The Watering Hole: April 13 — Our friend Walt

A week ago, TheZoo lost a dear friend:  WaltTheMan died in his sleep, having posted news of his 44th anniversary and anticipating his cooking duties for the next 16 years. 

I “met” Walt years ago, before TheZoo was a thought in anyone’s head, on ThinkProgress, a political blog that was just getting its start.  Several of us became fast friends, and severely abused the Thinkprogress Terms of Use with our socializing, troll bashing, and merry-making.  In 2007, the trolls became too smelly, even for our high tolerance of troll-kind, so our little gang decided it would be a great idea to start our own blog.  The rest is Zoo history

Walt’s family asks that we spend a quiet moment this afternoon thinking of Walt, and if you’d like to make a charitable donation in his name, the American Heart Association is their choice.  I have Walt’s address, so if anyone would like to send a card, let me know and I’ll send you the information.

The picture above is a record of the time Walt and Pachy met for breakfast, and spent time visiting and chatting.  🙂 

I remember so many times when I asked Walt a question and he’d come back at me with a long, detailed, engineer-ese answer, and I’d have to say, “Walt, what?”  Then he’d write something even more detailed — something I surely would understand! — and I’d say, “Okay, works for me.”  Hey, I majored in Psych, I don’t speak or read engineer-ese!

The purpose of this post is to let us share memories and stories about and by Walt — happy, sad, funny, outrageous, whatever you’ve got.  I’ve got another story, but I’ll share it in comments because it’s a bit long. 

This is our daily open thread — Cheers, Walt.

124 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: April 13 — Our friend Walt

  1. When I first ran across The Zoo … I guess it was in spring or early summer of 2010(?) … I mentioned my rapidly advancing age and my 1942 birth date. Walt popped up and pointed out that I was ‘just a kid’ (words to that effect, I don’t have the post to quote), that anyone who graduated from HS in 1960 or beyond was really really young. He was born in ’41, see, and graduated from HS in ’59, so it’s easy to understand what he meant. 😀

    Anyway, I suppose that Walt’s sad and unfortunate passing makes me the old man of The Zoo now. Not for long, however, as I have a plan: I’ve decided to stop getting older and get younger instead. So be advised … this coming October will NOT see me turn 70, I shall turn 68 instead, and 67 in ’13. 66 in ’14, etc, etc. I shall accomplish this by walking at least five miles every day (weather permitting, of course), and eating a lot of bran, things like that. I only ask one thing, that no one ever tell the Social Security or Medicare folks what I’m up to ’cause I’d really hate to lose my income and health care coverage.

    So, starting today I get younger, a process that will remain in effect indefinitely … unless Mitt Romney wins the White House. If that happen, fuck it, I’m done.

    • I wanted to add to the above my heartfelt sympathies to Walt’s family, but the cramped ‘Reply’ format that WP has come up with disallowed, for reasons only it understands, my best intentions. So to Walt’s family and all his friends, my deepest sympathy for your loss. He was a fine man, a bright man, and I doubt it’s only me that’s noticed the sun rises a bit dimmer now than it did a week ago. Meanwhile, understand that Walt lives on in your memories of him; he will, believe it, ‘speak’ to you often as you reflect on all those wonderous years of his life. Peace.

    • In my opinion, you can’t actually be old if you’re still curious about the world we live in, a trait I imagine frugal and Walt have in common.

    • If you really want to get younger, reverse the battery in your wrist watch. Time will start running backwards. I figured this out some 42 years from now, when I was approaching my 100th birthday.


  2. We always look back through history for the most part through the eyes of a historian and we miss the passion the excitement and the wonder of the people who lived it and breathed it. That is why I was drawn to the Thom Hartmann reading of the first hand account of the Boston Tea Party this week and why I no longer read histories of war from anything other than the first hand account. Ken Burns’ Civil War was a landmark achievement in a style that was pioneered by Lynn MacDonald’s Great War series of books and reprised more recently the work of Spielberg and Hanks in Band of Brothers.

    And being an engineer by trade and persuasion, reading Walt every week, I was reading the first-hand accounts and the things that buzzed an engineer who had lived through the great leaps forward of the 60s and 70s in IBM …..

    Exciting times and through Walt we all got to live them a little.

  3. Interesting juxtaposition in that photo. Walt and Pachy at the table with their backs to us and the two women in the photo on the wall sitting at the table facing Walt and Pachy.

  4. Cory Booker, Newark Mayor, Taken To Hospital Following Fire Rescue

    Newark Mayor Cory Booker was treated and released from the hospital Thursday evening after helping to rescue his neighbors from their burning home.

    According to The Associated Press, Booker had just returned from a TV interview when he learned that the house next door was on fire. The mayor immediately rushed over to help.

    By the time Booker arrived, Det. Alex Rodriguez, a member of the mayor’s security team, had already rescued two women who lived on the first floor. Booker and another member of his security detail then entered the building and headed for the second floor to reach a third resident, The Star-Ledger reported.

    He’s a Democrat. Can’t imagine a Republican politician going into a fire to help someone.

    • Cory Booker is an amazing Mayor. When Newark was getting hit by snow storms, I frequently saw Cory tweet to people who needed help that he would either have someone sent there or go there himself! He would go to people’s houses and shovel their walkways! The man knows how to be a public servant, and we should all be lucky enough to have a mayor who cares as much as Cory Booker does.

      • I remember he was taunting some of the young men in town, because they were sitting warm in the house while their mom, sister, or wife shoveled snow. 😀

    • I’m skeptical.
      Can’t find the actual study which would be a big help in understanding the claims of the drug “curing cancer”.

        • Gotta love PZ!

          It’s a shame that some people might prey on unsuspecting cancer sufferers and bilk them out of their money and waste their times on such treatments though.

          • This article was posted to facebook by someone who really ought to know better, but her Christian friend forwarded it to her, so she’s influenced by that — and the fact that PZ Myers is an atheist. He’s also a biologist who knows his stuff, but nevermind that.

    • My thoughts are that the pharm companies are not interested because they cannot sell it. Just like they cannot sell herbs as drugs because they are natural. pharm companies spend lots of dollars making artificial products that they can make a profit from them instead of urging people to go the natural route which makes more sense…

      I do have my doubts about the simplicity of one compound being able to treat all cancers though.

    • Can’t say much about whether or not dycker’s homies have cured cancer, but the point made in the discussion is relevant. Big Pharma is not interested in cures, but is interested in treatments – there’s no money in curing disease only in prescribing a ‘lifestyle’ pill. Big Pharma loves to advertise that *you* have a problem (that you’ve probably never thought of) and *they* have an easy way to pop a pill to take care of it.

      The relationship between adverts saying stuff like: “Hey millions of people all over the country have turned to thisittle blue pill to treat their embarrassing Calcified Nipple Syndrome”. And you are supposed to think “Hey, maybe my nipples are too hard and pointy, maybe I need to get my doctor to prescribe the little blue pill – pass me the phone, honey.” Remember ‘restless leg syndrome’? What the f*** is that? And we all know there’s an easy way for Kim Jong Un to improve his ‘lifestyle’ and get ‘his Dong up’ for longer than the 90 seconds or so he managed it yesterday.

      In my opinion, Americans are conditioned from early in life that their little problems can all be fixed by popping the right pill. That link is stunning in its statistic – 45% of worldwide pharma sales are in the US – 45% !!

      • Exactly, for example, how many doctors will tell you that increasing niacin in your diet can sometimes help you reduce your bad LDL cholesterol and increase your good HDL Cholesterol? Not many, I am betting. Most will just prescribe the statin drugs and keep moving on…

        That’s not to say that statin drugs aren’t necessary for some people…. and I am not saying the drugs are not necessary, I think that you are correct, TnT, when you say Americans have been conditioned to believe popping a pill is the answer to the problem…

        I saw it in my mom, who suffers from COPD (lifelong smoker) and diabetes (candy popper) and won’t change her lifestyle to give her a few more years on this planet…. instead, she thinks as long as she takes her diabetes medication, then she can eat what she wants…

        • I’m on 1000mg a day of niacin. I started at 500, with one doctor, who took me off Vytorin, and prescribed Simvastatin and niacin instead. Then I was told to double up by the guy I’m seeing now. I’m the one in one hundred that can take 1000mg without flushing, according to him. My triglycerides are way lower than when I was on the Vitorin. I could still do better with diet, but I’m much more aware of what I eat than when I started. Every little bit helps.

          • Good for you, house! I had a terrible flushing incident in the middle of the night about a year ago and haven’t tried niacin much since then…but I have good ldl/hdl ratio for now…

            I do try to things naturally though and often think about trying to find a doc that can get me off of synthetic thyroid meds… but they are hard to find here in Arizona…

        • ..she thinks as long as she takes her diabetes medication, then she can eat what she wants…

          Does she check her blood glucose level?
          By not paying attention to diet the level will fluctuate – too wide a swing and her vision could be impaired.

          • Not often enough… but she’s on two different diabetes meds… and I hear that she has cancelled the meals on wheels that I got set up for her in the hospital…she’s worse than a child. 😉

      • “Can’t say much about whether or not dycker’s homies have cured cancer”

        Yeah we got a cure but were not sharing. Na Na Na!

        There,,I got my righty “I got mine” feeling out of the way. Your right TtT. Unless the they need to do a bunch of processing, a natural cure will not be ‘sold’ by big pharma.

        My homies are doing some very good research. Unfortunately, we have a conservative government that just this month released a new budget that makes it even harder for a scientist to do science that isn’t connected to some industry. You know, harder to get grants.

        These researches are in Edmonton which is our ‘natural enemy’ so I’m only a little excited about it!

      • What was the joke:

        Bride to groom as they enjoy a first kiss: “Honey I saved myself for you”
        Groom: “Annul this wedding, if she’s not good enough for her own family, she’s not good enough for mine!”

        • Two 16 year old Appalachian girls were talking about what they remember about the first time they had sex!

          One said she remembered that, “Daddy rolled over and crushed my cigarettes!”

  5. My Walt story:

    Years ago on ThinkProgress, before TheZoo and before the troll storm on TP, a bunch of us were hanging out on a post we’d hijacked and Walt pops in saying words to the effect of “The medical helicopter didn’t tear up the front lawn.” That piques the curiousity!

    Naturally, those of us on that post were asking what happened and asking Walt if he was okay. He tormented us to his heart’s delight with comments like:

    “We got the blood cleaned up pretty well.”
    “We were going to put in hardwoods anyway.”
    “They’ll probably be able to re-attach the hand.”
    “It looked like a clean cut.”

    I could tell he was having a great time with this black humor, and wouldn’t be doing it if the helicopter had taken away a dead guy. Finally, he relented and told us the story of his neighbor having accidently cut off his hand while cutting some molding with a power saw.

    I know it’s a gruesome story, but the way Walt was telling it had us laughing ourselves silly! Later on, Walt let us know that his neighbor’s hand had been reattached, and it was working.


    • Story teller extraordinaire – WaltTheMan.

      As Turtle points out Walt “was there” and his first had accounts of many and various subjects kept me in awe and learning mode.
      Not to mention sense of humor. It took a bit to “catch on” to his twists..trying to figure out in which direction a story was headed.

      Thanks for the memories Walt!

  6. Big Eddie just went off on an idiot from Texas, named “Billy.” Total rightwing talking points, barren of facts, and Eddie lost it.

    A thing of beauty.

    • I’m glad they got The Ed Show and Thom Hartmann scheduled so they’re both live on all the stations. Over the years, I’ve rarely ever heard either mention the other, presumably because they competed for listeners. Now they can support each other a bit more, and the cause both believe in will be better for it.

      • I was lucky enough to have KPOJ playing Thom Hartmann live in the morning and replaying Ed in the afternoon, so I always heard both. I didn’t realize for a long time that Ed was a replay!

            • I have both open right now. I’m listening to Ed on AM760 Colorado right now, because I started with David Sirota this morning. If Livestream quits during Thom, I can switch over quickly.

            • My local station moved Thom to the afternoons and has Ed on in his place in the mornings, and Randi Rhoades (after Ed) at noon, I miss Thom in the mornings after Stephanie, but oh well, what are you going to do?

            • LibertyLover, now Ed and Thom are both live, in their correct time slots. I feel bad for Randi Rhodes, because it’s bound to hurt her ratings, as she is now live against Thom live. Too many stations hardly had any live Progressive Talk, after 3pm eastern. Randi has a few stations that carry her live, but most have her three hours delayed.

              Which station do listen to?

  7. Santorum Donor Foster Friess Hopes Obama’s ‘Teleprompters Are Bulletproof’ – Yahoo! News

    Foster Friess, the multi-millionaire who bankrolled a large portion of Rick Santorum’s failed presidential bid, walked back another ill-advised statement this week after he said he hopes President Obama’s “teleprompters are bulletproof.”

    “There’s a lot of things that haven’t been hammered at because Rick and Mitt have been kind of going at each other,” Friess told Fox Business News’ Lou Dobbs on Wednesday. “Now that they’ve kind of trained their barrels on President Obama I’m afraid his, I hope his teleprompters are bulletproof.”

    “I mean that figuratively,” Friess added after a short moment of total silence.

    Why are right-wing jokes never funny and why do they often involve shooting someone?

    • Her Indoors and I weere trying to name a right-wing comedian and we ended up with Dennis Miller – who hasn’t been funny since perhaps 1996

    • Foster Friess, the multi-millionaire who bankrolled a large portion of Rick Santorum’s failed presidential bid…

      “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

  8. House, I listen to KPHX in Phoenix, KTLK on I heart Radio sometimes and KPOJ on I heart Radio (when I want to listen to Thom).

    • Ah yes, KPHX, the flagship of the infamous Nova M radio. Thom Hartmann left Air America for Nova M, then left Nova M for Dial Global. Both moves cleared him out of failing ventures just in time. Now, Dial Global has the Progressive Talk schedule from 6am, eastern, to 6pm eastern. Bill Press, Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, and Thom. Everybody else is just competing for scraps. If Randi went live following Thom, she would fill the time before Mike Malloy at 9pm eastern. Randi is with Premiere/Clear Channel, (part-owned by Bain Capital), so they may want her up against Thom. Anyway, it would all have to wait until current marketing agreements expire.

      • Yes, Global has sucked up all the well-known National talent…

        And I was a little surprised when KPHX started programming Ed Schultz again especially since Dr. Mike and him had a very public radio meltdown on air a few years back. But I am thankful that there is some progressive radio in the valley… now if I could only get Cox cable to program Free TV…

    • They save their greatest outrage for occasions where someone speaks the truth about a Reichwhiner. I expect that. The part that disgusts me is that many Democrats have backed down from the truthful words of Ms. Rosen. They should know that nothing they say will ever win points with the FAUX”News” crowd. They should just let the Reichwhiners rant and rave.

      • I think Rudepundit has it dead on – most families across the country *dont* have the choice to stay at home and raise a family. They have to both work because they have no choice. Ann Romney has no idea what it is like to do that, I bet she has more dressage horses and cadillacs than children. Sure raising kids is work, but hey if you’ve got 5 servants and you don’t have to work, then it’s a *privilege*.

        • I just wish that someone in the “librul media” had the guts to tell Ms. Romney to produce a paycheck stub, complete with a FICA deduction, or STFU.

  9. Mittens is talking to the NRA. As usual, it bears little resemblance to the truth.

    In remarks prepared for the association’s annual convention Friday, Romney says “we need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners. President Obama has not; I will.”

    The truth is that gun laws have been weakend during President Obama’s tenure. There’s still no rational national gun policy. There’s still no national database of those who are inelligible to own firearms. There are no new restrictions on military grade firearms that are specifically designed to kill people efficiently. And people have been stockpiling arms, with no new restrictions, because there’s a black guy in the White House.

  10. QOTD:

    “Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you,” – Christoper Hitchens. Today would have been his 63rd birthday.

    • Thanks. It’s a good deal larger than a peregrine but wieghs about the same (17oz.) as a male. I can’t wait for an opportunity to share a thermal with a hawk, eagle, falcon, gull, or vulture. Alas, it looks like the weather isn’t going to cooperate this weekend so I’ll have to chase the crows around the local park for another week.

    • BTW. I did manage to scare a couple geese with my aerobatic plane. I didn’t even notice them when i launched but they cackled and hissed and scooted under some trees.

  11. Romney (R-Cardboard Cutout from the Panet Kolob) says:

    Obama has emboldened North Korea

    Romney demonstrates again that he will say anytthing to anyone to get elected. Anyone with a minimal understanding of foriegn policy knows that Kim Jong Un’s attempt to get his Dong up had nothing to do with anyone other than internal North Korean politics. I noticed that Yahoo is running a ‘What would you ask Mitt Romney?’ blog. My question is:

    “So Mor(m)onism is supposedly derived from the Judeo-Christian Bible where one of the Commandments is not to bear false witness against your neighbour. Do you subscribe then to Dominionism where you are permitted by God to break any and all of those Commandments provided you gain power over the Seven Hills?

    And a follow up Mr Rmoney: as a minister/priest/druid/whatever in the Mor(m)on ‘Church’ – you were part of an apartheid establishment that believed black people shouldn’t be ordained and are going to Hell? Are black people going to Hell?

    And finally: have you already picked out a planet that you will rule when you die and are turned into an angel or a superpowered spaceman or are you waiting for the Hubble telescope to check out a few more for you?”

    • And one more:

      “Have you ever particpated in a posthumous, surrogate baptism? Who did you stand in for?”

    • Interesting. The anti-Muslim freaks regularly refer to an Arabic word that theoretically allows Muslims to lie in furtherance of Islam’s dominion. Maybe ask Rmoney what word applies in his faith to what is apparently the identical permission.

  12. A little earlier I took a break from work and spent some quiet time thinking about Walt the Man. I recalled my introduction to computers in high school in 1979 which included the TRS-80 with code being saved on cassette tapes and using punch cards to create programs connected to a mainframe at the distant university. I have always thought I was there at the start of personnel computing. Then I met Walt. He truly was at the forefront of computing.

    As was mentioned earlier today, Walt was young at heart and he loved science. I hope to continue to be as fascinated in science as Walt was for his entire live.

    As an extra tribute, my quite time turned into a nap in which I faded to sleep dreaming of being a NASA scientist!

    • The day Walt and I had breakfast we talked quite a bit about the technology we were a part of and the changes in that technology we’ve witnessed. The transistor was a marvelous discovery that has led to us being able to carry around more computing power in a smart phone than a room full of 1950 era IBM mainframe monsters. The first handheld calculators quickly replaced slide rules with an accuracy not possible with slide rules, calculating more than 3 decimal places that led to precision in many areas of our lives.

        • No, we had computers back then, we had computers in WWII, its just that they were big, power consuming, slow and definitely not user friendly. Programming some required manually unplugging and plugging in wires, somewhat like an operator at a switchboard. I/O might be via punched holes in ticker tape or cards. Computers are calculating machines that are fast and accurate. They freed people from the tedious error prone calculation
          process which gave more time to work with the results of the calculations. An example would be statisticians doing regression analysis.

          • I stand corrected and slightly embarrassed!

            How about marveling at the Great Pyramids and Great Wall of China WITHOUT a slide rule!

            • I agree with you they were amazing feats of engineering. I’ve been facinated with Machu Picchu for the quality of the work and the location. Another amazing thing about construction practices and life in general of the people of the New World is that they had yet to discover the use of the wheel when the Spanish arrived. But they were good with straight lines! 🙂

  13. Zooey, both your post and comment on Walt took me right back to our earliest days together at Think Progress. You nailed the atmosphere perfectly and we did have a lot of fun at TP before they went al Facebook. I wish I could say Walt was the only one around here who was too technical for me to understand. But Walt’s coolness in the hand incident showed his grace especially when putting up with those of us easily confused.

    • Ah… Think Progress…. I remember it well. I wonder whatever happened to it…

      Just kidding, I go and read over there, but I never post anymore… it’s no fun ganging up on trolls anymore…Sometimes I wish the Zoo would let a few through just to keep a hand in…

  14. Well, that’s another bag in the shop and a top is made for a doggy pet bed — which is SO cute.

    Now for some wine…

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