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Gulf oil spill operation a success, but the patient ...

In the gulf, things are going swimmingly from a bureaucratic perspective. That's the constant refrain of the Obama administration. It is the message detailed exhaustively in the administration's timeline, the one that talks of how quickly the administration responded to the crisis. And it's the daily message from the always upbeat Rear Adm. Mary Landry in her news briefings in Robert, La.

Landry is always confident, always quick to talk about "the assets" in place, always pleased with the resources in place and the cooperation among the agencies involved in the round-the-clock response to the oil spill. Her message: We're on the job, working hard.

Here is Landry at a press briefing last week:

"We continue to work around the clock here at the Unified Command Post...."

"...we are tightly focused on it..."

"We very much appreciate their commitment to this effort, along with the entire national response team, who has been on the job since the day the rig sank ..."

"We continue to aggressively execute and adapt our local and regional response plan to the on-scene condition, in accordance with the pre-existing, established and exercised plans, as required by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990...."

"We have state and local officials linked at every level of the response organization, and working to ensure that we understand and address their specific needs and challenges and leverage our combined resources to the greatest effect...."

And so on.

Saturday afternoon shortly before 3:00 p.m. ET, reporters got a tip from an environmental group that the containment dome had "failed." This was a slight exaggeration, in the sense that the containment dome was sidelined by the accumulation of methane hydrates (slushy stuff that clogged the dome), but the dome may yet be useable. Still, it was pretty big news given all the media coverage of the dome and the extent to which many people were hoping and praying it would be the magic bullet here.

So we listened to the news briefing to see if Landry and the other briefers would confirm the setback.

But Landry had only upbeat news about the success in deploying assets.

"While the weather today may be preventing us from burning, crews are aggressively attacking the spill response using other tools available.... Responders with great cooperation from volunteers and fishermen hired by BP have already deployed more than 900,000 feet of boom... Over 1.3 million feet is staged at 12 locations around the Gulf.... We continue to expand activities along the shore... We also remain ready to respond to any wild life that might have been impacted.... our newest incident command post in St. Petersburg, Florida is fully up and running in cooperation with state agencies.... We continue to quickly work to investigate reports of oil coming ashore."

Oh, about the dome:

"BP will provide more information on the containment dome shortly. I must continue to manage expectations on all this ground-breaking effort to address this challenge. This dome is no silver bullet to stop the leak."

So it was up to BP to say that this thing didn't work. BP's Doug Suttles delivered the bad news.

Why can't Landry say, up front, "We had a setback today"?

Let's give her the benefit of the doubt: She has to project the public face of a massive federal, state, local, private industry and volunteer response to this crisis. She has to rally the troops. She shouldn't be downbeat or defeatist.

But one senses a slight disconnect between the admiral's words and the bleak fact of the situation, which is that oil continues to leak unabated into the gulf. This communication strategy seems designed to ensure that bad news comes from BP and BP only. The danger is that the Obama administration winds up conveying bureaucratic triumphalism even as the environmental calamity worsens.

I fear that when this is over we'll be told, "The operation was a success, but the Gulf died."

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 10, 2010; 8:16 AM ET
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Was the dome ever a feasible option or was it just a red herring smokescreen designed to distract the public while setting expectations for a long calamity?

Let's look at the worst case scenario: This line goes gusher and becomes impossible to stop. Just how fast does the entire Gulf of Mexico become a oozy dead zone puddle?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 10, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and ruby red grapefruit juice on the table.

Mr. A, the question you raise about what Rear Adm. Landry does and doesn't say is one for you journalists to answer. Since when has it been easy deciphering gummint spokespersonspeak?

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

$^%$#@ Yes, mudged myself. I mean, I really got the touch.

Ivansmom, that file may be saved in the "Temporary" file, and if the machine shut down with the file open, it ought to pop up automatically in "Word" as a file saved for recovery; usually when you first open Word after the reboot, a panel opens on the left side of the Word screen that shows any documents left open. But as dmd said, it may depend on what Autosave features are activated. (Assuming it's a PC, not a Mac. Dunno about new Macs.)

I'm about half tempted to ask drconcerned two questions. The first is that with all due respect to his father the Navy medic who served with the Marines, just what the hell has that got to do with his mad raving about the gulf spill? And second, he has several times asserted that the gulf spill was somehow going to lead to nuclear war. I'm sorta curious to know who were are going to attack, or alternately who is going to attack us, nuke-wise, and what the spill will have to do with it. But I know dang well he's just gonna direct me to his cockamammy Web site, and at the risk of further inflaming GaryHumorImpairedMasters, I'm just not gonna go there and read drconcerned's raving, enlightenment be damned. I can only handle just so much enlightenment in one day, and anyone who considers drconcerned's ravings OR Karl Rove's Machiavellian agitprop to be enlightenment isn't exactly a reliable guide, anyway.

So my catlike curiosity will just have to go unquenched.

LiT, I too, had the same thought about the seabed under a mile of ocean being six times hotter than the sun (which, as well all know, often leads to the formation of ice crystals here in Opposite World), and thought several times about saying that, but it occurred to me I had somehow misread drconcerned's blather in some way. I went back and re-read it several times, but like you, that's how I read it, too. And that's only one mile deep. I image the sea temp at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, seven miles down, would be seven times hotter (I don't know if madcap delusions operate on a linear mathematical scale, or are algebraic or even logarithmic, like the Richter scale and the Dewey Decimal System). Be that as it may, those guys that went down to the bottom of the Marianas Trench in those bathyscapes musta sweated their buns off down there, ya know?

Well, gotta go get some work done today before I go home and watch my silly TV programs.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, I think the government is falling into the familiar pattern of equating process with progress. This is a natural response when there isn't much good news to report, or when any progress that might be achieved is hard to quantify. In its most severe form queries about progress in some area are met with discussions of how much money is being spent.

The semi-official site seems to be falling victim to this. It is chock full of cool pictures of people working really hard, but seems to have a paucity of up-to-the-minute news.

For that, the industry source that MsJS pointed out a few days ago seems more productive.

And, of course, for intelligent analysis and synthesis, it makes me feel better that we have folks like Joel.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I guess public relations technique dictates accentuating the positive, latching on to the affirmative. There's no negative to eliminate. It's long gone.

A CBS News story Saturday evening was somewhat the same thing--nice video of the teeming sea life around oil platforms in the Gulf.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 10, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Let me correct myself, that periodical MsJS pointed us to isn't an industry source, but is rather a niche publication focused on the oil industry.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Considering how much unfairc crap Landry and the Coast Guard got initially, I'm inclined to give them a certain amount of slack. On the other hand, I'm not sure she should have said "we" had a setback today, as opposed to "they" (BP and whoever) had the setback, since it wasn't the Coast Guard doing the work. Although I agree it's mainly semantics, and the "we" could have been broadly generic, meaning the entire country, etc. But in general I can understand how the gummint peeps might be a bit gunshy, given the flack they are getting. (Yes, there's plenty of flack to go around, but on the other hand, the Coast Guard doesn't regulate the oil industry, and stopping oil well gushers isn't in the curriculum at the Coast Guard Academy. I think we need to be a little careful here: it's like blaming firemen for installing faulty wiring in the house that just burned down.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt, I don't think it was a smokescreen, but I am concerned that the Administration is thinking small here, and that they're perhaps relying on too much on BP to solve the problem.

Seems to me that this problem is bigger than BP, and that the Government may need to pull in even more resources from the Military in order to deal with the cleanup and remediation, and to perhaps pull in more resources from NASA, USGS, and scientists and other experts from around the world to deal with the Well at the Bottom of the Gulf.

And I don't mean electronically - I mean bring them in to a central location, put them in a room with access to all the resources they could possibly need, and to let them talk (and pay them to do so). I think people tend to work better in face-to-face communcation and collaboration than via any electronic media, and they will arrive at workable ideas and possible solutions much more quickly.

Sounds like the plot to a cheap sci-fi/disaster movie, but this situation seems to be getting more Irwin Allen every day.


Posted by: -bc- | May 10, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

yello - who knows for sure, of course. But the approach made sense to me as a logical way of minimizing the risk of making something far worse. I accept that it was the safest approach available. To me, it's apparent failure simply reflects ignorance regarding the detailed behavior of oil-well effluents a mile down.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Of course leaders don't accentuate the negative in public.

Lombardi, Rockne, and Patton saved their best motivational @$$-kickings for locker rooms and closed doors, didn't they?

I would *not* want to be in the Oval Office with the doors shut discussing this matter with President Obama anytime soon.


Posted by: -bc- | May 10, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of an equivalent of six times hotter than the surface of the sun...

(I'd been wondering about that, too, LiT. Didn't make sense to me at all...)


Posted by: -bc- | May 10, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

bc, I say we get the Seaview out there right away!

Mr. A, one point regarding the Gulf. No one knows how this will play out environmentally, but the Gulf will eventually regenerate. The questions are how long will it take and in what form.

Anyone up for a fajitas lunch today? Kindly BYOC(hair) or B(everage) as a contribution.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Under very high pressures, chemicals act as if they are very hot even if they are actually cold. It has to do with reduced pressures and critical temperatures and stuff like that. But I had better run that past my son who thinks he got a B in Thermo this semester; my course work is about 25 years old and we never dealt with chemicals other than water and freon.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 10, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I try to avoid reading semi-technical gobbly gook because it hurts my eyes, but I suspect, by which I mean guess, that an argument is being made based on phase states:

I'm not suggesting there is anything relevant here. But lots of times these kinds of incoherent discussions are based on a bizarre interpretation of some valid concept.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

What is needed now is a bunch of nerds in white shirts with skinny ties-

Posted by: kguy1 | May 10, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Oil spill science in the Gulf

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 10, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I only have one thing to add--find some more experts!

I suggest they call Jed Clampett and Jethro Bodine.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 10, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

PD, those phase diagrams would make lovely patterns for quilts.

Just joking, folks. I'm following along with you here. Agree with bc that I wouldn't want to be behind closed doors with Obama on this matter. The point Mr.A is making is well taken and I've tired of the gummint speak. Talking yesterday with a couple family members who only listen to vague soundbites I heard "well, the government says they've got it under control." I wanted to scream, but it wasn't the day for histrionics.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I grasp the process is not progress thing. However, it is so important to suggest that (1) without process, progress won't happen or happen quickly enough; and (2) looking at the problems faced by this White House, I am very glad that it isn't the last White House facing this White House's problems. Come to think of it, many of this White House's problems are because of the last White House.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 10, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I agree talitha! There is often unexpected beauty in Science. That's part of why I like it.

I am just a tad cynical that a room full of Really Smart People will come up with any kind of new solution. I think the candidate solutions are already out there. The problem, I assert, is that each potential solution comes with an associated degree of risk. And the proper assessment of risk often has less to do with brainpower and more to do with specific knowledge of the precise details of the situation. Intelligent people can, of course, discuss scenarios and think through contingencies, but individuals, no matter how uncommonly clever, cannot spontaneously generate knowledge.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Zackly, weed. Loved yer Lena Horne story, BTW.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The Administration is experiencing Schadenfreude or pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others, like laughing when someone slips on a banana peel.

Now, they can kill oil drilling and exploration with a smile on their face and say, I told you so. They just can't publicly admit it and are busy engaging in CYA.

They should do what the Russians did a few decades ago and nuke the leak underwater and stop it immediately. Unfortunately, they can't do that because they are still exploiting the oil spill for political purposes.

Posted by: alance | May 10, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Looks like BP is going to try again with a smaller containment dome, called a "top hat."

The theory is less water and more oil under the "top hat" will reduce hydrate formation.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Again with the nukes. drconcerned wants to avoid nuclear engagement while alance wants to promote it. Perhaps they should find another nice corner of the Web to chat.

If there is any schadenfreude in the gummint official response it is remarkably well hidden. And I guarantee, as long as we have no effective alternative energy system in place, including transmission and delivery, nobody will stop oil drilling and exploration.

With any luck, however, this episode will persuade people in charge that we should have more humility (read: restrictions and regulations) when acting in areas (read: below deep sea beds) we know very little about (read: on the extreme edge of experience and knowledge and possibly not as familiar as we believe).

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 10, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm, front page alert.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Sure, RT, a good process should lead to progress. It's a matter of perception. When descriptions of the sturm and drang of activity *appear* to take priority over concrete and timely status reports, there is a communication problem.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

RD, didn't mean to imply that candidate solutions aren't out there already.

The benefit of having a range of really smart folks in a room is to be able to sort through them quickly.

It's worked for me a lot. 5 minutes face to face has saved weeks of email threads and other sideband media communciations in solving big problems -- in my experience, anyway.

Also, there is some benefit in building on other's ideas to fomulate plans, others can look at your ideas from a different viewpoint and see pros or cons I may not see...


Posted by: -bc- | May 10, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of pre-emptive measures using Word, not that it will help now but might in the future, its not a bad idea to save a final copy every night with a different version number--ivansdocv1, Ivansdocv2, etc. I also save every few minutes, it's second nature now. Sorry ivan lost his paper.

I understand the point about the problem of positive reporting; perhaps the CG needs to be able to say BP's dome didn't work. Otoh, the CG doesn't need to take responsibility for that either.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 10, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Bottom line to me is simple!

BP and the US government do not know how to avoid these types of incidents from happening!

So how can you move forward with offshore drilling when you cannot even prove to Americans you can handle what you have now!

Posted by: vicbennettnet | May 10, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Good points bc. I certainly didn't mean to imply that bringing together smart people isn't a good idea. I'm simply trying to limit expectations.

And in this I am also speaking from personal experience. I am often involved in decisions in which the available information is woefully inadequate. And in such a situation no amount of brainpower can help you determine which wire you should cut. All it can do is explain to you how big the boom might be.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

We really need to take a more consistent position. Do we want government to interfere in private business or do we not? The government shouldn't have bailed out the banks; the government should not have bailed out the car companies; etc. In general, the prevailing opinion, expressed most vociferously by tea baggers, is government taints whatever it touches; we need to leave private business alone to do the voodoo it does so well. OK, what is the problem with BP having to explain why its corrective measure failed? After all, this mess is the result of exploitation of natural resources by private industry; the platform was not built to government specifications nor operated by the government. Actually the government pestering BP to fix the problem is in line with its primary role as a regulator; exploration and clean up of any mess caused by it is the responsibility of private industry, or are we all now becoming socialists and think the government is responsible and should nationalize the oil industry, well, at least this fiasco. Sadly the foisting of a problem caused by private industry on the government is routine. Katrina was a natural disaster,a nd God can't be taken to task, but BP isn't God and can be. Whenever an enterprise begins to falter and profits dip, the barons of industry want to pawn the operation off on the government. Passenger rail service is no longer profitable: set up a quasi government corporation to run it. Financial geniuses being too smart for their won good and push the global economy to the brink of failure: get a bailout from the government while still paying the execs. of the failed enterprises astronomical salaries and bonuses. Anything that is too big to fail or too messy to clean up that does fail becomes the government’s, i.e., the peoples, responsibility. Privatize profitable enterprise and nationalize non-profitable ones. Capitalists excuse their exorbitant profits by claiming it is a payback for their risk taking. What risk taking? The fact is the taxpayers insure them against loss. CEOs and other senior managers of enterprises that create ecological disasters or put the economy in danger of collapse when the fail should be treated as the Naval captain of a ship that is lost; they should be court-martialed or the civilian equivalent, at least they shouldn’t get a bonus.

Posted by: csintala79 | May 10, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm, must be lunchtime on the east coast.

Fajitas, anyone?

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Si, por favor. Traeré la sangría.

¿Qué un poco fajitas? (Apenas curioso.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

muy picante por favor

Or sumthin'

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Ok, MsJS. Lunch break, in my case shrimp alfredo from last night's feast.

RD, applying science to beauty is an every day thing in my field. Chemistry in the dye process is crucial. Mathematics being a science, I use Euclidian axioms in designing textiles. The results are far superior to drawing random dots on a piece graphpaper, imho.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I claim no knowledge of Spanish.

I just like making fajitas. And eating them.

Thanks for the sangria. Glasses are in the cupboard above the knife rack.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

There's both medium and call-the-fire-department picante, RD. Which would you prefer?

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

MsJS, my Spanish comes exclusively from the University of Babelfish.

Oh, and Gipsy Kings albums.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm in, MsJS! Chicken for me, I've had too much steak in the last week or so.

Bunker is open and ready for business. I note, however, that some of the newcomers are making a bit of sense. Rather scary, that.

Posted by: slyness | May 10, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Soy un cobarde admitido de la especia. Suave para mí, por favor.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Oooh, talitha, those textiles sound wonderful.

Bring your shrimp alfredo and pull up a chair.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

i think i can translate the gummint-speak, from inside the belly of the beast.

we're doing everything we can think of, but none of it is working. we intend to keep doing what's not working until someone thinks of something else. at this point we are out of ideas, but we do have more people we can assemble to show you that we care. unfortunately we got rid of all our creative thinkers some time ago.

Posted by: butlerguy | May 10, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, just wanted to commend you on the job you've been doing on re-stocking the bunker. In case you're running low, I left you some requisition forms and some signed, blank checks, in case we need anything. I "hid" them in the usual place (der-unnay the oormat-day).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Chicken it is, slyness.

Coward, Mudge? Nah. But the mild-to-medium picante is in the black bowl. The red bowl is the five-alarm stuff.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Do they spell it "pour favour" in Canada, I wonder?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

RIP, Nina King.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I kinda like the idea of pouring favours on one another.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Gordon Brown has offered to step down as a tactic to keep the UK Labour party in power.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

From our "there but for the grace" department, one famous guy faces a tough choice-

when do you say no to medical intervention and live with the cards you've been dealt?

Posted by: kguy1 | May 10, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

And a proper obit at:

TBG, this from the obit: "She also helped solidify the reputation of D.C. crime novelist George Pelecanos, writing in 2001 that "the hard-boiled mystery writer that Washington lacked seems to have emerged from the shadows."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Ah, fajitas: one of the few cheeseless Tex-Mex delicacies. I believe I should like to join you, MsJS.

I think bc is calling for a well-managed brainstorming session. I'm for that. It should exclude however those who think the wellhead or indeed parts of the borehole are hotter than the surface of the sun. At present the Web is being junkshotted by megatons of off-the-wall proposals.

(BTW, the bottom-hole temperature in that particular well - and this is similar for most holes in that whole part of the world - is about 400 F. This should indicate at least some respect for the technology involved in the whole industry.)

There are interesting videos - lots of them - of ROV operations at the site. One might start at
or simply query Deepwater ROV. NOAA is apparently providing some of the monitoring.

This is all, by the way, a plot by Cheney and Rove to snatch the U.S.S. Jimmy Carter nuclear submarine, so Cheney can still have access to nukes. Bwah ha ha!

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 10, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Nina King RIP.
And how I miss the old deadtree pullout Book World. Portable and entertaining. The notice said she introduced the "poetry" feature, by which I assume is meant the poetry corner that always delighted me. I seem to be *sighing* a lot today.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Or they drilled through another one of those ancient buried UFOs - or time machines,or whatever the heck they are.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 10, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge. You are a good boss, and I appreciate you! I got the forms and checks and put them in a safe place. The red wines seem to be in short supply, so I'll drop by Total Wine this afternoon and restock. Anyone with suggestions, please let me know.

Hung Parliment - I'd never heard that phrase till last week. It's entertaining to watch, but I'm sure it's excruciating to be a part of. Gordon Brown doesn't seem to be exciting, and David Cameron doesn't either. Another election soon? God bless the British. At least they don't have to deal with a presidential election for two solid years.

Posted by: slyness | May 10, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

kguy, thank you a million times for sharing the Ebert link with us. I had read the Esquire piece and marveled at his courage and joy in the face (no pun) of reality. This just confirms it and I'm eager for his new projects to begin.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I do remember some thermodynamics. Basically the three laws tell me that 1) the leak won't fix itself; 2) The longer we wait the bigger the mess; 3) there's still gonna be a big mess no matter what. (And we wonder why regular folks roll their eyes at scientists.)

Impossibility doesn't come into it, there just has to be someone to pay the bills.

I wandered by the good doctors site. Page after page of basic information theory and I left. If it had opened with a nice little treatise on game theory I might of hung around for the nuclear war connection, but meh...

BC, I think unfortunately the government pretty much has zero organic capability to deal with a problem this far underwater. Mudge might correct me as he seems to be well versed and all things nautical, but I think deep sea exploration is pretty much strictly a private commercial specialty. The best they could do is supply extra cash to hire their own contractors.

Posted by: qgaliana | May 10, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

The good doctor seems to have led a very interesting life. Google the name on the website link and pick a few stories at random. Nuclear disaster seems to be just one of his many windmills.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 10, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm a red bowl kinda guy.


Posted by: -bc- | May 10, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Amen, bc. If it doesn't make the beads of sweat pop out on you forehead, what's the point of eating it?

Posted by: kguy1 | May 10, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Snuke -- I think you gave it to me. Feeling inexorably rotten. Really. Don't even want to look at a picture of food. Yuck.

Pleeeze, oh Boodle, Pleeeze fax over some sympaki. No chicken soup, however. Not right now.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 10, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

qg and yello, are we really sure that the good doctor didn't invent the hue-test? I kept wanting to take the little color tiles from his equations and slide and drop them into their proper gradation slots. ;)

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

They're in color?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 10, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Warm handwoven blankie for ftb on the way.
Gingerale, maybe?

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I like the way csintala79 thinks (at 11:46 AM).

I just wish the Enter/Return button worked on his/her keyboard. Such large blocks of text are so hard on the eyes and tend to make one think a troll resides within the block.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 10, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, little colored tiles in the equations on the first page of the site given in the last kit.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

*emergency airlifting a skid of sympaki in the giant economy-size easy-open quart containers, plus 3 dozen pats of there-there (low-salt) and a bucket of tsk-tsks*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

qgaliana, I didn't mean that brainstorming sessions would be limited to government or military folks. When I said scientists, I was thinking of researchers and academics in Universities and private industry.

Government, military, academia or private industry -- I wasn't restricting my thinking to solely those insitiutions of the United States.

This is already an international problem, starting with the fact that 'BP' stands for British Petroleum...


Posted by: -bc- | May 10, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Quote of the day comes from Sen. Patrick Leahy-

"We have some Republicans who would automatically oppose anybody who was nominated," Leahy said. "The President could nominate Moses the Law Giver. In fact I told the President, I said you realize if you'd nominated Moses the Law Giver, somebody would raise, 'but he doesn't have a birth certificate! Where's his birth certificate!'"

Posted by: kguy1 | May 10, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Yah, sorry BC, I got that now and I might have been answering a much older comment or just misbackboodled. Can't remember who posted a short note to the effect the govt should deploy more resources (probably more than one person).

And I prefer to let certain regions of Italy remain associated with good salami so I will go googless in this matter.

Posted by: qgaliana | May 10, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I shall sympathize with you ftb, a little cough from yesterday has morphed into a cold. Don't feel that bad chest is a little tight, but very tired and head hurts. Didn't help that I had said I would mow someones lawn (and trim) the grass was long and they had lilacs in full bloom, but the scent was bothering my already irritated breathing, probably not the best activity for someone with a cold, allergies and asthma.

Enjoying a coffee now before I head out to eldest softball game.

Posted by: dmd3 | May 10, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

*mojo feel-better-quick gun aimed at ftb, also lots of sympaki and a snuggy pillow*

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

*ditto to dmd*

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Awww, poor ftb. *Aims Yoki's Mega-Sympaki Beam™ southeast* It should graze your house on its way, dmd.

Posted by: Yoki | May 10, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Guys, Make Easy Money in Your Spare Time!

Posted by: kguy1 | May 10, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Oooh, kguy, don't tempt us wimmen to tease the menfolk 'bout their manliness like that!

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I particularly liked the bit about "viking sperm."

Posted by: kguy1 | May 10, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I will not make any sperm bank night deposit jokes.
I will not make any sperm bank night deposit jokes.
I will not make any sperm bank night deposit jokes.
I will not make any sperm bank night deposit jokes.

There, that feeling has passed. Carry on.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 10, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Marquette University faculty are about to gather to vote on a number of options for expressing their displeasure with the university president's decision to rescind a deanship offer to an openly gay academic. Student organizers are asking fellow students to gather quietly outside the bldg in solidarity.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

There will, however, be a penalty for early withdrawal.

Posted by: kguy1 | May 10, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"It's not free money, says Scott Brown, head of communications. Donors must be at least 5 feet 9 inches tall and enrolled in -- or have a degree from -- a four-year university. Plus, they have to pass an assortment of genetic and medical tests, screenings, not to mention an investigation into their family's medical history to look for the early onset of heart disease, cancer, etc.

"We joke that it's easier to get into Harvard than to get accepted in our program," says Brown. That's funny because it's true -- Brown estimates that only 1% of all the applications are accepted. Harvard's acceptance rate this year was 6.9%."

I'm telling ya, this bigotry against short vikings has just gotten out-of-control. I am umbraged.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

...although I wonder if they'll accept a viking in high heels...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Or short people in general, Mudge.

Posted by: MsJS | May 10, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, mudge, I know. They say say size doesn't matter, but then...

Posted by: kguy1 | May 10, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

It would help if they measured to the top of the horns.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey! Some of my favourite people are not tall.

Posted by: Yoki | May 10, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Short is fine. Thanks Yoki! I be one of her shorter entourage. TBG is tallish too! I love that the boodle is working beyond the TALLNESS thingie.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 10, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

CqP, this one might be for you.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 10, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Nice boodle for this early in the day.

Posted by: teddymzuri | May 10, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge, for the nice Joan Baez cover.

Hi Teddy. Short or tall? Nah. Does not matter.

DrC -- sigh. Some of us work in the environment sector (me, for one). But, if wishing and worrying and even anger worked, the Gulf would be remediated now, by me and my 66 college students this summer.

We do what we can; in the meantime, well, life is full and complex. I think food chat and a sort of constructed foolishness also builds and rebuilds the world.

Manon, dear, thinking about the three generations of mothers in your family right now. You have Yoki's raygun of mojo and Cassandra's prayers.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 10, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Hi dear Boodlers. Watched some afternoon television (didn't help any, really, as it's undeniably carppy) and took a nap while my feet felt like ice blocks, even under a lot of blankies (and thanx to the boodle for those).

I'm feeling marginally better, although I'm not gonna touch food for another day, to see how it goes (or doesn't). I'm now tucking trepidatiously into some ginger tea (hot water over powdered ginger). So far, so good. Whew!

Anyway, to teddymzuri -- did you know that "mzuri" in Kiswahili means "handsome"? Um. Don't quite know what to say next. So I think I'll go and continue to recuperate, if that is indeed what I'm doing.

You are a dear group of imaginary friends, you are, you are, you are.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 10, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Not tallness but curable (now) blindness is on my mind. I see fine with glasses, but my ancestors must have had a WEIRD life. I bet they couldn't even talk right, being unable to see someone's mouth make the "ff" sound as opposed to the "ss" sound. I bet they winged it. Did up close work such as tailoring. I bet their cohorts thought they were teched in the head.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 10, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Saw the Gordon Brown thing, MsJS. Reminded me of when Hillary was nice enough to offer a great deal to Obama. If Obama stepped aside and let her get the nomination in 2008, she'd do the same for him in 2012. That was a rootbeer-out-the-nose funny idea to me.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 10, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

That IS funny, steve. Do we know that actually to have taken place?

Posted by: Bob-S | May 10, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Sheech, I work for three hours and come back to viking sperm donations? The grocery shopping awaits, darn it. No telling what will be aboodlin' next. :)

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Bob-S, I may have stretched a bit. She and her campaign certainly DID openly float the idea of a "Dream Team" of her as President and him as VP very late in the going. I swear I heard one of her staffers say that Obama was good, but not yet ready, and that he'd likely be ready by 2012.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 10, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Baby, I used to be rich.
[Really I'm just sentimental]

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 10, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

A boodle legend is gone...

Fantasy artist Frazetta, 82, dies in Fla.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 10, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Muy mucho caliente para me. sounds like a song title

One of the two hottest ever I had was Dave's Insanity Sauce. one drop on the tip of your taco and the whole taco is muy caliente

It turns out my Spanish joke doesn't work well with those who are not native Spanish speakers. bummer. with native I'm so far 2 for 3, non native 0 for 2. I know one person who majored in Spanish. I'll give her a buzz, but part of the joke is visual so I'll have to think about it

Posted by: omni3 | May 10, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

But his art lives on.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

It's called Snow Giants but they sure look like Vikings to me.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 10, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Yes, RD. Unfortunately, it does.

Posted by: -TBG- | May 10, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

OK, let me post something on Kit.

I've always dislike the expression 'think outside the box' when the problem was almost always inside the box.

It now seems to me the problem is outside the box, and not just thinking of the containment bunker.

Is the BP strategy geared towards saving the effort of all that went before and reaping the rewards.

Or are they thinking at all about just stopping it and maybe just maybe starting over...

Posted by: omni3 | May 10, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I think the WaPo online typesetters had this headline ready like this, don't you think?

_______ Nomination Stirs Debate Over ________

Posted by: -TBG- | May 10, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking the wonderful Mrs. Joel probably isn't heart-broken.

Posted by: Yoki | May 10, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh omni, you are darling. Of *course* BP is thinking about not throwing out the baby with the bath water. The fact is, considering how much it must have cost to drill such a deep-water well, especially one which is certainly proving to have reserves (whether technically extractable or not) it would be irresponsible (according to corporate lights) not to.

And this is why the various government agencies *must* keep the regulatory boot on the BP corporate neck.

Posted by: Yoki | May 10, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Is that a deep space Hubble image I see in the background of the giant snow vikings?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 10, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Yoki dear, I've been called naive a lot. cynical sometimes telling a joke, but never a darling when being earnest. I've got a big smile on my face. luv to you and all Boodlers

Posted by: omni3 | May 10, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the Stravinsky, Jumper. That helped with the news of Frazetta. Would it be aurora borealis behind the snow viking, or perhaps I'm being too literal?

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I know, yello. Go ahead and laugh!

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

There's a new AP report (7:40pm) on BP's efforts in the Gulf today. It's running in the slide show on Wapo's front page. (I tried to link it and failed.)

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I think the guy on the right in that Frazetta was my great-great-great Uncle Einar. He was a traveling lutefisk salesmanand happily married to my great-great-great Aunt Elke when one day something in his mind just snapped and he ran off to join a marauding band, and we never saw him again. Aunt Elke went through the customary Viking morning period -- 48 hours -- and then married a reindeer shepherd who looked a bit like a Bernese. She always used to call him her favorite Lapp dog.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | May 10, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and the classic slap shot still has a place in the game, even under the new rules.

The play now is nearly too exciting for me to bear.

Posted by: Yoki | May 10, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

SCC: mourning.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | May 10, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

We had an exciting late afternoon. A line of strong thunderstorms formed just west of the city, moving northeast as usual, just in time for rush hour. I was already home and could watch the weather porn in comfort. The storms kept trying to form funnels, so the tornado sirens sounded off and on for about 45 minutes. I spent a lot of time looking out the glass door (bad) or front porch (worse) to check wind gusts, look for hail, and see if there was a tornado wrapped in that rain.

The storms moved so fast they didn't get to full-fledged danger mode until east of here. However, there was a lot of damage from one or more which touched down in a sort of fancy semi-rural subdivision and took out two truck stops on I-40. It is just disturbing to see large U-Haul trucks and semis tossed amidst the trees like confetti. There was a disturbing helicopter shot of the inside of a truck stop store, clearly visible without its roof. At least one station had fun footage of a rescue - the tornado picked up a garage and dropped it on the storm cellar door. Of course, after they got the door clear everyone inside was okay, though the dog appeared very confused.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 10, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

*Snort* Thanks, friend, for the Bernese reference.

Posted by: Yoki | May 10, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

You knew that was just for you.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | May 10, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Yes I did! And I loved it, and blushed prettily.

Posted by: Yoki | May 10, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Tornadoes continue over the eastern half of the state with widespread damage. They are reporting one fatality so far, though it could just be a missing person. The university medical & trauma center kept all its staff at work to handle expected injuries. Many houses are just flattened, and lots of power lines down. Most impressive - those giant cross-country power line superstructures, toppled.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 10, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Yesss! 4-2

Someone will realize eventually that Oklahoma is barely suitable for human occupation. I've been in OK city in August, man that was brutal.

The Very Large Puppy will be my death. The big moron rolled itself silly, wallowed and wiggled in the dirt the Excavator minions left behind. Luckily the dirt was reddish. I think he thought it was snow, just warmer and darker. What a twit.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 10, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I can't imagine how you deal with tornadoes out there. I realize it's a fact of life in that area, but that is scary stuff. I'm glad you are okay and sorry for the damage nearby. Even with our long lousy winters I'll still take New England any day ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | May 10, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, don't know where you are but I have old friends in Tulsa. You mentioned the 1-40 corridor. Is the heavy damage east of there?

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Talitha, I'm in OKC. There is a lot of damage east of I-35 and north and south of the I-40 corridor (though I think mainly south). I have not heard that there was damage in Tulsa yet.

Shrieking D, the Powers that Be determined well before statehood that Oklahoma was barely fit for human habitation. That's why they turned it into the Indian death camp - nobody else wanted to live there. When the lure of cheap land & westward expansion got too great, They opened it up to dreamers, failures & criminals from other states, who had little to lose by settling in such an inhospitable place. [Remember, I'm a Land Run descendant, talking about my family here.]

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 10, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I find it surprising we used whale oil so long.

Even more surprising is that we've been using oil for over 100 years now- I would think a nation state would have prevented oil lobbyists from performing a coup - making sure pro-oil policy kept the entire GULF at risk of becoming ruined - and now the East Coast I read gets this oil through the currents that carry it around Florida up the east coast.

It is this very nation that has ALLOWED the citizens to become endangered by continued failed energy policy.

Wind has been here- Solar has been here- it's sometimes not about saving a dime, sometimes it's about being able to go to the beach and expect no tar balls to be there.

Tim Miltz

Posted by: RedMercury | May 10, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I see the Coca Cola ad to the right "Coke, we're striving to support your child's well being".

Odd- Coke STILL uses high fructose corn syrup - Prior to becoming President, Senator Obama helped pass a law that says by 2012 - all High Fructose Corn Syrup will have to be mercury free- currently the EPA shows over 50% of HFCS has unhealthy levels of mercury.

And coke DARES to promote they have the interest of CHILDREN IN MIND ? Serving up MERCURY LADEN PRODUCTS?

My god

That ad spot on this newspaper I recall used to fit the BP ads.

INTEGRITY in advertisers is a first step WP.

Coke should be SUED - the mercury was detected by the EPA - and further, neuronal damage in children is SERIOUS BUSINESS from mercury - it robs them of their entire life.

And WP is running COKE ads ?

I've noticed MANY products in the grocery slowly switching over to sugar again, I'd expect due to liability suits once people connects the dots from the 4 EPA medical doctors (odd, EPA DOCTORS, indeed) stating they found high levels of mercury in super market products, those with high levels of HFCS.

I can't believe the coke ad though

That's about as truthful as BP stating they are interested in new energy resources, meanwhile I see they have two more rigs to be fast forwarded so they can 'tap' this well to relieve pressure.

Tim Miltz

Posted by: RedMercury | May 10, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I'm very glad you and yours are safe and will hope for the best for all Oklahomans. Your ancestors got there sooner, huh? A couple of my friends are actually in Talequah (sp?) which I understand means "two's enough" in either Cherokee or Creek. Y'all take care.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 10, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

That would be ironic if people in Texas moved because of the smell of oil from the Gulf.

Or worse, who would have ever though that oil would slam the damage housing market TWICE !

I think every American should consider getting some motor oil, put it in a teaspoon - and heat it up inside the house, or maybe burn it off safely in a pot on the stove - and then question whether this is really a smart energy resource we should be exploring in the year TWO THOUSAND AND TEN.

Hmm- whale oil- now crude - gee, how inventive we are - and how much we care about our pulmonary health I see.

One could argue, we 'let' this happen until we do not.

Tim Miltz

Posted by: RedMercury | May 10, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Gulf oil spill operation a success, but the patient ...

from article headline

This to me sounds a little like Mission Accomplished.

I can't believe that wording is accepted.

"a success".

really ?

Did you cap the well yet ?

Posted by: RedMercury | May 10, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

And EYE can only post two comments in series. RedMercury is a more trusted commentator than I am.

Darn. That teaches me something about myself.

Posted by: Yoki | May 10, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

"I see fine with glasses, but my ancestors must have had a WEIRD life."

Jumper1, myopia may be more than commonly thought a case of Lamarckian inheritance:

"During the past century, a substantial increase has occurred in the size of the human brain, especially in 'association' areas of the neocortex heavily used to cope with a complex language-driven society. It is proposed that this neocortical expansion has made possible the large, gradual increase in IQ that has occurred across the developed world, and been responsible for the dramatic upsurge in the prevalence and severity of near-sightedness (myopia) usually found after societies urbanize."

"Taken together, the findings depicting the trends in, and factors influencing, myopia's prevalence and severity strongly suggest that neither heredity, nor environment, nor a single-generation interaction of changes in the two, can explain the rapidity of the changes observed, the patterns of intergenerational progressivity, or the continuing strength of inheritance as a given culture's rate of myopia soars. This is especially so in light of the earliness with which the predilection to develop myopia can be diagnosed. Instead, these data imply that: (a) the likelihood of a person acquiring myopia from a given rearing environment; (b) the age at which corrective lenses are first needed; and (c) the ultimate severity of that myopia are all also affected by the abundance, the nature, and the variety of visual complexity present in the rearing environments of that person's parents, grandparents, and great grandparents."

o Storfer, Miles David. "Myopia, Intelligence, and the Expanding Human Neocortex." _Psycoloquy_ 11.83 (2000): 1. 10 May 2010 <>.

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | May 11, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Waybackboodling, I discover I posted that Psycoloquy link here once before in Sep. 2006. ... sorry for the inadvertent reprise.

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | May 11, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Tuesday's Achenbach-Mufson story on the engineering approaches to controlling the Gulf oil leak (all the way to Plan E) looks like a formidable job of explaining. Looking forward to comments from those who actually know something about oil wells.

The story ends by mentioning two oiled birds sent to Florida for treatment. Here's a local story:

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 11, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Well, trying to go to work yesterday led to another 4 or 5 hours of sleep during the day.

And I feel cr@ppier today. *SIGHHHHHH*

Where's that chicken soup (it can't hurt)??

*mainlining-ginger-ale-and-trying-to-keep-my-lungs-on-the-inside Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 11, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised the JA/Mufson piece got past the Wirty Dird Filter... *teehee* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 11, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Watch more daytime TV. That always makes me feel like getting out of the house.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, I hope you feel better by tomorrow. My public sneeze-o-meter readings are going up. Parents looking to send kids off to school with 'kleenex' ... as if. I get my seasons all mixed up. There is tornado season and flu season. All I know is that Cable doesn't have shows dedicated to "flu chasers."

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

What, Weed, you've never seen "Mystery Diagnosis?" :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 11, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

People like to create rigid structures. I'm thinking that the solution to the gusher problem is a soft structure or large plastic trash bag-like tube running to the surface. Up at the surface, they could run a large vacuum cleaner and set it on choppy Gulf.

On a serious note, so often, when faced with a disaster like this, new containment efforts are placed around the outside edges, when, what would really help, is to contain the new oil coming up from the well failure. By not doing that, we magnify the challenge and eventually face total failure. Sometimes a bit of failure is better if we get back the majority of the problem and put it in a bag.

BP = blocked punt

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, sorry, no. Oh, maybe, yes. I am one of those folks who has been weened off TV, so I don't have a good working knowledge of the shows available. Most likely, if I do watch something, I watch on the computer. I will watch some sports on a big screen. It isn't like I'm a vegetarian or anything. I will admit to the occasional visit to the TV to watch a greenhorn get nailed by a swinging crab pot while slipping on deck ice.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, just a warning to you that this is the final day to load up the freezer with Porterhouse and Strip Loin steaks. It all goes away tomorrow.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 11, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: yellojkt | May 11, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

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