Friday, November 28, 2003

Running with scissors

I feel pretty confident in saying that I'm in the minority of Americans today: the ones who actually had to go to work. So here's how the day has gone.

I drove my wife's car in to work today. It's a long story, but my wife's currently almost to Houston, riding with her brother. They're going to visit their mom and are planning on driving back tonight. Nothing like 10 hours in a car to remind you you're family.

Anyway, since her car was parked behind mine, I drove hers to work today. I also (as I usually do) brought along some coffee to drink on the way to work. Some days I finish it before I get there and other days I forget it's there and wind up carrying it in and finishing it up inside. I have about four or five different "to go" cups with lids to put my coffee in. Since my wife left early, there was "extra" coffee this morning (at least for me). Hmmm. I bet there's more than will fit into one of THOSE cups. Why don't I use this BIG glass (heavy acrylic) to carry it in?

Yes, why don't I? It's not like I haven't done it before.

It was chilly this morning (in the 40s) so I put on my light gloves and grabbed my big, full, hot glass of coffee, and Heigh-Ho! (you can see it coming, can't you)

Made it through downtown A-ok, but decided I'd better turn the heater fan off before it got too warm. Switch the coffee to the left hand, turn fan off, grab coffee with right hand, fail to notice that right hand has trapped glove on left hand against glass, spastically try to remove left hand from glass.

"THAR' SHE BLOWS!"

The good news: I only had about half a glass of coffee left before my juggling act.

The bad news: What wasn't on the ceiling and visor (yes, that's right, the CEILING AND VISOR) was now warming my legs (it had cooled enough to not be scalding).

What would you do? Something sensible and sane like...wait, if you were sensible and sane you wouldn't be IN this mess to begin with. Scratch that. Something SAFE like pull over to the side of the road to clean up this mess? Right, well, that's obviously NOT what I did then.

Step 1: Assess extent of damage. Let's see, most of the liquid has now soaked into my pants (ah, to be young again...) and other than what's dripping from the ceiling, everything else seems to be reasonably dry.

Step 2: Inventory assets. Oh! A napkin! Excellent.

Step 3: Begin mop-up operations. First the ceiling...Hey! it must be Scotch Guarded because it didn't soak in. Now the steering wheel. Let's see, a drip here, some over there...

Step 4: Weave all over the road like a mad man. Whew! Good thing most people aren't trying to get to work this morning and I have the road to myself. Maybe I should pull over? Nah!

Step 5 Remove soggy gloves

Step 6: Drink whatever coffee remains in glass.

Step 7: Continue discovering little "rain drop" splashes of coffee and soaking them up with soggy napkin.

Step 8: Look up and discover visor (Hey, when did they put that there!).

Step 9: Cogitate briefly on whether or not coffee could be lurking between ceiling and visor.

Step 10: Flip visor down, obscuring line of vision.

Step 11: Ignore line of vision and use back of hand to determine dampness.

Step 12: Use remaining dry corner of napkin to dab dry ceiling/visor.

Step 13: Repeat step 4.

Fortunately, traffic remained light and all police personnel were otherwise occupied.

I wonder if my wife will notice if her car starts smelling like coffee?

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    Wednesday, November 26, 2003

    Menu

    Continuing the food meme, we have solved the question of what to serve for Thanksgiving dinner by providing turkey, ham AND brisket (hello!?! this IS Texas...of COURSE you're going to serve brisket). We'll have some sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, green beans, fruit salad, raw veggies and dip, a relish tray, rolls, pumpkin pie (Cool Whip!) and chocolate pie (MORE Cool Whip!), fudge and Blue Bell ice cream. UPDATE: I forgot the stuffing and the cranberry sauce (the fancy kind with the cool can-shaped design) and I just found out about the apple pie that will be putting in an appearance (briefly).

    And a nap. Yeah, definitely.

    Hope y'all have a great Thanksgiving.

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    Brownies

    Well the theme for the day seems to be brownies, so I might as well (I couldn't talk myself out of it) share with you my other idea for a new product. (Since there was such an overwhelming response to the new Schick Octo...)

    A few years back I noticed some ads touting the new "One-step" brownies. I don't remember if they were Pillsbury or Betty Crocker or some other brand, but evidently they weren't too big of a hit, since I can find no trace of them on the internet.

    The premise for one step brownies was that people were basically too lazy to bother with stirring or mixing or even adding an egg or water. You just open the box and pop the pre-filled baking tray into the oven and then you're good to go. Of course I had a problem with this right away 'cause that's TWO steps right there, not to mention having to turn the oven ON and setting a timer and taking 'em out and letting 'em cool and putting them on a plate to serve (unless of course, you eat 'em right out of the pan, and then you can save that step). These so-called "One-step" brownies had at least SIX steps (and maybe seven), but then again, that's just my OCD talking.

    So, after seeing the commercial, I turned to my wife and said, "Hey! I've got a great idea! (that's what I always say, but she probably thinks otherwise) Since people are now TOO LAZY to even use a brownie MIX, why don't we suggest they develop some PRE-CHEWED brownies so people won't have to go through all that time consuming chewing? Oooh, oooh! I know, how about PRE-DIGESTED brownies? That's the ULTIMATE in convenience food. Why, you just open the box and dump 'em straight into the commode!"

    Needless to say (which never seems to stop me from saying it anyway), my wife was less than impressed with my marketing genius.

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    Tuesday, November 25, 2003

    Isn't it amazing

    How you can just be bumbling through the ether and encounter a blog that you never knew existed five minutes ago, but all of a sudden realize you should have been reading all the time.

    Yep.

    'Course I blame that Possum feller for keeping secrets. (So what if he has a link to the blog I just found right there on the top of his page ... It CAN'T be my fault) I think he was trying to hog up all the bloggedy goodness for himself. Yeah, that's the ticket ... hoggedy bloggedy. (I sense a Googlewhack!)

    Anyway, the blog in question is Unfreezing, run by a feller, name o' Jim. Y'all go check him out.

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    New product

    Saw a commercial a little while back for the new Schick Quattro. You know, when they came out with the double razor, I though, "Hey, that's a pretty good idea." Then they introduced the three bladed razor and I'm thinking "Uh...whatever." Now, with the four bladed razor I think they've crossed the line into one-upmanship.

    One of the (minor) problems with using a razor is that tender territory right underneath your nose. With a nice thin razor head, you can usually shave there with no problems. Even with that, I have nicked my nose any number of times due to inattentiveness (and my ear lobe too which REALLY requires talent). What's that going to be like using a razor head that's twice the size?

    "Hey LittleA, you growing a 'stash?"

    "Uh...no, not on purpose anyway."

    Anyway, if this trend continues, just imagine what the next new razor will be like.

    Introducing the Schick Octo! Now comes with a wall mount to lock the razor in place. Just rub your face up against it for the closest shave ever! This is the ULTIMATE RAZOR with 5 gel strips and 8 stainless steel blades. Gel, blade, blade, blade, gel, blade, blade, gel, blade, gel, blade, blade, gel. Your beard doesn't stand a chance. One shave with the new Octo, and you won't need to shave again for at least a week!

    Not recommended for men with skin.
    Bandages sold separately.

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    What'd I say?

    So Tuesday is trash day for the Aardvark family. We have those big plastic bins provided by the city to put out our trash and recycling once a week. Have to be out by the curb by 7:00 AM, so as man of the house, I get to round up all the small trash recepticals and combine them before taking the bag outside and wheeling the carts out to the curb.

    This AM, as I snatch the trash can out of the master bath (or the closest thing WE have to it), where Mrs. Aardvark is diligently fixin' her hair (hubba, hubba!), I notice several items have been aimed in the general direction of the can but somehow have managed to avoid the vortex and have fallen helplessly to lay (or should that be lie?) on the floor, awaiting rescue at some future date (namely Tuesday morning before 7 AM). So as I'm picking up the detritus of Aardvark living, I say, "Well, now I know where the kids get it from."

    For some reason my wife was not amused. I don't know why not, it's not like I'm a slob or anything ... oh ... wait ... nevermind.

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    Monday, November 24, 2003

    It's not always about the money

    In fact it rarely is. When people leave their jobs, that is.

    What you hear is usually that Beauford got a 10%, 20%, 30% increase to go somewhere else, and that's the explanation that goes around the office. It reinforces the remaining employee's belief that they are underpaid (a constant in every company) and it allows management a convenient excuse - "Well, we just can't afford to pay those kinds of salaries and still make money." Everybody's happy: Beauford got a nice raise, the rest of the employees got a gripe reinforced, and management is not at fault. Or are they?

    My belief is that in most cases, people don't change jobs because of the money. The money is secondary. What usually occurs is that an employee becomes dissatisfied with another aspect of their job: a perceived unfairness (real or imagined), a lapse of ethics from a superior, lack of support from management (either through not allocating enough resources to get the job done, not backing them in a decision, or letting the employee take the heat for something they were directed to do, etc.), or a change in corporate direction/philosophy.

    Beauford notices that Jim Bob doesn't seem to work nearly as hard as he does. He's always taking breaks and usually takes an extra 30 minutes for lunch with no apparent consequences. "That's ok," Beauford says to himself, "Come raise time, Jim Bob is going to be sorry. I'm going to be rewarded for my contributions...I mean I've been working late and coming in on weekends and I handle twice as much stuff as he does." But Beauford and Jim Bob work for Bubba, who has been so busy with his own work, he hasn't noticed the big discrepancy in effort and workload between the two. Come raise time, he decides he likes both boys just fine and gives them the same raise. For some reason, Beauford starts acting a little strange, and Bubba just can't figure out why.

    One reason is that Beauford did not even receive an acknowledgement of the extra effort he gave to his job. Another is that he overheard Jim Bob tell Jurline how much his raise was. That guy got the same increase he did! "That tears it," Beauford says, "I'm going to start looking for another job."

    Notice that money is a factor for Beauford, but not in absolute dollars, just relative dollars. What really motivates him to leave is the UNFAIRNESS of the recognition he received in relation to the work he has done. He could have received the same raise, and if he'd have found out Jim Bob got half as much or none at all, he'd still be a happy camper and money would not be an issue. It's not HIS pay he's mad about, it's Jim Bob's!

    Now when Beauford starts looking for another job, is he going to leave for one that doesn't pay as well? It can happen if he's unhappy enough, but the norm is to find a job that pays at least a little better than the one you've got. Now Beauford is not a confrontational guy. If he was, he would have marched into Bubba's office and demanded that this inequity be resolved. So, when he gives his resignation, what reason is he going to give Bubba for his departure? That's right. More money.

    I've left jobs where management could have offered me twice as much money to stay and it still wouldn't have been worth the hassle. One of the things managers must do to keep turnover as low as possible is to ferret out the little sources of unhappiness for their employees. Sometimes all it takes to keep your employees happy is something as simple as saying "Good morning" or asking about their kids. Better working conditions will keep more people than better pay.

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    He so funny too

    It's a good thing I was working alone on Saturday when I read Lee's comment to this post where I pondered on how to lurch around the blogosphere without creeping people out. Laughing out loud is either a sign of genius (my belief) or insanity (what my coworkers believe). Here is Lee's comment in it's entirety.
    I agree with what Dawn said - imagine how underutilized this net would be if you only ever got comments from people demographically the same as you.

    Good set of rules as well; they should at least convey your intentions (or lack of them!) to the writer of the weblog, which is the most important part. Any public interaction that then follows should quell any uneasiness felt by other comment readers (and I guess one can only hope that that includes the fathers).

    And for the record, you have only creeped me out once; but since our little "discussion" on the "appropriateness" of emailing pictures of "farm animals in sexy poses", you've been much better.

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    He so funny

    So while checking out this week's Carnival, I ran across Eric Berlin's blog. He submitted his entry for basic rules for celebrities. I added a few of my own in his comments, and he was kind enough to do a separate post to point out my rules as well as add an additional one of his own. The original concept for his first post is one of those things that makes you slap your forehead and say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

    Unfortunately, the answer is usually, "Well, for one, you're not that clever." But not for lack of trying. Which is a good way to segue into the new subtitle for this blog, "Consistently meeting low expectations since June 2003".

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    Saturday, November 22, 2003

    Saturday's To Do List

    Planned:

    Get up
    Get dressed
    Go to work

    Actual:

    Get up
    Get dressed
    Remember wife is hosting baby shower
    Remember wife hung new shower curtain so bathroom would look nice for baby shower
    Remember wife asked that shower rod be moved up 1" so new shower curtain would not touch floor
    Attempt to adjust shower rod
    Break shower rod
    Get keys to go to Home Depot for new shower rod
    Discover car has been egged
    Drag hose from back yard to front yard
    Look for nozzle
    Give up and go ask wife where nozzle is
    Get nozzle
    Wash egg off car while saying bad things about neighborhood "kids"
    Manage to get semi-soak while washing off egg
    Put hose back in back yard
    Put nozzle back in it's new resting place
    Drive to Home Depot
    Notice BIG blood-gorged mosquito in car
    Squish mosquito
    Become grossed out by blood
    Wonder if that's my blood
    Find napkin to wipe up bloody mosquito remains
    Wonder if mosquito carried West Nile
    Shrug
    Wander through aisles of Home Depot looking for shower rods
    Discover shower rods are on the opposite side of the store
    Purchase new shower rod
    Drive home
    Install new shower rod
    Stash remains of old rod outside where no baby shower guests will encounter them
    Go to work

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    Friday, November 21, 2003

    Rotating Seuss

    I haven't seen the new "Cat in the Hat" movie. I'm not going to. Why would I want to tarnish the memories of my childhood with this atrocity (the same reason I refused to see The Grinch a few years back)? I can tell you without seeing it, that the cleverness of the original will have been wrung out and replaced with lowbrow, sneering, potty humor (not that I am necessarily AGAINST potty humor, just not in a CHILDREN'S movie). I saw a commercial for the film the other day and one of the characters made a sarcastic comment with the word "butt" in it. Now I own many Dr. Seuss books and have several Dr. Seuss records given to me by my oldest brother when I was just a wee little lad. I cannot recall encountering the word "butt" in ANY of this material. Feh.

    I am one of the few people I know who was not enamored with Shrek (for the same reason). We did see this in the theater with the kids. I was uncomfortable in several places due to the innuendo and mean spirited humor. And my kids were among the oldest in the theater. Shrek worked way to hard to be clever and not hard enough to be funny.

    It appalls me when movies are marketed to preschoolers and then contain material that isn't age appropriate. Then again, when many parents take their preschoolers to R rated flicks, I can see why some movie makers don't see the problem.

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    I'm so confused

    There is something I don't understand. Well, actually, there are LOTS of things I don't understand, but I'm thinking of just ONE particular thing at the moment.

    Unless things have changed dramatically since I got out of school, I think the whole "survival of the fittest" concept (as opposed to the survival of the fattest concept that I support) is still an accepted part of the theory of evolution. Isn't it?

    So does that mean that the environmentalists who are trying to protect endangered species don't believe in evolution? 'Cause, I mean, if they did, then they wouldn't WANT weaker species to survive, would they? Or is it just that they don't consider "Man" a part of nature and therefore have to oppose any effect we may have on the world around us?

    Like I said, I'm so confused.

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    Well, now

    THIS should be interesting. One of my employees just told me she wanted my opinion on a theological matter. Now, I have opinions on LOTS of theological matters, but I'm not so sure she really wants to hear my opinion on THIS PARTICULAR theological matter. I have deferred the conversation to a later date, as a) I am busy and b) I need some time to put my ducks (wouldn't doves be more appropriate?) in order. Something about having more than just, "Well, that's what I've always heard" as an answer appeals to me.

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    Memo

    To: BCS Committee

    From: TCU Horned Frogs

    Re: Fiesta Bowl bid



    Nevermind.

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    Thursday, November 20, 2003

    Lines

    and where to draw them. I have mentioned before that my coworker thinks the idea of blogging is kind of creepy. Putting your private thoughts out where total strangers can see them is, to her, not something normal people would/could/should do. Then again, I've never been normal. But I do realize there are lines across which, we should not venture. I'm just not sure where they are.

    Let me be a little more specific. I am a happily married 41-year-old male. As such, I have no issues interacting with the other males on my blogroll. Terry seems like someone I've known for years. Nate is like an old friend from work. Lee and Brian are younger, hipper, smarter versions of me (Aardvark 3.1.2 Gold Edition). Mark and Alan are like old friends of the family. You get the picture. I also have no issues interacting with most of the ladies. Dawn is a "Hey, we should have lunch" kind of woman; quiet on the outside, but fun and funny once you get to know her. Miss Janice is a woman you can have a decent conversation with, charming and witty, but with a strong sense of propriety; as a result, she'll zing you when you least expect it. Susanna is like a sister who's fun to tease; she can be silly one minute and serious the next - underestimate her at your own peril. Jordana takes me back to the young-married new-kid stage of life; it's fascinating to see what my wife has experienced through the eyes of another.

    And then there's Meredith. Meredith presents some issues that the others don't because she is a young college student. From what I can tell, she's as sweet as can be and is still in the process of figuring life out. She has a close circle of a half-dozen or so blogger friends, all young college coeds - then there's me. My oldest is just a few years younger, so part of me feels that I automatically fall into the category of "creepy, lecherous old man"...only I'm not creepy and lecherous, I'm just old. I know that, but I can't assume that everyone who might visit Meredith's blog and read the comments (including Meredith) might understand that. In the last couple of days, one of Meredith's friends, Jeni, has left comments here and I've left a comment on one of her posts. In checking out Jeni's blog, I noticed that her dad leaves comments. That got me to thinking, how would I feel if my daughter had a blog and some old dude was leaving comments? There's a line there somewhere, and I don't want to cross it. I don't want to be known as the "creepy-old-guy-who-won't-go-away-and-leave-us-alone". I don't want to overstay my welcome with anyone, and I don't think I have, but I'm way more sensitive about it with these girls (I can say girls, can't I?) than I am with any other blog I visit/leave comments on.

    So here are the Aardvark's rules for not being creepy to college coeds:
    No non-public contact - all interaction must be in public comments.

    No flirtatious comments - my wife should be able to read anything I write (always true).

    It's not necessary to comment every day or on every post. Give 'em some space, man.

    Try to keep it light and funny (if possible).

    If light and funny isn't appropriate for the post you're commenting on, make it short and supportive.
    That's basically what I've done so far. I'm interested in what the rest of you think. Can an old guy read/comment on a college girl's blog without being creepy?

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    Wednesday, November 19, 2003

    Frog Fever!

    And I'm delirious.

    Will the fightin' TCU Horned Frogs be 11-0 after tomorrow night's game against Southern Miss? Who knows. With a schizophrenic offense and a schizophrenic defense, there is no predicting the team that will actually take the field. The biggest difference in this team over teams from prior years is their ability to say "No Thanks" when offered the opportunity to lose.

    I caught a snippet of Coach Patterson on the news last night. I can't find the quote in the papers or online, but he basically said: Everybody is complaining about our strength of schedule, but if that's such an issue, why do the BCS conferences keep scheduling non-BCS schools. If we're not that good, they shouldn't be playing us.

    And he's got a point. Oklahoma's win over North Texas still counts as a W for the top ranked Sooners. What exactly did this prove? Maybe the BCS shouldn't count any games against non-BCS teams. TCU would then be 2-0 and completely out of the picture, eh?

    I still think you take the top 16 teams and 15 bowls and play a four game elimination tournament. Then there is no doubt who deserves to be there. Shoot, take the next 8 teams and 7 bowls and have an NIT type 'best of the rest' tournament while your at it.

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    Grrrrrr

    Ok, my computer just shut itself down, without even so much as an "if you please". So, all of my witty repartee has vanished into the ether. (Heh. No great loss, eh?)

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    Tuesday, November 18, 2003

    Telling stories

    My youngest daughter has always had a rather active imagination. Couple that with the strong desire to hear one's own voice and you can imagine what she was like as a child.

    She was big into making up songs. Usually the stream-of-consciousness type where she sang about whatever popped into her little head - frequently it was whatever she was looking at at that particular moment. As a parent, you are able to tune this out as background noise, especially in confined spaces like the car. One day, as my wife was off to wherever it is stay-at-home moms go, and my youngest was in her car seat singing her made-up-on-the-spot songs as usual, she stopped singing and said (dramatically), "Sing with me now!" Evidently, this was something she had heard from the song leader at church. My wife said she about wrecked the car from laughing so hard.

    She liked to make up stories. When she was two or three (and maybe even four) she would want to tell me a story. But to tell it, she would have to be STANDING in my lap. It was always a customized version of the Three Little Pigs. She'd start by telling me the names of the pigs. They always had different names, but there was ONE pig, the FOURTH pig, named Shimmie. Don't ask me, I don't know. Anyway, as she was beginning the story by telling me the pigs names and describing what they were wearing and what they had for lunch, I would ask questions to sidetrack her. This was part of the routine and she would get upset if I did not ask questions. The other thing that kept her sidetracked was the fact that she was standing on my legs and would keep moving her feet and wobble and slide off and have to climb back up. Again, all part of the routine. She stopped only when she got too big to stand on my legs without killing me. In all those years of telling me the story of the Three Little Pigs, she never got even as far as introducing the wolf.

    When she was four or five, the preacher at our church started doing children's sermons. At a particular point in the service, all the kids were invited to come up and sit on the steps to the platform with the preacher. Two things. One is that my youngest thought that the only appropriate place for her to sit was ON THE PREACHER'S LAP. If one of the other kids got there first, there was trouble...that was HER spot. The other thing is that he would always start his children's sermons by asking an open-ended question. We begged and pleaded for him to ask "Yes" and "No" type questions, but NOOOO, he HAD to ask open-ended questions. There was no predicting what the youngest Aardvark would choose to share with the church on any given day.

    When she was about this same age, her Sunday School teacher came up one day and told us, "I was so concerned for y'all this morning. Your daughter said that ________ had happened and that ____________ had happened and that ___________ was sick and that ___________ was dying." Of course, we were mortified as none of it was true, but the teacher continued. "And then she said, 'And sometimes, I just make stuff up!'" We still say that one of the reasons we had to change churches is that EVERYONE there had a story to tell about the youngest Aardvark girl. (not true, but it makes a good story! Hmmm...I wonder where she gets it from?)

    She also made up stories to tell to herself as she played. These stories were always told in a special high-pitched voice. Her "squeaky voice" we called it. This was not so easy to tune out as it was just grating enough to get under your skin. She wouldn't even realize she was doing it and would stop if asked, but then start right up again without thinking about it. Her squeaky voice was banished to her room as a result. It also took on a life of its own in the bathroom. With our oldest child, you always knew when she was taking care of her business because she always sat and sang. If she wasn't singing, it would be a short trip, but you knew it was going to be a while if she started her "pooping song". The youngest did the same thing only it was the squeaky voice. (I'm sure they'll appreciate me sharing THAT)

    My youngest also had a little trouble telling the difference between making up "stories" and telling the truth. She began to lie when the truth was no trouble. She would come home from kindergarten and tell my wife the most horrendous stories of what happened at school. When pressed, she would offer something like, "Well it COULD have happened that way." We quickly learned to check with the teacher before reacting to any of her stories. We caught her in more and more lies, and were at wits end of how to break her from this habit before it got her into any serious trouble. At about the end of first grade, or the beginning of second (I forget which), she lied to me about something or other and I had HAD it. I told her to go to the kitchen and get me a paper plate. She looked confused, but did as I asked. I had her go get me a blue crayon. I sat her down at the kitchen table and told her to write on the plate "I told a lie". While she was doing that, I went and got the hole punch and some yarn. When she was done, I punched two holes in the plate and strung the yarn through and tied it together. I told her the next time she told me a lie, she would have to wear this sign around her neck. I only intended it to be an around the house thing, but she thought I meant EVERYWHERE, including to school. I let her think that. As a reminder, we hung the sign on her closet door knob. Funny, but her lying (for the most part) stopped immediately. That plate with "I told a lie" on it hung on that knob for a couple of years. One day, when I was in her room, I got the plate and handed it to her, "I think we've had this long enough, don't you? Why don't you go throw it away." As I recall, I got one of the biggest hugs ever.

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    I got your logic right here, pal

    I woke up grumpy this morning.

    (My wife would say, "Some days I wake up grumpy, and some days I let him sleep in." Ba-da-bum.)

    I have no particular reason to be a patootie-head, I just FEEL like it, ok? (Hence, the title to said post)

    Anyway, I managed to leave the house this AM without taking it out on the family, but things at work haven't conspired to improve my disposition any.

    So don't cross me.

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    Monday, November 17, 2003

    Systematic randomness

    Ever since I posted this, my referral logs have been full of people searching for the junky items in the offer (but, hey, it's traffic!). I find it funny that so many people a) feel the need to research this junk and b) think that I would have something meaningful to say about it.

    Bumper sticker I saw on the way to work this morning: Cowboy foreplay: Get in the truck! (okay, then...and I notice you're driving alone...)

    Bumper sticker I saw a couple of weeks ago on the way to work: We honor ALL our students at Feelgood Elementary (ok, I made that school up...I don't remember the real name, and it wouldn't mean anything to you if I did). Oh, golly gee, and it never rains, but they always have rainbows.

    I'm raising nerds, but in a cool, geeky sort of way (fun with oxymorons!). While trying to describe Gundam Wing (why? I don't know) to the spouse, I used a reference to an older show she may have remembered from a) college or b) the new series when the kids were young. Only I couldn't remember the name of the show. So, I asked my youngest daughter..."You remember that show that had the robot lions and they were all different colors and they could all combine and form the one big dude?" At which point my daughter's eyes light up and she gets a big smile and says, "Yeah!" "What was the name of that show?" "I can't remember." (Thanks, THAT was a big help) Unfortunately, this conversation occurred at bedtime and so she had to get up a couple more times to guess a name. "Was it Star Commanders?" (Again, I'm making up names, 'cause I don't remember EXACTLY what she said) "Nope. That isn't it." After a couple of unsuccessful guesses and being sent back to bed, my oldest daughter (who was already in bed...beauty sleep and all that) comes into the living room. "I couldn't help but overhear, and the name of the show you're looking for is Voltron." "Yeah! That's it!" I say, turning to the wife. "Nope." she says, "I don't remember it." Eh. All for nothing. Thanked my oldest and sent her back to bed, with a request that she stop by her sister's room and tell her too (to avoid another guessing session).

    Saw a truck a couple of months ago with the semi-obligatory fake Calvin peeing sticker along with another fake Calvin in the act of mooning (FYI - ANY Calvin you see on merchandise is fake. Bill Watterson NEVER licensed Calvin...EVER). In 2" letters in the corner of the window the words "Jump up and" and then in 10" letters in a semi-circle covering most of the window "kiss my Mexican ass". Wow, kinda hard to miss that, now isn't it? His momma must be so proud. What's it like, I wonder, to live by the motto: "Coarsening society and proud of it"?

    I find it funny that the Blogger supplied spell checker doesn't recognize the word "blogs".

    I guess that's it.

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    Friday, November 14, 2003

    Hornet's nests

    And why you shouldn't whack them with sticks.

    I never cease to be amazed at folks who are willfully obtuse. These are the people who prevent true discourse, debate and discussion of any meaningful issue due to their unwillingness to actually listen and understand what's being said. They are ideologues who must "win" at any cost, and they exist on the right and on the left. They may talk about "meeting in the middle", but in practice what this means is "you give up your position and admit that I'm right." If the other side refuses to capitulate, they are then accused of "being unwilling to compromise." These are the people who attribute only positive motives to their own side of the issue and only negative motives to the other side. If you disagree with them, you are a hater or a bigot or evil or some other inflammatory pejorative. They will not so much as admit the common humanity of the other side.

    If there is a right way and a wrong way to interpret what you say, they intentionally chose the wrong way to maximize the gap between you. If there is only one way to take what you say, they look beyond the words and question your meaning or your motive. These are the people who respond to "you look nice today" with "what are you saying? I looked like a slob yesterday?" or "you're a disgusting pig. Keep your eyes to yourself."

    We are becoming more polarized every day, and as we do, the number of willfully obtuse people grows and the number of topics that can be meaningfully debated dwindles. Abortion, patriotism, homosexuality, race, separation of church and state, the environment; all are issues that have people on either side who are unwilling to yield and who are unwilling to understand. Instead, they are constantly on the lookout for "gotcha" moments from the other side.

    And that leads me back to the title of this post. Mark Bryon whacked the hornet's nest with this post. Now, this is not something I think I would have posted (because of how easy it is to take out of context), but when you read it IN CONTEXT (starting with the previous post), you can see that he is NOT advocating the murder of Supreme Court justices or Congressional Democrats. But some want to use this as a "gotcha" to show that Mark is an evil, right-wing, "Christian" advocate of murder and violence, in an "I told you so" kind of way. At this point, no matter how much Mark attempts to explain, it will do no good. The willfully obtuse will never see his point or believe his explanation.

    So I have a question: is the capacity to imagine such a scenario the same as the capacity to embrace such a scenario? Mark's critics say yes. I say no.

    About 15 years ago, I read "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet. I was very disturbed by the evil characters populating this book. They were sadistic and twisted and rendered in such detail that I almost stopped reading as a result. Does that mean Ken Follet is sadistic and twisted and evil like the characters of his imagination? Or does that mean that Ken Follet is wishing that people would do things like his characters did? Or does it mean that Ken Follet is wishing HE could act like the characters he created?

    How about a more personal example? Two years ago on September 11th, I was listening to events unfold on my radio. After the initial attacks on the towers, but before the towers fell, I was very afraid of something happening. As I listened, I asked myself, "If you would have planned this, what would happen next?" My answer was to have a second wave of attackers on ground level to spread poison gas and biological agents among the crowds gathered below. Such an attack would multiply the terror and increase the number of dead and wounded many times over. And that is what I feared would happen as I sat listening to the radio broadcast. Does that mean I WANTED it to happen? After all, I was capable of thinking it. To someone who has already decided I am on the wrong side of whatever issue they have, this would be all that is necessary to "prove" that I secretly wished for it to happen.

    I feel for Mark. He doesn't deserve the abuse.

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    Thursday, November 13, 2003

    Oh yeah

    You may have noticed a few changes around the ol' blog. I never have liked the font or the font size that I was using. I finally decided to do something about it and discovered just how easy it was to change. Hope you like it. I do.

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    To link, or not to link - that is the question

    I left a comment over at Spudlets yesterday, but I thought it might be worth expounding on over here (anything's an improvement over most of this crap). Spud pointed out the information overload that we deal with as internet junkies and how difficult it can be to find bloggers you like amidst all the other bloggers out there (with more popping up every day).

    This is what I do. Every one of my daily reads is in my Favorites/Blogs folder. They also appear on the sidebar. Some of these folks know about and visit A.L.A.N.H.A. regularly, and some may have been here once or twice, but I'm not really on their radar. The regular visitors I consider friends. This creeps out my coworker (the one who knows about me blogging) because I don't REALLY know any of these people. She kind of thinks blogs are creepy in general, though, and thinks visiting blogs is just one notch short of stalking...anyway, I digress. The others I consider friends too, but only in the way that you would normally relate to well-known people. I know who Donald Rumsfeld is, but I have no expectation (in fact, it would creep ME out) that he knows who I am, or that having run across my name once, would ever have occasion to recall it. So, for instance, while James Joyner from Outside the Beltway may have heard of LittleA (from the occasional comment I have left), I have no expectation that he knows who I am or reciprocates my visits to OTB. However, he seems like the kind of guy I COULD be friends with and that's an important consideration for who gets in my Favorites/Blogs folder and who gets on the sidebar.

    As I read my regular blogs, I find other blogs that pique my interest. Sometimes these other blogs are mentioned in posts - "Go here. Read this." Other times, they are permalinked. Sometimes I find them through comments they leave here or on other blogs. Occasionally, I find them because they linked me first. If someone catches my eye, I put them in a subfolder called Favorites/Blogs/Pending. The size of this folder varies, but right now has about eight blogs in it. When I have extra time, I visit these blogs. If I consistently find that they interest me, they get moved to the Favorites/Blogs folder and added to the sidebar. If they don't interest me regularly, or don't post regularly (a big minus), or don't seem to be the kind of people I would want to hang out with, they get sent to the old Recycle Bin and flushed. I find, by using this method, that I have some consistency in looking for new blogs. I also avoid adding people to the sidebar that I don't really read. If it's on there, I read it.

    I have also removed people from the sidebar. I don't make a big deal out of it. I don't "de-link" them because I'm mad at them. I take them off if I have stopped being interested in them or because they post so infrequently that it's not worth the effort of checking them regularly. I announce new additions with a post. I do NOT announce when I remove someone.

    I do not send emails asking to be linked. I'd much rather be given a permalink by someone who reads A.L.A.N.H.A regularly than by someone who just has a long list of links.

    Anyway, those are the rules I play by.

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    Go for the gold

    I was sitting in a fast food place the other day, having lunch with a coworker. A couple of guys sit down in the booth next to us, and I don't pay too much attention, other than the occasional glance. It just so happens that on one of those glances, I catch the guy who's facing me smiling at his buddy.

    He's got gold teeth. Not a gold tooth, but ALL FOUR top front teeth are bright shiny gold.

    Now, maybe I'm just not with it (a definite possibility), but I don't get it. What possesses a guy to get four gold teeth? Does he think that it attracts women? And if so, just what KIND of woman is attracted to gold teeth, anyway? Does he think that it makes him look like he's got money? Does he not know that "put your money where your mouth is" is just an expression? Does he think that it makes him stand out? Oh, he stands out, alright. What kind of career opportunities are available for guys with gold teeth? Sales? Would you buy something from a guy with gold teeth? How about the legal system? Would you hire an attorney with gold teeth? Medical? You want your doctor to have gold teeth? Accountant? Doesn't gold teeth on an accountant say, "Watch your money, sucker?"

    So what does that leave? Fry cook, car wash employee, cleaning crew, drug dealer, pimp. Yeah, baby! Where do I sign up?

    And then I got to thinking (again, always dangerous). What kind of dentist do you go to to get gold teeth? I'm trying to picture how the conversation would go with my dentist...
    "Hey, doc. I was thinking, whad'd'ya say we take the porcelain caps off these front teeth and put gold caps on instead?"

    "Well..."

    "I just know that'll give me the boost I need socially."

    "Uh..."

    "So whad'd'ya say? You'll give me the gold caps, right?"

    "Only on one condition...you can't tell ANYONE that I'm your dentist."
    Worse yet, what if it was the dentist's idea?
    "Well, Aardvark, we're going to need to do something with those front teeth of yours. I'm recommending that we put gold caps on them. Not only will it enhance your looks, but with the price of gold these days, they're a great investment. Of course, you will have to watch yourself in certain neighborhoods, but, all in all, I think it's the best option.
    Hey! If I did get gold teeth, I could probably tour with Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. Can you picture that?

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    Wednesday, November 12, 2003

    Peace - Joy - Love

    OR ELSE!!!

    UPDATE: 11-17-03 Links have been deactivated (not for any reason other than I just didn't want to forget and leave the pictures online forever, if you know what I mean). If you still want to see the pictures, email me.


    The Aardvark family pictures have arrived. I may have mentioned something about them before...

    Hope you've already had lunch.

    You can view the zany Aardvark crew here. This is not the same picture I described in my earlier post. I will scan that one at some point in the not to distant future.

    If you want to see a more serious photo, you can go here. This is the picture that will hang for the next year in the big frame over the piano.

    In case you couldn't figure it out, I'm the ugly one.

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    Tuesday, November 11, 2003

    A question

    If you parody a parody, does that make it a reality?

    I fear the answer is "yes."

    Let me back up just a little.

    You know how some old guys try to dress/act hip to get people to think they're really young? Well, over the years, I've been known to embrace this stereotype and purposefully exaggerate it as a way of saying, "Hey look! It's an old guy making fun of old guys acting like young guys."

    And that was ok.

    But at what point does my parody of old guys who act young become a parody of me doing a parody of old guys who act young? At which point all parody cancels out (like double negatives) and I'm left as REALLY being an old guy trying to act young! (Oooh, oooh, say something about 'jumping the shark' here. That'll make you sound young and hip!)

    It's a conundrum, I'm telling ya'.

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    Monday, November 10, 2003

    Baylor

    No, not that one. The other Baylor in Texas.

    What's that? You didn't KNOW there was another Baylor in Texas? Well, there sure is. And that's where the rest of the Aardvarks are today. Taking a tour of the campus of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Eldest daughter is a Junior this year and so we have begun touring college campuses to (hopefully) weed the list down to just a few (quality, I'm sure) schools. She toured TCU a couple of weeks ago, and since today was a school holiday (teacher in-service, I think) we figured this would be a good time to make the trip to Belton, Texas (sidewalks rolled up at 8 PM sharp!) and visit UMHB.

    A couple of things to note. One is that the ratio of women to men at UMHB seems to be in the 6:1 to 4:1 range. For some reason, guys seem to shy away from schools named after women. The bad news is that this makes dating problematic (HER point of view). The good news is this makes dating problematic (OUR point of view). Secondly, there's not much in the way of extra-curricular activities to be found in Belton (population 14,623), so this could be good (as in, no trouble to be gotten into) or bad (as in, let's create our own!). Lastly, this is a Division III school so, while the QUALITY of the teaching is fine, there are some quantitative limits on the number of degree plans available. My daughter was excited to learn that they offer a degree in Church Music (Church Music??? Who knew she was interested in THAT?!?). I was excited to know that they offered a degree in Computer Graphics Design.

    Anyway, like I said, we're still real early in the school selection process. At least she doesn't seem interested in A&M. I don't know if I could handle having an Aggie in the family.

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    Saturday, November 08, 2003

    Three minutes to Wapner

    Part of the training I attended this week involved some basic (at least I thought so) math. The instructor would be talking through a scenario and then ask, "What number do we need to put down as _______ ?" After a short pause (to see if anyone else was going to answer) I would give the answer. Gotta keep things moving, you know?

    Well, evidently, the other folks in training didn't think the math was so basic, so by yesterday, they started calling me "Rainman". So, here I am, all drugged up (better living through pharmaceuticals!) on sinus medication and sleepy as all get out, with my box of Kleenex and trash can close by, and I'm STILL the only one giving answers. I finally start getting silly (I know that's a stretch) and get into the part.

    "One-hundred and forty. Definitely. Yeah, definitely. One-forty."

    I knew I was an idiot, but who knew I was a savant?

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    So, where was I?

    No posting yesterday as I woke up with a severe case of allergies. Something blew in with the last cold front/rain. Not only does the mountain cedar and ragweed make my face explode (now there's a scary mental picture), but I'm also adversely affected by mold and fungus, which are always highest during and immediately following the rain.

    I drove to work (in the rain) with one hand covering the left side of my face (for some reason, this seems to help with the sinus pressure). Probably not the safest thing to do (reduced depth perception and peripheral vision), but I made it ok. Sat in training long enough to know that if I closed my eyes one more time I would be asleep (definitely a CLM. Career Limiting Move - for those of you who aren't familiar with the term). Packed it in about 10:00 AM and headed home. Slept most of the rest of the morning and afternoon.

    So that finds me back at work on a Saturday to catch up on what I didn't get done yesterday (or the day before, or the day before that. Darn training. Why do I need to be smarter, anyway?). The next couple of weeks are going to be EXTREMELY busy (which is why not going to Portland is a good thing) so, if at all possible, you should probably lower your expectations for what you'll find here (LIMBO!!!! how LOW can you GO?). If you set the bar low enough, I know I won't disappoint.

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    Thursday, November 06, 2003

    Then again...

    maybe a rabid weasel would be entertaining. Obviously this training has sucked up all my available time. I have about ten minutes to blog everything in my little pea-brain before we start again.

    Found out this AM that I will NOT be going to Portland after all. Mixed emotions about that, but overall it's a good thing.

    Went to the TCU - Louisville game yesterday evening. Still hoarse from the general tom-foolery of cheering for the home team. TCU stays undefeated, but only because the Louisville kicker didn't have a skosh more "oomph". The potentially tying field goal to send the game to overtime hit the cross bar and bounced back. Another three inches and the game is Louisville's to lose. Much rain prior to game time, but only a few minutes of light drizzle during. Cold, though, and windy (hey it's Texas, 50 degrees IS cold here).

    Picked up youngest daughter from school and took her to Wendy's before the game (wife and oldest were already there working concessions for the HS band). Had conversation about 'bon soir' and 'soiree' having the same root word (don't ask me how that got started, I've got no idea). The youngest intentionally misunderstands and keeps saying "bon soir soiree" like it's all one expression. No, I tell her, they are separate things. "Bon soir soiree" she says (grinning). No, I say, "it's 'bon soir' bone-head." Much giggling ensues. You had to be there, I'm sure.

    Well, back to the salt mines.

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2003

    More fun than a rabid weasel

    I have training classes scheduled for the next three days. Fortunately, they are on-site so I'll still have access to my PC and may be able to blog a little at lunch. Unfortunatly, they are on-site so I'll have to cover most of my normal duties during breaks and at lunch. See you later...maybe.

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    Tuesday, November 04, 2003

    Big ol' jet aeroliner

    So I'm sitting at my desk about 5:00 yesterday afternoon when my boss walks up.

    "Are you available to go to Portland (OR) on Sunday?"

    "Uh, yeah. As far as I know. Why?"

    "You and I will be going out to see ________ about ________."

    "Oh."

    Well, THAT was sudden, and all the more surprising since I haven't traveled on business for over two years.

    Looks like I'll be away from the Aardvark burrow from Sunday to Wednesday. The bad news (at least for me) is that this puts the kibosh on my blogging for those days. The good news? Might be able to finagle a visit to friends/family while I'm up in Portland, and travel is ALWAYS good fodder for future blogging.

    I checked the Portland weather this AM: 38 with snow flurries. Brrrrrrrr. Better take a jacket (which is funny, if you only knew the context). Like all Aardvarks, I prefer the warm, dry climes.

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    The things I do for attention

    Nothing like signing up for every self-promotional opportunity that comes along to generate traffic and inflate the old ego (like THAT needed help).

    This week finds the Carnival of the Capitalists hosted by Mr. Prather at Insults Unpunished. Lots of GOOD posts there (and then there's mine, as well). For those who are easily confused (yours truly), the comments on my post are particularly fine.

    This week, I offered up a priceless post to the Bonfire of the Vanities (burn, baby, burn), hosted by Kevin of Wizbang fame (infamy?). This lameness stands out on a day of lameness. I don't know what I was thinking, but I am surprised that no one took the bait. I love that word (the one in the post). I think because it sounds dirty, but really isn't. Kind of like my favorite name for a body of water.

    This week also finds the Carnival of the Vanities hosted by Wizbanger Kevin (Link added 11/5). He must like staying busy (or maybe he's just insane). I'm sure there's plenty of good reading this week (there always is). I submitted my Halloween post on things that scare me. Once again, I was surprised no one took the bait to add some truly witty comments to my weak attempt at humor. Maybe something like, "The fact that Madonna is writing children's books." So, I'm thinking, maybe, by getting a larger audience I can get somebody to help me upgrade my humor (maybe to sarcasm 2.0 or inanity 3.1.2). Then again, an FDISK may be the correct solution (insert Beach Boys lyrics here).

    Now, if I can just get Kelley to Sac me this week...hmmmm.

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    Monday, November 03, 2003

    A token gesture

    Well, I got the old credit card statement on Saturday. In addition to just the normal bill, Bank One was kind enough to send me an insert letting me know that my "DOUBLE Instant Tokens are Expiring!"

    Oh, my gosh! My DOUBLE Instant Tokens are Expiring! How could I have let this happen? This is terrible! I need to...

    Hey, wait a minute. What the heck are Double Instant Tokens anyway? And what did I do to get any? I don't remember signing up for anything. Hmmm. Back to the insert for more information.
    Tokens: 2400 Holiday Instant Tokens
    Tokens Status: GUARANTEED (ooo, that's good, right?)
    Issue Date: 10/01/03
    Hey! How come they were issued in October and they're already expiring? Something's fishy.
    IMPORTANT NOTICE OF INSTANT TOKENS

    This month, you have been issued special Double Instant Tokens!
    Oh my. This is bigger than I thought. These are SPECIAL Double Instant Tokens!
    With the Holidays approaching, you can use your Instant Tokens toward your favorites on the reverse plus the low amount shown on your certificate to your account. Enjoy your choice of items, which are perfect to give or keep. This special benefit is just another way of saying "Thank You."
    Wow, they must really like me to give me this special benefit. I feel so affirmed.
    IMPORTANT NOTE: Use all your 2,400 Holiday Instant Tokens. Your Tokens cannot be saved for future use nor redeemed for cash or account credit.
    Now just a dog-gone minute. Why can't I use them for an account credit? Hmmm. Check the fine-print. Squint. Squint.
    This program is not sponsored by, or affiliated with Bank One or any of its related companies...
    Ah, so this is just a marketing ploy. I'm not special. Sniff. I feel so betrayed.

    So let's see what they were trying to sucker me into buying.

    Vivitar Folding Binoculars (3X18)
    Auto-Opening Calculator/Calendar
    Super Challenge Game System
    Emergency Light
    Soothing Sounds Player
    Auto Escape Hammer
    Leather Tri-Fold Wallet
    Cobalt Blue LED Key Light
    Home & Travel Space-Saving Bags

    (Well, that settles it. My Christmas shopping is done.)

    Each redeemable for 200 Holiday Tokens. Oh yeah, and $4.97 each for shipping and handling.

    I'm tempted to send them a couple of bucks with a note:

    Thank you so much for the Double Instant Tokens! I had no idea that I even NEEDED them. Enclosed you will find my completed form and two dollars. I realize this is less than the full amount, but since I don't really want any of the crap you're selling, I figured you could just get some of the guys to handle my merchandise before restocking it, thereby saving the cost of shipping.

    Regards,

    LittleA

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