Sod Story

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jun 08, 2007 10:45 AM
Sod Story

Huff and puff and ...

On the heels of singer Sheryl Crow advocating "only one square" of toilet paper per bathroom visit to help reduce global warming, former President Bill Clinton is encouraging homeowners to skip the tar and shingles and lay sod roofs.

We turn to Mr. Clinton's appearance last month at the Potomac School in Northern Virginia. As first reported by Brian Trompeter of the Sun Gazette Newspapers, the former president spoke for more than an hour on topics that, in the spirit of his former Vice President Al Gore, included climate change.

America must engage in "relentless home improvement," Mr. Clinton told the students, explaining that the environment will improve with more nergy-efficient houses and products.

The former president "made a pitch for the use of sod on more roofs," noting that while tar-roof temperatures reach 150 degrees on 90-degree days, sod roofs get up to only 80 degrees.

We conducted a little research yesterday, and while sod roofs are far more common in places like African villages, we came across a pair of Vermont home builders — Tim Rice and Steve Jacob — who agree with Mr. Clinton that the time is right for a "revival of the old-time sod roof."

Better yet, the Vermonters told Mother Earth News, "the materials are easily found in most back yards."

 All a turf roof needs is some undercoating preparation and a large front-end loader to hoist the soil and grass skyward. And don't worry if the sod appears uneven on the roof; that's due to the varying thicknesses of the individual pieces of turf.

"Just rake some extra dirt into the low spots until the surface of the sod is level. Any grass you cover will grow right up again," assure the builders. Oh, and "to keep the wind and rain from eroding your roof away, line its perimeter with cedar logs."

That's all there is to it. Good luck with your local board of architectural review, and don't forget the lesson of the "Three Little Pigs."

New Korea? 

All the promises by campaigning Democrats in 2006 to have the U.S. military to begin withdrawing immediately from Iraq turned out to be empty.

Indeed, more than six months after the Democrats swept to power on Capitol Hill, the last thing Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean thought he would be hearing is President Bush propose an extended U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

"A 50-year plan for Iraq is not a strategy and it's certainly not acceptable," said a frustrated Mr. Dean.

Adding insult to injury, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain of Arizona is leaving open the possibility that Americans will grow comfortable with U.S. troops stationed in Iraq for years to come.

"We have had troops in South Korea for 60 years and nobody minds," Mr. McCain pointed out. "If you stay a long, long time, but have the Iraqis doing the fighting, and your people are back in the bases and away from the firing line, I think Americans would be satisfied."

Senator Revels

Saying black history "is too often ignored," Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas this week recalled the life of a U.S. senator whose accomplishments are all but overlooked in academic textbooks.

"During the Civil War, he helped organize Maryland's first two black regiments for the U.S. Army. In February 1870, he was elected from Mississippi to the United States Senate seat formerly held by Jefferson Davis," Mrs. Jackson-Lee says.

Hiram Rhodes Revels was in an extraordinary position; not only was he the first African American in Congress only a few years after the Civil War had ended, but he was representing a state where black men had only been in positions of servitude."

Revels' seat did not come without controversy, she notes, and "a great debate arose in the Senate as to whether a man of color was entitled" to serve in Congress.

The argument was closed with a quote from former Republican Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, who declared: "All men are created equal, says the great Declaration [of Independence], and now a great act attests to this verity. Today we make the Declaration a reality."

Parents first

The Washington law firm Skadden, Arps will provide legal advice, pro bono, to the Virginia Tech Review Panel investigating the April 16 massacre on the Blacksburg campus.

The panel, established by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and including former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, is charged with providing an objective analysis of the circumstances of the tragedy and make appropriate recommendations for the future.

"As citizens, and especially as parents, we are pleased that we are able to assist the panel with this very important inquiry," says Michael Rogan, head of Skadden's Washington office.