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Oil spill: Blame game

Here's my web post on the Houston hearings on what caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster:

HOUSTON - BP this week is taking public its strategy for spreading the blame for the April 20 explosion that killed 11 people on the Deepwater Horizon and led to the nation's worst oil spill.

In a new twist in the case, BP has declared that Halliburton, which had warned that the cement job on the Macondo well might not function properly, should have stopped the operation outright. If Halliburton knew the cement process was unsafe, it had an obligation to refuse to proceed - and to do otherwise would be, BP said in a statement, "morally repugnant."

BP's strategic maneuver emerged as a federal investigatory panel holds hearings in a hotel conference room here into the causes of the disaster. The panel intends to write a report at the end of an inquiry already in its fourth month. But lawyers for the major players in the disaster - including BP, rig owner Transocean and the contractor for the cement job, Halliburton - are using the proceedings as a kind of test run of what are sure to be many civil trials to come, with a Justice Department criminal probe lurking in the background.

"The 900-pound gorilla in the room is the criminal investigation," said Pat Fanning, the attorney for one of the top Transocean managers on the rig.

(Photo gallery of BP oil spill impact and cleanup)

On Wednesday morning, a Halliburton cementer, Vincent Tabler, testified briefly about the cement job on the well, and managed to be on his way within half an hour, a Houdini escape given that the room is jammed wall-to-wall with high-priced lawyers from Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Washington and Chicago.

Jesse Gagliano, a Halliburton technical adviser to BP's Deepwater Horizon team, on Tuesday delivered the most potent testimony this week. He said that five days before the blowout, he warned BP engineers explicitly, in person, that the well had a potential problem.

He said it was April 15, while he was studying a model of how the cement job would work with only seven of the centralizers used to position the casing in the well, that he concluded that "this well is considered to have a SEVERE gas flow problem," as he stated in a subsequent document.

Gagliano said he ran into two BP engineers in the hallway that day, telling them, "Hey, I think we have a potential problem here, there's a potential for flow."

They worked together, late into the night, trying to resolve the problem. Gagliano ultimately recommended that BP use 21 centralizers to keep the casing properly positioned in the hole. But even though an additional 15 centralizers were flown to the rig, BP chose not to install them. The cementing job proceeded with only six centralizers.

Now, however, BP is turning the tables on Halliburton, saying that Gagliano didn't provide sufficient warning of a well-control problem and that in some of the documents he sent to the company, he made no mention of his concern. BP lawyer Rick Godfrey, in a long cross-examination of Gagliano, demanded to know why in an April 18 report to BP he had not mentioned the potential gas flow.

"Is it your testimony, sir, that you recommended a job to BP that you thought was going to fail?" Godfrey asked.

Gagliano stood his ground and said he told BP engineers "verbally" about the problem April 15. Gagliano said it wasn't until April 18 that he heard, from a Halliburton colleague, that BP officials on the rig had chosen not to install the additional centralizers.

Shaun Clark, the attorney for Robert Kaluza, a BP well site leader on the rig, pointedly asked Gagliano why he didn't say anything in an April 19 conference call that might have warned the people on the rig that their lives were potentially in jeopardy.

"BP had made their decision," Gagliano said. "They had decided not to follow my recommendation."

BP's corporate communications operation jumped into the fray after Gagliano testified.

"If Halliburton had significant concerns about its ability to provide a safe and high-quality cement job in the Macondo well, then it had the responsibility and obligation to refuse to perform the job. To do otherwise would have been morally repugnant," BP said in a statement e-mailed to reporters.

The oil giant has never said it was blameless in the April 20 incident and will give its version of events more fully when it releases, in coming days, the results of a four-month internal investigation. But it has also tried to focus attention on Transocean, which owned the rig and the all-important blowout preventer that failed to choke the runaway well when gas surged from the deep reservoir. Now BP has taken its most direct shot at Halliburton.

Outside the hearing room, several lawyers representing other companies and individuals gave dim assessments of BP's blame-Halliburton strategy.

"This is smoke and mirrors," said Ned Kohnke, who represents Transocean. Kohnke pointed to an extended e-mail chain showing that BP engineers Brian Morel, Brett Cocales and Gregory Walz extensively discussed Gagliano's concerns about the number of centralizers.

"There has been a lot of discussion about this and there are different opinions on the model accuracy," Walz wrote to a BP superior, John Guide, after midnight April 16, explaining his decision to order more centralizers flown to the rig.

But later that day, Guide objected to the new plan, questioning the type of centralizers being added to the job and saying, "Also it will take 10 hrs to install them. . . . I do not like this."

Still later on April 16, Cocales wrote to Morel: "Even if the hole is perfectly straight, a straight piece of pipe even in tension will not seek the perfect center of the hole unless it has something to centralize it. But, who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine and we'll get a good cement job."

Guide testified last month. Cocales is scheduled to testify later this week. Morel was subpoenaed but did not show up Tuesday, with his lawyer appearing instead and saying Morel would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 25, 2010; 12:12 PM ET
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Next: Houston diary


Someone should alert the media about BP deciding to not take the blame...

Oh, wait... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 25, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like one of those he-said, she-said situations.

A bit scary to have so many lawyers around such technical stuff. There must be plenty of experts on cementing ordinary oil wells, but what of deepwater ones with gas problems?

(bh72, it's disturbing to hear of that 12-house fire in Ashland, Oregon. I checked the local paper, and that's a perfectly nice residential area where I'd never expect to see such a disaster. It's not your usual California-style situation. On the side, I hope the stage version of "Throne of Blood" is living up to the high expectations. I won't get to see it in Ashland, nor Brooklyn).

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 25, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Boodlers (kguy, where are you???) will have much trouble figuring this out:

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 25, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Good stuff: Locally grown white peach.

Posted by: russianthistle | August 25, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

BP won't get away with it. We already know that their "company man" got his way over the vehement objections of the Transocean foreman on Deepwater Horizon. They got their expedient method over the objections of Halliburton. They can try to shift the stink, but it won't work.

BTW, we are still waiting to hear from Robert Kaluza, if his delicate health will allow it.

Posted by: edbyronadams | August 25, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Is "Throne of Blood" a case of art following art following art?

Posted by: edbyronadams | August 25, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Halliburton's actions may well have been "morally repugnant" but BP's are proving to be breathtaking in their own way, aren't they?

Posted by: byoolin1 | August 25, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Yup, "Throne of Blood" is a Japanese-style Macbeth inspired by the great Kurosawa movie.

It was probably worth going to college back in the dark pre-DVD ages to actually see "Seven Samurai" and "Throne of Blood" on film, even if scratchy. At the time, I couldn't have imagined anything more exotic.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 25, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, in a recent poll, 18 percent of Americans identified those 100 famous movie icons as being muslims.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 25, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

What is more morally repugnant, not pushing your misgivings down your customer's throat once you had talked to them and thought they were following your advice or ignoring the warnings of the expert you are paying to do the job correctly?

Posted by: MoftheMountain | August 25, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Further, the answer key identies three of those icons as "Il Buono, Il Brutto, and Il Cattivo," which 27 percent of those polled identified as Cher's sickly ex-husband, the sickly villain in a Popeye cartoon, and the sickly former late-night talk show host.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 25, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

A criminal investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster?

Who'da thunk it?


Posted by: -bc- | August 25, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Long long ago in a galaxy far far away (when my bladder and my backside were stronger) I once viewed on successive nights, Orson Welles's Macbeth, Kurosawa's Throne of Blood and Roman Poilanski's Macbeth. Although I thought and still think ToB is the superior film, I have often wondered what Welles could have done with Kurosawa's artistic control and Polanski's budget.

As to where I have been, Dr. K and I celebrated our 40th by taking a 2 week rafting trip through the Grand Canyon and we just got back to discover that a major storm had ripped up our neighborhood. The house was spared, but we lost a couple of large trees, one at least 80 years old. Del Ray lost power for many hours, so everything in the fridge had to be replaced as well. It all could have been a lot worse, but I'm mourning those trees. They can't be replaced in my lifetime. The house looks naked without them.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 25, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

BP reminds me of Animal House. "It's your fault. You let us." Or something like that.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 25, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

And, now for something completely different .....

I dare each and every one of you to *not* keep this tune cootie in your head for the rest of the day (if not the week, month, year, century, etc.):

Posted by: ftb3 | August 25, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

BP will soon have trouble defending their constant picking of the cheapest, fastest, more risky options offered by their sub-contractors. There is a pattern forming before our eyes.

K-guy, plant replacement trees anyway. If not for you maybe for the next family who will own that house.

I've seen a Pontiac Acadian (it's a Canada-only Chevette for you murricans) on my lunchtime walk. It was the 4-door version with the wood pattern mack-tack on the sides marketed as the wagoneer package. For a minute or two I was 19-20 again. It really made my day.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 25, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

kguy, two weeks of Grand Canyon sounds wonderful, though I wonder about the summer heat. Back in the 1950s, two guys (both Stanford grads) decided to swim the Canyon, dealing with 50 degree water and none of today's techie clothing for keeping warm.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 25, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Trees grow faster than most of us realize. No need to plant "fast growing" stuff like silver maples.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 25, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

kguy, I'm glad to hear you and Dr. K had a wonderful anniversary trip, and sorry to hear about the trees. It will take some getting used to, I'm sure. SD's right, go ahead and plant new trees. You may be surprised at how fast they grow.

We lost a 35-year-old willow oak to lightning in 1999 and replaced it with another willow oak that was 6 inches in diameter at the base and maybe 12 feet high. It's now double that and looking good.

Posted by: slyness | August 25, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Maples are very eager to extend their roots under the foundation of a house, and wreaking all sorts of havoc. Kinda messes up stuff. Of all the maples, I think I prefer the Norwegian maple, as it's more slow growing.

But my all-time favorite tree is the tri-color beech. Breathtaking in all seasons.

Posted by: ftb3 | August 25, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Get nervous when the TV and press keep running the same churn over and over. Makes me think somebody's up to something and a deliberate distraction is occurring.

Took the biggest butternut today. Have not finished eating the last pie yet.

The littlest dogwood in front will flower for the first time next spring. They develop their flower buds in summer and are visible now.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 25, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Actually Dave the weather in the Canyon was quite varied- three days were cold and rainy with dramatic flash floods and waterfalls plunging off the canyon walls, 6-7 days were fair and warm, and 3 days were truly hot, over 110. But as one of our raft guides said, "If you're hot and dry near the river, you're just stupid!" We jumped in the water frequently to cool off, the nights were cool near the water (no mosquitos!) and we slept most nights without tents to enjoy the Perseid meteor shower.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 25, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

s_d, Acadians are cool. I considered buying a really pristine 1980 Chevette shell a few years ago, thinking it would make a nice hotrod with a modern drivetrain and suspension.

Another one on my to-do list (what car guys dosen't have one?). Been working on something just as pedestrian lately, should be a hoot when it's done.

Back on Kit for a second, sometimes it's those brief hallway conversations that can mean *everything.* Documentation means a lot, and I've tried to do the best I can where I think it matters. And I hope and pray that I've done enough.


Posted by: -bc- | August 25, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone use the term "means and methods" when they talked about various contractors/subcontractors work?

In the past ago I was asked to review a contractor-submitted work procedure for approval. They weren't doing anything too complex (cutting up an old railroad bridge so they could build a new one). They were proposing the use of forklifts and a crane. I took two hours to see that the submittal had the size of the bridge wrong, didn't show how anything was going to be tied down, didn't give specific information on what type of crane was going to be used, didn't identify the loads the crane was going to place on the underlying active roadway, and provided no calculation showing what any of the pieces they were taking apart weighed.

I sent those comments to our construction engineer. He applauded my effort, but gave a standard response: we don't review means and methods.... that is up to the contractor.

My answer: what do we review the submittal for?

I bet most construction/operation oversight goes a lot like that.

Posted by: baldinho | August 25, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

baldinho -- that sounds like "That's not my department," said Werner von Braun.

And more's the pity, eh?

Posted by: ftb3 | August 25, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations on your 40th, kurosawaguy! I was going to comment on your triple feature (made by three outstanding directors), but the image of camping along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and watching the Perseids is a lot more enjoyable.

Posted by: -pj- | August 25, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Uh-oh. Trouble up in Canuckistan...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 25, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Trouble for ovaries everywhere. Well, maybe not in Iran and Saudi Arabia and a few other intertubes-deprived countries but pretty much everywhere (if that is true...).

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 25, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Belated congrats on the 40th, kguy, and condolences on the trees.

Time for me to go home now!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 25, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

ftb, this Norwegian Maple?

Posted by: MoftheMountain | August 25, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

kguy, congratulations on your 40th anniversary, and sorry for the loss of your trees.

I would like to reiterate please don't plant silver maples. I am a fan of Lindens but don't know how far south they grow, those opposed to non-native trees might not agree.

Love Chinese Lilac trees as well, such a lovely sent and nice sized tree that grows fairly quickly.

ftb - the tri-colour beech is a lovely tree.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 25, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

How did a tree originating in Asia get a name like Norwegian? I thought the vikings went the other way.

Posted by: bh72 | August 25, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Joel, how many barrels of crude conversion does it take to keep the hotel conference room cool?

Posted by: bh72 | August 25, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

That's it, MotM.

After several days in a row of nonstop work, I appear to have taken a day off. Not too bad, methinks.

I do have a preference for Japanese maples -- they're so delicate looking, and the filigreed leaves are so elegant. I don't know about their staying power, however.

What I wouldn't do for some long lasting bougainvillea, though. As tropical as this summer has been, we may be too far north for them. DotC, do you have bougainvillea in Florida? Slyness, Jumper -- how about the Carolinas?

Somebody gave me some lavender, which is now on a counter in my kitchen. Smells up the place in such a lovely way. You know, there are just tons of good things emanating from our planet -- I wonder why there are so many people so intent on destroying it.

And, so on *that* note, I wonder when hockey season starts. . .

Posted by: ftb3 | August 25, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

kguy..... I did the bottom part of that rafting trip a few years back. It was awesome.

Do you mind if I ask what outfit you used? I think our trip was with Outdoors Unlimited. We paddled.

How was lava falls?

Posted by: baldinho | August 25, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Means and methods means the engineer tells the contractor what to do, not how to do it. It's a very fuzzy line.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 25, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

October 7! I'm counting the days. AND I have tickets for the Flames on October 10. Yay!

Posted by: Yoki | August 25, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

American Lindens are also known as basswoods, and are native to central/eastern US. Don't remember where kguy is, but it's a nice shade tree. Big root system, though.

I'll second nixing the silver maple. They are neat looking when big, but I wouldn't want one near my house. The one where I used to work split and dropped big branches all the time.

The Norway Maple provides lots of shade, but it's a big problem in the forests. I'm not against exotics, but I'm a fan of researching a plant, especially something long-lived like a tree, before planting it.

I love Japanese maples and Redbuds, too. They are both smaller trees, and the Redbud has such a pretty leaf.

Sorry, I love shopping for trees, and we are going to have to take out the oak tree 10-15ft (!) from our new house. Of course, we want to replace it, so I've been reading up. Tree identification is also one of hubby's hobbies. :)

Anywho, it's quittin' time, catch y'all tomorrow!

Posted by: MoftheMountain | August 25, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

You never know what you will see on the subway, Shakespeare on on the subway!

Posted by: dmd3 | August 25, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

American basswood is native into central Florida, south of Orlando.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 25, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Add my voice to those insisting that silver maples should never be planted. My last two homes have been old farmhouses with enormous silver maples and they are a pain in the umph. In Baltimore County I actually paid the kid next door to pick up branches every Saturday morning. The only advantage was not having to split the firewood for kindling - there was always plenty. Silver maples don't even have good color in the fall and fill the gutters with their 'helicopters'. Did I say I hate those trees?

Posted by: talitha1 | August 25, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Posting separately to wish belated Happy Birthday to Kguy (and a little frenvy for your wonderful river trip)!

Also Happy Birthday today to greenwithenvy! We must cross paths occasionally if you were in the Lynchburg area - the Valley'R'Us.

(didn't want my salutations mixed up with 'that tree')

Posted by: talitha1 | August 25, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Just catching up here. Happy birthday GWE. K-guy, belated happy anniversary. Sounds like a wonderful trip, it' on my bucket list. I am sorry about your trees. Funny how we get attached to them. Hope you can plant something that will make you smile.

Well, we've had close to 4" of rain these past few days, most of it was today. We needed it, and it came gently (until today) so it soaked in and did some good.

Mudge, I made the tomatoes with lemon curd and mint tonight. Excellent! Of course "S" won't eat blue cheese so I had that part all to myself, yum!

Posted by: badsneakers | August 25, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

SCC: my bad, kguy - Happy Anniversary!

Posted by: talitha1 | August 25, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

yello: that is very well put. The fuzzy line is there when one engineer or overseer recognizes things he/she feels are inadequate, but not so much so that it warrants a cease and desist order.

Posted by: baldinho | August 25, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Many here will like this. TBG?

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 25, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

New potential baby name, female edition.

Hagatha Marie

The research looks promising.

Hagatha is the witch who resided in Kolyma and imprisoned Valanice in the Crystal Tower, due to jealousy. She is the sister of Mordack and Manannan. She is said to be the most powerful and evil of witches, and has a taste for human flesh. The skulls of her victims decorate the outside and inside of her cave.

Posted by: baldinho | August 25, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

I have no doubt that this is going to be a long complicated investigation rife with contradictory testimony and ambiguous evidence. I mean, the stakes are pretty high. Fortunately, Joel will be here to make it all understandable.

But no pressure or anything.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 25, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

baldinho - I think I dated her when I was in Grad School.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 25, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Back from the airport, dropping off Mr. T and a friend for a trip to TWC. MsJS, watch out! They will be at McCormick Place.

My ex has a silver maple he grew from the seed of one that his dad planted in the yard of the house where they lived when he was a little boy. It doesn't have a great shape. Not a favorite of mine, either, but it made him happy, so good.

I'm okay with the willow oaks, but they drop limbs year round and leaves starting about now till after new years. We have been picking up short branches with leaves for a couple of weeks. I think the squirrels are trying to make nests. I suppose they're getting ready for winter and not starting new families at this late date in summer.

Posted by: slyness | August 25, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

RD: I bet if you contemplated getting fresh with her, you decided maybe not. It probably was the pile of skulls outsider her cave when you picked her up.

Posted by: baldinho | August 25, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

There is some serious grillage going on here; I blame the Boodle. Employing the shriek work-programme, vegetable kabobs are beautiful, and soon lamb marinated in oil, lemon, rosemary, pepper and garlic will be seared at high heat.

So thanks, Boodle! With a little bit of saffron rice and tzadziki, this will be a superb summer supper. And thanks to Roy-the-Butcher, the lamb was perfectly trimmed and cut for me. I have been known to do it myself, but never so successfully.

Posted by: Yoki | August 25, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

There's nothing like having a great butcher. The one at our local market has been butchering since the Civil War I think and I rely on him for everything from custom cut chops to special orders for blue crabs and mussels.


Posted by: talitha1 | August 25, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

". . . butchering since the Civil War" doesn't read too well, does it?

Posted by: talitha1 | August 25, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

But it made me laugh out loud, Talitha. So that has to be a good thing, doesn't it?

Posted by: Yoki | August 25, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I'm just wild about saffron.

Posted by: baldinho | August 25, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: talitha1 | August 25, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

And saffron is wild about you, no doubt.

Posted by: Yoki | August 25, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I was swimming, briefly, at the beach. A manatee passed by, not quite within petting distance. Nothing particularly unusual, but the first time for me.

About a month ago, squirrels started building a nest in an Australian feather-leafed palm in the back yard. They clipped off leaflets. Yuk.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 25, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget to pre-soak those kabob skewers in interesting liquids. Such as pineapple juice, soy sauce, or coconut milk.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 25, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

On-kit LiT moment....Let's say responsibility will be split into percentages, and maybe one party knows what's going to come out is devastating to their cut. Maybe they'd see their only shot at nudging numbers is now, and shoot, even if just for general purposes, Halliburton's good.

Maybe the corporate behavior was so bad they'd have to be the first to throw out phrases like morally repugnant.

Maybe they'd even try to float the idea that there's no data because the only way to ever get it off the rig didn't work due to a bandwidth problem.

Maybe they'd think it's a good idea to manipulate the story to become that the stars aligned allowing very specific people to come together under very specific circumstances for a perfect storm and then letting those people go down hard so the corporate culture can survive.

Posted by: LostInThought | August 25, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

greenie, happy birthday my birthday buddy!!!!!

i'm alive, just hiding for the time being. for my birthday i finally got all the comments on my dissertation from the last committee member who has held me up for months. arghhhhhh.

i still read the kits and sometimes lurk. i'll rejoin you folks when i'm on the other side. hugs all around. behave yourselves. :-)

Posted by: LALurker | August 25, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

go out in the woods and find a tulip poplar, kguy. don't know much about the roots, but the mature crowns are lofty, without much lateral branching like a maple. the flowers are really cool, as the genus, iirc, is related to magolia.

Posted by: -jack- | August 25, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Magnolia, a grand and, from an evolutionary pov, old plant.

Posted by: -jack- | August 25, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Good choice of tree Jack, also native to my area but uncommon now.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 25, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: -tao- | August 25, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

my favourite tree. the scientific name rolls off the tongue just the right way. i also like hemlock, but it likes to have relatively wet feet and a much higher elevation than these parts. larch (tamarack, if you prefer) is really cool too, but the leaf litter is really something.

Posted by: -jack- | August 25, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I lived on Liriodendron Lane at one time in my life. It was a one-car-width allee lined with towering tulip poplars. Beautiful trees and flowers, just like jack said. *sigh*

Posted by: talitha1 | August 25, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

We had a tulip tree in our side garden in Cambridge (MA) where it was locally celebrated by those who knew trees. I of course knew nothing about anything herbaceous. When instructed about the rarity of the tree, I finally noticed how lovely it was.

It really was.

Posted by: rickoshea11 | August 25, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

There are both larch and chinese redwood on my street, I am glad I do not have to clean up after them in the fall.

As I have mentioned before a sentimental favorite of mine in the sassafras, as it was so fun to say when I was young. The street where it grew when I was young was a divided road with a tree lined boulevard in the centre, last year I went back to that street and the old Sassafrass were gone, replaced with maples or locust (can't recall which). I was not amused, Sassafras are also native and quite rare, they should have been replaced

Posted by: dmd3 | August 25, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

there were all of these grand american elms lining the streets of mt. prospect, where i spent my childhood. storms and dutch elm took most of them by my twelfth year, when we moved away. off to hudson. back then it was an idyllic small village between akron and cleveland. progress has more than made its mark in that area.

Posted by: -jack- | August 26, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

I had a large larch in my yard in Montreal, and never noticed more-than-average tree litter from it. Perhaps latitude matters?

Posted by: Yoki | August 26, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

idk. may be a different species, although i don't know the genus well enough to say with any degree of confidence. all i do know is that you'll be seeing winter far sooner than the palmetto state. mentioned a good season opener. how cool is that?
i was lucky enough to see dave taylor play during his days at clarkson. iirc, they didn't heat the arena. would you please fax a case of brador?

Posted by: -jack- | August 26, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Very cool indeed.

Posted by: Yoki | August 26, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

dmd, your wiki link on sassafras mentioned the fact that sassafras root and bark is used as a dye but it called the color yield "yellow". My experience is that it dyes wool and silk a hue more akin to rust or the soft orange of a butternut squash. The true boon is that the fibers retain the scent of the dye stuff . . . it's like weaving or knitting with the everpresent aroma of rootbeer!

Posted by: talitha1 | August 26, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse


Never a good start to the day when you hear one of the neighborhood kids you grew up with is no longer with us.

So it goes.

*trudging-off-to-a-now-quite-dreary-Dawn-Patrol waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 26, 2010 5:19 AM | Report abuse

My condolences. A few months ago I was doing the whole 'look up old junior hih friends' and one of them had been lost to a heart condition about ten years ago. That hit me hard because he was always fifteen in my mind.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 26, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, sorry to hear that :-(

Ah, tulip trees. They aren't common around here but we did have one at the summer home on the cape. It was a beauty and when it bloomed, it stopped foot traffic. It did have to be pruned regularly as it became so thick that high winds could have toppled it. During hurricane Bob in '91, we saw the ground around it undulate and it finally lost a large limb, but the tree was fine.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 26, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

I had to take not one, but two RJ-45 puddle jumper jets yesterday to land on the banks of the Mississippi in dairy country where it is now 50 degrees and foggy. Nice for August.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 26, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear your news Scotty, it is difficult when we hear about someone we knew when we are young passed.

talitha, my memory of the sassafras is my leave project in grade three, the tree is associated with the act of ironing the leaves between wax sheets, to display them on a bulletin board, that smell of fall leaves mixed with the scent of them being ironed is ingrained - a very pleasant memory.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 26, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

The humongous tulip poplar in my ex's back yard survived Hurricane Huge with loss of some branches and still dominates the yard. It must be six feet or more in diameter, a huge tree. The only problem with the blooms is that they invite stinging insects...

Morning, all. I slept in for a while, feeling no need to walk in the dark. So now that the sun's up, I'll get dressed and go forth.

In the meantime, country ham biscuits, mixed fruit, and appropriate hot and cold beverages on the ready room table.

Hi Cassandra! I hope all went well with the first day of school. It seemed to be okay around here.

Posted by: slyness | August 26, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Thanks folks... It's always nice to have the Boodle remind me there are wonderful people in the world, especially when I come across this excerably insane stupidity described in the NYT:


Posted by: Scottynuke | August 26, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

I can't improve on your adjectives Scotty. I am so sick of this hatred of anything 'different'.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 26, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

The memorial for the book burning in Berlin consists of a glass plate inserted in the ground which allows a view of a room with empty book shelves. This pastor chose the people he wants to be associated with.

Posted by: gmbka | August 26, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, if you need a cheering up/laugh and have a few minutes, catch the highlights of yesterday's The Daily Show on their site.

The bit on the Murfreesboro Mosque had me falling out of my seat.

Their correspondents are universally hilarious.

Posted by: baldinho | August 26, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, a big HUGGGG from me. I'm so sorry.

Posted by: talitha1 | August 26, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Hugs for you, Scotty.

Today would be the 37th birthday of one of my best high school friends. She died in a car accident a few months after we graduated. Hard to believe it's been 19 years.

Extra hugs for Jack, too.

Posted by: Moose13 | August 26, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, my condolences. We have a tulip poplar that's in the neighbor's back yard, up against the common fence. It got struck by lightning about four years ago, and the top third of the tree wound up in our back yard. Took two chain saws two full days to clean up. Even after that it's still the tallest tree in the vicinity. We'd really like the neighbors to take it down, but they don't want to. Our neighbor next door had a big oak cut his house in half in a thunderstorm 3 years ago. He's just now finishing the re-build after massive hassles with the insurance company.

Posted by: ebtnut | August 26, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. slyness, many thanks for the ham biscuits -- terrific, as always.

Scotty, no hug for you-- just a manly guy-type punch on the arm. You know what I mean.

Yes, the Daily Show has been really outstanding all week. And yes, correspondents John Oliver, Wyatt Cenac and Aasef Manvi have been even better than they usually are, which is quite good indeed. I think Oliver is always terrific anyway.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 26, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I know, 'Mudge. *small smile*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 26, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Tulip poplars are of course in the magnolia family. There's also a Chinese species, not nearly as large. Hybrids seem super fast-growing.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 26, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

baldinho, we went down the Colorado with a company called AZRA on what they call a hybrid trip, which means that there are five rafts, all with guides, and four of them the guide rows and you are strictly a passenger (although they will let you row in the easy stuff if you want to try. It's quite hard.) and the fifth raft is a paddle raft where six pilgrims provide the motive power and a guide steers. It is your choice whether to paddle or not. I paddled 9 of the 14 days and was happy to do the "Cleo barging down the Nile" thing the other 5 days. Most days we stopped to hike up the side canyons to stand under waterfalls or view archeological sites. Lava Falls was great. Because we were there during the August "monsoon" season, the water levels were higher than normal and many of the rapids were "enhanced". My personal favorite was Hermit, where we paddled our 18 foot raft through 20 foot waves!

We were very pleased with AZRA- the food was great, the equipment was in good condition, and the guides absolutely made the trip. One of them has been guiding the canyon since 1972. Another was making his 150th trip and is a professional geologist when he's not rafting. Our trip leader is an EMT and works ski patrol in winter. All five were good cooks.

For anyone considering this trip I'd strongly recommend doing the full canyon to get the most out of the experience. It takes 2-3 days to settle into the rhythm of the river and begin to fully absorb the feel of the place, to stop thinking about the outside world and appreciate the history, geology, archeology, and biology of the Grand Canyon. Once you're in that "zone" you don't want the trip to end.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 26, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

kguy, that sounds like the same setup we had. Six rafts. 5 steered by guides (2 for provisions, 3 with people) and the sixth was the paddle raft. I liked the side-hikes most days, too.

I lucked out to do it when it didn't rain at all and in a year that the controllers of the river were trying to fill up Lake Mead, so there was more water than normal.

The food was surprisingly good. The explanation made sense: if you have bad food, word will get out and nobody will sign up.

Posted by: baldinho | August 26, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The Daily Show "Senior Black Correspondent" doesn't seem to make it on the show often, but he kills me every time.

Posted by: baldinho | August 26, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle!

I just spoke with my cousin, one I grew up spending summers with. We haven't seen each other for about 25 years, but she's visiting friends in the area and we're going to Longwood Gardens on Saturday, staying for a Solas concert. I'm psyched.

On the homefront, I need to go find skunk-zero and spray with the soap, clorox and water. My bedroom smells very skunky (although the living room below it is just moderate) and I think I'll have to move into the guest bedroom for a few weeks and rewash and hang enough work clothes to use in there. It's pervasive and I think I'll have to re-wash all the clothes in the closet, bedding, etc.

I have taken all the semi-ripe and ripe tomatoes out of the garden and will pick up all the pears today. I've blocked the hole in the fence. I don't think it's in the yard because the dogs go there constantly.

My neighbor (thanks for the late warning, Bill!) said a group of 4 had been showing up recently in the early evening. I may need to talk to a trapper. Having to re-wash everything is turning this into a great deal of trouble I don't want to repeat.

All advice welcome.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 26, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

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

Morning, friends. Scotty, a great big hug for you! And yes, Slyness, the first day was ok, the g-girl was so excited, she couldn't be still.

That meeting with all the lawyers and the corporate big wheels sounds like a bunch kids saying, he did it, no, she did it. A bunch of kids trying to get out of trouble.With that kind of behavior, how in the world will we get the truth? Threaten to paddle?

Have a lovely day, folks, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 26, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me why Glen Beck and company are rallying at the National Mall. Have they been done wrong? Did I miss it?

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 26, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Sympathies first, dbG. Advice is to certainly call a trapper. When we had the same problem (a family of Flowers in the basement) we first call animal control, county extension services, etc. Nada. We did have to pay a professional trapper who successfully relocated the critters.

The enticement in our yard was not only the garden but the many birdfeeders under which seed was inevitably scattered. Once the skunks were gone we waited a few weeks before refilling the feeders . . . it was summer so the birds had plenty of forage elsewhere.

I've never had the problem of clothing or room de-scenting. I'd be around the bend on that one myself. Offering a spare spurt of my limited energy to you, friend. 8-]

Enjoy your cousin and Solas - love their sound!

Posted by: talitha1 | August 26, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Beck and his folks just happen to be rallying to "restore honor" and "take back our country" on the anniversary of Dr. King's most famous speech AND in the exact same location on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for the same reason that for many years Virginia refused to honor MLK with a holiday but designated the third Monday in January as Lee-Jackson-King Day, linking him (in last place, natch) with two heroes of the slave owning Confederacy. It's a stick in the eye for those of us who believe in freedom and equality and think Glenn Beck is a bloviating moron.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 26, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

*irony meter on*

Of course they've been done wrong, Cassandra. Obama was elected and he is trying to deal with the problems facing the nation - health care, financial reform, deficit, economy in shambles, etc.

I'll stop there.

*irony meter off*

Posted by: slyness | August 26, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Gainesville. Very sad. I'm sure the teaching hospital there is well represented by many good people who are Muslims. You should write a letter to the Alligator and the Sun, Joel. Maybe I should also.

Gainesville was one of those towns you hear of that subtly tried to discourage voting by the student population. Mostly by misinforming the students. "No, you must vote in your hometown." etc. I was sent to the wrong precinct, I suspect on purpose, long ago. Wonder how it is now?

"Thursday" ( the Wagonwheel...)

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 26, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Sure, Cassandra. It's a rally, not a protest. The National Parks Permit Office gives everyone the right to use the Mall either to publicize their beef or to show what a$$es they are. I'm thinking this will be the latter.

Posted by: LostInThought | August 26, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Sad to hear your news, Scotty. My condolences.

Great to see you, LALurker. Best of luck with your dissertation!

That trip sounds fantastic, kguy! I have a cousin who lead some trips on the New River in West Virginia, which would be fun and a helvua lot closer.

Posted by: -pj- | August 26, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The sort of thing Rove's minions do on a regular basis to win elections.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 26, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: -dbG- | August 26, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: -dbG- | August 26, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Jumper's link brought to mind that not just Virginia Tech but JMU in Harrisonburg and several of the smaller universities here in the Valley were riddled with those problems. Voter registration offices 'losing' students' voter cards or registration applications . . . or assigning them to a poll precient miles from the correct one. It was a nightmare and purely designed to discourage the Obama voters. Backfired though, hahaha.

Posted by: talitha1 | August 26, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

SCC: precinct

Posted by: talitha1 | August 26, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

New kit.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 26, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

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