Build An Insult

British Petroleum took some lumps yesterday at a hearing in the House.
It was no surprise.

Elected officials look powerless in this situation. Naturally they want to whomp the BP guy a time or two while he’s sitting right in front of them with his arms tied to the chair. He can’t fight back because it would only make his company look worse, which would be an amazing achievement in itself, but not worth the trouble.

Our representatives had a free swing, and many of them took it. The real hazard for any Congressman wanting a piece of this fun was that some other solon might use their favorite string of insulting terms first, rendering their outrage repetitive.

That’s why it is so vitally important to hold a few extras in reserve.

Come on, Congressman Babooner! You might make it on to the evening news if you follow the script to develop your own unique bit of executive scolding!

Sir, I am appalled at the magnitude of this disaster and the …

Inconsiderate
Careless
Disorganized
Clueless
Haphazard
Stupid
Artless
Bumbling
Tone-deaf
Reckless
Moronic

… way that your …

Bird-sliming
Resource-plundering
Seafloor-ravaging
Well-fumbling
Drill-dropping
Turtle-fouling
Oil-splooping
Shrimp-poisoning
Gulf-wrecking
Coast-mucking

Company
Entity
Evil Empire
Circus of Fools
Death Star
Brainless Collection of Oafs
Lurching Monolith
Assassin’s Club
Clown Detail
Snagglepuss

… moved so quickly to …

Dodge
Deflect
Duck
Blunt
Redirect
Off Load
Escape
Evade
Elude
Sidestep

… responsibility for what is sure to be remembered as the most profound example of …

Arrogance
Incompetence
Fecklessness
Selfishness
Short Sightedness
Clumsiness
Dithering
Self-Destruction
Whoopsiness
Bad, bad publicity

… in this, or any other …

decade
century!
millennium!
eon!
star date!
hearing!
meeting room!
legislative chamber!
arena!
chamber of horrors!

Sir, at long last, have you no …

Shame?
Morals?
Scruples?
Values?
Standards?
Conscience?
Decency?
Spare Change?
Pants on?
Bananas?

Are you an effective scold? Be nice!

89 thoughts on “Build An Insult”

  1. Although the words are important my scolding relies on 2 things hard to share on a blog-tone and facial expression. Icy toned voice accompanies real scolding and “the mother look” emphasizes kid scolding.

    When my son was young I complained to a distinguished pediatrician that I didn’t have the look that my mothe used to keep me in line. He practiced with me. To this day my son talks about nhow intimidating the look can be.

    Maybe we need a legion of mothers to give BP the look.

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  2. I’ve never been a good name caller. I think by the time I’m ready to start slinging foul names, I’m too mad to come up with something clever and biting. Luckily I don’t get to this overly mad place very often. However, I used to have one of those Shakespeare insult mugs, which led me to a Shakespeare Insult Generator website. One of my favorites: sanctimonious swag-bellied serpents-egg.

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  3. yes, Beth Ann – a really good look would save many words. i hope the Monty Python fans can bring up some of the scathing rebukes. like the french soldier yelling at the english “pig dogs” from the castle wall. my memory isn’t good enough to hold on to those gems. is it “i fart in your general direction”…?? how about that?

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      1. insults don’t work with goats. they are quite vengeful, so kindness goes a long way. of course, my goats are not difficult. i like to say they are “spirited.” heh, heh
        frankly i like to see that spirit. if one is quiet and still i start to worry. that attitude is what attracts me to them (i think that goes with the old cat-owner/dog-owner philosophy – i get vicarious pleasure from watching them assert themselves and i love how generous they are with me)
        Jacque – Cynthia of Mahtowa has given us a (tongue in cheek, of course) website for folks who have had “experience” with goats:
        http://www.goat-trauma.org/

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  4. Beth,you are so right about the mother look. One of my son’s friends thinks I have an awesome “mother look”. He once requested it, just to see if I can do it on cue (don’t let anyone tell you an acting class is an easy A or something you will never use).

    I confess that vocabulary often fails me in moments of high dudgeon and I’m thinking I need to keep a handy card of some of Dale’s-there are some doozies in there.

    I have been known to whip out byzantine as a high indictment-in an age the screams at us to be ever more efficient, it does seem a lot of time goes into management type meetings and the building of “systems” leaving very little time for actual doing.

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  5. I’ve been told people know what I’m thinking by the look on my face. Of course, I don’t know what my look is but I wish I didn’t have it. I don’t want everyone to know what I’m thinking, ha. I believe in civil discourse, so at least I don’t have to give voice to my outrage, it is a silent scold.
    My mother had “the look” and still does.

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  6. ah, i’ve been known to skewer people with my rapier wit when enraged–had to build better word-filters in my brain to avoid unintentionally burning bridges….as my friends and family know, i still sometimes have difficulty in that area.

    re BP, so sorry to say i am a stockholder…

    i assume this kind of horrid disaster could happen with any company in any of the offshore oil-drilling sites–does anyone know if that’s a valid assumption?

    a favorite insult i’ve heard comes from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon, wherein he calls someone an “ultra-maroon”, i believe–

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  7. I will never be any good at name-calling. I’m hopelessly Midwestern. I basically don’t do anger at all well. I’m too reasonable, too capable of seeing merit on the other side, too inclined to question my own pet prejudices.

    This is a serious character flaw. It takes two to make a good fight, so I frustrate the dickens out of anyone who wants to scrap with me by failing to hold up my end of the fight. About as vicious as I get is when I suggest to my opponent that when (if) he grows up he will surely see how right my position is. You would rather be Brer Rabbit fighting the tar baby than anyone fighting me. I don’t fight fair. I’m so modest and agreeable that fighting me feels awful. Some of us, I guess, were born to be fighters, and some of us were born to be referees.

    After studying Dale’s matrix of fighting words, I sure don’t want to fight him.

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    1. oh, steve, you’re making me think of my younger brother–when i disagree with him, he seems incapable of accepting that i think differently; instead, he assumes that if i understood his position better, i would agree, therefore i must not understand, hence he continues to explain what i already understand but disagree with….sigh

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  8. Rise and sorta Shine Babooners:

    I’m feeling dull and laggerdly today–the summer cold (or hot and feverish from yesterday’s post) that I’m fighting is winning. Perhaps I need to insult the virus. My sister and I used to share a bedroom and a double bed. This led to the inevitable sibling fights that end in “here’s the line; if you cross over it I’ll…” hit you, tell mom, tell dad, scratch you, break your Chatty Kathy. But my sister (the Puritan) would finally fling her favorite threat: “Jacque, you are going to H-E-double toothpicks.” My brother was so much less subtle. “I’LL POUND YOU.” I guess we specialized in threats meant as insults.
    As the mom of a young child I apparently had a very effective Laser Beam glare, that when combined with a pointed finger, seemed to stop the young child in his tracks.

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    1. Oh Jacque… you just reminded me of something I haven’t thought of in years. When I was six and my little sister was three, I had a Chatty Kathy. We didn’t have alot back then, so this was a cherished toy. One day when I was in school, my sister got ahold of the doll and when Chatty Kathy said (you used to pull a string to get her to talk) “I’d like some cookies and milk.”, my sister poured milk right into her speaker (in her chest). By the time I got home, CK had been reduced to a low, guttural, glurdge instead of her normal, cheery chat. I know I was enraged… wish I had had some of Dale’s insults at hand that day!

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  9. dale, the aim is to help the folks who have a hard time with doing a adequate job of thrashing those who deserve to be thrashed and i commend you for a well constructed foundation for the task. if you can’t find something here that works for you its obvious that you have no bananas. steve this is made for you. copy it down and when confronted go to the laminated cheat sheet in you wallet and begin the recitation. you’ll be amazed by the new responses you will elicit. when they reply in kind you can start over with new choices. it could go on for quite a while. do we have a cpa among us who can do the math? how many possible combination has dale offered us to tar ad feather verbally the evil empires we run into on a daily basis.?

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      1. Speaking as a former Village Idiot (well, sort of…it was a character I played at the MN Renaissance Festival for several years), there are those for whom Village Idiot is too nice a name.

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  10. I agree with Beth Ann that BP needs a contingent of mothers to give them the “look ” as well as a good tongue lashing. My children will attest to the ferocity of my looks and lashings. I must admit, however, that my favorite “look” these days is the one I give to toddlers in church to make them giggle.

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    1. As long as you remeber to give yourself “the look” via the rear view as you hop into the BP consumption vehicle.

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    2. I have been told I had a “mom voice” well before I became a mom. I don’t quite have “the look” down, but I can think of at least 3 directors and a handful of actors I worked with who live in fear of my “mom voice.”

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  11. the problem with the mom look is that when it is someone elses mom you know you get to go home in a while and the look means nothing. that was what tony hayward was thinking when taking a tongue lashing / reelection staged rant form the congressmen who were more interested in looking good for their constituents than in getting to answers as to how this smoke and mirrors planet rape based company got the keys to the castle. take them away from all slimeballs (no pun intended) that have historically put their interests ahead of the rest of the planets. oil company and chinese manufactures will top the list

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    1. Perhaps we could ask that Queen Elizabeth do the insult honors. I say, Young Man….She could probably fill the Brit Mom role and get Tony to squirm. Although Obama’s extraction of the $20B probably counted as much as having to stand in the corner for 15 minutes.

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      1. no skin off tonys butt. his shareholders may get less but he did get a quick 10 billion out before the 20 billion request came from us. did you see the apology to him from the congressman who takes more oil money than anyone else?
        http://www.google.com/search?q=apology+to+bp&hl=en&rlz=1C1SNNT_enUS372US374&prmd=nlv&source=univ&tbs=nws:1&tbo=u&ei=YHQbTOX3CpOQNqzszIMN&sa=X&oi=news_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CCgQsQQwAA
        a true separation between republicans and democrats again. alright

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      2. I’ve always thought Queen Victoria’s “We are not amused” has a certain efficient condescension to it that was hard to improve on-of course, you have to have her delivery.

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  12. Dale’s last line (“Sir, at long last, have you no . . . ” is a bit of artful borrowing.

    OK, Heartlanders, WITHOUT using Google, tell me which word was next and the circumstances for this expression of dismay.

    Clyde and I are ancient enough to know this from first-hand experience. The rest of you have probably read it. What’s the context for this insult?

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    1. Steve … I know to whom it was said (JMcC), but don’t remember the actual context or who said it to him. I was a little too young but my father was incensed… even years later, you could get him all riled up just by discussing the hearings.

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  13. sherrilee is right. The next word was “decency.” “Sir, at long last, have you no decency?” The setting was what was called the “Army-McCarthy Hearings.” Senator Joseph McCarthy had been tearing around Washington on a wild spree in which he accused all sorts of people in government of being Communist double agents. The speaker of this famous line was Joseph Welch, an avuncular little fellow whose essential decency was in stark contrast to McCarthy’s crude character attacks.

    You can see this delightful little man in action. Rent a copy of one of the finest court dramas ever filmed, “Anatomy of a Murder.” The real life legal expert Joseph Welch plays the judge in that amazing movie.

    My parents bought our first family TV so we could watch the hearings. My mom and I were watching as Welch scorched McCarthy with those words. I didn’t understand exactly what the words meant, but I knew that an evil man was being chewed up and spat out by a very nice man. It was an electric moment.

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    1. Anatomy of a Murder was filmed here in the UP! I’ve even eaten several times at a restaurant that is featured in it (Mt. Shasta). Good food πŸ™‚ It has Anatomy memorabilia on the walls, as well as James Stewart’s signature on the wall. The restaurant has been moved from where it was when they filmed to Michigamme now. There’s also an Anatomy of a Murder museum of sorts in Marquette. The judge who wrote the book lived up here, which makes us Yoopers proud, haha.

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      1. Will do! I love pasties πŸ™‚ Kai is doing well. He went in for his second vet visit yesterday, got more vaccinations. He does quite well there. He doubled his weight from his first visit – from 2.5 lbs to 4.9 lbs! He’s also learning to listen to me, which is nice, haha.

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    2. weird Wisconsin trivia aside, Senator Joe and Houdini were from the same hometown-Appleton.

      draw your own conclusions, and I am sure this group will have some pretty interesting ones

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      1. Once of my husband’s college friends from Uof W has a picture of his infant self being dandled on Joe’s knee. His family were
        prominent Wisconsin Repblicans, but he let them all down and opted out of that.

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  14. Am I an effective scold? That all depends on what is meant by ‘effective.’ As a manager, I used to tell my staff, “I can be an evil, ugly boss…but if I am, it’s because you put me in the position of having to be that way.” Anyone can forget something, misunderstand something, or get tangled up trying to do something they’re not accustomed to. My big line-crosser was if someone didn’t try or didn’t care. That would send me to the moon. I wouldn’t yell or scream (not my style) but I would usually build a case of common sense such that could not be disputed for ‘X’ person being in the wrong. If this were to be successful (and it usually was), I could easily discount distractions, sidetracks, and attempted blame shiftings. Of course, it was a lot easier dealing with one of my ushers talking with a cute concessions girl instead of helping people or a high-school student destroying some part of the building in the name of “school spirit.” Hmmmm…y’know, now that I think of it, I’m wondering what the difference is between those hormone-crazed teenagers that felt they could do anything they wanted in the name of “school spirit” and our fellow ‘corporate citizens’ that feel they can do whatever they want in the name of “capitalism.” Wow. That’s ~way~ too deep for this early in the morning…

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    1. i think you have something there. the mentailty of destroying the building is that of the toughs who were into reckless behavior. the corporate mentality where the damage is done comes form the quarterbacks who looked after me, me, me and couldn’t care less about anyone outside the inner circle. we are empowered because we are the chosen ones. that is the bp and wall street approach of 2010.
      good observation guy in the hat.

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  15. My grandfather once described his brother’s second wife as looking like ” an old sow that eats chickens”. When I asked my dad about that he said, “Well, haven’t you ever seen an old sow that eats chickens? She looked just ike that, and she also wore too much perfume!”

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  16. Greetings! I’m not very good at ordinary, everyday scoldings nor do I have a meaningful “mom-stare” look it seems, especially with my 15 yr- old. I have to get into a steaming rage and yell before it actually has the wanted effect on teenager — so that happens very seldom. But they’re good kids — or maybe I’m a pushover.

    However, at karate where I tend to be serious and intense and not always cordial, I’m afraid in class — then the other kids jump when I say something. Plus, the whole respect and discipline thing is ingrained in them at the dojo. As a Brown Belt, I do have a higher ranking belt and that also means a lot. And then there’s Sparring. Which is a great way to get out all stress and aggression in a safe way. I’m tall and fairly good at sparring, so I can usually hold my own with most guys, but not always.

    Of course, we always joke around about “you’re going down tonight, sir” at the start of sparring, or they’ll ask “be nice to me, Ms. Jensen.” Most women don’t like sparring, but I do. I would never spar in competition, though — those gals are tough and quick. And they don’t give me any special consideration for being over 50, either from what I can tell. Anyway, I’m not very focused on the question at hand. Need food …

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  17. Hey There…

    My favorite insults come from Sybil Fawtly of ‘Fawlty Towers’ fame; the one where she calls Basil an “Aging, Brilliantine Stick-insect like yourself!”

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      1. Morning Tim-
        Hi Renee… I don’t have much experience with pigs so, nope; but I do know a few people that wear too much perfume…

        Weather talk: everybody on the blog OK after the string of storms last night? We had some straight line winds; Power was out in NW Rochester for a while; some homes damaged… at our place it was just trees down across the road. Nothing damaged. Our son was at church when the power went out there… and then he couldn’t get home due to the downed trees. My neighbor and I talked last night and coordinated tree removal for this morning. He’s a surgeon- so better with a chainsaw than I am- and he pretty much had them cut up before I arrived… I just pushed limbs out of the way with the tractor and tried to look helpful…
        Be safe everybody!

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      2. Ben, I worried about you folks to the south after I heard about all the damage in that direction (as well as the other areas hit). I hope all Babooners and their kin/friends/critters are okay.

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      3. ben you believed your sons story about not being able to come home huh?
        glasd to hear it was ok for you after the monster storms. they said there was a tornado 1/2 mile wide on the gorund yesterday afternoon. count your blessings.

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      4. I was at work last night during storms, but Jim had kids in lower level at home taking cover. Lots of wind, rain and ugly skies but we were fine. There might have been a tornado touchdown in Clear Lake or Monticello (5-15 miles from Big Lake), but not sure — haven’t kept up with news.

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  18. Great list, Dale…

    Dummy. In a fit of frustration, I once (and this was totally out of character, I promise) called my little son a dummy. Stopped him cold; he pulled himself up tall, looked straight at me and announced: I NOT A DUMMY! I crumbled, hugged him, we made up. I had just been SO mad…

    Off to family reunion… have a nice weekend, all.

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  19. Well said, Barbara.

    In one particularly spectacular fight in our family, someone (I won’t say who) called someone else a “no-good, lowdown, lying snake in the grass.” That wasn’t as poetic as the insult that could come from Dale’s matrix, but it carried a sting.

    All these years later, when I play that line back I have to laugh. It is (to me) obviously inspired by B-grade horse operas. That’s JUST the sort of line cowboy heroes used to utter as they would stand up slowly from the poker table, their mouth tight, eyes fixed on the bad guy in the black hat. The hero would say in a tight voice, “Why, you’re nothin’ but a no-good, lowdown, lying snake in the grass!” And moments later, pistols would be barking, coughing out plumes of white smoke!

    It all sounds so quaint and dated now.

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  20. When we were kids, my brother and one of his friends got into a tussle. My brother got the upper hand and his buddy was upset and crying. We stood together around my victorious brother while his friend ran off hollering, “YOUR MOTHER’S A GROUND SQUIRREL!”

    Of course, Mom wasn’t there to give him the look, but Eric sure got it when we got home.

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  21. The worst scolding I remember as a kid were variants on the “I’m so disappointed in you…” Ouch. Worse than any name calling. (Though, one name/insult that I remember from my days working at the Renaissance Festival that is especially, ahem, colorful, is “oozing pustule on the buttocks of humanity.” Eew.)

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    1. You worked the Renaissance Festival?! Great fun! I worked there two weekends when I was in college. Helped out two weird guys from Texas making cow horn drinking mugs and actually stayed on the grounds overnight. Waaayyyy weird — those gypsies are real. They open up Bad Manor at night for drinks, food and fellowship to all on-grounds participants at the time. Some of those folks travel from festival to festival and stay on the site for 4-8 weeks at a time. Interesting folks, to say the least. The Rat Catcher was a doozy for the ultimate insults …

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      1. Anna – you seem like an RFer to me! One of my oldest, dearest friends worked the RF for years so I’ve heard lots of fun stories (& some a little horrifying).

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      2. I was out there for over 10 years – it was both magical and horrifying. After the gates close for the night the site turns into a wholly different place. Met some great folks to “did the circuit,” but I had no desire for that sort of life. Being a village idiot allowed me to get fully in touch with my inner five-year-old for seven weekends a year, and that was enough.

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    1. The funniest part of that whole scene for me is that there’s one of the French soldiers that doesn’t speak French. If you listen to the quiet sub-vocals of that scene, someone says something in French, then you hear a voice saying, “What?” It gets repeated in English and then you hear, “Oh…”

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      1. I agree, Barb. Holy Grail is one of my favorites as well. I saw it three nights in a row when it first came out.

        A couple of years ago I finally bought it on CD, rushed home with it and sat down w/ the teenager to watch it. I’m snickering and laughing from the beginning with the moose and llama credits – teenager is looking at me as if I have frogs coming out my ears. This was when I realized that teenagers are absolutely from another alternate universe.

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      2. My son loved the whole movie until it got to the end… the police rush in and he was like ‘What!? That’s it??!!’ … he wasn’t pleased…
        I owe it to my brother for introducing me to it…

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      3. I never really “got” MP and the Holy Grail, even though it seemed like there was a period in the mid-2000s where every single guy I knew was reciting lines from it at the drop of a hat. Tremendously puzzling.

        I did laugh at one scene, of the monks(?) chanting while smacking their heads rhythmically with a board. I guess it seemed to me like a metaphor for life.

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  22. I will be on my best behavior this weekend with no insulting anyone, as we’re spending Saturday in Medora ND at a psychology ethics workshop, and then Saturday night and Sunday with friends at the Twin Buttes, ND Powwow. I hope to see some fancy and jingle dancers.

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    1. I think I like the singing and drumming as much as the dancing – but it is fun, and beautiful, to watch the dancers at powwows.

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  23. Sherrilee – If it is any comfort, you become amazingly wise when your teens grow older, especially when they have children. They start seeing humor in things you can appreciate together. They like turn into real people.

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  24. Medora is so cool! Have fun out there. I’ve always wanted to photograph a powwow.

    A friend used to work for the governor of North Dakota. The governor made an earnest gesture of goodwill to Native Americans in his state, expressing the hope that Indians and whites could get along. He asked what he could do to help things along. An elderly Dakotah spokesman told the governor he might want to take down the big oil painting in his office, the one that showed a cavalryman with his foot on the neck of an Indian.

    I’m off for the cabin now. Have a wonderful weekend, Heartlanders. See you Monday or Tuesday.

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  25. Alba’s triplets depart tomorrow morning. today i am getting them ready – have tattooed (ick!) their ears for registration, just finishing up trimming their hooves and making sure they are all ready for their new goat mamma. from the tattooing, we are all green, scratched and generally dirty. we will shower – i don’t think they want to.
    the high winds are creeping everyone out. even T is hiding in the corner of the Gentlemen’s Club.
    have a good weekend, All

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    1. We have gusts to 54 with sustained winds of 40. I think in other parts of the country they call this a hurricane. Are you sad to see the triplets go, Barb?

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      1. oh, yes, Renee
        it’s been a month of losses. Dale, Loki, Dancer, Dodger, Crema, Luna, Rosa. Steve and i will update the blog this weekend to tell all. πŸ™‚ all to very good homes so we are only sad not to have them here with us. as you know, the first one is not a goat, but was a certain loss. i’m glad it’s a gain also, in this wonderful blog.
        so we’ll be down to Alba and Dream in the Girls’ barn and Majority and Niblet in the Gentlemen’s Club. and quiet in the office at the computer in the morning. except for my chuckles at the clever bloggers.
        i’m trying not to purchase a doeling from a friend. but there is a strong urge….

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  26. I’ll admit that I’ve scolded/insulted people by calling them a “guttersnipe” but it didn’t yield the same reaction as it did in the Morning Show’s “Incredible Betty” serials from back in the day. It certainly made the recipient of the comment think a bit, though, so I suppose it was somewhat effective.

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  27. Barb I’m thinking of you and steve and the triplets as they move on to their next adventure. What a wonderful start you and the grownup goats have given them.

    If the rest of you haven’t checked out the goat-trauma website Barb linked earlier today, you should. Hilarious. Sounds like something Dale would write.

    In our family we learned the passive-aggressive “silent treatment” was more socially acceptable than fighting. My favorite behind-the-back insult is from my sister, about my dad’s wife. Said his wife: “I usually have the beef brisket.” Said my sister later: “She IS a beef brisket.”

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  28. I’m at a conference on all things local this weekend, and I think the worst insult you could call someone here is “Twinkie eater.”

    Last night, I admitted to having eaten a package on my way to the conference. I think I have BECOME the toxic oil spill.

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