Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Resolved

I've never been a big New Year's resolution guy. One reason is that I already know that I'm great at starting things. It's finishing things I have a problem with (this blog has surprised me in that regard). I see no reason to highlight this deficiency at the beginning of a new year.

I went through most of the '90s with the same resolution every year. Unfortunately, it was one I did manage to keep.
This year I resolve to buy bigger clothes.
That won't be my resolution this year. For 2004, it's
This year I resolve to not be so doggoned perfect.
It'll be tough, but I think I can keep that one.

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    FedEx and Kinko's

    Well the big buyout was at the top of the news yesterday. At least it was locally. The story on the evening news had one of those '!' moments in it (at least for me).

    The reporter said something along the lines of, "The merger of these two companies should help fuel economic growth in the coming year." And the context was GENERAL economic growth, not just the growth of FedEx.

    Now that SOUNDS great, but excuse me just a minute while I think this through. To provide general economic growth, FedEx has to generate MORE of something, in this case copying and shipping. What should happen is that FedEx will get a much bigger piece of the copying and shipping pie, but the size of the pie won't change.

    To make the pie bigger you have to have a lot of folks sitting around thinking, "Gee, I wasn't going to do anything with this blogging manifesto, but now since I can make copies AND ship them all in one stop, I'm going down to KinkEx and make a thousand copies to send to all my blog enemies."

    Hey, that's not a bad idea ...

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    Behind the curve

    Technologically speaking. We Aardvarks have been inhabiting the nether regions of the technology curve for years. A couple of years back we leaped to just within one standard deviation (as opposed to a sub-standard deviation? Hey, just be careful what kind of deviant you call me), but have since gleefully skated down the slippery slopes into oblivion once more.

    Number of televisions owned by the Aardvarks: 1

    I bought my first television in 1998. That's right, 1998. I bought my first VCR at the same time. Lest you think I'm a total cultural pagan, I did OWN a TV and VCR prior to that, I'd just never had to buy one. Our first TV was a little black and white 9" set that someone gave us shortly after we were married. Hello? Newlyweds! We DON'T NEED a stinkin' TV. But a TV we got nonetheless. That one hung around for several years until someone gave us a small color set, which lasted until somebody gave us an old, big (tubes!) console that was on its last legs. About the time that one gave up the ghost, a coworker asked if I would like a 19" TV and a VCR. They were in her son's room (he was about 7) and he was in big trouble, what with his ADHD and poor school work and acting out and all, so they were getting rid of his TV and VCR. That was 1993. I owned only one videotape at the time. And it had no sound. It was a two year old tape from my wife's sonogram when she was pregnant with the Youngest Aardvark Child (YAC). I promptly took it home and hooked it up and watched 15 minutes of soundless wonder.

    1998 was a good year financially and so for Christmas, the family got a new 27" TV and a new VCR to replace the dying one and a new entertainment center to hold it all. In the living room. Where the whole family can watch (or NOT if somebody has to practice their piano). But no cable and no dish. That stuff costs money.

    Number of video game systems owned by the Aardvarks: 1

    My wife had told me for 14 years that I could buy a video game system when I wanted a divorce. She was joking. I think. By Christmas of 1999, I had finally worn her down. It started by renting a couple of games and a system from Blockbuster for the weekend. After we'd done that a couple of times, I told her it would make more sense financially to just buy the thing outright. I must have caught her at a weak moment 'cause she went for it. Christmas of 1999 saw the addition of a Nintendo 64 to the Aardvark entertainment center. It's still there, but not used nearly as much anymore. (Dad, why don't we get an X-Box or a PS-2?) To show you how much Mrs. Aardvark has mellowed, a few of the games we've purchased have been for HER!

    Number of cellular phones owned by the Aardvarks: 1

    This phone was originally purchased in 1997, but we replaced it in 2001. It was for Mrs. Aardvark to have in case of emergencies (or in case she had a really burning question that needed to be answered RIGHT NOW! Like, "I'm at Sam's and they have the extended DVD for LotR - TT. Should I go ahead and pick it up?") and we're still on the SAME pricing plan we originally signed up with - $13.50 per month and 13.5 cents per minute with the first minute incoming free. Our cell phone bill is usually about $20 per month. I could get a lot more minutes, but they would wind up costing me a lot more dollars. The number of phones and the corresponding plan will change when the EAC gets her license and a job.

    Number of DVD players owned by the Aardvarks: 1

    This was the family Christmas gift for 2002. A concession to the death of VHS (oh, it's dead - it just doesn't know it yet).

    Number of computers owned by the Aardvarks: 2

    The purchase of our first computer was when the Aardvarks made their biggest leap forward. I Purchased a 486 DX2 66 machine about three months before the introduction of the Pentium chipset. BUT I WAS CUTTING EDGE for three months! Ran DOS (I forget which version) and Windows 3.1.1. Upgraded it over the years with more memory (32 meg - oooh, aaah) and a bigger hard drive. Didn't buy a new machine until February 2001 (PIII 650 - I think, CD-RW, DVD), and that only because the kids needed the internet more and more for school and the old 28K modem wasn't going to cut it, AND I refused to spend any more money on that old machine. It still gets used occasionally, mostly if the other computer is occupied or someone gets the urge to run one of the old DOS based games (that run too fast on the new machine - XCOM anyone?), but it's relegated to the converted garage room (back in the corner under the dust). I am delaying the purchase of a new computer until the EAC is ready to head off to college, much to the chagrin of the YAC who desperately wants me to buy a 3-D graphics card (for the games SHE wants). Nope. Not gonna do it.

    Number of CD players owned by the Aardvarks: 4

    Every member of the family now has a CD player. However, we didn't own one (at home) until about 1997.

    I had a Palm III for a while (a couple of years), until I dropped in on a tile floor, but that was a PRIZE not a purchase. One of those drop-your-business-card-into-the-jar promos at a convention I attended. First I knew I had won was when the mail room brought it to my office. I had to take the accompanying letter home to prove to the wife that I hadn't gone off the deep end and gone out and purchased one. (Would I do that? What? Why are you looking at me that way?)

    Anyway, we're behind the curve, but SOMEBODY has to be, don't they? (unless they live in Lake Wobegon) All in all, I have to say, it's still a pretty good life.

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    Tuesday, December 30, 2003

    The Aardvark's business truism for the day

    Most successful companies succeed IN SPITE OF their best efforts to do otherwise.

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    Comfort

    It's nice to know that however stupid I may be, there is ALWAYS someone else that comes along and shows me up.

    For example, say an employee has a paycheck they have lost (or should I say, doesn't have a paycheck since they lost it?). They call HR (or payroll, or whoever it is for your company) and say, "I lost my paycheck."

    Not a unique problem for HR. They deal with this with the same frequency they issue payroll checks. The standard solution? "We will put a stop-pay order on that check and reissue you another one." Here's the money quote, "If you find your original check, DO NOT DEPOSIT IT. Return it to us."

    And what do they do? Yep. They find their original check and take it straight to the bank.

    Then they get mad because that check bounces (and in some cases several of the checks they've written against that money bounce too). To top it all off, they think the COMPANY should reimburse them for the bank charges they've incurred for doing the EXACT opposite of what they were instructed to do.

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    Just so you know

    She (the EAC) comes by it honestly.

    Got in the car this morning and noticed the left rear tire on the car looked kinda low. Hmmm. It is cold (35), so it could be just that, but that looks lower than cold air would cause. Now a smart person would have stopped right there and checked the tire, right? I got in and started to work. About a mile down the road, I decided I didn't want to risk driving the next fifteen miles on a low tire, so I would pull over at the last gas station before downtown to check the tire and add air.

    Pull in at the station and dig around in the glove box for the tire gauge. Get out and remove valve stem caps on left side (might as well check that front one too while I'm at it). Check the rear tire. Oooh, only 18 pounds. Good thing I stopped. As I'm digging out 50 cents to plop into the air pump the garbage truck pulls up to dump the gas station's dumpster, which happens to be located right next to the air pump. The good news is that I'm not in the way, so I won't have to jockey my car around. The bad news? That garbage truck is loud! So loud in fact that when I deposit my two quarters into the slot, I can't hear the compressor kick on. I attach the hose to my tire and I can hear the exchange of air, so everything is ok. Not.

    That air I'm hearing is the air ESCAPING MY TIRE BECAUSE THE FLAMING AIR PUMP DOESN'T WORK! By the time I realize this, my tire is down to 13 pounds. And the next service (HAH!) station is at least five miles in the direction of work. That'll never do. So I have to backtrack about a mile to the station on the other side of the street (which, because I am backtracking, is now on MY side of the street). Pull up, deposit another 50 cents, hear the compressor kick on, air tires. Now THAT'S the way it's supposed to work.

    Get back on the road and get almost to downtown when I remember

    ...

    ...

    ...

    I have a portable air compressor in the trunk. A Father's Day gift from two years ago.

    ::Sigh::

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    Monday, December 29, 2003

    Driving Miss Upsy-Daisy

    Christmas day the Aardvark family made the trip from Fort Worth to Richardson (North Dallas) to have lunch with Mrs. Aardvark's brother and his family. It takes about an hour to drive the thirty plus miles and being Christmas, I figured traffic would be lighter than usual, so why not give the Eldest Aardvark Child some necessary freeway driving experience (she STILL doesn't have her license, but that's another story). My Mother-in-law was staying with us, and therefore would be riding with us, so all parties involved were consulted before the final green light was given.

    Much excitement mixed with a little nervousness (in just the right amount, from my point of view) from the EAC about getting to drive. Got everybody loaded in the car and off we go. No problems getting on the freeway and changing freeways and changing freeways again and yet again. Traffic was considerably lighter than usual and most of the idiots chose Christmas to stay home and inflict themselves on their families for a change.

    Then it was time to get off of LBJ (635) on to the Dallas North Tollway. This is a clover-leaf exit with a very short acceleration lane to get on to what is usually a very busy freeway. I get nervous making this interchange. Talked her through it before hand and told her I would help her checking traffic so she could pay more attention to what was going on in front of her. What should happen just as she needs to merge? Ambulance approaching with sirens and lights. Ok, got that navigated successfully, but the EAC is a little shaken. Much soothing and positive reinforcement and in no time she's good again. Just in time to exit and pay the toll.

    "You're going to need the far right hand lane when you pay the toll because you're going to need to exit immediately afterwards." I tell her. We get to the widening for the toll plaza and she steers the car straight for the last bit of curb. My "You're going to hit the curb" was still hanging in the air as she hit the curb. Just a glancing blow, but all her newly found confidence has now been left some yards back on the curb. Right next to the black marks from my sidewalls.

    Now the toll plaza, we had prepared for: Seventy-five cents for the toll, neatly packaged in three shiny quarters, safely ensconced in an opening in the driver's side door, ready for easy deployment. So the EAC pulls up to the toll booth, rolls down her window, picks up the quarters and flings them out the window with sort of an underhanded flick of the wrist. Bravo! Well done! Only one small problem.

    Quarters required for the toll: 3.

    Quarters entering the toll collection receptacle: 0.

    Her three quarters are now lying somewhere on the pavement in the general vicinity of the toll booth. A fact to which, I am not yet hip.

    "What do I do now?" says the EAC, somewhat excitedly.

    "Did it register your toll?" I ask.

    "No."

    "Well, how much does it show?"

    "Nothing."

    "Nothing?"

    "No. They all missed. Should I get out and get them?"

    There is a long (at least it seemed like an eternity at the time) pause during which I am trying to process the fact that the EAC has managed to whiff the toll receptacle at point-blank range. To save the day, Mrs. Aardvark pipes up from the back seat, "Just open the change drawer and get more quarters out." Which the EAC does, tossing one quarter at a time into the receptacle until the magical number of three is attained.

    The total time at the toll booth probably didn't take more than forty-five seconds, but it seemed like ten minutes. Needless to say the EAC's nerves were shot. Fortunately, it is a short distance from the Dallas North Tollway to my brother-in-law's house.

    When I decided to teach the EAC to drive, I never figured that working on her throwing arm would need to be in the curriculum.

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    Wednesday, December 24, 2003

    Merry Christmas

    From the Aardvark family

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    Tuesday, December 23, 2003

    Go Froggies

    Well, tonight is the inaugural Fort Worth Bowl and my own Horned Frogs will be defending their home turf in what I hope is a good game (Boise State favored by 10! What's up with that?). I'm leaving work today at 4:00 to make sure I can get a parking spot and check out what all is going on before the start of the game. The rest of the Aardvark family will meet me there. It's supposed to be chilly (for this part of the country anyway) and windy tonight, so I have my heavy jacket, gloves, hat, seat cushions and blankets in the car.

    My mother-in-law has decided to drive up from the Houston area today, so she'll be home alone until after the game. We tried to get her to come earlier, but she wouldn't hear of it, so now she'll get here about the time everyone else is leaving. All that's a story for another day, but let's just say that Mrs. Aardvark comes by her stubborn streak honestly.

    I'll be working tomorrow (at least until noon, when the office closes) so I'll see you then.

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    Surprisingly busy

    For the Tuesday before Christmas. What's up with that?

    Since this is a time that lots of folks take vacation, I'll share with you my philosophy on vacation scheduling. Let's call it Aardvark's Axiom.

    Aardvark's Axiom: NEVER schedule vacation time for when your boss will be on vacation.

    You can avoid the boss' eye twice as long by taking your vacation at separate times. If possible try to dovetail vacations so that yours starts the day your boss returns. Nothing says relaxation quite like three to four weeks away from the boss.

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    Monday, December 22, 2003

    Perspective

    I took the EAC to see the Return of the King on Saturday. The mall has a brand new 13 screen cineplex (Rave!) with all stadium seating. Very nice. Two early-bird tickets set me back $11.50. Popcorn and two large drinks weighed in at $12.00. ::sigh:: Oh well, it's only money, right? No good unless you spend it, now is it?

    Being the dutiful father, I made sure to remind my daughter, "Now don't suck down that drink right away. This is a three and a half hour movie." Another instance of do as I say (but not as I do). We got about an hour and fifteen minutes into the movie before I realized, "Hey! I need to pee." Fortunately, I've been blessed with a cast-iron bladder, so I figured, "No way am I getting up and missing any of this. I can stick it out." You see, I'm also blessed with a sponge for brains.

    Holy cow! How long is this movie anyway? (BTW, I thought it was GREAT!)

    I'm the guy who likes to sit through the credits on a movie until the very end (which comes in handy for films like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Pirates of the Caribbean). When the credits started to roll, I looked at the EAC and said, "Let's go. NOW!" She didn't argue much as she was in the same condition I was, whiz-wise.

    Several minutes later, in a much more relaxed state, we were headed out of the mall to find the car.

    The EAC says, "That was THE BEST three and a half hours OF MY LIFE!"

    To which I replied,

    "Oh, honey. I'm so sorry."

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    Platelets revisited

    I should have known it was not going to be a good day to donate platelets when they didn't open the doors until 8:10. My appointment was at 8:00. No big deal, right? Well, 8:10 was when the employees were let in. They normally start by 7:30. Seems the key person called in sick at the last minute, so they had to find someone else to come unlock the doors. Ok, just go with the flow.

    Do all the preliminary paperwork, get the vitals checked, take one last trip down the hall, and it's time to get hooked up. Oooo, I get the new, fancy, high-speed, computerized machine. I've never been on this one before. Little did I suspect that this is the new, fancy, high-speed, computerized machine that IS NOT FUNCTIONING correctly.

    I was hooked up for a grand total of ten minutes, eight of which were spent with the phlebotomist fritzing with the settings and over-riding the alarms to try to get the blessed thing to work, all to no avail. She said she did manage to get my red blood cells returned (which is good because I don't have to wait eight weeks before trying again), but the whole donation thing was a bust. On an up note, I did find out that I only have three donations to go until I hit the 3 gallon mark (hey, blood donors have to have SOMETHING to brag/compete about).

    I'll try again in a couple of weeks.

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    Friday, December 19, 2003

    Platelets

    Tomorrow, I have an 8:00 AM appointment to donate platelets. I haven't donated in a couple of months due to my work schedule, but I'm ready to start back up. Platelets can be donated every three days (up to 24 times per year) whereas whole blood can only be donated once every eight weeks. I usually shoot for once every four or five weeks to give my arm enough time to heal (plus the fact that it takes a couple of hours each time you donate).

    Unlike whole blood, which can be refrigerated and stored for a month, the shelf-life of platelets is about five days. It takes about eight pints of whole blood to produce the same amount of platelets as are extracted in a platelet donation. Chemo patients and others with suppressed immune systems are the biggest users of platelets.

    I don't know why I donate platelets other than I was asked to. It's one of those, "Why not?" kind of things. If you're interested, I can tell you more about the process, but it'll have to be another day.

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    Party on, dude!

    And be excellent to each other!

    Today is the annual office Christmas party. I have to say, the company I work for now has the best Christmas party of anyplace I've ever worked: nice meal, photographer, door prizes, games (with prizes), open bar, DJ, valet parking, table ornaments for each guest to take as a memento. Nice all around. Party starts at 5:00 and ends at 8:30, so it's not even late (although there's always an after-party party for the die hards). The office closes at 3:00 today so people have a chance to go home and get prettied up.

    I did my prettying up yesterday and got my hairs cut (well, it WAS more than just one, wasn't it?). Mrs. Aardvark has already purchased her new outfit (which required the purchase of special harnessing accoutrements! Hey, you need any help there?), so she should extra sassy this evening (now if I could just get rid of those pesky kids!).

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    The silence of the lambs

    So, Mrs. Aardvark is diligently assisting the EAC (Eldest Aardvark Child), filling out the registration for the SAT. The EAC is working on a poster for her English class, something to do with the Civil War (or the WBtS, as some old timers call it). It's got a big dragon on it with the Stars and Bars in the background and a line underneath with a quote talking about the coming dragons of war (meaning the Rebel army, hence the S&B, which, I have to say, still made me a little nervous, even used correctly in a historical context, what with all the racial "sensitivity" going around these days). So anyway, the EAC is busy coloring in her dragon so Mrs. Aardvark is asking her the questions and filling out the registration form. I get involved when we have to look up college codes and scholarship codes and the like because they are in small print and I have the best eyes of the group (10/10 hawk vision! ... er ... or something).

    We get to the question that asks about WHERE the student would like to go to school (in general terms). These were the options

    A) Close to home
    B) In the same state
    C) In an adjoining state
    D) In the United States
    E) In another country
    F) Don't know

    Mrs. A. reads aloud, "What is the student's preference for the geographic area of their school? A - Close to home."

    ...

    ...

    (crickets chirping)

    ...

    ...

    (slight hunching of the EAC's shoulders)

    ...

    ...


    "Ok, then, that's not it. How about B - In the same state."

    "Yeah, that's what I want," says the EAC (just a little nervously).

    Fortunately, we all laughed (whew!). I told her that her mom and I didn't take it personally. In fact, we understood completely. Heh. I think that REALLY freaked her out.

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    One of life's little injustices

    In my perfect world, the kind of car one drives would indicate the kind of driver they are.

    People who don't know how to drive or insist on performing dangerous feats of derring do at 70 MPH would be consigned to driving old Ford Fiestas and Yugos. People who consistently obey the rules of the road can drive the Jags, Mercedes and Porsches. Me? Why, I'm SURE I'd be driving a Ferrari or a Maseratti.

    On the way to work this morning, I encountered a lunatic in a Lexus, a maniac in a Cadillac and a dreamer in a Beamer.

    Once again proof that life's not fair.

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    Thursday, December 18, 2003

    Boy

    SOMEone is cranky today. Maybe he needs a nap?

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    Let's review

    The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reviewed The Return of the King in yesterday's paper.

    Christopher Kelly is one of those reviewers who has to show his disdain for the masses by panning most movies that ordinary people (like me, of course) will enjoy. So my rule of thumb is that if he likes it, I'll skip it. It's not so much that he pans movies that most people enjoy, it's the sneer he has while doing it that irritates me.
    Fans, take note: The Return of the King offers a lot more of what you've already seen. More Gollum. More gargantuan-sized battles. More fantastical creatures. More mealy-mouthed speeches about good versus evil. (emphasis mine) If you liked the first two, by all means, go forth and experience rapture.
    How totally unsophisticated of me to actually believe in that whole good/evil dynamic. The topper for me, though, was this 'graph.
    Merry (Dominic Monaghan) professes his undying love and faith to Pippin (Billy Boyd). Later, Samwise (Sean Astin) takes Frodo (Elijah Wood) into his arms and carries him to the edge of Mordor's flaming pit. The Lord of the Rings movies have always teetered on the brink of homoeroticism -- the only major female characters are a disappearing elf (Cate Blanchett) and an absent elf (Liv Tyler) -- but here Jackson's self-seriousness sends things far into the realm of unintentional camp. By the time the post-climactic hobbit-on-hobbit hugging commences (and continues, oh, for about 20 minutes), The Return of the King has transformed into its own ready-made Saturday Night Live skit: Hobbits in Love.
    Projection? Anyone? Anyone? Yeah, that's what I thought too.

    You know, I don't really mind if you don't like the movie, just don't sneer at the rest of us who probably will.

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    Other things that are bugging me today

    * John Hinckley's unsupervised visits with his parents. I say if he's not nuts anymore, then it's time for him to start serving a prison sentence (yeah, I'm all heart).

    (* Starting a post with a plural subject, but only having a single item to complain about.)

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    I'm easy to get along with. Really, I am.

    But today, for some reason, things have just gotten a little under my skin.

    This morning, I had to stop at the grocery store on the way to work, because the Party Nazi (every office has one) informed me that it was my day to bring goodies. Being the team player I am, I naturally stayed up 'til the wee hours baking homemade goodies for my cherished coworkers- NOT! Anyway, it took more time to check out than it did to select the goodies. Brian had an excellent post on the "Self Check" phenomenon just the other day. Being somewhat of a Self Check neophyte, I just shrugged when I read his rant and said, "Sheesh. What some people let get to them." Now I know that he speaks the truth. And to think, the grocery stores instituted Self Check FOR MY CONVENIENCE. I wonder what else they've lied to me about.

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    Wednesday, December 17, 2003

    Lunch meetings

    For the next two days. Yippee, skippee.

    I'll blog around meetings when I can.

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    Employees are like children

    It's always something. (I try to remember this when I have to deal with MY boss and work very hard at not being one of her problem children.)

    So, what prompted this thought is one of my employees (natch) who is living from paycheck to paycheck. You would think that, with money being so tight, she would, you know, want to work at least forty hours a week. At the rate she's going, she'll be lucky to hit 35. She just better not whine next Friday when she gets her check.

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    Tuesday, December 16, 2003

    Where to begin?

    Why at the beginning of course.

    Left work Friday at Noon PM sharp. Home to catch a versimilitude of a nap before journeying to the mall with both children in tow (needed to shop for Mom, don't ya' know). Much hemming and hawing and traveling to and fro before finally making selections (women!). In an unguarded moment, I caught them (but didn't let them know) in a public display of sisterly affection; holding hands and laughing with each other. ::sigh:: Warms the cockles of me 'eart, it does.

    On a side note, there were many years I wouldn't have been caught dead holding my next oldest sibling's hand. Girl cooties and all that. Until the day I discovered SHE didn't want to hold MY hand either. After that, I tried to hold her hand in public every chance I got. What? Passive aggressive? Me?

    Saturday was put-up-the-tree day, which meant that it was take-this-stuff-out-to-the-shed-so-we-can-get-the-tree-in-the-house day as well. So after some shuffling and reorganization of the shed, the inside stuff was outside and the outside stuff was inside. The tree went up without any trouble and after much circumambulation, the lights and garland were on as well. Reaching the limit of my duties, I popped in one of my favorite movies (Zorro, the Gay Blade, if you must know) and fell asleep shortly after the scene of Zorro pretending to be a priest from the order of Peter, the Dress Maker, Christ's tailor. That wacky Al Calde, he'll fall for anything!

    Snoozed until shortly before the class Christmas party at the church. The big event is the Christmas ornament exchange. I scored big by stealing the Rudolph ornaments for the third (and last) time, thereby taking them out of the game. I think every tree needs a Bumble ornament, don't you? Mrs. Aardvark brought home another snow man ornament (she collects snow men), so life was good.

    Sunday it's up early as usual. Off to church by 8:00 to practice bells. Bells played with great success. Home after church in time to snarf a quick bite and grab piano music then it's off to Texas Wesleyan University for the piano recital. Get to TWU and discover there has been a booking snafu, and the performance hall is unavailable. Get redirected to science lecture hall which has now been retrofitted with a piano. Much tinkling of the ivories ensues with semi-satisfactory results. Eat several cookies at hallway reception (diet? what diet?) and it's back home in time to sack out on the couch to "watch" the Cowboy game. Leave at the end of the third quarter, with the game well in hand, to head back to church for the Christmas musical. Eldest plays the piano prelude flawlessly. "I laughed, I cried. It moved me, Bob." Much fine singing and the tiniest of sermonettes and it was time to head back to the ranch.

    All in all, a very good weekend with three naps in as many days.

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    Monday, December 15, 2003

    Did'ja miss me?

    Lots of nasty ol' work today, and no time to blog at lunch due to the annual Christmas luncheon. Tomorrow will be better.

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    Friday, December 12, 2003

    Happy, happy, joy, joy

    I'm leaving at noon today. Sweet!

    I have finally started thinking about Christmas. Funny what getting out from under a load of stress will do for the old mental state. Anyway, I'm leaving early today and maybe I'll do some Christmas shopping. (or maybe something MORE fun, since the kids are still at school, if you know what I mean ... Hey! I'm talking uninterupted computer gaming here. What were YOU thinking?)

    Y'all have a good weekend.

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    How do you feel about ...

    It took quite a few years after we were married for my wife and I to really understand each other. One of the barriers to communication for us was the word "feel". As in, "How do you feel about putting new miniblinds up in the girl's room?" My wife would ask such a question, innocently enough, and I would freeze.

    'Cause I'm thinking,

    How do I feel about putting new miniblinds up in the girl's room? How do I feel about putting new miniblinds up in the girl's room? I don't feel anything about putting new miniblinds up. Am I supposed to be feeling a particular way about miniblinds? I've never felt anything about miniblinds. Not happy, not sad, not angry ... nothing. What does she want me to say? What if I say the wrong thing? She obviously has a particular feeling about miniblinds in the girl's room and I need to be sensitive to her feelings. But what are her feelings? How do I answer her?

    So I would stutter and stammer and shrug and put off answering her question because I didn't really know if it was a question about miniblinds or if the miniblinds were just a metaphor for something else. And if the question really wasn't about miniblinds, I had no clue what it WAS about.

    One day we had a breakthrough when I told her (yeah, I can communicate occasionally) that when she asked me how I felt about something it always confused me. She didn't understand why such a simple question would cause confusion and after talking it out, I discovered that what she REALLY was asking me was, "What do you THINK about putting new miniblinds up in the girls room?"

    Ah! NOW I get it. She wasn't asking about my FEELINGS (hey, I'm a guy ... am I allowed to have those?), but was asking my opinion.

    "I think miniblinds are a great idea."

    I know that all sounds stupid, and it should have been obvious all along what she wanted, but life isn't always rational. "Feel" is an emotional word, and when I heard it, it always brought an emotional response, which is why I was always looking beyond the question to a deeper meaning and getting confused when there WAS no deeper meaning.

    My wife knows this and since that day, she makes it a point to ask me "what I think" questions instead of "how I feel" questions.

    Sometimes, it's the little things.

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    Questions I have asked this week

    Out loud, no less. With people there to hear them, even.

    If you call someone a "flaming goat kisser", is it the goat that's flaming and someone is kissing it, or is it the kisser that's on fire while kissing a goat? (It makes a difference, doesn't it?)

    If I make sweeping statements about women, would they fall under the category of broad generalizations?

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    Thursday, December 11, 2003

    Navel gazing redux

    Today is a red letter day. (Heh. I wonder how many folks still know what that means?) I managed to meet not one, but TWO big deadlines this week. I'm leaving on time today. I don't know if I remember how to drive in the daylight.

    Today is also the day A little Aardvark (NHA) has been in business for six months. For nostalgia's sake, here is my first entry in it's entirety
    I confess. I'm a lurker. I've been lurking for months now trying to decide whether or not this blog thing was for me. I finally decided just to go for it. Maybe I've got something to say, or maybe not. If nothing else, there is the vicarious thrill of putting my thoughts out for anyone to read. Will you like me? Eh, I'm not sure I care. I can give you fair warning about one thing, though. I have a predilection for puns and word play (as you can tell from the name). Oh yeah, one more thing...I like using parenthetical thoughts (but I won't use the whole Ed- thing as that would be a blatant rip-off of Kaus). Anyway, let's let 'er rip.
    And with that a semidemihemilegend was born.

    I'm still trying to figure out if I've got something to say. Mostly, I'm just having fun. I've got to tell you that I had some real doubts about blogging at first. Mostly about sticking to it. You see, I have this horrible tendency not to finish what I start and I think that if I hadn't been able to add comments, I would have given up long ago. But the comments are what make this fun. Without your feedback, I'm just another pathetic loser screaming into the void (Well, ok, I'm that WITH your feedback too). The thought of me, sitting here in Fort Worth, reaching out to who knows where and connecting with people who I've never met and probably never will meet ('cept for Nate, 'cause I hear he's headed to Fort Worth at some point), is a strange and wonderful thing (I provide the strange, you provide the wonderful). So for all of you who have been kind enough to stop by, and especially to those who are regular readers (constipated ones too!), thank you for sharing a little bit of yourselves with me. It's been an honor.

    (What a load of crap!)

    Hey! I meant every word of that!

    (Sure you did, buddy...)

    That's it! You've smarted off one too many times. Get out of here! I mean it.

    (Like you can do this without me?)

    Well ... no, probably not. But you didn't have to go and spoil the mood.

    (Mood, schmood. You had yourself painted into a corner and didn't know how to end. I did you a favor.)

    Hmph. I hate it when he's right.

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    Wednesday, December 10, 2003

    Navel gazing

    Hey! Is that lint? Ewwww.

    Then there's naval gazing, but you have to be in a port city for that.

    And they say I'm easily sidetracked...

    First (too late for that), let me start off by thanking Jordana for nominating me for best blog in the Crawly Amphibian category in the Wizbang Weblog Awards: Thanks Jordana! I haven't mentioned it before, well, just because it seems a little too much like tooting my own horn (Hey! Look at me!). But then Jordana went and mentioned it in this comment, and I got to thinking I should at least thank her or she would think I was ungrateful or rude or something. So that's why you've got this little hunk of awkwardness. Oh, yeah, and if you want to ::cough::vote for me:: cough:: the poll can be found here.

    Also, just in case you didn't know, you can vote once every 12 hours or so, so if you haven't already voted for Terry or Lee today, please do so now.

    As to last night's deleted post, let's just say on reflection that the subject matter is not something I want to draw attention to, even by condemning it. In my world (where I am king) some people would just be shot.

    Part of what triggered my response last night is the fact that I'm very tired. From Saturday through yesterday I have worked 51 hours and it looks like another long day today. After that, it should ease up. My wife is tired of being a single parent and my kids are tired of not having the old man around to tease them and quote funny lines from movies. "I want you to know, my friend, the turtle responsible HAS been executed!"

    When I rolled into the house Sunday night about 10:30, my wife told me, "The kids say hi." Believe it or not, this job is better than the one I used to have at Widget Hut. Back then, the joke was that we kept a picture of me on the piano so that if I ever did come home while the kids were awake, they wouldn't call 911 to report a stranger in the house.

    Well, gotta get back at it. Talk to you later.

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    Tuesday, December 09, 2003

    Excuse me?

    Post deleted. I slept on it.

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    Big Daddy Possum

    Whew! That was a close one. As you may recall, I nominated Terry O. for the category of Best Marauding Marsupial (well, duh!) in the Wizbang Weblog Awards. Boy, was I surprised when the polls opened and there were no possums on the marsupial list.

    Fortunately, Kevin had one last category (or possumegory, if you prefer), that of "Most Egregious Omission." I did a little begging to have Possumblog included on this list, mostly 'cause I didn't want to have to return the money that Terry sent me for nominating him in the first place. Lo, and behold, HE MADE THE LIST. Now all we have to do is VOTE FOR THE POSSUM, IT'S IMPORTANT (contrary to the rumor, I did NOT coopt that slogan from a Louisiana governor's race).

    And if you're feeling generous, I'd appreciate you considering to vote for See the Donkey in the Slithering Reptile poll. Gracias.

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    Monday, December 08, 2003

    Nothin'

    Zero.
    Zip.
    Nada.
    A dry well.
    Tapped out.
    Empty.
    A big ol' bag o' nothin'.
    A big goose egg.
    Zilch.
    Nothing to say.
    Raging reticence.
    A soliloquy of silence.

    And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

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    Sunday, December 07, 2003

    Say what?

    What's wrong here?

    Got home last night just in time to catch the late news (after the OU/KU game). Dallas hosted the 16th Annual Neiman Marcus Adolphus Children's Parade yesterday morning. There was a short clip of Santa's arrival. And what did Santa say?

    "Ho ho ho! Happy Holidays everybody!"

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    Friday, December 05, 2003

    Template Blogging

    I know this is going to annoy Sugarmama, since this is one of her major annoyances, but I don't think she's a regular reader, so here goes anyway. What can I say? I like living dangereously. It's BLOGERIFIC!!! :-)

    On the other hand, I can GUARANTEE you there will be absolutely NO partially unclothed or naked photos of me posted on this blog (no matter how much you beg).

    New additions to the blogroll:

    Jeni from Snickerdoodle Haven. Another college aged girl ... *le sigh* (Now CUT THAT OUT before they think you're a C,LOM!)

    Dean of Dean's World fame. Lot's of good discussions see the light of day in Dean's World. I don't always agree with his positions, but then again, Dean's World is big enough that I don't have to.

    Kevin of Wizbang! Blogger extraordinaire who just found out yesterday he is no longer employed. His blog says he's "Explosively Unique" but I don't think he means that the way I would mean it.

    Anyway, check 'em out.

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    Thursday, December 04, 2003

    Making a list

    Well, it's that time of year again, isn't it?

    My wife finally held the kids down long enough to get them to make a Christmas list (it's not like it's a HUGE problem for them to tell us what they want ... usually, it's the other way 'round). The Youngest Aardvark Child (YAC, and believe me she does), at 13 has finally started to turn the corner into young adulthood. She only put ONE "toy" type item on her list. She has mostly moved on to jewelry, music and movies. ::sigh:: She even had CLOTHES on her list this year.

    I thought I taught her better than that.

    I haven't made my list yet, but I can guarantee you one thing; there won't be ANY clothes on it. If I need clothes, I buy 'em. I don't want them as a gift. You see, I never got over the 10 year old boy desire for TOYS. Computer games, board games, puzzles, books, puzzle books, gadgets, gizmos, doodads, toys for the office (yes, as a matter of fact, I DO own a singing hamster. Doesn't everyone?), CDs, DVDs, and anything else that will hold my attention for more than a minute. But don't give me clothes. My family knows this, which is the reason why MY kids always do their shopping for dad at the toy store (or the Museum Store, or Natural Wonders, or other places that sell the "Gee whiz" kind of merchandise).

    Don't get me wrong, if I DO receive clothes (like from my Mother-in-law), I AM grateful. It's not that I don't appreciate the gift or the thought behind it. It's just that there's a 10 year old inside me that's jumping up and down saying, "Ok, great, now what's in THAT package? Maybe it's a TOY!!!!" I keep thinking that one day I'll grow up, but I'm not holding my breath (Hey! THAT'S grown up right there!) or anything.

    Now Mrs. Aardvark ... well, let's just say that her list making abilities leave something to be desired (that's the nice way to say, "They suck"). First off, she NEVER shops for herself (unless I force her too). She can think of things to buy for people she met one time sixteen years ago, but she has NO IDEA what she wants for herself. Last year was the first year we could get her to actually make a list. While the rest of the Aardvark's had a dozen (or so) items on their list, she only managed about three:

    * Toenail clippers
    * Socks
    * Dental floss

    Ok, so that isn't the real list ... trust me, the actual list wasn't much better. After reading her list to us, the YAC says, "Wow mom (It's the same UPSIDE DOWN and REVERSED!), you really stink at making a list. Maybe you should let me coach you." Yep. That's what she needs. Lessons from a 12 year old on how to dream up things you want (nothing like getting coached by an expert).

    So this morning, my wife is reading me the YAC's and EAC's (E for Eldest) lists (I haven't made one yet). I asked her, "When are you going to write YOUR list?" At which point, she turned and headed for the bedroom saying, "I need to finish getting ready." Naturally, I followed her.

    "So what about your list?"

    "I stink at making a list." (she was smiling and pouting too. Awwwwww)

    "Yes, you do, honey. Yes, you do. Do you need (YAC) to help you this year?"

    "No."

    That's where we left it. It remains to be seen whether or not we'll get a list out of her.

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    Wednesday, December 03, 2003

    Whack me!

    [fake french accent]

    Eet ees as I soospected! Misseur Possum ees not zee onlee juan (how'd THAT sneak in there?) to have zee, how you say ... Googlewhack.

    [/fake french accent]

    As I predicted in this post, I am the sole search result for 'hoggedy bloggedy'. 'Course it really doesn't count as a Googlewhack since I really just made up two words, but a guy can dream can't he?

    Other made up words for which I'm the only search result: Cheddarosexual and Betterosexual.

    Words that I'm NOT the only hit for (which is even weirder): Phonosexual and Netrosexual.

    Yeah, all those are from one post back in August. I don't know what got into me that day ...


    UPDATE: Ok, so I took a little break and Googled a bit. I AM the whackiest, googliest, whacker for the search titivate floggings ... so there.

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    Tuesday, December 02, 2003

    My outside voice

    Strikes again.

    Date/Time: Monday, December 1, 2003, 7:15 PM
    Location: Fellowship Hall of local Southern Baptist Church
    Event: Dinner for Tarrant Association of Multi Media something-or-others (AKA Church Librarians)

    The handbell choir had been recruited to ring as entertainment for said event. (All four Aardvarks are bell ringers - if we don't show up, you've got a SERIOUS problem...) In return for performing at said event, we were served dinner (chicken cordon bleu, long grain rice, broccoli w/cheese sauce, roll and cheesecake) along with the TAMM folks.

    Let's pick up the scene where the Aardvarks are just being seated with their food and beverages. LittleA and the Eldest Aardvark Child (EAC) are a little ahead of the others.

    EAC (to Father): "Would you like me to go see if there is any 'pink stuff' for your tea?"

    LittleA: "Why, yes. That would be nice."

    Husband of Bell Choir Member #1: "Oh, there's no need. I grabbed a handful. Here have some of mine."

    LittleA: "Thanks."

    Enter Mrs. Aardvark carrying her glass of iced tea...

    Bell Choir Member #1: "Would you like some 'pink stuff' for your tea?"

    Mrs. Aardvark: "No, thank you. I drink mine straight-up."

    LittleA (speaking without thinking, his normal SOP): "That's not straight-up. It has ice in it ...

    ...

    ...

    not that I know anything about that sort of thing..."

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    Monday, December 01, 2003

    Low fat ice cream

    For the rest of the week. Posting may be sporadic. I have a huge deadline on the 10th and I need to be focused on that.

    Later.

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    2003 Weblog Awards

    Kevin, of Wizbang fame, is holding the 2003 Weblog Awards. Nominations are now open.

    Lots of different categories. I took the liberty of nominating two blogs: Possumblog for best Marauding Marsupial (of course) and See the Donkey for best Slithering Reptile.

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    Carnival of the Capitalists

    The latest version can be found here. Lots of good reading, plus one of mine.

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