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May 07, 2005

Why One Does Not Ask Rhetorical Questions in the Scalzi Household

This just happened.

ENTER ATHENA, amused with herself.

Hey daddy!

Yes, sweetheart?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

You know, I actually wrote an article about that.

(goes to bookshelf, pulls down the book for which I wrote the article, goes to the page the article is on)

Says here that woodchucks do chuck wood, if you give them wood to chuck, which researchers at Cornell have in fact done. Also, naturalist Richard Thomas estimated that if woodchucks chucked as much wood as they chuck dirt while making their homes, it would be 35 cubic meters, or about 700 pounds. So there you are.

(silent for a moment, then)
You're really no fun, daddy.
(stomps out)

Posted by john at May 7, 2005 02:35 PM

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Steve Eley | May 7, 2005 03:00 PM

Now you've done it. She's sure to find out from her friends now how many pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. And who knows what sort of number they might give her?

John Scalzi | May 7, 2005 03:06 PM

Eh. It's an indeterminate number anyway -- peppers are far too variable in size for an accurate count, and there is no internationally agreed-upon "standard pickled pepper" for peck estimation.

A peck, incidentally, is two gallons (eight quarts, or one quarter of a bushel).

mythago | May 7, 2005 03:09 PM

Or, as my kids like to say, "Can you please answer that without any gratuitous education content?"

Brett Hall | May 7, 2005 04:01 PM

But you can't pick *pickled* peppers, can you?

Kafkaesquí | May 7, 2005 04:47 PM

"But you can't pick *pickled* peppers, can you?"

I don't know what fairy tale world you're living in, but in mine, pickled peppers grow on every tree.

Dean | May 7, 2005 06:46 PM

I'm with Athena on this one. :)

Chad Orzel | May 7, 2005 06:54 PM

And you try to claim you're not really a geek...

Chris | May 7, 2005 07:20 PM

Of course the answer is already is the lesser known second stanze of the verse.

A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck woood.
Which covers a wider range of woodchucks in various states of talent, physical condition and energy/fatigue.

Dane | May 7, 2005 10:45 PM

I like this answer about as much as yours;


Decklin Foster | May 7, 2005 10:45 PM

Hee! If you do not own the book referenced at the very bottom of this page, I highly reccommend it.

Mark Ensley | May 8, 2005 01:01 AM

Yes, but what's the difference between a duck?

Erbo [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2005 01:24 AM

Moral of the story: Never ask questions that you don't really want to know the answer to.

Zzedar | May 8, 2005 03:20 AM

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?

Aconite | May 8, 2005 08:01 AM

Zzedar: For shame. "Materietur" lacks onomatopoeia. Tsk tsk. You will simply have to find a better alternative.

Sue | May 8, 2005 08:57 AM

John, you are a wonder killer.

John Scalzi | May 8, 2005 08:59 AM

I know. Too bad I didn't get that t-shirt.

Jim Winter | May 8, 2005 04:59 PM

No Shakespeare for you, buddy.

'Sides, last thing I need is you remind me that what's in my name is my least favorite season of the year.

(I know. Why don't I move to Florida?)

Anonymous | May 9, 2005 09:01 AM

Yes, but what's the difference between a duck?

One of his feet are both the same.

But if it takes one and a half chickens one and a half days to lay one and a half eggs, how long would it take a monkey with wooden leg to kick all the seeds out of a dill pickle?
(Answer Yes or No.)

- Captain Button

Anne KG Murphy | May 9, 2005 12:04 PM

heh. sometime I should try to remember to sing you the jazzy song version of those verses a friend of mine wrote the music for in junior high, though it just isn't the same without the four part harmony and a campfire to sing it around...

Calnj | May 9, 2005 12:59 PM

When my brother does stuff like that to my nephews, he simply states "Buzz-kill. It's my JOB as a Dad."

I agree Sue, John should have got the t-shirt while he had the chance.

Karl | May 9, 2005 02:17 PM

Well done Scalzi. That's the kind of answer I would give, that is, if I knew the answer. I'm not well educated in woodchucks.

Q | May 9, 2005 02:48 PM

Known technically of course, as Woodchuckology.

John Scalzi | May 9, 2005 03:11 PM

I prefer the term "Whistle Pigtography," myself.

Ab_Normal | May 9, 2005 05:30 PM

I use, "I'm your mother. I'm *supposed* to take all the fun out of life," probably more than I should.

(Second favorite: "It'll give you something to talk to your therapist about when you move out.")

Mark Ensley | May 10, 2005 01:51 AM

Okay, I'll bite. So where's this article you wrote about woodchucks and assorted miscellaney?

John Scalzi | May 10, 2005 01:56 AM


Jeff Porten | May 12, 2005 05:46 AM

Cainj, are your nephews buzzed to begin with? That might be what you've got to worry about over there.

darms | May 20, 2005 04:28 PM

A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck, if his dentures were any good... Or something like that

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