Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Oil spill: The banality of catastrophe [updated]

By Joel Achenbach

Sat through a long and fascinating Presidential Oil Spill Commission hearing yesterday in which one of the great lions of the bar, Fred Bartlit, a character out of a Tom Wolfe novel (booming voice, barrel chest, military bearing, professional resume that entire nations might envy), delivered his findings on the cause of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Pretty much straight out of the gate he said this wasn't about greed. For months, critics of BP (including Waxman, Markey, et al in the Congress) have said BP hedged on safety to save money. Bartlit said no: The decisions, every last one of them, were based on engineering considerations.


"To date, we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety.... They want to be efficient, and they don't want to waste money, but they don't want their buddies to get killed. And I've been on a lot of rigs . . . now, this is personal, but I don't believe people sit there and say, 'This is very dangerous, but the guys in London will make more money.' "

But of course no one would say that. It's a little bit of a straw man argument. The e-mails that have come to light, and the post-accident interviews and testimony, have painted a picture of what I keep calling the banality of catastrophe. There are no Snidely Whiplash characters. There are some middle managers in Houston in their cubicles making engineering calculations; there are veteran rig workers trying to interpret anomalous pressure readings.

Even if Bartlit and his investigators failed to find a person scheming to cut safety to make more money, the fact is that the well did not explode of its own accord. This was the result of engineering mistakes, many of them, by many people working for a number of companies in an industry in which cost -- "efficiency" -- is a major concern, and there are employees out there calculating how much each company is spending per gallon of crude extracted from the Gulf of Mexico. No one wanted this blowout to happen, obviously. But they also were working on a project that was dramatically behind schedule and way over budget, and they needed to get that rig to another site pronto to fit in a job before the start of hurricane season. The entire enterprise is, at some level, about money. This is not a charitable operation. No one drills holes in the sea floor and extracts oil because it's good for the environment to liberate all those hydrocarbons. So the question is still, did the desire for "efficiency" affect any of the critical engineering decisions or well-completion operations. Was this a rush job?

Monday was not a banner day for the engineering profession. Halliburton, for example, had test results on a foamed cement that showed it was unstable, according to the commission. The commission has leaned heavily on this point, and Halliburton still has some explaining to do.

Transocean, meanwhile, has tried to say that BP, as the "operator" of the well, was solely responsible for the misinterpretation of a key pressure test right before the blowout. Don't look at us, Transocean says. Not our fault. But the Transocean employees are highly trained workers and managers who are charged with running a safe operation. Of course it's collaborative, every step of the way, even if BP makes the final call.

And BP engineers, what were they doing monkeying around with the well completion procedures so many times in the days prior to the blowout? Why did they change their mind and decide to set a final cement plug AFTER they pulled the heavy mud out of the well? (As I heard it, BP's Mark Bly admitted that this was contrary to the procedure BP told the government it would do.) BP never set that final cement plug, because when they displaced the heavy mud (out comes the 14-pound-a-gallon mud, in goes eight-pound-a-gallon sea water) the well exploded.

In many cases the mistakes were only clear in hindsight. As with all complex technological catastrophes, people at key moments could not directly see the crucial events taking place -- in this case, because they were happening either at the bottom of the sea, 5,000 feet below the rig, or at the bottom of the well, another 13,000 feet below the sea floor.

One last thing: Halliburton disputed BP's scenario, which the commission had endorsed, for how the gas came up the well. It was a reminder that some basic questions remain in dispute, and I think aspects of this case will remain contentious for... let's see... forever?

[Update 11:15 a.m. Tuesday:

There's some blowback this morning regarding Bartlit's verbal pardon of BP on the dollars-over-safety issue.

Ronnie Penton, attorney for rig worker Mike Williams and a number of other rig workers and families, held a hallway press conference in which he blasted the Bartlit team's conclusion that money wasn't a factor in the engineering decisions.

"The decisions that were made in these seven days [prior to the blowout] were without engineering basis, foundation or study....Every engineering decision and change they made was tied to a dollar."

Penton had scribbled on a blank sheet of paper a long list of engineering decisions that saved BP $20 million in a single week, by his calculation. For example, the design of the well, using a "long string" casing rather than a "liner," saved $10 million. The decision to skip a Cement Bond Log test on the cement integrity saved $3 million, Penton said.

"The root cause is they were saving time and they were saving money on this project and it cost men's lives," he said.

Separately, a veteran petroleum engineer, Steve Lewis, an advanced drilling technology implementation engineer for Seldovia Marine Services, told the commission that there's a "git 'er done" culture in drilling.

"The pressure to move, to make progress, is actually inherent in the business, and it takes a stated, conscious, management presence to counter that....

"We're very competitive. Drillers drill against each other. We want to be the fastest, best driller there is. Our natural tendency is to want to be making progress. To that end we sometimes focus too narrowly on the immediate step...."

[Update 11:49 a.m.

Lewis also spoke to the BP decision to displace heavy mud prior to setting the top cement plug. That decision meant that only the cement at the bottom of the well was serving as a mechanical barrier to the hydrocarbons. Lewis put it very succinctly:

"It's putting all your eggs in one basket....You have purposely brought this well significantly under balanced, and doing that against a single barrier that has been problematic in its creation and has never been truly tested is dubious wisdom in my point of view."

By Joel Achenbach  | November 9, 2010; 7:11 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Horse of a different color
Next: Deficit blues


Yes! Thick, gooey, hydrocarbon crud oozing into the world's clear ocean waters and destroying the environment! We're back to the good stuff!

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 9, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Engineering itself is an exercise in efficiency. There is no need to second guess engineers on the basis of the same consideration. The fact that the rig was over budget and the executive delegation appeared at the critical moment no doubt tipped considerations beyond the safety zone.

I might note that the difference between greed and efficiency is purely based on point of view.

Posted by: edbyronadams | November 9, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Engineering is doing with one dollar what any damn fool can do with two.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 9, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

JA-Saw you on the News Hour last night so had heard much of this but, as always with TV, there were distractions so thanks for this post.

Hello boodle! Hugs to those what need 'em.

If you find yourself in San Jose you must see the SJ Museum of Art while the Leo Villareal exhibit is still up (through 1-11-11). It totally changed my mind about contemporary art in a favorable direction, though one strobe light installation was beyond off putting all the way to nauseating. Steampunk lovers would also like the Retro Tech exhibit.

The new wing at the Crocker in Sacramento is delightful, but I may feel that way only because it was mostly filled with vases-with just enough Celadon to make me giddy.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 9, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

The term "over-engineering" exists as a pejorative for a reason -- a device or a structure is designed and constructed to exceed the specified nominal tolerance and any reasonably likely set of conditions in excess of that tolerance, which means that the engineer "wasted" materials and labor in unnecessary features. In retrospect, with the perspective of decades, we tend to admire over-engineered structures like the Empire State Building, or Hoover Dam, or Building 2 here at our center, which is so darned tough that to demolish it will mean dismantling it -- girder by girder, cinderblock by cinderblock, steel interior wall by steel interior wall, with saws and cutting torches and so on. The only time we don't like over-engineering is when we're paying for it, and then it's absolutely despicable.

My impression, informed by Joel's excellent reporting but no direct knowledge, is that BP and Transocean and Halliburton's engineers did just what they were supposed to do -- they met the spec. The errors are in end-to-end systems engineering and in the design of the specification itself. The oversights that permitted those problem were committed by ourselves. Or, rather, committed by our duly elected representatives and the regulatory agency structure that was put in place to enact the law. They succumbed to lobbyists' claims that some regulation, some technical requirement, was excessive and should be scrapped because it's "anti-business." I never understood this sort of logic. Increased regulation means increased costs -- I get that. But who is fool enough to think that it means decreased profit, at least in the oil industry? We *need* oil in the social structure that we have built for ourselves. The experience of the past 10 years has shown that if the price of oil were to suddenly double, we would pay it, and keep using it pretty much as much as before. If the cost of doing business goes up, there is no doubt who would ultimately pay that increase -- not the shareholders in the business, but us: the customers. If the cost is borne by everyone in the industry, then we get a safer industry from which everyone benefits and the differential costs between operators stay about the same. So why fight against increased regulation? They should fight instead to make the regulations more straightforward and easy to follow.

But nobody does that. That's just pie-in-the-sky crazy talk. What was I thinking?

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 9, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Yellojkt said what I said, but pithy. Good on ya!

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 9, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

A corporate lawyer who had defended other corporations before where workers had been killed concludes along with his cronies that their were no safety violations and the oil rig blew on it's own - an act of nature. So what is he going to conclude? That BP, The Federal Goverment, Oceans Horizon and Haliburton were all negligent. Once again the rich and powerful let the poor slobs - you and me and the families of the eleven men killed - who is in charge of our lives.

Posted by: bigmac1810 | November 9, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Banananna bread, apple raisin bran muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

Congratulations, Scottynuke on winning the tiara this week. It is well earned.

I have to admit I laughed when I heard Mr. Bartlit's comment about greed. This is Global Capitalism, folks. People get rewarded for cutting costs and/or increasing revenues, and greed is a prime motivator. Mistakes in the pursuit of same happen every day. Thankfully, these gaffes rarely reach disastrahoochie proporations.

The oil industry has always been high-risk, high-reward. No one ever wants the workers to die, but oil industry mistakes are more often fatal than average. MrJS lost an uncle and a great-uncle to oil-related incidents in the first half of the 20th century. Co-workers and partners who survived made fortunes.

Posted by: MsJS | November 9, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

A Presidential Oil Spill Commission without Subpoena power is not presidential, it is a joke. No wonder Obama and his party got hammered- this was change only Bush could believe in!!!

Posted by: SanchosR | November 9, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

front page alert

Posted by: MsJS | November 9, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

As a practicing engineer, I am frequently asked if there is a way to do something slightly cheaper. There always is. And the next question is if it will still work. The answer is usually "yes, but not as well."

Rarely I do have to shoot down some completely absurd idea as being totally impractical or unworkable. Most engineering judgments (and the case law over the phrase 'best engineering judgment' is voluminous) are over issues which are much murkier and not clearly within the realm of existing laws or regulations. Even existing codes and standards are subject to a wide variety of interpretations.

Somewhere along the line in the Deepwater Horizon disaster somebody asked somebody else if something which was a little cheaper would still work and the answer was "Probably, but not as well." And they were wrong. Very, very wrong.

Oftentimes the best regulations are performance based rather than prescriptive. It is far better to say "You shall not spill any oil and if you do you will clean it up and pay triple damages." than to issue thousands of pages of regulations concerning borehole diameters and cementing methods and the like.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 9, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I've worked on the "big brother" side of the regulatory fence in the marine industry (although it was not the oil drilling part of it). My take on this is that the other side of the fence honestly belives that they are doing as good a job as they are able to do. Whether that's true or not in this case will require the kind of "Who shot John?" inquisition that is now ongoing.

I've only heard of one person who felt squishy about how this job was turning out, and he is now dead. It'll be a cold day in he11 if anybody ever confesses to cutting corners, much less just to save a few bucks.

Meanwhile, there is somebody that is conveniently handy to throw rocks at:

Yeah, the classic gubimint response, throw money at it.

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | November 9, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Here's video from PBS that will put you in the Oil Spill Commission hearing room in D.C. It's about eight minutes long and includes footage of Joel (nice tie). Gives glimpses of Fred Bartlit.

Wonder what Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobile, and Marvin Odom, Royal Dutch Shell, will have to say today about industry safety practices? Joel?

Posted by: laloomis | November 9, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

So we don't have to wait, I say that this is just another reason to impeach Barrack Obama and make Hillary Clinton the President.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 9, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

In theory engineering decisions are based on efficiency. In practice, they are based on all sorts of factors including human sins. It is a comfort to tell ourselves experts are in charge.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 9, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

As I'm reading this, I'm reminded of all the errors we'd seen brought up before, and it recurred to me that sure - there were questionable resources employed (e.g. the foamy concrete) - but there were process failures in the use of those resources as well (as JA and Mufson reiterate).

You *can* try to start threading a machine screw with a hammer, but it's probably better to use the screwdriver first. And deciding to put threadlocker on top of the screw head at the end in order to save a little time isn't very helpful (and next to ineffective) - it helps to follow normal procedure by putting the threadlocker on the threads, before you screw it up.

Er, I mean, in.

Measure twice and cut once; read and understand the directions before you begin assembly.

Sometimes trying to save time (which has the curious co-attributes of flight, space, and money) saves nothing at all.


Posted by: -bc- | November 9, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Another engineering maxim:

Quick, cheap, or right. Pick two.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 9, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Okaay, impeach BHO, but you've still got to come up with elimination scenarios for the VP, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Pres Pro Tem Inouye before you can get to Madame Secretary Clinton.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 9, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Oh, a suggestion for the boss:

Change the word "catastrophe" to "disastrahoochie". More, you know, catchy. It's all about the eyeballs, donchaknow.

See? *Everybody* just LOVES it when you tell them how to do their jobs. Reminds me of a seastory, but don't have the time to tell it right now.

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | November 9, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

The commission doesn't need subpoena power. Joe Barton will get to the bottom of this when he becomes chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 9, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

And in case you're wondering, there is also an Acting President pro tempore of the Senate, Permanent Acting President pro tempore, Deputy President pro tempore, and President pro tempore emeritus. These are all just titles for fill-in gavel pounders and chair warmers and not in the line of succession, but it does provide insight into why nothing ever gets done in the League of Superannuated Gentlemen.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 9, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

There are big boxes to protect workers putting sewer lines in deep trenches from rare soil collapses. They are expensive to haul, buy or rent, and use. The walls rarely cave in. "Don't mess with mah jerb!"

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 9, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Here's the agenda for the two days of meeting of the Oil Spill Commission. At this goverment website, there is a link for a streaming live video feed, so you, too, can see and hear what Joel sees and hears.

A large panel of "experts" after opening remarks this a.m. Oil execs Tillerson and Odom late this afternoon--do you remeber their testimony, back in May, if I recall, that their respective companies would not be able to handle a worst-case oil disaster in deep-water wells?

And, *rubbing my hands with anticipation*, on Panel 3, after lunch and after Panel 2, Michael Bromwich, Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (you know, formerly MMS) speaks about the need for regulation. Need for regulation? I thought the MMS was the regulating body? Where's Darrell Issa when you need him? Or Kenny Salazar, for that matter?

Posted by: laloomis | November 9, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: laloomis | November 9, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be nice if we really could have blamed this all on Corporate Greed and whatnot? That way we could have just engaged in a spasm of Moral Outrage and convince ourselves that if we just had Better People nothing like this would ever happen.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 9, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

There are simple driving techniques (adjusting speed so as to leave adequate following distance and sufficient reaction time for conditions, verifying that the space your vehicle is moving into is not occupied or about to be so) that can protect automobile occupants from collisions. They're time-consuming and require care and attention. Most people hardly ever die in car crashes, and never more than once. "I gotta drive the way I want!"

Posted by: bobsewell | November 9, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Decided to watch the live feed for a few minutes...

Drilling wells, apparently, are overbalanced in Norway and Alaska, but why not in the Gulf?

Steve Lewis, of Seldovia Marine Services was questioned by the panel. He began to speak about how MMS (he hasn't learned the new acronym, he says) has regulations that are "inadequately specific." Lewis claims that MMS didn't have the staff, nor tools, nor financing to adequately regulate deep-sea drilling operations. What MMS sorely needed(s) was(is) the financing, staff and technical competence to fulfill its regulating role. Lewis says he looks forward this afternoon to discussion of "safety cultures" by EM and RDS execs.

Charlie Williams, with Shell Energy Resources spoke momentarily about "safety cultures of performance." Optimal drilling practices should lead to safety, safety should produce efficiency, he said.

I was surprised to link to the hearings and hear MMS mentioned before Bromwich is scheduled to speak this afternoon. Panel 1 to resume, after a 10-minute break, at 10:48 a.m.

Posted by: laloomis | November 9, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

The foamy cement thing has had me confused for months now. No one explains it. Of course, it could be one of those things they taught in the high school science classes I only occassionally attended. But foamy cement...isn't that like using tv bricks (those things that look like bricks but are made out of nerf material so you can throw them squarely at the tv when the ref makes a bad call). It would seem to me you'd want to cork a well with something that could withstand the force of re-entry into the atmosphere, not zabaglione.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 9, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

BP has invested a half a billion dollars into algae for fuel. Why not build algae oil plants in the Gulf Coast and employ people today?

There would have been no Gulf Catastrophy if BP was growing algae for oil on-shore.

No explosions, no fires, no deaths and no long lasting environmental problems for the Gulf region.

Algae is renewable, does not affect the food channel and consumes CO2. So what are we waiting for?

Posted by: fatalgae | November 9, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I love when we are talking about one thing (oil spills) and someone uses it to make a rant about Obama. Quote-- So we don't have to wait, I say that this is just another reason to impeach Barrack Obama and make Hillary Clinton the President.---
What in the heck does this have to do with the discussion? Also the poster doesn't know how the constitution works. The Vice-President is made President. I grant you that the Sec. of State is high on the list of who gets to be President but she is NOT the next person on the list.

Posted by: Ralph_Indianapolis | November 9, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Also, one "r" in "Barack."

Ralph Indianapolis, everyone - how about giving him a hand?

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 9, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse


Yeah, Weed. Time to bone up! *L*

Posted by: talitha1 | November 9, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, a big hand for Mr. Indianapolis, and will someone please introduce him to the concept of irony?

Posted by: kguy1 | November 9, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Sure, sure, just wait until the first massive die-off caused by a runaway algal bloom, then tell me how algae are the end of Gulf catastrophes.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 9, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I wonder whether petroleum engineering students are following the hearing.

From the University of California Press: a book on dachas (summer cottages) and the Russian soul. Just released, so cold-climate people can dream of summer. We warm-climate types need winter dachas.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 9, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Ralph_Indy, I *think* RT was engaging in a bit of a joke.

Anytime this blog gets posted to the front page - no matter what the topic of the blog item - folks jump on and screech for the impeachment of Obama NOW!

It's a bit of a running gag for folks who have read Joel's blog for a long time.


Posted by: -bc- | November 9, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Roger_Indy, without realizing it you have stumbled into an ongoing conversation. It's been going on for over five years and includes gardening tips, sports, recipes, travelolgues, books, and levity.

To thrive here, one needs to brush up on humor, puns, irony, etc. If you lack an irony board, one of the regulars here probably has a spare she/he can fax to you.

Posted by: MsJS | November 9, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Steve Lewis seems to be the only technical expert being called upon. The Q&A with him seems to dominate the time alloted to Panel 1, the panel of technical experts. He comes all the way from Seldovia, Alaska, apparently...(scroll down)

Lewis holds a BS in petroleum engineering with a minor in oceanography. He has experience with offshore operations, environmental protection, scientific studies, governmental relations, and public relations. His marine experience ranges from operating the world's largest mobile offshore drilling units in extreme conditions to ocean kayaking in Prince William Sound. Lewis was seated on the board in March 1999.

Posted by: laloomis | November 9, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I Mom, did you catch Neil Diamond on Jimmy Kimmel last night with his saber? He explained it got him through NYU while his was on the national championship fencing team.

Posted by: bh72 | November 9, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"To date, we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety"

To date, we have not heard from key decision makers on the scene.

Posted by: edbyronadams | November 9, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"To date, we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety"

To date, we have not heard from key decision makers on the scene.

Posted by: edbyronadams | November 9, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

According to "Famous Fencers: Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron maiden - foil. Neil Diamond, entertainer - sabre. Prince Albert of Monaco - sabre. Andrew Jackson fought a duel of honor with swords. General George Patton, competed in fencing in the 1912 Olympics and once owned a riding crop with a blade in the handle made by Georgio Santelli, New York fencing instructor and equipment manufacturer. Movie star Jerry O'Connell - saber. Movie stars Madonna, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Dennis Haysbert. And suprisingly, soccer star David Beckham!"

Add to them the ScienceGrandpa, who appeared in a few years ago as Emily Yoffe's fencing instructor (épée).

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 9, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"To date, we have not heard from key decision makers on the scene."

Good point. The engineers didn't set spending priorities; they operated within parameters set by people higher up the food chain. Yellojkt, you agree?


Posted by: jp1954 | November 9, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

HA HA HA!!!!

Thanks, bc!

And for the record, I couldn't hit entry fast enough. Just got back from a meeting where I had to present some web pages while connected thru my cellphone.

Kept losing my connection when texts came in from a friend who was going on and on about her grilled veggies. Now, that's irony.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 9, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Lewis's "Drillers drill against each other" was just about when I tuned into the hearing. Very quotable. Just look at the competition among internationals to drill in the Iranian oil and gas fields. Business, in general, is competitive, is it not?

Interesting, in the second portion of the time given to Panel 1 is the fact that came to light that there are no industry standards nor procedures nor government regulations involving negative pressure tests. And what was the requirement, again, governing temporary abandonment of wells in the Code of Federal Regulations?

Is the abandonment of a lengthy diagnostic remediation process, in the event of problem(s), equivalent to greed? Always interesting activities occurring in hallways during hearings such as these, as Joel reported. And I believe the burden will continue to remain on company representatives (issue of responsibility)when some thing or some operation or some reading is found to be anaomalous--unless federal regulations are toughened or even clarified or there is greater policing of the industry by the industry itself.

Interesting, too, that Lewis said that he has never seen any procedures dealing with negative pressure tests produced by any of the companies he's worked with.

The comment, too, that the company man used to be God. Now, operations are so complex and technical that they are beyond the ability of one individual to handle--rig personnel vs. the office engineering staff and the issues of team communication. How many drilling operations and companies put the rig team in on the rig design process?

Are emergency drills regularly conducted? Is there a standard set of disaster drills on rigs for emergency situations? Perhaps a brief outline in TransOcean's manuals, but in practice, no, from what was discussed during the hearing...unless someone has information to the contrary.

Posted by: laloomis | November 9, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

So, you're a Finkleman?

Posted by: bh72 | November 9, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he's a giggler?

Posted by: bobsewell | November 9, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

We need to get off the Oil Industry's business model: highly inefficient internal combustion engine and liquid fuel business that dominates our transportation choices. Oil companies pushing gas/oil, hydrogen, natural gas fuels b/c they control the infrastructure...we will never be free and have choices for our transportation.

I bet the Nissan Leaf lasts a month.With GOPs back, the oil agenda will be pushed and we will forever be chained to their high profit business.

Let's ask the President to exercise Eminent Domain over NiMH battery patents.

These are most powerful traction batteries invented in US that will provide reliable, affordable transportation and alleviate our economic and environmental issues; proven technology past 10 years....

oops CHEVRON owns patents, guess that won't be happening any time soon!

Posted by: EVsPlease | November 9, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Federal judge Feldman's court in New Orleans on government's pace in resuming offshore oil reporters allowed today, AP reports.

Posted by: laloomis | November 9, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

The chance of an oil spill is far less than the chance of someone being hit by lightning. Those who are unwilling to accept even the slightest chance of something going wrong live in fear and never get anything done. Every day of our lives things just happen. Why is this so difficult for people to accept? Death is just around the corner you are destined for the inevitable. Get on with your life and avoid living in fear. Spirituality can help get you out of the fear box.

Posted by: cosciousness | November 9, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"The Best American Magazine Writing 2010" is coming next month. Contents:

The decade in 92 magazine covers, in two minutes (video):

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 9, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The chance of an oil spill is far less than the chance of someone being hit by lightning.

OK, what are the chances of lightning striking everything in an area of 68,000 square miles?

Posted by: kguy1 | November 9, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Hydrocarons are in short supply throughout much of the Gulf. Waters that have abundant hydrocarbons attract fish. The temporary increase in hydrocarbons will result in an increase in fish supply over the next few years. Hydrocarbons are an essential part of the food chain.

Posted by: cosciousness | November 9, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Spirituality can, in fact, help get you out of the fear box. But it is not the recommended treatment for oil in your feathers.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 9, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

cosciousness, thanks for that fact. Who would have thought that you could catch a couple of Gulf mullets and use them as fire starters for your grill.

I'm still trying to catch up with Kguy... could be that a lightening strike could start the world's larges fish fry. I think that I'm missing the point.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 9, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Slave prices had never been higher than in 1860."
Edward Ayers, President of the University of Richmond, in a fascinating Washington Post discussion a short time ago.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 9, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: yellojkt | November 9, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, that will happen when you shut off the flow of imports.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 9, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Mullets might get fat enough to burn. I don't want to think about what other animals might serve as fire starters. Plants will do. In fact, land plants have been catching fire about as long as they've been around.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 9, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

“Put your right hand in the box,” she said. Fear shot through Paul. He started to back away ...

“You will feel pain in this hand within the box. Pain. But! Withdraw the hand and I’ll touch your neck with my gom jabbar--the death so swift it’s like the fall of the headsman’s axe. Withdraw your hand and the gom jabbar takes you. Understand?”

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 9, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

If there's one thing that drives me absolutely nuts it's typos and grammatical mistakes on a resume. Especially when the person is applying for a QA position.

yello, that's one of my favorites. My boss has a checklist posted on his office window: fast, cheap, good. The instructions are to pick any two. It makes me smile whenever I walk by. It's also a not-so-subtle jab at upper management who, not unlike in The Wire, keep asking us to do more with less.

I somehow doubt there is a memo or email waiting out there for the lawyers to run across that says: "let's compromise worker safety for a few more bucks in my bonus this year." In cases like this it's almost always more subtle than that.

That said, I think we would do well to remember that carelessness doesn't have to exist for mistakes to be made.

Posted by: cowhand214 | November 9, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Dave, I caught that chat live ... very good. Hope they have him back on as the sesquicentennial observations continue.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 9, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the ice water pain test. You were supposed to put your forearm into an ice chest full of ice water, then see how long you'd keep it there. Being dumb, I tried that without first checking to see how long you were supposed to last. So the arm stayed in a few minutes until I got bored. It seemed I was extremely cold tolerant.

Maybe the water wasn't cold enough.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 9, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Dave, something tells me that a nice fat fish loaded with crude oil would do the trick even in a heavy breeze.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 9, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Here's a wonderful political cartoon for unrequited liberals who love Hollywood references:

Not enough hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico? This reminds me of a right-wing friend who tried to convince me that it's not a problem that polar bears are starving because their habitat is getting too warm. Why? Because "there were too many of them in the first place."

See? Nature is just taking its course. Hydrocarbons, anyone?


Posted by: jp1954 | November 9, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I began to lose the ability to proofread my own writing over a decade ago. It took at least 5 years to become fully aware of the problem. I'm definitely not able to keep track of details.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 9, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The Presidential Oil Spill Cover-up Commission is doing an excellent job to sweep this under the rug. The BP safety record is so appalling that what occurred could be called business as usual.

BP paid the two largest fines in OSHA history – $87.43 million and $21.36 million – for willful negligence that led to the deaths of 15 workers and injured 170 others in the 2005 Texas City oil refinery explosion.

Three years ago, BP plead guilty to one misdemeanor of the Clean Water Act, agreed to serve three years probation, pay $4 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support research and activities on the North Slope, pay $4 million in restitution to the State of Alaska and a $12 million fine for spilling 200,000 gallons of crude oil onto the Alaskan tundra in 2006.

BP refuses to pay for normal maintenance. It is cheaper for BP to pay government fines when they have an "accident" than to perform industry standard maintenance. BP = SNAFU.

Posted by: alance | November 9, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me private missiles???

Posted by: dmd3 | November 9, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

CowTown, that's why hunting from airplanes isn't considered sports hunting, but habitat and species management.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 9, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

You go, kguy!

Wouldn't surprise me if the money issue were so overwhelming it didn't ever need to be mentioned. Everyone already knew, letting other factors be discussed with the financial part understood.

Posted by: -dbG- | November 9, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse


Missed Cruickshank and Bromwich. Drat.

Perhaps the gist of what Bromwich said is here--Nov. 4 reporting,..."inspectors don't know about cementing and centralizers"...Bromwich gets defensive in response to Oil Spill Commission...

and here..."many rig inspectors confessed they lacked expertise in key processes in the drilling process"

Posted by: laloomis | November 9, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

"So the question is still, did the desire for "efficiency" affect any of the critical engineering decisions or well-completion operations."

Nice to see that Achenbach meets one straw-man with another. In the end, every enterprise is about money AND risk.

I dare say that Louisiana and America has more that been rewarded for taking real but small risks drilling not just off short but in deep water.

Posted by: dummypants | November 9, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: -dbG- | November 9, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused. Are people really saying that we shouldn't bother to try to understand why this disaster occurred? I can understand an argument that the moratorium was throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or that we shouldn't demonize BP to the degree that we blind ourselves to the benefits of drilling. But seriously, because we need the oil, we shouldn't use the whatever information we can get to try to minimize the risks of enormous environmental and economic harm?

The only way I can figure it is that many people have just chosen their teams -- oil drilling good, or oil drilling evil. Once on a team, no nuance allowed.

Posted by: -bia- | November 9, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I am not joining any team until I see the uniforms.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 9, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Well gosh, aren't I annoyed. i was catching up on some stuff I missed while on hiatus, and ran across several glowing mentions of The Dairy Godmother in Alexandria (previously never heard of it). It gave me a hankering for some fine frozen custard, so I says to myself, "I'll just run over there after work and check it out."

Turns out they're closed one day a week. You wanna guess which day?

Posted by: bobsewell | November 9, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 9, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Yellow and orange seem to be a trend in ugly uniforms. Those old Canuck uniforms were awful but I had forgotten about the old Padres uniforms. The original Blue Jays powder blue uniforms should have been on the list.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 9, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

*applauding bia*

Posted by: Raysmom | November 9, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Wanna share some of that pi with me, Snuke?

Okay. So I'm trying to get someone in the California Sec'y of State's office to pick up the phone. Both numbers I've got terminate in busy signals. Continually. I've got a simple question. Can't get an answer.

The web site -- at least for my current purposes -- is useless.


Posted by: ftb3 | November 9, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Don't have to guess, Bob. The DG, formerly the Del Ray Dreamery, is a half block from my house. It's well worth a trip. Liz Davis, the lady who owns the place is a Wisconsin transplant and serious Packer fan. During the colder months they also sell great hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows in three flavors. Hot choc with raspberry marshmallow- yum! Liz also does Wisconsin Braut Night from time to time. The frozen custard is very good and definitely not for the fat/calorie conscious.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 9, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

bia, risking being banal, I would say that "WE" don't need the oil. The oil companies need the oil. Folks do need the work. The sad think is that the oil companies "pay" the USA nothing for the oil rights. As a whole, we are better off with those people constructing solar panels on shore. Or, new power conduits and poles.

I was stunned to hear that, in the entire United States of America, we no longer manufacture dinner flatware. Not one stick comes from here. Sad to hear about Sparrows Point. As with most of those closings, even what we are watching at the Washington Post, it would be the younger workers who are also at most risk for loss of income and also future security.

Unions spent most of their efforts protecting the older workers and not the younger workers. We don't manufacture personal computers in this country anymore. We don't make TVs. We don't even make food storage containers.

All we make here in the USA are weapons.

So, this begs the question, why are we so darn concerned about protecting the well-being of our rich investment class when we know that they really don't invest in much other than to move our jobs overseas.

What's more, in 2009/2010, with so many jobs exciting the country and folks really falling on hard times, those so-called investors (top 1% of America's wealthiest folks) gained about 8% in net worth. If they can get so much wealthier without investing in us, then why the heck should we bother protecting them?

So why am I rambling on? Because, as a nation, I think that we can find better things for a few folks in the Gulf region to do than work on oil platforms. It is almost better to pay them not to work, if we have to sacrifice a real business like fishing.

Look at it this way, if the oil stays in the ground another 20 years, it probably will be more valuable then and we can all benefit from the profits rather than some multinational corporations.

-bia, to answer your question, I really don't know why folks are getting worked up.

Getting oil out of the Gulf doesn't lower our cost points much. We really don't need to be concerned where it comes from.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 9, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

dmd, add the early Pittsburgh Penguins powder blue unis to the list, too.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 9, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Every business is about money and risk. No real insight here. Perhaps we should be thinking "People make mistakes, how do we act to minimize the number and impact" Note I said minimize, because the alternative of eliminate is just fooling ourselves.

Posted by: bruce18 | November 9, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

We need oil for at least another generation. We need to drill, however we need to resolve this BP mess first. We need to make an example out of BP. We need to shut down all of their operations and subsidiaries on U.S. territory. We need to seize their assets.

We need an honest inquiry to what really happened. This Presidential Commission is a total white wash. It is theater of the absurd.

Posted by: alance | November 9, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Well, I have no desire to defend the Fat Cats, but because the market tanked in 2008, and then there has been a recovery, the astounding gains of the wealthy since then are true for everyone who stayed in the market throughout. Which is not to say that their tax rate including capital gains, ought to be readjusted a bit.

What are you counting, yellojkt?

RD, either your tongue is so far in your cheek it may emerge elsewhere, or I can't quite make out your theory of greed.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 9, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how a cement bond log could cost $3 million. Even with rig time at a million per day, it doesn't add up. It takes no more than 12 hours and probably a lot less than eight to run that log in that well. I'd say they blew it (that particular elision) for the sake of 100 grand.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 9, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse


Bromwich wants to create yet another oil-regulating, Institute...within Interior? I cannot believe this. What's wrong with, MMS? Well, a lot actually...

Posted by: laloomis | November 9, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

As I understand it, the foamed cement has a slow expansion after placement, before it hardens, as the chemical additives slowly release nitrogen bubbles. This is supposed to have the beneficial effect of causing the whole cement zone to expand somewhat and push on the walls of the hole, providing a better seal. I read some criticism that at that depth and pressure, the expansion was inhibited and the benefits would not occur. I'm just winging it here, but that's what my memory, of the extensive reading I did during the disaster, tells me.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 9, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Government will often create an entire new agency to disguise the fact that the original agencies dropped the ball. Homeland Security, anyone?

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 9, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I think a candidate for #11-20 ought to be the current Buffalo Bills uniforms. ugh.

bia, isn't that the current MO? No nuance allowed. You are either Dem or Repub, right or left. You are pro-life or a baby killer. A firebrand or a do-nothing. A tree-hugger or an earth-hater. Admitting that the other side has a legitimate point is quitting or waffling.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | November 9, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"I like to think of my political judgments as being extremely nuanced, free of hyperbole and overstatement, which is why it bothers me that so many people are such pinkos and Nazis."
--- Joel Achenbach

Posted by: bobsewell | November 9, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

*Standing O to Weed's 4:15 post*

Posted by: ftb3 | November 9, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

While I generally don't like his columns much, today's is a good one.

Posted by: ftb3 | November 9, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

*don't tell me I killed it*

Posted by: ftb3 | November 9, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Somebody can't count!

I am now officially on vacation. Just finished 2 hours of filing hours on projects in October, have Nov hours written in the planner pad to input when I return. Ordered 2011 planner pad on sale. Packed my docs on most common problems in my laptop case, checked space and processes in every system I run, recovered 150 gb space on a server that's logging over-enthusiastically. Will fix when I return. Checked my workplace site, no job posted to replace mine. Okay, okay!

Frenvious of yello's skyline.

Posted by: -dbG- | November 9, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Here's one fine piece of music. Bush's book tour makes me think of it.

Whoever posted it included the lyrics.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 9, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Ahh. Childishness. I remember my favorite song from little league. Modified a bit for the well blowout, and it was Nostradamusian.

When you're drilling in macon'
and your cement is full of foam....

Posted by: baldinho | November 9, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

On the American idea of prospering by innovation:

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 9, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Love the Roxy Music Jumper.

dbG, have a great vacation, much deserved.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 9, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Could the California rocket have been an ordinary plane and an optical illusion?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 9, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

And speaking of "Oh yeah, this will end well..."

Who wants to be the first to say, "Who is this 'firebrand' we've never heard of?"

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 9, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

FYI, my anti-virus software sez there's a malware ad on that NewScientist page... *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 9, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I can see the Orange Man with the Raspy Voice cringe from here Scotty. That will be an entertaining Congress term.

Gov. elect Brown spent about $20 millions on his election, about 1/7 what his opponent did. Yet a local political pundit noted it is more than any political party ever spent for any federal election in Canada. Sharron Angle spent over $97 for every vote she got, McMahon almost as much. $4 Billions in expenses for a mid-term election projects about $7 Billions for the next Presidentials. Elections seem to be the next great economic bubble.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 9, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Jumper...thanks. I figured it was something like that, like how bread dough rises or how draino expands to fit the pipe, but I still don't get how that wouldn't weaken it. You just don't expect a latte to harden, you know?

Posted by: LostInThought | November 9, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Let's see, Shriek ... how many hungry kids would all that money feed? Oops, there goes my trippy socialist self, being concerned about children who aren't mine.

*tsk* *tsk* *tsk*

Posted by: ftb3 | November 9, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Should we schedule a BPH at the Dairy Godmother so kguy can join us?

WETA-TV has a two minute video about the place. It sounds like a very nice place:

Posted by: -pj- | November 9, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

S'nuke - I looked at the article and my mind transposed the call letters for Kaufman's station to WTFL. Foreshadowing anyone?

Posted by: lostnspace | November 9, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, lostnspace, indeed...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 9, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

That foam used in concrete makes a good repair for under washed-out concrete slabs. It expands enough to actually hold weight. I was interested in it because it's a thermal insulator. Gets geothermal heat from those deep projects up to the surface with less heat loss on the trip up. They didn't have the stuff back in my oil days. In construction a guy brought a sample into our lab. It floated in the aging tank for a month or so, never losing its buoyancy.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 9, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

shriek, I am amazed at what is spent on campaigns. People scream bloody blue murder any time there is a chance their taxes will be raised by $100 or their benefits will be cut by $100. Many of those same people then go out and finance a campaign season to the tune of $4 billion.

My tongue in cheek election concept of a couple months ago is looking better all the time.

Posted by: baldinho | November 9, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Meg Whitman's campaign cost more than $160 million, or roughly the same amount of money appropriated to the National Endowment for the Arts this year.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 9, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

How's the little girl doing, baldhino?

Posted by: -TBG- | November 9, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Hey did you know it's warm in Cancun?

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 9, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I can't think of a word that properly describes how I feel about that. Talk about the country being on the wrong track! The next two years will have continual inanities and outrages that will leave a lot of us numb. I really have to stop watching and reading so much news if I want to have any sanity left.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 9, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

And she lost! Oops, my schadenfreude is showing.

For a better idea on how to spend <1/30th of that money,

As annoying as Bill Gates' products can be, at least he and Melissa know how to use their money for good.

Tbg, saw a sockmonkey outfit for little dogs.

Posted by: -dbG- | November 9, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Right On!
Thank you for a principled account./
We are long overdue in not calling it out for what it really is.
God forbid! we should respond negatively to the Oil Giants.
One day sooner than they think It will be like getting blood out of a stone. The well will be dry.
Then I wonder who will we all blame? It can't be our fault surely!! We just want fosil fuels made available to us when we need them. Pleased don't trouble us with unpleasant problems.

Posted by: kandjc123 | November 9, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Right On!
Thank you for a principled account./
We are long overdue in not calling it out for what it really is.
God forbid! we should respond negatively to the Oil Giants.
One day sooner than they think It will be like getting blood out of a stone. The well will be dry.
Then I wonder who will we all blame? It can't be our fault surely!! We just want fosil fuels made available to us when we need them. Pleased don't trouble us with unpleasant problems.

Posted by: kandjc123 | November 9, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

And Moveable Type claims another victim.

BobS, get around to that McRib yet?

Posted by: -dbG- | November 9, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I like kandjc123's comment. It bears repeating.

I read that review of the returned McRib. Feh! I'd love to know what Bob-S thought, if he ingested it.

Posted by: Yoki | November 9, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

'evening, all.

Posted by: -jack- | November 9, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes! Thick, gooey, hydrocarbon crud oozing into the world's clear ocean waters and destroying the environment! We're back to the good stuff!

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 9, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse
Yes, it's been occurring since whales were in Arizona, and the Tennessee area. The difference is, today we find it a useful energy source. The Gulf shrimp are good, and safe. I had them for dinner.

Posted by: Shadowsmgc | November 9, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Yes! Thick, gooey, hydrocarbon crud oozing into the world's clear ocean waters and destroying the environment! We're back to the good stuff!

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 9, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse
Yes, it's been occurring since whales were in Arizona, and the Tennessee area. The difference is, today we find it a useful energy source. The Gulf shrimp are good, and safe. I had them for dinner.

Posted by: Shadowsmgc | November 9, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | November 9, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

good stuff, yoki.

Posted by: -jack- | November 10, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

very good stuff, and here is

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Just saw the photos from the LHC. Awesome! quarks and gluons,

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Catching up with you all. Sure did like that music, jack and Yoki.

Here's what I got on my mind for some delta reason.

and maybe some of this .....

Life goes on though, mercifully, and
this one speaks loud and clear.


Sleep well, dearest boodlers!

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Sleep well, then.

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

The WaPo article on yesterday's Meccano disaster hearings.

The money 'graph:

///BP's final well designs were "deficient in detail," said Steve Lewis, a drilling engineer with Seldovia Marine Services, who later added that the "the operational detail in my mind was totally deficient" and "totally inadequate." ///

Nothing like a little professional courtesy.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Jeter got the AL Gold Glove for shortstop? Really?

Hi mo!!! :-)

*scratchin'-mah-pointy-lil-haid-and-seeking-more-coffee Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 10, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodlers!

Oily bananalities and advocatos are not good for the digestive system.

Have a good day, everyone.

Brag :)

Posted by: Braguine | November 10, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Concerning the kit: Why is it that when humanity critique themselves, they seldom find error, wrong, blame, etc.? I know dumb question!

Where's Mudge, and RD? And Ivansmom?

It is Wednesday, and today is promising to be as beautiful as yesterday, and just as warm. I could barely enjoy yesterday for the headache I had all day, but perhaps today will be different. God is good.

Count down for the baby begins...

Slyness, I hope the weather in your town is good, and that you get a chance to get out and enjoy the sun and the warmth, as in really enjoy and not working.

I have therapy today so time to get the move on. Have a lovely day, my friends, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 10, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

For those of us stuck in our own worlds today I give you MapCrunch... transport to a random spot via Google Street View...

Posted by: -TBG- | November 10, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Good morning you all, and especially our dear tarheels. We really enjoyed our trip to NC last week beginning with a family genealogy get-to-gether for lunch en route at Ralph's BBQ just off 95 in Weldon, NC.

We stayed in Atlantic Beach, NC at the Windjammer and visited Beauford, NC as well as Emerald Isle to see the setting for the beach wedding in July. The weather going down was drizzley and cool, sunny and cool while we were there.

We found a wonderful place for the rehearsal dinner! The NC Aquarium there on the sound. Appetizers with the River Otters and dinner in the Soundside Room, which is, of course, next to the sound with access to a deck and pier and beach vegetation to the sound. Also found caterer who was please that I wanted to do a "low country" menu. Many of the wedding guests are from Long Island and West Chester Co., NY, so the food should be interesting to them. Shrimp and Girts, etc...

I enjoyed watching and listening to Joel; so glad he is an EXPERT on the Gulf Oil Disaster, b/c he is understandable for someone like me..... probably for everybody.

Also am going back to read yesterday's Q&A from prez of U. of Richmond about reasons for Civil War; first two questions were answered well. Thanks Dave of the C. (or Jumper).

Also, thanks to frosty for last week's suggestion of bourbon & branch.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 10, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Vintage Lady! I love that part of the world. The best shrimp and grits I ever had was at Clawson's in Beaufort, NC.

We stayed there twice, at a cozy inn right next to the Maritime museum in Beaufort. The kids loved it because it was the first time we let them wander on their own around a town. Such a wonderful little town with friendly people.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 10, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. Another day, another fifty cents.

Thanks again Jumper. The foamy cement thing just strikes me as counterintuitive, like leaning into a punch.

A thought or two about campaign spending...not as much has changed in 200+ years as one might think. Geo Washington didn't run for office, he stood for it, yet he still spent something silly like 12 gallons of rye and mash for each voter (granted, limited to white land-owning men, but still...). Also, when today's candidate spends large amounts of money on a campaign, they don't burn the money. While they didn't produce durable goods, they did dump it into their local economies. Caterers, printers, legislative analysts, statisticians, ad people, etc. (the list goes on and on) and their staffs worked, received paychecks, kept a roof over their heads and fed their kids. Also, when candidates spend their own money, what they're typically doing is lending their committees the money, which they then hope the committees will pay back. But raising funds for debt retirement is way hard if you win, that much harder if you lose. For a few of this year's big spenders, I'd say that money's gone.

Time to make the doughnuts. Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 10, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

River otters serving appetizers? What??


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 10, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Snuke, I was picturing otters in tuxedos scampering around always available with the appetizers and yet not in the way.

Seriously, that all sounds fantastic.

Many years ago, I and several friends drove around Beaufort to find the famous basketball court from movie fame. We succeeded--what a triumph.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 10, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Morning, y'all.

TBG, not really lost in my on world ... have been up reading the wapo-online for awhile. VL, I can devour shrimp and grits any time of the morning so that went down well with my Earl Grey and toast. Sounds like rehearsal dinner, and every other aspect of the wedding, will be alive and filled with love for all ...

Is is possible to be a Miss Havisham (reforming) with a southern accent? The sun came in at an angle this morning pointing out a spectacular cobweb I'd obviously neglected in my dust-your-way-to-dignity. I let out with a "My Land --- How did ah evah let that happen?", and then just sat down and laughed until I cried and laughed again. 8~)

dbG, wings and songs and sun, dear heart!

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

Another gorgeous day here in TWC. I'm hoping lunch can be al fresco.
*fingers crossed*

For me the election is soooo last week. I've moved on to the last of the leaf raking, finding a good pumpkin pie recipe, and planning the Turkey Day menu.

I went to the doctor earlier this week and he told me that, aside from the wheelie thing, I'm in great shape. Woo-hoo!

Off to find more coffee.

Posted by: MsJS | November 10, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, honest to pete, the room where the appetizers will be served has an aquarium of river otters that can swim in and out to the sound, it reminds me of the aquarium in Monterey, CA where the sea otters have a much more elaborate set-up.

TBG, loved Beaufort(d), too. The little restored village had children visiting from neighboring schools and just next door we spent a lot of time in the little visitor's center. The volunteer there was so informative and besides her daughter & SIL live in Vienna, VA near us that I bought a bunch of good stuff, including a tin fish ornament and two tin crab oranments wired with bling and pearls for our children for their christmas trees. The volunteer was little, too. :-)

What is that saying of GRITS about girls r i t South?

Posted by: VintageLady | November 10, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

So the otters swim the backstroke with the appetizer trays in their front paws? What???


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 10, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

MsJS, congrats on the good doctor's report.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 10, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

No! No! Scotty, they would not serve up their own kind! Well, sort of, you know sushi and mini crab cakes and maybe some shrimp cocktail...

Posted by: VintageLady | November 10, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Oh wow, the thought of river otters serving food...sounds like the rehearsal dinner will be lovely! Hope it's a great weekend for everyone, VL!

I got a call yesterday from the National Bone Marrow Registry asking me to donate again. Of course I will, but I'm so sorry my recipient has run into problems. Not looking forward to it a'tall, I know what's involved. At least I don't have to have another physical, and it will be over before Thanksgiving!

Cassandra, enjoy the water! Yes, it looks like another lovely day here. Mr. T has plans for us to find and cut a Christmas tree this weekend, I hope it will be cool so we'll get into the mood.

Posted by: slyness | November 10, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, you are brave, and generous.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 10, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Jumper - what I was trying to say is that people often attribute complex disasters to simple causes, often related to one of the seven deadly sins. It would be comforting if we could blame this disaster on simple greed because then the solution would be to replace the decision makers with ones who are less greedy.

Alas, I don't think it is that simple. I'm convinced that this disaster is a classic example of what happens when you push technology and associated performance assumptions, including those of risk, into, well, uncharted waters. Unexpected things are going to happen because so many fundamental properties of the new environment remain unknown. The sin is not realizing this, and not preparing for it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"Don't that just butter your grits?"
--- don't 'spect that's the one VL was looking for, but I like it.

The talk of Beaufort NC and Monteray, otters and aquatic life made me too, too nostalgic for both extremes. The sonchild, though a mountain boy born, still recalls seacucumbers (when he was barely 2-years-old) in the tidal pools on Kauai. He loves the coastal waterways of Georgia, SC and NC, recalling trips on my daddy's boat. His own father, who died when I. was still young, took him along the Big Sur and Monteray coasts to marvel at the pelicans, sea lions, laugh at otters and scan for whales ... to jump waves and scan the horizons. *sign and grin*

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

scc: that was supposed to be "sigh" and grin, but I think I like "sign" better!

Hey, Wil!

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Hey Cassandra! I'm still here. I have a new position at work that is keeping me very busy. Further, this position requires a lot more meetings and the like, so, tragically, I will be spending less time with handy access to the internet.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

When I think of appitizer-serving otters, this come to mind.

Posted by: MsJS | November 10, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

scc: MonterEy. I know, I do it every time. Shoot me.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

scc MonterEy. I know, I do it every time. Shoot me.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, you are one exceptional lady!

RD, as usual, you cut to the heart of the matter and make perfect sense.

Third or fourth day of rain here, I've lost track. It's very windy and cold too so spirits are low. They are promising relief tomorrow and a good weekend, so there's something to look forward to. "S" and I are hoping to get in a trip to Provincetown on Saturday. We've been trying to get there since last spring but things always get in the way. We might find some unusual Christmas gifts there ;-)

Posted by: badsneakers | November 10, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Bang bang, taliha!

Posted by: MsJS | November 10, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

The missile was a contrail?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Before I sign off ..... MsJS, good news and I'm so glad.

slyness, my admiration.

But, but, but ..... cutting a Christmas tree now? Am I the only person in the world who cuts a tree about a week before Christmas? I must be a serious pagan ... or somewhichamahoochiedofangledruidishwoman.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Thanks badsneakers!

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Watch this scene at your own peril

Posted by: russianthistle | November 10, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to try this one more time ... tin tiara to me if the first one goes through. (there's handups all over wapo)

MsJS, glad to hear your good news.
slyness, you have my admiration.

But, but, but .....
Cutting a Christmas tree this early? Am I the only pagan left who waits until about a week before Christmas to cut the tree?

*not holding bated breath and heading to the loom tomb ... hugs to all*

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan used the word "sleazel" to denote someone a sleaze and a weasel. I think I'll keep that one in my arsenal.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 10, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

MsJs - That scene from Mary Poppins was exactly what leapt to my mind as well.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 10, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

You have to understand, Talitha, that while there are something on the order of 50 million Christmas trees in the high country, Mr. T is convinced that we have to be FIRST to get one, or the perfect one will be gone.

Hey, I'm only the wife here.

He's into Christmas in a big, big, BIG way. You'd think he channels Martha Stewart.

I decorate the tree (the one we will cut) in the living room and the mantel in the den and put the wreath on the front door. He puts 12 minature trees along the front walk, 2 four-foot trees flanking the front door and the Moravian star, decorates the four-foot tree in the den, and puts the Snow Village stuff on a four by eight foot piece of plywood in the sunroom. Oh, and he puts lighted wreaths on each of the six front windows.

At this house, Christmas is a marathon. My job is to survive.

Posted by: slyness | November 10, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

OK, this is probably overdoing things a bit. I understand that there's heightened attention to Metro's escalators at the moment, but do we really need a front-page notice every time some clumsy person trips & falls?

Posted by: bobsewell | November 10, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

That missile was no contrail, it was an SOS signal from Carnival Cruise Line's ship, Splendor, after the Coast Guard and Navy delivered pop tarts and Spam to passengers on the dead-in-the-water vessel about 140 miles from Ensenada! *l*

My husband and I had to run errands to the business district along Interstate 10 Monday evening. We were driving along Prue Road, and had just crossed at the light at Babcock. Then, the sight began to become apparent on the two-lane road. Cars as far as the eye could see. I glanced at the car's digital clock: 6:14 p.m. My husband glanced at the mileage since the light: half mile. Still the cars were packed and backed far ahead. All the way to Network, now a mile. I wonder if Mayor Julian Castro knows about this? Does our young mayor drive around city streets during the rush commute to see for himself the sad situation on city byways?

I figured for the cars at the end of the line, it must take anywhere from 10 to 12 traffic light changes for the last car in line to make it across Babcock. Of course, since this route is inside Loop 1604 and parallels it, it's just flight from the choaking traffic along what is supposed to be a freeway.

The only time I drove into or out of Boston was to retrieve or return the rental car. All the other days I headed to Boston, I rode commuter rail, not inexpensive. The T's cheap, but during peak periods never have I had so many body parts press or mesh against other individuals' body parts. The comparison to a can of sardines understates the closeness.

There were empty seats on the commuter rail. For part of the route, the rail line's tracks paralleled the T's tracks. From both, you could look out on Highway 93 leading into south Boston. What was the viewer to behold? Incredible gridlock, cars bumper to bumper in all the lanes, traffic moving no faster than 5 m.p.h. To the keen observer, what was immediately apparent was that most of those cars held but one person--the driver. What sense of entitlement we must have to think that each of us has the right to own a vehicle, many of which gulp gas in guzzling quantities.

Had dinner at our local Red Lobster last week. Our young waiter, Dane, has a brother, 12 years older, who was just promoted to senior vice presient of an advertising agency in Boston, with a string of last names as the title of the agency. His brother just moved to a converted carriage house in Newtown, west of Boston. His brother was given a $500 parking spot as one of the perks of his new postition, yet complains about the traffic. When I offered that commuter rail serves Newtown, the young waiter replied, "But it's a $500 a month parking spot!"

Some of you rush toward Christmas--I have no idea why. When we were hiking last Friday at Lost Maples State Park, one of the trio of hikers in front of us had a prosthetic arm, having touble with his heavy, bulky overnight pack. Recall that tomorrow is Veteran's Day.

Posted by: laloomis | November 10, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Because of a severe attack of sanity, nobody seemed to much care when he/she said it, but it rankles, so:

Shadowsmgc mentioned last night the canard that oil has always leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, implying that any distress over the Deepwater Horizon should be limited to concern for the workers who were killed (which is certainly a legitimate concern) and the economic losses of the lost oil and, presumably, that wicked moratorium on new drilling. Two things:

(1) Rate matters. I need to drink water every day of my life, but I don't want my lifetime supply of water delivered to me all at once.
(2) That particular oil reservoir was reached by drilling 13000 feet beneath the sea bed (more than 2 miles). I doubt that that particular reservoir had been seeping into the Gulf.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse


First graf:
Three years after the Greenbush train made its inaugural run, ridership on the $534 million commuter rail extension is far below the MBTA’s projections, and those who do take it are more likely to be former passengers of the T’s own commuter boats than motorists lured away from the South Shore’s congested highways.

Middle grafs:

They attribute the recent drop in ridership to the recession, which wiped out thousands of jobs in downtown Boston, and they say the line is an essential amenity ffor what had been the last suburban region without passenger rail to the city.

One-way fares on the Greenbush line cost $4.75 to $6.75, with monthly passes ranging from $151 to $223, depending on which of the seven stations passengers board from. Parking runs $4 a day. Those who do take Greenbush commend its convenience and ease and wonder why there are so many empty seats.

I choked on the $4 a day parking fee. I found it easier to park at some distance and walk a quarter mile or more, even if I had to do it in complete darkness--morning or night. Even then, I had to pay for two transportation systems--both rail and T to get where I was going. One of the biggest expenses of my recent trip was transportation. Add to the calculation, however, that Boston's streets, as they are laid out, make absolutely no sense.

Did anyone catch Rex Tillerson's remark yesterday during the Oil Spill Commission hearing that within a few years, deep-water drilling will account for 20 percent of the total amount of oil that we'll consume, up from 15 percent currently?

Note: I figure the Greenbush station is, in all likelihood, on distant great-granddaddy Stockbridge's land, since his gristmill, still preserved and still operable, is just a stone's throw from the Greenbush commuter rail station. I heard all about the controversy in building this Greenbush line within days of arriving Boston, thanks to the young waitress, who, on her first day of work at the iconic Durgin Park, filled us in on the long battle.

Ridership on Boston T's Silver Line, improved with stimulus funds, is a different story:

Posted by: laloomis | November 10, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Why rush Christmas, because, "it's the most wonderful time of the year".

Instead of rushing the season, I like to consider it savouring the season. January to march, are cold, snow, slush, grey skies. I take a long christmas to enjoy the colour while I can.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know whether Ensco ever completed its planned move of its corporate headquarters from Dallas to London...since Ensco was in the news yesterday vis-a-vis Judge Feldman's courtroom in New Orleans?

Another question I have: What's the regulatory environment like for deep-water drilling in England and the Netherlands, since these two countries serve as home base to two international oil firms?

Posted by: laloomis | November 10, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I tend to agree with the Boss that Snidely Whiplash was not on the rig. I don't know how simple greed is, but I would not deny that some not-overly complicated form of it was indeed involved.

I said recently that I can't write science fiction. Even so, I have one story that wants me to write it. I burned up the morning doing research. I'm horrified my math and geometry skills are so rusty. My stubborn insistence to convert metric to English doesn't help the process but helps me get a feel for the realities of my (necessarily scientific) plot. For example, I never converted g to miles per hour per second. It's a lot. 47 mph per second. If I did that right.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 10, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

And autumn and fall, with a host of warm colors, is colorless? Wow, if I'm wrong, someone knock me up the side of my head with an artist's palette and many tubes of oil or acrylic paint--anise green, cinnabar green, carmine, burnt sienna, Venetian red, orange and yellow ochres, to name only a few.

Posted by: laloomis | November 10, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

January to March is not Autumn.

Posted by: Moose13 | November 10, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Well, I think they should be, somewhere. If January-to-March can be Winter in the Arctic, and Summer in the Antarctic, there should be someplace in the middle where they can be Autumn. And Spring.

I'm gonna put DeMint & Palin to work on this.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 10, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Jumper, I found this master's thesis, dated 2007, by what I think is a young Norwegian lass (said as a non-Norwegian speaker) titled "Risk Assessment of Underbalanced and Managed Pressure Drilling Operations."

If you look in the guts of the paper, she found, in her survey, two past examples of problems with managed pressure wells, but none with underbalanced wells. Is the Macondo well, Jumper, the first of its kind, employing underbalanced drilling techniques that had this type of drilling accident, not to mention the extent of the accident? I figure if anyone here in the Boodle knows, you might, Jumper.

Interesting that the young Norwegian graduate student's contact here in the United States for her thesis was Melinda Mayes, Chief, Accident Investigation Board, MMS. Wonder if Mayes still is currently in the same position with MMS/BOEMRE? Mayes' profile is here (International Regulators Forum), but one has to scroll down.

Melinda Mayes currently serves as the Chief, Accident Investigation Board, of the Minerals Management Service in Herndon, Virginia. The Board is responsible for overseeing MMS's programs for investigating offshore accidents and analyzing accident data. The Board works with both Regional and District offices to establish appropriate policies and procedures for accident investigation and data management.

Ms. Mayes has worked for MMS for 18 years, including work in the Pacific Regional office in the areas of offshore facility plan review, coordination with State and local agencies, and offshore development and unitization. Before coming to MMS, she worked for 7 years as a Petroleum Geologist for ARCO Oil and Gas Company in Texas and Colorado.

For the heck of it:

Posted by: laloomis | November 10, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Rescue arrives! Spam delivered to Carnival cruise ship:

If only the Death Tax were in place, mass suicide among the more well-heeled cruisers ("As God is my witness, I shall never eat Spam again!") could produce a real windfall for the Federal budget. Alas, another opportunity missed by the Democrats. I blame Obama, the bat-rastard.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I think it's around 22, Jumper.

9.8m per second per second
=32 feet per sec per sec
=115200 feet per hour per sec
=22 miles per hour per sec

So, yes, you're off by a factor of 2 or so, but still - don't go falling off a roof or anything, okay?

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 10, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

January to March is not Christmas either.

There's New Year's, Martin Luther King Junior Day, Inauguration Day (every four years), Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, Deep Discounts by Most Retailers Weekends, Presidents' Day (though I prefer President's Days), St. Patrick's Day, sometimes Easter. *l*

Posted by: laloomis | November 10, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Good point, Bob. LOL

Posted by: Moose13 | November 10, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

There are some 35,000 escalators in America which cause about 6,000 injuries a year and an average of two fatalities annually. 75% of the injuries are the results of falls.

So about 17% of elevators cause an injury in any given year and your chance of being injured on any given escalator ride are one in 17 million. If an escalator ride takes about one minute, you could ride an escalator for 33 years continuously and expect to be injured once.

***Insert standard lecture about the human inability to correctly assess risk.***

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

New Year's Day falls within Christmas.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 10, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I come up with the same numbers as byoolin.

To put it in layman's perspective, if you fall off a 16 foot high roof, neglecting wind resistance, it takes you one second to hit the ground and you are doing 22 miles per hour at the moment of impact.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Jumper, if you think that's hard, back in the day we used to have to convert cubits to furlongs. And I cannot tell you what a constant hassle it was getting Newton, Pascal and Joules to stop making up new units of measurement named newtons, pascals and joules. (At first, Isaac wanted to measure gravity as apples per treetrunk.) Ohm was another guy who wouldn't listen, but at least "ohm" was nice and short. Both Bernoullis were troublemakers, too.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

***Insert standard lecture about the human inability to correctly assess risk.***

Posted by: yellojkt


This should be especially applicable to the two people who find themselves being killed by their escalators.

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 10, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

It would be fair to be concerned about whether some escalators may be repeat offenders. Recidivism is a serious problem in that community. Or so I hear. Not that I'm a bigot, mind you, and I certainly wouldn't want to suggest that all escalators are killers. But, you can't deny, it was escalators that killed those two people. Whenever I see a stairway that's moving, well, I got to tell you, I start to get a little worried, a little nervous.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

It's the few bad escalators that spoil it for all the well-behaved perfectly safe escalators. And the people who wear Crocs on an escalator are just asking for it anyways.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

(not gone yet)

slyness, I understand. My sister (M. from Ashland) is called affectionately "Martha, jr." for her preparations for Christmas and other holidays. Mercifully she's working this year in Paris for Limoges designing china patterns. Brother-in-law called me the other day and said "Hope you're not planning on coming down for turkey 'cause I'm meeting M. in Salzburg that weekend". Aw, gee!

I'm planning on having the first Thanksgiving in 12 years when I.Don't.Have.To.Do.Umpph! Hooray, and I truly mean it. I'm thinking Thai, not turkey.

Wow ... an entire hour elapsed since I wrote the above.

My son signed the papers yesterday for his very first home and slept his very first night in his own home. I just spent an hour on the phone with him as he did a "walk-around", elated description of his new abode. 1930s original-owner (whose son sold to my son) custom built in the redwoods. Wood, slate-roof, basement, open mainfloor, 2nd level with 2 beds, ladder-access aerie. Decks on two sides, two stone fireplaces, one opening onto outside.

He said he went outside at sunset last night and hugged one of the redwoods ... then went inside and slept better than he'd slept in years.

I don't know about anyone else here, but for this momhead, who raised a free-flying, vagabond, it's sweet music. He said, "Now when I come off the road, momhead, I'll have a home to come home to."

*big smile*

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

And slyness, have I mentioned before that you are a saint? Well, you are.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

talitha -- what a lovely story! Congratulations to the both of you.

And, well, Mudge, I gotta tell ya that when I read your 11:35 post, what immegitly leapt into my head was "Hey, Joules, don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it be-ehe-ter."

Etc., etc., etc.

And now that tune cootie is still with me, as I write yet another pleading. Not fair, I tell ya!!

Posted by: ftb3 | November 10, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Purge that Hey Jude toon-cootie .....

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Well done, talitha, well done.

Raising a son who appreciates a good house, I mean. *HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSS* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 10, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Get son a hard hat for wearing in the yard on windy days. You never know what might fall from tall trees. I'm starting to wonder about the laurel oaks in my own yards.

What a fantastic first house. Mine was a Levittown-style little place in a small town that nevertheless has Google Street View. The place is looking fine.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 10, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Dave, my neighbor's really cute dog is on Google street view. Unlike with people who get pictured, the dog does not have her face blurred.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 10, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

talitha, congratulations! Very exciting!

I'm working from home today and now am sadly looking around my suddenly cramped-feeling studio apartment.

badsneakers, what say we finish up with this rain, eh? I've 'bout decided that I'm done with the dreariness.

Posted by: cowhand214 | November 10, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

That sounds like a really cool house.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The risk of riding escalators has to be compared to the risk involved using other means of vertical travel. I mean elevators, parachuting, bannister gliding, ladders and bungee jumping aren't exactly risk-free.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 10, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

*Mumbling in sleep*
Yes Otter, more oysters, please--
All the salmon, too...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Kibble for breakfast
can be... so disappointing.
I want my dream back.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

talitha, congrats to your son! I love looking around my house and going "Wow, I actually get to live here. How cool is that?" It's been a month and it's not old yet (food magazine pics on the wall notwithstanding). It's a great feeling.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | November 10, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of free-falling bodies here is a 450 kg/210 L (990lbs/55usg) steel drum contacting a steel plate after a free fall of 9m/30ft. Final velocity should be around 13.3m/s (30mph/26 knots for you old salty dogs).
Why would they do that? Scotty doesn't get the extra points even if he answers correctly before looking at the vid.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 10, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Twenty seven people a year are killed by elevator-related accidents in the U.S.

Over half of elevator fatalities are caused by falling down open shafts into the pit (remember, 22 mph per second). Not that big a risk with escalators.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

As someone who is known to fall whether going up or down stairs, we should not overlook the danger of stairs!

talitha, congrats to your son, and to you for doing such a good job raising him.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I always think of that song, too, whenever I hear about Joules, ftb. Also, my oldest grandkid is name Julianna, and is often called Jewels or Jules, or however you want to spell it. So yes, when I hear Joules I always think of G#1. But of course "jewels" is the most appropriate reading of that word. My wife dislikes that nickname and refuses to use it, but I love it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. Boy I miss a Boodle day and it is like a week of regular time.
I missed fencing references!
MsJS has a clean bill of health!
Talitha's Boy has a crafty house!
VL is hiring a river to have a party for otters, to whom the guests will serve grits!
dbG is sending her computer on vacation!

I like yellojkt's engineering maxims.

I also agree with RD's assessment of the disastrahoochie - would that it were as simple as some Very Bad People. Life so seldom is.
Thanks, Joel, for sticking with the story in the Boodle.

Next week I will attend a three-day conference on municipal governance. Over the last few days I've been perusing a 200-page background document. The Boy has been puny and wanted a story last night to send him to sleep. In my best storytelling voice, I gave him a few minutes on the peculiarities of Oklahoma municipal finance, tax-increment-finance districts, the reliance on sales tax as a disincentive to good economic development, infrastructure, and mandates both funded and unfunded. It worked like a charm.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 10, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

Great news, talitha, and slyness, you're an amazing person.

Was doing a little 'net sniffing in my spare time and intercepted a txt message downloading from a comm satelite: "... a shock going from warm SoCal to the cold of LEO. View is better than the IMAX ISS flick - Ivan, thanks for the big window. Owe you some extra share. They bought the airplane contrail story? Great! Board is green for TLI burn at 15:23 UMT, next images will have me posing on the Eagle descent stage and planting the flag. Notify the lawyers to start the Emienent (sp) Domain proceedings. And to get rich. Will contact after TLI. Out, Mjr Tom ;)"


Posted by: -bc- | November 10, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Joel, you might need to get right on this one. From the NYT:

"Bubbles of Energy Are Found in Galaxy


"Something big is going on at the center of the galaxy, and astronomers are happy to say they don’t know what it is.

"A group of scientists working with data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope said Tuesday that they had discovered two bubbles of energy erupting from the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The bubbles, they said at a news conference and in a paper to be published Wednesday in The Astrophysical Journal, extend 25,000 light years up and down from each side of the galaxy and contain the energy equivalent to 100,000 supernova explosions.

“They’re big,” said Doug Finkbeiner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, leader of the team that discovered them.

"The source of the bubbles is a mystery. One possibility is that they are fueled by a wave of star births and deaths at the center of the galaxy. Another option is a gigantic belch from the black hole known to reside, like Jabba the Hutt, at the center of the Milky Way. What it is apparently not is dark matter, the mysterious something that astronomers say makes up a quarter of the universe and holds galaxies together."

We may have to replace String Theory with Bubble Theory. I kinda like a universe made of bubbles. It sounds like a happy place. Strings, not so much. Bubble Theory allows for the possibility that at the center of the universe sits a large rubber ducky. Which I would be okay with.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The chance of an escalator accident is far less than the chance of someone being hit by lightning. Those who are unwilling to accept even the slightest chance of something going wrong stand at the bottom of the escalator and never get anything done. Every day of our lives things just happen on Metro. Why is this so difficult for people to accept? Death is just around the corner you are destined for the inevitable. Get on with your life and avoid living in fear. Taking the stairs can help get you out of the fear box.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 10, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Tiny bubbles.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all. "My father thanks you ... my mother thanks you ... my sister thanks you ........ "

By the by, Dragonhead knows not to end a declarative with a preposition but he was so excited that he said I could quote him anyway to the Boodle. He knows and respects you all from my references and occasional links. (Said when he's set up soon he'd like to post a line someday if boodlers didn't mind. Would you?)

If I may reflect. It really is an extraordinary moment when (I'm 58, dragon is 34) your child, "bestest friend", crazy cohabitant, admired and often too-far-away man-of-all-continents in life shares, with joy and relief, moments like dragon shared today. I felt honored.

I'll never gloss over how hard it was sometimes to raise him alone after his dad died ... it was tough, not a lot of money. But we had so many funny and enlightening times, especially with his paternal grandmother (a story I will share at a BPH someday - CBS correspondant with Murrow during WWll, diplomat's wife), and with dragon's amazing entourage of friends over the years as he grew. Once he became a man, months flew with no word ... but my trust in him truly left me without consternation. I sometimes marvel at that.

I'm lucky to have such a kind, crazy and enlightened son as a friend, aren't I?

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse


But whose shirts does he wear?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I suspect that that those bubbles are from all the black hole radiation at the center of the galaxy, as the piece theorizes.

Still, theories that the 'verse is comprised of 'bubbles' have been tossed around for decades -- IIRC John Wheeler devised theories around 'bubbles' of subatomic spacetime fluctuations comprising a "quantum foam" back in the 1950s. Tiny bubbles, indeed.

"Bubble universes" is a term also used to describe seemingly co-extant timelines and multiple cosmic universal inflations on a variety of scales to visualize Hugh Everett's (a student of Wheeler's) Many-Worlds Interpretations theories dating from the '50s as well. Other theories use Cosmic Bubbles as descriptors as well, including various multiverse brane theories.

I wrote an Acheblog guest Kit about Multiple Worlds Interpretations a couple of years ago; those so inclined can Google it.

Interesting to think of God as Mr. Bubble.


Posted by: -bc- | November 10, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Not rubber ducky flatulance, bc? I'm kinda disappointed.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Floam is at the centre of the universe.

For those whose children are not quite as young as mine,

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

It's the Cosmic Hookah, dude. It bubbles when the Big Guy takes a toke.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 10, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

So, is that anything like Bubble Wrap Theory? Perhaps SciTim would like to weigh in on this. *I* think that bubble wrap is the bestest thing on the planet (ours or the universe's vast array of planets and planet pretenders). Imagine how much more energy can be obtained if we were all required to pop enough bubbles to heat/AC our homes for our existence, along with our other energy powered needs. I *love* popping bubble wrap. . . . .sorta gets all that tension out, too.

Imom -- great ploy. Last week I sent a couple of motions for a client to review before filing and suggested to him if the 3-year-old is fussy about going to bed, then a "reading of the pleading" would work wonders. So, does he have what you had? *faxing chicken soup-it can't hurt-to the Boy*

While I need AC during the summer to remain human (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), during the winter I hardly ever put the heat on. Already my hands feel like sandpaper, the air is so dry. Humidifiers are a pain in the veritables for me to use, as they require regular cleaning and filter changes, etc. I just live with it and drink a lot of fluids to stay hydrated, which I do generally.

Time to get back to the grindstone. Toodley Boodley till anon.

Posted by: ftb3 | November 10, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

USA Today is on another Overpaid Gummint Workers Tirade:

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

talitha, I believe I can speak for boodle in saying we'd love to hear from the dragon. He sounds like he'd be an excellent boodler in his own right, but he's got the extra plus of family ties to a well-loved member of the crew. I always enjoy glimpses of family members, whether ScienceSpouse, SonofG, Kerrick (where's he been lately?) or the Boy.

Posted by: -bia- | November 10, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Just for fun, music in the subway - Paul Potts - What a Wonderful World.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

What about us on SS working nights as custodians to get by, do we get a raise? Nooooooo!
And I paid the Max for over thirty years of my working life.

Posted by: bh72 | November 10, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure Mr. Ho and Mr. Welk would be very happy about the Fermi findings...

You know what real journalists call USATODAY (pronounced yoos-a-toady), yello?



Posted by: Scottynuke | November 10, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Talitha, the house sounds wonderful. I hope dragon will enjoy it, and I also hope he will post. If he's your kid, he has to be a great guy, and one we will enjoy.

Posted by: slyness | November 10, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Paul Potts that horrible bloody dictator of Cambodia? Or am I thinking of somebody else?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

My thoughts on USATODAY aside, I'd be fine with no raise this year, given the lack of inflation. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 10, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

yello, you'd have to ask him yourself if you can, but I'd bet on Arrows.

Mudge, when I think about ExtraTerrestrial methane, SciTim comes to mind. Good guy to ask about that.

As great as it would be to associate ekpyrotic universal theory and methane-driven cosmic inflation, that one really doesn't work, cosmologically speaking.

In the Beginning, God didn't say "Pull my finger."


Posted by: -bc- | November 10, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

If the Big Bang was the Big F@rt, what does that make *us*?

Is the fabric of the Universe actually Charmin?

Aren't you glad I'm here to ask the Big Questions?


Posted by: -bc- | November 10, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Talitha, congrats to your son on his first house, it sounds wonderful. And congrats to you as well, sounds like you did an excellent job raising him. Isn't it nice to feel like a friend to your grown child(ren).

Mudge, you're in rare form today. I-mom, I like your tactic, could you send me a recording of your reading, it sounds much better than OTC pills. Cowhand, yes, this weather has worn out its welcome, I'm layered up and still chilly.

Got out of work an hour early and very glad as I haven't been feeling quite myself lately - slight nausea, headachey and sorta listless. Going to try a nap and see if it helps as soon as I finish my ginger tea.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 10, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Now these are some shoes:

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

bc --

are you sure?

Posted by: nellie4 | November 10, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

look like genuwine high heeled sneakers to me.

Posted by: bh72 | November 10, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

nellie, that's wonderful. I didn't even need to look at that link - as soon as I read "are you sure?" you reminded me of the Sistine Chapel.

All of Creation, borne (born?) on broken winds.

Great pull, as it were.


Posted by: -bc- | November 10, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

It occurs to me that, cosmologically speaking, that our "local" (meaning this solar system) deity, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) derives in a Joseph Campbelly kind of way from String Theory (string = spaghetti). Further, the FSM could be the local manifestation of the much larger Bubble-Theory-Enabled "Giant Ribber Ducky" at the center of the universe, reinterpreted to meet parochial conditions (the existence of pasta on the third rock from the sun).

Consider: Both are creatures said to "fly," which is what one would expect from a heavens-born theological construct.

There has been much speculation as the whether the universe expands or contracts (or both). Such a construct would be easily facilitated by a large creature with inflatable properties, such as a rubber duck. (However, a Macy's Thanksgiving Day float would also accomplish these purposes, if it possessed avian qualities and aeronautical properties, in order to rule out, say, penquins or auks.)

I agree with bc that methane presents a cosmological problem. However, I beleive I have a solution. Methane is just CH4 (pretend the 4 is subscripted). Which is to say, four molecules of hydrogen and one of carbon. Now, we all know that hydrogen is the one basic building block of the universe. So where did the hydrogen come from? Let us speculate that the intense temperature of the Big Bang "charred" the outside of clumps of primordial hydrogen much the same way as carbon magically appears on clumps of diced potatoes when I am grilling them out on my deck on my BBQ grill. Thus, methane is charred ("grilled") methane clusters fused together during the Big Bang.

From Wikipedia we laern that methane is the simplest alkane, which is a saturated hydrocarbon. Saturated with what? you mask. The most product is PAM for Grilling, although it could also be something as simple as EVOO, which is an electron and a volton fused to two oxygen molecules.

We learn further from wiki that:

"linear (general formula CnH2n + 2) wherein the carbon atoms are joined in a snake-like structure; [meaning, of course, grilled rattlesnake, which tastes like chicken, and similar reptilionic protein foods such as mozzarella sticks, etc.)

"branched (general formula CnH2n + 2, n > 3) wherein the carbon backbone splits off in one or more directions; [here the word branched does not indicate a bifurcated structure so much as it indicates fruits and nuts that grown on trees]

And "cyclic (general formula CnH2n, n > 2) wherein the carbon backbone is linked so as to form a loop."

Note that in every case, even as these structures get more and more complicated and advanced, what they all have in come are charred carbon atoms fused to clumps of hydrogen like a rack of spare ribs I unfortunately left unattended one afternoon. Thus, for example, isobutane, C4H10, four charred carbon atoms stuck to no less than 10 hydrogen fingerlings.

See, it all makes sense.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Mudge: Surprised you didn't note the 35th anniversery of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald today. No witch of November in evdidence around here today, but I understand that they've already had some really rough weather up in Gitchigoomi land.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 10, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant, Mudge. I understand everything now. The universe is made of - or was made by - or is benignly ruled on behalf of - large tasty hydrocarbon waterfowl with aeronautical pasta properties.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 10, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Bubbles? Cosmic bath tub or cosmic stripper pole?

Posted by: LostInThought | November 10, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Hello boodle! Have been lurking all day in between chores. Otters as waitstaff seems like a bad idea. They'd quickly push "regular" Americans out of most tip dependent service industry jobs as they are just so darn energetic and cute.

slyness-words don't come close.
dbG-enjoy the vacation!!
talitha-congrats on parenting a homeowner.

Headed to see the 'rents in Newport News tomorrow. Will be there for my birthday on Sat. The big 50. Just might have to do something foolish, but not too.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 10, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to mention-Edmund Fitzgerald ceremony at Split Rock Light House

This also marks the end of the year long celebration of the Light's hundredth year.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 10, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Have a memorable birthday frosti.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

bh, not only are Social Security recipients not getting a COLA increase again next year, the Simpson-Bowles report (i.e., the Catfood Commission) thinks Social Security and Medicaid should be cut by 70% eventually, and retirement age raised to 70. They're not totally heartless, though, they want to reduce the upper tier income taxes from 35% to 24%. So - tax cuts for the rich by slashing benefits to the poor.

Andrew Sullivan thinks it's a great idea which Obama should embrace. And he's not kidding.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | November 10, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Hoppy Birdies, frosti!

talitha, congrats to the offspring's homeownership.

slyness, you rock (as always).

dbG, have fun. You've earned it.

As I reread the kit, the "one of the great lions of the bar" reference reminded me of this from the 1990s in the UK.

Posted by: MsJS | November 10, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of one of my favorite songs, I noted the existence of an Edmund Fitzgerald beer on my recent business trip. Sadly, one of my tripmates was unaware of the tale and I had to relate the song to him. Lucky for him, I spoke the lyrics. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 10, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Whew! The loom and I were hot ... still have to tie off and fuller the rug. (thank the skies I'm not dbG, or she I, else neither of us would know what the funk we were doing!)

About to do serious backboodlin' - the gentle swift kick in the reminder to keep thinking about the things your friends think about, even when you might have a s'more or martini one way or the other!

But a swift run-through brought to my eyes and into my heart your kind wishes for the dragonhead. It's a rare gift when one is bestowed with such kind and generous wishes as you folk have given to my son today. On his behalf, I thank you. I'll pass them on to him.

*pause* I'm crying too hard to say what your messages to me mean, so blubbbleryawrouh blubbyery.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Byoolin and yellowjkt. I wish I could reciprocate.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 10, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

While it's certainly true that I should never under any circumstances sing "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" (or anything else, really) in front of other humans, I'm not sure I could actually speak the lyrics without slipping into some grotesque approximation of song.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 10, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I haven't read the fine print of the catfood commission, but don't they cut all rates and do it by eliminating many of the biggest deductions? I'd likely be for something like that, even if it cost me personally.

Posted by: baldinho | November 10, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Just hum along, Bob. Since my voice, which was low-tenor even when I was eleven, deepened over the years I just pitched it an octave lower and sang harmony ... or hummed. Only the kids in the congregation ever remark. The adults are too polite-southerenists to say a word or too tone-deaf to care.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

When I wrote "congregation", I didn't mean church. Any gathering of doo-dahs, wild screamers, beatledoodles, yahoo-even-if-you-didn't-mean-to sing and prance or joing a hallelujah chorus can sing.

Snap your fingers or whistle?
Clap your hands?
Tinkerbell might show up and then you could fly.

Posted by: talitha1 | November 10, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, I am behind in my dedication-faxing, sooooo:

*faxing tons of great and good wishes to frosti on her 50th -- such a terrific decade, my dear. I hope you enjoy the hell out of it*

*faxing even more respect for you than it is conceivable to have, slyness -- that, and profound thanks from the humankind (if I may be spokesperson for a moment)for your incomparable generosity*

*faxing hugs to Mudgekins and Snukeums, just 'cuz*

*to talitha, I fax you whatever may "loom" in your future -- all good, of course*

A special shout out to Yoki -- dearheart, I just got my latest Coldwater Creek catalog, and who should be on the cover but two (count 'em, TWO) Bernese Mountain Doggies. One of them is VL and the other is VS (well, as VS as a BMD can possibly be). Adorable and cute does not even *begin* to describe them. Thought of you immegitly, yanno?

Posted by: ftb3 | November 10, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

The Catfood Commission seems to be advocating something akin to a Flat Tax. And while I am all for a much more simplified tax code, it is no surprise that the two biggest fans of flat taxes have been Ross Perot and Steve Forbes, guys with a lot to gain from a low marginal rate.

They are also able to pay off the mortgage if the interest is no longer deductible. Since mortgage interest is the one defining advantage of home ownership now that ever increasing equity levels are no longer assured, the blow to the real estate market would be inestimable.

It strikes me as curious that all the tax measures currently being proposed are rather advantageous to the ultra-wealthy, a bracket which is currently seriously undertaxed by historical standards.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I did not know the animals on the Coldwater Creek catalogue were Bernese Mountain Beasts. Very handsome.

I forgot to add to the chorus of admiration for slyness. It is seldom one finds such selflessness once. Twice -- well.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 10, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Have a good Half Century this weekend, fb. They only come around ever five decades or so.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Aahh, yes, we've got a passel of recent & upcoming half-centuries, don't we? Next April for me.

Posted by: Bob-S | November 10, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I like the concept of a flattish tax, after deducting an amount per family member that is similar to a seriously frugal but not ridiculously ascetic lifestyle. Say, $5k per family member, then tax the rest at something like 40%. Obviously, the deduction would have to change with time, according to cost of living. In principle, it should make Republicans happy -- you make more money, you get to keep more money, in a very reasonable and predictable way; and, it should make Democrats happy, because it actually protects the income of the less wealthy and is overtly a progressive taxation system. The progressive character, of course, guarantees that it could never pass Congress.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Them's the ones! The VL one looks a bit like my Gus (only not as handsome), and the VS is almost as pretty as Libby. To be fair and balanced, not all BMDs are that gorgeous, but they are all eminently huggable.

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I think I meant to throw a "Happy Birthday, Frosti!" somewhere in there. ;-}

Posted by: Bob-S | November 10, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes. Packing the computer up for the trip and trying not to think too much about Ma Frostbitten's macaroni hotdish. It's nothing special, except that it is the one thing I really want to eat whenever I am "home" with the 'rents.

Later gators, and happy Veterans Day in case I'm not on the boodle tomorrow.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 10, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Any real tax change should do something to prevent the horrific tax gerrymandering that has gotten us to where we are. I earlier suggested some type of collar that raised all brackets or lowered all brackets at any change. Once we set an acceptable progressive system up, we shouldn't pander so much and change it so frequently.

I am no expert on the alternative minimum tax. The one thing I am certain is that everyone hates it. To me, that means it probably is doing what it was meant to do... prevent huge deductions from saving people who make a decent amount of money from paying relatively little in taxes.

I realize it was set up to only hit the top few earners and now it hits many more. Isn't that the point of it, though? Is it not super progressive? That would seem good to me.

The issue is it now hits the political donation classes hard. That is hard for many politicians to take.

Posted by: baldinho | November 10, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I've always called the AMT the Back Door Flat Tax. Since it is not indexed to inflation, a greater and greater percentage of the population gets hit by it. Most analyses of tax rates neglect to account for the effect of FICA including the employer contribution. This makes for the highest marginal rate on those just under the $100k +/- per individual income FICA limit.

FICA is also a hidden dual income earner tax since two people making $75k each pay much more in FICA than a couple with a $150k breadwinner and a non-outside-employed spouse.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Having just read the catfood commission summary in the NYT & Wapo it's OK for me. Don't earn enough to tax. I'm hitting the 25th decade so SS changes won't hit me. We rent and think too much is spent on protecting us from unseen enemies. (where are those submarine missiles aimed?)
ATM, our CPA has been clawing back all the ATM paid in past good earning years via some tax law change never heard of but grateful for. (ending on a preposition) But that's just me. I voted dem all my life but something has to change for the future.

Posted by: bh72 | November 10, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I hope you've had a wonderful birthday, Frosti, and I hope you have a safe trip!

Gotta go back and take a good look at the new Coldwater Creek catalogue cover...

Why don't people understand that if you want the services, you have to pay for them somehow? I do not get the selfishness of keeping everything for oneself. The cult of the individual has gone far too far in this country.

Thanks for the kind words, everyone, but I certainly believe each and every one of you would do the same, given the opportunity.

Posted by: slyness | November 10, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Lit, Scotty, yello and PJ, don't forget to make your football picks , at least for tomorrow's Balmer Ravens game, by 8 p.m. or so.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if I leave someone out here, but HBD, Frosti! Slyness! You're the best!

Thanks for the kind words. My laptop will be flying tomorrow morning at 7:50 AM, so I'll need to leave the house around 5:20 AM to see it off. What was I thinking?

Still have more to do. I should have taken off 2 days prior instead of just one. Will try to keep up on mobile personal devices, but if anyone needs a quick answer, e-mail me.

Have a wonderful week, all!

Posted by: -dbG- | November 10, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Forgot a couple of things I'm disappointed in the catfood commission report. It didn't recommend a tax clawback provision of federal alcohol tax paid on scotch and gin and an investment tax credit on the purchase of wide screen TV's. We need one for the bedroom where I will soon be spending most of my days.

Posted by: bh72 | November 10, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reminder, Mudge. I'm still not used to these Thursday night games.

The bio for the guy who covers college football for USA Today says that he remembers when all of the New Year's Day games were actually played on New Year's Day. I remember that, too, and I liked it.

Posted by: -pj- | November 10, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Let me add to the proclamations of awesomeness for our slyness. I have a hard time having my blood drawn, so not sure I could do the donor procedure - twice. You are doing a wonderful thing. (Also, sometime you should watch the Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes when Larry is called upon to be a kidney donor. He is not awesome.)

dbG, have a great time. Turn off your devices.

frosti, Happy Birthday!

Got a few hysterical messages from progessive organizations about the Social Security commission. From the little I've read, it seems ok to me - at least the age changes are far, far away so they don't affect me or my kid.

Our fabulous baseball announcer, Dave Niehaus, has passed away. He was a treasure:

Posted by: seasea1 | November 10, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Wishing you a wonderfully happy birthday Frosti.

#2 has a friend/neighbor who raises BMDs and she recently posted pics on FB of her newest litter. They are the cutest things ever, and the grown ones are gorgeous too. Maybe some day when we're retired...

Made it thru a make-up dancing class without feeling any worse, so maybe I'm successfully fighting off this little virus or whatever it is. We've been fortunate to find a great teaching couple. They pack a lot of learning into an hour lesson.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 10, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Good column on Veterans Day by Rick Steves:

My kiddo is off tomorrow to visit NYC for a few days. Hope he has a fun time back East.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 10, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the tiara reminder. I had to get the monkey to throw his darts.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Biopics, biomusicals. The Art Museum's film class is now into five films that are promised to be "anti biopics". Tuesday was "Warm Springs", an HBO TV production starring the astounding Kenneth Branagh as FDR from when he caught polio (or whatever) to nominating Smith at the 1928 convention. I was tearjerked and moved.

Biomusical today. "Cagney!" It's fairly formulaic, kept going by an excellent Cagney, one Robert Creighton. He's done the show in West Palm Beach and Drayton, Ontario, etc. Having seen the production, I think I realize that Cagney's a much better subject than most of his contemporaries would have been.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 11, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

Goodness, gracious, much repetition, must be a wpo infection, but the boodle comments are all worthwhile, like tiny bubbles, rising up through the night....

It's just grand to wake up early enough to be part of the dawn patrol, again.

Takes you to pictures, including dear river otters.

Hmm, there's a seafood cooking class comin' up later which I really would enjoy. Years ago I learned to make lace cornbread down in Nag's Head at the restaurant with the barefoot watresses. It was located just before the Manteo Bridge. Easiest recipe, do you all want it? Lots of splattered grease involved :-)

Posted by: VintageLady | November 11, 2010 6:02 AM | Report abuse

The Oasis Restaurant

Posted by: VintageLady | November 11, 2010 6:23 AM | Report abuse

in another lifetime i worked for several years in a petrochemical plant. we made adhesives, various specialty fuels, asphalt coloring agents, etc. i pulled unconscious men--overcome by poisonous gases--out of tanks and loaded them into ambulances and watched other men be told to 'get in there...i need this tank by the end of the day' by the foremen. when i was told to enter unsafe areas, i exercised my union protections and punched out early, thereby earning myself a three-day suspension without pay. safety? over money? that was my choice, but it was never the company's choice. we were expendable. the product was more valuable. my hunch is little has changed. only problem is you can't punch out and go home when you are on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean.

my most heartfelt salute to all veterans everywhere. thank you for all you have done for us.

Posted by: butlerguy | November 11, 2010 6:24 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Remembrance Day here in the other Federal Capital. There are no more WWI veterans to roll around at the ceremony; even the WWII vets are getting up there. They will have a nice day for the outside activities though.

The Godfather is dead. At 86, not bad for somebody in this business. In particular for someone who had some members of New-York's Bonnano family killed. He was living the cliché of the criminalised Eyetalian family.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

I read the NYT and WaPo summaries of the deficit-reduction commission, and they'd affect me, certainly. But the overall goal seems to be reduce everyone's overall tax rate while removing all the deductions that bollocks up the primary role of the tax code, which is providing funding for government operations. And I'm fine with that, given the ultimate goals of SS solvency and getting the Federal budget at least a little closer to sanity.

*saluting frosti and all my fellow veterans on this solemn day whilst faxing her some belated birthday HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS and preparing to note the third anniversary of a very wonderful ceremony at Great Falls* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Happy Day and a big THANK YOU to all of our veterans today!

There's much to be thankful for in the big picture, but also where it hits home, especially the access all these years to USAA. Dr G has been a member for 40 years, after his four years of service--and they still call him Lieutenant G.

We figure at age 64, he must be the stupidest Lieutenant in the world.

Shreik... your mafia article made my morning. I love how the paragraphs all begin with a great name. And to die by the gun at age 86? They likely did the old man a favor.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 11, 2010 7:15 AM | Report abuse

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

Good morning, friends. Congrats, RD, on the new job, hope it doesn't take you away from us completely. We need your insight, and we would miss you terribly.

Happy Birthday, Frosti, and safe trip.

Slyness, I think it's just beyond wonderful what you're doing, again. May God bless and keep you and your family.

I'm getting another week of water therapy, and I'm happy about that, although every movement here lately hurts like the dickens.

And a Happy Veteran's Day to all.

The weather here has been absolutely beautiful. Chilly in the mornings, but so bright and sunny, with plenty of warmth in the afternoons. Even a bad mood will lighten up with this kind of scenery. Have a great day, folks, and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | November 11, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, all veterans should be honored. But I sometimes struggle with how to interpret the different veteran experiences. I mean, is there a difference between those who volunteered and those who were drafted?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all, and happy Veterans Day. Both my parents were veterans and active in veterans' organizations, so I grew up with the awareness of what they did. I recall selling poppies to raise money for disabled vets. Asking people for money has never been my favorite activity, but it's worth the discomfort for this group.

Nowadays poppies are plastic, but when I was selling them, they were crepe paper on wire stems, made by the veterans themselves. Hmmm, I wish I could find someone selling them today, so I could buy a couple.

When I was in the U.K. in the summer of 1972 and saw the wild poppies growing in the fields and on the sides of the roads, I realized for the first time the significance of the crepe paper poppies.

Thanks to all who served.

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I would say no, RD_P, there's no need to draw a distinction between draftees and volunteers. Military service to the country simply is.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Beautiful Remembrance Day morning here, so often it is grey an either raining or really cold, but today is sunny and cool.

My thoughts go out to all the veterans, and I will think of my loved ones who served those still living and those that have passed.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Slyness a group of Nova Scotia art student have redesigned our poppy, I think it is a great idea. However, here the legion is second only to the Olympics in defended their trademark - so whether it will be accepted is yet to be determined. Love that it is plantable afterwards.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

That makes sense ScottyNuke.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae

Every Canadian schoolchild has heard this poem. It has an interesting back story: Lt.-Col. McCrae, as surgeon, probably wrote "In Flanders Fields" in early May 1915, a day after burying a friend who had been killed during the Second Battle of Ypres. He threw it away after writing it, but McCrae later discarded the poem, but it another officer retrieved it and sent it to Punch magazine.

McRae died of pneumonia in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, in 1918.

(dmd, Yoki, other 'nucks: anyone see 'Billy Bishop Goes To War' on CBC last night?)

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 11, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "He threw it away after writing it, but another officer retrieved it and sent it to Punch magazine."

Too many clauses in that earlier version.

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 11, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Missed Billy Bishop, will have to check and see if it is available on demand.

Links to the McCrae house and gardens in Guelph. A cousin told me one of my uncles was involved in getting the house purchased as a monument (through the local legion) but I do not know if this is true. My cousin is my mom's age and know the family history much better than I.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, the link,

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all, and a Happy Veteran's day to all the men and women who served our country. Thank you!

RD, I personally make no distinction between those who were inducted into the military and those who joined voluntarily.

Every individual who served had (or has) circumstances particular to their situation, and I don't think I can interpret someone else's experiences and am certainly not a good jusge of them. It is possible that some may have not volunteered for the military simply because they knew they would be drafted, and some may have volunteered as a way of avoiding or mitigating a legal situatuion.

If someone's in harm's way for the sake of our country, I don't know how much it matters as to what circumstances put them there. I just hope they can do their duties, execute their mission and get home safely.

But again, I'm probably the one of the worst people to ask about this.

Still, RD, it's a good question, and I'd like to hear if our Veterans consider there to be any distinction about circumstances of military service...


Posted by: -bc- | November 11, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Adding my thanks to all who served or are now serving their countries. Thanks for posting that poem byoolin, haven't read it in years.

VLady, meant to mention yesterday what a great wedding you have planned. Of course anything with otters would be wonderful ;-)

Think I feel better today but this bug is sneaky so I won't really know til the day is over. Happy day off to those who have them and a lighter commute to those who don't.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 11, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

VL, I think "spattered grease" would make a fabulous boodle handle.

Posted by: ftb3 | November 11, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Now here's an interesting Veteran's Day article:

It's very nice to see the Army and the soldier could find middle ground on what would seem to be intractable differences (although I'm quite surprised he was able to show a gas mask works properly with his beard). I'm very proud of a young man going to such lengths to serve his "new" nation.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I like that article Scotty, there was an ugly issue a number of years back between the Legion and Sikh veterans. The legion considering Sikh turbans headgear and believing they should be removed indoors - if I recall correctly Sikhs wore their turbans while in uniform. Issue is resolved now but still lingering feelings on both sides.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Isn't "Spattered Grease" the working title of Quentin Tarantino's 'reimagining' of the hit John Travolta - Olivia Newton-John film?

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 11, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Wait a minute -- am I being told that there is crime in Canada? Organized or otherwise?

Oh, my goodness. I believe I am in a state of shock.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Guess I will buy Bailey next door something fermented for Veterans Day.

The cheesecake I made using cheddar as well as the other (sour cream, cream cheese) is chilled by now. I bet I botched it. I should have followed a recipe instead of sort of making it up as I went along. I guess the strawberries on top won't hurt.

More weird Jumper's music

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 11, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

While we are looking at the banality of catastrophe, the oil blowout, being the "nation's worst", it would be reasonable to note that the economic hardship that has not been ameliorated by BP spreading petrodollars in the wake of damage is mostly being caused by the federal governments over reaction to the problem.

Posted by: edbyronadams | November 11, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

The Veterans Administration is busy providing new cemeteries in Florida. Two last year, more coming.,0,3352706.story

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 11, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Wiki's brief article on criminal negligence. It led me to the second link.

BTW, re: Macondo, even if found guilty of such I would hope a judge would take all factors into account and the sentence should be not pointlessly excessive. People seem to think if someone believes a crime was committed, then that someone is out for blood. Not always so.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 11, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, that's it, ed. Blame Obama.

Oh, and BTW, you seem to be the only person who seems to think the feds did too much. Everybody else seems to think they didn't do enough, fast enough. I take it you think the situation would have been improved if the feds stayed home and Obama sat on the verandah of the White House playing canasta. That would have seemed reasonable to you minimal government types, while the rest of the nation was yelling for the government to DO SOMETHING.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 11, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I think you have become detached from reality -- in particular, I just can't recall seeing a verandah on the White House in any recent photo. But perhaps it is I who has (have?) come adrift from my moorings. Carry on.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

It's the stealth verandah, SciTim. You know, what with the cloaking technology and the like. Comes in real handy.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Yep, I'm a crazy man. Post first, Google later. Found a whole buncha photos of porches, patios, porticoes, terraces, and gardens of the White House:

Technically, none of them was labeled a verandah, but that may be a mere quirk of vocabulary. The concept is represented.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: seasea1 | November 11, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

NYT's opinionater Tim Egan gets under my skin--in a good way. I think of the closing of a recent op-ed of Egan's titled "John Robert's America":

"As ugly as 2010 has been, the next election cycle, for president in 2012, will bring us a John Roberts’s America that will make this year look like a town hall meeting from a Rockwell painting."

Of course, I know this famous Rockwell painting, and the three others that comprise his Freedom series--like I know my own skin. Two are of the four paintings are "freedom to" paintings [speech, religion], the other two are "freedom from" paintings [want, fear].

Little did I know the backstory of these paintings, information that I Googled shortly after I read Egan's Robert's op-ed for the first time. I didn't realize that the paintings caused Rockwell to lose 15 pounds and that the paintings were based on a speech President Franklin Roosevelt delivered in January 1941.

O.K., I admit that our local half-priced book chain is having a heck of a sale this week and I was able to get another of my favorite historian's [David Hackett Fischer] book, "Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideas" for a song!

Little did I know that Roosevelt's speech is based on even older ideas, as told in Fischer's short chapter titled "Fig Trees and Freedom Birds," pp. 90-93.

Fischer writes about the mass migration of Germans in the eighteenth century, and includes this nugget of information:

"Other German immigrants were more secular in their purposes. Some spoke of Freiheit von, liberty from oppression. Others sought Freiheit zu, freedom to realize their own goals. More than a few wished to be be what they called vogelfrei, free as a bird."

Fischer concludes this short chapter by comparing German ideas of freedom with British ideas of freedom. He writes:

British Americans thought of the world as fundamentaly free. They wished to preserve ancestral rights and fought the Revolution to keep what they had. Immigrants from central Europe thought of the world as fundamentally unfree and came to America in search of freedom that had been denied to most people in Europe. In that respect, they were like most other non-English speaking immigrants. This attitude appeared in a Pennsylvania German broadside on May 19, 1766, in celebration of the Stamp Act's repeal. It showed a sun shining through heavy images of clouds on America and Freiheit:

Die sonne dringet durch, das Land wird fruchbarlich,
Das Licht bestrahet [sic] den Sarg, die Freiheit richt sich auf.

The sun breaks through, the earth becomes fruitful
The light strikes the coffin, freedom arises.

I think of Rockwell's Freedom painting of parents tucking their children safely into bed at night, watching them slumber--the hope of freedom from fear. A meaningful Veteran's Day to all!

Posted by: laloomis | November 11, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company