone with that new, bent-handle type of shovel I think: Aren't we getting fancy? I just don't think people should put on airs in the snow shovel department, you know?

Quote of the day, in the very fine Phil Rucker dispatch from the Hill:

When the voting is finally over, Gilchrist, 33, plans to fly home to Minnesota and stay for a while. "I'm going to cook, hang out with my friends and family, exercise again, read novels and things that are not blogs, and be normal again."

Now, a classic shoveling tale, from 2003, by David Von Drehle:

The first scrape, Sunday morning, was about five inches' worth, but excellent snow for shoveling: dry and light. It came up from the driveway in nice, even bites and popped from the shovel with a mere flick of the wrists. Scoop, flick, scoop, flick.

"You're at it bright and early!" my neighbor called from the end of the driveway. I sensed admiration in his words. He is from Canada and seems to appreciate the shoveler's craft. Once, during a minor snowfall, we met on the sidewalk -- me shoveling downhill, he shoveling up -- and he told me how he wooed his wife by digging out her car after a blizzard.
"I think I'd better get a jump on it," I answered.
And so I did, finishing the driveway and swinging left along the sidewalk, rounding the corner, scoop, flick, scraping the walk, scoop, flick, as the snow fell silently, relentlessly, into the places I had just been.
I suppose a case could be made that snow shoveling is not a sign of virtue. That a man is not morally worthy simply because he cleans the entire sidewalk, edge to edge, as opposed to scooping a single shovel-width lane. True, tire tracks of impacted snow on the driveway, or telltale bootprints on a walkway, constitute irrefutable evidence that some driver or hiker beat the man with the shovel to the job. But to see these as some sort of stigma, an indictment blazoned on one's pavement like a frosty scarlet letter, I would have to admit, does not make strict philosophical sense.
Stalin, after all, almost certainly shoveled more snow in his life than Gandhi.
But to acknowledge this goes hard against my upbringing, in which visions of cleared ground between even snowbanks channeled a boy unmistakably and with dry feet into dutiful manhood. I marvel now at how eager I was to pick up a shovel and start digging. I got my first licks in around 8 years old, when a scoopful of the wet stuff weighed about as much as I did, and advanced to master shoveler around 10 or 11, when my brother went to college.
We got a fair amount of snow on the Colorado prairie. Our sidewalks were a shovel-and-a-third wide. I learned to hate the wind, which can bury a clean walk in short order and for no reason. Shoveling gives you a lot of time to think, and I admit I sometimes mused on the concept of electric driveway warmers. Mostly, though, I spent my time thinking large and heroic thoughts. In my imagination I cleared runways for endangered aircraft, and rescued snowbound families, and built roads and even mountain ranges.
When I was finished, I liked to stand at the foot of the driveway. From that vantage point I could look straight up to the garage, and from one end of our sidewalk to the other. It seemed to me that this tidy perpendicular announced to everyone who passed: "Here lives a nice young man."

I went out for the second round of shoveling on Sunday night, after the kids were asleep. A good 10 inches had fallen since morning, and it was still coming down hard. Night shoveling can be splendid if you get out there right after a fast-moving storm. The air gets thinner and crisper, sharp as iced gin. On a perfect night you might find yourself suddenly shoveling in moonlight, with scarves of cloud wisping past the stars. The white light of the moon lands on the whiter drifts of snow and splinters into a billion glittering facets whitest of all. It is peaceful and still as Heaven, and you plunge in with your shovel, clearing a righteous path.

I attended college not far from home, and on nights when it snowed, after I finished work on the late shift I liked to zip over to Mom's house for a brisk midnight shovel. I pictured the neighborhood awakening a few hours later and wondering how on Earth Dorothy's walks and driveway got clear. Lungs bottomless, back strong, I could do Mom's walk and the neighbors' walks on either side and then drive away, leaving my work to greet them like a sunrise miracle.

What vanity.

Sunday night was not splendid. My back was throbbing by the time I got halfway down the driveway. How could I have been so stupid as to buy a house on a corner lot? I ran out of will before I ran out of work, and found myself recalculating the property line between my lot and my neighbor's, concluding that I need not dig quite as far as usual. It took me nearly three hours to finish.

But as is my custom, I stood at the corner and studied the lines of clear sidewalk. Two plows came clanking and grumbling up the street. As they approached, warm feelings of comradeship welled up in me, and I raised a gloved hand to greet my fellow shovelers. They lightly beeped their horns as their blades buried my work in slush.

On Monday morning I stepped outside, grabbed my shovel -- a word here about my shovel. It is a short one with a straight handle and a flat, almost square, blade. It conveyed with the house. I have been shoveling snow, off and on, for more than 30 years with shovels like this, despite the fact that human ingenuity has greatly improved the design of these instruments. A shovel with a longer handle, curved according to the best ergonomic research, would make my work faster and healthier. It is silly not to buy a good shovel, just as it was silly for my father to maintain that face masks on football helmets are sissy.

Anyway, I grabbed my shovel, tucked in my muffler, and started digging. The overnight accumulation looked like three inches or so.

But just under the downy surface, my shovel bounced off a sturdy crust. My dutiful performance of the day before had been rudely punished; a sheet of sleet-snow had scabbed over my nicely cleared decks. Only after much improvising did I perfect a tedious method of clearing it away: first I scraped the crust loose using a flat coal shovel, then I scooped it clear.

In other words, the third pass was like two passes. The front walk had been repeatedly plowed under with heavy slush. The job that had taken 90 minutes on Sunday morning took more than four hours on Monday, and there was so much snow I was running out of places to put it.

Snowbanks filled in under the shrubbery all the way up to the branches. In open spots, the snow rose well past waist level. I could recall only two other times in my adult life when the snowbanks got so high they impeded the shoveling. There was the Christmas Blizzard of '82 in Denver and the Washington Doozy of '96.

Shoveling gives you a lot of time to think. I found myself thinking that the Blizzard of '82 is half a lifetime ago for me. When I cover that same distance in years again, I will be just about the age my father was when he died.

I paused. Fluffy snow was meandering down in flakes so large they looked like torn tissue paper. Hundreds of birds swept in a sudden gust into our holly tree and attacked the berries with such ferocity that the branches shook. Berry seeds, bird droppings and bits of leaf fell like rain on the snow beneath the tree. Then the birds sang a chirping cantata and exploded upward and away.

The Doozy of '96 is seven years gone and I swear it was just a minute ago. There is a limit to how many seven-year minutes there are on anybody's clock.

If this were a work of art, instead of a little story about my shoveling life, and if I were still a sunrise miracle, I would picture myself writing something like this for you now:

"His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."

But James Joyce I am not, so I will say this bluntly: Snow may be a metaphor for the chill blanket that will one day cover us all, and pristine pavement just a futile dream.

Maybe an inch of airy stuff awaited me on Tuesday morning. It slid away in long, effortless strips at the gravel-voiced urging of the shovel. The only hard work remaining was clearing the mess between the driveway and the ruts in the middle of the street, and even that didn't take very long. Within a few minutes after the last flake fell, I was completely dug out.

I confess that I spent a long moment admiring my labor, even as I thought how strange it is to do work that the sun would do if I only let it. After all: If life is short -- and it is -- why spend it scraping the sidewalk from edge to edge?

Already, the day was warming. The snow was telltale brown where the cars had crossed it and yellow where the neighborhood dogs had visited. My last scoop, though, was pure and light and popped from my shovel with a mere flick of the wrists. And there was my answer. I shovel because it's who I am. It's what I do.

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 22, 2009; 9:39 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Blizzard of 2009 Photos III
Next: Dreaming of a White Christmas


The upside of Mother Nature's wildness. Thanks for sharing, Mr. A.

Posted by: MsJS | December 22, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

oh my...*first!*

Posted by: MsJS | December 22, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, there *is* something about snow . . . .

Lovely, I say.

Posted by: -ftb- | December 22, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Nice, Mr. JA.

slush puddles I first read as hush puppies.

And, this is very nice:

sharp as iced gin

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

And to think that in those areas around Austin and San Antonio this past year, those areas affected by extreme or exceptional drought, the land was so dry that cows were giving powdered milk--when they weren't just keeling over in parched pastures and dying.

And the San Antonio Express-News asked readers to rank-order what they thought should be the top news story of 2009. Cash for Clunkers doesn't even come close to the top spot; Missing Moisture for Mooers tops my list.

Posted by: laloomis | December 22, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Reporting in after surviving Ukrainian wedding. Blizzard? What blizzard? Weddings held while blizzards blow are the very best kind. It would take days to discuss food, drink and ways in which Kiev is beautiful even in a storm.

We watched your storms progress via CNN international and watched Europes on EuroNews (I think that was what they called it. 5 languages, same newscast, very level reporting).

We watched CNN at the airport in Chicago yesterday afternoon, and if I may be so bold as to say, CNN really ought to dump its coverage but for the international side. Fundamentally better news reporting.

But so far, BBC is still the best. Not so good as it once was, but still the best by a long shot.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 22, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Ah yes, most of yesterday morning was shoveling and ice-chipping in the streetside parking spots outside NukeAbode, with the help of a neighbor. He had the ice-chipper, I had the bent-handled shovel (and the younger/stronger back), so it worked out well.

And that chill blanket has fallen once again...,0,5733815.story


Off to the office holiday luncheon -- I'll keep the tiara out of the guacamole, I promise. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 22, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I sense some shovel envy. I once again link to my wildly popular video (31 views!) of me shoveling with my bent handle bucket blade high impact plastic shovel. Watch and weep as I kickstep across the driveway.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 22, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

That simile jumped out at me as well. Pure poetry.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 22, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Can't wait to hear all about the wedding and the trip, dr.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 22, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Jk -- we won't start the "three words" contest again, but I cannot resist this:

"Her sharply upswept cat eye glasses sparkled like iced gin," muttered the Mickey Spillane/Mike Hammer/Robert Spencer character.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

In other news, Minnesota is still the land of 10,000 lakes, although the true number is close to 100,000.

As of right now, most of those lakes are small enough to be already iced over; some lakes like Lake Superior never do freeze over entirely. The action of cold air over warmer water causes an ever-steaming fog that makes these lakes look like they're boiling like cauldrons stirred by small-hearted witches.

As for Christmas, may I say this:
Now is the winter of our discontent; made glorious summer by this son of God.
And all the clouds that low'r'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the snowbanks buried.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 22, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Do NOT mock that bent-handle snow shovel, sir. Wait until you get old.

Also, there are some of us of a certain age and with certain health conditions who go out and shovel maybe three shovels full, and realize, "This is how men my age die." And if we are smart, we stop right then and there. I am -- no pun intended -- deadly serious about this. It is quite something to lift a shovelful of snow and understand that if you do this maybe three more times, you'll be dead. Or at least, lying on the ground clutching your chest and wondering if the EMTs can get through to you. The golden hour, and all that.

One shouldn't come face-to-face with one's mortality when faced with an otherwise pretty ordinary natural event, especially a pretty one. Death should look scary, frightening. One should sense fear in it, and indifference to your existence, as when contemplating massive waves and hurricane force winds, or a tornado, or a volcano, events with implicit power and destructiveness. One shouldn't look at a pleasant inch-per-hour snowfall presaging a Currier-and-Ives White Christmas and wonder, "Is this the one that's going to kill me?"

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

That's why a lot of guys up here of a certain age have snowblowers, Mudge. Or shovelling services.

I do understand not wanting to die like the Match Girl, only warmer and better-fed.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 22, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

ftb, to answer your question from the bottom of the previous Boodle, yes, you may come and eat at my house any time.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Mudge -- I agree. Tis aerobic not strength-exertion. Yoki -- Contessa of Alberta, warned us.

I spent a chilly afternoon helping a 72 year old on the block shovel out. In his mind, he is still, say 32. I thought, well, need to be here to call 911. At first I paced my shoveling to be his pace. Then, balderdash, did my thing so we finished earlier. I guess I am bragging. But I will be 50 in January; biking to/fro work is a boon to me. I think I am in better conditioning than most of my students.

We can afford NO BOODLER-losses before their times.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"We will sell no wine before its time."

Orson Welles, quoting Paul Masson.

Almost took a job at PM in 1981 helping the vintner test yeast batches My, what a different life I might have had.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Now I'm torn between mauling some firewood and finding some iced gin.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 22, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

*Like iced gin.* That simile jumped out at me, also. Love it!

I remember a photo from the blizzard of '96: snow up to the mailbox at Mr. T's brother's house. That would be close to four feet.

Posted by: slyness | December 22, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps no gin after all. All you snow shovelers should remember to stay hydrated when doing that sort of work in the cold, when normal thirst is sometimes short-circuited. I can imagine no better addition to the menu than a pot of pho before a foray into the chilly night air.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 22, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Jumper's idea St. Bernard barrel contents: pho broth.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Pho for dog's cargo
Would soon be stored in tummy
of dog, not rescued


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 22, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

WBD- your honesty leads, always. Good dog.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Today's Boodle Contest: what if CqP had become a master (mistress?) vintner and oenologist? Suppose she had opened her own vineyard and winery. What would be the name of her "brand"? Chateau Commandant Anglais? Reine du Montana? Apertif le Boodle? What would be the names of some of her offerings? Would the 2009 Jane Austen Reserve posses notes of pear, lime, insouciance and longing, with a tragic finish and a hint of defiance? Describe the character of the 2007 Elinor Dashwood Blush. Would the Montrechat Fanny price stand up to the Beef Wellington, do you think? Or should we serve the Elizabeth Bennet Viognier instead?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. The Kit is lovely, sparkling and deep. I also appreciate the "after the cod, wife of nut" entries last night. As usual the Boodle met the challenge well. Special kudos to engelmann and rashomon.

We will either have a major winter storm coming in this week or we won't. They can't decide, so they're reporting it both ways. Either it will rain and get very cold, or snow and get very cold, or a combination of both, or neither. Time will tell.

I decorated our tree last night. Ivansdad kept coming in, saying I ought to get on the Boodle because those Redskins weren't playing very well. I was thinking of you!

I'm amazed y'all's kids had school scheduled this week. Finals were done here last Thursday, Friday was a "fun" day, and we're done until early January.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 22, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Mudge: I do not vrite... vine. Not when a finer juice of life pulses through CqP's jugular.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 22, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I fear that you would only know me by my vintages because I would still be in CA!!!!

Boodle Beaujolais
Achenbacher Gewurtraminer
Breast o' Boodle Liebsfraumilch
Pinot Evilio
VaVaVaVoom Vouvey

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The Maison du Caniche?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 22, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Snowing here this morning in the banana belt. Enough to make everything white but one would need a micrometer to measure the depth. But probably enough for the upholsterer not to deliver the reupholstered couch.

Hope he calls soon so I can get going to costco for meds an safeway for the standing rib roast and sour cream.

Posted by: bh72 | December 22, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"God gave me a gift. I shovel well. I shovel very well." -- The Shoveler, Mystery Men (1999).

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 22, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I actually own a snow blower. It was given to me by my in-laws when they moved down to Myrtle Beach. I haven't used it yet, and that story demonstrates why. Shoveling, for me, has always been a Zen sort of thing. It has been as much about the process as the end result.

Further, I find empowerment in the shoveling of snow. There's something about exercising in the cold that makes one feel truly alive. To rely on a noisy mechanical device seems disrespectful and vaguely emasculating. It introduces a degree of crudeness to what is otherwise an activity of finesse and muscular grace.

But, given the persistent twinge in my lower back, I suspect I may be on the cusp of a profound philosophical re-evaluation.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 22, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I read JA getting bent out of shape as it were over straight shovels as a riposte to my comment yesterday. I am duly chastised. It was friendly ribbing from someone well aquainted with snow.

We inherited a shovel with our house too: a big plow blade that I never use. I can't imagine the previous owner using that thing over the now-replaced uneven interlocking brick walkway. I keep two shovels by the back door. Both are bent handle. One has a metal blade at the bottom (for the fine work) and the quieter general purpose plastic model.

Pleasant surprise yesterday evening when I discovered my neighbour had cleared my front sidewalk; this clearly being quid pro quo for my having done so for him on the weekend.

Posted by: engelmann | December 22, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

ChezParkian has broken the shovel karma pedigree of the house. CPBoy broke the handle of the inherited dinged, formerly orange shovel on Sunday at about noon. We will buy one but not at Strosnider's prices. Guess we'll go for the back-friendly metal version. Do not under estimate the utility of a plastic tined-fuzz broom for most of our snows.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Do the margins shift on DVD's story for anyone else? It caused me some momentary confusion as to whose words I was reading.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 22, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Even in sunny California, kismet would have brought you to the Boodle, CqP. It is written.

A noel wreathsling
Pinot Guy Noir -- featuring grapes grown on the southern slopes of the 12th floor of the Acme Building
Myrrh Lowe
Moor to the Pointe
Pouilly Juan a cri couer

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm dreaming of a grey Christmas,
just like the ones I've come to know.
Since the global warming,
made... arrggghhh! I can't think of any more! Help me, Boodle! Help me!

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 22, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -- I love my imaginary apothecary-vintner life. Will enjoy all day.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Good fun yesterday as well with CP's challenge. Congrats to all, and Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat, as a parting gift. Special nods to Wilbrod and Rashomon.

Cat's Eye Shiraz
Natural Red Beaujolais

Posted by: engelmann | December 22, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

On-kit carol:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow on snow
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Posted by: engelmann | December 22, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The 1855 Whitman Livres of Gris Reserve

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Box Canyon of Joy Beaujolais
Aqua Vitae Viognier
Pedalling Pinot Gris

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 22, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Darcy Merlot
Wickham Boones Farm Red (rotgut stuff, that)
Emma Knightley Rose
Anne Wentworth Port (a sweet wine)

Posted by: slyness | December 22, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

TBG -- The Boodler Gris (especially good with b-day baclava)

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

(off-key dog carol:)
Carolers with food at door!
O Come feed, pet me!


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 22, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I have one of those bent-handle shovels. They are great for clearing walks because, of course, you don't have to bend over as much.

Where they fail is when you need to toss the snow a greater distance. Such as when you are clearing a driveway. In those cases I find that the classic straight-handle design makes it much easier to get some serious hang time.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 22, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful Kit, Joel. I understand the gratification of gazing on a job well done. But after years and years of living with hilly driveways and/or long driveways it's nice to live with a short one and a snowblower. Most everyone on our street seems to own one. The fellow across the street has someone plow, but they did such a rotten job that "S" went over there and cleared the end off for him. Actually I think "S" managed to do half the snow removal for our neighbors on either side too. Men and their toys...

Posted by: badsneakers | December 22, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Well I feel completely disempowered now. That tree I felled because the top had died? I think it was a sweetgum tree. Again I'm stuck, unknowing until the time of reckoning, with a sweetgum tree.

Unlike my recent hickory acquisition, this new wood repels my maul like a tire repels a powerfully swung baseball bat. Blast it!

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 22, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Why do I get the feeling Wilbrodog thinks the line, "O come let us adore him" was written just for him?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

And Happy Birthday to TBG!

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 22, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the "what ifs" of life, here is a lovely tale by the funny comic Mindy Kaling, mostly known for her portrayal of Kelly Kapur on The Office (she also writes for and produces the show)...

Posted by: -TBG- | December 22, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I would adore HIM
But in baby carriages
My nose's not allowed.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 22, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all for the fine birthday greetings!


Posted by: -TBG- | December 22, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Want birthday cuddle
From handsome, dark male boodler
All covered with fur?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 22, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

TBG: Boodler,
Hugger of fine black furry
Gnome companion

Posted by: -TBG- | December 22, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

TBG! Happy Birthday! Why did I not remember your birthday is next to Christmas?

And dr! So glad you're back safe and sound. I heard about a blizzard in Europe - and they mentioned Ukraine - so I was hoping you hadn't been stranded. Do they have sidewalk snowplows in Kiev?

Posted by: seasea1 | December 22, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Nobody is using a snow scoop out there? It's a good tool for shovelers with bad back. Specially the ones who hurt their back shoveling...

(someone trademarked snowscoop, so they are called sleigh shovel...)

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 22, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

In 1956 CO2-initiated global warming spotlighted.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 22, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

How does that work, shrieking? I'd understand if it had a tilted blade (to the side). Are you supposed to push it?

Posted by: -TBG- | December 22, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

If you like Christmas (as I suspect most of you do), don't bother with Hank Stuever's chat today ( Snarky, cynical, dyspeptic. A mood-killer.

And never mind these two exchanges:

Reston, VA: Do you think there's such thing as seasonal hoarding? Your beautifully rendered characters in Tinsel all yearn to be needed and find fulfillment in collecting, displaying, presenting.... There should be a word for this compulsion. Achequisition, maybe?

Hank Stuever: Achequisition.

Wow, that's almost perfect. Thank you. I think all of us have a touch of achequisition, especially at Christmas, working so hard to make everything just so, even people.

Achequisition: Shouldn't this concept be copyrighted by your esteemed colleague, Joel Achenbach?

Hank Stuever: Only if I can start pronouncing his name with a long A, like stomach ache. Ache-enbach.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Yes TBG, I use to build a ramp to the ditch before I got my 'blower. The kids would use it as a slide.

This guy has a picture and some instructions on his December 24th's blog entry:

Don't you love that Garant, the big Canadian shovel manufacturer, seems to have about 200 models of snow shovels in their catalog?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 22, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I shoulda bought my wife a pair of Garant snow shovels to wear on her feet instead of those Skechers. Jeez those things are you-glee.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday TBG!

Well, no thanks to VDOT I made it in to work today. But BIG thanks to my terrific neighbors. Sunday morning we all realized that, given that snowplows never come down our street, even with much smaller storms, we had to dig ourselves out. So everyone cleared a single track in the road in front of their house. Yay us!

Good tip about the state reimbursing the HOA for snow removal, TBG. We're going to look into it.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 22, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

And boy, what a pleasure to read von Drehle.

Posted by: seasea1 | December 22, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I made twosies in Paul Farhi's chat. Almost back-to-back, too.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm dreaming of a grey Christmas,
just like the ones I've come to know.
Since the global warming, the glaciers aren’t forming
The polar bears have no place to go.

I’m dreaming of a grey Christmas
With every snail-mail card I write
Where the tree tops are sooty
And the air is filled with cooties
Where face masks glisten clean and white

I’m dreaming of a grey Christmas
Unlike the ones I used to know
Where swine flu is coming
And bird flu is humming
Where dear ones are swaddled head to toe

I’m dreaming of a grey Christmas
Just like the ones I’ve come to know
Since the global warming, the glaciers aren’t forming
The polar bears have no place to go

May your days be merry
And you be wary
Of D.C. police breaking up snowball fights

Posted by: davemarks | December 22, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Even after the snow shoveling, did someone make a "Joel Achin' back" joke? No? Good. I didn't think so.

Keep up the good work. That is all.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 22, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Wow, can I ever relate to Joel's Kit.

I've spent hours and hours shoveling snow -- before dawn, late at night, for me it's a very zen exercise. A lot of time to think about things, and occasionally to think about nothing. Sometimes I find myself almost in a meditative state, and in others - when I'm against a deadline - in a runner's high.

In many cases, this song - Accept's "Winterdreams" - runs through my head (the studio version is the second link, the first one is a rather raw live version, notable for the beautiful stacks of Marshall amps. Any resemblance of band members to any given Boodler is purely coincedental.). Yes, they're German. I'm pretty sure S'nuke's familar with these guys.

And sometimes, when I'm feeling blue and shoveling with a face full of tears blown by the winds, I'm hearing John Hiatt's "Icy Blue" heart:


Posted by: -bc- | December 22, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The tiara is safe, I'm happy to report...

I'm sure CquaP would have come up with a Maison du Poutine.

And who is this Kaufman poser intruding on JA's turf???

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 22, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Well done davemarks, and welcome! *Grover waves* :-)

And in the "And This Helps How, Exactly?" Dept:

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 22, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else receiving this scam?

Date: December 21, 2009 8:19:54 PM PST

We have a Parcel containing a Confirmable Bank Draft of $800,000USD, which await the outstanding payment of $165Dollars for security keeping fee.

Posted by: bh72 | December 22, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

bh72, yet another variation on the Nigerian prince scam... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 22, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Fine work, davemarks!

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 22, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, something I meant to post to Mudge from earlier -

When Yahoo first posts the games for each week, the home time is initially posted as the favorite until the weekly lines for the spreads come out on Tuesday. After that, you'll see something that makes more sense.

Like Dallas over Washington.


Posted by: -bc- | December 22, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

This Christmas card addressed to the bunker somehow made it into my mailbox...

Posted by: -TBG- | December 22, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

You mean I'm not getting that $800 thou?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The Post is behaving oddly today. Whole website seems kind of creaky.

Did the grey Christmas thing at the movie theater. "The Road", movie version, is perhaps a bit less grey than the novel:

"They slept through the night in their exhaustion and in the morning the fire was dead and black on the ground. He pulled on his muddy shoes and went to gather wood, blowing on his cupped hands. So cold. It could be November. It could be later..."

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 22, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Ah, thanks, bc.

Scotty, I laffed my ass off when I heard about Suisham this morning. The poor schmuck will probably go on to have a 15-year career and become the 3rd alltime ranking kicker in the history of the universe.

TBG, is there anything in the world worse than a faux-Kinkade?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Shhhh. BH --- my PLAN FOR THE NEXT DECADE. Mums. I'll share.

DM -- I believe that SciTIm now owes you. He pays in storytelling.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Richard Cohen is articulate today. While a kid, my mom got free medical attention at the hospital he mentions. New York was like that back then (but it perhaps helped that my grandmother's business was cleaning doctors' offices).

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 22, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm dreaming of a rainy Christmas,
just like the ones I used to know.
Since the globe's warming, the raindrops aren’t falling
Remember the color green--so long ago?

I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas
With every armadilly card I write
Medina Lake's still down 46 feet
What we really need is heavy sleet-
Or a monsoon for color, green-bright!

I’m dreaming of a damp Christmas
Something to make the garden grow
Our rain clouds now coming?
Some liquid precip that's numbing?
Much needed nitrogen to make lawns glow?

I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Since the globe's warming, the raindrops aren’t falling
Remember the color of green--so long ago?

May your days be merry
And you be wary
Of San Antonio forecasters teasing on the noon show about snow.

Posted by: laloomis | December 22, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Applause for Davemarks!

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 22, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse


Something fishy here:

Not that the Dems will lose a House majority, but talk about "taking my ball and going home." *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 22, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse


That was wonderful!

And CQP -- 50? In January? Well, now, we MUST celebrate! That was a wonderful year-turning IIRC (which is kinda hard 13 years later, but I think I remember). Do enjoy the decade. It is yours for the asking, or the taking, however the dynamics work out on any particular day.

Posted by: -ftb- | December 22, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Outstanding davemarks.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 22, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Not quite on par with the Nigerian scam, but I did receive an email message that my Dad might be a winner of a certain magazine's $5000.00 price, can you claim from the grave? He would so chuckle if he knew he finally won something (not that I expect that to happen), so tempted to email back the claim number.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

OK, CollegeQuaParkian1. Send me $65 and I will get the package.

Posted by: bh72 | December 22, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I'll get it for ya for only 50 bucks, CqP.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 22, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

That's not how it's pronounced? That sure saves me from an awkward moment were I ever to meet Joel in person.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 22, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, I suspect that fellow only waited long enough to provide some cover and always intended to switch parties. Come on -- a first-term Representative switches parties less than half-way through his first-term (right about the time he has to start running again!), because he suddenly discovers that "his" party's leadership is "divisive"? I suspect the kind of voters he wants are the kind who would consider it to be masterful gamesmanship that he got the Democrats to pay for him to become a Republican Representative. In fairness to his wisdom, he probably correctly concluded that a moderate (himself) could not win the Republican primary but would have a shot at the general election, which he actually won. Now that he's an incumbent turncoat, he can go back to his state party's leadership and correctly point out that he is their best chance of holding the seat, whether they like him or not. Think of it not as gaming the Democrats, but forcing moderation down the throats of the Republicans.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 22, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

My thoughts almost exactly, SciTim.

But yours are far more cogent, as always.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 22, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

rave marks, davemarks!

Posted by: nellie4 | December 22, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday TBG! Hope your birthday wishes come true!

Bravo Davemarks!

Anybody heard of this site before?
Seems like a cool thing to do, randomly send and receive postcards. Just wondering how you can prevent crazies from showing up on your doorstep since they have your address. I suppose I could get a P.O. Box...

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 22, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Ahh, shucks.

Posted by: davemarks | December 22, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Seasea, yes back and it did storm in Kiev. It impeded any touristy behaviour, but not the wedding or any of the important stuff.

I think winter weather in Kiev is a lot like winter in Washington. The consensus there was they enjoyed shoveling this storm because the snow was light and dry, not the wet sloppy stuff they usually get.

It is a beautiful city with a very common sense population. Road blocked with snow and ruts? No problem. Lets drive on the sidewalk. Seriously. No parking? Park on the sidewalk.

There are whole adventures to tell about the metro and the buses and escalators that are so long it took several minutes to get from top to bottom, and where I was lucky enough to have a tall guy blocking the view The bottom was so far away, it would have scared the willies out of me.

Traditional food for weddings? Tables groan under the weight of it. And I am too fragile to even speak of the amount of beverage a human body can consume in hours and days of continuous eating and toasting, to say nothing of what happens when you eat, toast and dance.

But most of all, I have learned that O'Hare is the loveliest of all airports in the world. It has many seats placed where tired travelers can find them and many luggage carts and people who smile and point them to customs areas with no line ups and who laugh and understand the need to translate the the signs even if the travelers first language is English and the sign is in English too. Can't say enough good things about the people in the airport in Chicago.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 22, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

A most happy birthday TBG. May your day be filled with blessings of all shapes and sizes.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 22, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful kit, JA, and the "sharp as iced gin" fits in nicely.


After my visit to the emergency room this morning, and several hours later, I come home and find those two great books. It was like two old friends waiting to see me, and I was not alone. As soon as I got in here, made myself comfortable, I am reading and enjoying every page, even through this semi-fog that I'm in. Thank you, thank you. The kids and the g-girl will love them. I know I do.

Just wanted you to know. And happy birthday TBG, may your life be filled with insurmountable joy and the best the world has to offer.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 22, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

The *emergency room* Cassandra??? Oh my goodness! How are you? I hope (as do we all) that the treatment you got is helping.

*faxing an insurmountable amount of karma and an unending supply of chicken soup to Cassandra*

Posted by: -ftb- | December 22, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

This afternoon, the backyard triangle palm felt warm enough to unfurl a new leaf. I think this leaves nearly every large palm in the yard with a new leaf during the past week and a half. I'm still impressed at how such large, complex structures can develop, then deploy so neatly. Admittedly leaves aren't terribly complex compared to inner ears or hearts or noses, but there's still a lot of folds and plumbing.

There is enormous diversity in leaf form and venation. For the curious, there's a new atlas of leaves available, from Cornell University Press.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 22, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse


The legs have been giving me a fit, and I'm to the place where it's hard to get about or stand for any length of time. I went to the doctor's office, but they were so busy they told me to go to the emergency room. I have medications, and I'll see how that goes. Of course, I have to visit the doctor's office, probably after Christmas. It's always something around here, and I just keep praying. The g-girl was with me. We stayed so long, she took a nap. And thanks for the chicken soup, sounds fantastic!

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 22, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Me as well. Hope you feel better soon, Cassandra. I am glad Ivansmom's books helped out on a hard day.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 22, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, dr. Sounds like you had a great trip. Pics?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 22, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, now you have me worried. You've been working too hard, haven't you? Please take the meds appropriately and REST yourself. And check in so we know you're okay.

Posted by: slyness | December 22, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

"... felt warm enough to unfurl a new leaf."

*wondering what that's like*

The postman didn't quite make it here today. He made it here yesterday. He may even make it here tomorrow. Ah, well.

Posted by: -ftb- | December 22, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Ivansmom, I started the second Larsson book last night (The Girl Who Played With Fire). I only read the prologue. Scared the *expletive* out of me. It has to do with trafficking. This is going to be a difficult book to read, I'll bet.

Posted by: -ftb- | December 22, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Cassandra: I hope you feel better soon. Happy Christmas to you.

Happy birthday to TBG and thanks for that link to the Mindy Kaling piece--it sounded like it could have been written by Liz Lemon.

I hope everybody in the snow zone is successfully shoveled out and having a good holiday.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 22, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

ftb, I have the latest but haven't started it yet. I dropped into the No Time Zone and haven't been able to pick up my current book for a week. I have high hopes to read some tonight. My goal: asleep by 10 pm.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 22, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, please take care of yourself, we all worry about you when you are feeling poorly.

I thought I had all my groceries but realized that I forgot suet for the Yorkshire pudding. I may go out tomorrow, or I'll use Crisco. I polished the silver and made Mom's cheese ball. I don't think I can do anything more today. The snow has shrunk but hasn't melted at all. The people across the street have a sheet of ice for a driveway.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 22, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness I've never forgotten suet at the grocery store. :-)

Frosti... did you read about this?

Posted by: -TBG- | December 22, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

How does one obtain suet at a grocery store? I'm fairly certain I've never seen it in the meat case. I'm picturing a furtive exchange of cash for a brown bag of suet outside the store's back door, glancing anxiously around to make sure that the neighbors don't see...

Posted by: rashomon | December 22, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Back in the day in jolly old England they had a puny piece of fatty meat and they'd put the Yorkshire pudding batter around it to soak up the fat and meat juices and make the meat appear larger. These days the pudding is cooked in a separate pan with spitting hot fat. I'm cooking a tenderloin so will have no fat unless I add it from (preferably for the taste) suet.

If it had to be obtained furtively, I'd never be able to do it, I'm way too wussy, but I like the description, rashomon! ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | December 22, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Rashomon, I don't know for the US but I know two ways to get suet (gristle-free white beef fat). One is to look in the freezer of your local supermarket for small bags (1 lb) of ground suet. If you happen to live in Canada the Maple Leaf brand is mildly popular.
The other method is to befriend your local butcher shop owner/operator by buying meat out of his or her shop. They've got suet aplenty. My birds are forever grateful from my meat sobbery. It's free too.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 22, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Avatar. In IMAX 3D. Wow.

Director James Cameron is going to make piles of $$$.

Posted by: laloomis | December 22, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC for my meat snobbery...

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 22, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

sd, meat sobbery, that's what you get when you cook it too long. I can usually just get suet from the meat case, I assume most people buy it for the birds.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 22, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

My name is Shrieking Denizen and I am a meat snob, mostly. The supermarket standing rib we had for dinner was purty good though. The chives and garlic mashed potatoes and buttered carrots helped too. The wine and "au jus" sauce were about right as well. Oh, well, I'm a wh(0)re.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 22, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Hee hee. While Ivansdad was in the back room I wrapped some presents. I'm surprised he didn't feel the disturbance in the Force and come running to rescue the poor things. He is much better at wrapping than I am; by laborious effort my skills have progressed from those of a 5-year-old to, perhaps, a middle schooler (though I suspect the Boy outwraps me as well). Hours spent watching a friend's minions wrap in her shop have taught me a trick or two with ribbon, but at best this disguises the lumps, uneven corners, and liberal use of tape.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 22, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

au jus -- fax me a french dip sandwich please

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Okay. The Nativity sets (popularly known to the Ivansclan as "manger scenes") our out. Christmas stuff is in the picture windows. The Tree is decorated, complete with "angel" made by the Boy about ten years ago. Every year now he sees it - the head is his picture - and is embarrassed. I tell him I'll be happy to retire it when he makes me another. The house is now officially decorated.

Have I mentioned that rabbit ownership during this time is high maintenance? I believe it is important to release her from her (roomy, open wire) cage a couple of times a day. Thus, we must be ever vigilant lest Beatrice nibble the tree, chew through the electric cord for the lights, or feast on the presents' wrapping paper. Ah well, like Scrooge, she keeps Christmas in her own way.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 22, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

What's a French dip sandwich?
Some roast beast slices on a half-baguette and sauce would be ok for lunch, I guess...

I admit I cheated, I put shallot and wine in the sauce, it wasn't strictly au jus.
Gawd, you could be such a hard crowd.
This roast beast was the first recipe I've ever done that started: pre-heat the oven at 500F... only to be done with a self cleaning oven.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 22, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm on track to make my 10:00 pm bedtime. First I did a taste test to find out which Christmas cookie went better with Marsala. The candidates were: (a) chocolate cookie, made with cocoa, butter, flour and sugar, or (b) fruitcake cookie, made, rather than with candied fruits, with some of the macerated fruit for the Christmas cake (rum, Marsala, Amontillado, raisins black & gold, small dates, dried cherries, candied ginger) plus a little more of each dried fruit. I think the fruitcake cookies complement the wine a little better. I may have to test this again tomorrow night.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 22, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Sd -- your version is delish. And, made by a real Franco-type-person. MUhahahahahahahhahaMU....I WIN!

IMom- thank you for this. I have oft wondered this very equation. I do like dark, bitter-ish chocolate with Pinot Noir. Thanks for the heavy lifting.

I am not making a decent bed time since a poker game/Halo revenge match is underway about ten very cold books across the way. Ive @11 to PU CPBoy, who shd appcte me vry vry much.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Wpsies: 10 vry cld BLOCKS....21Degrees now.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 22, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm, French dip.

CP, thx fr the clarification. Srsly.

This story on the CBS News made me cry. I'm such a sucker - but it's very sweet -

Posted by: seasea1 | December 22, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

In case you feel that you have become jaded by holiday music, this will remind you of why you like the real thing:

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 23, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Loved that holiday video SciTim. Very cool. Loved the snowy Mauna Kea. We really do have snow in Hawaii!

Posted by: MiddleofthePacific | December 23, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

SciTim!!!! Let me be the first -- OK, the second -- to scatter kudos like confetti over thee and thy colleagues for yet another terrific production from high atop Mauna Kea.

(I await you guys' first greatest hits CD.)

'Morning, Boodle. Merry Christmas Eve Eve.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | December 23, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Is that you trying to count to twelve on your fingers? You know that is always a disaster when bc tries to do it.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 6:58 AM | Report abuse

A few minutes ago the local NBC-4 station had a banner headline underneatha Megan McGrath report that said: "Plane Crash Lands in Jamaica."

Viz., Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | December 23, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

SciTim, that video is wonderful! Thanks for sharing, I'll be sending it along to others who will enjoy it.

Well. Merry Christmas Eve Eve. Thirddottir has expressed her readiness for Christmas to be here already. I suggested the twins take us out of lunch today, to make the time go faster. Fortunately, there is a cool little Greek cafe close to their house where the staff enjoys little boys.

Tomorrow...the third batch of cheese straws! And then it can be Christmas.

Posted by: slyness | December 23, 2009 7:09 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Very cute Science Tim. I note you are the only one the director didn't let sing. You singing voice must be really something else.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 23, 2009 7:13 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge, a plane crash would have to land somewhere, no? :-)

And in the best holiday tradition, the elevators here are being manually staffed this morning. Since none of the lobby call buttons are working. *SIGH*

*Christmas-Eve-Eve-and-my-what-a-bright-clear-and-chilly-one-it-is Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 23, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Laughing, Scotty. Now even the WaPo seems unable to figure out what happened to the plane. The headline says: "D.C. plane overshoots runway." But it didn't overshoot it (which means misses it); it simply ran off the end of it. It found it and landed on it, although perhaps too far down, or maybe the brakes failed, we don't know yet. And it was in torrential rain, so that may also have been a factor. Then the deck below says: "Dozens injured as flight originating in Washington misses runway in Jamaica; no fatalities reported." But it DIDN'T miss the runway.

Jeez. I admire "Take Your Child to Work Day" as much as anyone, but they shouldn't let 4th graders write front page headlines and decks, I don't care howe cute they are.

The third attempt, a subhead for the video, finally gets it right: "American jetliner skids off Jamaican runway."

Third time's a charm, I guess.

The story seems to have gotten it right: "Dozens of people were reported injured Tuesday night when an American Airlines flight that originated in Washington ran off a runway while landing in Jamaica."

"Flight 331, a Boeing 737-800, was carrying 148 passengers and a crew of six when it overran the runway in Kingston, the airline said in a statement."

Ran off a runway, overran the runway. But not "overshot" the runway. "Overshoot" in this case means "miss, going long, not coming down short."

In J-school, they taught us to read the actual story before trying to write a headline for it. Of course, that was back in the day. Maybe they don't do that any more. Maybe all they do is read the tweet.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Suddenly, the holiday will be celebrated this evening. Off to the store for comestibles. The grace note of the evening are St. Lucia Buns -- saffron yeast rolls shaped like kittens. Yes, KITTIES! Same saffron jar serving me all these years, one or two threads at a time. Cost in 1984? About 17 dollars, I believe. Laid down the twenty and ended up with two bills and change.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning, boodle. busy, busy, busy. happy belated birthday, TBG. I hope that the shush hasn't overwhelmed DC and its environs. clear and cold here the past few mornings. hoar frost has been the rule. off to the queen city later today to do a final bit of shopping, then home to do laundry. and more laundry. and more laundry. take care getting those combustibles, CqP.

Posted by: -jack- | December 23, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone, final errands to run today before the holidays.

SciTim good video.

A peaceful song to help calm the craziness of the two days before Christmas. Nice as this is, think I still prefer it on a very good and large pipe organ.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 23, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Glad I could crash land here myself. When I heard that the engines had detatched from that jet in Jamaica, I knew that was a scary holiday sleigh ride. I'm glad it wasn't worse.

Speaking of good journalistic practices, I would ask that no one take the last sentence of the second para in slyness' 7:09 out of context, please.

And yello, don't worry - I'm keeping my counting appendages below 20 while you're around.


Posted by: -bc- | December 23, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. Just wanted to stop in and say good morning, and thank everyone for their good wishes. I do feel better, medications kicking in.

I'm sure a scary ride for the passengers on that plane. I hope everyone will be okay. A lot to be thankful for in that case.

Slyness, cheese straws sound wonderful. My sister made nutty fingers, and I got to taste them right out of the oven. Delicious.

Mudge, Martooni, Scotty, Yoki, Lindaloo, and everyone, just have a blessed day, and a joyful looking forward to the holidays.

Posted by: cmyth4u | December 23, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

hey, Cassandra. I hope that you're feeling better, and that you'll be 100% soon. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Posted by: -jack- | December 23, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra!!!! *HUGSSSSSSSSSSS* Your visits are always a little bit of the holidays all year-round! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 23, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Listening to the Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring link. Nice.

Sports fans might like this on best sports writing of the decade:

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 23, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Jack, using OSHA standards and majic glovies on the commesti-combusties.

CPDot2 needs to be en route sooner; yucky mixed weather coming soon.

CPBoy wll be happy though; buffalo wings on the menu -- need easy finger foods to welcome the work-weary people. Will play Uno and Pit and listen to cheesy and classy music. Wsh I could send a copy or link of this Andalusian Pollo Christmas song -- I KID YOU KNOT. Fave of the fam. But, not on YouTube....Came on a BBC compilation album years ago. Pollo means chicken, natch.

Off to prep; chanting the CynDiLuWho maxim -- Christmas comes anyway, prepped or not....repeat. repeat. Shall ignore -- nay, SLAY -- the Martha Stewart imp on my shoulder critizing the grocery story chicken (pollo) wings....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Good morning y'all.

The nieces are clamoring for a third annual Christmas video from their auntie. A series of heavily photoshopped still photos of the three of them set to holiday music.

I have 75 hours between now and when they come for the fajita-fest on Saturday. About 20 hours will be devoted to this project.

Wish me luck.

Posted by: MsJS | December 23, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Laughing, bc. Straight on to the naughty list for you.

Posted by: engelmann | December 23, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

10 on fingers, 12 on wrists, 16 on elbows and shoulders, then climb up the neck like a waterspout and hit all the crucial features and come back down to the other side.

Mediveal counting system: "Pi in the Sky: Counting, Thinking, and being" has some of those body-counting systems.

20 isn't the maximum you can count on your body by a long shot. The Romans got finger counting up to ten thousand; the Venerable Bede records a finger counting system that goes up to 20,000.

I am envious because the current system in ASL is rather inefficient. Yes, we can express numbers in the billions, and also describe exponents and equations, complex numbers that take a while to spell out quickly become wristbusters.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Judging by this picture, the Venrable Bede's counting system was the inspiration for the macarena:

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Are the little boys at the Greek diner roasted or broiled? It wouldn't by any chance be called Taverna Swift?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Hey, it keeps one warm doing bills on long mediveal winter nights, yello.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure Mudge has fond memories of the Bede-counting system and how he suggested rosaries instead, or new-fangled abacuses from the Orient.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I can't tell you how many times the Ven (that's what we called him, short for his first and middle names, The Venerable) and I knocked heads over that issue, Wilbrod.

(What parents would name their kid The Venerable Bede was always a mystery to me. I thought it cruel and unusual. His folks owned a spa and dryu goods store out in the western part of England, you know, which covered the far outer reaches of Cornwall way out past Salisbury Plain. You've probably heard of it: Bede, Bath and Beyond.)

I generally favored the old reliable abacus system, even though it had a fair number of moving parts that tended to ice up during the winter months. Bede, of course, wanted the new-fangled rosary systems advocated by the swine William of Portcullis and his MinimusTenera Corporation. I argued (and lost) that William had simply stolen the entire idea of little beads from the abacus GUI developed by Stephen of Opus and his partner, Stephen of Voznicius, working in their stable. (There was a big lawsuit about it and they wound up settling out-of-castle for 150 sistercies.) I gotta tell ya, I always hated the &^%$# Portcullis and his Fenestrae operating system. The thing was full of verminia and kept crashing all the time. You could often hear a cry of anguish somewhere in the castle whenever somebody's rosary froze up and gave them the aqua festra of mortis.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

SCC: aqua fenestra of mortis.

But you probably knew that.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

*turning aqua from too much LOL* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 23, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey, you editor types -- what do you think of this sentence from the style section?

"Michelle Obama visits the hospital with first daughters Malia, Sasha and Bo, who made his first formal appearance since his unveiling."

Posted by: rickoshea1 | December 23, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Indeed I did, Mudge; alas, the aqua fenestra of mortis persists to this day, a plague on mankind. Thank you for sharing your edifying and instructional memories. There's nothing like history for a good story.

Speaking of good stories, thanks to ScienceTim and the Observatory folk for that heartfelt and touching carol. Where's our DVD of Greatest Hits?

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 23, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Very old Cumbric (NW England) counting system for sheep:

p1mp (5)
d1ck (10)
yan d1ck
tan d1ck
tether d1ck
mether d1ck
bumfit (15)
yana bumfit
tana bumfit
tetherer bumfit
metherer bumfit
goggot (20)

Posted by: laloomis | December 23, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Bo is a picture? A statue? A nun? Or a bride?

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 23, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

DC is finally done with school for the year (while we got as much snow as Md, this is the land of Chevy Suburbans and Ford pick-ups with gun racks. Closing schools has to be for something important, like buck season.)

I'm declaring holiday shopping Done. If I don't have it, I'm not going to. There's still a trip to the grocery store and the package store next door, and then cooking and wrapping. But with the trip to the package store, all should be as smooth as iced gin.

Or maybe eggnog.

Happy holidays to all, and may the season be filled with love, laughter, family and friends.

Ho Ho Ho

Posted by: LostInThought | December 23, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

From the syntax, Bo appears to be a daughter with serious gender identity issues.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Bo is clearly a gown, Imom...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 23, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Today's Gate Crashers story is a marvel. The fact checkers must be exhausted.

Thinking of the recent rash of apocalyptic movies, the Financial Times has an op-ed piece by Bryan Ward-Perkins, the author of "The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization". The piece is titled "Call this a recession? You should try the Dark Ages".

Roman civilization was complex, though not nearly as much as today's. It departed England suddenly, and recovery took hundreds of years. We're far more complex and far more vulnerable today.

I doubt the old ecological notion that complex systems are more resilient than simple ones. A classic put-down of that idea was a report from Panama of the goings-on when the rainy season's arrival was off-schedule. Trees flowered at the wrong time, fruit was ill-timed, animals starved. It was a disaster.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 23, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Great one, Mudge. Was there any competition in those days from Portcullis' Pictish competitor?

Posted by: engelmann | December 23, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The Obama family unveils the third child, Bo (Peep). Geez! The big hint is: At the hospital. All that baby bump speculation wins out.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you are too funny - Bede, Bath & Beyond indeed!

Neighbor across the street came over this morning with a beautiful fruit basket for "S" because he cleared their driveway after their plow driver did a sh-tty job. I've got the olive cheese balls made (I assume my recipe is probably the same as Yoki's), and the table is half set. Feeling a bit nauseous today so living on ginger ale and tea. Assume it's nothing serious. Merry Christmas Eve Eve to all.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 23, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The director encouraged me to sing. I chose not to try to compete with my colleague. She couldn't take the heat.

I should note that my entire involvement with this production is in the clip you saw. Well, twice that -- there were two takes. The rest of the time, we were lurking around a star party at the Visitor Information Station (VIS), secretively keeping the telescopes pointed at the Moon and quietly imparting nuggets of astronomical knowledge to passing families. Well, okay, one family.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 23, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Those Cumbrians needed to learn to take their shoes off (like bc) before resorting to the more extreme appendages. And judging by the system, they tended to lose at least one phalange each. Probably bitten off by angry sheep. They tend to be a little snappish the first couple of times.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Indeed there was great competition, e-mann; glad you asked. Opus and Voznicius started their own company before Portcullis came along and ripped them off. They named their company Malus domestica, or just Malus for short, referring of course to the fruit known generally as a pomum, that tricky forbidden fruit that seduced Eve and then Adam in the Hortus Ortus Edenica. Their logo was a pomum with a bite missing from it.

Malus domestica began simply enough with a small abacus that featured a small slot in it, in which one could insert one's dicus floppius, which contained the data. At first these abaci were painted just black and white, but later on they became quite colorful, first with 8 colors, then 64 colors, then 128 colors, and as the abaci got bigger and more complex, they had millions of colors, each one called a pixium. That's about when they started going head-to-head against the evil Portcullis empire.

Using all manner of trickery and knavery, Portcullis managed to corner the market, but he couldn't quite kill off Malus domestica, which continued to produce superior abaci. Which was odd, because the Portcullis rosaries, in addition to suffering from the fenestra aqua of mortis were also subject to attacks from Goths, Vandals and other barbarians who used Equus Trojani, virii, nocturnocrawleri, and other villain to corrupt and destroy the rosaries. There were days when some of the Portcullis rosaries were more corrupt than an archbishop's bookkeeping on Indulgences Day.

Finally, though Opus started leading Malus domestica in new directions with new products. He introduced a very handy, small, easily portable communication devices that allowed people to communicate over long distances quite simply. It was called an iMirror, and you held this thing up and let the sunlight glint off of it. The flash it made could be seen many miles away (when the sun was out). Of course, you had to sign up with a special sunlight distribution company to use the iMirror, and there were many areas around the countryside where it didn't work: in forests, caves, dungeons, and so one. Sometimes you be riding along and using your iMirror and the track would dip down into a vale or swale or small valley, and you'd lose your sunlight signal to whomever you were communicating with. You'd have to wait until you rode out of the vale to re-establish connectivity.

Pretty soon everybody was making iMirror-like devices, and there were a whole bunch of solar distribution people who offered all sorts of sunlight plans that were confusing and basically highway robbery (which was quite common in those days in its virginal form).


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse


I recall that clan surviving into Jane Austin times, only they had branched out into carriage repair. Hence the garage of Bath and Bede Works.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The Greatest (Only) Hits DVD actually does exist, but there is the pesky problem that selling it would violate copyrights on the music, while giving it away would be prohibitively costly. Remember: we'll always have YouTube.

I am, however, considering a line of humorous apparel for sale, at cost, on CaféPress.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 23, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Not exactly Tannenbaum-

Posted by: kguy1 | December 23, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Somebody's been having fun with the actual sheep counting numbers.


The Welsh number for 5 is pump, and 10 is dig.

I like "bumfit" for 15; this would be a good word for playing cribbage.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Probably the fanciest of all the iMirror clone devices was a cute little gizmo called a Druid, short for Andruid. And another company came along with a device called a Rubus eubatus, named for the tasty small black fruit.

Opus's next little gem was a pocket device that could hold dozens, even hundreds of songs. It was called an iHarmonica, and you put it up to your mouth and blew through it to produce melodius sounds. That became very popular, and before you knew it there were iLutes, iJewsharps, iPiccolos, iLyres, the whole gamut.

Apothocary shops, witches and necromancers found themselves in need of devices to carry their stores of pollen, seeds, eye of newt, and whatnot, so Malus domestica came out with a seed container called an iPod. This proved very popular, and soon everyone had one. When you went to a banquet at the mead hall, and (not being royalty) you were seated below the salt, you could always whip out your iPod filled with salt, your pepper iPod, your sesame seed iPod, or whatever, to season or garnish your food however you wished.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

And in the "Sanity Strikes Back" Dept:


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 23, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

A seasonal greeting from the G family to all Boodlers and Lurkers...

Posted by: -TBG- | December 23, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

'mudge, Bead Bath & Beyond was my early Christmas present. Still snorting quietly to myself.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, all that, dear Boodle. I am having a lovely morning; listening to Handel, baking shortbread cookies, roasting the mirapoix for the stock (to go into gravy and stuffing); preparing the stuffing mix, all with bright sunshine out the window. It doesn't get more Christmasy than that!

Posted by: Yoki | December 23, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Steven Tyler's in rehab. I'm shocked, shocked, I say!

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

What is he rehabbing for? Being Steven Tyler?

(I have no clue whom he is, noble sir, or why one should be shocked by his private woes.)

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Steven Tyler's alive? I'm shocked. Next you'll be telling me Keith Richards is still above ground.

Posted by: kguy1 | December 23, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Only during the night, kguy. The rest of the time he just sleeps in his gnarly coffin.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

This picture of Tyler kinda says it all, doesn't it?

Posted by: -TBG- | December 23, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Kinda gives one pause when you consider that this-

made a genetic contribution to this-

Posted by: kguy1 | December 23, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

WB -- S. Tyler is the later-than-never acknowledged father of Liv Tyler, or fairy fame in LoTR (movie). She, of the Snow White looks, is a beautiful version of his face, without the hard living.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

The rubus eubatus was made and sold by a Northern Tribe, no doubts. Thanks for the laugh Mudge.

I think I've finished my Christmas shopping, with a full day to spare. It's some kind of record for me; I started about 26 hours ago.
What will I do tomorrow afternoon? Cooking?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 23, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

kguy, that link has viruses, don't click on that pix!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Failed on the yeast both times; sigh. Have not baked lately. Oh well, here is what shouda happened:

Lusse katter translates as Kitties of St. Lucy.

Lucy is the saint of Syracuse, which is in Sicily. Her eyeballs were hacked out during her martyrdom. How Lucy became a Saint in coldest darkest Sweden is a mystery to me. That her feast day remained essentially Swedish during the Reformation is equally interesting.

Apparently, those coast-hugging Swedish sailors ended up in Sicily and as they are want to do, took back this maiden.

And, of course, the Italian penchant for Nordic looking saints....

Oh well, Christmas comes anyway: without or without LucyKittieBuns.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Please be more specific, Wilbrod.

Posted by: kguy1 | December 23, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Paging Mudge (your profession is listed last):

Santa Lucia
Name Meaning
light; bringer of light (= Lucy)

against blindness
against dysentery
against epidemics
against eye disease
against hemorraghes
Begijnendijk, Flemish Brabant, Belgium
blind people
Conzano, Italy
eye problems
Mtarfa, Malta
Perugia, Italy
sore eyes
sore throats
stained glass workers
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
throat infections
Villa Santa Lucia, Latium, Italy

Would love hearing IMom sing this. May I say the among the oddest and charmingest events in my life (paging Frosti): hearing Santa Lucia sung in a small Lutheran church in Bemidji, MD circa 1989. The church was a Norewegian-ish one, so the St. Lucy Fest was a real nod to Swedish-Norwegian relations.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

If I contemplate St. Lucia buns any longer, I'm gonna hafta go to confession on Saturday. And I'm not even Catholic.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Yes Mudge, but you're definitely catholic.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 23, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Just how many of the Deadly Sins do St. Lucia buns violate?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The Norse conquered part of Italy in the Dark ages, CqP.

But it's more probable that her feast day, December 13 (in the old calendar) fell on the winter solistice and her story (blindness) and her name (related to lux, light) made her a particularly special saint to replace a pagan solistice festival.

John Donne wrote this:

A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy's Day, Being The Shortest Day

'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The world's whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compar'd with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
Of all that's nothing. Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two; oft did we grow
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest;
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light and body must be here.

But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat is run
To fetch new lust, and give it you,
Enjoy your summer all;
Since she enjoys her long night's festival,
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's, and the day's deep midnight is.

John Donne

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

kguy, the dreamchimmey link you gave contained 4 trojan viruses, according to Norton 360.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, every time they play this on the Disney Channel, I don't know why, but I think of you. (They really got the lip-syncing of Goofy as Freddie Mercury down).

If only the Redskins were this creative.

Off to the grocery and package stores.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 23, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

If one gets sweaty and angry from contemplating St. Lucia buns, would they therefore become hot cross buns?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Wilbrod. I never planned on looking at that one again anyway. The other pic is more of a repeater. Liv's not much of an actress, but she's eye candy for sure and I love brunettes.

Posted by: kguy1 | December 23, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey, did you guys know this symbol # is called an octothorpe? I never knew that.

Sounds like something Jacques Cousteau would do a documentary on. "Now we must say goodbye to our leetle frien's the octothorpes as zey swim into ze darkness of ze abees."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 23, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Also a mash sign. Gotta love typological jargon, it's never typical.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I head back into the commercial fray. I hope to return victorious!

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 23, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

St. Lucia
Hot Cross

Mudge -- double servings of both, one for the winter the other for spring. Gotcha covered coming and going.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Guess I'll chime in to wish each and all a great holiday. Taking off tomorrow (yea!) and Monday too. Going to see Mom for dinner on Friday evening. Weather permitting, head up to visit some of my wife's cousins in Harrisburg and holler at the Stillers. Maybe by the weekend I can actully park one of the cars at the curb and get a new battery in the dead Volvo.

Posted by: ebtnut | December 23, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Ah, so much to cover this afternoon.

LiT, I love that football video. I'm pretty sure it dates from when Mudge was an assistant coach for Knute Rockne.

And that comically deplorable fake punt on Monday night - Mickey Mouse, indeed.

Mudge, after reading your History of the Abacus, I can only imagine Babbage's What's the Difference Engine as having a giant wooden gear fitted with boxing gloves and a line of Victorian stand-up comics to operate it. Gotta have some way to get the Punch Card output, y'know? (Ya didn't know that you had to know Victorian-age Phrenology to read that output, did ya? It may have been the Shorthand of the Victorian age, but one had to read the results quickly before the swelling went down.)

Going back to the I can only imagine the marketing war with the the folks who produced the Antikythera mechanism (aka Tik-tok). Flaming arrows raining from the sky onto a barren landscape outside of town, very impressive -- who wouldn't want a Tik-tok after seeing *that*?

St. Lucia buns - man, you guys have me crossing myself over here.


Posted by: -bc- | December 23, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I see my 3:45 BOO'd the crossing thing.

Wilbrod, a couple of things - Stephen Tyler is the singer and one of the composers for Boston-based rock band Aerosmith.

As for the counting question - please don't hand me the money at the end of the night to resolve a tab. Having to disrobe to consider the tip is a good way to get a bum's rush from a respectable establishment. And even some of the places I've been known to frequent.

And englemann, believe me: I'm on a Naughty List. Several, I suspect.


Posted by: -bc- | December 23, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Steven Tyler, aka the poor man's Mick Jagger, known for his large lips and penchant for waving a scarf while singing.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Product report: Apparently, the SNUGGIE, is not as warm as the commercials might suggest. This from the Dot who lives in Illinois now and keeps her heat at 55. She and roommate from Florida were sent these cape-hooded things by a concerned gramma of the Floridian. CPDot just asked me if I can fashion a SNUGGY-type garment out of Ikea polarfleece blankets, which are twice as thick. Contemplating this Ikea-Hack.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

# - known to the twitteratti as a 'hash tag'.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse


Tis true. The Snuggie is not thick at all.

And I never once felt like raising the roof while I wore mine yesterday.


Posted by: Moose13 | December 23, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

55 degrees at night too often is a good way to wind up with bronchitis, CqP. I speak from experience; I'd advise 65 degrees minimum for sleeping.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

CqP... the Slanket is the one you want, not the Snuggie. More expensive but much bigger and much warmer.

Always-cold Daughter has become an expert at these things.

You'll probably have to order it online (I got Daughter's from but if you're sending it to Illinois that may work out better anyway!

Keep warm!

Posted by: -TBG- | December 23, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Moose! But, I bet you are cute in this. But, it might catch on your antlers. We should start the Better Business Campaign. The commercial scene with the red-Snuggied family at the sporting event looks just so weird. The kind of image/event to send a teen into therapy.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

TBG -- another boodle save. Thanks for info. Slkt wt bter thn Sngie


Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

WB -- I will tell her that a Northern Imaginary Fiend NIF shares this.

I like fiend, don't you? However, you are the least fiendish among us.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 23, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Ooh. Good to know about the Snugglie, this perpetually cold person will skip it and go straight to polar fleece. It shouldn't be hard to make one; I expect even *I* could figure it out.

Be careful out there, SciTim!

Posted by: slyness | December 23, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I should probably have the kiddie-size Snuggie. The adult-size Snuggie is very large on me. If I wear it backwards, I have a Snuggie train.

Posted by: Moose13 | December 23, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the fiend compliment, CqP.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Friends, throw out your snuggies and slankets. A base layer of silk long underwear is what you need.

Posted by: engelmann | December 23, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

The next snow storm has arrived in The Windy City. Third one in the last week.

I'd tell you how many inches, but counting sheep have moved to warmer pastures, the accountants have hung up their abaci and gone home for the holidays, and my hands are encased in thick mittens.

I'll have to hook up a shovel to the front end of the chair if I plan to go out any time soon.

If Bo develops a gender identity problem, I hope the Post has the decency to pay for his therapy.

Posted by: MsJS | December 23, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Wow 55 degrees is very cold.

My kids and I watch a show called Dragon's Den here, hopeful entrepeneurs pitched their new products to people potentially willing to invest (there is now a US version but different name). On a recent show these items were pitched, we just purchased the hat for dmdspouse, but the mitts and scarf are equally warm.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 23, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: slyness | December 23, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

dmd, that's what Joel needs! And I bet TBG will love those.

I sleep with the thermostat set at 55 - and even then I throw blankets off at times. We keep the house around 68 - my sister nearly froze to death when she visited in Sep once, when we don't have the heat on, usually.

Would someone mind posting the olive cheese ball recipe? I've misplaced it, and never have made them. This year for sure!

Posted by: seasea1 | December 23, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Yay, indeed, slyness.

I have a question for non-DC area residents. Are you being barraged with TV commercials screaming all kinds of disinformation and scare tactics about the healthcare reform bills? We're kind of used to it in the DC media market; anytime major legislation is before Congress, all sorts of lobbying groups run commercials, especially during news programs, in order to stir the pot. (In the case of healthcare, all the commercials seem to be against it, since there really aren't a lot of well-funded pro-reform groups.) Is the whole country getting this same barrage of Harry-and-Louise redux? It would certainly explain the falling support for the bills, since almost any demographic can have a commercial specifically aimed at it and tailored to explain how their own personal ox is being gored.

Posted by: rashomon | December 23, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Yoki's Olive Cheese Balls

1 cup finely grated sharp cheese (I like a mixture of old cheddar, parmesan and gruyere)
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
dash each sharp mustard (English or Dijon), worchestershire sauce, cayenne
1 8 oz. jar stuffed green olives, drained and dried well on paper towels.

Pulse cheese, butter, flour and spices in a food processor until a smooth dough forms.

Take a pinch of dough and roll into a ball about the size of an olive. Make a depression in the ball, nestle olives in depression, and work the dough around the olive until it is completely encased. Repeat with remaining olives

Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a preheated 400 oven for about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

These keep well in an airtight container for up to a week.

Posted by: Yoki | December 23, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I rarely watch tv, rashomon. I can't say.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm really good at tuning out commercials, but I have seen lots of anti-reform spots. I saw one that was pro-reform the other day, after the initial 60-vote in the Senate.

I think it's difficult to understand what's in the bills, not to mention what will happen when they take effect. Right after the Senate vote, Sanjay Gupta was interviewing a woman who had a baby with severe problems and therefore had hit the lifetime maximum. He asked how she felt about the bill, which would outlaw such maximums. She said she didn't trust politicians, and she thought the bill would be a government takeover, and she didn't like that Obama threatened to close an Air Force base in Nebraska for Nelson's vote. Oh, and her insurance company lifted the cap for her, thanks very much. Sanjay's jaw just dropped, he didn't challenge her on anything.

Posted by: seasea1 | December 23, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Dogourmet rating:
Dog chomps cheese balls gleefully--
tastes, ejects olive.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Yoki! mmmm, gruyere.

Posted by: seasea1 | December 23, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

The Windy City has had a number of pro- and anti-health-care legislation TV ads this year. I can't tell you anything about them, they sort of blend in with the ads for pharmaceuticals, laxatives, and pain relievers. Gives me a bellyache.

Posted by: MsJS | December 23, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I now know it as a hash mark, but I learned it as the symbol for pounds, as in weight, not money.

Some might consider 55 at night downright balmy. DC and I had no heat last November/December, and lived to tell about it. Of course, that's when the house was *really* not done (still isn't), and she thought everyone in this state brushed their teeth in the bathtub (we didn't have a bathroom sink either).

We've learned to be thankful for the little things in life.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 23, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Apropos of nothing, shriek, did you hear that Mercedes and Ross Braun have lured 40 year-old Michael Schumacher out of retirement (3 years) to drive for them in the 2010 season?

Like, wow. I guess Braun won't be missing Jenson Button, will he?


Posted by: -bc- | December 23, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Some would, indeed. My thinking is it's pointless to save on heating bills but spend more for doctor's bills and sick leave as a consequence.

After that bronchitis bug that went around this area like wildfire in early 2005, I wound up the sickest I've been for decades (a friend passed out vomiting from it).

I wound up with a chronic cough that lasted over a year, no joke. I was even coughing anytime the air temps went under 60 F or was damp. Never had that before, never want to have it again.

Before that, I had gotten milder bronchitis from sleeping without heat (even in freezing temps).

But after that experience with bronchitis and how long it took to recover, I don't fool with my lung health.

I now am triggered much more easily by my allergies than I've ever been-- bronchial scarring. I actually have nearly vomited entering some houses because of bronchospasm.

I don't think anybody with tendencies to respiratory illnesses (such as bronchial asthma or allergies) should fool around with insufficient heat for too long. It's survivable, but who wants to live with the consequences for years afterwards?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Rashomom, I hung up on a call this afternoon and regretted it.

Caller: Do you agree that the Senate bill will be the end of the world, yadda yadda.

Me: NO

Caller: Great! Now I'm going to connect you with Senator Kay Hagan's office so you can tell them what you think! Do you want to talk to them so you can express your opposition?

Me: NO (hang up)

I shoulda stayed on the line and let the Senator know how happy I am about the bill.

Posted by: slyness | December 23, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

We keep a cool house, bedroom at 62, rest of house at 60 during the night and as high as 64 in the daytime. Maybe it's the Puritan New England thing. I do wear layers. This is a personal preference though, not so much saving money on fuel as not liking too much artificial heat. Tomorrow night, when everyone is here, I will jack the heat up to 68 or 70 and altho' I'll need less layering, I'll feel all dried out by the time they leave.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 23, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Well that doesn't sound like any fun Wilbrod. Fortunately, we're pretty healthy people. I can't remember the last time I was sick. DC picks up the occassional bug at school, but nothing she doesn't kick to the curb within a day.

I guess it's all about knowing what your body can handle, what's right/comfortable for you, and what your housing and financial situations are.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 23, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

MsJS's "bellyache" reminds me that Dr G and I were trying to think of all kinds of "aches" the other day: stomachache, headache, earache, bellyache, etc.

Then yesterday he came up with another one: mustache.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 23, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

And don't forget joelache. (I get a twinge when I see that.)

Posted by: seasea1 | December 23, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

HA! Seasea! Excellent!

Posted by: -TBG- | December 23, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

And then there's panache.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 23, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, I'll bet they wouldn't actually have put you through. I occasionally get push-poll calls, always obviously trying for "conservative" answers, and always so unsubtle that it's obvious by the second or third question what is going on. After that, I make a point of giving them all the answers that they *don't* want. The calls have always ended with me being told that I would be transferred to someone else to "register" my answers (or something similar). Then I would be disconnected.

Posted by: rashomon | December 23, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

There's also ganache and genache.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 23, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

And ganache.

Posted by: MsJS | December 23, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Also grenache. Apache? Attache?

Posted by: rashomon | December 23, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Was there some sort of major party switchover during the evening rush hour?? According to the home page:

"Democrats vote 60-39 to end GOP filibuster, move to a final vote on health-care legislation."

*shaking my mustache and other aches*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 23, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

And my headache only grows...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 23, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure which Republican didn't vote, or why, and I was watching on C-SPAN during the roll call (you can't see or hear most of them when they vote). I was hoping it was Tom Coburn, who was praying the other day for some Democrat not to make it there for the vote...maybe something got in his way...

Posted by: seasea1 | December 23, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

From what little I see of TV from Palm Beach County, there seems to be a plague of health care advertising. It's going to suck all the money out of Medicare, drive your doctor bankrupt, etc. I haven't yet noticed any suggesting you'd have to share your doctor's waiting room with smelly people. (I confess that one of the delights of riding a rush hour express bus in Portland, Ore. was that essentially all the riders smelled fine and some might be reading the Economist, even).

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 23, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Inhofe (R-OK, so he must be a buddy of Ivansmom) has been missing the cloture votes for family reasons.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom and other iPhone owners: WOW! I am probably way late to the game, but I've just discovered the app Stanza, which lets you download and read thousands of free books from such sites as Project Gutenberg, etc. It's amazing.

Stanza itself is free, too. I will never be bored again.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 23, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Back-to-back reruns of Glee are now on Fox, at 8 and again at 9. For the non-Gleeful, the Patrick Stewart/Joel Grey version of "A Christmas Carol" is on TNT network.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | December 23, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Bite your tongue, yellojkt, or I will growl at you.

I make Yoki's cheese olive balls mixing by hand rather than the food processor, and it works. It is a very forgiving recipe.

We're also in the "chilly house" category, but 55 is too cold for me - that cold means the heat is off.

The Boy is battling a large exercise ball with a cardboard tube from wrapping paper. I say the ball is winning, because although it has no moves of its own, it has split the tube so completely almost the whole thing is now duct tape.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 23, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

If retailers were smart they would sell those wrapping paper cardboard tubes, haven't met a kid yet who can resist a sword fight with them, my siblings and I had classic fights with them, as do my children.

Note duct tape can only extend their life for a minimal amount of time.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 23, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

We keep our heat at 72 for the wake up hours 5:30-8:00 am and then again in the evening, otherwise it is programmed for 68, unless it is really cold out the furnace does not come on except to bring the temp up to 72, when the temps dip below -10c it starts to go on more often, regardless of the temp it is set for.

I read somewhere that that temp difference shouldn't be more than 5 degrees between high and low as it takes too much energy to adjust the temp, but that may apply more to air conditioning than heating - naturally I can't remember.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 23, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I've seen that bc. I hope Button or Hamilton will send him in the grass a couple of time, just to give him some of the medicine he administered to rookies in his late years. Make room you lowly paisan.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 23, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of panache my little deer mice are giving me trouble. I didn't go on the indoors trapping campaign this years as neither the Fungi nor the dogs detected the seasonal domestic rodents. The Fungi complains when the little dears are having parties in the wall and the dogs sometimes wake up all bent out of shape and bark madly at the floor, sure sign a rodent is active nearby.
So a (or multiple) rodent(s), most likely a deer mice, ate the Guinness beer Christmas fruit cake. Or more precisely ate at a quarter of it. So we are a quarter of a fruitcake short and I am under the gun to start the indoor hunting season. I'll get at least one more tiny panache for my collection.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 23, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I haven't used covers at night, no matter what the temperature, since I turned 50.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 23, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Those deer mice have the cutest antlers.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 23, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately the antlers are often broken when the steel wire of the trap crushes their delicate little skulls.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 23, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Deer and cotton mice are cute. The blond ones that inhabit beach dunes (mostly endangered, alas) are outright adorable.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 23, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Antlers? Corned beef hache? Splankets? Never mind the antlers, this episode of Glee features the "Don't Stop Believing" number.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | December 23, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that individuals have different internal temp regulation and different requirements and tolerances for environmental factors.

What someone raised in Greenland might consider adequate heat might be far insufficent for someone raised in a tropical climate.

Your Thermostat may vary.

s_d, I think MS is far less intimable (is that a word?) than that. The guy never shied away from banging wheels with Hill, Villeneuve, Hakkinen, Alonso or anyone else that I could tell. And with Todt running the FIA these days, I think there will be a fairly lenient view towards Schumacher's driving.

Er, what about bachelor? Preacher? Trachea? Teacher? Seems like there are a lot of aches...



Posted by: -bc- | December 23, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

TBG, if you previously liked to be covered at night and now don't - you have my sympathy. It didn't last too long, for me. I kind of enjoyed the "hot flash" phenomenon - it was so swift and complete and really kind of fascinating. It would have been a different matter if I had had to be, say, in an executive meeting during one of them. Then I wouldn't have been so interested, just miserable. I used to lie down and just feel the waves of heat swoop over me.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | December 23, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Chenoweth and Lea Michele singing "Maybe This Time."

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | December 23, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I dare say that your temp. tolerances at 51 or 53 might be very different than they are now :) I try to keep my bedroom at no higher than 45F.

Posted by: Yoki | December 23, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Let's not forget cache. Personally, I prefer any form of chocolate cache, but in a pinch, lemon cache will do (with double-boiler frosting). Or angel-food cache with strawberries.

Posted by: rashomon | December 23, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Tonight's taste test: which goes better with eggnog & brandy. Candidates: the fruitcake and chocolate cookies from last night, plus a sugar cookie with a little lemon peel in the batter and egg-yolk wash "icing". I may have to bake some ginger cookies to properly conduct this test - but not tonight.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 23, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

45 degrees Yoki!! Why don't you just sleep in the refrigerator? ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | December 23, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I've got Diana Rigg on the Roku investigating the British Venusian Society.

Before that, it was family movie night with Paul Blart, Mall Cop. The only redeeming feature was Jayma Mays aka Emma Pillsbury as Kevin James's love interest.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Yoki I am laughing thinking about dmdspouse sleeping in a 45 degree room, ours at 68 degrees requires a down duvet and two polar fleece blankets, I kick off much of the covers in the night, he is cocooned in the blankets and often seeks more covers.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 23, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Right about the time I hit menopause in a big way, I bought a lovely knitted lace nightgown. It's still brand new; I can't sleep in anything that heavy anymore. You'll find me under the bedspead, down comforter, and blanket in a light cotton gown. With socks, when my feet are cold.

Thermostat is set for 64 at night and 68 during the day. I've adjusted and am comfortable, if I have my Cuddleduds on.

Posted by: slyness | December 23, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

The news on those Oklahomans and the throwing in of the towel on the filibustering. Inhofe wants to get back to Oklahoma so he can hear his grandkids in a Christmas Eve pageant.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

ScienceKid#2 and I created the following short poiyem while returning from the Mighty Shopping Mecca:

Metal necklace, cold on skin.
The piercings in my face ache.
Why did I puncture my cheeks?
Why? Why? Why?
For beauty.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 23, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I'mom, I vote for the fruitcake.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 23, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

This says it all.

I know it's winter when I start wearing socks to bed. I do wear medium weight pajamas because I cannot stand heavy bedcovers. We do have a heated mattress pad which is nice to warm up the bed before getting into it. It's very interesting to see the different temps that we all consider 'comfortable.'

Posted by: badsneakers | December 23, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I could sleep in 45-degree temps, as long as it was centigrade.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | December 23, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone suggesting that Senate Republicans will sneak out of Washington tonight?

In the temperature department, when living in Wyoming, my townhouse was decently comfortable at 50 degrees. I think it took about $35 a month in heat from the town's very own natural gas well. A later townhouse in Oregon had an unfixable problem with all the heat going upstairs. I should have rigged a duct to gather air at the upstairs ceiling and blow it into the living room.

DVE bargain of the evening: "We Own the Night" for $4. Supposedly has a superlative chase scene. Now if someone could do a chase scene incorporating a snowball fight...

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | December 23, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

You women of a certain age are frightening me. It's bad enough that I had to keep the house in Florida in the mid-60s during the last trimester. Now you warn me that I will be stocking up on flannel union suits once the hot flashes set in. Not to overshare, but that is a far cry from my typical nighttime apparel.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 23, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

LiT, so far the fruitcake cookie (without any candied stuff) seems to go best with the beverages - Marsala last night, and brandy & eggnog tonight. I think the sugar & chocolate cookies will go equally well with milk, and the chocolate might pair well with red wine, or perhaps a very dark beer. These tests have yet to be made. There's still time.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 23, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I used to love winter at my parents house, I would come home for Christmas from school to the cozy embrace of there 100 yr old Victorian, complete with ice on the inside of the windows, as you would rounded the bend on the upstairs you could feel the wall of cold hit you. In an interesting method of HVAC the home had been designed to run the air vents to heat the second floor through the attic and down through vents in ceilings in the bedrooms, the result was very little heat made it to the living portions of the second floor.

Made for a nice Charles Dickens Christmas though.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 23, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I usually buy suet for the birds at the bird store, where it is mixed with seeds and cornmeal and shaped into bricks, just the right size for a little metal holder. Today at the market-- thinking of badsneakers and her experience, I asked a guy in the butcher shop if they had suet. He went to check, and came back and asked how much I wanted. Thinking quickly, I suggested a pound -- picturing a neat package about the size of a pound of butter. He came back with over three pounds of fat! Free! Then I had to explain meat-eating birds to the checker. Came home and stuffed that metal holder full. My dog loves me. My cat has been licking my fingers. I can just see the possums, skunks, cats and raccoons who will soon be in the yard!

Anybody want me to fax some suet?

Posted by: nellie4 | December 23, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

You got it free, nellie! They always charge for it here. I never got out today so if I can't get it tomorrow, I'll go with the bits of fat I trimmed from the tenderloin and some crisco. You could fax me some but it will make your fax very very messy!

Posted by: badsneakers | December 23, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

What's with the hostage situation at the post office in Wytheville in western Virginia? The hostage taker alleged to be a former Marine, not from the small city of Wytheville, with arm and/or leg missing (early reporting), in a wheelchair, with explosives strapped to his chest. Again, very preliminary reporting...

Posted by: laloomis | December 23, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Getting a kick out of the difference betweeen:

Fat! Free!



I don't think anyone ever used exclamation points convincingly with the latter.

Posted by: rashomon | December 23, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow Nellie, welcome to the fat freeloader group.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 23, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

A couple of years ago we were without power for almost a week after an ice storm. Temperatures outside were around 6-10 degrees F. It never got below 45 degrees indoors. It must be a lot colder there, Yoki. Either that or you sleep with your window open. My sister-in-law in Cleveland does that; never understood it, myself. During the outage I was running hot water and filling tubs with it around the house, and changing them when they cooled, in addition to the bath tub. Finally after two days or so I got the loan of a small portable generator, enough to run a space heater. A month or so later I woke up (again) to no power - went out within 15 minutes and bought a generator myself - I never intend to be that cold for that long again.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | December 23, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Nellie, you *will* get critters. We used to put those suet blocks in the little cage up four feet or so on a fence post. Something, we don't know what, ripped it off the post, pulling the nails out, and ripped the door off, leaving the mangled wreck on the grass. This is suburbia - no bears. Probably a raccoon? We had to rig a lock for the shed where the bird seed is kept in metal cans because they kept getting broken into - it's just a bolt with a nut on it - guess the critter can't figure out how to unscrew it to get the door open.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | December 23, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Yello--just buy a good blanket for your half of the bed, and a fan for the other half of the bed.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 23, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

You are thinking about this wrongly, yello.

Posted by: Yoki | December 23, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

We have lots of critters around us -- didn't realize it when we moved here. Then saw we are just two blocks from open space. The deer were the worst, I had to change my "rose garden" to "anything semi-deer proof garden."

Posted by: nellie4 | December 23, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

My own body-temperature is a good reason that I live alone.

Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

I set the thermostat to 66 but keep the woodstove going when I can which keeps the furnace from coming on. People used to wear nightcaps, the kind that cover the ears. I have reacquired the habit. As has my neighbor. When my neighbor visits we kid each other we look like thugs wearing these things indoors.

As for eggnog and brandy, the only drawback is that nothing goes with eggnog and brandy, except more eggnog and brandy.

I made a bunch of caramel pecan cookies tonight. I must make the cheese straws (inspiration provided by the Boodle) tomorrow.

Posted by: Jumper1 | December 24, 2009 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Beautiful times.

Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2009 1:39 AM | Report abuse

I'll be delaying my departure for Georgia because I have an upcoming "High Noon" showdown (seriously, it's at noon!) scheduled with the husband of the driver of the vehicle upon which I left a rather sharply-worded note when I found it parked in one of the spots which I'd spent several hours clearing. In the note I left my name & number, but suggested that further contact was unnecessary because I had neither fondness nor respect for any thieving dog that would park in a spot which they had not cleared.

The husband left me a message indicating that he apparently feels that further contact will be satisfying. I left him a reply suggesting that he bring his wife and two snow shovels. It ought to be interesting.

Posted by: bobsewell | December 24, 2009 3:33 AM | Report abuse

I think the hubsand is probably a little irked because you refered to his wife as a "thieving dog that..." instead of a "thieving dog who ..."
He might have found it a tad disrespectful.

Have a couple of friendly witnesses video your encounter. With the right judge and a sympathetic jury you might end up owning this guy's house to enjoy during your recovery.

Posted by: Boko999 | December 24, 2009 4:47 AM | Report abuse

Thieving dog's husband is probably just wanting to thank you personally for your chivalry and offer some sort of quid pro quo favor, possibly involving his wife's prowess at tasks other than snow shoveling. I suggest you respectfully decline.

My next door neighbor who has the build of and a strong resemblance to Eva Longoria still manages to clear her drive drier than a tent revival all by herself. There is no reason for a grown woman with a husband willing to defend her honor this way to not pull her own weight.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Already got the fan.

Are you suggesting that the services of family practice lawyer would be a better investment than the fan and blanket?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Well, the differece between NukeSpouse's and my internal thermostat settings are such that she's rarely cold at night anymore... I still overheat on occasion, tho.

And we have a health care bill!!

*pressed-for-time-due-to-a-short-workday-this-chilly-Xmas-Eve Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. Hi Cassandra! Mr. T is off today, which means he's home and in my way. We slept late, too.

Yay for the Senate! I hope reconciliation isn't a drawn-out process and we have reform shortly.

Gonna make cheese straws after the walk. I'm still tweaking the recipe; if I'm happy with how these turn out, I'll post it.

Posted by: slyness | December 24, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

*faxin' Slyness a 15-ton hydraulic cookie press for laying out the cheese straws* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

How come I don't get to have this kind of fun at my work?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

You could always blow up an old heat exchanger, yello... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

We still need to see what sort of Frankenstein camel emerges out of the conference sessions. While any health insurance reform would be welcome this whole process is getting more watered down than the punch at a Baptist wedding.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Happy Christmas Eve everyone, lots to do today, have to deliver a couple of items, hostess gifts for the SIL's we will be dining at tomorrow and Boxing Day. I had made several floral arrangements forgetting that it is silly to have these arrangements just sitting on my dining table for a couple of days.

Then last minute groceries, laundry and preparing our turkey dinner for tonight. I know turkey is not on the menu for tomorrow and probably not Boxing Day either so we will have ours tonight and possibly visit with friends after.

Hope everyone enjoys the holiday and have safe travels to all.

PS according to NORAD Santa has already gone to Auckland, NZ.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 24, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Wow, yello. That LANL story is bizarre. Some 'splaining to do for sure. Although, I do think it would be *way* cool to work for the "Shock and Detonation Physics Group."

I'm down here with the in-laws in Myrtle Beach. We exchanged slushy snow for orange grass. Or whatever the heck the stuff is that they plant here. It looks fine in the summer, but come winter it makes the development look like homesteaders on Mars.

I hope that everyone is enjoying Christmas Eve. We are going to have brunch with my wife's grandmother at her assisted living facility. They have waffles but, alas, no Bloody Marys.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 24, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Couple of things from the dead-tree front page (at least the version delivered to the office)...

First of all, the photo accompanying the tease for the Capitals game is some player's head obscured by another player's upthrust (in celebration, apparently) fist. *SIGH*

Secondly, the front-page piece on electric cars blithely notes that one needy enthusiast pulled into a closed gas station and simply plugged his car into the outlet normally used by the soda machine. No mention of reimbursing the station for the electricity. *SIGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

One year my wife had a bunch of those small, metal, xmas-themed cans, so she made up a batch of bird feed using suet, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, etc., and gave them out to her friends and co-workers as little stocking stuffer presents. A few days later a colleague came past her office and stuck her head in the door and said, "[Mrs. Mudge], we wanted to thank you for the fudge, my husband loved it, it was delicious!" My wife sat in momentary horror until the colleague put her head back in the door again and said, "Gotcha!!"

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 24, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

The LANL story makes no sense whatsoever; it is very poorly reported. It is almost totally lacking in details that make any sense. WTF is a gun that "acts like a Civil War cannon"? Aren't all cannons pretty much alike? How are Civil War cannons different from revolutionary war cannons? War of 1812 cannons? Spanish-American War cannons? What does the artwork accompany depict what is clearly a shipboard type of naval cannon, as opposed to what land-based cannons looked like during the Civil War? How could simply "blowing the doors off" the building cost $3 million in damages? Clearly, if the $3 mil figure is approximately right, there was a helluva lot more damage than just knocking out the doors. What kind of idiot fires a cannon indoors? The story says they found parts of the cannon, meaning it apparently exploded and destroyed itself. That being so, clearly the cannon wasn't "fired," it somehow detonated.

Clearly, something happened and something blew up, but POGO really has no idea what. Lousy reporting: they just cobbled something half-assed together just for the fun of posting it.

I saw that tired old "NORAD is tracking Santa" thing on the news this morning. Why do they still perptuate that nonsense and put it on the air? I don't object to the Santa myth for kids, but there aren't any 5-year-olds watching Barbara Harrison who comprehend what it means, who NORAD is, what radar is, the logistics of departing early to go to New Zealand, etc. That's all geared toward adults. And it ain't cute any more. (I'm not sure it was even cute in 1955.) Well, I suppose it keeps some poor schmuck NORAD PAO busy writing bogus press releases.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 24, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas to all. As promised, here are the cookies. Enjoy!

Posted by: badsneakers | December 24, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

DC doesn't know NORAD, but she knows 1/that's not the real Santa at the mall/hotel/store, etc., but those men report to Santa, and every now and again, the real Santa pops in (because he likes to keep in touch with the kids, doncha know), and you never know if it's the real one or not; 2/it better be on the news, because this is the biggest news there is (second to snow days at school, which we haven't had yet, also I watch the news while she drips pancake syrup all over the kitchen); 3/after Christmas, Santa likes to go fishing (because it's relaxing) and then goes on vacation to his pap's house (because, well, who wouldn't want to go to their pap's house).

Posted by: LostInThought | December 24, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

It's POGO, 'Mudge, what did you expect? It's not "reporting," it's rhetoric... *eye roll*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

DC is very wise, LiT... but we knew that. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

My family's favorite Christmas story is David Sedaris' "Six to Eight Black Men."

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

She's trying to figure out how to rig up a trip wire/video system to catch him. Also, she thinks we should leave out some ranch dip with the carrots, because you never know what reindeer might have a hankering for.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 24, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I don't know anything about POGO, Scotty. All I know is cannons.

(I was around back in the day when the Chinese first brought them to the West. Unreliable things they wuz, just bamboo filled with black powder. Took a couple hundred years to get the kinks worked out. I was the guy who first suggested pointing them at the enemy. The original Chinese tactic was to simply point them up in the air, and hope the bad guys got scared and ran away. But what actually happened during a battle was the enemy started bringing picnic baskets to the battles, and sitting on the grass and the hillsides looking up and going "Ohhhhhhhhhh" and "Ahhhhhhhh." Then after about 45 minutes the Chinese would fire off a big volley before running out of ammunition, the enemy would applaud, and then they'd all get in their chariots and carts and rickshaws and go home. Sometimes took an hour to clear out the parking lot (some of the rickshaws wouldn't start if that rickshaw's cannoneers were killed -- dead battery).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 24, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Carrots for the reindeer and cheese for Santa Mouse.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Trust me, 'Mudge, it sure ain't Walt Kelly... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

It's funny how the Santa story works. At some point, the Santa story stops being just a fun way to inject some joy and wonder into the life of a child, and becomes a valuable way to teach children about intellectual autonomy and the validation that comes from thinking for themselves.

The secret, I assert, is to never, ever tell them "the truth" but to let them figure it out for themselves. Maybe even allow them, at some point, to disprove the Santa story by clever deduction. (Like noting that the apples set out for the reindeer have returned to the big box of apples stored in the garage.)

When done this way, I assert, children feel neither disappointment nor disillusionment, but a sense of affirmation. They have learned that sometimes in life there are stories told to them, but they are smart enough to uncover the truth.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 24, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Ahh Mudge, NORAD has advanced, daily games and activities for kids, recipes, videos, they put out animated videos of the places Santa goes, plus track through Google earth, their are specs for the sleigh, explanation of radar etc.

For those of us who refuse to grow up it is great and my kids love seeing the pyramids, etc.

The world is full of ugliness some fun and make believe never hurt anyone.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 24, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse


Uh, sorry. Didn't mean to go all Jack Nicholson on you guys.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 24, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

It's rare that Gawker actually provides better context than the source material, but here is their story with some rebuttal from the gummint and a great video of the actual event.

I do love the acronym LBPG (Large Bore Powder Gun) which I guess is more technically accurate than just plain ole BFG.

I also take from the hyperbole and the thinly veiled antipathy that POGO is to Los Alamos what PETA is to NIH.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Antipathy is a very good word, yello. *writing that down* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

BroJS texted me the NORAD story, is getting all excited for Santa's arrival. Reminded me not to go outside at midnight lest I get showered with reindeer droppings.

The holidays definitely do things to certain people.

Posted by: MsJS | December 24, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Longtime Channel 4 Sportscaster George Michael has died. So sad.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

LANL is the proud owner of a Light Gas Gun but I'm quite sure this is a technology that wasn't available during the War of the Northern Agression.
The little movie shows a shot at almost 1800m/s (6000ft/s), that's fast. Twice as fast as the bullet of a .50 cal machine gun or more than 50% faster than the fastest snort-ripping shoulder-crushing magnum caliber. Typical rifle and field gun of the Civil War era had muzzle velocity in the 1200-1500ft/sec range.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 24, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

For those sports lovers in the DC area, George Michael has died. He of the George Michael Sports Machine.

Posted by: MsJS | December 24, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Hummm. Someone was going for a few m/s more. Just add a leettle more powder. Who hasn't been there?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 24, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Just a thought here -- the reports on the event at LANL do not mention any fatalities. I submit that if you are in a business that employs chemicals that are prone to suddenly exploding, unintended explosions are not accidents, they are expected events -- only the timing is uncertain. What would make this a "screw-up" would be if there were any fatalities. There were none, even though it evidently happened during working hours. I submit that this is simply an event -- dramatic to you and me, but of no great significance to them.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 24, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I dunno -- I'm still not getting it. The gummint blows up stuff all the time. Right now I'm working about 8 miles from Dahlgren, where the Naval Surface Weapons Center fires off bug guns all the time. You can hear them 20 miles down range when the wind is right. I live about 15 miles from Indian Head, where they design and test explosives, and have the EOD training and peeps. Up at White Oak (nearer to Scotty) they used to design rocket fuels. (Used to work with two pyromaniacs who used to work at Indian Head and White Oak.) I worked at Pax River for a few years, where it was routine to test-drop (dummy) bombs out over Chesapeake Bay all the freaking time. I'm certain both the Navy and the Air Force shoot up, bomb, blow up, detonate and other wise mayhemize major portions of the Southwest all the time. I just don't understand why this LANL is even remotely unusual or interesting, to POGO or anyone else.

It's like saying there's fireworks on July 4th.

What am I missing?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 24, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I don't suppose it would help any to be extra-pedantic and point out that a large bore powder weapon isn't a "cannon" at all; it is a mortar.

No, I thought not.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 24, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

My son spent many years devising various Santa traps and posing all sorts of tricky questions. I just told him that I still believed in Santa because Santa only brings presents to people that do.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

So sad about George Michael -- first saw him in the late 80s in Germany on the Armed Forces Network... *SIGHHHHHHHHH*

'Mudge, POGO's raison d'etre is trying to show government incompetence. The fact that the researchers took proper (and obviously quite necessary) precautions and followed reasonable procedures means nothing to POGO. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Scrudge, you're killing me here.

*I* like having the NORAD tracking reports of where Santa is as he makes his way around the globe. Also, I like to know when I can filp on my rooftop landing lights and tension the arresting cable.

For me, the NORAD tracking reports are a nice tradition, like the ball dropping in Times Square at midnight New Year's eve. The ball's never on time, looks cheesy and I'll be darned if I know what it may be representative of, but I like it and my kids do, too. Same with the Santa location reports.

Leaving cookies and milk and carrots are nice, but I also leave a smattering of Power Bars and some oats -- those folks burn some *serious* energy on that trip, don't 'cha know.

I would also assert that there can be a sense of bonding between parents and children as they grow and come to understand the Santa story, and begin to perpetuate it themselves. They're "in" on it with the adults - nay, *as* an adult - at that point. Winks and nods, and "say no more"s -- one way I knew my oldest had grown up was listening to her argue for Santa with my youngest.

Somtimes the facts behind a tradition aren't as important its existence as an emotional touchstone for my family.

Sad to hear about sportscaster George Michael. Heck, I still haven't gotten over Glenn Brenner.


Posted by: -bc- | December 24, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I would also add that in "The Nightmare Before Christmas," anti-aircraft guns are used against Jack Skellington's Faux Santa Sleigh.


Posted by: -bc- | December 24, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I immediately thought of Glenn Brenner, too, bc. Those were the days, weren't they?

I'm not one to say that, but that's back when we actually watched the HALF HOUR of local news and waited for the sportscasters because they were so darn entertaining.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

GM was always great on his Redskins show, because he'd prod Sonny J, Riggo and/or Wilbon, especially letting Riggo make some Riggo-like statement.

He was also good because of the way he and Jim Vance would tweak each other. However, I was extremely PO'ed when Michael first started using professional wrestling as "legitimate" sports news, and Vance was always right to get so testy about it. GM didn't do society any favors when he started that crap.

No, I'm still nmot over Brenner, either.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 24, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

One more time real slowly for 'mudge:

At LARL they do research on advanced weaponry. One of these weapons is called a Large Bore Powder Gun. Seems like a reasonable enough description and perhaps just a bit understated.

The LBPG had an accident and did unintended damage to property owned by the government. Somebody has to pay for the repairs to that property. Those people are called taxpayers.

Nobody got hurt but obviously something went wrong. When things go wrong, somebody usually gets blamed whether they were responsible for it or not.

POGO likes to make fun of the government. When things go wrong, it's easier to make fun of it.

Blowing sh1t up is really, really cool.


Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

One more time real slowly for yello: don't effing patronize me. I can effing read. I got all that. What YOU didn't get is it isn't a story worth even bringing up, but you did anyway. It wasn't LANL that seemed to call it a "cannon," it was POGO. Relating it somehow to the Civil War makes no sense whatsoever.

WTF are you defending POGO for?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 24, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Hey, you two... get a room!

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Pedantic Military Nut Test:

1. Define and explain the differences between the following terms:


2. Name four types of cannon shot used during the Napoleonic Wars.

3. Describe the roles of each member of a Civil War artillery gun crew.

4. Give the advantages and disadvantages of smoothbored versus rifled gun barrels.

Extra credit: Name at least one groan-inducing error Tom Clancy has written.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Hey everybody, who wants cheese straws faxed? I'm halfway through the batch and I think this is the best ever!

Having a hard time keeping up with you folks, I'm running back and forth to the kitchen. Will post recipe later...

Posted by: slyness | December 24, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Pardon the interruption - no back boodling time - emergency heat pump question. Recently there was discussion about someone's (slyness? bad sneakers?) heat problems and yello et al. talked about a heat pump thing - ignition? switch? Clearly I didn't take all this in though I thought it might apply to ours. Anyone remember it? We are having a sleet storm right now, back heat pump heater not working even when switched to emergency heat. Any thoughts?

Out into the sleet, back soon.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 24, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Someone I follow on Twitter (who has his own horrifying health-insurance--or lack thereof--story) just tweeted...

"Celebrate the passage of the health care bill! Make yourself a teeny little cake and don't eat it until 2014"

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I simply do not have the time to back-boodle until much, much later, but I do need to shout out a ginormous OH, CR@P that George Michael died. I really, really liked him, even if I have switched over to Channel 7. He was very, very talented, and fun to watch. I'll be his funeral will be spill-over with people, and more laughter than tears. He was very good at what he did.

Gotta go. Everyone, have a great Xmas Eve (if you, like those in the Nordic countries celebrate today) and Xmas (if you celebrate tomorrow). And to the rest of us, hope the Chinese food you eat to celebrate a day off (except, I suspect, for me (*grump*)) is also great.

Posted by: -ftb- | December 24, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

SCC: I'll bet his funeral

Posted by: -ftb- | December 24, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

POGO (Project on Government Oversight) has long kept a close eye on LANL (Los Alamos National Laboratory) because of the latter's subpar record regarding lack of adequate computer and fire security, anthrax mishandling, and a host of other logistical and management gaffes. LANL underwent a major management overhaul a few years back in an attempt to remedy the situation. Clearly there are still some kinks to be worked out.

The explosions Mudge refers to in his 10:42 post are most likely planned events, which was not the case with the LBPG (Large Bore Powder Gun) incident at LANL.

I concede that POGO is perhaps a bit over-zealous in its eagerness to report the goings-on at LANL. From a business perspective, however, LANL's recent past has been the epitome of how not to run a facility of any type.

Posted by: MsJS | December 24, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

*holding some mistletoe over 'Mudge & yello* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Everybody, turn your fax machine on and send dear Mudge some Pollyanna for the day.

Laugh Happy SnickerDoodles
May as well Smile Merlot
No Fail Fudge
Cheery Stones Sour Cherry Relish

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 24, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Broder has completely utterly lost it:

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | December 24, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Imom - Jk is the HEAT PUMP MAN. He has forgotten more than I will every know about such.

And, this will deflect him from the Mudge-crossed-swords moment.

And, Mudge, let me distract you with these good words:

barge board
subway time
unpainted wood work

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 24, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Mudge sorry:

subway tile
hex tile
basketweave tile

linseed oil for the lino

you know, the classics of fine homebuilding circa 1940.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 24, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Ooh! Ooh! Let me try! I have no actual expertise -- I just have what I've picked up in the gutter.

1. Define and explain the differences between the following terms:

gun = what male soldiers carry front and center in their "standard" equipment. Not for use in a military setting.
rifle = a long-bore firearm with spiraled internal grooves.
pistol = a hand-carryed short-barreled fire-arm with rifled barrel.
shot-gun = a broad-bore hand-carried fire-arm that launches a mass of pellets, suitable for anti-personnel (or anti-lawyer) use at short range.
artillery = a large rifle, right? Firing shells that can do things like pierce armor on aircraft or tanks, but also suitable for firing over walls. Not generally explosive rounds.
cannon = I'm really getting lost, here. Artillery with unrifled barrel? Relatively narrow bore, long range, non-explosive shells.
howitzer = I just don't know.
mortar = based on what Mudge said before, a large-bore powder-firing weapon. For lofting large shells with independent explosive or fuel load?

2. Name four types of cannon shot used during the Napoleonic Wars.

Ummmm. Grape-shot, balls. Pine cones? Olives?

3. Describe the roles of each member of a Civil War artillery gun crew.

Let's see, there's the guy who pours in the powder, the guy who rams it, the guy who loads in the shell/ball/whatever, the guy who ignites it, and the guy who writes soulfully of the cost to humanity when brother fires upon brother.

4. Give the advantages and disadvantages of smoothbored versus rifled gun barrels.

Rifled gun barrels have superior range and accuracy, as the rifling permits air to escape around the fired shell rather than piling up in a shockwave in front, promoting greater muzzle velocity, plus the rifling permits the shell to spin and achieve gyroscopic stabilization. Smoothbore guns are cheaper.

Extra credit: Name at least one groan-inducing error Tom Clancy has written.

"The Hunt for Red October"

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 24, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Whilst waiting for my car to warm up (just need one more important thing for under the tree), I will take a moment and wish everybody

MERRY CHRISTMAS from my house to yours. May the cookies be plentiful and calorie free.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 24, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

In the city, shot-gun was riding in the front passenger seat, sort of like co-pilot, or a way for two people to share one hit off a b0ng.

In the country, a shot-gun is what you use on New Year's Eve.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 24, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

What happened to me was that my thermostat was miswired. A heat pump has two stages of heat. The first (and normal) stage just runs the air-conditioner backwards (heat goes inside and cold goes outside). The second step turns off the compressor and turns on a big heater and runs the AC unit just like a big hair dryer.

One of the many things that can go wrong is that the outside coil can freeze up and the unit does not go into a defrost cycle. Go outside and look at the inside of the condensing unit (boxy outdoor part with the tubes and wires going to it) down past the fan. If the coils are covered in ice, that could be a big problem. Otherwise, it's some sort of wiring SNAFU that can be easily fix provided no circuit boards have been fried. Either way, you need a mechanic, probably on triple time.

If you can get just the fan to run, that will at least move air around. Turn on all the lights, boil some water if you really have to, but do not leave the oven door of a gas oven open.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

SciTim -- Yoki's Olive Balls -- with a time travel segue, you can develop an entire story series of the Peninsular Wars. Like the Sharpe series, only SciFiTimish.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 24, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

And there are always those delicious schweddy balls:

Don't know whether that fits in to the baking or the military munitions thread.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

DC has informed me that she's planning on eating so much tomorrow that when I check on her in the night, her room will be filled with green air.

Apparently, I'm raising Mel Brooks.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 24, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

LiT, DC is one very funny little girl! I hope Santa brings her everything she has wished for.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 24, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Badsneakers -- please send me 12 round chocolate cookies with the big puffs of chocolate on top, and 12 stars, and -- what? that wasn't an order form?

I am going to have to go bake, those cookies look delicious!

Posted by: nellie4 | December 24, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

What was the name of the guy they brought in after Glen Brenner who said during the sports cast nothing but "lets go to the video tape!!"

Posted by: nellie4 | December 24, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"Guns, guns, guns!" (-Clarence Bodecker, Robocop)

For additional emergency heat one can fill the bathtub(s) with hot water and let them sit. HOpe you get heat soon.

The tiny drops of Dave's Insanity sauce in my first attempt at cheese straws was exactly right. But I came close to messing up twice. Almost forgot to add the other half of the required butter and then set the oven too low out of pure carelessness. All is well.


Posted by: Jumper1 | December 24, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks sneaks. She is flipping funny.

Santa only brings one present (this year: a real telescope, not the kid kind) and then she gets stuff from Mom and Dad, T1 and T2.

She knows Santa (a personal friend of her aunt's), knows that Christmas is about JC, and Chanukah is about oil lasting eight days, and knows about Winter Solstice. How it all meshes together in her head is anyone's guess. Probably as one univeral party.

She knows about Ramadan, and knows that it's in the Fall, but hasn't asked about what Muslims do at this time of year. (When we first moved here, one of her first questions about the school was why don't any of the mommies wear a burqa. You think they're not paying attention, and have the intellectual capacity of a 6-year old, but then they come out with something well beyond their years.)

My Christmas present is the same as last year: getting to watch her live, laugh, love and learn. (So many times, I think God didn't intend for women my age to have a child her age, but then I think maybe someone upstairs knew something I didn't, that she'd bring mountains of joy and laughter along with the exhaustion.)

Off to make up rooms for T1 and T2. Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 24, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

LiT, obviously God knew exactly what she was doing when she gave you DC. Merry Christmas!

Posted by: badsneakers | December 24, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Do I smell something burning, LiT?

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Help! Just pulled our night 11 lbs Christmas Eve turkey out of the garage fridge to get it ready - small problem.

It is frozen SOLID. I have not idea if it was frozen when I bought it, I do not think so - (Fresh Turkey). Now I want dinner at 6:00ish, it takes 3 hours to cook, can I defrost in the microwave or cook from frozen? So looking forward to turkey tonight.


Your hapless dmd

Posted by: dmd3 | December 24, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

You definitely cannot safely cook from frozen. You probably can thaw in the microwave, if it will fit, but it probably will take an hour or two on low power. At this point, dmd, I suspect your best bet is to race out to the grocery store and quickly buy another one -- save this one for New Year's Eve.

The meat-eaters in the ScienceHousehold will be having Cornish Game Hen this year. I have never tried cooking such a thing. Any suggestions? Mudge? Yoki? I am thinking in terms of a strongly-flavored marinade, some orange peel, plenty of salt and pepper on the surface.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 24, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

dmd, throw it in the sink and cover it with cold water. Keep replacing the cold water as it will get too cold. If you do this for a while, it should get somewhat softer. If it isn't working after 30 min or so, I'd try the microwave on 'defrost' but someone else here who cooks turkey more often than I do may have a better idea. Good luck - what's a holiday without a mini-disaster?

Posted by: badsneakers | December 24, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Christmas Eve or Day of Umbrage? Hope Bob S checks in after his visit with his neighbors. Good fences make good neighbors.

sneaks, your cookies are so beautiful. I bet they taste good too.

Hope everyone has a good holiday. Here's a favorite Christmas song of ours:

Posted by: seasea1 | December 24, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, I have actually cooked Conish Hen before, the first real meal I made for dmdspouse when we were dating. It was a microwave recipe (did not have an oven at the time). It was delish. Think it was an orange based sauce. Love cornish hen, had it in a restaurant in New Orleans and still dream about that meal, the hen was brought to the table in tin foil shaped like a small hen, I was 20 or so and thought it was the fanciest thing I had ever seen.

I could probably dig up the recipe if you want.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 24, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse


Chicken - Rock Cornish Hens 350

4 Rock Cornish hens
1/2 C. chopped onion
1/3 C. chopped celery
2 Tbsp. margarine or butter
1 C. uncooked rice
1 can chicken broth
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained.
1/3 C. sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/3 C. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/3 C. pineapple juice

Preheat oven. Rinse hens and dry. Cook onion and celery in 2 Tbsp. margarine until tender. Add chicken broth and water to make 2 1/4 C. liquid, add rice, and cook.

Drain pineapple and add to cooked rice, stuff hens with rice mixture. Bake hens on rack, breast side up, about 1 hour, basting with butter. Mix together sugar and cornstarch in small sauce pan. Add other ingredients and heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Brush on the hens, cook them about 20 - 30 minutes more, brushing again.

Betty Crocker Cookbook, probably 1956?

My kids always loved the little chickens, and requested them on birthdays

Posted by: nellie4 | December 24, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh my DMD -- could this be a blessing in disguise? As in Pho or Tai takeaway? Then, you do not putter in the kitchen but sit in the living room and admire the tree with seed catalogs in your lap?

And, the children, particularly the YuleTide girl, will remember the Great Christmas of Soy Sauce and Hot&Sour Soup.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | December 24, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

to all the good people of the boodle, and to the boss, my wish for a very merry christmas. the writing, the humor, the camaraderie here is a gift each time i visit.

Posted by: butlerguy | December 24, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

seasea, that song was catchy and delightful - until I read the lyrics - sad. Guess that's what this time of year is about in a way. The joy of seeing people we love but the heartache of missing those no longer here with us. This is why I make cookies, to honor my mom. And when trying to tie the meat with butcher knots, remembering dad, who could tie them faster than you could see.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 24, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Turkey in the microwave - thank goodness for a small turkey and a large microwave. In the next two days we will have two large meals cooked by family - gourmet stuff but no turkey, to me Christmas is Turkey hence the turkey tonight. If all else fails we have leftover pizza.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 24, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I googled a couple of articles about cooking frozen turkeys - this seems legit:

But maybe CP's idea is better - or go get a fresh turkey - or Cornish hens. I love the part in The Accidental Tourist where they're slow-cooking the turkey and most of the family won't eat it because they think it's not done. Mr seasea has a tendency to undercook to preserve moistness, whereas I prefer meat to be overly done - makes for interesting dinners at times. Good luck! Bet you remember this Christmas eve for awhile.

sneaks, yes, it's the sad yearning in Stop the Cavalry that I love. I didn't know "nuclear fallout zone" was in the lyrics till a few years ago.

Posted by: seasea1 | December 24, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Warner Wolf!

Posted by: nellie4 | December 24, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I second badsneaks sink thawing method. It all has to do with Biot Numbers and the heat capacity of turkey meat.

Just don't use the Accidental Tourist cooking method.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

*Sitting down for what feels like the first time since 9:45 ayem*

LiT, loved the DC story! Green air, indeed!

Cheese straws made, Mr. T thinks this is the right amount of cayenne:

Esther’s Cheese Straws

16 oz sharp cheddar cheese, room temperature
2 cups flour
8 oz margarine, room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more/less if desired

Leave cheese and margarine out for eight hours or overnight; this will make the dough workable without causing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Preheat oven to 425.

Shred the cheese finely. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl. With clean hands, work them into a smooth, stiff dough. Fill a cookie press no more than two thirds full with the dough. Using the star plate, press the dough in rows onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the straws begin to brown slightly. Cut the straws into 3 or 4 inch lengths and store tightly. Feel free to eat small pieces.

Note: Harris Teeter sells a 2-pound block of New York extra sharp cheddar, so I normally make a double batch.

Now, I'm gonna rest till it's time to get ready to go to church...

Posted by: slyness | December 24, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

*Sitting down for what feels like the first time since 9:45 ayem*

LiT, loved the DC story! Green air, indeed!

Cheese straws made, Mr. T thinks this is the right amount of cayenne:

Esther’s Cheese Straws

16 oz sharp cheddar cheese, room temperature
2 cups flour
8 oz margarine, room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more/less if desired

Leave cheese and margarine out for eight hours or overnight; this will make the dough workable without causing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Preheat oven to 425.

Shred the cheese finely. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl. With clean hands, work them into a smooth, stiff dough. Fill a cookie press no more than two thirds full with the dough. Using the star plate, press the dough in rows onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the straws begin to brown slightly. Cut the straws into 3 or 4 inch lengths and store tightly. Feel free to eat small pieces.

Note: Harris Teeter sells a 2-pound block of New York extra sharp cheddar, so I normally make a double batch.

Now, I'm gonna rest till it's time to get ready to go to church...

Posted by: slyness | December 24, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Big bird is in the oven a cooking,mom and i made so much stuffing this morning that we will be eating way into next year.

Happy christmas eve everyone.I did my last minute shopping as always and the roads were packed.Only wrapping to do and visiting neighbors later.

So sorry to hear about George Micheal,when i moved to west by god,i started getting the DC stations and always watched 4.One night Jim Vance and George couldn't stop laughing at each other.It happened at 6 and spilled over into 11.And who didn't watch the sports machine.HE will be missed very much.

Everyone have a wonderful holiday and hug a stranger,just because a hug makes the world a better place.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 24, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Defrosted the turkey for 30 minutes, and it seemed quite soft then, when I googled how to do it it suggested putting right in the oven after - so I did. Our microwave is 1100 watts and cooks much faster than the normal recommended times.

I do know you can cook from frozen as several stores around here sell turkeys designed for that, but I do not know if they are specially prepared.

Fingers crossed it will work - had a roomate in university you got samanella poisoning from turkey - don't want to live through that again - makes methane smell like perfume - will not expand more than that.

Posted by: dmd3 | December 24, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, thanks for the recipe, I'll save for next year or sooner if I can lose the weight I'm gonna gain in the next few days!

Posted by: badsneakers | December 24, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, yello. I'll show that to Ivansdad. While I was out I picked up (the last) space heater in the drugstore. That'll keep the very back warm, and everything else is fine.

I might, of course, have stopped at the hardware store on the way home, but prudence prevailed. Just before I left the house to run a few errands, I noticed the Internets had put out a blizzard warning. I scoffed, as there was just heavy sleet coming down at that time. By the time I left the butcher's, the sleet had changed to snow. If a blizzard is heavy snow plus high winds for a long period of time, and I think it is, then this is one. Wotta mess. I made it home without incident but it sure took a while. Even if the midnight Mass is not cancelled, I may not make it.

Much excitement.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 24, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I think that last trip to the shops completes the preparations; just a little wrapping to do this afternoon and putting together the stockings (a favourite part of the day, for me).

Cheese fondue tonight, turkey tomorrow. Everybody is looking forward to both.

Have a lovely Christmas Eve, all.

Posted by: Yoki | December 24, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, glad you're safe, saw OK on the news and it didn't look good. #2 just called to say they'd make it here in time for dinner. I guess they can't resist tenderloin. I set two more places and there should be plenty of food.

Hope everyone has a safe, warm and wonderful holiday, especially you Joel! You're the reason we're all acquainted after all.

Posted by: badsneakers | December 24, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

A Christmas Blizzard! How exciting! Stay safe and warm.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 24, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the good wishes. Yellojkt, you see our concern about the heater. Fortunately, that really only fully heats one room; everything else is at least partially heated by the main heater, which is fine (cross fingers, knock on wood).

DC is one smart cookie, LiT, and it sounds as if you'll have a wonderful Christmas. Ivansdad and the Boy put together some sort of Santa tradition those years I sang midnight Mass without them. I was always extremely neutral about Santa. We did call the mall Santa's "helpers", which made sense to the Boy (of course, so did the idea that Santa helped the Baby Jesus by delivering presents on His birthday. A theological nightmare to enliven therapy in his later years.) At some point, as RD says, the Boy began to do some investigation and discovery and figure things out for himself. At one point I resorted to the "Santa brings presents if you believe" line, but when you do that it is already over. I did the same thing with the Tooth Fairy and her precious dollar. At some point the Boy noticed all his old teeth wound up in a keepsake box in my room.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 24, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

5 inches of snow with fair winds howling this morning. After shovelling, I watched Wilbrodog bounding through the snows, and now it's tea and books and waiting to see if my final package arrives today.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | December 24, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Off to Mass at 4. Wow. Midnight Mass is earlier and earlier.

Heartfelt prayers for the boodle and the wide net cast. God bless th JA family.

Remember this: the message of Christmas is that we all matter. The lowliest are elevated. The table is spread for all. Take joy. Give joy. That is all.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | December 24, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes, Midnight Mass. In the parish of my youth, I am afraid, it was something of a Drunkard's Mass. People would get snockered and then, overcome by the sloppy emotionalism of the inebriated, decide to get Right With God by staggering off to Church. (At least that's the way our parish priest would describe it to us Altar Boys.)

Yet, despite that, when I was very small we used to attend as a family. Indeed, one of my earliest memories is of the candles, the music, and, of course, the rapid panicked breathing of my mother as she quickly carried me down the side aisle whilst I vomited copiously all over her Christmas dress.

That she didn't immediately abandon me on the convent steps next door is an eternal testament to her loving nature.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | December 24, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Amen CqP, Amen.

Taking a break from cooking. There is nothing on the stove top and Mrdr has the bird in hand, so I don't have to worry about burning anything.

Just taking a wee break before the rush of finishing work nearer the meal. ans besides, when I am downstairs I can avoid the candy try.

Posted by: --dr-- | December 24, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

CqP, even the Pope is having his midnight mass earlier.

We'll have a quiet family Réveillon. Pasta &lentils salad, beet&onion salad, carrot&nuts salad, oysters on the half shell, spicy shrimp with cilantro, canapés and some other finger food. Christmas cookies and bakery-bought Stollen for dessert and some Spanish bubbly to open the festivities.

The BIG meal is tomorrow at the in-laws. I feel stuffed already.

I had to stop at the liquor store. It was a zoo but populated by pleasant animals. People were in a good mood despite the long lines. Merry Christmas to all.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | December 24, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

butlerguy!!! :-)

Best of luck with the frozen turkey, dmd!!!

Small dinner ready for tonight, ham and fixins on tap for the big meal, presents under the tree...

Now I just have to wait for NukeSpouse to get home from work. :-)

And you learn the most astounding things watching "Pop-Up Video" on VH1 Classic. Such as how the Tubes liberally sprinkled b00b images into their "She's a Beauty" video, or how John Stamos ended up playing bongos with the Beach Boys for the "Kokomo" video.

May the Boodle, lurkers and all, have a peaceful, safe and joy-filled holiday and weekend.

*gingerbread-eggnog-and-such-other-trappings-as-may-be-deemed-fit Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 24, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

*pant* *pant* *pant*

Just breaking in to tell you all (well, most of you all) that this Boodle is a lovely present to have. I hope you will allow me to hover virtually at your tables while you enjoy your holiday. And that's not just because I'm hungry. It's because I really like you all (well, most of you all) and because you have shared all your hectic holiday fixings (food-wise and otherwise) with us. It's so much fun for me to read what you all are up to in preparing for your festivities.

Enjoy everything about your celebrations, even the cleaning up (just don't do *that* alone!). And then relax, as the next one of these is one whole year away.

And, now, back to work, which might even flow over to tomorrow, alas.

*taking deep breath and holding nose before submerging yet again*

Posted by: -ftb- | December 24, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! And to all a good night, etc.

I will try to post a few pics soon...Took a hike with a couple of the critters at Great Falls.

Very sad to hear about George Michael, whose Sports Machine was a favorite back in the days before every house had ESPN. Fisher has a nice tribute.

Posted by: joelache | December 24, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

No late Mass for me. They had to cancel because they shut down all the Interstate highways here in the city (they *never* do that) and nobody, including me, could get there. Assuming this would be the case I've already had a lovely bourbon & water while finishing up the bourbon pecan pie. Tonight's piece of ham is in the oven and the Boy & I are headed outside into the blizzard. To frolic.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 24, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Good, happy evening everyone. Should I be embarrassed that Son of G and I just picked up a Stouffer's frozen lasagne while doing some last-minute shopping? No, I won't be.

Because something beautiful is happening in the kitchen. Son of G and Daughter have their heads together while making bokeh lenses out of black paper for her DSLR camera. The sounds of discovery are just more than a parent could ever want to hear.

Posted by: -TBG- | December 24, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations, TGB, on the kids. Hurrah.

Nothing wrong with frozen lasagne. Our ham will be accompanied by fresh macaroni & cheese and classic green bean casserole, both homemade by someone else and sold at the butcher shop where I picked up tomorrow's dinner. I may throw a couple of frozen flaky biscuits in the oven while we cut the ham. Guilt? nope.

The Boy & I frolicked until his ankles froze. It is lovely outside right now, and astonishingly quiet (except for the vicious blizzard wind). Truly there are no cars on I-35, something I've never seen in my lifetime.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 24, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

New kit is up. A few of the promised pics from Mr. A.

Posted by: MsJS | December 24, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

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