Tuesday, September 30, 2003

And Betty when you call me

You can call me Al.

My family has always been big on nicknames. Both of my grandfathers called me by anything but my given name. I think it was because by the time I came along (one of the last of the grandkids) they just couldn't keep up with all the names. So I got called "Shorty" or "Slim" or "Squirt" with an occasional "Stinky" or "Fidgety Boy" thrown in. Whatever struck their fancy at the time.

Genetics being what they are (or is it a product of the environment?) all the rest of us Aardvarks carry on the tradition. My kids answer to "Oops" and "I forgot" since those are their common answers to questions beginning with "did you..." (in all fairness, my dad called me "I'z-a-gonna" for the same reason). When I was little, I never got called by my real name. Everybody (preacher, grocer, family, friends, you name it) called me by a nickname. What was unusual is that not everybody used the same one. So early on, I learned to answer to just about anything (including "mud", as in "your name is...").

To illustrate how infrequently I heard my name, I still remember sitting in my first grade class (no kindergarten for me) on the first day of school, listening to the teacher take roll. It wasn't until the second time she read my name that I realized it WAS my name

Fast forward.

By the time I got to college, I hardly ever heard anything but my given name. When my wife and I were first married she knew immediately when someone in my family called - they never asked for me by my given name. I think that's why using an alias to blog doesn't cause me any trouble. It's not like I'm assuming a different identity and I don't have to "get into character". LittleA is just another nickname in a long line of nicknames. Sorry folks, what you see is what you get.

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    Monday, September 29, 2003

    It's a record II

    I don't know why or remember when it started, but it's a long standing tradition for me to say, "It's a record" when giving gifts. It doesn't matter what the gift is, but I'm more sure to say it when it is NOT a record.

    "Here you go," I'll say handing my wife a package that's obviously a book from its size and shape.

    "Oooh. What is it?" She says.

    Shrug. "It's a record."

    This has gone on long enough now that she gets disappointed if I don't say it. My kids do it too. You can just imagine what Christmas is like at my house.

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    It's a record

    I found out this weekend that Dawn is a Mason Proffit fan. Who knew?

    Most of you have probably never heard of Mason Proffit, which means you've never heard "Trail of Tears" either. Sigh.

    That got me to thinking about the other records I own. Have you ever heard of these singers/groups?

    Parable
    Fireworks (with Marty McCall)
    Lovesong
    Paul Clark
    Limpic and Rayburn (ok, so I don't own the LP, just a cassette)

    Hmm. All those turned out to be Christian artists. Here are some others who are more mainstream/well known

    Poco
    Firefall
    Pablo Cruise
    Eric Carmen (pre 80's come-back)
    Burton Cummings (solo album)
    The New Christie Minstrels
    Ferrante & Teicher
    Kraftwerk
    Alan Parson's Project

    My all-time favorite ALBUM is Parable's "More than Words". I bet I've played it 500 times. Each song builds on the last in such a way that when you're done, you realize you just heard a story. It's one of the few albums I own where no single song stands out, but there are no duds either.

    Best way to become melancholy: turn out the lights, put on the headphones and play "More than Words".
    Best way to cure melancholy: turn out the lights, put on the headphones and play "More than Words".

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    Friday, September 26, 2003

    Through the eyes of a child

    Ok, so I'm feeling loquacious today (I AM LOQUACIOUS OF BORG, RESISTANCE IS FUTILE), sue me. Jordana's son is asking funny questions, and that got me to thinking (always dangerous).

    One day, when my oldest daughter was about five and my youngest was one or so, we decided to take a chance and go out to eat. I say take a chance, because with kids, you never know if it's going to work out until after the fact. Anyway, it was one of those days where we didn't decide where we were going until after we got in the car. The kids were in the back seat, self-absorbed as usual, and so didn't know where we were going until we got out of the car (not like it mattered to the youngest, eh?).

    This particular day, we decided to do something different and eat Chinese food. Well, if you're going to eat Chinese, you might as well do it right, and that's how we found ourselves at The Bamboo Garden, or as I called it, "The Trough" (minimalist poetry: Hey! A buffet!). So we got out of the car and extracted the kids from their various restraining devices, and my oldest looks around and, not recognizing her surroundings, asks:

    "Where are we going?"

    "We're going to The Bamboo Garden, sweetie."

    "What kind of food is that?"

    "It's Chinese food."

    At which point she breaks out in tears.

    "What's the matter?"

    And through the sobs, she blurts out

    "But I don't SPEAK Chinese!"

    Once assured that she didn't have to speak Chinese to eat at a Chinese restaurant, she calmed down and the rest of the evening went just fine.

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    But I still haven't found what I'm looking for...

    You too? (insert groan here)

    "where+is+the+cheapest+store+to+get++smackdown+here+comes+the+pain"

    It doesn't suprise me so much that I've used all those words, and therefore showed up on somebody's search. What amazes me is that somebody had the fortitude to stick it out to the 27th hit on the list. Hmmm. Maybe they figured that Aardvark is just my wrasslin' name?

    This person - "aardvark+traits" - only had to go to the eighth site on the search. Just in case they return, here are a few of the traits of this particular Aardvark: procrastination, silliness, loyalty, cynicism, and just being a basic goofball (not necessarily in that order). Hope that helps.

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    Some people call me Maurice

    I left this as a comment over at Brian's place (Terrible Swift Word), but I thought I'd share it here as well.

    I predict that Maurice Clarett will be allowed to play in the NFL, suffer a career-ending injury, and then SUE the NFL for letting him play.

    You heard it here first.

    Of course y'all know how accurate I've been with past predictions...NOT.

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    Guilt

    I blew it this morning and I'm not over it yet.

    There was a car at the end of the freeway on-ramp that was off on the shoulder with a flat tire. As I passed it, I realized it was a young lady trying to change the tire. By the time I decided I should stop, I was already on the freeway and there was no (safe) way to easily get back to where she was. Because of the way the on-ramps are arranged, it would have taken at least 20 minutes to backtrack to that particular spot. Aargghh. Why didn't I stop sooner?

    I know it's stupid to beat myself up over this, but I can't shake the feeling that I was supposed to stop.

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    Thursday, September 25, 2003

    Say what?

    You want more football related ramblings? Ok, you got 'em.

    Actually, it's not really about football, just football games. As I've mentioned (just a couple of times, I'm sure) before, I graduated from TCU. That's Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas (where I still reside). TCU is a private university affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination. I had never heard of the Disciples of Christ folks before I started attending TCU (why I chose TCU is another story entirely). So what does a person expect when they attend a private, church-sponsored university?

    Why, school endorsed swearing, of course. Granted, it's MILD swearing, but the way I was brought up, there was no such thing as mild swearing.

    One of the old school cheers is "Rif Ram Ba Zoo". Sounds like an old cheer, doesn't it? You're even supposed to do the back and forth (like a train) arm motions when you do this cheer. Here's how it goes.
    Rif ram ba zoo
    Lickety, lickety zoo zoo
    Who wah, wah who
    Let 'er go, TCU
    Sometime in the seventies, a clever TCU undergrad (yes, they did exist) decided to punch it up a little and so substituted "Give 'em hell, TCU" for the last line. Maybe I was naive (ok, so maybe saying "maybe" IS pushing it a little), but I was just a little shocked the first time I heard this cheer at a football game. For one thing, I had never been to a college football game before, so it was all kind of new and I didn't know what to expect (except for the losing part, THAT I was used to). Secondly, I was under the false impression that, you know, it being a "Christian" school and all, TCU would avoid using any type of "questionable" language in an officially sponsored event. Evidently not.

    When we played SMU, the coach (F.A. Dry, have I mentioned him?) stood up at the pre-game pep rally and said (as I recall, but then again the memory isn't what it used to be), "Let's beat the hell out of the Methodists, in a Christian sort of way." I'm still working through that one. Maybe in another 20 years or so.

    More recently, we've co-opted the (USC, I think) cheer that goes with the band. You know, where the band plays "Da da DAH da dum" and the crowd yells a letter (work with me here). Anyway, the band plays their bit, and everyone hollers "T" followed by another band bit and "C", more band and "U". Then while the band plays in the background, everyone yells, "We're gonna beat the hell out of you, and you, and you and you and you." Class, I tell ya. Nothing but class.

    Will you think I'm a prude if I say I don't cheer along? Ok, I'm a prude. It confuses my kids too. "Dad, why are they saying that? I thought this was a Christian school." That's when I give them my old standard line, "Well kids, it seems that the 'C' is silent." The other thing I sometimes do is say "Texas Christian University" while sliding my hand down from my face to my chin, conveniently covering my mouth when I say the word "Christian" so all you hear is "Texas...University".

    Is it too much to ask that we not use the word "hell" in our football cheers? Evidently.

    Before every home game, the chaplain (a Disciples guy, I'm sure) offers a prayer. I wish he wouldn't. It irks me every time. It's one of those "non-offensive" prayers that talks about "brotherhood" and "community". He never says "Heavenly Father" or "Merciful God" or anything else to begin his prayer. This is not a huge problem, but it's sometimes confusing to know exactly when he started praying. Two games ago, we had a moment of silence to honor the passing of Coach Wacker ('83 - '91). They announced the invocation and the chaplain started talking and I figured he was praying. Nope, he was telling us what a good man Coach Wacker was. I didn't figure out he wasn't actually praying until about a minute into it. Once, just once mind you, I would like for the "minister" to actually invoke the name of Jesus Christ. But he can't do that, someone might take offence. IT'S A CHRISTIAN SCHOOL FOR GOODNESS SAKES! OFFEND SOMEONE!

    He does. It's me.

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    Wednesday, September 24, 2003

    More site maintenance

    I've added a few more links to the ol' blog role.

    Janis Gore of Gone South fame (another of the profs at WSU). Tell Lucy I said "Hey."
    Brian of Terrible Swift Word where "the Truth is Marching On".
    Matt of Blackfive, the "Paratrooper of Love".
    Starhawk of Freedom Lives who admits to currently being the number 3,482,140 ranked site on Alexa.

    If you haven't checked them out, please do so now. I'll wait.

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    Apropos of nothing

    I was at the TCU game Saturday (season tickets, don'tcha know) and saw something at the end of the game that took me way back.

    Let me set it up for you. TCU leads Vanderbilt 30 -14 with about 40 seconds left on the clock. Vandy has a first and goal at the 8 yard line. Now, it's pretty obvious to everyone that the odds are not good for Vandy to score twice (with two 2 point conversions) to TIE the game in this amount of time (although, this is TCU and I've seen stranger things). So basically, each team is playing for pride. TCU doesn't want to allow the touchdown and Vandy wants to prove they can score.

    First down results in a sack on the 16 yard line. Ah, but there's a flag (seemed like the hundredth flag of the night). Holding by Vanderbilt. Now you're the coach, what do you do?

    You decline the penalty, that's what you do. That way the clock starts again, eating up more precious time, and Vandy has three tries left to get into the end zone.

    But that's not what Coach Patterson does. HE TAKES THE PENALTY. So the clock stops until the next snap, the ball is TWO yards further back (on the 18 yard line), and Vandy now has FOUR more tries to get a touchdown. Hello? As you can tell, I'm still not over it. Fortunately, (for us TCU fans) the defense held and Vandy didn't score.

    So why does this take me way back, you ask? Good question. I graduated from TCU in '85. The first couple of years I was there, the coach was a guy by the name of F.A. Dry. I don't know much about F.A. as a person, although I'm sure he was a regular guy, but as a coach, let's just say his legacy is one of those, "Y'all learn from my mistakes and don't do what I did" kind of things. Durning the F.A. Dry years, you learned to celebrate small victories. Like if we'd get beat 60 - 21, you'd say, "Well, at least we got our offense going."

    F.A. (by the way that was his name, F.A. Just the letters. They didn't stand for anything) gave me two of the worst examples of coaching I have ever seen. One was when we were in a third and forever around the 30 yard line. F.A. called for a quick kick. Say what? Maybe in a close game where we were backed up inside the 5. Maybe. But as I recall, the game was already out of hand, it was still the third quarter and we were out around the 30. One thing's for sure, the other team never expected that quick kick.

    But the all-time worst coaching call I've ever seen was during a game where it had been pouring down rain for all of the second half, and the wind was blowing at least 20-30 MPH. We were behind by three with the ball at midfield and time for one last play. What call do you make? Hail Mary pass to the end zone, right? Wrong. F.A. decides to send out his kicker for a 67 yard field goal attempt, IN THE RAIN, AGAINST THE WIND, FOR THE TIE!

    Do I have to tell you we lost?

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    Tuesday, September 23, 2003

    Those who can't, teach.

    So I worked late last night and as a result was up a little later than usual. I flipped over to Letterman as he was telling a story about his vacation and a bear that wound up in his house in Montana (complete with pictures). It was amusing. The top ten list, "Top Ten Things I Want To Say To All Americans," (after today you'll have to look for 9/22/2003 when you follow the link) was presented by the new Miss America, Ericka Dunlap. Great delivery. Terrible outfit (some ugly patch work pant suit).

    On to the point. So Dr. Phil is Dave's guest. He's on to schlep his latest book, "The Ultimate Weight Solution". Dave announces Dr. Phil's book before he walks out. My wife takes one look at the stoutly built Dr. Phil and says, "HE wrote a weight loss book?"

    That was all the entertainment I needed for one night. We turned it off and went to bed.

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    I feel old

    Gordon Jump died. You young punks will remember him as the lonely Maytag repairman. For those of you who are (ahem) a little more seasoned, you remember him for his portrayal of Arthur Carlson on WKRP in Cincinnati. He's in the middle of the back row in this picture.

    WKRP had a great ensemble cast, but for some reason, Mr. Carlson was the guy that I always felt held the show together and made it work. He was the perfect foil for many of the plot lines, a product of nepotism (his mother owned the station), set up to fail yet somehow managing to succeed in spite of himself. He couldn't make a decision to save his neck, avoided face to face confrontations like the plague, and spent most of his time in his office with the door closed playing with his toys. He was a guy with a heart two sizes too big for the cutthroat business world. Somehow the role seemed so natural, you got the feeling Gordon Jump wasn't really acting at all.

    We'll miss you Big Guy.

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    Fun with numbers

    Went to Target at lunch time. Picked up some Planters peanuts, 24 oz. for the price of 20 oz. - $2.89.

    On the way to the register, I walked by another display of Planters nuts. This display had two jars of peanuts sleeved together with a sign that read, "As advertised 2 for $5.99." Huh?

    So I have to stop and do the math three or four times. Surely I'm missing something. No. Two individual jars are still $5.78.

    Oh. Wait. The sleeve says that you get 25% more free. That must be the difference.

    Hmmm. Those look like the same size I have, though. Yep. Two 24 oz. jars. My jar says 20% more free. Let's see...more math. Two 20 oz. jars would be 40 oz. so that means two 24 oz. jars are 48 oz. So that's 8 oz. more for free. And 8 divided by 40 is...

    Obviously the Marketing departments for Target and Planters are employing graduates of Weevil State U.

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    Monday, September 22, 2003

    Guess they'll need to change their name

    Well, it seems that the Dixie Chicks are done with country music. [Link via Tightly Wound]

    Seems they haven't been feeling the love lately from their country music contemporaries. So now they're a rock 'n' roll act. Makes sense to me, I always thought they appealed more to the crossovers than to the hard-core country fans anyway. I'm not a big fan either way (and that was true before all the brouhaha).

    I see them leaving the country music tent as the next logical step in the fallout from Natalie Maines' comments. Success gives people (and I'm not just talking about the Dixie Chicks here) a distorted sense of reality. When you do something extremely well, you get consistent reinforcement on how good you are. And while the praise may be for a particular thing, it is received as praise in general. "I love that song" is received as "I love you - you are so wonderful," which is not the same at all. In their case, they thought that because they were popular musicians, they were liked for who they were. They were shocked and hurt that people would react differently to something they said. In their minds it was a betrayal. "You said you liked me!"

    That's what I saw in their faces when they were interviewed. Shock. Hurt. Anger. I think they are still in denial about it. What adds to their confusion is that when they came back to the US and toured, their concerts were still sold out. "These people love us. Who were those mean, angry people who said we were bad?" They accept the adoration of their music as validation that they have done nothing wrong. So when they are snubbed at the country music awards, once again, they are shocked, hurt and angry.

    Here's my free advice (and it's worth what you paid for it) to all musicians of all political stripes...shut up and sing.

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    Saturday, September 20, 2003

    Site maintenance

    Please note the belated addition of a link to the aforementioned N.Z. Bear.

    On a side note, when I originally signed my blog up to the blogsphere ecosystem (shortly after I began) I entered the name as "A little Aardvark never hurt anybody" (instead of anyone) Hey, what can I say, I'm making this stuff up as I go. So a few days after I signed up, I went to look for my blog and couldn't find it (because it actually had a link of all things and wasn't at the very bottom!). So I used the search function. No results found. What the...? No results because I had signed up FOR THE WRONG NAME. D'oh! So I found it under the wrong name and went to the details and submitted the form to get the name changed to the correct one.

    (Much time elapses)

    About two weeks ago I went to look where I ranked. Hey, where'd I go? I was in the 8-11 link range (oh yeah, I'm big stuff now), but I'm not there. Did I move up? No, not up. Maybe some links expired and I moved down? No, not there either. Where am I? Search for "A little Aardvark never hurt anybody". Not there? Hey! My name got changed! Cool. Search for "A little Aardvark never hurt anyone". There I am. INSIGNIFICANT MICROBE?!?! (current rank 4081 of 4279). Rassen-frassen-bricken-bracken. This has to be somebody else's fault. Why I'll give them a piece of my mind! Oops, nevermind...

    Seems when I submitted the name change I neglected to put the http:// in front of my host. ::sigh::

    Submitted new form to a) keep the same name and b) change the host so the system will actually recognize links to me. Now it's just being patient until N.Z. Bear can get around to processing it. Must. Be. Patient. But. Hurry. Please.

    You know, this self-service vanity publishing can really be a drag sometimes.

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    New Blogger Showcase

    So, I'm working today and just browsing the blogosphere while I eat my lunch.

    hm hm hm hm hm (tuneless humming)

    Let's check the new blogger showcase over at N.Z. Bear's.

    I found a post I liked and checked out some of the more recent stuff on his blog. I'm going to have to keep an eye on Brianjb or McBean55 (or whatever he calls himself). He may be a keeper.

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    Friday, September 19, 2003

    Inspiration!

    He may not be a Muse, but he's amusing! Possumblog always entertains.

    Terry's post about his daughter's comments on Hooters reminds me of a story of my own.

    When my youngest daughter was about three (hmm, that'd be about 10 years ago) we were all out shopping one day. We were up on the northeast side of town, so it wasn't our normal stomping grounds. There was a Hooters by the mall we were going to and at the time the "O"s in their sign were bigger than the other letters (for some reason). Kinda looked like this.

    HOOTERS (Now dang it! That worked great when I previewed it and now it doesn't work. Rrrrrrr. Oh, just use your imagination) UPDATE: Hey, I figured it out! Woohoo!

    My youngest spots the sign and says, "Look! A doughnut store!" We didn't explain it to her then (though she knows better now), but we still say "the doughnut store" every time we pass a Hooters.

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    I needed a Muse and all I got was muesli

    Blogging today was difficult, to say the least. You should have seen the post I was going to write. I tried, but it turned out all wrong and so I just deleted it. In my head, it had two parts wit, three parts guts and a dash of panache (yes, I quite like that, "a dash of panache". Note to self: use again). Instead what I got was dull, dreary, and drab. I hate when that happens. Maybe I'll try again later.

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    Thursday, September 18, 2003

    Is this anything?

    If you watch Letterman, you'll be familiar with the title. If not...

    So I went to the Texas Ranger game this afternoon with the gang. I tell you what, the old fun-o-meter was pegged at about 2 the whole time. The reading was so low I had to whack it on my leg a few times to see if the gauge was stuck. No such luck. I don't understand it really. It's not like I don't like (like, for sure) the people I work with. And it's not that the game was bad (even though it was the bottom feeding Rangers). I mean, they were playing the Mariners and Ichiro Suzuki is fun to watch. (He's so small, from where I was sitting, his well developed calf muscles looked like they were implants... hey, what's wrong with his legs ?) The temperature was 84 at game time with about 63% humidity. It was pretty much a pitcher's duel through four innings and then the humidity shot up to 100% for about 90 minutes.

    You know, there's not much to do at a major league ballpark if they're not playing baseball. Since this was a work function, we were expected to stay until some semblance of when we would normally knock off, so we couldn't leave either. To top it off, everyone chose this day to act rational and well behaved.

    Come on people, I need wit and stupidity. I've got a blog to maintain. Get with the program!

    No such luck.

    The game finally got back underway (the most interesting part of the day was watching them re-prep the infield) and we stayed through the sixth inning with the score tied 1-1. Back to work to pick up my car (I rode with my friend Barb - good thing she put the top back up on her Jeep before we went into the game or I'd a had soaked drawers going back) and then home.

    All in all, it was better than working, but maybe not quite as good as getting my teeth cleaned.

    Next year we'd better go bowling.

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    Wednesday, September 17, 2003

    Potpourri

    Well, I finished the old self-appraisal today as well as all of my peer evaluations. Tomorrow morning I'll finish up my employees reviews and then send everything to my boss. If things go as they have in the past, I won't hear anything back for several weeks.

    Tomorrow afternoon it's off to the Texas Ranger game with the whole department (at least those who normally participate). Time for the annual "group activity". Last year was bowling and laser tag. The bowling was fine, but I was severely disappointed to discover my Jedi mind skills leave much to be desired in the laser tag arena (in other words, I suck). This year it's baseball. I'm not a big baseball fan. I like going to the games just fine, but not if I actually have to PAY for the tickets. And I'm sure not going to watch it on TV. Heck, when I do read the sports section, I skip over the baseball pages. Bor-ing. Anyway, we're going to the game tomorrow (not what I voted for) and I'm planning on having a good time, even though the early forecasts predict rain starting right about game time.

    Not everyone in my department is going, though. In any department of a certain size, there are always a couple of people who won't participate in any group events. One of those works for me. It's not so much that she's anti-social, it's more the fact that her flex hours are from 6 AM to 3 PM (her husband usually leaves for his job by 5 AM, so this schedule works great for her), so by the time we're normally ready to start, she's ready to go home. Since they both get up so early, they're usually in bed by 8 PM. That can really cut into your social life (but only if you care).

    The other person in my department is more the anti-social type. She's a nice enough person and actually does participate in the Christmas white elephant gift swap, but outside of that, she's usually not interested. She still gets asked to participate (as she should...she is still part of the department), but the answer is almost always "No." What limited rumor mill we have is usually started whenever she says "Yes." Her other odd quirk is that she prefers to communicate through email rather than face to face. It's kind of odd when she sits 15 feet away, but won't come talk to you, so you wind up sending four or five emails over 20 minutes instead of having a 30 second conversation. But, hey, different strokes and all that.

    I'll give you a run-down on the game tomorrow. Well, probably not, but at least what WE did at the game. Someone is sure to perform an act of incredible stupidity worthy enough to blog about (and usually that someone's name is Aardvark). If not, I'm hanging around the wrong people.

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    Give me a break

    Newsday reports on a new study showing that wrist/forearm breaks in kids have increased dramatically since 1971. The largest increase (56%) was for girls between 8-11. The researchers aren't sure why. They casually downplay exercise as a possible explanation and instead are focusing on nutritional causes, specifically the increase in carbonated beverage consumption.

    Here's the money quote:
    "One possibility is that kids are much more physically active, which I find hard to believe," Khosla said. "The more disturbing possibility is that this is due to a temporary deficit in bone mass because kids are not getting enough calcium."

    Can you spell a g e n d a?

    It can't be the increase in the number of girls playing organized sports. I mean, just because a handful of girls HAD organized sports 30 years ago and now huge numbers of girls are involved in soccer, baseball, gymnastics and cheerleading, (cheerleading often involves tumbling moves and I know of several who have broken bones in the process) I'm sure that has nothing to do with the increased number of wrist/forearm breaks.

    /sarcasm

    At the end of the article, the researchers also wonder about the effects of drugs and tobacco use. Hmm. Sounds like someone is fishing for more grant money to me.

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    Tuesday, September 16, 2003

    Let’s review

    It’s that time of year again. Annual reviews. Oh, how I hate them. It’s bad enough that I have to do reviews on my employees (not really that tough) but the part that I dread is the peer evaluations and even worse, the self-evaluation. Grading the people that work for me is ok. I know whether or not they’re performing up to snuff, but how do I give constructive input on my peers?

    I never know how to grade them. I can’t be too harsh (unless they really suck, but that was only relevant last year, and they wound up firing that guy) because that winds up really reflecting more on me than them. But I can’t be too easy either. The scale is 1 – 5 (with five being the best). One year a guy (not me) gave his peers all fives. That reflected poorly on him too. So it’s mostly threes, with some fours, and you better have a darn good reason for ones, twos or fives. Personally, I don’t see how this helps my boss any.

    And then the self-evaluation. I spend WAY too much time agonizing over this. On my personal scale, a five indicates I’m performing at the maximum level I’m capable of. I never perform at the max. I don’t think anyone does. Well, ok, maybe you (show off!). So my actual performance compared to what I’m capable of rarely gets above a three. Last year I raked myself over the coals. When I actually got my review, I felt like Sally Fields (You like me! You really like me!)

    My defense mechanism kicks in about this time every year. I convince myself, “You’re not getting a raise and you’re not getting a bonus. In fact, you’ll be lucky if they don’t fire you.” That way it’s always (I hope) a pleasant surprise to find out that I am going to be employed (for the near future at least) after all. And a raise, too? Cool! AND a bonus? Sweet!

    Did I mention I hate annual reviews?

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    The Girls of Wal-Mart

    Coming soon to a “news”stand near you. Makes you shudder, doesn't it? It takes a sick mind to come up with the odd juxtaposition of the terms “nude” and “Wal-Mart”. It creates a mental dissonance. I’m not sure what’s worse, this or Yoko Ono’s latest stunt. Eeewwwwww!

    Link via Wasted Electrons

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    Monday, September 15, 2003

    Something's got a hold on me

    And I think it's the crud. Congestion, pressure, cough, phlegm, the works (I know you're glad I shared). Felt lousy all weekend. Had big plans to do heap plenty work. Instead I practiced my slug imitation, laying on the couch and generally acting pitiful. I finally started feeling better last night and took some of my reserve cough syrup (you know what that is, right? When you had something a year (or two) ago and still have the leftover medicine you keep in reserve, just in case) with codeine and slept like a log (normally, I'd say slept like a baby, but since I didn't wake up every two hours wanting to ... oh, nevermind). Felt so-so this AM, but have improved as the day went by.

    I find it very hard to concentrate when I feel like this, but I had an assignment to finish today, so I hunkered down and took it one step at a time (which is unusual in and of itself. I like to intuit things, mostly, and can get from point A to point F with no problems, but find it hard to go from A to B to C to D to E to F). I had a couple of problems that slowed me up and before I realized, it was 3:00 and I hadn't even stopped for lunch. Now I've done gone and throwed off my dinner schedule. Dang it. (we Aardvarks love to eat on schedule, don'cha know).

    Anyway, I'm hoping that by tomorrow all I'll have to deal with is the lingering bass that goes with the whole respiratory ailment thing. Ciao.

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    Dude, shut up!

    Amazing.

    Terrell Bolton is at it again. Over the weekend he had this to say
    "I was the police chief. I know more secrets than the mayor," he said. "My knowledge is vast and pervasive. So if they want to talk about some of Dallas' little secrets, bring it on and let's have some fun."
    Does this man not have ANY sense?

    Wait. That was rhetorical, ok?

    The Dallas Morning News article goes on to say "Mr. Bolton said he would refute the 20 reasons Mr. Benavides gave for his dismissal and provide critical information about Mr. Benavides, Ms. Miller and possibly others."

    He asked for and received an opportunity to plead his case with the Dallas City Council this afternoon. I wasn't able to listen to it, but the DMN blog (no links to individual entries and NO archives at all. What's up with that?) says that he brought his CHILDREN with him to the Council meeting, introducing them and reciting their GPAs. This man has lost his grip on reality. Does he not have any friends that can talk sense to him?

    I assume that Mr. Bolton does want to be employed somewhere in the future. What he needs to be thinking about is how to land his next job. Instead, he's still fighting the last battle (the one he already lost), and in the process, he is completely self-destructing. By the time he's through, he will self-fulfill his prophecy and won't be able to get a job as a dog catcher. Whatever support he may have had has completely evaporated, with only the die-hard activists still by his side. And all because he can't keep his mouth shut.

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    Friday, September 12, 2003

    And her parents were ... ?

    Here's a story that caught my eye about a 16 year old girl who went to a frat party and was raped.

    I offer no excuses for a man/boy who rapes a woman/girl. In my perfect world they'd be taken out and shot at dawn.

    With that said, I have to tell you, since I happen to be the father of a 16 year old girl, the first thing that went through my mind wasn't how wrong the boy was, but rather, "what's a 16 year old girl doing at a frat party?"

    Where were her parents?

    Sixteen year olds, no matter how intelligent, are not going to consistently think through the consequences of their actions. I know that when you go to a frat party there will be a lot of drinking and, as a result, there will not be a whole lot of inhibited people on the premises. There's going to be wild behavior, a fight or two, some making out and some groping going on (from both males and females) and a number of people are going to wind up having sex and passing out (not necessarily in that order). I know this, but I don't think my 16 year old quite grasps it. This 16 year old didn't grasp it either, but that's why HER PARENTS should have been involved - to protect her from making stupid choices. Did she DESERVE to be raped? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Is it surprising that she was? Absolutely not.

    Her parents may not have even known where she was or what she was doing, but in my mind that doesn't absolve them, it indicts them.

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    That's my girl

    My daughter relayed an event from school yesterday. She's sitting in her history class when someone behind her lets out a large burp. Chuckles all 'round. The teacher asks, "Who was that?" A girl from the back of the room fesses up and the teacher says, "What does that make you, the Queen of burps?" More chuckles. At which point my daughter pipes up, "No, that makes her the Queen of Belch-um"

    Brings a tear to my eye, it does.

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    Yesterday

    No posts for a combination of reasons. One is I didn't have anything to say that hadn't already been said better somewhere else. The second is that I was feeling bad by the time I got home from work and so, instead of handing out free ice cream, went straight to bed. I think I feel better today. Maybe.

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    Wednesday, September 10, 2003

    I dunno, but his face rings a bell

    Alan asked for more information on bell ringing, so y'all can blame him for this post. But before I start in on the bells, I probably should tell you that although I have been exposed to music all of my life, I only contracted a mild case.

    My mom began playing the piano as a little girl by eavesdropping on her older sister's music lessons and then playing the songs by ear (better than her sisters!) after they were done. As Alvin Maker would say, she had a knack. Of all my siblings, I probably have the most musical ability, but it comes nowhere near what my mom had. My oldest daughter, on the other hand, is a natural on the piano. I tell people it skipped a generation. My mom tried to teach me some piano when I was young, but I wasn't overly interested (much to my chagrin now). What I wanted to do was play the trumpet. So I began playing the trumpet in the 4th grade. I played through high school and then promptly quit (although with enough advanced warning, I can get the lip back in shape enough to not be completely embarrassed). I could never be a professional musician (not only do I lack the talent, I lack the drive), but I do know how to read music. And that's a good thing, especially when you like to sing harmony, or play hand bells.

    Our church has three octaves of bells (12 to an octave). That translates into about 10 people, with each person handling three to four bells. We have folding tables with 4" pieces of foam on top (to give a nice cushy surface to place the bells on). When we perform (as opposed to practice) we put nice white tablecloths on top of the foam. Bells are placed on their sides (as opposed to standing up) with their handles facing the player. The handles have an indicator for which side should be face up (to make sure the clapper mechanism works correctly). We wear gloves when we play (black for performance, white for practice) to make sure we don't get oily fingerprints on the bells (since they're brass, they'll tarnish). Every so often we have to polish them up anyway.

    When you're ready to play, you hold the bell with the handle down and flick your wrist so the clapper strikes the bell (once). Even though I have three or four bells to play, not every bell gets used in every song. Typically, I'll have two bells with lots of notes and another bell that may only play once or twice a song. Sometimes it's just one bell. I handle middle C and the B right below it. Depending on what key the song is in, I'll play the C sharp or the B flat (sometimes both). It can be a challenge when you have to switch bells as you have to put one down to pick up the next one (remembering which hand has which bell is also critical) and oftentimes have to switch right back.

    Mostly, playing bells is about knowing how to count. When you come to the right spot in the music, you ring your bell. Whole notes, half notes and quarter notes are pretty easy because they're all on the beat. Eighth notes can be tricky. The hardest thing for me to remember is not playing the bell, but to STOP playing the bell. Funny thing about bells is that once you ring them, they tend to keep on ringing. Sometimes that doesn't sound real good. So after you ring it, you have to damp it, usually by touching it to your chest (that way it stays in position to be rung again).

    That's the basics. There are a couple of other things that sound pretty cool (if they're not overused). One is called table damping. That's where you leave the bell lying on the table with your thumb on the bell and strike it by dropping it on the table (remember they're padded so it doesn't hurt the bell). This gives a nice stacatto (short) sound. Another thing you can do on longer notes is called tolling. After you play the bell as you would normally, you drop your arm and swing it back behind you (watch out for walls) and then back up to the playing position. It makes a nice loud-soft-loud ring. Another ringing variation is called gyro. After you ring you roll your bell by moving your wrist in horizontal circles. That makes a "woo woo woo woo" kind of sound. Lastly, you can vibrate, which basically means you ring the bell continuously (that gets used a lot towards the end of songs).

    That's it. It's really pretty easy and even people who don't read music can play (as long as they can count). When it works, there's nothing like it. When one person gets off, it can sound like a train wreck. I try hard not to wreck the train.

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    Tuesday, September 09, 2003

    Blogging schedule

    I am fixin' (that's Texan for "about" or "getting ready") to start my busy season at work. Mid-day blogging will no longer be the norm. I will probably do most of my posting in the evening. That is all.

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    I've been smeared

    A couple of days ago, Dawn talked about getting a notice in the mail for her annual mammogram.

    I know most of you don't know me, but take my word for it that I am a red-blooded all-American male. So you can imagine my surprise when a couple of years ago I got a notice from my insurance company (Aetna) that is was time for my annual pap smear. I don't know what happened but somewhere in their records they got a little confused. Now to be fair, I do have a first name that causes some confusion as it can be either a boys name or girls name depending on the spelling. But this is my insurance company and they have my application forms that CLEARLY indicate that, yes, I am a male.

    I brought the notice to work and my coworkers (mostly female) were quite amused. I told them, "I'm going to call them and tell them I'll have to wait to schedule this until AFTER my sex change operation." I hung on to the notice for quite a while and one day finally pitched it. I forgot all about it until the next year when I got another one.

    This time my wife called up the insurance company and told them I'd like to comply but I didn't have the right equipment (actually, believe it or not, my wife was a little more graphic than that).

    I never got another notice.

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    I can see clearly now

    Update on the auto glass situation. Evidently I was wrong for thinking evil of Zedikiah. Turns out that while the glass guys were at my house installing my new windshields a couple of the neighbors further down the street stopped and indicated they needed their services also. I know it sounds weird, but it is a little comforting to know that it was just a random event.

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    Monday, September 08, 2003

    Pun - ishment

    I've been known to pull off the occasional groaner. Yesterday during bell practice, we looked at a new piece of music. At one point in the music, the notes had these funky symbols over them. Ummm. What are these?

    They are symbols that indicate that instead of ringing the bells as normal, you should strike them with a mallet.

    We however, will not strike the bells with mallets, as we do not have all the mallets necessary. (you have to use the right type mallet for the right bell or you will crack the bell. Who knew?) At this point, I piped up with a loud, "So what you are saying is we won't play it as written due to absence of mallets?"

    Thank you. Thank you. I'll be here all week.

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    The other shoe has dropped

    What a weekend...things were going well. Too well it seems.

    Went to the high school football game on Friday. My oldest is in the band and so we (as proud parents) have to attend every game. This year the boy she likes (DAD, DON'T SAY ANYTHING!) is on the varsity squad, so he's playing linebacker on Friday nights instead of playing trombone. Much watching and cheering of said boy (but discreetly of course) and the team managed a win. This year's incarnation of the band, on the other hand, leaves a little to be desired. The trumpets began by cracking some notes on the alma mater (of all things) and the rest of the band just seemed tired. Oh well, maybe it was just the first performance jitters. They haven't got their marching routine down yet (our school has a history of doing extremely difficult formations, but they were 3rd in state three years ago, so maybe that pays off) and so they just marched (in straight lines) out to the middle of the field and stood when they played at halftime.

    Saturday it was up early to play on the computer a while and drink a pot of coffee. Got started on the grass about 9:00 and then pulled down a snag from the big tree in the back yard that was hanging over my next door neighbor's yard. Managed to put a big dent in the roof of the metal shed with the large end of the falling limb. Hey, no problem, I don't store anything other than yard stuff in there anyway. Got inside the shed and pushed the metal back into place. Hmmm. Those holes (very small) are probably not a good thing (note to self: patch tonight with duct tape). Cut up said limb into bite size pieces so the trash men can haul off tomorrow (as opposed to setting fire to them like my backfence neighbor prefers). Inside for a shower and lunch and further relaxation, and then off to the TCU football game with my wife's brother and sister-in-law and nephew. We played Navy (her brother's a Naval Academy grad) and the Middies gave us "what for" for the first half, but couldn't seem to get any points, settling for a 3-0 lead at halftime. Final score 17-3 TCU. All is well in Frogland. (no, not France, TCU. You know, the horned frogs?)

    Sunday AM it's up early to get everyone ready to go to church. 8:30 hand bell practice for all but my youngest daughter (she has to go too, though, since she can't drive herself to church, being only 12 and all). The phone rings about 7:45. Who is calling so early on a Sunday morning? It's my next door neighbor. Her husband went out to get the morning paper and noticed that someone had smashed in the back windshield of my car.

    Great. So much for the perfect weekend.

    There's a little bit of history here. Our house when it was built (late 40's, early 50's, I forget which) was a one-car setup. Sometime in the seventies the garage was converted to a (big) bedroom. So we have no garage. The driveway is narrow, which makes sense, seeing as we only had a one-car garage to begin with. It is barely big enough for two cars to park front and back (with maybe 2' to spare when the cars are bumper to bumper), but since it's uphill (and therefore a little trickier to schooch forward with any precision), we usually only park one car in the driveway (my wife's) and one on the street (yours truly). We've never had a problem until this year. I've had the driver's side window smashed (no break-in), the passenger side window smashed (again, no break-in) and now the back windshield smashed (still no break-in)- all this year.

    I called the police the first time. An officer came out and looked at it and basically said, "Yep, it's broken alright." Thanks. That's a big help (not that I really expected them to do anything other than file a report). Called the auto glass guys and the new glass was $10 more than my deductible ($200). I just paid it to save making a claim. The next time, I didn't even bother to call the police, I just got it fixed. There goes another $200. This time, the cops just took the report over the phone. Needless to say, I find this rather frustrating. My wife, on the other hand, gets mad.

    [Mr. T] I pity the fool who messes with her car! [/Mr. T]

    I think it's just kids who are breaking the windows, but I can't escape the niggling doubt that this could be Zedikiah Hatfield's revenge for me turning him in to the fire department (he has yet to start another "controlled" fire in the alley, but it's just a matter of time).

    Anyway, I didn't have time to deal with the car before leaving for church (we have responsibilities, don't you know) other than going out and getting all the change out of the little change compartment (at least no one will steal THAT!). Man, I had a lot of change in there. Must have been $15 worth of quarters, nickels and dimes. I took the drawer completely out and just dumped it in my hand. Of course, I broke the drawer in the process and now will have to purchase a new one at the dealership (Maybe I'll get lucky and it will only be $50, netting out to only $35 in losses).

    So, it's off to bell practice, then Sunday School, then church and then home to phone the police and eat some lunch waiting for them to call back. They call and I give them my info. By this time it's 2:00, and it's nice and warm outside (around 85, maybe 90). Gloves, broom, dustpan and bucket in hand I go to clean up the mess. I must say I'm getting good at cleaning up broken auto glass. Gathered up all I could and then drove to the closest self-serve car wash to use the industrial strength vacuums. I managed to only get two or three cuts (which all bleed profusely) on my hands and arms while I'm sucking up glass. I return home about 3:00 and change out of my stinky, sweaty clothes. Just in time to fall asleep watching the Cowboys (the only thing better than sleeping to football is sleeping to auto racing. Sleeping to golf is a distant third).

    This morning, I took my wife's car to work so she could deal with the auto glass people. Have I mentioned that she's a saint? I'm having the front windshield replaced too (old war wound from a gravel truck skirmish) while we're at it.

    :::sigh:::

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    Friday, September 05, 2003

    Is it just for the moment we live?

    Where would we be without Hal David and Burt Bacharach to provide the music? For those of you who didn't follow that obscure bit, you can find the answer here.

    Last week I wrote a little about the Theory Of Everything (TOE). My question was what if you could develop a TOE for life itself? And if you did, wouldn't it be necessary to take large portions of it on faith alone?

    Dawn's answer was to KISS. She's one of THOSE. Susanna boldly proclaimed her TOE was God (and I have to admit, that does look pretty funny). So what do I think?

    From the beginning of time, man has asked the question, "Why am I here?"

    Some believe that there is no answer. Life on earth is a quirk of nature, a fluke. There's no real meaning to discover at all. You might as well ask, "Why are there walrus' walrusesses walri dogs?" because there's no real reason, there just are. We might as well rely on ourselves, because that's really all we've got. But there's no way to prove that there is no reason we are here. You can argue probabilities if you like, but if you believe that mankind happened by accident and chance, in the end you have to base it on faith. I put Atheists and Humanists into this category.

    Others believe that there is an answer to the question, but it's beyond us to know. That's a nice bit of mysticism and, I must say, it has a certain appeal. It kind of absolves us of any responsibility in the whole affair doesn't it? I mean, if we can't KNOW, then we might as well do what we want (like we weren't planning on it anyway?). We don't really know why we are here, but there is a reason. And so into the gap we fill in an answer, it could be God (in sundry incarnations), or gods, or midochlorians, or beings from a higher plane, or aliens, or who knows what. And in the end, you have to take your beliefs on faith. I put Pantheists, Animists and New Agers in this category.

    Some believe that there is an answer and the answer is knowable. We were created by God and he put us here for a reason. Things tend to break down at this point as we begin to argue about which God and what reasons. Some believe that God started it all and has been somewhat laissez-faire ever since. Others think that God can't keep his fingers out of the pot and controls everything that happens. Still others fall somewhere in between. But like everything else, in the end it comes down to faith. I put Judaism, Christianity and Islam in this category.

    So if I'm going to have to take whatever I believe on faith, what's the best fit for a TOE?

    Option one seems fatalistic to me and doesn't really explain why humans act the way they do the way a good TOE would, so that's out.

    Option two isn't fatalistic, but seems somewhat pointless since there really isn't an answer but rather a large range of answers. At some point, having too many choices is as paralyzing as not having any choices. It's like everyone gets their own personal TOE. Hey man, whatever it is for you, like, that's what it is. With this option, I really could believe my toe (as opposed to TOE) was God. Umm. No. That's out.

    So that leaves me with option three. And sure enough, that's where my faith lies. But that doesn't really pin me down much, does it? I'll explain more later.

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    Be careful what you ask for

    Terrell Bolton has requested a hearing on his termination before the Dallas City Council. It's scheduled for September 15th. He's already cried (literally) about his reputation being dragged through the mud. What does he expect the outcome of a public hearing to be?

    The council chambers will probably be packed with his supporters (I think the room is big enough to hold every last one of 'em), so at a minimum, it ought to be reasonably entertaining. I would be shocked if it wasn't broadcast live by several radio stations and at least one TV station. Hope they remember the 10 second delay. I think they're going to need it.

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    Thursday, September 04, 2003

    Le Tour divorce

    Can I discuss this without being judgmental? Frankly, I don't know. But I'll try.

    When my wife and I got married 18 years ago, we both agreed that divorce would NEVER be an option for us, no matter what. Quite frankly, I think if we hadn't made that commitment (prior to and in addition to our wedding vows), we would not be married today. But for some reason, God saw fit to give us both a little extra dose of smarts the day we swore to each other that we would never divorce. Kill each other - maybe, divorce - never.

    About 12 years ago, after the birth of our second child, we reached a decision point. We had slowly grown apart as she focused more and more on the kids and I focused more and more on my career. Not an unusual story. But divorce was not an option. So she and I had to decide, were we going to live separate lives together, unsatisfied, unhappy, unfulfilled, or were we going to deal with our problems and work to make life better? We chose to work. And that's the right word for it. It was HARD. You see, I had to be willing to put aside what I wanted (but it's all about ME!) and be willing to give my wife what she wanted. And she had to do the same for me. And in order to do that, we had to talk. About everything. Turns out that neither one of us were very good mind readers. Slowly but surely, we made progress. We scheduled time alone and started going to marriage conferences. And in the process, we discovered that we still liked each other (who'd a thunk it!) I have to say, I couldn't be more happily married than I am now.

    So it makes me sad to see that Lance and his wife are giving up so easily. I mean, this is the guy who fought testicular cancer and won. This is a guy who, against all odds, has risen to the top of his sport. This is the guy who has the mental toughness to face the Tour de France and win five straight years. Mountains? Bring 'em on! Adversity? Ha! Competition? Better bring your "A" game.

    How does a guy who's life is filled with dedication, commitment, drive and ambition decide to throw in the towel so easily on his marriage? Five years? The Tour de France has 20 stages. He's dropping out after five? A spokesman says, "it just didn't work out." Like you just shrug and move on? Quitter! (ok, so I AM being judgmental. Sue me.)
    "The craziest thing is, we're closer now and better friends than ever before. We're truly committed to maintaining a good relationship, but not a marriage."
    Does. Not. Compute.

    "The kids are our first priority," said the cyclist.

    Um. No. You mean after getting what you want, the kids are your first priority.

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    Wednesday, September 03, 2003

    SciFi v. The Western: analyze and discuss

    Another thing that Jordana mentioned was that schools should teach more literature as a way to develop writing skills. Once again, I completely agree. I didn't like English when I was in high school. I moved so much as a kid that I missed out completely on how to diagram sentences (one school taught it the next year and then when I moved the next school had taught it the prior year). I can handle subjects and predicates, nouns verbs and pronouns, but when you start getting to adverbs, participles and prepositions (to name a few) I just glaze over. But the part of English classes that I did enjoy were the literature portions (I still remember more about Mrs. Mike than I care to admit).

    When I got to college, I surprised myself when I took a couple of Lit. classes as electives. I was a business major, why did I want to take those liberal arts, pansy classes? The first class I took because it caught my eye in the course catalog. "Science Fiction" Hey. Cool. I like SciFi. And I read it all the time anyway, I might as well get credit for it.

    I had no idea.

    That class blew me away. The professor was a total geek (and believe me, I know geek), about 6' 5" and 150 pounds, glasses, buzzed haircut and a really dry sense of humor. The class was only about 20 people and my gut reaction when the professor walked in the room the first day (being the mature person that I am) was that this was going to be a looooooong semester. I couldn't have been more wrong. This guy was GREAT. I don't think I've ever had a class I enjoyed more or that was more challenging personally. His tests (all essay) were designed to get you to take a position and defend it. He didn't want his thoughts regurgitated (and he never let you pin him down, freely arguing multiple views, so that wasn't a problem), but he was INTERESTED in what you thought. Like I said, I was blown away. We read about eight books that semester (and had a test on every one of them) and without thinking too hard, here are a few:

    Player Piano - Kurt Vonnegut
    The Space Merchants - Frederick Pohl & Cyril Kornbluth
    A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter Miller
    Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner

    When the next semester rolled around, I wanted more. This prof was only teaching one literature class that semester: The Western. Yuck. Westerns? I signed up anyway. He could have taught "Yak Breeding for Fun and Profit" and I would have signed up. Who knew westerns could be so interesting?

    Riders of the Purple Sage - Zane Grey
    The Virginian - Owen Wister
    Monte Walsh - Jack Schaefer

    I learned more about writing in those two semesters than in every other English class I'd ever had combined.

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    Go with the flow

    Jordana has some thoughts about learning to write that I found interesting. One of the things that helped her develop her writing skills was reading. I couldn't agree more. I have always loved to read and know a little (but not much) about what makes good writing (which is not the same as saying my writing is good, by the way).

    One of the things I like about blog writing is that I can write in any style I like. Usually, it means that I write idiomatically (or idiot-matically, if you prefer). What I put on pixels is the way I would say it in my head. That works great for a journal, but not so well in business settings.

    When I write for work (which isn't often), the language and syntax change completely. I've worked with folks that can't do that. They have a one-style-fits-all approach to writing, and (amazingly enough) tend to get their feelings hurt when you make changes to what they write. One guy who used to work for me (who freely admitted to not being a great writer) would get mad when I marked up his memos. Add a word here, remove a word there, change the phrasing, check the tenses, add punctuation and voila, a memo! He'd say, "You made so many changes, why didn't you just write it yourself!" Ah, grasshopper, that was not the point.

    Anyway, I think where I was going before I got sidetracked is that when I'm done writing a blog entry, I read it as if I were saying it aloud. Sometimes the rhythms aren't right and I'll have to go back and tweak it before I'm happy. I like writing that's lyrical. It should have an ebb and flow that feels natural. Sentence structure? Who cares! Throw. It. Out. Dangling participles? Grammar? Oh, please! I ain't got time to worry what that is. As long at it flows.

    Some authors flow and some don't, but that's not necessarily why I like them or don't like them. I read C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia out loud to my kids. Very readable (mostly) although I did do some on-the-fly editing of the occasional "Damn" or "Ass" (very British, wot?). J.R.R Tolkien's LOTR on the other hand is very difficult to read out loud (try it if you don't believe me). Too many embedded phrases to follow verbally - they make a lot more sense on the page than off. But both are great authors. They tell a story and suck you in with a voice that's internally consistent. When you encounter dialogue, you can hear the characters talking in your head (but I've got meds for that).

    Then there's dreck like the Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins Left Behind series. I wanted to like them, but after I choked down the first two books I couldn't bring myself to read the third. It's not the theology or the preachiness of the books that turned me off (like I said, I wanted to like them), but the PUTRID writing. Dialogue that's stiff and stilted and characters that refuse to act/react like real people. It's like they had a skeleton of the story they wanted to tell and put in some tendons and cartilage to hold it together and then stopped. Don't bother with flesh and blood and skin and hair and all the minute details that create a reality in the mind of the reader. No time for that, we've got another 15 books to write.

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    Tuesday, September 02, 2003

    You just can't please some people

    First Terrell Bolton said that he didn't know why he was fired.

    So when his supporters demanded to know why he was fired, the city manager sat down with them and told them.

    Now Terrell is upset because everybody knows why he was fired. He claims that his reputation has been destroyed and that he "couldn't get a job as a dogcatcher." The fact that he was blubbering like a girly-girl when he said this will probably have more impact on his future job chances than being fired ever would.

    Yeah, let's hire this guy, but don't say anything bad about him or he'll cry. Hmmm. Maybe we should just keep looking.

    Naturally, it's all about race, at least for some people. Terrell himself did a nifty little dance around the race issue. At least at first anyway. He refused to mention race, but his attorney brought it up at the first opportunity. The dance went something like this: Terrell doesn't want this to be about race, but I (his attorney) think that's exactly what this is about. If Terrell really didn't want it to be about race, wouldn't he have instructed his attorney to keep his opinions to himself? Of course, now that the subject's been broached, Terrell is all over it.

    For some, no matter what the facts are, it's GOT to be the mayor who's behind it because she's WHITE and JEWISH to boot. Here's a quote from Reverend Nash, directed to the city manager (the guy who actually did the firing).
    "My concern is not with you," he said. "It's with a mayor that would pimp you, however that was done. It was racist. I don't care how much you care to paint the picture. I'm leaving here today just as enraged as I was yesterday."
    Don't confuse me with the FACTS, my mind's made up! How'd you like to have this guy as your preacher?

    Yesterday, Terrell was on the news "preaching" (whining) at the church where he is a deacon. "Some people asked me, 'say, chief, why did you smile when they crucified you?'" Yessir. Saint Terrell. Martyred in '03. That shouldn't affect any potential employer's opinion of you, should it?

    I couldn't find a link, but the last mewlings from Terrell's attorney, Bob Hinton, indicated that they would all go away if the city agreed to a nice big settlement without having to go to court. But it's not about the money. Sure.

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